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About that season finale...

Yes, the one I finally got around to watching on my actual TV while I was home sick yesterday. I'm sure it shocks you all terribly that the Queen of Nonverbal wanted to rewatch it in a form more than five inches across before trying to blog about it. :-)

Not least because watching Henry takes on a whole new dimension when you know there's no way he didn't realize immediately that Coreen had no heartbeat. Not that he didn't have plenty of reasons to go into emotional lockdown anyway, but yikes. He accepts it and proceeds to operate on the basis that they've almost certainly already lost her -- and just because he's had ample experience of losing the people he cares about to every flavor of death doesn't mean it gets any easier -- but he can't bring himself to tell the others until Astaroth corners him into it. And you can see every bit of that going on. Throw in the ongoing meltdown with Vicki and the prospect of giving up the life he's built in Toronto and starting over, and even the patented Fitzroy knack for compartmentalization is stretched to the limit.

I would like to note, for the record, how glad I am that no one else was in the house the first time I watched this, and therefore no one heard me holler "HOLY F***!!!" at the top of my classically-trained lungs when we saw the gaping hole in Coreen's chest. It would have been very embarrassing. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but I haven't been knocked for that much of a loop by a single plot twist since I first listened to the Wicked cast album and realized what the results of the "No Good Deed" spell would be. (Big spoilery link there, obviously.)

If we get a second season? I desperately want her to refer to herself as the captain of the Flying Dutchman at some point. :-D

Someone please tell me that this ordeal will FINALLY teach Coreen to listen to her instincts when they tell her something is Very, Very Wrong. She has them. They're pretty darn reliable. You can see the alarm bells going off...and you can see her choosing to ignore them.

That said, I can't fault her in this case to the extent that I've seen from a couple commenters, for one specific continuity reason: Remember waaaaaay back in the pilot when she told Vicki "I consulted my spiritualist?" There's no reason to think it wasn't Madame Andrea. Not only do they have a weekly appointment, they've had it for probably a year or more. You don't have to be exceptionally trusting to react too slowly to the warning bells under those circumstances.

And Coreen believes the best of everyone, until and unless incontrovertibly proven otherwise. It's part of what makes her her. It's part and parcel of why she's stuck by Vicki through everything (and how much did I love hearing Vicki acknowledge that in so many words?) while both of the men who love her lost faith in her. And -- this is the ouchie part -- she keeps getting punished for it. Norman. Angelique. Lexia and Winter. Tyrone. And now this woman she's trusted on a long-term basis has sold her out to Astaroth. Criminy.

It's a pity adhering to the classic exorcism tropes -- and you really couldn't not adhere to them -- meant most of Gina's fantastic physical work had to happen within the constraints of the chains. Good use of all the basics -- the crack to Mike about his old man, exploiting the doubts born of Father Cascioli's last exorcism, the old "BTW, you do know this innocent victim I'm inhabiting isn't really that innocent, right?" And of course cheating Vicki while keeping to the letter of the bargain.

"No one is dying on my watch." If "I will not be fate's bitch" is the single line that most defines Vicki Nelson, this one runs a mighty close second. And when someone does die on her watch -- be it someone she loves (Mike, Coreen) or just someone she's taken responsibility for (the judge in "Deadly Departed," poor petrified-and-shattered Brendan), she comes very impressively unglued. Heaven help us if we ever see her have to deal with a case of the former that actually sticks. (Not that I don't already know what it looks like in print, of course, and boy howdy is it not a pretty picture. But Christina's acting chops in widescreen living color would be a whole different proposition.) And the lengths that she will go to in order to avoid it (as we already knew, of course, but the proof just keeps coming) are nothing short of terrifying.

And y'know, that right there? Is a doozy of a flaw to stay true to in your lead character on commercial television. They deserve big honkin kudos for that alone.

