That Sherlock has it’s issues is no secret: queerbaiting, lack of POC, treatment of women, you name it. So I decided to take a closer look at these and what makes them offensive by drawing comparison to a show I personally think handled things better.
The Infamous Queerbait
There are story conventions so universal, they sometimes feel self-evident. One of the most common is that if there’s a male and female lead, and that they’re going to fall in love, that’s just the way it is. So, when your leads are both of the same gender this often leads to a phenomenon we all know and hate: queerbaiting.
Queerbaiting is the practice of intentionally implying a queer romance via subtext without the intention of delivering on such romance. This is done at the expense of the LGBT+ community who are looking to media for representation.
A show often accused of queerbaiting is BBC’s Sherlock. Does it have a problem in this particular department? Yes, end of discussion.
But the fact is, subtext isn’t necessarily queerbaiting and sometimes not easily distinguished from the latter. So how can one tell whether one is being queerbaited or watching a slow-burn romance eventually intended to become text?
For this we are taking a closer look at both the aforementioned Sherlock and NBC’s Hannibal. Both are modern adaptions of earlier works (and in Hannibal’s case a prequel), that deviate so significantly from their source material that we can very well judge them on their own.
So why Hannibal, does it too have a queerbaiting problem? Not quite.
Hannibal was originally supposed to have a m/f main pairing, Will and Alana, but due to organic story development it never became more than a mutual crush. Alana trusted Hannibal over Will, their friendship grew cold and eventually Alana fell in love with and married multi-million-dollar heiress Margot Verger. So, a wlw power-couple is canon.
On the other hand, we have Will and Hannibal, a relationship that, while being at the center of the series was not at first intended to be romantic, and for good reason as there’s nothing healthy about it. (So far it contains about half a dozen attempts at murder.) Both creators and characters seem conscious of how unhealthy it is, but subtext kept piling up and was eventually moved into text. The way this was handled, reminds of Legend of Korra‘s treatment of Korrasami (though again, it’s not as positive a relationship).
Therefore, it is a suitable contrast for Sherlock and its blatant queerbaiting. We can use Hannibal to help identify how to distinguish queerbaiting from accidental or actual subtext.
First off, the one thing that annoyed me most about how John and Sherlock’s relationship was depicted: people tend to think they are romantically involved. Like, everybody just assumes. This literally happens in every episode up to John’s wedding (1×02, being the exception), often more than once.
There is no narrative reason for this to happen. Maybe once to establish there’s no romantic interest in each other, okay, twice, if you really think it’s necessary, but constantly?
John: We’re getting married. Well, I’m gonna ask anyway.
Mrs. Hudson: So soon after Sherlock?
John: Well, yes
Mrs. Hudson: What’s his name?
John: It’s a woman.
Mrs. Hudson: A woman?
John: Yes of course it’s a woman!
Mrs. Hudson: You really have moved on, haven’t you?
This is Mrs. Hudson, their landlady with whom they lived in the same house with for over a year.
The only explanations for this are you are either consciously keeping the option in the mind of the audience, which, if you don’t intend to deliver, would be queerbaiting. Or you think it’s funny, which would equate to a gay joke. Neither is a desirable option.
In Hannibal‘s case, implications that there may be more of a relationship than is publicly known first become a thing in the second season, which is also when the producers first noticed a romantic subtext. The only thing before that is Alana making a quip that Hannibal has adopted some of Will’s mannerisms late in season one.
What also contrasts Sherlock is that while Sherlock and John are always denying any assumptions made, this doesn’t happen on Hannibal.
Will: You called us ‘Murder Husbands’.
Freddie: You did run off to Europe together.
This example is the closest thing there is to the kind of constant joking seen on Sherlock. But in this case, Will’s anger is understandable since Freddie is a reporter on the hunt and Will is at this point married to Molly and not on the best of terms with Hannibal.
Another thing which can distinguish queerbaiting from subtext is framing, is there romantic music? Are forms of symbolism used? If not the probability of this being queerbaiting is a good deal higher.
Problematic Villain Coding
A queer coded villain is not sufficient representation, as it links “queerness” to evil, especially if the queer-coded villain continuously hits on the hero. Attempt at being funny or not, that is called harassment and having your queer-coded villain harass your ‘innocent’ (straight) hero is definitely problematic.
