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The Road So Far: 1.07, Hookman

The perceptive amongst you may notice this is only the third installment, and yet I'm doing 1.07. That's because Hookman was written as the third one. Also, this review actually is shorter. So why did it take longer? Idek. Sigh.

The Road So Far
1.07 Hookman

SPNWiki entry for synopsis, trivia, etc.

Wherein we discuss the episode in its intended airing order, because it all just makes so much more sense that way. Wherein I analyse it as such, and a smidgeon of my annoyance with rearranged airing orders may be noticeable. Wherein Sam gets his own female reflection and Dean enjoys college life (well, some of it).

(Possible spoilers for all aired episodes.)

Theta Sorority
Eastern Iowa University

O hai bridge! I know you!

Coming straight from a female reflection of Dean in Wendigo, we now have a female reflection of Sam: Lori, a sweet good-girl daughter of a strict father (a reverend), whose tangled feelings of guilt, self-righteousness and anger receive a supernatural boost and result in Bad Things, etc. Chief among the things in this ep that make more sense if viewed third in order are the much more obvious parallels between Sam and Lori’s very recent grief and shock. (Writers are in the very early stages of character and story exploration, here; they develop a great deal more sophistication as they go along. We’ll forgive them for being so linear.)

It also gives us a Sam!ep between two Dean!eps, and at least breaks up Dean getting kissed by two grateful damsels in a row (which always came off a bit much) with Sam getting kissed by totally crushing damsel. The evidence would seem to point to Writers, at this stage, having the notion that women would be throwing themselves at their rescuers fairly regularly; not an unfair assumption considering what their newly-cast lead actors look like, and the manly heroics they perform. Thankfully, hormones settled down and common sense prevailed a few eps in.

Anyhow, for a good girl, Lori gives in ridiculously quickly to her roommate’s urging to wear that halter top instead of her “Martha Stewart” shirt. (I’m just sayin’.) And she’s pretty okay with her boyfriend taking her to a make-out spot rather than the party. And she’s quick to reject her father’s phone call. She does balk at her boyfriend trying to get under her top, though if she wanted some real defence against his hands, she probably should have stuck with Martha.

So we launch into Show’s first treatment of classic urban legends, the hookman, and this being, well, Show, the boyfriend doesn’t drive off to later find the hook caught in the roof of the car, he gets emphatically murdered. By an invisible hookman who also attacks the car, and the noises on the roof are the boyfriend being strung up. Which pretty much sucks.

Moving right along to a café “only about a hundred miles” away (the third of their typical haunts shown, after the hotel room in the
Pilot and the bar in Wendigo – Show is also exploring their usual habitats), where Dean is drinking his coffee black and Francis’s “half-caf double vanilla latte” is getting cold. Yes, Dean is a blue collar working man’s man who listens to 70s rock music and wears a leather jacket, and Sam is white collar college life bourgeois who listens to modern emo pop and wears hoodies. Show is not subtle about its class allegiances, but don’t let that fool you. They admire and enjoy anyone of any class who isn’t ashamed of what they are, and Sam remains appropriately unapologetic about those tastes. (“Bite me.”) More fundamentally, please observe: in spite of their teasing of one another, they respect and rely on one another’s strengths, and that includes class strengths. They need each other.

(I never noticed this before, but while Sam’s doing his thing on the phone, Dean is taking notes in his own hunter’s journal – I remember someone pointing out he had one, in
Something Wicked, I think, but it keeps a very low profile. To call it a symbol of his inner life and note that its presence is never drawn attention to might well be a bit of a stretch, but I like the image anyway.)

Laptop+latte; journal+joe. Class distinctions noted.

So Sam is doing the very next logical thing after failing to find Dad at the co-ordinates he gave them: checking the FBI’s missing persons databank, John Does fitting John’s description and even the licence plates for traffic violations. (Because that’s how John trained them. This is what you do the moment the trail goes cold. You do not fiddle-arse around for five episodes and then think to oh, hey, maybe try it. And he does all this over a payphone. Hello mad skillz.) This keeps the push to Find Dad alive and well, while Dean points out the obvious conclusion that John doesn’t want to be found, and brings up the next case he’s found: a killing by an invisible man. Sam isn’t terribly enthusiastic; he would still much rather focus on finding John than get sidetracked by hunts, even though he has decided to embrace the identity of being a hunter. Dean cinches it by saying Dad would check it out; whether it’s the suggestion that they might run into him, or the reminder that being a hunter, being like Dad, means going after these things, or both, it’s enough to get them on the road.

