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[edit: remind me I gotta edit this post so it matches the Tumblr version[s]; just too tired right now.]

Zoo, 3x11, "Cradles and Graves"
This title concerns me enormously.

But before we dive in: I don't know if I'm more upset that this show had the gall to unironically use (a cover of)“Wonderwall” for dramatic effect, or that after 3 days of my inability to stop watching this episode, it's actually working for me. I distinctly remember bursting out laughing when the first lyrics hit my ears, and now I'm like, teary eyed and nodding sagely through that whole montage. "Wow. So deep. So profound and meaningful."

---------------
A list of things I did not care for this week: the IADG bullpen unless Tessa was talking.

Now that we've got that out of the way...

Some things I like about the first 5 minutes
-Imagining the Darkest Timeline version where they are all already dead by the time Clem finds them.

-The (unintentional?) hilarity of the fact that Jackson's blood waits for the exactly perfect moment to ooze under the door for maximum dramatic effect

-The fact that Mitch is found on the stairs instead of where he was shot, which suggests to me that he got to feel the full horror of seeing both Max and Jamie on the ground before he succumbed to his own wound (which is probably just an irresponsible directing choice because if he had, I'd think he'd be a little more grateful about the whole them-not-being-dead part, but it's fun to think about! Otherwise I just get bogged down again in wondering about the logistics of GSW injuries.)

Ctrl + Z
I loved it, but my parents and I could not stop laughing during the entire resurrection scene. "So I guess everybody's actively dying and no one can help us, but it's cool. Just gimme some of that tank serum (totally valid medical term) and mix it with water (just your basic home remedy recipe), and then we'll suffocate them back to life and five minutes later their mortal wounds will be fine and we can get on with the real problems."

A.K.A. So there's example 57 or so of an entire episode's worth of possible plot being pushed aside because this show refuses to take a breath. We could have wrung so much more emotion out of Clementine, whilst ignoring her own signs of labor, trying to triage her father, grandfather, adoptive mother, surrogate uncle I'm pretending she is already attached to more than I'm sure she is, and other surrogate uncle who is also her best chance of saving her baby, the most important of all, if something goes wrong in delivery. ...and GDI now I gotta go find a special episode of Grey's Anatomy to get my mass tragedy fix.

But I'm grateful that even at Zoo speed, they still gave me a little taste (in two flavors!) of people suffering the after-effects of injuries the serum couldn't fully fix.

You're Responsible, You're the One to Blame, It's Your Fault
:( to everyone being too busy hating her to notice Jamie cradling a clearly injured arm. But I love absolutely every sentence in this 7-way argument, including but not limited to Mitch's strangled "are you full term? how long was I out?!", the group-wide reveal of when exactly Mr. Duncan disappeared, Jackson's deadly-quiet anger, Jamie's valid defense of her actions, Mitch trying to take his daughter and blow this popsicle stand at a doubled-over limp, Clem taking her sweet time mentioning the quarantine, Max and Jamie's "oh" realizations about the plane, and Mitch's fabulously cranky echo and "what now" attitude.

Last but far from least, the disgusted "I can't even look at you" was kind of my favorite part? I dig it when one member of an OTP is that intensely furious at the other out of hurt. (see also: Castle at the end of season 4)

Oh My Darling(s, Sam &) Clementine (who can't make a good shipmanteau to save their life)

I don't have enough interest to do it myself, but it sure sounds like the story of how they met would make a pretty great YA novel plot. Anyone who doesn't actually want to spend the month trying to be a paid author need a NaNoWriMo prompt? Particularly someone who likes world-building, because this show leaves things wide open to fill in the details of U.S. society outside New York and the plane.

Speaking of which! Did Clem happen to share with him the part of her backstory about being raised as an orphan basically the same way for the same reason? Because that seems like it would decently bond them. I like this parallel.