On Hannibal there are no queer coded villains. Tobias Budge would be stretching. Mason Verger may be flamboyant but he is also clearly female attracted. On to Sherlock, the most obviously queer-coded villain is Jim Moriarty.
Jim Moriarty is introduced as Molly’s boyfriend. He’s immensely queer-coded and hits on Sherlock who immediately points this out. It’s played for laughs, charming.
From here on whenever Moriarty encounters Sherlock he continues to flirt with and is shown to be obsessed with him. And then in season four there is this jewel:
“You like my Boys? This one’s got more Stamina, but he’s less caring in the afterglow…”
How are we supposed to take this, is he sleeping with his guards who work for him? Was this part of the job description? This alone would be considered offensive, but that is not the end of it.
The morally grey Irene Adler is presented as bisexual, which in combination with her mostly scanty clothing and her occupation as dominatrix is not too favorable in terms of bisexuals being hypersexualized.
And again, she is attracted to Sherlock and making advances even though it is (initially) making him uncomfortable. This is not presented as negative since she is a conventionally attractive woman.
Sherlock: I take it he did not consent?
Eurus: He? She? I did not notice. After I was done it did not matter…
Eurus is another can of worms. There was no reason why she needed to speak to Sherlock, her brother, about having sex. The fact that she neither noticed the gender nor cared for the consent of her partner may be intended to show her as “evil”, but it unconsciously links sexual violence to queerness.
So, most villains on Sherlock are more or less queer and none of them care if people consent to their advances. That’s “Game of Thrones” levels of representation.
The ‘Other’ Women
The topic of queerbaiting ties in neatly with the treatment of other romantic relationships and women in general. If your two—in this case male—protagonists’ relationship is depicted as platonic, one or both of them may be in a relationship with somebody else, usually of the opposite gender. From the story’s treatment of this love interest, temporary or otherwise, it becomes clear which relationship is actually of interest to the protagonist.
The incorrect but common assumption is that a romantic relationship has to be the most important relationship in a person’s life. This is one of the many reasons people mistake platonic relationships for romantic ones, but that is not what I’m talking about here. The thing is, both the narration and the characters themselves should allot this romantic relationship a certain level of importance, even if not primary importance.
An example of this is Sherlock’s constant treatment of Molly’s feelings and his dismissal of John’s (mostly implied) long chain of dates and girlfriends. John doesn’t seem to care much either. Hell, there is a scene where his current girlfriend leaves him because she doesn’t want to compete with Sherlock. How much clearer can you show that their relationship is secondary to what John has with Sherlock, that this woman’s feelings too are secondary, just like those of Molly Hooper?
Molly’s treatment in general is atrocious. An unrequited crush is one thing, but it is a thing one eventually moves on from. Instead of showing Molly getting over Sherlock and eventually entering a healthy relationship, we first see her being used by the queern presenting Jim Moriarty. Her obliviousness of this fact is played for laughs. Then, she tries to impress Sherlock for Christmas, which is presented as her embarrassing herself. The writers follow this up with her engagement to a Sherlock look-alike whose personality she doesn’t even seem to like and the whole “I love you” fiasco in season four.
Irene Adler I already discussed above. She is sexualized and does not seem to care about making Sherlock uncomfortable. But she is attractive and who is not attracted to a beautiful woman, so Sherlock becomes obsessed with her. Although they barely know each other, she too is shown to be in love with Sherlock, who seems to be writing to her again at the end of season four (she was shown to be dying in season two, so there’s probably plot there).
Sherlock’s short relationship and engagement in season three are also treated poorly. First off, everybody is astonished about the fact that Sherlock is with a woman, as if the general consensus was that he wasn’t attracted to them. Then, it is revealed that he only used her for a case which, after a quick laugh, is soon brushed aside by the narrative.
Most recurring female characters are mostly there for Sherlock to antagonize or shout at. The way the narration treats Sally Donovan is poor to say the least, even before she disappeared without comment in season four. While it is clear Sherlock cares for Mrs. Hudson, this should not excuse his poor treatment of her either.
The first woman that is clearly allowed her place as a love interest in the narrative is Mary, John’s wife. Her relationship with John is mostly considered of equal importance to Sherlock’s. I honestly liked her being around, she was a smart woman with an established place in the story and was not just there on the side fetching tea or being helpful when men needed her.
