setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

There shouldn't be any mistaking The Orville for a parody now, though I'm sure people still will. Last night's new episode, "About a Girl", is the third written by Seth MacFarlane, making that three more episodes written for The Orville than MacFarlane's written for Family Guy in the past ten years. It presents the kind of issue episode that has been absent from television since Star Trek and while I have one or two quibbles about it I'm mainly excited to see it. The Orville even goes some places Star Trek never dared to go.

The modern trend in television to present season long arcs has led to some wonderful story telling but it makes it difficult to tell the kind of story seen in "About a Girl". Bortus (Peter Macon) and Klyden (Chad Coleman), a couple who belong to an all male species called the Moclan, give birth to an incredibly rare female infant. The mostly human crew of the Orville are shocked when they learn the two wish for the child to undergo a sex change operation.

I was expecting the episode to get more flack for using "gender" and "sex" as synonyms though I haven't seen it yet in nitpicky reviews of the episode. I have seen some anger that these people in the future apparently aren't up on the same sociological literature as some viewers. One could argue that the crew of the Orville ought to be using state of the art terminology but maybe this is an area where a comparison to Star Trek isn't appropriate. The Orville isn't the flagship and it's crewed by at least two people we know to have had troubled careers. So instead of the best minds of the Federation tackling these issues, we have some mostly adequate minds of the Union muddling through.

In this way, the show actually turns some familiar, illogical plot devices of Star Trek into somet more feasible and even thought provoking prompts. It didn't really make a lot of sense that the Enterprise bridge crew were constantly being drafted as lawyers in courtroom episodes, for example. Here, I can believe that Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), with only one year of law training, is the most qualified person available to defend Bortus when he decides he doesn't want to allow his baby to receive a sex change. And we also get some instructive demonstrations of why certain arguments about sexual equality, while satisfying, might not be very effective in getting the point across.

It's satisfying watching Alara (Halston Sage) beat Bortus in a boxing ring and it's funny hearing Gordon (Scott Grimes) on the stand demonstrating that men can be intellectually inferior to women. But virtually all of Kelly and Ed's (Seth MacFarlane) evidence is anecdotal and nearly all of it relies on aliens. No-one who pays attention to this episode will come away thinking men are superior to women, the flaws in Ed and Kelly's arguments are useful to get people to think about what doesn't work when you're engaging with people of an opposite opinion. I really like the fact that what brings Bortus around is watching Rankin/Bass' Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which demonstrates the unexpected power art can have.

The episode is somewhat similar to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Outcast" about a member of a sexless species, the J'naii, who becomes female. The Moclan differ from the J'naii in that everyone is male rather than neither male or female, which should raise a question. How does one define sex or gender in the absence of any other? And of course we find out that the Moclan aren't single sex at all, that the prevalence of male Moclan is at least partially the product of misogyny endemic to the culture. Biological females have been effectively bred out of the populace, something that doesn't seem far-fetched for a technologically advanced misogynist people.

Like "The Outcast", one of the nice things about "About a Girl" is that by recontextualising so much it introduces new ways of thinking about issues and highlighting abstract connexions that might not have even been consciously considered by the writer. It introduces the concept of a basically liberal people allied with a culture that fundamentally rejects more socially liberal values, though at the same time, Bortus and Klyden are a same sex couple in the main cast, something Star Trek hasn't managed to do on television yet, though a same sex couple is apparently forthcoming on Discovery.*

In fact, my only real complaint about the episode is that I wished more time had been spent developing Bortus and Klyden's relationship before getting to this story. The conflicts here would probably have been a lot more interesting portrayed late in a second season. But that's a minor quibble compared to my delight that there's a thought provoking show, willing to engage with issues, that has an enormous number of viewers.

*The relationship between Dax and a former lover's symbiote in a new female body on Deep Space Nine was close but not really the same thing.

Twitter Sonnet #1036

The curling shoe was like a thunder clap.
As winds are bending trees to castle ears.
In just a moment dripped from wooden tap.
The final court arranged a time for beers.
Uncopied eyes arrange around the monk.
A dragging stone arrives atop the game.
The worth of weight was not in how it sunk.
The waiting paint absorbs a shrinking frame.
As sparking space enclosed the ship they watched.
Although the canvas blinked it caught the sight.
Beneath the dime in time to wrench the botched.
In ordered stakes the bet amends the light.
A sign regressed to shell amid the head.
Ideas append the tort remained unsaid.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

Many people seem to feel that the second episode of The Orville, "Command Performance", which aired last night, is an improvement over the first episode and in some ways I agree. It had the first moment that really made me laugh thanks to a cameo by Jeffrey Tambor and Holland Taylor as Ed's parents. The scene takes the fractious relationship between Deanna Troi and her mother and pushes it to the higher comedic pitch Orville allows by having them discuss Ed's colon over the main viewer. Yet even this scene doesn't sabotage the reality of the story as a similar moment in a parody might--I believe Ed might have parents who embarrass him this much. And this represents what might be really interesting about the show if it can get through some growing pains, though I might settle for it becoming more of a straight forward space opera--that stuff tends to land more on the show than the comedy stuff does.

I think one of the reasons this episode represents an improvement is actually the directing--surprising given the first episode was directed by Jon Favreau. Robert Duncan McNeill, who played Tom Paris on Star Trek Voyager and who directed several episodes of that series, brings even more of a Star Trek feel to The Orville. The beats at the beginning especially, with an establishing shot of the ship followed by a low momentum scene in Ed's office felt exactly like the beginning of so many Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Next Generation episodes. This episode was again written by Seth MacFarlane and it made me even more eager to see how the show might be with a teleplay by a Star Trek writer.

"Command Performance" combines two relatively familiar plots--humans getting caught in an alien zoo and someone taking command for the first time--you could cite TOS's "The Menagerie" and Data's subplot in TNG's "Redemption" along with many other examples. In this case, the human zoo plot is used to put Ed (Seth MacFarlane) and Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) in a locked room together to hash out some of their relationship issues. It was a nice scene, it helped Kelly feel like more of a character, especially thanks to a nice, open, conversational performance from Palicki, and it really gave a sense of the two of them having had a relationship. The story about the opera and Ed being so high he believed he would be paralysed if he sat still too long was funny in a fairly authentic way.

The other plot centres on the ship's security chief, Alara (Halston Sage), who has to take command in the absence of Ed and Kelly because the normal third in line, Bortus (Peter Macon), has laid an egg and must sit on it for twenty one days, an idea which sounds like it'll be explored more in the third episode. I liked Alara's plot, especially the scene where she rushes down to the shuttle bay after an accident that's ripped an impressive hole in the deck. I found myself really caught up in her anxiety about responsibility and there's also a nice conversation between her and Dr. Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) about the burden of command.

Maybe this means I'm getting old but I wish Alara was played by an older actress. I think in the first episode it's established that Alara's species matures faster but I would have liked to have seen some evidence of this in the episode. Her taking the tequila shots from the replicators was a nice bit of humanising but it would have been nice if she'd had a moment where she really showed there was an older mind inside that body. I think there've been some complaints about a young actress being in this role purely for sex appeal. I don't have anything against sex appeal myself, even if it stretches credibility--it is fantasy, after all. But it would have been nice if I could buy into her character a little more. On the other hand, maybe I'm thinking of this as too much like Star Trek--this isn't the flagship so maybe a really young security officer isn't far fetched at all. Halston Sage does a decent job in the role--I found her halting delivery a little distracting but I think she's doing it to sound alien.

Less impressive is Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Finn. Jerald is actually a Star Trek veteran--she played Cassidy Yates on Deep Space Nine, but unfortunately I'm only reminded of how boring I thought that character was, largely because of Jerald's lacklustre performance. But I don't know, maybe she'll grow on me. I liked her reference to Obi-Wan Kenobi, I only wish the name had slid off her tongue a little more naturally. I'm still looking forward to the next episode.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

I've been kind of fascinated by the extreme gulf between critical and audience reaction to The Orville, the new Sci-Fi adventure comedy that premièred on Sunday. Rotten Tomatoes currently says the show's scored 22% positive in critical reviews but the audience score is 90%. It's not just on Rotten Tomatoes I see this divide--nearly every online review I've read is negative, some downright vitriolic, while in the comments section I see mostly people puzzled and somewhat taken aback by all the negative reviews. The general consensus among the comments I've looked at seems to be that while the pilot episode is flawed the show's not bad at all and has a lot of potential. This is basically my feeling after having watched it.

At Comic Con this year, I was already hearing a lot of jabs at Orville on panels, more than one person calling it a rip-off of Galaxy Quest, which it certainly isn't. The film Galaxy Quest is a spoof centred on the actors on a Star Trek style show while Orville is clearly not a parody at all but an earnest attempt to create a space opera with heavy homages to Star Trek but with a more comedic tone. This might have been close to the Galaxy Quest series that has been in development for a long time but at best I'd say it's two shows in the same genre. If you're angry at Orville for being too much like Galaxy Quest you might as well swear off Deep Space Nine for being too much like Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica for being too much like Space Battleship Yamato.

The pilot of the Orville is directed by Jon Favreau and shots of the ship in dock and leaving it are nicely done, clearly loving homages to shots of the Enterprise leaving dock in the first two Star Trek films and I really, really love the idea of wanting to create that sense of awe at the sight of a starship again. Seth MacFarlane in the lead role as Captain Mercer and Scott Grimes as helmsman Gordon Malloy in the approaching shuttle craft have comedic dialogue about drinking too much the night before; it's silly but it functions within the reality of the show. I found this moment, like many others in the episode, not laugh out loud funny but amusing and in its way it enhances the coolness of the space stuff by the contrast.

One of the things that makes the show different from Star Trek and many other space operas is that the Orville and its crew are by no means top of the line. It's not the flagship, it's not an awesome prototype, it's just a nice ship. The helmsman and the navigator, John LaMarr (J. Lee), take the usual buddy dynamic seen between LeForge and Data or O'Brian and Bashir and dial it to something more low brow, though Malloy is supposed to be a great pilot and one of the surprisingly effective parts of the climax is that his "Hugging the Donkey" manoeuvre is actually pretty cool and you can see how it might be genuinely effective and difficult to pull off. These two guys might just be exceptionally regular but I also like the idea of there being some real assholes among the crew--which was sort of Alexander Siddig's initial idea for playing Bashir; you can see he's intentionally playing unlikeable in the DS9 pilot. Even Jayne on Firefly ended up having a heart, though. It would be nice to see one of these shows sustain a real jerk but I don't think MacFarlane intends to go that route.