For the lulz.

After talking their way into the victim’s frat house, and finishing the purple paint job on a frat brother’s hard-to-reach areas, they get the scoop on the witness and make straight for her church. The slam of the church door behind them as they enter disturbs the hush and underlines how out-of-place they are in this iconic symbol of middle class, midwest America. Sam, naturally, catches Lori’s eye as she turns to see who’s made this disorderly intrusion, and shares a curious and empathetic look with her, while Lori’s father waxes on about the tragedy of the death of a young person and a life unlived.

At the end, when the reverend prays, Sam dutifully bows his head, then nudges Dean to do the same. At this point, it could be taken simply as Sam’s natural deference to “normal” authority, but as of
Houses of the Holy, we know that there’s a deeper dynamic to it, too. Sam is sincere in his prayers; Dean, on the other hand, has an inbuilt resistance to praying specifically, not just authority in this case.

Exiting the church, we see Lori!Sam resisting her roommate Taylor!Dean, who’s urging her to cheer up and have some fun with the judicious application of tequila shots and Reality Bites. Not only does that not sound like anything that’s going to minister to Lori’s grief, Taylor (who has no apparent problems in her own life) is completely incapable of relating to the depths of turmoil going on inside her, even that which she’s not hiding. Taylor’s concern is genuine, and appreciated for what it is, but irrelevant to Lori’s plight, and Taylor exits with a warm hug for Lori and a flirty smile for someone off screen. (This being, of course, Sam’s – and in a way even Show’s – current perception of Dean – as of the third ep. Airing as it did at 1.07, after
Dead in the Water and Skin, the parallel becomes much weaker, already unremarkable.)

Meanwhile, SamnDean’s approach with empathetic Sam in the lead goes very well. Sam’s statement helpfully connects the dots for us, but more importantly for Dean, that: “I kind of know what you’re going through. I ... I saw someone get hurt, once. It’s something you don’t forget.”

Lori’s father comes over and is introduced, and Dean helpfully pulls him aside to talk; after all, the reverend enjoys meeting young people who are open to the Lord’s message. (And I think that’s just Dean being Dean and Writers being snarky; given the God-plot wasn’t intended, I don’t think that’s exceptionally sneaky foreshadowing. But, hey, we can keep it.) Sam has the ball, and gets Lori to open up in about two seconds flat, which leads the boys to the library for theories (hookman legend, but a spirit, not an escaped crazy killer person) and more research.

Dean observing Sam in his natural habitat.

Also, it’s Dean’s turn to echo Sam’s accusation (in Wendigo) that he’s only interested in the hunt to hook up, although he is teasing rather than angry:
Dean: So you believe her.
Sam: I do.
Dean: Yeah, I think she’s hot too.

The interesting thing about the way these boys have always mirrored and echoed and switched roles at each other is that they rarely mirror both motive and form. (I’d say never, but I don’t know how to check that. Examples anyone can think of welcome.) If Sam’s doing something that looks like something Dean would do, it’s not for the reason Dean would do it, and vice versa. And if they feel similar feelings or motives, they react totally differently. Of course, a lot of it is superficial, too, like the above example, simply being a function of their shared vocabulary of what they tend to express and how. Interactions with women seem to be a longstanding topic that’s acceptable to address (even when Sam was teasing Dean about Cassie, and even when Dean walks off in exasperation, Sam knew there would be no retaliatory consequences in their relationship for doing so). Only Jess and Mary are deeply touchy subjects, for obvious reasons.

Since Sam’s (very) recent adoption of the saving people, hunting things mantra has temporarily reduced the tension between the present job and Find Dad, his compassion is easily and immediately engaged by Lori’s experience. If he were still in his “why are we still even here” mode, I doubt even the stark similarities to his own experience would give him pause. This gives us a breath or two of what’s going on under the surface so soon after Jess’s death, before the ensuing craziness of the season; it’s also another nice little commentary on Sam not recognizing Dean’s journey at all yet (there was no moment of him noticing Dean’s empathizing with Haley in Wendigo), while Dean is closely monitoring Sam’s and picks up on it.