But before the audience could get too used to her presence she gets killed off as soon as her plot function is fulfilled. The aftermath of her death is as much about Sherlock and John’s relationship as it is about her. The show even goes so far as to have her leave a message to her husband claiming that the “Baker’s Street Boys” are the ones that matter. Yeah, so much for that.
Hannibal does quite the opposite. A clear contrast to Sherlock are Hannibal’s relationships with Alana and Bedelia and Will’s relationship with Molly.
Season one gives Will and Alana’s mutual crush a sufficient buildup. Their trust, friendship and care for one another is acknowledged by others and exists independently from both of their dealings with Hannibal. Both are given space and time to be hurt after the kiss and the following decision to not enter a relationship.
Over the late first and the entire second season this trust and friendship dwindles as both of them get more and more entangled in Hannibal’s games. Unfortunately, Alana is usually the voice of reason in all things not Hannibal. This means her opinion is often dismissed in a “We have two conflicting opinions so I’ll pick the one I like better” way, which is eventually regretted by most of the characters in question.
After this, she becomes a more morally grey character. Not wanting to be hurt again and wanting to prevent Hannibal from hurting others, she starts hunting him down and eventually becomes his jailor and probable nemesis. While working for villain Mason Verger, she encounters Margot, his sister and victim. Alana falls in love with Margot, helps her kill Mason, marries her, and they have a son together.
Will’s fling with Margot in season two should also be mentioned, as it is more important to Margot’s arc. How it affects Will is not treated as more relevant than how it affects Margot. Her arc is then continued in season three, apart from Will, and eventually allows her to escape her abusive brother.
Bedilia knows Hannibal’s secrets from her time as his psychiatrist and yet chooses to run away with him. That he uses her is obvious, and she is aware of it. She is content to play Hannibal’s wife and does not initially plan to survive it. However, when it becomes clear that Hannibal would rather be with Will than with her, she cuts herself loose from him to live another day.
When Will marries Molly, he wants to leave it all behind. He rejected Hannibal, who then surrendered to the police and, locked up as he is, has no way of coming into Will’s life again. So Will starts over, he marries a mother, so he has a family, but doesn’t tell her about Hannibal. He only tells her enough so she know who to blame when things inevitably go wrong and her family is targeted by a killer. There is never a clear break-up, just a half-hearted “we will be okay” and the knowledge that their safe place is gone.
All these storylines are given room to breathe, these women have lives and they don’t just give up on their relationships. Whether they dodged a bullet or whether they close their eyes until it’s too late, they are just as much part of the story as Will and Hannibal are, and they are treated as such.
A grievance I do have here are Hannibal’s victims Abbigail Hobbs and Miriam Lass. Abigail in season one has a lovely arc dealing with the things her father did and how she helped him. After Hannibal faked her death in the end of season one, her story is no longer about her, but about what Will and Hannibal. Miriam Lass too is mostly seen in relation to Jack and his guilt. We never see her free herself of Hannibal’s control either. I would have loved seeing them be more of their own persons. Although it makes tonal sense in a way, as Hannibal does not consume their bodies like those other victims. He consumes their stories instead.
With the inclusion of POC, overall Hannibal does okay in this department. Jack Crawford, one of the most important characters in three seasons, is played by Laurence Fishburne, a black man. All three seasons too have a black and an Asian woman in starring or recurring roles.
Beverly Katz is killed by Hannibal in season two. Her death is a shocking twist (not sure if I should add a TM here, though) yet is immensely relevant to further plot and character development. We learn of Bella Crawford’s death early in season three. She had terminal lung cancer since early in season one, so it was not surprising, but still it was a pity to see her die. In season three Will encounters an old acquaintance of Hannibal’s, Chiyoh who lived with Hannibal’s aunt Murasaki as a child. When the plot reaches book material, Francis Dollarhide’s girlfriend Reba is played by Rutina Wesley, so I think there’s a slightly tokenistic feeling seeing one person of color die only for another to appear.
This is, however, still better than Sherlock whose only characters of color, Sally Donovan and John’s unnamed therapist, mysteriously disappear in season four leaving us with an all-white cast. And it’s not because it’s set in London, London is multicultural and diverse.
Overall I am a bit astounded just how much problematic stuff can be found if one goes looking for it. More than that, I’m floored that a show whose main characters are killers and cannibals somehow manages to do better than Sherlock.