I think one of the reasons critics hate him so much is the ironic humour on Family Guy has gone so stale. I kind of suspect MacFarlane's sick of it too. What I took away from watching Ted is similar to what I picked up on from Orville--MacFarlane, at heart, has a real, sincere love for the old formulas in sitcoms and dramas. So there's nothing really ironic about him throwing Ed and his ex-wife, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), together as captain and first officer. He wants a chemistry like the leads on Cheers or Who's the Boss much as he wants to invoke the milieu of Star Trek--not to roast it but to truly keep this kind of storytelling alive. I'm never been a fan of sitcoms like that but I find something endearing about MacFarlane's sincerity, especially since he gets so much shit for it.

That said, I would like Kelly to be developed more. Her motivations in the pilot are entirely based on Ed and I would like to hear more about her motivations that have nothing to do with him. Why did she join the fleet? Did she also dream about being an officer on a ship since she was a kid? The show has several Star Trek directors slated to direct episodes, including Jonathan Frakes, I hope it brings in some Star Trek writers, too.

I do like MacFarlane in the lead. There is something Shatnerian in his unabashed hamminess though he doesn't project authority as much as Shatner does. But I can see as much potential in that being a distinction for the show as a drawback. Time will tell.

Twitter Sonnet #1033

A cup emerged between the lily pads.
A draught impressed in steaming rooms at night.
The other side survived on higher rads.
The blue of sea contained the vessel tight.
Too many veg'tables are on the moon.
A secret book confirmed a fever dream.
In smi'ling Play-Doh men you'll find the boon.
The fitting shapes of blocks aren't all they seem.
In transit apes are caught inside the wall.
Prepared in sight the pudding fell to plague.
The walking voice proceeded down the hall.
The agent's shining limbs are somewhat vague.
The dice replaced a drink within the cup.
The birds of fortune turning home to sup.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

Two new Twin Peaks soundtracks came out on Friday, one featuring mainly instrumentals and the other focusing on songs with vocals, mostly songs that were performed in the memorable Roadhouse scenes often featured at the ends of episodes. I didn't need to see many episodes to know that Twin Peaks: The Return was going to have one the most amazing soundtracks on TV in decades. I've listened to the original Twin Peaks soundtracks many times over the past twenty five years so I was predisposed to like new work from Angelo Badalamenti but, as many remarked, there was surprisingly little new music to be heard from Badalamenti on the new series. Given how many of the stars of the show are dead or retired I wonder if Badalementi is okay. I see, before Twin Peaks: The Return, he hadn't composed a score since 2015 and that had been two years from his previous score. On the other hand, David Lynch himself has gotten more and more active in composing his own music for his projects. I guess he can add that credit to directing, sound design, acting, and set design.

I was surprised the score actually included the David Lynch remix of Muddy Magnolias' "American Woman". It sounded on the show like all Lynch did was slow the song down. If you're wondering what the original sounds like, you can hear it here. It does turn out Lynch's remix is a bit more than a slowed down version, I can hear some guitar, among other things, laid over it. But it's amazing how something as simple as slowing it down so profoundly changed it. The original song isn't so bad, it's a sort of pep talk song, for the listener to derive some motivation. It was featured on the soundtrack to the infamous 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and I wonder if that's where David Lynch heard it. His remix is certainly scarier than anything in that movie.

Mainly what his remix does, I would say, is to change the point of view of the song. These are the first part of the lyrics:

Bring the bacon and I'll put it in the pan
Got my own, baby, life is grand
Every move I make is just a part of my plan
And I do it just because you said I can't

Do I look like
The step-and-fetch type?
I'm a whole lotta grown-ass American woman
Do I look like
The walk-all-over-me type?
I'm a whole lotta strong-ass American woman

I know my worth and who I am
Mister if you're hard up, I can spare a few grand
Hell will freeze over and I'll be damned
'Fore I take orders from any ol' man

This is about as much as you get to hear on the show, maybe a little more, and it's difficult to make out the words in the slowed down version. Lynch has taken a song with a fierce, rallying quality and made it alien. The singer is a woman named Jessy Wilson--slowing her down makes her sound male, fitting for Mr. C's theme but more than that it has something of the effect of the backwards talk in the extradimensional realms. The words that, in the original, seem like such an affirmation seem to be mocked by the tone of the remix even as their sentiments are shared--the words express a ruthlessness; "Got my own, baby, life is grand/Every move I make is just a part of my plan/And I do it just because you said I can't." Liberation is great when its yours, it can be scary when it's someone else's, particularly someone boasting about their power.

I was disappointed the instrumental soundtrack didn't include all of the dinner piano music from the end of episode 11, Dougie's meal with the Mitchum brothers. It has a piece called "Heartbreak" which is the more sombre bits of the music heard in the episode but lacks the feistier parts. Welcome to Twin Peaks quotes Lynch as requesting from Badalamenti: "I need some Italian restaurant music. Gimme three songs: one of them should be kinda peppy, one of them should be slow and sad and heartbreaking." The "Heartbreaking" part is good but it's so much more intriguing couched in the peppy parts. That dinner scene was one of my favourites of the series, by the way. Like the other scenes with Candie, the emotional undertones to this scene seem treacherous in ways that never quite erupt. There are a bunch of potential threads for a further season of Twin Peaks or a spin-off but top of my list would definitely be the Mitchum Brothers.

The Music from disk includes the Paris Sisters' "I Love How You Love Me" which reminds me how open the Becky/Steven/Gersten plot still was. I honestly expected Lynch to do more with Amanda Seyfried's character though she basically played the Laura Palmer character on Veronica Mars. So maybe it felt like territory she'd already covered.

Twitter Sonnet #1032

A copper vortex holds a salty proof.
Undoubted eyes forgive the breakfast gong.
In hazy thoughts the video's aloof.
In proven shoes the fact'ry can't be wrong.
Antennae lace remains alone at large.
Attended last the vision hit the board.
The silk on this canal came from the barge.
Without a crew the ship has just a hoard.
A blade was dulled beneath the warping deck.
The stars became as flakes that sink adrift.
In careful lines the car reversed its trek.
The newer shoes could not provide the lift.
Retrieved from vinyl fingers songs "Begin".
"Beguine" became the trees and air again.
setsuled: (Louise Smirk)

If there's one series that would really benefit from a remake it's The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. There's so much I admire about the original anime series, which I just finished rewatching, though. It's really only one or two things that bug me about it.

Number one for the axe would probably Mikuru Asahina and her annoying voice, performed by Yuko Goto. The show premiered in 2006, eleven years ago now, and it could bear a lot of the blame for one of the worst aspects of modern anime, a fetishisation of pretty girls who behave like house pets. There are a couple moments where Mikuru rises above this, particularly in her future incarnation that appears in a few episodes. There's also a moment in the arc where they're shooting the film for the cultural festival and Mikuru advises Kyon not to trust Koizumi--and Koizumi not long after suggests Mikuru's ridiculous naivete is all an act to seduce him. This is a bit hard to believe and furthermore I want to trust Koizumi in his theory about Haruhi because it's the most interesting aspect of the show to me.

The idea that Haruhi is God and doesn't know it, that she must be kept from the conscious knowledge lest it cause unforeseeable chaos, adds wonderful tension to every scene. I love how there are hints that she can read Kyon's mind but it's so subtly carried off you can never be quite certain.

Should I suggest an English language remake? With white actors? We see what trouble the Ghost in the Shell and Death Note remakes have gotten into. It's weird how the forces pushing the political dialogue are deaf to the desires of people in countries they're supposedly so concerned about offending. People complaining about white washing in the Ghost in the Shell remake almost always failed to mention that the film features one of the biggest Japanese stars of the past forty years, Takeshi Kitano, and the fact that almost no-one interviewed among Japanese audiences minded the casting of Scarlett Johansson. There's a subtle arrogance implicit in this omission from the arguments of most crusaders. It's as though two conflicting realities are coexisting in the minds of these politically minded individuals--on the one hand, they have to be concerned about offending anyone, and on the other, they have to ignore the actual interests of people in foreign countries. It's a matter of taking control away from people so that they can have what they're supposed to want. Assuming the motivations are genuine which I don't think they are.

In any case, I wouldn't want to recast Haruhi as white. In fact, I'd want all the characters to be Japanese. I wouldn't want to change any of their names, for one thing, and Japanese high schools are so different from American high schools I feel like it would be a shame to change the setting so I'd want to set it in Japan. Maybe it doesn't need a remake. Maybe it just needs an edit, like the version of Phantom Menace without Jar Jar. It would be so good if it weren't for Mikuru.

Many consider Haruhi, voiced by Aya Hirano, to be the prototypical tsundere. Yet there's a lot more to her than simply a character type. Her anxiety about the meaninglessness of existence in the impossible numbers of individuals around her is really nicely conveyed on the show. It's a normal anxiety for a teenager and her subconscious tendency to manifest supernatural beings and events nicely interact with Kyon's reluctance to be so weak as to empathise with her. Both characters are intelligent and vulnerable in ways that don't seem flat and exploitive.

Twitter Sonnet #1031

The unobtrusive tinsel takes a place.
In dots defined against the lamp it glows.
A power pickled last assumes a face.
For all its shrouds the vintage sand still shows.
Connected Ls beside a seven lean.
A flaring line bisects the digit half.
In empty booths the ghostly nurses clean.
There's noisy worlds inside a golden calf.
Reflecting flame was clothing for the sun.
Outside the newest store the oldest waits.
The faded pigeons yet are not so done.
A checked banana bishop always mates.
A table clock is timing drinks for keys.
A shaking lock is lifting chords for knees.
setsuled: (Skull Tree)

One of the reasons Twin Peaks: The Return kept me glued to the screen is David Lynch's seeming ability to read my expectations and then exploit them to provide a striking experience. It's like he could read my mind and knew just how to pull the rug out from under me. So here's a list of ten times Twin Peaks: The Return went off the rails in a really wonderful, frightening, or funny way.