Also update, I am getting a lot fonder of his face, mostly because he shut up and stayed out of my way except when I needed him to chime in to be sweet and supportive of Clementine (or side with her dad about ranking her over the baby on the priority list). He seems like he's really tried/is trying to be a good partner, and I'm impressed that he holds his ground despite a faceful of largely unwarranted hostility from her. I might actually be okay with him being the head of his family, even though up until now my head has danced with visions of Clem raising her baby under Mitch (and Jamie)'s purview and/or roof, Last Man Standing style. (although I guess there's always Reba-style, where both young parents are under that roof)

(I reailize I'm making a lot of assumptions about everyone's ability to stay alive and/or live a semi-normal life)

Jackson V. Jamie
I think this is one of the things people are most upset about, and here's the thing: I understand both of them. Never mind that Quietly Angry Jackson taking charge and manhandling Jamie into place is somewhat way hot to me, he has a lot of reasons to believe that Jamie's impetuous and unilateral decision-making is going to get them all killed (it did). I can sympathize with him not being over having his life ruined. Jamie burned the world down when she had no family left and obliterated his easy connection to what remained of his in the process.  The way she accuses him of trying to save (rescue. redeem.) Abigail like it's the most sinister and villainous choice there is might be one of those reasons he has doubts about her.

Episode 10 gave me everything I needed to see why Jamie is the way she is, though, and just in case that's not enough, I love Max later acknowledging she's had to make too many hard decisions, and she's made them out of pain and love. That's actually the hardest part to me, that Jackson can't reconcile that sometimes love is hard and violent.

...and oh my god, I wish I could find my S2 Revolution DVD, because their whole ideological clash is super reminisicent of a conversation or two that Miles and Rachel had toward the end, and I wish I had a supplemental quote to illustrate exactly what I'm trying to say here. I'll settle for "it's war. there is no right thing."

As for throwing Jamie in the slammer (an impetuous and unilateral decision, one might note) -- I mean, uncool, but what I think is particularly interesting is Mitch's tacit endorsement of his tactics. I like that they made sure we're fully aware that he knows where she is and he doesn't have a single reaction about it. It's a nice subtle callback to "we need to keep an eye on her."

And maybe an even subtler callback: do you? Because Jamie didn't actually go do a murder when you thought she was going off the rails, and she didn't bring Abigail onto the plane the first place, is all I'm saying.

A+ Comic Relief
Laughing for 1 million years at Clem hopping off the exam table pantsless while all the men in the vicinity panic and look away* (except for Sam, whom Mitch hilariously whacks on the arm for his impudence, in my favorite sight gag since "Special Consultant")
*the fact that Abe also does this, while understandably instinctive and appropriately respectful, is also kind of hilarious given where he just was

I Don't Know What To Do My Whole Brain is Celebrating
"How do you know the name of Jamie's scorpion?"
"Because my son and Jamie have, uh, very lively pillow talk."**

!!!!!!!!!!
NO BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. The fact that Abe pipes up despite a sucking chest wound just so he can help take the mick out of Mitch is glorious. The cranky and ineffectual "shut up" in response is THE BEST. I love that Mitch has just always blatantly refused to publicly acknowledge how he feels about Jamie, despite the fact that everyone and their mother is like,  "Oh yeah, I know Mitch. Snarky scientist, walks around with hearts in his eyes to match the one on his sleeve?" (Mitch in the distance: I do not LOVE her, okay, I just...miss her when she's not around, think about her all the time, and I imagine us one day running towards each other in slow motion and I'm wearing a brown suede vest.)

(I doubly appreciate this exchange because I was wondering when the hell these people actually sleep and I was getting worried there was no recognizable place in canon that they might have both had a chance to go to bed at the same time)

**I hope you realize this writer could not have more clearly been flagging us with a fic prompt.

Max Morgan, Love Doctor (not to be confused with sex doctor)
My very favorite of the smaller moments in this one is Max insisting that Mitch let him patch him up. I was all on board for some serious injury, but I loved the subversion of his attention being caught by the scars I thought the show had forgotten about instead. "Oh, Mitch." That just kills me. Mitch isn't the only parent who suffers over the thought of his kid being in pain tonight, and that's beautiful.

And gosh do I love him quietly, individually, nudging Mitch and Jamie back towards each other. The promise that Mitch will understand was an immediate balm upon my soul. If Max says a thing about my ship, it must be true!

Beta Ship 2.0 / My Wonderwall**
There's something immensely funny to me about the juxtaposition of Jackson being in his Brooding Cave Of Isolated Despair while Tessa is in a brightly ilt location, in the middle of the hustle and bustle and basically being like, "Buck up you big baby, stop being melodramatic." (Jackson: The prophecies have spoken. Food turns to dust in my mouth. A great wave shall fall upon us all. // Tessa: is your plane out of groceries again?)