Pictures courtesy of BBC and NBC
Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger
Content Warning: This review discusses suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, as depicted on the show.
Last week’s episode of Cloak and Dagger ended with Tyrone and Tandy together and finally ready to discuss why exactly they have new superpowers insistent on bringing the two of them together. Both their lives have been tossed upside down, and the only consistent thing in the tragedies of both their lives is each other. Maybe it’s time to sit down and talk about it? That’s exactly what “Call/Response” did this week. Unfortunately, to mixed results.
Time to Talk
“Call/Response” continued Cloak and Dagger’s attempts at interesting episode structure by weaving together forward plot momentum in and out of the previously mentioned conversation between its heroes. This conversation lasted through the entire episode as Tandy and Tyrone hashed out what their powers are, what they do, how they experience them, and what their dreams from last week meant for each of them. These two had a lot to talk about.
For a good 90% of this conversation, I liked the direction of it. The honest and open-ended nature was refreshing. For the first time since they acquired their new powers, they held nothing back regarding what had changed, what they were going through, and how it affected them.
It moved both characters appreciatively forward. Even better, you could see how the conversation positively affected both in the scenes from the next day, when both acted on everything they discussed. Cloak and Dagger thus did a good job timing subjects of conversation with next-day action. Like you’d expect, these scenes were not exactly subtle about it, but so long as the point is made what does that matter?
Through their conversation, Tyrone and Tandy finally started acting against their instincts. They challenged their perceptions of the world. Tandy made an honest effort to learn about her mother’s boyfriend Greg and found out he was genuinely interested in her mother and trying to help. She made an effort to embrace the hope she always rejected before. Her experiences have shaped her towards cynicism in everything. Life is a giant scam where everyone uses everyone else to get ahead, and you see this in her own method of making money. For her to open her mind to the possibility of Greg proving her wrong was a significant step forward.
Tyrone faced his own challenged perceptions, naturally based around his brother’s murder and murderer. He considered Tandy’s argument about his place in the world and where his privilege truly stands, as well as the destructive path his actions led him down. The failed trip to the police station was one important step, but the truly important moment was his field trip with his father to Otis’s old Mardi Gras Indians stomping ground.
(By the way, add another cool twist on New Orleans culture to Cloak and Dagger’s credit.)
Through this trip, Tyrone found new perspective on his father and brother, as well as his own anger. His father stressed the importance of finding a channel for his anger. And he might have found his way via the suits the Mardi Gras Indians create, and the taking on of his brother’s unfinished suit. Tyrone needs this outlet and focus for his anger. He struggled with it throughout the first three episodes, even to the point of trying to shoot Detective Connors.
Even better, all this character development provided the biggest plot movement yet. Tandy’s determination to get along with Greg led to direct involvement in the Roxxon lawsuit he represented her mother in. It also led to Roxxon killing Greg for presumably getting too close. There should be no escaping the consequences of Greg’s death. Tandy’s mother will suffer. Who knows whether her determination to take the corporation down will wax or wane. Tandy herself visited the burned office to retrieve documents from Greg’s safe, so she certainly won’t let this go.
Tyrone’s plot movement was not so direct, but still meant something. He learned of his brother’s training to be a “Spy Boy” for the Redhawks, a role in Mardi Gras parades involving moving ahead of the Big Chief but was described in this episode as someone responsible for scouting the unknown to seek oncoming trouble. The unfinished suit Tyrone adopted also largely resembles the signature look of Cloak in the comics.
And of course now you also have to wonder if Roxxon will involve themselves with the Redhawks.
There was definitely a lot of good content in this episode. At this point Cloak and Dagger is close to establishing a base quality that this episode certainly matched. Unfortunately, the end of the episode left a real sour taste in my mouth. One reason due to plot, and another for some poor handling of a very sensitive subject.
Insensitivity and Stalling
You saw the content warning, so let’s dive right in. The episode-long conversation between Tandy and Tyrone breaks down at the very end, when conversations about privilege turn into insults and eventually lead to Tandy admitting to suicidal thoughts. In his anger, Tyrone tells her that if she wants to die so badly, she should just do it.
The next day, in the aftermath of Greg’s murder, Tandy restrains her hands and feet and jumps into the ocean, clearly planning on killing herself. She eventually resurfaces when her powers trigger and she cuts the ropes binding her hands.
