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And then there was one

Really was aiming to watch the last two last night, but it didn't work out that way. And brainiacfive is gaming tonight, so there will be a bit more suspense.

They knew they had the greenlight for S3 when they were writing these, didn't they? Because this feels an awful lot like it's leading into a cliffhanger instead of a shoe-suspender.

I'm STUNNED that George got out of that with a close call. (And nearly as stunned that Mr. Everything-in-its-place lost track of daylight savings.) Though obviously it doesn't feel much to him right now like he got out of it. :-( (Oh, and diannelamerc and thanatos_kalos, I'm 95% certain I saw the chain around his neck at one point in that hallucinatory mess. So I'm leaning toward Dee's theory that he may have lost it somewhere there.)

So... Annie refused her door in the penultimate episode of S1 because Mitchell needed her. Now she's stopped...whatever that was that Kemp was trying to do... in the penultimate ep of S2 because George needed her. Story balance makes me a happy fangirl.

And it's a hard thing to maintain when one of your three protagonists comes, by definition, with so much more baggage than the others. And there's really no way for Mitchell's implosion not to take over the ep. That said, I think it was a brave storytelling risk for them to take, and I think it will ultimately pay off. In another context, in other hands, the rampage would be shock value for its own sake, and even here I think they escaped that by the thinnest of margins.

But they did escape it, and succeeded in making explicit and unavoidable what has been true, but easy to ignore for sentimental reasons, all along: Mitchell is a killer. There's no past tense. There's no "but it's okay in this case because." The very best thing he can be -- and a worthy and impressive thing it is -- is a killer who chooses not to kill at this moment.

What he said to Lauren way back in 1x02 was right: "You don't come to a compromise about this." And it was wrong: "I chose them."

The second part was wrong because that is not a choice he gets to make once. He has to make it every moment of every day for as long as he walks the earth. (Even if Mitchell forgets, George knew from the beginning: "I'd forgotten what they were like, the others. They're predators. Every inch of them is just hunger and fury. The energy it must take him every minute not to be like that.") He has to make it with every single person he meets.

And sometimes a moment will come when he will fail to make the right choice. Sometimes he will keep secrets from his friends (*shake*rattle*repeat*), and he will come under pressure, and he will crack, and he will say to Daisy, "I'll go you one better. Let's go kill a bunch of random innocent people just because we hurt." And it will feel like a good idea. And he will do it.

He is a killer. He is a monster. If he does not want that to be all he is, there can be no more playing around with window-dressing "safeguards." No more secrets. No more telling himself he's "protecting" the people who most urgently need to know what's going on at the earliest possible sign that his control is slipping. He's lived with secrets for so long, learning anything else is skin-shreddingly hard, but he has to learn it, and he has to learn it NOW.

And I'm stunned that they chose to go there, and went. That they took one-third of the wonderful little family they've built and raised the question full in the face of whether someone like him should walk free. Whether someone like him should live. This is where storytelling operates on proximity ethics, that school of thought we've been hearing about in recent years that is basically "charity begins at home" writ large and complex. That people in whom we have an emotional investment carry a greater weight in our mental considerations of right and wrong than those we don't know.

Quinn had grandchildren. Every one of those train passengers had a family and friends. I would never, ever deny any of them the conviction that Mitchell and Daisy should be scorched off the face of the earth.

But my emotional investment is in Mitchell. As is, of course, George and Annie's. They know the best of him. They know that he is capable of love and generosity and believing in them and reminding them why they need to believe in themselves. But even that is too much rationality. It is purely and simply that he is their friend and they love him. And they will sacrifice what is necessary to have that in their lives.

He has to trust that. He is back to square one, maybe further back even than when George first met him. He has to trust them with his secrets, and he has to trust them with the means to physically restrain him if they deem it even potentially necessary. He has to rely on them, not to do it for him (the mistake with Lucy), but to prevent catastrophe when he fails. To help him create a space in which to fail without leaving a trail of bodies behind.

This is an absolute bedrock necessity. He lies outside what can be handled by human justice, and his only other option is to be removed from the world. That wouldn't balance anything -- the idea that it would be possible to balance what he's done is a fallacy of which this show has been refreshingly free -- but it would prevent his contributing anything further to the world. And the way he contributes is odd -- I love how brightknightie put her finger on it, that he's paradoxically "a born inspirer but not a born leader" -- but it's worth having around all the same.

The mad scene in the kitchen... might need its own post. O_o

And now over to havocthecat's to revisit S1 and watch her watch it...

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
diannelamerc
Mar. 19th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
O.K., so it wasn't just me!

