Tag Archives: suicide

‘The Affair’ 1.09 or Narrative Structure as Misdirection or The Anna Karenina Factor

the affair 109

Sunday night’s episode of The Affair was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Stories.. and Suicides. Suicide has been a significantly recurring theme in this first season, and one that should not be overlooked in your weekly theorizing. Let’s go back — way, way back — to the very first dramatic beat of the series: Martin’s staged suicide. (Oh morbid Martin who learns how to fake a hanging on YouTube and frees horses in the middle of the night.) A tally of the suicides and attempted suicides on The Affair thus far comes in at a staggering FOUR: Martin, (Skank Ho) Jody Manko, Alison, and the Tribeca jumper. And what with the train imagery to boot, there’s an “Anna Karenina” thing going on, for sure. Noah as Vronsky; Alison as Anna; Brooklyn as St. Petersburg? In the pilot, Noah even guesses that it would be Alison’s favorite book.

So why? Could it be as simple as setting the tone for pain and despair, or something more sinister? Are the protagonists misdirecting someone? Are the writers? Well that’s where the “Stories” come in.

At the risk of sounding redundant, it’s been weeks since Noah and Alison’s stories stopped being police interrogations, and yet we’ve not uncovered what they now are. Honest memories? Intentional lies?Innocent tales? And to whom? And from whom? Yes, from Noah and Alison but… who else? “Story” is a theme of its own on The Affair, and it is no coincidence that Noah is a writer: the writers on The Affair are represented here, as is the power of storytelling and narrative misdirection. Viewers have theorized that Alison and Noah are purposely misrepresenting themselves through false narration as part of a cover-up in the Scotty Lockhart investigation, but it seems to me that the writers of this fine series are playing the same trick on us, the audience.

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True Blood – 3×12: Bloody Farewell

I knew very early on in season 3 that there was a more than likely chance that this would be my last year as a True Blood viewer. I get asked all the time by both fans and non-fans, why, if I dislike True Blood so much, do I even watch it? I think it upsets the fans more than the haters that I do. It must a defense thing on their part since I’m pretty much actively insulting this magical world which they are so obsessed with on the regular (and that’s fascinating about a show like TB, which like most serials, is uber conducive to obsessive personalities — guilty as charged).

Oh hai, hunk. (Joe Manganiello as Alcide)

My reasons for watching True Blood are many: there are characters I absolutely love (i.e. Jessica, Hoyt, Lafayette), its a serialized show and I blog about serials, my favorite television series of all time was the original vampire drama (i.e Buffy the Vampire Slayer) so I like to compare, Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello make me weak at the knees, etc. I’ve also mentioned here how I watch the show as a writer because its a fun project in my head pointing out what went wrong in the writing to make a storyline so flawed, as this in turn reveals to me which mistakes not to make in my own writing.

But anyway, it looks like the time has come to say goodbye to True Blood, the show I love to hate. I very seriously opened up my heart and my mind to True Blood every week; you can go back and read any of my reviews to know that I never just went into an episode so prejudiced that I couldn’t enjoy it. In fact, I’m so proud of my continued objectivity in each episode despite its consistent shortcomings, that all in all it was as important for me to watch TB this year as it was to watch Mad Men or LOST. Most weeks may not have been exciting enough to truly entertain me, but there were a couple of very good episodes, with the highlight being “9 Crimes” 3×04. (I’m also still a big fan of Russell’s live television broadcast at the end of “Everything is Broken” 3×09). Nonetheless, fuck this show. It just sucks. I can’t deal.

So without further ado, here is my final review for HBO’s True Blood:

Jason Stackhouse+Emaciated Crystal Meth Head vs. Killer Hicks?