I will say this: my final judgment will depend on how this is handled moving forward. Right now it feels like a really cheap use of suicide. There are some things you must always take care to portray responsibly when telling your story, and this did not feel like a particularly responsible way to handle Tandy’s thoughts of ending her life. I worry this was nothing more than an attempt to end the episode with high drama, and that the distasteful implications are unrecognized.
Now, we do need to see where it goes from here. If Tyrone recognizes the terribleness of what he said and apologizes for it, and there’s a genuine effort to understand the mistake he made, this can pass by without issue. And it’s not like the idea that Tandy might have suicidal thoughts came from nowhere. Considering her immense survivor’s guilt and lack of connection, I can certainly understand how thoughts of suicide enter her mind. Thing is, I don’t think you can just throw it out there, have a main character yell at her to just go ahead and kill herself, have said character try, and then move on from it. It all happened so quick and dirty that I can’t help but feel like it may have just been there for drama.
I hope it’s needless to say that using suicide just for drama is an awful idea.
Cloak and Dagger needs to follow up respectfully on Tandy’s attempt. Suicidal tendencies are a serious concern that must be handled delicately and with a purpose. And unfortunately, this is an easy fallback too many shows rely on without the proper care needed. I hope Cloak and Dagger doesn’t.
My second, lesser, and plot-related concern is the argument that led to Tyrone’s insensitive words. Namely that, to me, it came completely out of nowhere. The two of them spent the entire episode having a calm, respectful discussion. Even sensitive subjects between the two caused little drama. Then all of a sudden a piece of genuine advice blows it all up and leads to an unnatural argument over privilege. Which leads to Tandy mentioning her suicidal thoughts and Tyrone’s comment.
This development renewed my worry from last week over these two being kept apart too long. It seems clear that the real, ground-shaking forward movement on Cloak and Dagger won’t take place until Tandy and Tyrone unite. “Call/Response” spent 90% of its runtime heading in this direction. Then it all fell apart.
I certainly understand how a conversation over privilege could lead to heated tensions, especially with backgrounds like Tandy and Tyrone have. Still, this felt so artificial. It almost felt like Cloak and Dagger attempting a superficial, ham-fisted discussion of privilege without any real meat. The main goal seems to be keeping the two main characters apart. It’s the absolute worst attempt the show has made regarding the privilege debate. Scenes like Tyrone walking into the police station and looking around, only to find a sea of white faces, speak volumes more than this conversation did.
While we’re certainly not back where we were at the end of the second episode, we’re a little too close for comfort. Both characters seem like they will tackle the plot alone. And you know they will tackle it ineffectively. The whole idea (at least to me) is that they won’t truly make progress until they team up. I’m also reaching a point where I will start to distrust the moments where they appear ready to team up if this goes on for too long.
In one moment, they undid a great deal of the work the 40 minutes before hand strove hard for.
I’m all for character development, but here’s hoping Cloak and Dagger avoids this mistake in the future. And here’s hoping Tandy’s suicide ends up as more than a way to create drama feeding this mistake.
- I was delighted when Greg turned out to be a good guy. Damn shame they killed him in the same episode he turned out as such.
- Tandy’s mother is seriously tragic. I worry we’re heading in a self-harm direction with her as well.
- I also loved learning more about Tyrone’s father, Otis. He seems to harbor a lot of the same barely repressed anger that his son does. I hope we get more of him and his history with the Redhawks.
- Roxxon is still paying for the rights to the plot of ocean with the collapsed rig. This suggests to me that whatever gave Tyrone and Tandy powers still slumbers beneath the water.
- Sometimes Tandy and Tyrone have some really good banter…and then sometimes I wonder how it can be so off.
Images Courtesy of Freeform
The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage
The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.
When the episode starts, Holden is unconscious, so Bobbie picks him up and they head towards their shuttle. However, she realizes the speed limit might have decreased after her commanding officer threw the grenade last episode, and tests it. Turns out she is right. They get out and stabilize Holden. However, many Martians and Earthers are both dead on their ship, as the quick deceleration was a massive shock.