I have come to the conclusion that in the Blood Ties universe, cell phones with "vibrate" settings are illegal in Canada. Possibly due to demonic influence in Parliament. *nods sagely*

Apart from that, however, Mike is made of 100% grade-AA gold-plated AWESOME. The gorgeous speech to Vicki about how love doesn't wait until you can make plans, dammit! Being there for Vicki because she's Vicki, and for Coreen because what was happening to her was wrong and had to be stopped -- and both of those things taking precedence over what it continues to cost him to acknowledge that this stuff even exists. And of course the most eloquent "Oh, the hell with it" ever uttered onscreen. Pardon me a moment while I sweep up the teeny little shards of my heart from the floor. ~meep~

Memo to Henry: LOCK THE DAMN SWORD AWAY ALREADY. Jeez Louise.

And that "Vicki, no" ... He knew that was a doomed effort. He was absolutely right about one thing: They were playing by Astaroth's rules from the beginning. That choice? Could not have gone ANY other way without her being someone other than Vicki, and everyone in that apartment knew it. The cost of Coreen's life could have been considerably higher, and it still would have been a foregone conclusion. Once he had her, he had all the cards. Pretty much everything else was just screwing with them because it was fun.

Okay, here's the part where the Vicki/Henry shippers stare at me like I have three heads: After all that buildup about the ZOMGCLIFFHANGER? I was relieved that this was what it was. Seriously. We're talking weeks with visions dancing in my head of Coreen dragged into hell or dangling on the edge of death. Henry about to leave, and Astaroth-in-Cascioli on the loose? That I can deal with as an open end. Weird, I know. But especially the former, which is what's generating the most heartache in the fandom at large, is just not what's doing it in this corner.

Here's why: I don't believe for a second that Henry is going anywhere. Not for long, anyway. Right now he's scared out of his mind, and rightfully so. But that won't last. I'm seriously supposed to believe he's going to abandon his territory, his people, with Astaroth at large in a human host? The guy who routinely flings himself bodily at things that are bigger and badder than he is? The one who was determined to go after Pachucamec with no plan whatsoever?

Uh-huh. Pull the other one, sweetie. That ain't gonna happen without a full-blown personality transplant. You can no more turn your back on this than Vicki could let Coreen die.

[Insert wailing and gnashing of teeth about lack of renewal here. If I really get started, I'm not gonna stop.]

[xposted to bloodties_tv]

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
darkmagess
Mar. 1st, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
It was almost funny that he's been stabbed with his father's sword twice. TWICE! The sword on my wall hasn't stabbed me even once. I think his is defective. He should perhaps switch to hammers.

And btw, Mike's playing with the sword seems SO perfect for how I want ep 21 and 22 to be ;) Symmetry, I tell you.

I was actually shocked that Coreen didn't die at the end. That's what the rumor mill had me believing after Gina took the role on Flash Gordon-that it would all make sense because the girl was going to die.

This episode and the Medusa one really define... no... fill in? round out? they make Mike a whole person. He shows insight rather than just reacting to things that happen around him with a beleaguered sense of dread and justice.

It really was frickin creepy that Henry knew all along about Coreen's heart and didn't SAY anything.
wiliqueen
Mar. 1st, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
The sword on my wall hasn't stabbed me even once. I think his is defective. He should perhaps switch to hammers.

*splorfle* None of mine are sharp. But I'll confess to a few interesting bruises.

I was actually shocked that Coreen didn't die at the end.

I would have expected it, but I knew this was finished before she had the FG gig. I read an interview last summer where Gina was talking about switching mental gears from being possessed to audition for Dale the same week. (IIRC, she did it on an afternoon off, not even a whole day. I swear she burns her candle in more dimensions than I do!)

So I pretty much interpreted the rumor mill to expect it to be an open question whether she would live or die. And figured it would be very convenient if and when they got a pickup, with Gina's availability or lack thereof deciding the outcome.

It really was frickin creepy that Henry knew all along about Coreen's heart and didn't SAY anything.

Word. But I can't blame him -- what the hell would he say? To Vicki? And even after it was out, no way was he going to be the one to suggest that it was too late and Astaroth was playing them on false hope, even though I think he was mostly convinced of that himself. He left that to the poor guy who doesn't know Vicki.