Chantal and Hutch

Casting Jennifer Jason Lee and Tim Roth as the two ultimate assassins hired by Mr. C to take out sleep walking Agent Cooper already sets them up as significant players. Their meandering conversations about Mormons and philosophising somehow implies they're even deadlier--in standard storytelling parlance it's this kind of thing that usually indicates someone is a particularly formidable killer. It's the main reason the two feel like they come out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, aside from the fact that both actors were in The Hateful 8. So when they meet their end at the hands of some random accountant with anger issues, it's kind of a shock even as it's perfectly in keeping with their story. They who live by the non-sequitor may die by the non-sequitor.


The unseen Billy was teased all season, not just by Audrey Horne but by a man looking for him in the RR and by some of the girls in the recurring vignettes of characters in the roadhouse booths who were never seen again. When one girl talks about Billy having a relationship with her mother her friend asks for her mother's name and Lynch intentionally holds the moment, knowing we're expecting her to say "Audrey". When she says "Tina" instead we start to sense the story about frustrated, diverted connexions perhaps infecting the community on some massive subconscious level.


The three cops investigating Dougie Jones aren't exactly incompetent and they're not exactly masters but their oddness causes us to expect one or the other. From their first scene in Dougie's office they show a capacity to arrest the viewer when one of them, who hadn't spoken for the whole scene, emits his strange, high pitched laugh for the first time. And then it turns out there's nothing really extraordinary about them aside from their very credible, extraordinarily normal weirdness.

The Turnip Joke

Who would have thought Gordon having some foreplay with a mysterious French beauty was a setup just for him to tell a hilariously dumb joke about turnip farming to Albert? But it's Albert's reaction that clenches this scene's play on expectations--somehow his complete lack of response, his completely blank expression, is both odd and yet, characteristic of Albert, impossibly down to earth.


From the early scene where she hunts an elusive fly Candie establishes herself as the fly in the ointment of otherwise smooth sailing. Right up to her final line about preparing so many sandwiches, Candie had a bizarre knack for making everyone stop and wonder just what the hell is really going on. From her over enthusiastic agreement with Cooper that the Mitchums have "hearts of gold" to her intense contemplation of traffic on the Strip, Candie was like a canary in the coal mine of reality, alerting us to some hidden danger that even now remains obscure.

Dougie Jones, coiled cobra

Another reason a showdown with Chantal and Hutch had such a buildup was because of the unexpected revelation that even sleep-walking Cooper could instantly marshal his legendary reflexes and coordination. The gentle, cow-like, grazing man suddenly sprang to life when Ike the Spike threatened him and Janey E. An appearance by the Arm cemented the strangeness of the lighting fury in the scene.

The Sound at the Great Northern

By the end of the series this sound seems to be related to a portal in the Great Northern's boiler room yet we also hear a similar sound when Cooper wakes in the hospital. But for most of the season it was a background noise to Ben and Beverly's sinister flirtations. So while the sound drew our minds to one mystery it really served as a way to inject a strange energy into the chemistry between the married Beverly and her boss. Were the two phenomena related? Given the way the supernatural is intimately connected to personal relationships, I'd say probably. But it's the uncertainty that keeps our attention.

The Walking Woodsman

We see him in the morgue, walking, unnoticed by Cynthia Knox who's busy talking on the phone about Major Briggs' body. The Woodsman just keeps getting closer and closer and finally . . . continues down the hall, not even breaking stride. Somehow this is more disturbing than him actually doing anything, the sight of his walking and the ominous sounds perfectly playing off the grisly mystery involving the body.

Janey E, Negotiator

Dougie's got a bad gambling debt so when Janey E confronts the lone sharks the history of such stories have taught us this can't go well for her or Dougie. But somehow she seems to get her and Dougie out of it by sheer willpower and the ferocity of Naomi Watts' performance. And we never see these schlubs again.

"This is the water . . ."

My list isn't in any particular order but this one is probably my favourite. Why is that chant uttered by the Woodsman on that fateful night so effective? The words he chooses and his tone are a crucial part of it--"This is," he starts out like he's going to give us any radio call sign, "This is TPKR in Chicago and you're listening to--" or whatever. Then he takes it to something primal; "This is the water and this is the well." It reflects the sense of reassurance meant to be intrinsic in such radio announcements and the promise meant to be in there that you're going to hear something that nourishes you spiritually in some way, either with good music or maybe some entertaining talk. Some reassuring human sound, in other words. But by laying it bare in this way, saying this is life sustaining water in this place, the well, where you can reliably go back and get it, is incredibly sinister. The fact that we know such announcements are normally exaggerated and intended to seduce us implicates us as complicit. The mind is forced to loop back on its interpretation and accept this Woodsman's stripped down reality. That's how hypnosis works. It really is a spell.
setsuled: (Default)

With all the rejoicing across the internet to-day over the news that Corey Trevorrow is out as director of Star Wars: Episode IX there's naturally been a lot of speculation as to who'll take over the reins. I say; get Gordon Cole! That is, David Lynch. He was, after all, George Lucas' first choice to direct Return of the Jedi and if Lynch makes a pile of money off Star Wars maybe there's a better chance we'll see another season of Twin Peaks. Well, I can dream.

Rumour has it the current front runner is Rian Johnson and even not having seen Last Jedi I wouldn't mind that choice at all just on the strength of having seen Looper and Brick.

In any case, we've dodged a big, dumb bullet, as everyone knows whose seen that garbage heap called Jurassic World. And with everything going wrong in the world to-day it's nice to know one incompetent blowhard has been removed from a position of authority.

Anyway, obviously my mind's still on Twin Peaks.

Spoilers for Twin Peaks after the screenshot.

I found myself thinking about Naido (Nae Yuuki) some more and I realised there was a very obvious question no-one, myself included, seems to have been asking--just what the hell was Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) looking for? What did he expect to find when he got to the right coordinates? Andy (Harry Goaz) said people were trying to kill Naido but didn't say why. This is another reason I don't think Naido was simply Diane (Laura Dern) in another form. If her name is really meant to be a reference to the naido, "inner path", concept in Buddhism, it would make sense if Mr. C, as a force of destruction, might be trying to kill this representative of an internal world. There's no reason he would be hunting Diane after having taken her to the convenience store himself. The death of Naido seemed like it would represent a much greater victory for Mr. C.

I feel like I might have a few more posts about Twin Peaks in me. I'm certainly going to be watching the third season again . . . and again . . .
setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Part of me wonders how I can go back to watching any other TV show after Twin Peaks, part of me feels like the brilliance of Twin Peaks has enhanced my viewing experience of everything else. As last night's finale brought home, it is a show about experience, about contemplation of the moment and the potentials that are inherent in every moment. Among many other things, the third, hopefully not final, season of Twin Peaks is the nexus of Hitchcock and Cocteau, where the essence of suspense meets the essence of surrealism in a beautifully, startlingly meaningful way.

Spoilers after the screenshot

It's relatively well known that Laura Palmer's murder in the original series was never meant to be solved, that Lynch and Frost were forced by the network to reveal the killer's identity. The virtue in this original plan became clear to me some years ago when I was watching the series with my sister and I realised how much more interesting every scene must have been for her when virtually any character could be the killer. Like Hitchcock's bomb under the table, there's the suspense of that hidden fact and it compels the viewer to evaluate everything about each of the many characters we meet, to wonder whether some aspect of their surface personality is a reflection or a distortion of some other reality hidden from us.

Like the second season finale, the third season finale brings us more troubling, unanswered questions in the end. Twin Peaks doesn't leave all questions unanswered and not all of the clues lead nowhere--if it did, we'd get used to it and stop being engaged. Andy's (Harry Goaz) mission given to him by the Fireman (Carel Struycken) is fulfilled in a satisfying way as is the destiny of Freddie (Jark Wardle), which seems to have been nothing less than punching out Bob (Frank Silva's picture inside a black ball). The Fireman and the head of Major Briggs (a photo of Don S. Davis) even seem to make sure Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives at the sheriff's station after finally getting to the right coordinates, seemingly indicating how sure they were all the right pieces were falling into place. It was an exceptionally well executed conventional showdown plot with plenty of ingenuity and entertaining ideas. I love the fact that Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) shot Mr. C and that the two Coopers somehow finally made her understand cell phones. There's a mysterious logic at play in Lucy's brain--it's easy to say she and Andy are stupid but I think Lynch's point is that what they have is a kind of intelligence organised in a vastly different way from how most of us understand it.

But on the other hand, that's true of everyone. It's easy to demonstrate by looking, for example, at reviews of the Twin Peaks finale. In an otherwise very positive review by Emily L. Stephens of A.V. Club, she feels compelled to note:

Naido being reduced to a placeholder for Diane is another example of Lynch’s clumsy sidelining of non-white characters. In this case, she’s not even a character, but a symbol of a character.

Why does Stephens reach this conclusion? Because most of Lynch's characters are white? In a finale so full of ambiguities, why is Stephens so sure that Naido (Nae Yuuki) is only a symbol of another character? We can interpret it like Stephens but we can as easily interpret it many other ways. For example, how do we know Diane (Laura Dern) isn't a symbol for Naido?

Naido's name is almost "Diane" in reverse. It becomes "Odian" when spelled backwards. Maybe meaning "Oh, Diane" or possibly "Zero Diane". The Twin Peaks wiki also has this explanation:

In Japanese Buddhism, the term naidō (内道) literally translates to "Inner Path," simultaneously describing "inner teachings" or "[one] within the path" of nature and righteousness.

Is Naido really Diane, or is her assuming the form of Diane a response to Cooper's (Kyle MacLachlan) need?

Incidentally, I recently learned about the second kanji in naido, 道, which means "way". The box on the right represents a severed human head and the line on the left represents a road--it represents an incident in ancient times when a conquering army left the severed heads of their enemies all along the road on their way back to their castle. In could be a coincidence but we've sure seen plenty of severed heads along the path this season.