Naomi survived, but her skiff is no longer able to move, so she abandons it and steps into space. Drummer and her first officer are both pinned by heavy machinery, and have to cooperate to get out of the situation. Anna wakes up and goes through her ship, watching the scores of dead people. Those who are bleeding severely are lost as well, since in zero gravity, there is apparently no way for the blood to drain. One would expect they’d have some sort of vacuum pumps for that, being a space-faring civilization, but whatever. Anna is horrified and offers her help, being a trained nurse.
Holden’s brain scans show frenetic activity, but he’s not waking up. A MCRN soldiers feels like Bobbie is more loyal to him than to them, and suggests she kills him, because dying might be the best fate for him right now.
Drummer and her first have now gotten to the point of sharing life stories and singing together, since they are out of viable solutions for their situation.
When Clarissa wakes up, she think she successfully killed Tilly. But as Anna is helping fix her broken arm, Tilly contacts Anna on her hand terminal. Anna goes to find her, and Tilly tells her what happened before she dies. Clarissa, meanwhile, escapes the ship just as Anna catches up with her. She is left screaming that, “she cannot escape, only beg for mercy.”
Naomi arrives at the Roci and finds Alex, mostly all right, and Amos, who was hit in the head with a heavy tool and so is less alright. Drummer’s first starts coughing blood from his punctured lungs. For some mysterious reason, Drummer decides that means she should sacrifice herself, even though from what we have heard, doing so gives him a really low chances of survival. Still, she moves the machine back onto herself, freeing him, and he calls for help.
Clarissa reaches the Roci and manages to get inside. Naomi hears the impact and goes to check what is wrong. Clarissa tries to kill her—of course she does—but Anna, who apparently followed Clarissa, saves Naomi.
Drummer’s first, after hearing about the large number of wounded they have, gives the order to spin the drum of the ship, creating artificial gravity. They are unsure it will work, but they manage successfully. The first, who is not the captain, then opens a channel to other ships around them and invites everyone to transport their wounded to their ship.
MCRN seems to have more stupid ideas about how bad it is they are being saved by the “skinners,” apparently a name for the Belters. Bobbie effectively tells him he is an idiot and goes to see Holden, who woke up, and now tells her he had a vision of the end of everything.
Overall, this was another good episode with solid pacing and clear progress forward. But there were still plenty enough things left that bother me.
First and foremost among them would be the storyline happening aboard the Martian shuttle. For one, the MCRN marine was acting completely ridiculous. The Expanse has always had trouble with depicting the less open-minded military types with any nuance, but this might be a new low. In particular, I am talking about handing Bobbie the gun to shoot Holden.
It made no sense at all in context: their orders were to bring Holden in. I don’t expect MCRN tortures their prisoners, so the argument with “might be the best for him” hardly made sense. Most of all, it felt like a test for Bobbie, but if so, it was a test of a kind I’d expect to see in Star Trek Discovery‘s Mirror Universe, not among the Martians. The Expanse show adaptation has always depicted the Martians worse than the books do, and this continues in the same vein. Bobbie is gaining the very uncomfortable overtones of being the “one good apple.”
On the other hand, Bobbie’s own role here was scarcely better, particularly her strange obsession with Holden. She is acting like they became best friends in the first half of this season, which is definitely not something I noticed. No matter how ridiculous the marine’s desire to have Holden shot was, he was perfectly right that it looked like Holden was controlling the protomolecule. We know it was because Miller was controlling it for him, but Bobbie doesn’t.
At the same time, it doesn’t follow she would immediately jump to the conclusion that Holden is a villain. He could be controlled by the protomolecule. In fact, he was, to a degree. Or, he could have simply gone insane. Once again, he had in a way. There are many possible explanations that don’t lead to wanting to have Holden executed, but which at the same time don’t lead to Bobbie insisting to her marine crew that, “Holden wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It is doubly irritating because this is Holden of all people, everyone’s personal favorite white boy. Of course she would be all up in arms about him. Meanwhile, women of color were in danger or outright killed left and right this episode.
Speaking of which, Drummer. On one hand, when we first saw the situation she was in, I was worried it would develop into a mutual attempt at killing the other and saving themselves. I am truly, deeply grateful it didn’t. And even the idea of her sacrifice could have been a brilliant one, really, in the right circumstances. The way it played out here, however? Just after it is implied her first has a low chances of survival, without any particular indication that she is in serious trouble herself? It just feels very much like, “all right, the brown chick was the captain for a bit too long, time to give it to a white guy.”