(Also, there is a point about 5 from the end where the screen uses deliberate static. The DVD player we were playing the file on desperately tried to fix this--and ended up *garbling* the whole (ZOMG!) scene. Be sure to have a computer or something to watch just the end on if your player tries to be too frickin' helpful that way. :-/ )
wiliqueen
Mar. 19th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Good to know! I've been playing them off a flash drive -- I <3 our DVD player with the USB port -- and it's stuttered occasionally because it couldn't handle the data rate. (For some reason it really hates vertical bars, like at Molly's school.) That'll probably give it conniptions.

As for the length, you're making me nervous, because I'm showing the AVI as 59:21, and the others have all been 55-57 minutes including previously-on, previews, and credits. Then again, this one won't have previews, so that'll make a difference as well. The rest... hopefully just pacing?
diannelamerc
Mar. 19th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Well it seemed longer, which I attributed to pacing. (The time quotes are from Lizbet, I haven't checked).

And yep, we have a flash drive in the DVD player too. Definite danger for this--the scene involved is *not* one you want interrupted or mostly skipped over(!).

If you want to plan switching over, do so when we get the "3 weeks later" (or however long it is) tag. You're solid up to that point. (A bit further actually, but that would risk spoilers :).
wiliqueen
Mar. 20th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Well, we got some slight stuttering, but it didn't totally flip out. Guess we were lucky!

Then came the crying my way through packing my set bag for tomorrow...
diannelamerc
Mar. 20th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
Ah! You are caught up at last.

(And you see why having any and every Annie shot in that scene skip and stutter forward was a *very bad thing*! *growls*)

And yeah, with the crying... and... and...

See why I insisted upon a Season 3? Regardless of whether they were planning one or not, after finishing that I was refusing to take "no" for an answer on that count! (Fortunately, they were already planning it...and I suspect knew that when they wrapped the last ep. ;)

Edited at 2010-03-20 04:17 am (UTC)
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 20th, 2010 11:44 am (UTC)
They did, and that they were beign shipped to Cardiff from Bristol. :)
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 19th, 2010 12:09 pm (UTC)
All the eps run 50-60 minutes-- that's normal for some UK series.

2.7 is one of my faves. It shows all the characters reaching (near)breaking points, and that scene in the kitchen...that one took my breath away.

But my emotional investment is in Mitchell. As is, of course, George and Annie's. They know the best of him. They know that he is capable of love and generosity and believing in them and reminding them why they need to believe in themselves. But even that is too much rationality. It is purely and simply that he is their friend and they love him. And they will sacrifice what is necessary to have that in their lives.

Remember that when you watch 2.8. Without spoiling, there is a parallel.

And I'm stunned that they chose to go there, and went.

BBC Three tends to have less interference, I'm told, so the writers/showrunners/production team are more free to experiment and/or break rules. Serial arcs, where characters grow and change seem to be becoming more acceptable to networks, and you can occasionally go 'there' in adult drama, expecting that your audience will accept and understand what has driven the person to this extreme. I wasn't at all surprised they went there, I was just glad to see they did.
wiliqueen
Mar. 19th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
Remember that when you watch 2.8.

Like I'm going to forget!

BBC Three tends to have less interference,

This, more than general track record of US remakes, is what makes me less than thrilled about the SyFy remake, but also makes me realize that they could only remake it. Even S1 would get mutilated on anything but Showtime or HBO. BBCA cut some critical stuff that they then made available on their website (which makes me just as glad to be getting it by other means); I wonder how they're going to handle this?
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 19th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, remakes do seem to be the way things are going. Which is good, in a way, as it means that they UK versions of things can progress (or stop) as they will, without interference/worry about the US versions.
sabaceanbabe
Mar. 19th, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
The awful rampage surprised me in a good/bad way (good because it made so much sense story-wise but I never expected them to go there; bad because all those people died).

To help him create a space in which to fail without leaving a trail of bodies behind.

Yes, this. He needs them so very much and in a way, he needs them even more than they need him.

Man, I love this show.
wiliqueen
Mar. 19th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
in a way, he needs them even more than they need him.

In a very definite way. One of many critical things that have been true along but that he's never managed to grasp. But then, he's been very well trained not to think for himself, and is only barely beginning to overcome that.

He wants so, so badly for his role to be head of household, the big brother (interesting in itself, since he told Josie he was an only child, and there's a world of curious in that ostensibly throwaway line), the one who knows that time settles like a snowglobe, the protector of what innocence remains to them.

He wants to be infallible for them, and keeps defaulting to pretending to be, and can't get it through his head that even if he could, he shouldn't.

He inspired them all to live in the human world, but keeps having to repeat the lesson that humanity isn't what he's cracked it up to be -- a truth that George and Annie, so much closer to their own human lives, remember and understand and accept in a way that continues to elude him.

He needs them desperately.