Also, I figure there's about an even chance he didn't notice it during the actual fight. In which case there were probably a couple seconds there of Oh, shit, I killed her!

Edited at 2008-03-01 01:21 pm (UTC)
maiac
Mar. 1st, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
I am sorely pissed, truly ANNOYED that the show ended on such a cliffhanger even though they didn't have even a strong probability of a second season. It's not fair to the fans to leave us on such a downer without a guarantee of sorting it all out in future episodes. And it would be sorted out in a hypothetical second season, because otherwise the premise of the show is blown to smithereens.

The last several episodes seemed very weird for a first season -- too much moving too quickly, and moving in a very gloomy direction. The early episodes had tragedy, but they weren't gloomy. What's up with that?

Maybe it's just me. I dislike writing that wallows in "life sucks and then you die." It offends me that the writers took Vicki down the "life sucks and then you die" path, because Vicki is not like that. Our last sight of her is of her staring into the blackness, looking hopeless. What happened to "I will not be fate's bitch"?

Edited at 2008-03-01 04:38 am (UTC)
darkmagess
Mar. 1st, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Happiness generally makes for poor storytelling, though. I mean, what's there to say? You gotta knock them down in order to bring them up... so you can knock them down again. ;)
maiac
Mar. 1st, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
My objection wasn't to unhappiness, it was to gloom: not knock 'em down in order to bring them up, but knock 'em down and they stay down. No "up".

And my objection in this instance is that the series knocked 'em down when there might not be an opportunity to bring 'em back up again.
wiliqueen
Mar. 1st, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC)
It's not just you by any means, but I'm less bothered by it. I think I'm just too used to accepting cliffhangers as endings at this point. And I confess I surprised myself by finding this one a lot easier to take than some.

What happened to "I will not be fate's bitch"?

And the reason that doesn't really bother me is that I don't parse it as an ending. It's just a pause, even if it never resumes. She doesn't know what to do right this moment, but that won't last. It can't. That's my visceral reaction, not rationalization. Which just makes me lucky, I know.
maiac
Mar. 1st, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's just a pause, but since there's the possibility that she'll be stuck on pause, it was unfair of the writers to develop that particular arc the way they did. It could have been saved for the hypothetical second season, so if there wasn't a second season at least the story wouldn't be stuck in the Slough of Despond.

Edited at 2008-03-01 03:16 pm (UTC)
wiliqueen
Mar. 1st, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
*nod* I see your point intellectually; it's just not my gut response anymore, if it ever was.

There are pros and cons to both going forward on the assumption that you will get to continue telling your story the way you want, and hedging your bets in case you don't. To me it's really a wash, and there are going to be people who feel strongly both ways.
vretallin
Mar. 1st, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
I agree with you. I loved how it ended and no I do not think for a second that Henry is going to be gone for long if he goes at all. Or else everything will follow him there. I really thought this was well done and planned. I just dislike the whole non-renewal issue as much as everyone else does.
allmightybecca
Mar. 1st, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for writing this. I've been checking back here to see if you have for awhile. My two cents on why they ended this way: 1) Its a great start to a second season with lots of threads to pick up or leave off all from this one episode. 2)I think there was a strong possibility that there would be more BT back when this was made last year. Its only since then with the financial split of one the main backers that things started to look questionable and then you throw in Lifetime and how its acted (and so sadly it's still questionable...I'm joining you in the wailing and gnashing of teeth).
wiliqueen
Mar. 1st, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to for AGES. Now I just need to do about four Project Runway posts and I'll be caught up...
studiesinlight
Mar. 1st, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to let you know I read and appreciated your review of the BT finale. I'll have to rewatch it myself before I make any substantive reply, but I recall simultaneously ticking off the conventions of the possession, cliche by cliche, as they passed through them, and thinking that they were, even so, pulling it off with a stunning maturity, as they often do. Somehow the wanton silliness of the genre conventions is neither hampered by nor hampering of the complex characters and relationships.