This is the first normative hunt they go on, one not initiated by John’s disappearance or directions, just randomly found by scouring news for weirdness. However, their methodology has been consistent in all three eps so far: have/find lead, talk to people, do research, theorize, plan, execute – ideally speaking; repeat as needed. While this is the brand spanking new SamnDean Show version of it, the patterns they rely on to get the job done (because they know they work) are already well worn in by John’s training.

It is also, correspondingly, the first hunt specifically inspired by urban legend; Dean makes sure we know it’s “one of the most famous urban legends ever. You don’t think we’re dealing with the Hook Man?” We already learned in the Pilot that civilians don’t have the full, unadulterated facts on supernatural stuff; now Sam points out that “Every urban legend has a source. The place where it all began.... Maybe the hookman isn’t a man at all. What if it’s some kind of spirit?” Show is quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) constructing its internal logic, so that the hunts make sense and can still resonate with the “real” world we inhabit. Its logic also gives it a lot of leniency, even with its own established rules. There can always be some key piece of information someone doesn’t know (and there nearly always is) which makes that particular case different to what they’re used to. Lore can be usefully indeterminate. Local history can be usefully fabricated. Well done, Writers.

In this case, local history is astoundingly helpful, turning up a 19th century preacher with a silver hook for a hand and a homicidal vendetta against sinners (um?), killing them at Nine Mile Rd, where the first attack occured. That’s ... very specific of you, Show. And all from one document, too? Golly. (I know, I know, early days. For the boys, too. *handwaves*)

Lori’s dropped off by her father after dinner with him, whereupon we learn that her mother’s dead (o rly?), she and her father have been arguing over control of her life and keeping her safe (o rly?), and that Lori’s over eighteen, can live her own life, is an adult and can take care of herself. (Huh.) (I’m running out of ways to say “that sounds familiar”. Just, you know, infer.) She asserts her independence, only to have the girl she’s been living with brutally murdered in their room, not long after she returned. (...) The words “aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light”  (and a creepy cross-symbol) scrawled in blood on the wall. Another killing that wasn’t coincidence; it was intimately linked to her and her relationships with the people in her life.

Out at the site of the first attack, Dean introduces Sam (and us) to the nifty invention of rock salt shotgun rounds (which is the logical thing to do very early on after they reunite; at 1.07, it becomes a little bit that’s-swell-but-how-come-you-didn’t-mention-this-before?). Which won’t kill ghosts, but will slow them down.

Working class doing its thang.

(Lensflare!Dean off the light on the water, a hefty one which keeps flickering across him like it’s locked on to the chest. Nice.)

So they bravely step forward toward the tense music and the rustling in the trees and Sam gets a bead on ... a local sheriff. Whoops. Luckily, Dean is Matlock and talked Sam out of it by telling the cops Sam was a dumbass pledge being hazed. Good thing the shotgun was loaded with rock salt, and he was “hunting ghosts”. They emerge from the station just in time to see and follow the cops to the scene of the next murder: Lori’s bedroom.

Lori, sitting shellshocked at the back of an ambulance, shares another long and charged look with Sam as he and Dean drive up, but is whisked off by her father, and the boys sneak in around the back. (With seemingly no concern for leaving fingerprints on a place someone might have used to break into an unprocessed crime scene. Guys? Really?) The new site of attack is a new clue, suggesting that the haunting isn’t about the original scene of the crime but something else. But the words on the wall is “classic hookman”, and it’s definitely a spirit – the smell of ozone is stronger than Sam’s ever smelled it. Last but certainly not least, the cross symbol is the same as that on the picture of the hook from the library.

Sooper sneaky.

(Cut to them sitting on the car. I’m going to assume that they wiped their prints. Show doesn’t have that much time to show all the little details of them covering their tracks, or any other routine parts of their lives; just because we’ve only seen them in a laundromat once doesn’t mean they’ve only done their laundry once. They wiped down their prints in Nightmare, so that will have to do.)