Edited at 2010-03-19 01:22 pm (UTC)
diannelamerc
Mar. 19th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
He wants so, so badly for his role to be head of household, the big brother (interesting in itself, since he told Josie he was an only child, and there's a world of curious in that ostensibly throwaway line), the one who knows that time settles like a snowglobe, the protector of what innocence remains to them.

This is so excellently put. You're right: He's technically the oldest and feels the most world weary, and thus wants to be the "wise one" for them. *shakes head*
wiliqueen
Mar. 19th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
And yet in so many ways he's less of an adult than they are. His growing-up process was so short-circuited. He has a pretty good idea at this point where the role he learned to play for Herrick ends and he begins, but still a lot of work to do on who he is.

There are those moments -- like the snowglobe conversation -- where he has his balance and he knows what he's talking about, and he can be the wise one. And then there's the rest of the time, when he scrambles like crazy to figure it out before everyone catches on that he's bluffing.

Somebody has to have told him at some point that nobody can be that person all the time, but he clearly doesn't believe it.
thanatos_kalos
Mar. 19th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
The 'big brother' thing may also stem from thye military; he refers to them as 'my men', suggesting that he was either an officer or perhaps a sergeant in charge of that small unit.
wiliqueen
Mar. 20th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
I'm sure it's an element, yeah. And my hunch has always been the latter -- the way he talks about his background, and his general habit of self-effacement, says junior NCO.

Edited at 2010-03-20 03:03 am (UTC)
studiesinlight
Aug. 5th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
BH S2 E7 - grim, bleak (Part 01/02)
First: George absolutely has his necklace chain during his run across the city! It swings out of his shirt, but only the chain is visible, not the pendant, as far as I can see. He did not have it anymore when Annie locked him in the cage. When he woke up, he looked for it, couldn't find it, and wondered whether he had left it with Molly or her mother, suggesting that his memory of the transition is sketchy at best. So the loss of his previously-established cherished Magen David symbol is consequent to changing in public, endangering others, which is consequent to trying to live with people who he does not trust to know, who are not trusted to play a part in supporting his needs at the full moon. If things were as they should be, George would have been at home and Mitchell would have been there to take care of his necklace -- symbolically taking care of him, and all that's important to him.

(Point: This is the mistake that they are all three making this season: secrets to lies to isolation to disaster.)

Second: "Catholic" priest? Ok, Mr. Creator-Who-Wrote-This-Episode-Himself, why would you have George misidentify Kemp as Catholic when you clearly showed in a previous episode that Kemp is Anglican? (I don't just mean the woman and child he walked in on; that was an Anglican church he was at, and how his parishoners addressed him, and...) What purpose does that inaccurate adjective serve? Kemp never mentioned his religion in their ridiculous little chat... does this tell us that George is leaping to a conclusion? Why that conclusion, at that moment? Statistically there in London, Kemp is rather more likely to be Anglican than Catholic.

Third: This episode was fast-moving! Some of the other episodes this season have draaaaaged.

Fourth: Quoting the tacked-on ending to Mark? Really? That's going to open a door to the next life? Give me a break. Annie is not an evil spirit, for goodness sakes. And didn't Sykes say that the door is hers now? That should run both ways. She should be able to open her own door at will, as well as close doors.
wiliqueen
Aug. 5th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E7 - grim, bleak (Part 01/02)
This is the mistake that they are all three making this season: secrets to lies to isolation to disaster.)

Yes. So much.

Second: "Catholic" priest? Ok, Mr. Creator-Who-Wrote-This-Episode-Himself, why would you have George misidentify Kemp as Catholic

I still can't figure that one out, as regards George. There are vital pieces of both Kemp's and Lucy's backgrounds revealed in the CENSSA viral videos that should have been either better explicated in canon or more carefully made not needed for it. Cutting that one line would have accomplished a lot. (Apparently part of Kemp going *snap* after the attack on his family involved deciding to become a Catholic priest instead, and promptly getting booted because he was there for all the wrong reasons. Hence the idiosyncratic and cultish construct he's operating now.) There's no reason for George to say it at all, and it's one of the few things I can't squeeze into making sense in the context of the season as a whole.

Annie is not an evil spirit, for goodness sakes.

Kemp's cherry-picking and mangling is increasingly bizarre, but I did manage to mostly decipher the shape of his delusions and false foundations by the time all was said and done. At this point, however, I was definitely going O_o.

And didn't Sykes say that the door is hers now? That should run both ways. She should be able to open her own door at will, as well as close doors.