I was disappointed by the staleness of giving Mike father issues, too, however. I demand a good paternal relationship to contrast with all the fraught ones. And I wanted to insert a snappy rejoinder to Henry's "midnight mass" comment, because at that latitude, it's most certainly not only the Christmas and Easter vigils that happen in the dark. ;-) You can go every Saturday evening in winter, Mr. Self-righteous. (Heck, in a city that size, I bet he could find Sunday night masses, too. Got 'em here.) But yes, I did like making it all TV canon, at last.

As cliffhanger endings go ... I'm only seeing the fanfiction possibilities, here. I'm not exactly unflappable, but given the massacre finales my fandoms have lived through, this looks really very ... cope-able? And there's something joyful about such a thorny tangle. Simply beating the bad guy is not enough, and that's as it should be, for this smart, mature story.

What are the DVD prospects?
wiliqueen
Mar. 1st, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
Somehow the wanton silliness of the genre conventions is neither hampered by nor hampering of the complex characters and relationships.

Yes! This is an excellent summary of what draws me to these shows, and why I love them so much when they're done this well.

I was disappointed by the staleness of giving Mike father issues, too, however. I demand a good paternal relationship to contrast with all the fraught ones.

I have to agree, though it was a minor enough point for me that I didn't think to mention it. Also, I can imagine it having been a point of connection between him and Vicki early on. But I would still prefer otherwise.

The only candidate left among the regulars is Coreen, about whose family we know nothing at all. Curiously enough, I just found out last week that the pilot originally had the line from the novel about how she could pay Vicki because she gets plenty of "guilt money" from Daddy, who swanned off with his secretary several years before. It was mentioned on the Bloodlines board by the script supervisor, and apparently it was there late enough to have been filmed, but in the aired version it had become "I have a job." I thought the change was interesting before I found out how late it was made!

You can go every Saturday evening in winter, Mr. Self-righteous.

No kidding. And that's not even getting into Raymond, almost immediately thereafter, listing hearing confession among the duties on his plate that evening! A priest who knows what he is and hugs him in greeting? Deserves to be seeing more of him than that.

And there's something joyful about such a thorny tangle. Simply beating the bad guy is not enough, and that's as it should be, for this smart, mature story.

Very well said indeed.

What are the DVD prospects?

I think we're still looking at June in the U.S. The U.K. ones are already out, but with no extras. From things said in various interviews, there was quite a bit done during production for extras, and they were planning commentaries as well.
phantomminuet
Mar. 2nd, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Apart from that, however, Mike is made of 100% grade-AA gold-plated AWESOME.

He most certainly is. I thought Dylan was just fabulous in this episode. Mike comes across as more interesting, more emotionally complex, more capable of evoking a sense of pathos than Henry, who's made to look something like a quitter. Granted, I ain't buying into it any more than you are (those of us who've read the books know exactly what it takes to make Henry retreat from the field), but he seems so nonchalant at the beginning, and then so distant for the rest of the episode. And I really hated the attitude at the beginning. I wanted him to be visibly furious at what Vicki had done.

Still Mike's my darling, so I'm glad he's the one who got to shine in the season finale. And I wasn't even that bothered by his daddy issues. :-)

Edited at 2008-03-02 12:58 am (UTC)
wiliqueen
Mar. 2nd, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Granted, I ain't buying into it any more than you are (those of us who've read the books know exactly what it takes to make Henry retreat from the field),

And those who haven't know that nothing we've seen so far has qualified.

And I really hated the attitude at the beginning. I wanted him to be visibly furious at what Vicki had done.

Not sure what you mean -- it seemed consistent to me with the surface casualness he had in the previous ep. Or are you thinking in terms of this as the consequences of the ritual in "Wrapped" coming back on them. Which I would agree with, particularly given the deliberate foreshadowing of the line about bringing Coreen into "their radar." This is obviously the other shoe dropping on that. I'm torn between wanting him to have pointed that out, and giving him credit for recognizing that the "I told you so" wouldn't accomplish anything.
kevenn
Mar. 3rd, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Didn't read the review, coz I still haven't watched it. I'm going to try to watch it online this week.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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