If I’m saving the best for last, I think its only fitting I start the worst for first. WHOA was this a fucking mistake or what?!? As the episodes went on and on I couldn’t believe this entire storyline. I’ve never ever EVER been so bored watching a “conflict” unfold in my life. It was like watching paint dry — without the fun fumes or pretty colors. Let’s recap what happened here:

  • Jason flips out over killing an innocent Eggs and proceeding to cover it up
  • He starts hallucinating out of guilt, suddenly decides that becoming a cop will absolve him of his sins (and actually does magically cease to feel guilty!)
  • He Meets an inbred redneck anorexic rocks-for-brains crystal meth dealing Werepanther (hahaha) whom he falls in love at first sight with through no understandable reason which I could surmise.
  • For some reason involving the Meth which I’m still fuzzy about, her rapist family tries to kill her… or him… or both of them, unsuccessfully.
  • Finally something about her little community of Werepanthers and V sales goes down (it wasn’t crystal meth afterall??) where the DEA gets involved and goes to raid them except Jason helps them all pretty much get away. Did I even get that right?

My lack of interest in this was so intense I can’t even recall the events and I have serious trouble believing that anyone watching this show was sitting at the edge of their seat waiting to see what would happen here. Needless to say, this could have been a story about Weresquirrels smuggling magical acorns through the Lousiana swamps and Jason’s dreams of becoming a Park Ranger saving them from extinction and it wouldn’t A) make a damn bit of difference, B) surprise me. 

Sam vs. Kill Tommy

Sam has been one of my absolute favorite characters since the beginning, and that’s saying a lot considering how much I dislike the show because without him I wouldn’t have been able to get through season 1. As bored as I was with his storyline this season, I can at least say that they kept Sam consistent in his character, which I continue to enjoy. Why? He’s a good person but a boring person. He’s intelligent and self-made where everyone else is just a southern hick with no ambitions or education. He cares about everyone in his community and then-some. He’s lonely when he should have every woman at his feet, except no one in Bon Temps is smart enough to see it. He’s hot. He doesn’t exploit his supernatural gift or let it define him. The idea of having sweet, lonely, heart-of-gold Sam seek out his birth family this season was a great idea that went horribly wrong, however. All we ended up getting were more stupid hicks to surround Sam with: the last thing we wanted to see.

  • Seeks out his parents
  • Finds out that they are shapeshifters too
  • Finds out that they are broke and alcoholic
  • Gets stalked by them in an attempt to extort money from him
  • Finds out that they are “using” his brother, Tommy’s, gift to make money in dog fighting rings
  • Takes Tommy in, kicks his parents out
  • Finds out that Tommy is (no surprise here) as disgusting of a human being as the people who raised him — and annoying as hell to boot!
  • Kicks Tommy out
  • Gets robbed by him
  • Shoots him (or something…)

Yeah… either the bullet never hit Tommy, it hit him but only wounded him, or it killed him. Do any of these possibilities make you want to watch the show next year? I really want to understand how events like this could ever be enough to make people want to come back for more. The brother was a moron that no one wanted to see again — good riddance! And if he is dead then what? Sam is going to be next season’s Jason Stackhouse? The redundancy and lack of creativity here never ceases to amaze.

Lafayette+Jesus vs Killer V

Unlike Sam, Lafayette became one of my favorite characters later on in the series. I can’t be sure if his character actually changed or if he just grew on me but, nonetheless, I became a fan in season 2. I was oh so very happy to see the writers give him a legitimately decent love interest this season in Jesus. What with the disaster of Jason’s designated significant other, Jesus was a blessing. He was funny, he wore his heart on his sleeve, he made tortured but strong Lafayette smile, he took care of him. In the end, however, we didn’t get much more with them than we had already gotten mid season but I’m more okay with that an empty storyline that’ll never change anything or mean anything at all. Here’s what was up with them:

  • They meet at Lafayette’s mother’s psychiatric institution
  • Jesus makes a little personal call and shows up at Merlotte’s to ask Lafayette out
  • They have instant chemistry which puts a smile on everyone’s face
  • They sleep together, they begin to fall in love
  • They do some V and trip out
  • Lafayette can’t stop hallucinating creepy things and begins to lose his mind
  • He discovers that Jesus is a witch who reveals that the hallucinations are a gift which he’ll help Lafayette use and control

I’ll take what I can get. So long as they don’t kill either one of them off I’m actually very happy. It gets really old when they don’t ever cut the most decent characters a break on a series, and they’ve clearly cut Lafayette one this season so I’ll give it one thumb up for effort and good casting.