But on a serious note, I love so much that he's thisclose to broken until she pulls him out of it that I'm not even gonna whine about him asking Tessa to do the same thing he's punishing Jamie for. Though in his defense, he did say "stop" and not "murder," which is an important distinction for him.

**Please note that Dollsome once wrote a Jim/Pam (The Office) parody of Jim/Pam stories using this title, and that is at least 50% of why I can't take this song seriously even though I actually love it.

Mitch + Being A Mess of Emotions About His Daughter
(side note: if anyone wanted to make a gifset off of this theme I would not be opposed)

Words cannot express how thrilled I am that Mitch gives zero bothers about Sam's baby daddy rights and takes up prime postioning to stroke Clementine's hair nonstop throughout the whole labor (also, he makes some pretty wonderful faces over how hard it is to see her in pain and not be able to do anything about it -- and remind me I've got either some meta or a story scrap about how this is what Audra was on the front lines for all those years he selfishly hid away, telling himself it was for the best), even stealing the requisite final "you can do this" encouragement. He also gets to be the first one to hold the baby and it's beautiful.

P.S. As much as I love that Mitch just falls apart in full Worried Dad mode and can't seem to process a single medical term or physical symptom as it pertains to pregnancy, you know that if Abe weren't a sex doctor and the writers weren't butts, Mitch would absolutely be whipping out the stethoscopes and telling us all about the time he delivered a baby gorilla which is basically the same thing -- I imagine Clem would take loud offense here -- while roping in Jamie as a delivery nurse to follow his instructions to the letter (because there are some things fathers just should not do no matter how brilliant they are).

Max Morgan, The Hero We Need
By now, you should've realized somehow what you gotta do

I hate that they killed him off. I really do. I hate everything about this more than I have hated any Zoo death that actually stuck. But it was just so, so well done. I love that he goes in fully aware of the odds on dying, but secure in the knowledge that he is leaving everyone in a better place. It's not like Mitch's sacrifice, breaking and devastated and scared and alone. Max got to see his son again, and reassure himself that Jamie will be there to keep him balanced. That his granddaughter is and always will be surrounded by people who love her (perfect last forehead kiss is perfect). Despite the fact that it shouldn't be his time, he's made peace with it -- genuine peace, not bitter resignation.

(so the fact that he doesn't even have to die alone out there, that Mitch finds him in time* AND his final moment is filled with the joy of a newborn great-grandson in his arms, which is totally not an irresponsible place to put a newborn no sirree? That is the most well crafted TV death I have seen in an age)

P.S. Mitch standing there crying all by himself for a minute is the best and worst thing I have ever seen thank u.

P.P.S. Don't think I haven't noticed this is the second time we have sacrificed a Morgan when there is a perfectly good Tragic Jackson just waiting to die a hero's death. I love him forever and always, but I refuse to believe any combo of his genetic traits or talents are special enough to warrant his continued survival.

Word Is On The Street That The Fire In Your Heart Is Out
As soon as I heard "pathological obsession," I went from confused about being unable to get a read on Mitch's expression to "oh. oh, this is bad," and braced myself, but it was...amazing? I was 5% worried this might really end them, at least for a while, but 95% willing to bet that its mid-episode placement of conflict was setting up for resolution payoff later on, and I gambled correctly.

I love that she gets in her apology instead of going on the defensive. The justification is still there, but in a request for understanding. "I thought it was the only way."

I love him flipping out and rattling the bars before he gets it under control, because he needs to yell. I love that he hurls words meant to hurt, and they do, and she just listens. Because even if this is not the worst thing she's ever done, she can't defend it as 100% her rightful decision to make, either. She gambled on doing it for the greater good. And that means she took a risk that something would go wrong -- that Mr. Duncan would get away, someone else would smash the clicker, a whole host of other things that would have kept Mitch from coming back, maybe forever.

He crosses lines in this speech. But I'm not sure where, because he's been stockpiling pain where she's concerned for years. He was an established misanthrope when we met him, and Jamie made him better. And then it was over. I love that he calls out the bitter irony that the best part of their relationship only happened in his head, because there was never time for anything else. Control has been constantly taken from him this year, and to have it taken by her -- and for something she knows he would never do, except conscious or not, those are still his hands that did it -- that is not a good feeling. His voice breaking on "the one person I thought I could trust" pile-drives that nail on the head.