I agree, and all I can think is that she never quite internalized all the implications of that. At that time she was too completely focused on staying, and now, for all that she's taking action, she's hugely ambivalent. If she weren't, I have to think the door would reappear on its own. And I have to think she knows that at some level, but maybe it's that old habit of letting others steer her cropping up again?
studiesinlight
Aug. 5th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
BH S2 E7 - grim, bleak (Part 02/02)
>"So... Annie refused her door in the penultimate episode of S1 because Mitchell needed her. Now she's stopped...whatever that was that Kemp was trying to do... in the penultimate ep of S2 because George needed her. Story balance makes me a happy fangirl."

I enjoy and appreciate that symmetry, too. If this series is a trilogy -- if it ends on the third season -- then Annie should step through for her own sake at the end of the third season, the boys having been established not to need her in that way anymore, and perhaps giving up something to get her there. If it's going to be longer than that, then she should not step through at the end of the third season for the sake of Nina or someone else.

"My friend needs me," the psychic did not translate to Kemp.

>"He has to make it every moment of every day for as long as he walks the earth."

♥ Illyana Rasputin, and Nick Knight, and...

But not Mitchell.

>"But my emotional investment is in Mitchell. As is, of course, George and Annie's. ... It is purely and simply that he is their friend and they love him. And they will sacrifice what is necessary to have that in their lives."

The character has lost me, I'm afraid.

I want him in a cage if possible, dead if necessary. He cannot be allowed to roam free as he is. They have completely squeezed out and wrung dry the emotional investment I had previously poured into Mitchell. He offers nothing to me anymore that I can see, and he will have nothing to offer George and Annie if he can't change tremendously soon. "Stay out of the cities," he says, and that's all he's got. They will still pour themselves dry trying to save his freedom as well as his life and soul because they love him. But... I don't.

Perhaps the character can sacrifice himself for everyone else in the season finale. That might have a chance of winning me back. Maybe.

I'm sorry for being so grim! It's a grim, grim episode in a bleak, bleak season. Oh, Annie's plot with the psychic in the previous episode was such an uplifting contrast!

And, btw, you're right, of course -- we never saw Ivan and Daisy together in the present day after the first episode. (Unless he shows up alive and well in the season finale.) Curious storytelling choice for two characters they've chosen to define by their relationship with each other!
wiliqueen
Aug. 5th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Re: BH S2 E7 - grim, bleak (Part 02/02)
"My friend needs me," the psychic did not translate to Kemp.

Yes! I missed that the first time around. He's another intriguing figure about whom we get so little. Finagled out of some unspecified form of incarceration, obviously held in contempt by Kemp, lonely and weird and desperate to be useful. Why he chooses to interpret Annie verbatim at some points and edit at others is a very curious thing to ponder.

I agree with you on every point about the future projection of the symmetry.

I'm not surprised that Mitchell has lost you, unfortunately. ;-/ My investment is still there, but my patience with his being allowed to get away with anything is exhausted. I'd hoped everyone would learn that after first season, that none of them can afford to allow him to run his life wihtout strict accountability. If they haven't learned it this time, if there is any attempt to pretend he's okay once they're past the crisis of the outright psychotic break, I might end up right there with you.

Everyone knows now where it starts and where it ends, and he does not have the capability at this point in his personal development to stop that trajectory on his own. He has to be stopped the second he starts, period.

And goodness, don't be sorry for being grim! I can't imagine how else to be. I mean, yes, my impulse is to look forward and say "this is what it's critically important for him to learn from this," and also to step back and be impressed that they made this choice to cut off the possibility of seeing Mitchell as some all-better-now fluffy bunny vamp who's not really dangerous, is he? The risk of alienating someone like you, who already saw him more realistically, was a side effect I don't like, but I don't know what would have been the way around it.

If he hasn't learned... I don't know. I'll have to see what he does. I want him to learn and get back on track to his potential. I still believe he's capable of it. But he's going to have to earn back a fair chunk of my investment too.
wiliqueen
Aug. 5th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, and...
Still puzzling over the curious choice to use Ivan and Daisy so separately onscreen. It has to have been deliberate, but I'm still trying to figure out why. I've gotten as far as their being, in many ways, opposing influences on Mitchell, even though they're not opposed to one another in intent, as far as we can overtly see.

We never see her at the meetings, of course, and have no implication as to what she's been up to between the kingmaking and the aftermath of the explosion. The logical assumption is that she's continued to hunt and handle her own cleanup. Which she presumably learned to do early on, always on the move with Ivan, in contrast to Mitchell being trained to rely on the bureaucratic structure. Little wonder she was so confident in lecturing him on that score!

Hmmmm... Daisy is not quite part of the group, but associating herself with it, when it's in chaos. Her playing foil to Mitchell is instrumental in how he ends up establishing order. Then she vanishes, and only then does Ivan turn up, to at least play at being part of the order. Ivan is killed in the same moment the order is destroyed, and Daisy then crops back up to goad Mitchell into chaos.

So I think I've just figured out the pattern. Still pondering what it means.
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