Sitting on the Impala’s hood, they’ve tracked down the identity of the spirit, so the solution should be straightforward, as already established in the Pilot. “Alright, well, let’s find the dude’s grave, salt’n’burn the bones and put him down.” Except, as already established in the Pilot, it’s rarely that easy.  After all, Show has 40 mins to fill up with plot. “After execution, Jacob Karns was laid to rest in Old North Cemetery ... in an unmarked grave.” – “Super.”

Dean plucks a parking ticket off the Impala’s windshield, with no visible concern, and announces his remarkable cognitive leap that Lori has something to do with the spirit’s manifestations. Maybe they gave this line to Dean because they were sick of giving Sam all the exposition, but even in that, Writers’ choices are interesting: Sam makes the informational connections, Dean makes the relational ones. Which Sam then investigates. Which they then discuss at a dorm party ... because of why?

Dean: Man, you been holdin’ out on me, this college thing is awesome.
Sam: This wasn’t really my experience. [Except at Halloween when his girlfriend drags him, I guess.]
Dean: Yeah, let me guess. Library, study, straight As....
Sam: *shrugnods*
Dean: What a geek.

Sam observing Dean in his natural habitat.

The only good reason I can come up with is that this continues the commentary on college and their attitudes to it in abstract. Sam was at home in the library, quipping “Welcome to higher education” when Dean disparages that as a way to spend “four good years of your life.” Out at the attack site on Nine Mile Rd, Dean meets Sam’s approval of the saltgun with “I told ya. You don’t have to be a college graduate to be a genius.” Dean shows himself thoroughly at home with fraternity hijinks (as well as the party); given that his knowledge of college life, much like his knowledge of most of "normal" life, appears to come from the movies, this is not so surprising, really. “Dude, sorority girls. Think we’ll see a naked pillow fight?” à la National Lampoon’s Animal House. Welcome to higher education indeed.

Like the praying, this commentary is mostly going on in the abstract, but it’s not happening in a vacuum. It reflects an underlying reality. Sam just lost all of this, although the ease with which he can contemplate his time in college so soon after his loss suggests that he prized it more for its symbolizing of normality than for itself. Now that normality is shattered, he exhibits no obvious longing for college life, not even those parts he’s most comfortable with. His uncomfortable expression while he’s waiting for Dean at the party reads as “so glad I don’t have to be around this sort of thing any more” to me, not “gosh, I miss college. Even this.” Of course, Dean, in keeping with his having no time for normality, completely dismisses its value except for the obvious bonuses.

Running through the probables, they conclude the reverend is a likely fit for the profile of the spirit killer, but they can’t be sure whether he’s summoning the spirit on purpose or not. These guys move fast on their investigations and don’t spend that much time double-checking their conclusions until they’re proven wrong, an approach that they seem to make work more often than not. They’re usually close enough, and the idea that they might have saved a few more people if they’d taken the time to double-check can be countered by pointing to all the people who would be dead if they had taken the time. Their brutal reality is that they can’t save everybody, but moving quickly, even with the mistakes that can bring, seems to work best. (It certainly makes for more dramatic tv.) They split up, Sam taking Lori-protection and Dean on burn detail.

(In the cemetery, Dean’s flashlight gives only one teeeny, tiny lensflare the whole time he’s waving it around on camera. I’m not convinced.) This being our first official salt’n’burn, Show gives us explicit shots of the salt and fire propellant and takes us through the routine – which clearly is routine, to Dean. Really, the idea of digging up a corpse/skeleton and burning it should be more ... I don’t know, shocking. (It certainly was to Demian and Barnes in Ghostbusters.) But Dean’s this-is-just-one-long-pain-in-the-ass attitude acclimatizes us to his reality immediately. Goodbye, preacher. (In theory.)

Job: sucks.

Sam meanwhile takes up sentry duty outside Lori’s house and is spotted, but Lori’s reaction runs to charmed rather than creeped out. Not that anyone’s particularly surprised by this. Thank goodness these Winchester boys use their powers over women for good instead of evil. In this case, it leads to Deep Conversation and Illicit Smoochies. Of course, this being Sam, the parallels are happening out there in the dialogue foreground; he is the touchy feely talky one. This is what College Students do.