And I don't even care if it hurts, I love the fact that Jamie just stands there with tears streaming down her face, a combination of the words themselves and that, however unintentionally, she inspired that pain. We have not gotten nearly as much of her being emotionally vulnerable to his face as he has with her, and a good emotional shattering works wonders. He's always been hers to take or leave. This is the first time she might really not be able to make things okay between them.

The other thing I like about it: however harsh the circumstances took to get it out of him, I'm glad she heard about the dreams. I'm not sure when he would have brought them up otherwise. He's not particularly good at hiding his emotions where she's concerned anyway, but this is such exceptionally raw exposure of his deepest desires and fears that it's got to rattle you to the core. That's something you don't forget.

It's not right that he gets all the high road, gets to stroll in and punish and saunter out on his own terms without ever once giving her an inch. But it's okay. Because something has been building since my very first moment of dissatisfaction with the clumsy pacing of my ship this season, and I think it needed to reach a flashpoint and heal over.

Beauty From Pain
And that's how we get to this point. It's not quite as big as I thought it would be, but it fixes the rift without wasting a full episode having them apart first, and that's all that matters. I love that he doesn't know how to tell her about Max, so he just...doesn't, lets his body language and non-answers say it for him. I hate that he stays on the other side of the bars like there is literally any reason they have to leave that obstacle there except as a metaphor, but I am an eternal sucker for repeated "I'm sorries" spoken to the floor, particularly if accompanied by a forehead lean. Inadequate apologies for so many things. Can I just hug them both and take them away from this dark and awful place.

Also, because it bugs me so much, I'm going to go ahead and share with you the start of a Choose Your Own Coda that is very loud and insist upon being canon in my head: The quiet stretches on until Mitch suddenly pulls back, still not looking at her. Jamie tracks his movements as he unlocks the cage door. "You shouldn't be in here," he mumbles, like he can't remember how or why she is.

(I really wish I could follow physical affection after that, but I can't! I have no idea how I think they would transition from their stiff movements and the leftover ramifications of the fight hanging in the air to the comfort they both clearly want. I don't know who makes the first move, Jamie because he is a messed-up little porcupine of reeling emotions who hardly knows he wants right now, or Mitch because she should know she isn't the darkness?)

Things I would like to know
Why Mitch -- who apparently had a through and through -- is the only one whose gunshot wound is still bothering him

Why Clementine didn't once ask where Jamie was. (at which point I'd really like to see Mitch try and explain that one.) And it is straight up ridiculous to me that 19-year-old girl in labor for the first time would not want a woman with her, particularly one she loves, when otherwise surrounded by men. This is the most "what...man...[wrote] this" moment I have ever had about TV.

Leftover Thoughts
This show is so nuts, I am just now realizing I didn't even stop to wonder how the hell Abigail reanimated herself last week.


Did I just miss it, or is it kinda weird that Sam doesn't bat an eye upon finding out Charles Duncan is actually a different person and his girlfriend's father?

Mitch being a testy bitch @ Abe is a thing that just does not get old. ("You put hybrid goo in my daughter? Was that not worth a little chat?")

Aww @ Mitch's mini pep-talk about being a good parent, followed by the "OK time to go" and the sweet "I'm having this baby?" / "You are having this baby."

I also really enjoy Mitch deciding to be cranky about Sam just because he's there and he can. It's like sniping at Logan, but more fun and with way better reasons these days. (Which I kind of hope is exactly what Mitch says when Clementine inevitably tells him to knock it off)

"Goodbye frequent flyer miles" lmao

I love that instead of shutting down the beacon by cutting the wire, they multiplied its effect by a thousand and destroyed a city, to which the response is basically, "Whoops."

"You've been good for my son. Take care of him for me." So I LOVE THIS, but also: dammit Max that is not what "die for our ship" means.

But I love the moment where Jamie and Max, individually, hear the baby crying. The joy dawning on their faces is so pure it actually makes it worthwhile that they're not present at the birth itself.
(I know we're especially mad about Jamie. But honestly, if it means All Mitch All The Time, that's an OK trade to me.)

In conclusion: I spent my entire night writing this, I hope it was worth it. (It was. This post is gonna make me so happy in the future when I reread it 800 times, especially after the show is over, you dont even know. I would kill for a review of mine this long for 1x11-12.)

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