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Class is in session

For the first time in three eps, I haven't felt off-kilter after. And it's immediately obvious why: For all that there is massive badness from various quarters, and the ep closes on that utterly heartrending image of George in the cage, we also got several housemate bonding scenes. Some gleeful, some painful, but all gorgeous, and all reminding us (and more importantly them) that they are each other's balance and they MUST be mindful of and maintain that.

The other thing that's been throwing me off a bit -- as I realized in a comment exchange with vaznetti yesterday -- is that the writers are varying the pattern that applied to pretty much every ep in S1: Housemate A is in trouble. Housemate B is having some form of emotional crisis. Housemate C helps Housemate B get his/her shit together so they can bail out Housemate A. I think we're actually still seeing that to some extent, but with each example stretched out over more of the series arc. Storytelling variation is, of course, not a bad thing; it was just a bit disorienting for a while there. (vaznetti also noted, humorously but quite astutely, that they have "one dose of common sense" among the three of them, which only one of them can actually use at a time.)

Hooray for a joyous major development that isn't immediately shot down, in Annie's development of her abilities and triumph over the "gatekeepers!" There was no part of that storyline -- even the scary bits -- that did not fill me with the most gleeful of glee. "Tasting" food through George's mind? Incredibly cool, complete with the flash of the wolf that primarily serves as a warning to her that something is going on with him, but also makes clear that there are far more potential applications there than Sykes is telling her. Maybe even more than he knows? I think we'd better fast-track the production run on that action figure Mitchell was (probably only half) joking about at the close of 1x06.

And oh, dear Lord, the "dads!" *splorfle* Particularly giggly at Mitchell with the looming. Which is, of course, not at all the intended effect, but that's the point. If Sykes did have nefarious intentions toward Annie, there's not a damn thing Mitchell could do to him, so he just looks silly. And he knows it, and it scares the crap out of him. So he ramps it up and looks sillier. He'd be making any human very very VERY nervous by about halfway through the sequence, but with Sykes he just ends up in a feedback loop of ridiculous. :: pats him ::

George gets the killer rollercoaster ride this time out, poor guy. The three of them mesmerized by time-lapse footage of eight hours of sleeping werewolf is by FAR the most adorable "family moment" in the season to date. More of those, please! Though, of course, they always come with a price, one that's just wrenching to watch this time around. The coworker being so sweet and understanding about his apparent Tourette's... and then the devastating loss of control with the asshole boss. Yikes. All while he's working so hard to keep it together, even taking it (IMHO) too far in acquiescing to the boss' bullying. I wanted so badly for him to tell the guy that his students were right: They're adults, and profanity is a significant part of the culture they're trying to learn. Yes, the proper way to go about that would have been to check with admin before straying from the curriculum, but it was still right. Even if it hadn't been, of course, there was no excuse for smacking him down for it in that particular way.

All of which, all the assholeness and wrongness of the boss, is now negated in George's head because he's responded to it with inappropriate violence. What an unholy mess.

Nina lives! The writers remain worthy of my faith. Yay! (For the record, there are circumstances under which killing her off would not have been a dealbreaker, but they would have been DAMN difficult to achieve.) And the command structure of the Sekrit Organization of Meddling in Supernatural Affairs is not what we have previously been led to believe. INteresting. So Lucy is a relatively recent addition, and Kemp (finally I have a name for MCG, thank you!) is pulling her strings to an extent she's maybe just starting to realize.

Hopefully this means she'll start keeping a closer eye on the "experimental" operations. Four dead werewolves should have woken her up before this, of course, but better late than never. And she's definitely not happy about Kemp's conviction that vampires are a lost cause. He's kept his opinions to himself thus far about her fraternization with Mitchell; one wonders if he's aware just how much she's let her guard down there. That's going to generate some major messy. Especially as Mitchell's ethics get further compromised, which is inevitably going to start affecting the other segments of his life no matter how hard he tries to leave it at the office. (Which, to my vast amusement, is already as much of a disaster area as his bedroom. :: blows kisses to set dressers :: )

Speaking of which... Congratulations, Mitchell, you are officially Michael Corleone. *facepalm* I can't believe I only just realized that. And given their ongoing habit of film-related verbal shorthand, I will be sorely disappointed if George doesn't point it out to him in exactly those terms when he finds out more of what's going on.

And it crystallizes the element I was failing to consider in taking him to task for not being more forthright with his friends about it: The secrets he's keeping aren't just his anymore. Treating them that way would be a betrayal of the responsibility he's taken on. Responsibility for a gaggle of vampires he helped bring into a world that he was then instrumental in yanking out from under them.

That said, placing any trust in Ivan's counsel is an enormous mistake. Ivan who told him point-blank in the first episode that he was there to sit back with his popcorn and watch the chaos? It's beyond desperate and into delusional to think that he will honestly lift a finger to help avert that chaos. Though I have to say, the "You want to feel? Try this on for size" sales pitch was genius. I think it maybe even worked for a little while.

And then there's a girl in chains in the basement, and the fiction that not killing her makes it in any way okay. And then there's Ivan getting away with a gigantic lie, for now, until someone smells it on him and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down in a question of whether they can -- or should -- really do this. If Ivan is lying, who else is? Mitchell, whose record stands at a few restless months? Carl, isolated from them, living with a human lover who wouldn't have been able to tell if he had slipped? The well is poisoned, and I think Mitchell knows it. He just, as usual, can't figure out what to do about it. Still too much reacting instead of acting, and still no easy way to change that.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
studiesinlight
Aug. 4th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
BH S2 E4 - and "gene for evil" (Part 01/02)
>"Ivan who told him point-blank in the first episode that he was there to sit back with his popcorn and watch the chaos? ... Though I have to say, the "You want to feel? Try this on for size" sales pitch was genius. I think it maybe even worked for a little while."