Lori: No, seriously. I think you’re sweet.... Which is probably why you should run away from me as fast as you can.
Sam: Why would you say that?
Lori: It’s like I’m cursed or something. People around me keep dying.
Sam: I think I know how you feel.

Because (apparently) of her dad’s obsession, Lori’s been targeted by supernatural death, cursed to lose those she loves. Now Lori’s isolated, and under suspicion, and her dad (whose fault it all is, *fistshake*) doesn’t even seem to care, he just wants her to have faith, do what he says. But what does he know about faith? He’s nothing but a hypocrite (adulterer), and he preaches to her about what she should do? She doesn’t even know what to think anymore. Slow down, Show, I’m getting dizzy. Who are we talking about, again?

Job: sucks face.

Then she goes in for the hugz+liplock, which, okay, she’s confused and grieving and scared and Sam is all rugged and tall and sensitive and said he was there to protect her, so fair enough. If Show time has been proceeding as per standard, it’s been a month since Jess died, and Sam is tempted. His emotions are already engaged through his empathy, and his own grief cries out for comfort and release even while it cries out betrayal. He pulls back, and Lori is, of course, understanding. After all, she’s in the same place. Sort of.

Aside: while I’m not going to speculate what kind of lover he was with Jess, we know from later partners that even when his empathy and emotions are engaged, his expression of sex is more carnal, more driven. (Where Dean, the less repressed, far more relational one, is shown to be more sensuous, more tender or given to fun.) For Sam, sexual connection is an outlet; for Dean, it’s an affirmation. These attitudes also colour the way they view one another’s sexual activity. Sam’s irritation at Dean’s exploits is rooted in how he subconsciously views and uses sex himself – if he were engaging in casual encounters like Dean does, that would indeed merit judgement, at least in his eyes. Dean, on the other hand, wants Sam to have the comfort he himself finds in sex, hence his not-so-subtle encouragement of Sam toward it.

So overbearing Dickwad Dad is overbearing, demanding that she return to the house (home, family), and in a familiar show of mutinous resentment, she’ll “come in when I’m ready.” (Hai Sam.) Before the confrontation can continue, though, D. Dad is hooked through the shoulder and dragged back into the house by a shadowy materializing spirit guy in a nifty hat and longcoat. Luckily, rugged, tall, sensitive, protective Sam is there with his saltgun to save the day, which he does quite handily. For her part, Lori, coming face to face with her father’s (possible) demise right after she fought with him, experiences a radical change of sentiment toward him. Again, not exactly surprising.

As promised, the saltgun doesn’t kill the spirit, but it does repel it. This does, however, raise the question of why it’s still around if Dean did the salt’n’burn, and leads to a few revised theories. Having idenitified as deeply as he has with Lori’s situation, Sam’s agitation when he tells Dean he thinks Lori is at the centre of it, not her dad, is not just concern for her. In light of the dreams he was having, and the guilt he’s been feeling, that’s more than enough to set off all kinds of alarms in his head.

But having burned “everything in that coffin” should still have done the trick. Unless ... what about the hook? Sam again makes the leap and figures out the connection. Find the hook ... “We stop the hookman.” Yay for unison!dialogue – the crowning conclusion/solution to the hunt, arrived at through the work and insights of both of them. Awww. And now ... back to the library, and the hunt for the hook proper. Which is lurking somewhere in the rectory or church, reforged into something else. *headdesk*

So they’re going to salt’n’burn everything even remotely silver in either place. Which really makes you pity Henriksen. I mean, imagine reading those reports. “Nothing was stolen, but every item of silverwear had been burned in the furnace.” O_o

Of course, that doesn’t go smoothly either, as they’re interrupted by Lori coming to weep and pray for forgiveness in the sanctuary; Sam turns his empathy eyes up full bore and goes to talk to her, while Dean gets on with the job.

Kinda says it all, really.

Lori: I was so angry at my father. Part of me wanted him punished. And then he came and he punished him.
Sam: It’s not your fault.
Lori: Yes it is. I don’t know how, but it is. I killed Rich, and Taylor, too. I nearly killed my father.
Sam: Lori....
Lori: I can see it now. They didn’t deserve to be punished. I do.