The seemingly straight forward action climax shifts at one point to having footage of Cooper's stunned face overlaid on the increasingly strange occurrences in Truman's (Robert Forster) office. Like Phillip Jeffries in Fire Walk with Me, the close up of Cooper's face says that we live inside a dream and, indeed, things start to seem more and more dreamlike, especially when Candie (Amy Shiels) and the two other girls working for the Mitchum brothers bring in baskets of snacks. It is a good thing they made so many sandwiches but when did they make them and how did they know so many people were going to be there? Cooper, Diane, and Gordon (David Lynch) going to the boiler room under the Great Northern feels even stranger.

In episode 18, it becomes even clearer that Lynch's aim is to present scenes that do have a meaning but which also require interpretation from the viewer. Information given to Cooper by the Fireman at the beginning of season three starts to come into play--Cooper had been told back then to look out for the number 430 and we see him and Diane drive 430 miles out from some unmentioned location. Then, after checking into a motel, they make love, after which Cooper finds a note that seems to indicate he and Diane have become the Richard and Linda mentioned by the Fireman way back. I love how Lynch's sex scenes aren't just extended ways of saying, "They had sex." Each one is a vital and distinctive part of the story. This one had some things in common with the sex scenes in Lost Highway and there's a sense that Cooper's identity is becoming strange to Diane in this moment of physical intimacy. Her hands seem compelled to cover his face and in the note the next morning "Linda" says that she no longer recognises the person "Richard" has become. Before this, Diane has a vision of herself outside the motel and all together it seems that travelling between worlds has once again required the travellers to inhabit other identities and stories.

But Cooper is still Cooper. It seems twenty five years in the Black Lodge have taught him some magic. But what is he doing? Still trying to save Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)? Is this the story of the little girl down the lane? Is it like Scottie in Vertigo, trying to make reality into a story about himself, a lawman, saving a beautiful woman from untimely death? The chivalrous knight is quick to protect the waitress (Francesca Eastwood) from three assholes in Judy's diner.

In the end, it seems to become a masterfully executed nightmare about a time travel story. Like the season two finale, everything seems to crash into enigmatic disaster. Jeez, I hope there's going to be a season four. I want to know what happens with Bobby and Shelly, what happened to Becky, what the deal is with Candie, I want to see more of Tammy Preston. In short, I want more. But I probably always will.

Twitter Sonnet #1030

Refreshing xylophone appraised the ice.
The party cooled beyond martini chill.
A name too far in sloth exchanged for rice.
A pie awaits upon the autumn sill.
The steam is pressed against the kettle's gut.
The melting air appears on ev'ry brow.
To screaming heat no window now can shut.
A boiling tide consumes the dipping bow.
Two birds ingest a single stone again.
The dream advanced behind the forward moon.
The only chance became a pyrrhic win.
An endless quest may also end too soon.
The absent eyes invite the seer home.
A skipping sound compels the dream to roam.
setsuled: (Skull Tree)

Sunday night concluded the season of Game of Thrones with the greatest number of viewers by far--the season finale had over twelve million viewers, easily beating the nearly nine million who viewed last season's finale. At the same time, this has been the most critically disliked season with many reviews talking about the logical problems that are seriously undercutting character dynamics and development. Yet, "The Dragon and the Wolf" did have some good character material, though it mostly didn't come from any dragons or wolves but from lions.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) didn't have a whole lot to do this episode apart from deciding to show up to the big meeting on a dragon and then to fall for Jon (Kit Harrington), making sure that, whoever ends up on the Iron Throne, it'll probably be someone who likes having sex with blood relatives.

Jon's most interesting moment was deciding to stick to his guns and not hide his pledged fealty to Daenerys. He makes a good point that if people keep lying all the time, sooner or later people won't be able to trust anything and everything will break down. Though the opposing view, that the immediate threat from the White Walkers seems even more likely to do that, is good, too. It's a genuine conundrum.

Effective surprise is a tricky thing to pull off with characters and it demands that the audience have some kind of grip on their personalities beforehand. That's why the surprise in Littlefinger's (Aidan Gillen) execution was especially unsatisfying--the retconning of the Vale's loyalty was too recently implemented for people to think they'd easily believe Littlefinger's guilty of so many crimes just because Sansa (Sophie Turner) said so. It makes sense that Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) would be the only one who knew about Littlefinger's crimes but everyone taking his word takes too much as read. But, of course, the point is to get characters out of the way, not to explore characters. I keep being reminded I don't got my head right when I see things like the Unsullied and the Dothraki marching together and I find myself wondering how these two vastly different cultures get along and how Daenerys maintains her relationship with them.

By the way, I don't think Jorah (Iain Glen) has a single line in this episode. Is there anyone among those twelve million viewers who's disappointed the romantic tension that had been built up for years between him and Daenerys has just been entirely ignored this season? I think Glen's much better looking than Harrington, but I guess that's just me. It did at least seem like there was maybe a suggestion of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) pining for Daenerys at the end, which was the relationship I was fantasising about more, so that was kind of nice.

But Tyrion was one half of my favourite scene in the episode. Here's where the surprise was effective--at first I thought, there's no way Tyrion could honestly expect to go into a room with Cersei (Lena Headey) and come out alive. But when he did, it didn't feel dishonest, it felt like I was seeing his genuine insight into an aspect of Cersei's personality that hadn't been totally clear before. That's the kind of surprise I like.

It's surprising given how much we know she hates Tyrion but it's believable because of how we know she feels about her family. Still, a lot of the credit has to go to the actors for pulling off the delicate balancing act in this scene. The tension when Tyrion goes to pour drinks for the two of them is great--he's gambled and he's won but he knows exactly how close it was.

It's slightly less effective when Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) makes the same gambit and I'd rather Jaime stayed by Cersei's side instead of going into exile, though maybe now that she doesn't have any kind of foil her character will transmute in interesting ways.

Anyway, I should mention the cgi was pretty spectacular. So, well done, digital effects people. Now that they've killed so many people off, I wonder who they'll kill next season.

Shit, they're through the Wall already. It's going to take Jon and Daenerys at least twenty five minutes to get their armies up there.

Twitter Sonnet #1028

An aviator tempted paper bags.
The quicker clock combined with gold and gin.
On all the marble toes are linen tags.
To choose the rising sand is not to sin.
In tears of melted plastic came the deck.
Forgetful hands return to gloves unknown.
Behind the careful tongue's a traitor tech.
And by a thousand lights the road is shown.
The sleekest shadow swam the aether up.
Escaped into a pocket shot through space.
In nervous ease she took her coffee cup.
Inside her cuff, an endless linking race.
The band affixed itself to straw for good.
A thousand tramping leaves the walking wood.
setsuled: (Skull Tree)

Things are really starting to coalesce on Twin Peaks--last night's episode set the stage for next week's finale with victories for both the forces of good and bad. At the same time questions were answered and other answers were teased with ominous implications. The show continues to be a discussion on the lifelong effects of trauma while also continuing to focus on the unpredictability and strangeness of life.

Spoilers after the screenshot

And it looks like we've seen the end of Hutch (Tim Roth) and Chantal (Jennifer Jason Lee). A couple of assassins whose scenes of drifting non-sequitor dialogue, maybe it was their destiny to be taken out by a random nuisance. It seems both a reflection of the fact that you can't plan for everything and that the secret forces of the universe might be helping Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) at every turn.

As one of the FBI agents on the scene mentions, Dougie's home is located on a street called Lancelot Court. It occurred to me again how David Lynch and Mark Frost have seeded references to Arthurian legend throughout the series. If you remember, the entrance to the Black Lodge is located in Glastonbury Grove, the name excitedly noted by Cooper as being that of "the legendary burial place of King Arthur!" One could draw a lot of parallels--Cooper's backstory involved an affair with Caroline, the wife of his mentor, Wyndom Earle. It's not precisely Guinevere and Arthur, but it's close. Like Lancelot, who went mad and lived under another identity in exile, Cooper has spent this past season in exile from all who knew his real self, as a sleep walker going by the name Dougie Jones. Janey E (Naomi Watts) could be seen as an analogue of Elaine of Corbenic, thus perhaps explaining the "E" in her name.

The FBI agents that form Gordon Cole's (David Lynch) team tend to be people of extraordinary ability. As we saw last night, Cooper was immediately displaying his powers, somehow knowing immediately that Bushnell (Don Murray) was carrying a pistol and formulating plans and implementing them with incredible speed. I think this is also why Lynch tends to cast singers with a striking, otherworldly stage presence as agents--Chris Isaak, David Bowie, and Chrysta Bell. He casts real legends as legendary figures.

Cooper's parting with Janey E and Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) was bittersweet and I felt bad for the two of them. But it's the gentlest incidence on the show of someone learning their lover is not who he or she appears to be.

Watching Twin Peaks next to Game of Thrones is an interesting contrast in how the two shows deal with the impact of trauma, especially rape. While Game of Thrones tends to show that the experience makes people nicer (Theon) or smarter (Sansa), Twin Peaks is more interested in how a violation of trust can destabilise a personality. We finally learn for sure that Richard (Eamon Farren) is the product of Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) having raped Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)--Mr. C and Richard together both embody aspects of Morgan Le Fay and Mordred.

Both Audrey and Diane (Laura Dern) are dealing with the effects of having their trust in Cooper violated, the violation made more severely disturbing by how good we know Cooper is. How much either one consciously knows about the doppelganger can be questioned--the badness in Diane's experience happens before the rape when she can tell something is wrong in Cooper's kiss. Like the identities Diane and Audrey had created through what they believed was the nature of their relationship with, and appearance from the perspective of, the other person, there's a disturbing disconnect between what is felt and what is known.

The lyrics to the song performed by Eddie Vedder in the episode could not have been more appropriate.

One liar's promise drained the blood from my heart
Came a message in the dark

. . .

I stare at my reflection to the bone
Blurred eyes look back at me

. . .

Fearful of dreams, there'll be no sleep tonight
Fine at dinner, dead by dessert
Victim or witness, we're gonna get hurt
A fragile existence with echoes of wrath
I can't stop the bleeding nor the tears from thine eye
There's another us around somewhere with much better lives

This is followed by "Audrey's Dance" and she gets up as if in a pantomime of her old identity but of course she's interrupted, once again by a pair of strangers having a problem in their relationship. And we could say this all goes back to the strange cockroach frog that crawled into the girl's mouth in episode eight.

