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ETV Episode 13: Sounds of Silence!

All right, reader(s)! This is the FINAL EPISODE of ETV Season One, and then I am taking a break to do some other things.

This episode is called Sounds of Silence, just like the Simon and Garfunkel song whose lyrics you thought were so profound when you were 12! Emily would love that song, and Mr. Carpenter would wince so hard he would lose sight in one eye, so I’m declaring this episode title 100% Canon-Appropriate. For reference, this recap contains mild spoilers for the books, and abundant spoilers for the television show.

Laura comes down the stairs, sipping on laudanum. Elizabeth scolds her for it.

Meanwhile, Emily and Ilse are looking through some boxes in the attic when they hear an Eavesdropping Opportunity. Elizabeth doesn't think Laura can manage living in a hotel what with the laudanum addiction and all. “When he turns to other women,” she says, “you'll never recover.”

Emily and Ilse listen as Laura says she is tired of the sound of Elizabeth's voice. The latter replies by promising never to speak to Laura again! Oh, Elizabeth! You won't find that so easy the next time you catch Laura staring at the china while the iron burns a hole in four successive petticoats!



Emily and Ilse discuss the situation, and Ilse does her best impression of Elizabeth Murray. Suddenly, Emily's eye is caught by. . . a harlequin in an orange costume?

Writers, we have been through this. What this show needs is better writers. What this show does not need is every Cirque de Soleil understudy in the world to show up in the woods and Teach a Valuable Lesson. This one waggles its head to “comic” music, then vanishes with camera trickery that was no doubt impressive in 1899.

Cut to some masks and things, and the kids ice skating. Precocious Narrator Emily tells us it's Carnival Time! Emily asks Mr. Carpenter Why People Are So Foolish, and Mr. Carpenter offers some hard-earned longhair wisdom.

TV Teddy is less creepy when he has a mask on. I don't understand why anyone thinks kids can be made to say “Yippee!” on camera, though. When has that ever not been a mistake.

Meanwhile, back at New Moon Farm, the Murrays are still not talking to one another.

“SO,” says Perry, who is getting jauntier and more bootblackish by the minute. “Some news about them Stuarts, huh?” I guess one of the Stuarts bought a foxfur with “them little dangly legs” on.

“You know what they say,” he goes on, chortling. “They say she even wears th' thing in the poop-house!”

Oh, Future Prime Minister Perry. We have to have a talk.

Then Elizabeth and Laura do the “Emily, tell your aunt” routine. I don't know why they don't just talk to Emily directly and save breath. Everyone is uncomfortable, and Elizabeth hands Laura a letter from Ian “Boring Suitor” Bowles like an accusation.

But wait! This tense, emotionally exhausting scene is missing something-- a guy in a clown suit! Thank you, writers. We would be lost without you.

Clown-suit guy says that Emily made him up, and no one else can see her, and he calls her Elfkin, her father's pet name. I guess that would be sweet if it weren't a guy in a clown suit.

He vanishes just in time for Laura to lay more adult troubles on Emily! I guess Mr. Bowles wants a decision. SAY NO! Don't go getting married just because you don't want to be an old maid anymore. That way Ewen MacDonald lies. Bowles has booked two tickets to Europe, and she has to give him her reply before he leaves. That is some Dean Priest bullshit right there. Listen, Laura, Dr. Burnley may be an incurable misogynist who spent twelve years resenting his baby daughter because she bore a family resemblance to a woman who might have cheated on him, but even he's not that melodramatic.

Emily and Ilse discuss Laura's fear of saying yes. Ilse slyly suggest that Aunt Laura might be interested in someone else. A particular someone else. Named MY DAD.

And now, a word of praise. I will fault this show for many, many things, but I am pleased that it has decided to pursue the Laura / Dr. Burnley pairing that was hinted at so tantalizingly in Emily of New Moon and then dropped entirely and forever with no explanation. I am not being facetious in the least when I express my genuine hope the entire next season is The Parent Trap 2: Artfully Arranged Medical Encyclopedias Everywhere.

But no sooner can Emily and Ilse start laying plans than Clown-Suit Guy starts jumping around from behind a tree again. How can anyone get anything done around here? Emily runs off because she has to show CSG the Disappointed House and get told about her own ecstatic experiences by a bad actor in a clown suit. When she complains about Aunt Elizabeth's silence, he starts doing mime acts to prove some kind of “point” about how “silence can speak volumes,” and also that “people put themselves in boxes.”

This is not a dramatic technique of which I approve.

Cut to Aunt Elizabeth sweeping the floor. Aunt Elizabeth, Clowns for Christ told me to give you this invisible fish! Laura is making a bed and practicing how she will either reject Mr. Bowles' proposal, accept it, or fake her own death to avoid making a decision. Meanwhile, Aunt Elizabeth has found something. Letter bills? Written on by Emily?

