“I like to think of myself as one of the Happy Generations.”
Albert’s presence in these first couple of episodes this season is a nice addition. He’s a good foil to Cooper. Albert’s snark and skepticism puts Cooper in check in a way the townsfolk haven’t. So far, everyone seems to somewhat respect and look up to Cooper, but Albert often deflates Cooper. Among the FBI story, we discover that Cooper’s former partner went mad and is now missing. So far, we’ve heard little of Cooper’s past and it would be interesting to see if this story develops.
As this season amps up the supernatural elements, I wonder if it is becoming too blatant and inexplicable. The first season left them in the corners, but here they’re direct. Maddy gets a vision of Bob, Major Briggs tells Cooper about space garbage related to his case, Donna visits an old lady and her grandson is able to displace items.
Along with this, the question becomes if these supernatural elements need explanations. As more and more of them occur, it is going to be harder for the show to give answers for all of them. Do we need all the answers, or is it sufficient for these supernatural elements to function in service to the mood? I’m the kind of viewer fine with loose ends and unanswered questions, and so far like the addition of these elements as ways for the show to further explore the bounds of reality.
Where I do wonder about the tone of the show is the comedic elements. Season one has a very wry, understated sense of humor. Here, the gags are a bit goofier and bolder. For instance, when Cooper and Harry go to make an important hospital visit and then spend 30 seconds figuring out how to adjust the stools, the gag feels a bit too big. Likewise, Andy covered with tape later on in the episode is too easy of a gag. It doesn’t feel like it fits the show more understated, wry tone.
2.3 The Man Behind the Glass
“You want to play with fire little boy?”
Albert and Truman finally reach the boiling point again and instead of going with another fight, Albert diffuses the situation. It’s one of the most unexpected and funniest moments in the show so far. It demonstrates that the tension still exists, but also shows how both Albert and Truman are on the same side. It’s also a shocking moment of frankness and honesty from Albert when he finally decides to drop the attitude.
Meanwhile, Donna is building her own attitude. She thinks there’s something between James and Maddy and there’s a falling out. She ends up running to this man named Harold (Lenny von Dohlen) she just met who is connected to Laura. The love triangle story with the kids feels forced, especially some of the dialogue, and so far this is the weakest part of this season. However, in the aftermath, Leland and Maddy have this great moment where they lament about how easy and happy life used to be before it all fell apart.
While these kids face the landmines of love, Audrey is caught up in the twisted world of One Eyed Jacks. Her story has been progressing slowly the last couple of episode. Blackie (Victoria Catlin) and Jean Renault (Michael Parks) decide to hold her hostage so they can get money and control of the club from Ben. They decide to get Audrey hooked on heroin. It’s a dark turn for the show, but also demonstrates how the corruption and wickedness of Ben visits his daughter.
2.4 Laura’s Secret Diary
“Heaven is a large and interesting place, sir.”
The first few episodes of the season, I was worried Andy was going to be relegated as a simple gag character, but this episode introduces a wonderful little subplot where Andy decides to reinvestigate his virility. Along the way, he bumps into Lucy with an issue of Flesh World. It’s a funny moment of miscommunication. Meanwhile, both Cooper and Dick (Ian Buchanan), Lucy’s former boyfriend, try to help Lucy, but only end up making things worse. I love how the show is taking the time to explore these characters. It thinks their drama and problems are worth our time and I appreciate it. It gives the show a greater awareness of life.
Donna now has a rapport with Harold and he reads her a passage from Laura’s diary. In the diary, Laura fears she can’t reveal all of her dark secrets to Donna because she wouldn’t be able to accept her if she knew. Ultimately, these secrets are bred out of a fear of what people will think of us, that they wouldn’t be able to accept our darkness. The great twist of the show is that everyone has some dark secret, everyone has that thing they are hiding, no one is as good our pure as they appear to be.
One thing I haven’t discussed too much is the artisanship of the filmmaking on display. This episode demonstrates how visually compelling some sequences can be. There’s a lightning lighting effect in several scenes that adds a sense of visual drama that is excellent. It isn’t Hollywood filmmaking quality, but the effect adds to the atmosphere and tension of the sequence and gives the show a cinematic feel.
© 2014 James Blake Ewing