The whole episode was brilliant but my favourite scene was Diane talking to Gordon, Albert (Miguel Ferrer), and Tammy (Chrysta Bell). That gun in her purse was a potent reminder of why Lynch was once so often compared to Hitchcock--it's hard to think of a better example of Hitchcock's "bomb under the table" philosophy of suspense. I was really worried she was going to shoot Gordon but, of course, two legendary knights were much quicker on the draw.
setsuled: (Doctor Chess)

If one watches Doctor Who through from the 1963 première to present, one notices there has been a definite feminist evolution on the show. It's something the writers have been quite conscious of as you can see in the moment in The Five Doctors when the Fifth Doctor has to apologise for the First Doctor automatically ordering a woman to make him some tea. Watching the gradual change on the show gives one a peek into how attitudes about the place of women in work and society were changing in the world at the time. From The Daleks, the second serial, when Barbara, a schoolteacher, fearfully asks fellow teacher Ian what's going on when there's no reason to expect he should know more than her; to the Second Doctor's young math wiz companion, Zoe; to the Third Doctor's first companion, Liz, who was actually a respected scientist. It was during the Third Doctor's era that feminism started being discussed more by the characters in dialogue--Three and Liz are amused and disappointed by a chauvinist administrator who doesn't want her included in a meeting in The Silurians. And when Three's second companion, Jo Grant, was introduced, she specifically mentions "women's lib" in sticking up for herself. Arguably she did need to make her case as the show deliberately dropped the knowledgeable Liz so the Doctor could have a more traditionally clueless companion to explain things to.

The show would take a step back now and then, as in the Fourth Doctor's first season when his companion, Sarah Jane Smith, was reduced to a whiny damsel in distress, which I suspect was a factor in actress Elisabeth Sladen almost leaving the show. But in the Fourth Doctor's second season, partly due to some great improvisational chemistry between the two actors, Sladen made Smith a fuller character capable of courage and ingenuity, which makes for a more interesting dynamic in addition to being less obnoxious.

Anyway, this is all a lead up to me saying I watched the Fifth Doctor serial, Four to Doomsday, again this past week. When I was complaining about the lack of Chinese characters on the show after Talons of Weng-Chiang, someone reminded me that Four to Doomsday has Burt Kwouk as Lin Futu, the head of a group of Mandarin Chinese men detained on the giant spacecraft on which the serial takes place.

I'd completely forgotten him, possibly because he doesn't have much of a role in the serial. He's about for the whole thing but doesn't actually have any significant dialogue until the fourth episode where the Fifth Doctor swiftly convinces him to come over to his side. This was only the second time I'd watched the serial and I'd forgotten other things, too, like the beautiful moment when the Doctor calls Adric an idiot.

I've watched State of Decay and Keeper of Traken a few times but generally I avoid watching any serial featuring Adric. When I want to watch a Fifth Doctor serial, I'm most likely to watch Arc of Infinity (I love the stuff in Amsterdam), Enlightenment, Frontios, and of course, The Caves of Androzani. Though I would say the Fifth Doctor has some of the worst written episodes of the series and it's not all Adric's fault--Time-Flight is tedious and Warriors of the Deep tragically squanders an appearance by Ingrid Pitt.

But the reason I started talking about feminism is because one of the reasons I hated Adric so much was that he took valuable time away from Nyssa. As shown in the first episode of Four to Doomsday, she's a lot smarter and more sensible than Adric but by the fourth serial, in a disappointing throwback to Barbara in The Daleks, Nyssa looks to Adric as a figure of strength and reassurance in a moment of danger, crying out, "Adric!" for no apparent reason. Ugh.

To be fair, it's clear we're meant, in this serial at least, to find Adric annoying--thus the Doctor calling him an idiot. And I kind of like how some of the drama in this serial comes from Adric and Tegan being twits. Though when Tegan tries to run off by herself in the TARDIS, it's a lot more satisfying watching her stomp on the TARDIS manual in her heels than it is to listen to Adric being a snot.

It's hard to believe Peter Davison had to fight for Nyssa to stay--she wasn't supposed to stay on as a permanent companion. I'd forgotten, too, how Adric and Nyssa were written as a pair of mildly competitive children, I'm so used to the nearly romantic chemistry between Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor in the audio plays.

Despite some awkward writing and staging for the collection of earthlings on the ship, Four to Doomsday is a pretty good serial, one of the better in the Fifth's first season. Davison is particularly good in it, at turns guilelessly enthusiastic to learn about this strange place and people, at turns carefully playing the circumstances to outwit the arrogant would-be invaders.

Twitter Sonnet #1027

The alphabet's composed of rubber balls.
You can't festoon a cloud with painted cans.
Forgotten throats will never clear the halls.
Across the yard a hare'll load the vans.
What autumn comes in fire's folded sleep?
What shaky turning bed beheld the cell?
In time with ticking planes the punch was deep.
But careful chords could not replace the bell.
To metal turned the sighing morning grass.
Found late at night but made for dawn it was.
Behind some worlds the stars concealed a mass.
The calmer dream runs as it always does.
At last a certain note returned to blank.
The final eyes could see the islands sank.
setsuled: (Venia Chess)

If you're looking for spectacle, you needn't have looked further than Sunday night's new Game of Thrones. The rapid pace of the new season may have sacrificed anything remotely resembling logic but it's led to some undeniably great visuals. Plus "Beyond the Wall" spared some time for character dialogue and the old fashioned tale of a good handsome king and a good beautiful queen falling for each other.

Spoilers after the screenshot

So for anyone like me who was still holding a candle for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) getting together, those hopes were truly dashed when Daenerys said Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) was "too little". She obviously was sorry to offend Tyrion but clearly the massive Kal Drogo has adjusted her standards. As Tyrion points out, Drogo, the man who raped her after she was forced to marry him, eventually fell in love with her. And Tyrion's picked up on Jon's love, too. Fortunately Jon seems to have made up for his short stature with his trademark guileless urge to do good at any cost.

Once again, that miserable Nibelung, Tyrion, tries to give Daenerys some "strategy" she knows in her heart not to heed and she rushes off to save Jon along with a few other really good guys, including her old right hand man, Jorah (Iain Glen). Suggestions that he might be in love with her have so far been tamped down this season but I still wonder if there'll be any conflict between him and Jon over it. Though the two of them seem to have nothing but respect for each other, as when it occurs to Jon way out in the icy wilderness to give Jorah his sword. It's a shame Jon didn't think of this back at the Eastwatch armoury or maybe on the long voyage up from Dragonstone to the Wall--but, I promised myself I wouldn't harp too much on this episode's logical problems. I used to feel basically alone in doing that but it seems practically every review I read can't avoid discussing them now. A lot of people seem stuck on the fact that the White Walkers had massive chains to pull the dead dragon out of the water. I was more stuck on the fact that the undead still haven't heard of archery. Or any kind of ranged attack.

Well, except for that Darth Maul guy and his dragon killing ice javelins.

Which is why the only logical problem that really bothered me was wondering why the hell the dragons didn't breathe fire on that guy. And it bothered me because I really was invested in Daenerys and I felt bad when one of her children got killed. There's nothing more frustrating than a beloved character's pain being exacerbated by something that doesn't make any sense. It makes me disengage. To quote an Elvis Costello lyric, "You say I got no feelings, well this is a good way to kill them."

But it was cool seeing dragons fighting White Walkers. And what gorgeous locations.

Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) discovers Arya's (Maisie Williams) face stash (not a moustache, I mean a hoard of faces). I loved how the two seemed like kids again when they argued and one suspects Arya is a little right about Sansa's vanity--part of her still is the little girl who wants the fairy tale ending. And the natural feelings of rivalry between two siblings have been exacerbated in Arya by the fact that she's learned not to trust anyone, which was a nice touch. I noticed the writers are starting to retcon the motives of the Vale troops, emphasising that they came to fight for Sansa and not Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). This undermines the basic drama from last season--the whole reason Sansa didn't want to call for aid from the Vale was because she didn't want to be indebted to Littlefinger. But at least it makes it so she has a legitimate claim to a position of authority beyond her heritage.
setsuled: (Default)

It's weird getting used to an absolutely transcendent experience in television every Sunday night, watching Twin Peaks. And it's always different--the newest episode, "There's Some Fear in Letting Go", I doubt left any fan of the old series with dry eyes.

Spoilers after the screenshot

In an extraordinary moment of life and art coalescing, actress Catherine Coulson, who died before filming on this season completed, performed the death scene of Margaret Lanterman. Seeing her looking so frail all season with her hair gone and tubes in her nose, it's hard not to feel the reality in her discussing death with Hawk (Michael Horse). As one of the most recognisable figures of what made Twin Peaks distinct from the beginning, it's appropriate for the death of the Log Lady to be given such attention . . . and the grief in that dim conference room where only a tearful Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) is fully illuminated is . . . well, there are no words to do it justice.

Margaret's not the only character death in the episode. In addition to the abrupt execution of Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) and his assistant, it also seems Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) commits suicide though we don't actually see him die.

I loved the way Alicia Witt played Gersten's reaction on the other side of the tree when she heard the gunshot. The way she claws at her hair it's clear she's immediately trying to scrub her mind of any understanding of what she's just heard. She looks up at the trees--we'd been getting point of view shots from Steven of the trees too and I really love how much this season makes the forest a character. There had always been talk about a darkness and a mystery present in the woods around Twin Peaks but since there had to be more limitations on exterior shots in the old series you didn't get to see the forest nearly as much. Now Lynch is using the woods every chance he gets. It's there for bad things and good, as when we see shots of trees and mountains after Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma (Peggy Lipton) embrace and kiss openly in the RR, finally free to be together.

Once again, we have a work of art being interpreted and provoking actions its creator could never have anticipated. This new season began with Dr. Jacobi receiving the shipment of shovels and painting them. Lynch invited us to contemplate them long before explaining how they were tied to Jacobi's political internet show. Who could have guessed Jacobi's exhortation that his viewers shovel out of the shit would motivate Nadine (Wendie Robie) to set Ed free?

Likewise, Bill Wilder never knew that giving Cecil B. DeMille a line about a character named "Gordon Cole" would inspire Lynch to use that name for a character and would also inspire Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) to be Dale Cooper again.