The scene between them was acted excellently though, I have to grant them that much. Naomi was very good this episode as well, and were her Rocinante boys.
The one character who continues to be a disappointment is Anna. Her very last intervention was badass to be sure, but it’s not the kind of strength I expect from Anna. She’s not there to beat people over their heads. And until that moment, she was as insufferable as before. The most ridiculous moment was shouting after Clarissa. I understand she was meant to be upset, but it just looked stupid. Tilly repeating Anna was “very good at this,” meaning her pastoral duties, only made me roll my eyes once more. Show, don’t tell, please. At this point, such assertions about Anna are about as convincing as all the characters telling Tyrion he was clever on Game of Thrones.
The season finale next week is a double episode. At this point, I feel like it can go in many different directions, and I am all impatience to see which one it goes for.
All images courtesy of SyFy
Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt
Last week’s episode of Reverie ended on a cliffhanger. Mara realized that she wasn’t actually at her late sister’s house, talking to her late niece (she was actually pretty sure on that last one). This leads to an obvious question: where was Mara, really. Unfortunately for her, she was in the middle of a road, with a car on its way. Before the car runs her over, Mara is saved by a mysterious man who knows her name. Turns out Mara’s savior is Oliver Hill, who claims to be suffering from de-realization as well. Hill has been following Mara, out of supposed worry. Before Oliver was a concerned stalker, he was a founding partner of Onira-Tech. He has something to explain to her, but he needs food first.
Oliver Hill V. Onira-Tech
Reverie spends about half of the episode providing two arguments for what’s really going on. Oliver argues that Reverie 2.0 is inherently flawed. He claims that he and Mara, being the two people who have spent the most time in Reverie 2.0, will be representative of the general population. In his version, Charlie is Onira-Tech’s unthinking bodyguard who hates Oliver. The medication that Mara has been given is supposedly useless (which is not a great message, especially when paired with Mara’s previous trashing of her meds). Oliver tells Mara not to tell Onira-Tech about their conversation, but that lasts for about 3 minutes. Mara is scared and she needs answers, and she tries to test Oliver’s claims against Onira-Tech’s personnel.
On the other hand, Onira-Tech claims that Oliver Hill was unstable. Charlie claims that Oliver is dangerous. Paul shows Mara Oliver’s brain activity, explaining that he had issues before Reverie 2.0. Alexis tells Mara that her partnership with Oliver was founded in a romantic relationship. That relationship went badly, and Alexis doesn’t want to be defined by that failure, hence his erasure from the company.
By the end of the episode, Mara agrees with the latter form of events. She seems to be finally persuaded by Alexis’ detailing of her and Oliver’s romantic partnership. However, it’s not clear that the narrative agrees with Mara. Mara doesn’t know where to turn, and Reverie loves drawing tension from that. It thrives off of Mara’s (and the viewer’s) disorientation.
It’s certainly clear that Oliver has other plans, since he offers to buy a Reverie system at the end of the episode.
This episode also included a client of the week. Part of the reason the Onira-Tech team started out the episode on edge was a theft within the building. Someone stole a copy of Reverie, and modified it into a form of “Dark Reverie.” The “Dark” version doesn’t have restrictions. Our client of the week, Glenn, is using it to plan a heist. Since last week’s episode involved a bank robber, it’s likely Glenn needed the jailbroken version for the detailed specifications.
Glenn is a man with a stereotypical form of OCD. He avoids daylight, and hates the color blue. In a twist that should not surprise the viewer, Glenn doesn’t want to commit the heist for himself. He’s been watching the single mother and son across the street. The son has a rare disease, and Glenn wants to save his life with a trial drug. Despite mostly living inside, Glenn’s motivation is that he feels like part of the pair’s family. This entire plot feels like a math problem. Sick kid + adult with stereotypical OCD + moral heist = episodic plot.
Glenn offers to sell out “Dark Reverie” sellers and give his system back on one condition: help him do the heist. Mara complies, but Charlie and Monica have other ideas. Instead of letting Glenn steal the medication, they make a deal with the medicine company CEO. The heist goes through, but is spinned as a test of the company’s security system. Glenn gets the meds for the kid, and doesn’t get a felony on his record. Smiles all around.
Reverie‘s season arc plot wildly outstrips its episodic plots. This week’s episodic plot was probably the worst so far. However, the arc’s plot twists easily, without feeling gimmicky.