Yep. And she's going to read them all and then throw herself a wrath party about it, because that is what Elizabeth Murray does.

But first, Ilse has to talk to her father about a Very Important Matter! He has two calls to make, but this won't take a minute-- How did he propose to Mother? What words did he use?

“Truthfully,” he says, “I'm so shy, I think she asked me.”

Time to forge another letter from Aunt Laura! He grabs his bag, comes out, and says,

“She said, 'Allan Burnely, you stubborn old fool, if you can't make up your mind, I'll make it up for you.'” He's got a little smile on his face when he says it. Allan, it's so nice to see you've gotten over your twelve-year grudge! You know who else has a grudge? Laura Murray! Why don’t you two have a nice talk?

Emily comes home all excited about the Wonders of Mime, but Aunt Elizabeth wants to see her now in the parlor. The writers, fearing we won't pick up on the discomfort and anxiety of Jimmy and Laura, helpfully have Emily say, “I don't like the sound of this.” Thank you for being a friend, writers.

Emily realizes what Elizabeth is about when she sees the letter bills strewn all around.

This scene is all right, up to a point. If it weren't a scene in a show called Emily of New Moon, I would say it was definitely all right. Elizabeth is hurt and angry that Emily would write such unkind things about her, and Emily is furious that Aunt Elizabeth read her private papers, and they have a good shout at each other about it. Much of the dialogue comes right out of the book. Where it diverges is when Elizabeth tried to burn the letters, and Emily refuses to let her have them Here is what happens in the book:

She trembled-- faltered-- yielded.
“Keep your letters,” she said bitterly, “and scorn the old woman who opened her home to you.”
She went out of the parlor. Emily was left mistress of the field. And all at once her victory turned to dust and ashes in her mouth.


Emily realizes that although Aunt Elizabeth was wrong to read her letters, she was nonetheless hurt to know that Emily thought so badly of her. She realizes she has to ask Aunt Elizabeth to forgive her, and try to explain. But before she can, Elizabeth comes to ask Emily's forgiveness for reading her private letters (Aunt Elizabeth is not so gung-ho to read everybody's mail in the book as she is here). Emily is overjoyed and contrite and promises to write an explanatory footnote next to everything bad she said about Elizabeth.

Aunt Elizabeth and Emily will continue to find it difficult to understand and live with one another, but they are also, for a moment, able to see each other as equally vulnerable, equally human, equally at a loss.

In the TV show, Aunt Elizabeth says, “Keep your letters.” And goes on to forbid writing of any kind, ever. Again. Or she'll “ship you off the asylum so fast your head will spin.” Oh, writers.


Elizabeth slams the door, leaving Emily alone with her non-victory. And then, having given us this poisonous quarrel, the writers decide that once again, This Scene Needs A Harlequin. It's not like he does anything. He just pops up behind a chair after Elizabeth storms out, to remind us that he's in this episode.

Next, Jimmy and Laura talk about the possibility of her marrying Mr. Bowles. Jimmy is cryptic and grim. As he opens the front door, Elizabeth snaps at him to put on a jacket or he'll catch his death.

“You better fix this house, Elizabeth Murray. You better fix this house. Before it all falls down.”

Emily, in the attic, argues with Clown Suit Guy about whether or not her life is over. She says it is. He says she's only twelve. Blah blah, spirit of creativity. Emily is not having it and neither am I.

At the lighthouse, Laura. Ilse comes to see her.

Now it's time for the Merck Manual of Parent Traps and Snares, as Ilse explains that there might be someone who is too shy to propose, and maybe Laura could find it in her heart to propose to him. Ilse would be so happy if Laura were her mother! And Laura would gain an adorable stepdaughter who is a better actress than her niece! Plus, she wouldn't have to live at that tacky hotel with Mrs. Roosevelt and the Americans, pretending to like Cubism and eating lobster salad and listening to tedious men defend American foreign policy with Thomas Carlyle quotations until five in the morning every night. It's perfect!

But Laura could never do such a thing. Allan would be furious. It would be so terribly embarrassing, and Elizabeth would resume speaking to her only to ensure that she would never hear the end of it.

Back at the Burnley house, Dr. Burnley finds Ilse crying in her room. She says, “If you don't do something quick, you'll regret it for the rest of your life!”

But Allan is none too pleased that Ilse has been talking to Murrays about proposing, and forbids her to speak of it again.

Meanwhile, Emily is running away. Clown Suit Guy tries to stop her. She walks into the church and tells Father Ducharme that she is going to become a monk. A miming monk.

Father Ducharme says girls aren't allowed to be monks, and anyway she would have to cut her hair, and she decides to go back to being a Presbyterian.

Laura is up, trying to write her reply to Mr. Bowles, wasting more paper than Emily ever did by throwing every half-line draft into the fire. Allan is standing around in his house. . . getting up the courage to propose?