The new Twin Peaks can function as a public safety video, too. Don't run out into traffic and don't stick a fork in a power outlet. If you didn't know before you're certainly never going to forget now.

Maybe the most amazing segment, though, was Mr. C's (Kyle MacLachlan) encounter at the legendary convenience store. This segment tied the area above the convenience store, first mentioned by Mike (Al Strobel) in Cooper's original Red Room dream (or in the alternate pilot ending), with the old room with torn floral wallpaper Laura (Sheryl Lee) entered through the picture given to her by Mrs. Tremond. In Fire Walk with Me it seemed to connect to the Black Lodge but in a marvellously spooky sequence last night we saw Mr. C walk with a woodsman through the same doorway only to enter a long corridor of complete darkness which occasionally faded into ominously creaking trees.

He finally finds Phillip Jeffries--is he trapped in that ghostly motel? In any case, he's now a massive tea kettle voiced by Nathan Frizzell. My friend Caitlin pointed out to me that this tea kettle resembled one of the machines from the Fireman's home in episode 8.

Speaking of eight, Jeffries motel room is eight.

It's also the number on Freddie's (Jake Wardle) cell.

All these numbers on the show. I hope some mathematician fans are getting a kick out of them, I can't make heads or tails of them so far. Dougie seems to be associated with the number seven a lot. Does it mean something that James is in cell seven?

Poor James. His shy little greeting to Renee (Jessica Szohr) sure got out of control. But it puts Freddie in the same room with Naido (Nae Yuuki) so perhaps all this was arranged. Andy (Harry Goaz) said people are trying to kill her, now she's got the police station around her and a guy with super strength.

Finally, it was confirmed at last that Richard (Eamon Farren) is Audrey's (Sherilyn Fenn) son. This was followed by another strange scene between Audrey and Charlie (Clark Middleton) who is not, as I thought, a dwarf. The actor actually has a form of arthritis that inhibited his bone growth and he was apparently in Kill Bill vol 2 but I don't remember him at all. Anyway, the scene ends with Audrey trying to strangle him and after the way bits of their conversation have resembled things said in the Girls in Roadhouse Booths vignettes and we'd just seen Steven apparently feeling guilty about something, possibly for harming Becky in some way, I wonder if the idea is that actions tend to travel on spiritual currents out into a community. Or maybe through power lines.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

Some people seemed surprised last week when Arya wasn't able to successfully go unseen by Littlefinger on Game of Thrones. I'm not entirely sure if we're supposed to take her as a master of stealth or if her apparent lack of skill is quite intentional. I'm leaning towards the latter after having looked back over some of my reviews from previous seasons. I really hope it's the latter because then her story makes a lot more sense. Although HBO themselves accidentally leaked to-night's episode last week, I've been good and haven't watched it yet so for all I know many of you reading will see I've already been proved wrong. Either way, I would argue Arya discovering that stealing a magic trick is no substitute for study and training is a much better story.

Back in season five, I was already noticing Arya (Maisie Williams) had a tendency to stare directly at her targets with a pretty telling facial expression. She soon went even further by following her targets around with a wheelbarrow of fish, still staring directly at them and not even pretending to be trying to sell anyone anything.

After being blinded for stealing the magic face changing ability to kill an unsanctioned target--significantly, Arya couldn't have done the job without stealing the magic--she's blinded and starts training as a blind fighter. At this point, George R.R. Martin had set up Arya's life as a series of crushing disappointments but I still had hope that she might become the Zatoichi of Westeros. She starts to get a little better at fighting the Waif (Faye Marsay) with a quarterstaff but her sight is restored before she gets really good at it. Her training with the sword from season one seems to have made her a good fighter when she can see so it doesn't seem like anything was really gained from the blind training.

Here's Arya once again with her patented "I'm undisguisedly dangerous and solemn" stare on her first big post-blindness mission among a theatre troupe. I got my first sign that Arya's incompetence might have actually been intentional when her target, Lady Crane (Essie Davis), actually calls her on it. She actually notices how conspicuous Arya is among the others back stage. Which should be no surprise. While everyone else gabs and bustles about with jobs to do, Arya is busy being silent and staring while moving props and costumes.

Having botched this mission and taken the side of her target, it seems Arya's now going to be a target herself of the Faceless Ones. She seems quite inspired when she comes to this decision, taking a moment to enjoy a sea breeze and immediately falling prey to an assassin.

This all led up to a final confrontation between Arya and the Waif that finally brought the Faceless Ones plot to a conclusion. At what point in any of the episodes I went over above did Arya learn to be good at stealth? She never did. At the time I listed these problems with the climax and conclusion:

1) Assassin from the greatest assassin guild in the world stabs Arya in the gut multiple times and fails to kill her. 2) An actress stitches up what ought to be a fatal gut wound and uses the healing power of opium. 3) The assassin is forced to chase Arya through the streets in broad daylight because of her incompetence. 4) Jaqen says Arya is finally No One just because Arya killed the girl who was trying to kill her which kind of suggests the whole creed is a bullshit veneer for the typical king of the hill set up.

And indeed, now that Arya's at Winterfell in a position of recognised authority, there's nothing about her that suggests she's become "No-One". What has Arya taken from the whole experience with the Faceless Ones? A magic power to change her face. That's it. So far this season Arya's made no mention or reference to those events or how she might have digested the philosophy of the Faceless Ones.

Throughout the first four seasons, we saw Arya's descent into an increasingly desperate struggle to survive while nurturing a growing worship of death itself. Which is no surprise given that death had been the most persistent and powerful influence on her life. The Faceless One plot at first seemed to be about the death of identity but since it was never properly resolved this aspect of Arya's character development also seems to be in limbo. At this point, I would be very satisfied if Arya found she had to pay a price for having skipped so many lessons. I think it could be the only thing that would make her interesting again.

Twitter Sonnet #1025

The perfect photos made the meals for us.
In deed and thought the bending sky was seen.
Awakened by cathedrals in a bus.
In normal pods we called the hero "Bean".
Beside the glowing phone were pictures watched.
There's nothing for the couch we patched at dawn.
If sofas stay then stools and stoops were botched.
Arrange the chairs in rows as though they're gone.
Remembered mountains made their oats complete.
In striving to enrich the bud we grew.
Like nothing monarch Rand can just compete.
The polished stone returned when rock came true.
Behind their glasses reddened bottles walk.
Outside the eyes a rider's come to knock.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

And everyone continues riding a plot bullet train on the newest Game of Thrones. By the end of "Eastwatch", Sunday's new episode written by Dave Hill, almost no-one is even close to where they were at the beginning of the episode. Some people even managed to get into King's Landing and back. Filled with some nice moments and, as usual, gorgeous locations, I think my current favourite character is Davos (Liam Cunningham).

Spoilers after the screenshot

It was fun seeing him work his smuggler's magic, fast talking those couple of soldiers with some mythical viagra seafood. It's a shame Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) had to blunder out--and in a recognisable scarf, no less.

It was nice that Tyrion and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) could meet up again to discuss the events that led to Tyrion's escape from King's Landing, in particular Tyrion's killing of their father. It's hard for Jaime to take but it's clear he kind of gets where Tyrion is coming from. It's a little hint of the family drama that made Tyrion such a great character back in the show's heyday. Now I guess I'm the only one still holding a candle for a relationship between him and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). But she clearly has eyes for Jon (Kit Harington).

Who says Game of Thrones doesn't give life lessons? Here's a tip, lads--you want to please the woman of your dreams, learn to pet the raging dragon between her legs in a gentle and respectful manner. I'm not being ironic when I say I felt like there was a nice erotic undertone to that scene.

But then the old slow burning romantic flame Jorah (Iain Glen) shows up unexpectedly and he and Jon are shipped off to beyond the Wall. Wow, I'm dizzy just from how much ground was covered in that sentence. I wonder if we'll be getting some suitor rivalry between Jon and Jorah.

All these people and armies moving all over the continent, presumably a lot more time is passing than it seems, but Cersei's (Lena Headey) hair still hasn't grown.

Maybe she likes it short. I'm looking forward to seeing her meet Daenerys. Wouldn't it be great if they became friends? Oh, come on, that would be great. Wouldn't it? Well, I guess there's the matter of them both wanting the Iron Throne. Cersei believes that her choices are either losing the war and dying and surrendering and dying so it makes sense she's willing to parley especially now that she's pregnant. She doesn't know yet that Daenerys was willing to spare any of the Lannister allies who bent the knee to her--it would be interesting to find out what Cersei would do if she did know. I don't quite follow the logic that it's better to roast uncooperative families alive than imprison them, especially when Daenerys has her father's reputation to live down.

Do I need to even point out how improbable Jaime's escape was and how silly it was he and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) were cosily chatting on the riverbank? Okay, didn't think so. There's not really any point anymore pointing this stuff out.

I do really like that the show owns up to the fact that Arya (Maisie Williams) is terrible at stealth as Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) easily outmanoeuvres her. Though the fact that he didn't destroy Sansa's message kind of makes it obvious he wanted Arya to find it. I'm not sure why he wants to create a rift between the sisters other than a general desire to sow chaos. Which, as we know, is a ladder. I still find it hard to believe he really wants the Iron Throne, though. As William S. Burroughs put it:

I never wanted to be a front man like Harding or Nixon–taking the rap, shaking hands, and making speeches all day, family reunions once a year. Who in his right mind would want a job like that? As commissioner of sewers I would not be called upon to pet babies, make speeches, shake hands, have lunch with the queen; in fact, the fewer voters who knew of my existence, the better. Let kings and Presidents keep the limelight. I prefer a whiff of coal gas as the sewers rupture for miles around
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

A very exciting new Twin Peaks last night answered a lot of questions and made a lot of connexions in a beautiful way. Things came to fruition that felt like they were carefully set up twenty five years ago and it was a delight to get lost in those trees.

Spoilers after the screenshot

One of the main reasons the new Twin Peaks feels like such a revelation is that it feels like David Lynch shot something drawn from his own experiences while even the best television nowadays tends to be impressions and clever reworkings of other works of fiction. When Andy (Harry Goaz)--who's great in this episode--vanishes from the other plane like a flickering lamp, it feels like Lynch's idea of someone or something actually vanishing rather than effects people sitting around wondering what would be a cool new version of something that's been done a million times before.