Terry/Arlene vs Killer Baby

I enjoy Arlene and you can’t help but want to hug Terry. Their story this year was also quite touching since we saw the two find in each other what they most needed: a family. Here, again, we have two very tortured characters finding a little joy. Unfortunately the child they are expecting is not Terry’s but Renee’s which is a little creepy but not creepy enough since we only saw evil Renee for one episode and then he died. Since I remember Renee being pretty cool its hard for me to feel freaked out like Arlene is. Also… its a freaking baby, dude. Not a clone. All in all:

  • Arlene begins to give Terry a chance
  • Terry begins to open himself up and react warmly towards Arlene’s affections
  • Terry falls madly in love, and Arlene loves him too
  • Arlene discovers she’s pregnant but that its Renee’s and lies to Terry about it
  • Arlene decides she doesn’t want the baby
  • A wiccan waitress from work (say that three times fast!) gives her some magical tea which will decide whether the baby lives or dies
  • Arlene bleeds out the next day, thinking the tea has spoken and she’s miscarried, but its a false alarm
  • Terry is officially the happiest man in the world, Arlene is still nervous

Another “pretty low-conflict yet somehow simultaneously unresolved” storyline. I can’t believe even the good characters get shafted with weak plots. Blahhhh.

Jessica+Hoyt vs. Killer Obese Southern Mother

Swoon. I’ve got a crush on Hoyt in that be-my-boyfriend-not-my-lover way. Jessica is so adorable, she’s the True Blood equivalent of Harmony from Buffy and just as enjoyable. I believe their love more than anyone else’s on this show. In fact I don’t really think anyone else on this show is in love except Lafayette and Jesus. Perhaps Eric with Sookie but not the other way around. And certainly Terry with Arlene but also, unfortunately, not equally reciprocated. The interesting thing about this couple this season is that they were pretty much the only two that started off with a problem, and the season was used to resolve it:

  • Jessica kills an innocent trucker out of hunger
  • The guilt for her uncontrollable evilness causes her to break up with Hoyt
  • Hoyt doesn’t understand anything and is heartbroken
  • Jessica’s dead trucker disappears — later revealed to be stolen by Franklin
  • Hoyt fights with his mother yet again over Jessica and she sets him up with Southern Sunshine, Summer
  • Jessica gets a job at Merlotte’s and continues to feed on humans
  • Jessica learns how to fight better with the help of Bill
  • Hoyt dates Summer to get over Jessica who he sees every time he walks into Merlotte’s
  • The two realize they are madly in love and get back together
  • Jessica confesses what she’s done and that she will continue to feed on human blood… so Hoyt offers his own blood!
  • Hoyt buys a house for the two to live in, which makes them both very happy!
  • Hoyt’s mother buys a gun…

A lot went on in this mini-drama. Plenty of ups and downs; highs and lows. The way it should be! Overall the best-told story this season, in my humble opinion.

Tara vs. Kill Yourself

I was sure Tara would have to die this season, as you may recall. If not because they planned it that way, then because her character had turned into such an incredible steaming pile of shit that there was no way they could continue using her. The damage was done. As the season drew to a close I became even more convinced that she would meet her demise as they made absolutely no attempt in bettering her already miserable situation. In the finale, the writers made it very obvious that she saying goodbye to everyone. But wait was Tara going to kill herself? Suicide is the ultimate cop out! Plus she already tried that this season! There’s no way they are going to have a character go out with such little dignity, right? She cut her hair off, though. A friend of mine mentioned that Luke Wilson’s character did the same thing in The Royal Tannenbaums before he attempted to commit suicide… apparently its a common practice. If so I think its simply a red herring. If I cared more about her survival I’d have more to say but I don’t. In short (ahem, very short), this was Tara’s story this season:

  • She tries to kill herself after Eggs dies and, unfortunately, she fails
  • Lafayette tells her she’s an idiot, and she gets over it
  • She has sex with a man named Franklin
  • Franklin is a vampire who becomes obsessed with her, rapes her, kidnaps her, and attempts to turn her into a vampire
  • She escapes from him but he finds her anyway
  • Jason kills him
  • She finds out the truth about Eggs’ death and it appears to bring her some peace
  • She fucks Sam and learns he’s also a supernatural which upsets her
  • She finds out her mother is sleeping with a married Reverend
  • She cuts all her hair off and says goodbye to everyone she knows and drives off

Yawnnnnnnnn. Seriously, just throw yourself into the river. It’s fine. I’ll forgive you.