I guess so! He pushes right past the patients who are waiting in his front hall, claiming emergency.

But no! He's too late! Doucebag Bowles is coming toward Laura in his ugly coat! Allan sees them together and is discouraged. It's up to Emily and Laura to save the day!

And Father Ducharme, I guess, though I doubt Elizabeth Murry puts much stock in what papists have to say.

Oh, and we get our fumbling reconciliation between Elizabeth and Emily after all, the threat of Emily turning to papistry having overcome all other objections. Fair enough, writers.

Back to the other plot: Emily begs Aunt Elizabeth to go talk to Laura. “None of us wants her to marry Mr. Bowles,” she says. “There may be other prospects.” Emily won't reveal who these other prospects might be, “but his initials are A.B. . . .and he's a doctor.”

“If we all fight with her about Mr. Bowles,” Emily finishes, “she'll marry him out of spite.”

Elizabeth is quite taken aback by how sensible Emily's point is. Murray solidarity!

Well, it's time for dinner with Mr. Bowles. He's as gerbil-faced and mildly overbearing as ever, talking with great self-satisfaction about how much he loves a hearty meal and how that sea air is going to perk Laura right up when they set sail for Europe. Hey, you know who isn't going to make you sit on a boat for two weeks? Dr. Burnley. I'm just saying.

Emily, in accordance with plan, fakes a stomachache. But she's nowhere near as good an actress as Ilse, so this consists of making faces and shouting, “OOOO, pain, a TERRIBLE PAIN! All over my stomach, oh, help!”

BETTER GET DR. BURNLEY.

He arrives with everyone gathered in the parlor and Emily still making the fakiest moans-- and what's this? Clown Suit Guy! It's not a party without him!

Dr. Burnley finds nothing wrong with Emily that time and shutting up won't cure. Elizabeth, whose facial expression indicates that she is clearly in on this plan without having been told about it (Susan Clark, as always, is pure delight) invites him to dinner, but he declines, not being terribly comfortable around Laura's boring suitor.

“Laura,” says Elizabeth, with a slight lilt and a tip of her head, as if had been the expected thing all along, “see Allan to the door.”

She does. Glances and compliments are exchanged. Laura ties Ilse's scarf with nervous, maternal tenderness and lets them both walk away.

In the end, we learn that Jimmy has bought a blank book and pencils for Emily, that Elizabeth has chosen to ignore them, and that Laura is engaged to Mr. Bowles, but will now wait a year before marrying him. The four Murrays ice-skate together while Clown Suit Guy watches and waves.



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the season finale of Emily of New Moon, season one, we had parent-trapping, elliptical laudanum addictions, Perry acting like a permanently stoned rube, bitter quarrels both longstanding and fresh, growth and compromise among Murrays, and a mime in an orange clown suit who turns up at the end of all the important scenes to speak in encouraging clichés and waggle his head to comedy music. If there were such a thing as a representative episode of this wildly uneven show, this would be it. What better way to end Season One?

Season 2 starts. . . as soon as I decide I'm ready to start watching ETV again.

Stay tuned for fanfiction!

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
sur_le_quai
Feb. 13th, 2013 06:07 am (UTC)
Crackfiction indeed. You were right all along. It's the writers who deserve two weeks on the sea...how about an entire season?

Regardless, Season-Two-Watching may just start tomorrow, or...have you found it yet? Because I'll wait to watch it "alongside" you. I'll need to get something resembling a paycheck before that happens, though. At least a peanut shell.

And oh my god, I am about to go use the hashtag #StoneColdSusan ClarkDiss whenever I tell someone off online (i.e. where hashtags aren't needed, as it seems everyone else does) and create a Facebook page devoted to Susan Clark's Face.

Become a Fan?
evelyn_b
Feb. 13th, 2013 07:08 am (UTC)
hah, I don't normally do things on Facebook, but I will totally abuse my work account in order to become a fan of Susan Clark's Face. It is a national treasure.

I haven't got my Season 2 from Netflix yet. It might be some days.
sur_le_quai
Feb. 13th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
"You're going to have a voice like Tom Waits by the time you're sixteen if you keep this up."

Not only that, but her acting became so stellar in her prime that at the age of 28 she was dazzling audiences Canada-wide in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXBgKjgQ73U

I'm sure you've already watched these, out of curiosity. And,er, now that I watched the "Martha MacIsaac Hot Bra Scene" from Superbad that I had to turn off my apparently-enabled Parental Controls for (and login to my Google account, which I never use?! What, does Google own YouTube now?!??) I am: 1) SO TOTALLY going to watch every other Micheal Cera movie out there because he's so hot and funnay, and b) watch every single porn vid now popping up as a suggestion on YouTube.

WHAT. DID. I. DO.

Edited at 2013-02-13 06:24 am (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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