We're certainly benefiting from the creative control Lynch has on the show. It was nice to have those atmospheric shots of the woods leading up to the discovery of the eyeless woman, Naido (Nae Yuuki), who seems to have survived getting flung into the void after her encounter with Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). One of the effective ways of making a monster scary is to give it injuries or impairments of some kind--there's something inherently frightening about vulnerability. Naido simultaneously provokes concern and fear--this episode seems to confirm that she's an agent for the forces of good, which seems to indicate she was not in on the plot to trick Cooper. Maybe she was trying to warn him with that strange, urgent, birdlike, unintelligible speech.

The unnamed drunk (Jay Aaseng), who might be the elusive Billy, also provokes alarm for the sight of his injuries. Imitating Naido in the cells, to the great irritation of the sleazy Chad (John Pirruccello), the two create a forest-like cacophony of monkeys and birds and I was reminded of Mike and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) barking like dogs at the oddly vulnerable James (James Marshall) in those very same cells back in the pilot episode. Something about these cells turns people into animals.

And James features in the next scene where we see he's become a security guard at the Great Northern. We meet his co-worker from London, Freddie (Jake Wardle), and learn about the green glove bestowed upon him by the Fireman (Carel Struycken), who until now had been credited as simply ????????? in the new series.

The idea of him being a Fireman makes sense given the fact that he is in opposition to forces of the oft-referenced Fire. His job is to put out the fire. But as Hawk (Michael Horse) told us, Fire isn't necessarily bad. One of the fascinating things about this is that it undermines the idea that the Fireman is simply a force of good. The Arm, after all, had the "Fire Walk with Me" tattoo and seems to draw power by invoking this phrase. And we learn that the first sign of Freddie's new strength with his glove is when he accidentally hurts the "jobsworth" who resisted selling him the glove. Like the cops who don't believe the information from Dougie's fingerprints, this clerk in Freddie's story can't see beyond the common realities of his job to contemplate the possibility of the extraordinary.

Green seems to indicate power and danger. The glove is green, the ring is green, the formica table is green, Dougie wore an ugly green sport coat, and last night Diane (Laura Dern) was wearing green in a green chair.

Still a dragon, yet she seemed to be remarkably helpful. It seemed like Cooper in his life as Dougie was hopelessly cut off from all connexions to his former life and acquaintances, but now we know that Janey E is Diane's sister. The texted message to Diane about Las Vegas a few episodes back seems to indicate Diane knows all this already. Why has she held back and why doesn't she hesitate to divulge information now? A mysterious dame, this Diane.

I love the fact that Gordon (David Lynch) gets prophetic dreams from Monica Bellucci and I loved the flashback to Fire Walk with Me where David Bowie's lines make a lot more sense for the current story than they did in the context of that movie. Those who've seen the extended version of that scene in The Missing Pieces know the encounter ended with Jeffries anguished at realising he'd appeared in Gordon's office at the wrong date. It was nice Bowie ended up on this series in some capacity.

I would so love to see the TV show where David Lynch and David Bowie were FBI agents in the 70s. Though it's great just hearing Miguel Ferrer tell a story.

Finally, well, what can I say about Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie)? She does the same face trick as Laura did earlier in the season but inside is not blinding white light but rather darkness and mismatched human features. Another demon merrily disrupting nature though I doubt anyone's crying for the douchebag whose throat Sarah bit out. What happened to her? Whatever it is, I've loved the slow, sinister build to it all season with shots of her questionable television viewing preferences.

Twitter Sonnet #1023

In sums derived behind the boat we ate.
In tinkling tests the wind described the shells.
Inside the leaves of eyes the tigers wait.
Abnormal notice came through normal bells.
The tin approached inside the radio.
The shaded dreams of armies washed ashore.
The screws and dials turned the audio.
A writhing worm was glowing through the floor.
The leaves became the seeds between the spines.
To hover over lakes of minds they go.
In every cleat the pitcher moves the mines.
The honey takes the diamond very slow.
The hill of ancient stamps presents a face.
Above, the hardened clouds become the ace.
setsuled: (Venia Chess)

Sunday's new Game of Thrones, "The Spoils of War", was the most satisfying in quite a while for me and my favourite Event Battle episode since "Blackwater". It was a vivid exercise of one of the best, distinguishing qualities of Game of Thrones--a portrayal of a conflict where there are reasons to like both sides.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Hey, is that Monument Valley? I can't seem to find any site that directly states what filming locations were used but there are plenty of articles comparing Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) and her Dothrakis' surprise attack to a Western. Including this interview with the episode's director, Miguel Sapochnik, who says he drew inspiration in part from John Ford's Stagecoach. It makes sense--maybe Fort Apache would make even more sense--the Dothraki versus a wagon train of Lannister soldiers is kind of like Apaches versus a group of out-of-their-depth U.S. army.

This is the third surprise attack this season, the first one to benefit Daenerys. I would send a memo to both sides stressing the usefulness of scouts and lookouts, there's no reason a massive army of Dothraki shouldn't have been spotted sooner. How Daenerys knew to attack this group and when she decided to is another question that most reviews seem to be skipping over. The initial reactions I saw weren't about how it seemed like a Western but about how Daenerys is finally kicking ass now that she's stopped listening to Tyrion's (Peter Dinklage) clever plans. Is attacking the soldiers conducting spoils back to King's Landing not clever?

Daenerys mentions on the beach earlier in the episode that Lannisters are looting the granaries in the Reach. But the only idea we hear Daenerys put forward is attacking the Red Keep. There are a lot of strategic advantages to attacking the loot train--Daenerys gets to demonstrate the power of her dragons with minimal risk to civilians, also dispatching men who'd been terrorising farmers in the process. She also undercuts Cersei's (Lena Headey) standing with Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss) and the Iron Bank. It's so clearly a good idea that if Tyrion didn't see it it wasn't because he was being clever. Possibly we'll find out next week he was blinded by his lingering affection for Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as Daenerys seemed to be implying.

Certainly this was one of the highlights of the season so far, watching poor Tyrion watching Jaime being a fucking, tragic idiot. At least Tyrion has good dramatic material even if this isn't turning out to be the season where he'll finally be useful. Still, we don't technically know whose idea this attack was, it would be kind of fascinating if it turned out to be his.

It was also a good idea to have Bronn (Jerome Flynn) be the one who fires off that anti-dragon ballista. It was good to see Bronn again, everyone's favourite amoral, merry man and seeing him against other characters we like is a nice, sobering highlight of the basic ugliness of conflict, if all those roasting soldiers wasn't enough. It would have been nice to have another scene like Arya's (Maisie Williams) encounter with the regular joe Lannister soldiers from a few episodes back but the juxtaposition is still there. Aside from Ed Sheeran, whom I think few of us would mind seeing roasted, it was a nice way of showing these guys have little understanding of the lofty games of conquest and politics played by their superiors. This makes Jaime, and his reluctance to let his men be flogged, all the more effective a counterpoint to Daenerys. Yes, Daenerys avoided civilian casualties, but in the end, slaughter is never pretty.

It might be a pyrrhic victory, too, if it turns out to mean the death of Drogon Dragon, though it really doesn't look like a mortal wound to me.

Meanwhile, at Winterfell, in the drastically less interesting part of the episode, the Starks continue to be dull. The reunion of Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya was diminished by the bad writing both characters have been victims of for the past couple seasons. I can just imagine the conversation:

ARYA: "So how've you been?"

SANSA: "Well, I was still the same idealistic, foolish girl you remember until I was raped, then people started acting like I was a genius, though the only thing I've done so far is ask Littlefinger for help winning the Battle of the Bastards without telling Jon. You?"

ARYA: "I went to train to be a master assassin but I got impatient and stole their magic and came home. I'm now a master assassin who rides openly through Lannister territory."

Nevertheless, the sparring match between Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Arya was pretty cool and well choreographed. And the two have the beginnings of some nice chemistry.

I'm still not sure why everyone's being so openly rude to Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). Apart from not being very grateful to the man who saved them in the Battle of the Bastards, what is it exactly they blame Littlefinger for? He didn't force Sansa to marry Ramsey and for all we know he really didn't know he was a psychopath. Do they know he betrayed Ned in season one?

Twitter Sonnet #1021

In tapered mugs the coffee points below.
A shining dress adorns a cloudless arm.
The marching flags proclaim a cooking glow.
Penne appeals beneath the crumbled parm.
Foretold like laundry spirals make the sun.
Against no other blanket paces match.
In duels they're much too destined to be stunned.
A forceful flower chomps the pollen batch.
Across transparent cakes grew frosting stones.
Upon the month of romping glitch it blooms.
The text received displayed in vision bones.
A building closely gripped the walking rooms.
Accounts portrayed collected courts in grass.
A plastic double chin was served with sass.
setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Last night's new Twin Peaks showed the clear contrast between benevolent forces and cruel. It also contained the best arm wrestling scene I've seen in any movie or TV show and the best use of dandruff since North by Northwest.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Looks like a field of stars.

Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has become a master zen fool. He has lost all connexion to illusory human attachments, even identity, and allows the flow of existence to carry him. There's no guile when he becomes transfixed by the dandruff on Anthony's (Tom Sizemore) coat but it just happens to be the right thing to do. I wonder how much Mike (Al Strobel) and the Arm appreciate this new mode of existence for Cooper since Mike had told him he needed to "wake up". Maybe there'll be limits to Cooper's new powers.

There's something unsettling about his success with the Mitchum brothers. When they come into the Lucky Seven insurance building in that conga line the music sounds like a handful of screws dropped in an air duct. And Candie's (Amy Shiels) glee at giving gifts to Bushnell (Don Murray) seems manic. Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) in his new jungle gym at night with a spotlight is almost frighteningly delirious.

A more markedly uncertain reality appears in Audrey Horne's (Sherilyn Fenn) second episode of the new season. We see her questioning her own motives and identity and her relationship with Charlie (Clark Middleton) has become less clear. Last week he seemed to be her husband, now I wonder if he's a psychiatrist who indulges Audrey when she slips into delusional narratives. Or maybe she's in a dream. It almost feels like Lynch and Frost didn't know what to do with Audrey in the new series and decided to use this uncertainty as a prompt. Well, it certainly works, in my opinion, and I'm intrigued. Her desperation at searching for a basic identity, lacking Cooper's contentment, is kind of heart breaking.

Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) shows how malevolence has greater, more logical efficiency than Dougie's brand. I thought the idea of an arm wrestling scene was silly at first but I was completely won over when C tortured the gang boss, Renzo (Derek Mears), not merely with physical pain but with a complete disruption of the rules of strength and dominance that define the world Renzo understands. Cooper's a master Jedi and C's a consummate Sith.

Cherry pie was discussed a lot again this week, both at Lucky 7 Insurance and at Twin Peaks where we have another nice scene at the RR. Becky (Amanda Seyfried) reveals she has a love for the famous pie as well, also revealing she hasn't seen Steven in two days. I'm no relationship expert but firing off several rounds into his girlfriend's door might have made him skittish.

Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) says they've just found something of his father's "to-day" which is either a continuity error or the police have recovered whatever treasure the capsule map was leading to. Lynch and Frost show a genius level attention to detail so it's hard to believe it's an error.

And poor Big Ed (Everett McGill), finally back and, while he seems to be doing better with Norma (Peggy Lipton) than Bobby is with Shelly (Madchen Amick), things are still remarkably unsure with Norma apparently being wooed by some cheesy corporate cutthroat (Grant Goodeve). Honestly, Ed, I wouldn't worry.
setsuled: (Louise Smirk)

Sunday's new Game of Thrones continued into the lightning round, as well it might considering this season is almost half over already. Major events are rushed through more to get from one plot point to another than to savour them and what they mean to the characters and most of the dialogue scenes were formulaic. But there were some satisfying exchanges, particularly involving Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion.

Spoilers after the screenshot

As the show has drifted further from George R.R. Martin's material, the dialogue has very often consisted of a familiar repeated pattern--whiny person versus cool, smug person. Characters often contort well outside their previously established personalities just so Benioff and Weiss, who wrote "The Queen's Justice", Sunday's episode, can make the pattern work. Varys (Conleth Hill), who was once the figure of cool, collected, and scheming, is obliged to become Whiny to Melisandre's (Carice van Houten) Smug so she can lay him flat with that prophetic line about how the two of them are destined to die in Westeros.

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has been playing Whiny consistently since about the middle of last season. "The Queen's Justice" ends with him paired with Olenna (Diana Rigg) in the Smug role who delivers her argument, about how she's been ruthless and cruel but Cersei's more ruthless and cruel so she's doomed, with such confidence it almost seems like it makes sense. We have Diana Rigg to thank for that, the show will certainly be poorer for her absence.

Another departure, and this was news to me when I read it in the Wikipedia article, is Ellaria Sand, played by Indiria Varma, who's quoted as saying, "Obviously there’s lots of trimming going on. It’s all coming to a head and you have to get rid of less important characters that the audience hasn’t had the chance to invest in as much. So I was expecting it. I wasn’t heartbroken. And I was like, 'As long as I die on screen…' and they were like 'Yeah!' But of course I don’t die on screen. I stay alive, I’m just not going to reappear. I think it’s really clever." It feels more like a loose thread to me. Despite the fact that she's gagged in her final scene, she basically occupies the Whiny role for Cersei (Lena Headey) to explain her wicked plan for tormenting her and her daughter, which was nowhere near as harsh as I was expecting.

Cersei was almost edged into Whiny herself when Euron (Pilou Asbaek) delivered his prisoners by Jaime valiantly stepped into the role for her. Though Jaime actually made a good point about how capricious the favour of the mob is he wasn't even allowed this moment of wisdom as Euron was already aware of this, too, and one upped him on it. Euron is taking over from Ramsay as the ridiculous supervillain and we witnessed his fleet's miraculous power again this week when it bamfed in among the Unsullied ships. Wasn't the attack on Casterly Rock supposed to take place at the same time as Yara's assault on King's Landing? That Euron sure gets around. With a fleet.

The dialogue between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harrington) was largely saved from falling into the pattern partly because the Authority role is too hard wired into Daenerys and partly due to Emilia Clarke's performance. She has gotten to be a much, much better actress in the past three years. I don't know if it's acting coaching or greater passion for her work but it's good to see. Jon presenting the problem of the White Walkers continues to feel like a metaphor for climate change but it being paired with a reference to events that make Jon a Christ-figure adds an interesting moral context to it. One could say that in reality the two things are in opposition--the right wing tends to maintain faith that climate change isn't real despite the evidence, here Jon is a figure of faith asking for faith in the absence of evidence. In a way, this works since many on the right consider science a matter of faith. Which is, of course, depressing.

I had to laugh when Jon said the game of thrones was basically like a bunch of children squabbling since that's exactly how I've described his arguments with Sansa (Sophie Turner) at Winterfell. My eyebrows were certainly raised when Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) described Sansa as smarter than she lets on and this week it seemed like Benioff and Weiss really were trying to make her seem smart now but only by lowering the intelligence of everyone around her. This week we see she's somehow the only one who's thought of storing sufficient food and, bizarrely, the only one whose thought of padding plate armour with leather. I would think if the armour smith wasn't doing this already it would be for a good reason, like maybe there's not enough leather for that. There is a lot of leather on the show, though, so I'm pretty sure there's already a suggestion of cattle being slaughtered in unrealistic quantities anyway.

We then see Sansa transfixed by Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) basically telling her to anticipate all scenarios. Since this isn't a particularly amazing piece of advice, the fact that Sansa seems so absorbed made me think, "Wow, she's falling in love with him." Which I suppose I'm probably not supposed to think. But who knows? I think it would be great if they actually became a couple.

Final thought: who's the Romulan working for Cersei?

setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

As much mileage as Lynch gets out of Peggy Lipton's very expressive face on the new Twin Peaks, plenty of ground was covered with Miguel Ferrer's lack of expression in last night's new episode. Not since Buster Keaton has a stone face been so well deployed for laughs. After last week's very eventful episode, last night returned to haunting atmosphere and perhaps even more haunting new questions.

Spoilers after the screenshot

One way you can tell this show is working is that people who were dying to see Audrey's (Sherilyn Fenn) return feel disappointed we didn't get more Candie this week instead. But Audrey's return is no disappointment--like everything else on the new series, it wastes no time on nostalgia and hits the ground running.

It's like a glimpse into a gutsy one act play. Apparently Audrey has married a guy named Charlie (Clark Middleton), a little person with a bald, pointed head. He looks like a missile in a waistcoat, his piles of paperwork combining with his appearance to give him a slightly Lewis Carroll quality.

It's apparently entirely a marriage of convenience about which Audrey's tired of making any pretence over, boldly telling him that she's fucking someone named Billy. There's some drama involving a truck being borrowed or stolen--could this be the same truck Richard hit the child with? Is Billy the farmer Andy was talking to?

I'm inclined to think Richard is Audrey's son. There are things that make me uncertain. Why did Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) go to Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) to report Richard's crime instead of Audrey if she's his mother? Ben laments Richard's lack of a father. Eamon Farren, who plays Richard Horne, was born in 1985, before the events of the original Twin Peaks series. He could be playing younger--is he the product of Audrey's night spent with Billy Zane's character, John Justice Wheeler, in the second season? Wheeler seemed like he might indeed be the sort to be absent from Richard's life.

I love how much Richard Beymer gets to chew on in his scenes as Ben Horne. Coupled with the assassination of a father by Tim Roth's character elsewhere in the episode, one could be led to believe that Lynch is arguing for the necessity of a paternal influence in a child's life, but one then needs to consider Ben Horne's not entirely scrupulous life despite apparently having really fond memories of his father.

Diane (Laura Dern) discovering the coordinates on Ruth Davenport's arm indeed leads to Twin Peaks as Albert (Miguel Ferrer) teased last week; it's no surprise that the little town is ground zero for the damage to, or portal in, the fabric in reality which Gordon (David Lynch) has apparently been investigating for decades with his Blue Rose task force. At the end of the episode, we're treated again to another vignette of young women talking in a roadhouse booth, joined briefly by Lynch regular Scott Coffey. The impression given is that the world of dysfunction, misdirected or doomed love, and dangerous hedonism is truly vast in the little town. Is it a sign that Twin Peaks is where the strange demons released by the atomic bomb are concentrated?

The scene where Tammy (Chrysta Bell) is brought into the Blue Rose fold finally explains just what the Blue Rose is and connects it to Project Blue Book, with which Major Briggs was involved. The scene is notably reminiscent of the Black Lodge with Diane entering by parting a red curtain and uttering the Man from Another Place's first line, "Let's Rock." Scenes of revelations and crucial choices often seem to be set in places where the set design seems to deliberately echo the Black Lodge--scenes in One Eyed Jacks in the original series come to mind as well as Laura and Donna's misadventure in the Pink Room in Fire Walk with Me.

One of the first scenes in the episode is a truly wonderful and scary moment with Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) at a liquor store. She's disturbed by the sight of beef jerky that's made from turkey. I had two theories about what this could mean--Laura, in Fire Walk with Me, called herself a "turkey in the corn" and last week we saw black corn on Hawk's (Michael Horse) map. There's also the possibility that it's a reference to Sarah's experience with possessing spirits. The turkey jerky is externally like the beef jerky but it's in essence a different thing. Then she leaves the store talking to herself in the third person. It's worth remembering that, before the new series, chronologically the last time we saw her, in the finale of the second season, Sarah was delivering a message to Major Briggs and she was speaking with another voice.

And what are we to make of Gordon's encounter with the vivacious French woman (Berenice Marlowe)? It was like a scene from Amarcord, it definitely was the most Fellini-ish I've seen Lynch. It added to the feeling that what the new Twin Peaks is is even bigger than being a great new David Lynch project--it feels like a resurrection of a kind of great filmmaking in France and Italy in the 60s and 70s--it's worth mentioning now that the great French New Wave actress Jeanne Moreau passed away yesterday. If you haven't seen any of her movies, remedy it. Jules et Jim is essential viewing.

This daughter of a turnip farmer on Twin Peaks seems to be posing for Gordon, it almost feels more like a moment where Lynch is dwelling on the collaborative relationship between a director and an actress in creating the impression of a beautiful woman on screen.


setsuled: (Default)

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