K, Lori, plz not 2 b voicing sum of Sam’s deepest fearz 4 teh nxt 5 yeerz, kthxbai. Also, that attitude of yours is gonna get you killed. Just sayin’. (Sam, are you paying attention yet?) (Aw, Sammy gets a halo-rific lensflare! Yay! But not all that big. :( I’ll note it, but then Dean’s other one has to count as well. These tallies are getting more annoyingly pedantic than I thought.)

Man, this is the second time Dean’s salt’n’burn hasn’t worked and Sam and Lori have to confront the hookman. Lame. Sam gets a hook to the arm protecting Lori, and Dean hears the commotion and runs to the rescue with the saltgun. They notice Lori’s silver cross necklace, leading to a rather more involved discussion of its provenance than I would have bothered with, personally. My conversation on the matter would have been more along the lines of “Is that silver? Yoink!” (Which, to be fair, Sam does cut to fairly quickly.) But if Show feels the need to show its work at this point, so be it. It does get better at shorthand as it goes along.

Aww, and the unison!throw! \o/ That totally counts. And the salt’n’burn finally works. Look at our boys go, equally contributing even with all their class differences. Knew you’d get there in the end. And just in time to save Sam and Lori’s lives. *is proud* This being the first burn up we’ve seen, they spend a bit of time showcasing it, and it does look pretty cool, I admit.

Come the morning, their not-so-straightforward relationship with authority continues. The sheriff, who’s had to deal with these guys three times now, gets the same story from Dean that he did from Sam at the hospital after D. Dad’s attack. Dude with a hook, who ran away. (Dean, you’re really not as good at earnest as your brother. Might want to work on that.) Unimpressed, the sheriff starts to tell Dean that he and his brother should leave town, but Dean’s way ahead of him there.

He then surreptitiously monitors Sam and Lori’s goodbye in the Impala’s rearview, and quietly offers that they could stay (last ep it was the Impala, this ep it’s female company – Dean, tequila shots and Reality Bites would be about as effective), to Sam’s short and very decided shake of the head. Dean sees the opportunity for connection and comfort – which I’ve never noticed him be jealous about Sam receiving outside of him, except for Ruby, and that was arguably a lot more about betrayal – the things he gets from female company. (And despite having assured the sheriff they’ll leave, if Sam wants to stay, Dean will make it happen somehow.) Which just goes to show that (like Taylor) although he’s picking up on some of the issues, he has no concept of how deep and tangled it goes, yet. Nor how to solve it. He was not privy to Sam’s reactions to that part of Lori’s experience; the last thing Sam wants is to get mired here, away from looking for Dad, stuck with the person embodying all his nascent fears about himself.

Time to go.

And so the road goes ever on. (Slowly.)

One more thing in the tradition of these first three eps (Constance!Mary in the Pilot, Haley!Dean in Wendigo, now Lori!Sam; the typical haunts of hotel room, bar, now café; etc) this also shows the third parallel/competing authority the Winchesters deal with, that of the church. (The other two being law’n’order, and regular tracker-hunters, which expands to include the wider supernatural hunting community as events progress.) One might think if the law can’t deal with this stuff, and ordinary/other hunters aren’t up to it, perhaps “spiritual” authorities might break the trend of being worse than useless. Sadly, no. In spite of their more supernatural basis, they too lack the ability to fight this evil. (This is not counting outliers like Pastor Jim, and what Agent Henriksen would have become if he’d lived, who are equipped as hunters as well as their other vocation.) In this case, the religious authority isn’t shown so much as being useless (although it is) as, in some ways, creating the problem in the first place. Or at least the potential for the problem. It seems that Winchesters are really on their own; it's family or bust.

As always, thoughts, different opinions, alternative explanations and additional observations invited in the comments.