Sookie/Bill /Eric vs. Killer Russell

The meat and potatoes of the show right? Pfffft, as if. If I were to make a pie graph dividing the season into each of the storylines mentioned in these sections, the Sookie/Bill/Eric/Russell drama would only take up about 30% while the others would be around 10-12%. It might sound like a significant difference to you but when your main characters only take up 1/4 of the screen-time they become just as disposable as any other. I enjoy Eric and Pam, and Russell was kind of fun at times, but the rest of the pack was embarrassing. Talbot and Franklin? WTF?? And of course you know how I feel about that moron Bill. Sookie is only salvaged by the fact that Anna Paquin is a good actress but aside from that I’m done with these people. The final recap:

  • Sookie hesitates at Bill’s marriage proposal, but before you can say “I bloody do” he’s been kidnapped by werewolves
  • He is taken to King Russell’s mansion where he’s given an ultimatum to join Russell or watch Sookie die (still don’t see how this is a unique threat but whatever)
  • Bill accepts the bribe
  • Sookie looks for him like a lunatic, until he tells her to piss off, and even then she continues to look
  • She meets Alcide at some point: a man kinder, smarter, and hotter than, Bill. (Okay really, why would they keep Bill around after this?)
  • Bill senses that Sookie is in danger, he goes to find her, but she defends herself with some magic light
  • She’s captured by Russell’s crew and Bill allows them to do so
  • She escapes with Tara and Alcide and an injured Bill
  • Bill drinks her blood and almost kills her (he can stand out in the light for 10 more seconds than usual too, big woop)
  • They break up because attempted murder is high on the list of reasons to do so
  • Eric kills Talbot, and in a fit of rage, Russell kills an anchorman on national TV to fuck with the AVL’s attempts at Human/Vampire peace (which really had nothing to do with the season anyway) in retaliation
  • Bill and Sookie get back together for the 3423948 time and we find out she’s a “fucking fairy”
  • Eric devises a plan to kill Russell using Sookie’s blood, Bill adhears — it works
  • Bill turns on Eric and attempts to kill him but fails epically as Eric survives and returns to reveal to Sookie that Bill was recruited to trap and exploit her from the beginning
  • She kicks them both out of her house forever and joins her Fairy Godmother
  • Bill attempts to fight and kill Queen Sophie Anne…

First of all, you should have seen my frustration at the absurdity of the episode at this point in the finale, announcing: “WHAT?? Cement doesn’t dry instantly! Is he kidding?!? Is Bill mentally challenged?” I’m still so confused as to how this man could be so stupid. The simple fact that they don’t even bother “explaining” how Eric survived is an admission of Bill’s utterly hysterical and astonishing lack of brain power. The only truly cool part of the whole episode was Bill turning on Eric, but once I saw how he did so, it even ruined that, big surprise. And to top it all off I still have no clue what’s so great about Sookie’s blood. Seriously. Didn’t the entire season prove that her blood is almost useless and the only power she’s got is some repellent light? Sigh.

And did you see the “Alan Ball Thank You” at the end of the episode? That was the smartest thing I saw the entire hour. Alan Ball must wake up every morning thanking his lucky stars that more people care about sex and blood and cheesy dialogue than the ability to use their brains and imaginations. Good call, Alan ball. Your fans deserved that.

Good luck to you all who venture forth in your True Blood fandom. I wish you the best and hope that you get a chance to catch some of the actually decent quality series out on TV right now, too. Personally, I’m losing braincells and there’s nothing more that I can get from the series to make it worth it. See you around! Long live Alcide!

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