Yes, on both points. Don't trust Ivan. Brilliant sales pitch. Mitchell would have to be desperate or stupid to depend on Ivan, and, well, Mitchell is desperate and stupid. Ivan is manifestly the only adult character in the vampire world right now. Mitchell is a teenager, and the rest of them are children.

>"And then there's a girl in chains in the basement, and the fiction that not killing her makes it in any way okay."

Note to Mitchell: "less immediately evil" does not equal "not evil."

I wonder what it would be like to have a fictional vampire who reads and watches loads of vampire fiction, and so would not walk blindly into these scenes, but would see them coming the way we do.

Someone put that poor girl in the basement, keeps her there, presumably feeds her and cleans. Intentionality, Mitchell!

I'm not sure that I agree that Mitchell is obliged to keep the vampires' secrets so strictly from his friends. After all, some police, the coroner, the ME all know more than his friends do. Is he protecting them, or just himself?
wiliqueen
Aug. 5th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E4 - and "gene for evil" (Part 01/02)
Ivan is manifestly the only adult character in the vampire world right now. Mitchell is a teenager, and the rest of them are children.

This, very much so.

I wonder what it would be like to have a fictional vampire who reads and watches loads of vampire fiction,

I suspect it would take someone unusually astute to do more than critique the accuracy of the trappings. But it's a fun thought. :-)

Someone put that poor girl in the basement, keeps her there, presumably feeds her and cleans. Intentionality, Mitchell!

And how did we get there from bus fare and "Get her out of here"? More stuff happening offscreen that we know nothing about.

Edited at 2010-08-05 12:02 am (UTC)
studiesinlight
Aug. 4th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
BH S2 E4 - and "gene for evil" (Part 02/02)
>"So Lucy is a relatively recent addition, and Kemp ... is pulling her strings to an extent she's maybe just starting to realize."

Let's talk about this "gene for evil" thing.

First, is someone who was checking paternity test results really the level of researcher to be working on something like that? I don't mean to be snide, and I don't have much experience in the hard sciences. Seriously: does Lucy have delusions of grandeur about her capacity as a researcher? That is a type in vampire fiction, too, the scientist who bites off more than she can chew in her secret research.

Second, I'm a good little sci-fi fan, so I know how to go hunting for science beyond what they put on screen. The concept that genes can be switched on and off at different points in a life is what makes this even remotely plausible for sci-fi consideration. If her theory is that everyone has this gene, and it expresses itself in different ways, and that some things -- for example, turning into a werewolf, being undead -- activate it more completely than other things, well, that's okay. Sort of. At least it doesn't require something genetic to be passed through a mere bite, which is pretty nutty (even allowing for RNA and tunneling electron microscopes, Doctor Lambert, honestly; at least she characterizes it as a virus!).

The thing is, two of the big concepts in genetics/philosophy these days that I keep running into are "the God gene" and free will:
  * There is a big sentiment in some circles today that there is no such thing as free will, that we are all too programmed for every possible choice, and therefore that no one is responsible for anything, no matter how wonderful or heinous, because it's all just preprogrammed anyway. (Curiously, people who believe in free will act more morally than people who do not, according to studies cited in Scientific American, leading to a memorable but disturbing essay titled "There's No Such Things as Free Will, But Don't Stop Believing.")
  * And there is a conviction in similar circles that there is a genetic setting that predisposes people to believe, or not, in a Deity or deities. Some people take the possible existence of this genetic setting as evidence of their perspective on the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being.

I do not think that Being Human season two, as written up to now, is up to coping with these issues through these characters. I worry that they have stepped into a mire and will not get out. Genetic manipulation of humans, the shadow of eugenics, the very definition of humanity, are all on the table in the next few decades of research, no doubt. If something is merely genetic, and is not an expression of a choice made, can it really be classified as evil? On the other hand, is everything really merely genetic, and is not there always a choice made? Do you have to be a theist (or atheist) to believe in free will and/or in not interfering in natural genetics by sexual selection? I am myself a proponent of free will, of course -- it's essential to my faith and philosophy -- and I believe that the story means to favor free will, also, by being about the individual and common choices of its three protagonists, but by mixing up a hackwork genetic determinism with a plodding generic-theist absolutism, they've thrown themselves against a brick wall for no reason I can yet see.

Edited at 2010-08-04 08:19 pm (UTC)
wiliqueen
Aug. 5th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E4 - and "gene for evil" (Part 02/02)
Wow. This is WAY more thought than I was willing to give it, I have to confess. I sort of handwaved the whole thing as "fantasy handling SF concepts sloppily, and Lucy is off-kilter besides."

But I do kind of like the idea that she's trying to work beyond her level of expertise, in addition to dealing with inherently unprovable concepts that are the purview of other disciplines. I'm not sure yet why I like it -- maybe just because it gives me more food for thought in my ongoing attempts to figure Lucy the heck out. Because at the end of the day -- and indeed at the end of the season -- I still can't. I don't deal well with characters I can't figure out. :-}

I do think you're right that, ultimately, they bit off more than they could chew writing-wise. Not that I think they needed to answer the questions they raised, but I don't know that they addressed them terribly effectively. And you've articulated why in a lot more detail than I ever could have.
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