Lensflare!Dean = 2/3 (+Sammy = 1, yays!)
Bitchface!Sam = 0/1
Unison!dialogue = 2/3 (includes throw)
Crying!Dean = 0
Crying!Sam = 0/1


( 6 speakses — have a speak )
Oct. 4th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
I never knew this was supposed to be the 3rd ep but it makes SO much more sense that way. Your review/meta, as always, was impecable. :) I am so glad you are so eloquent and willing to share. :D
Oct. 4th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
Doesn't it? It's like Sam's seeming lack of consequences after Mystery Spot in Jus in Bello, and also the ease and joy between the brothers in Monster Movie even after discovering Sam's been drinking demon blood in In the Beginning – when you learn they were switched, you're like, OH. That makes MUCH MORE SENSE NOW. Also that My Bloody Valentine was originally written to come right before Dark Side of the Moon: Dean prays for help at the end of one episode, God answers the next....

Anyway. It irks me. At least this way we can go through the story the way it was envisioned while it was being created; really it makes the most sense of the actors' portrayals of where their characters are, because they're really the ones tracking the internal continuity the most, it seems. I have a much better opinion of both Js' abilities than to think they wouldn't show any fallout from such massive twists and turns in their characters' emotional journeys. Writers, on the other hand, do have a tendency to just rely on them to make it work somehow (which I don't mind at all, actually – I'd much rather that than have them dictating the way the boys can play some things).

Um. Sorry. Ranty McRantypants signing off now....

Thanks! :D
Oct. 4th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Interesting review with positioning the episode as the third one instead of the 7th.

I often wonder how much of the meta we fans see is actually planned that way and how much is happy accident that we can find after a season has aired. For example, the Taylor to Lori/Dean to Sam parallel you point out. Did someone actually figure that out or it just can be read that way?
Oct. 4th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
how much of the meta we fans see is actually planned that way

Yes, I wonder that too. I see some people's meta, and I do sometimes feel they take it a little far. But that's part of what's interesting about storytelling, is that the story is not just coming out of the conscious mind. Like, if they have determined the broad sweep of the story already, then they're already thinking in those patterns, and so unconnected storytelling problems get solved along the same lines, just as a function of how they are approaching the story. Go even one deeper: the story takes its shape from their worldview and instinctive feel for what it should be, and so other elements naturally take a complementary shape as well. So I think while not every parallel is planned out in meticulous detail, I do think the parallels are indicative of how the creators consciously and subconsciously view the story. It's hard to peg where "deliberate" is in all of that, though.

For the Taylor example, I feel there's enough evidence to say it was deliberate. This being the third one written and produced, they're still exploring and establishing their parameters, and they're using these contained stories to do so. Haley and Lori are both such obvious parallels, and Haley's brothers were far too obvious a parallel for Sam (and John), and Lori's father for John, her boyfriend for Jess, that I can't see Taylor's shape and place in Lori's life being a happy accident. Something like Lisa physically resembling Carmen from What Is, that I'm happy to consider accidental. Between that, though, it can be hard to tell. There are so many minds discussing and contributing to the story in process that you figure a lot of this is worked out before it becomes the finished product we see.

Sorry, I'm long-winded today!
Oct. 4th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Dude, I love your brain so much! I'm really enjoying your analysis of these early eps.

I watched all of season 1 in a very short space of time, back in 2007 (abusing the Vatican library's internet connection to do so - yes, I was living in Rome at the time), and haven't rewatched. So a lot of the parallels and metaphors either passed me by at the time or have faded from my mind.

I didn't actually know that 'Hookman' was supposed to be the 3rd ep, but it explains a lot. Any idea why TPTB messed with the running order?
Oct. 5th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Rome? Vatican? *iz jealous* ... Watching Supernatural? *iz amused*

Yeah, a lot of the parallels are also MUCH more obvious in retrospect. I mean, watching it for five seasons, knowing the relationships so well, means that when something resembles part of it, it's obvious straight away.

And it DOES explain a lot. *headdesk* I don't know for sure in this case why they changed it around (the above examples had to do with hiatus timing, ending on "stronger" eps), but I do know that TPTB tend to fiddle with the early eps of first seasons generally. Shuffle the stronger eps forward and front-load the season with stuff more likely to build a interest and a committed following before airing some of the weaker eps. (Which this one was, admittedly.) Leverage S1 is all over the place, and the team dynamic especially runs sooo much more smoothly, watched in the original order. I mean, I get it, kind of, but I also think it can harm as much as it helps. And it also just annoys me. /rant

Still – Dead in the Water is up next. That's going to be fun.... :)
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January 2016
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