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ETV: Episode 7: Falling Angels

In Episode 7: Falling Angels, Emily befriends a fallen woman! This was not in the book at all. Let's see what happens!



We open with Emily musing that Aunt Elizabeth often talks about fallen women. Does she really? I can't see it myself, but all right. She might have let a thing or two slip that would pique Emily's curiosity. Emily always imagined them as wearing ostrich feathers and silk stockings and redolent of the mystic perfumes of the east blah blah. Until She Met Mada.

Is this Stovepipe Town? Do we get to visit Stovepipe Town? It's some people cutting up fish and talking about the fish market. One of them is wearing a magnificently giant Canadian fisherturtleneck. Mada is one of the fish-gutters, grown-up and sunburned and blonde hair. She seems like a good sort, and she looks and talks like Ilse might under less favorable circumstances, so it's easy to see why they're friends. Emily introduces herself with appropriate Murray stiffness.

Wait-- is this Andrew? No, it's. . .Oliver? I guess Oliver Murray runs the fishery in this continuity. He says disparaging things about Emily and New Moon, which seems unlike Oliver, but I guess he's really a different character here, so I'll allow it.

Elizabeth rides up and tells Emily to get away from that girl. Mada responds with indignation-- “Ain't diseased, you old witch-” and Elizabeth, astonishingly, engages with her. Here is the dialogue that follows:

ELIZABETH: If that's true, it's a miracle.
MADA: I'll tell you what the miracle is. You're a walking corpse and nobody's buried you yet.
E: You're a public disgrace.
M: Why's that? Cause I like to have a bit of fun?
E: There's a big difference between fun and depravity.
M: Oh yeah. And how would you know? Bet you've never even kissed a man.

Here, the writers really wanted to establish some things, and they let this exchange go on too long, probably because they liked it. I understand why they liked it, but it was a bad decision. It weakens Elizabeth's character (Elizabeth Murray of New Moon trading remarks with a harbor strumpet while her niece looks on? Why does she let Emily just stand there?) and undermines the sense of social position and ostracism that we are supposed to take away from it in the first place. Elizabeth's attitude toward people like Mada is quite different from her attitude toward her own family or girls in Emily's circle. Emily going to school without boots is a disgrace to the family. Rhoda Stuart's family's pretensions to the throne of England are absurd and ill-bred. Ilse's unsupervised gadabouting and awful church-barrel clothes are shameful and embarrassing.

Mada Flynn does not fall into the category of people on whom one wastes rebukes. Mada Flynn does not bear comment. It's interesting to see people for whom the Murrays hold no terror-- I don't object to Mada's sass. I don't object to this exchange being written-- there are plenty of Blair Water-area housewives who might engage in it. Elizabeth Murray is not one of them.

What's even more remarkable is that Elizabeth doesn't drive off at the end of this exchange, once Emily is in the cart, but actually sticks around and talks to Mada again. “I just hope whoever it is has the decency to marry you,” she says. Elizabeth, stop. You are losing face. You are losing like ten faces per second.

And she's still fuming about it when she gets home? Really? Elizabeth, what's come over you? Is Mada your pie-baking rival in the Ladies' Aid Society?

At least Perry is in this episode. He overhears the name Mada Flynn and says, “I hear she's got a bun in the oven.” This is going to be another Illegitimate Murray story, isn't it? We had one of those two episodes ago.

I'm not sure Elizabeth never having heard of Oliver Twist was a good move on the part of the writers. It's not totally implausible, but it doesn't have the desired effect, either.

TV Emily's pretty badly written most of the time. She's supposed to be precocious, but for her to make the connection between Mada and Nancy from Oliver Twist out of thin air and then sermonize on it rings false.

Laura sneaks a novel up to the garret for Emily to read while she does embroidery. Laura is totally the Stifled Artist Who Blossoms Late in Life. There is so much more where that came from.

Ok, so in ETV Cousin Oliver is the giant-turtleneck guy and he's Wallace's son. Laura tells Emily that New Moon will eventually go to Wallace but she and Elizabeth can live there unless they get married. “What if you get married?” says Emily. Laura assures her, with a sad face, that there is not much chance of that. Don't be so sure of that, Laura! The framing of this scene suggests that the writers have other plans!

Then Ilse gets into a fight at school because some girls are talking smack about Mada. (I like the two tiny children who always go into the schoolhouse right after Emily and Ilse. They don't have any lines, but they show up a lot) Pretty soon all the girls are pummeling each other for no real reason, and Teddy breaks up the fight, I guess to give him something to do.

Later Emily and Ilse are walking through the woods when they come across Mada. Of course you never come across anyone in the woods but the guest star and a whole bunch of ghosts. Mada is crying by herself. Her dad threw her out of the house. What a dickweed! And she lost her job! So OF COURSE they take her to the Disappointed House and feed her imaginary tea.

Meanwhile, Laura is pining for the weird placeholder guy from the doll episode.

Then Emily asks how babies get inside us! At the dinner table! And Perry, who really should know better, starts telling a story about horses while Aunt Elizabeth CHOKES.

“What about chickens?” says Emily. And Perry proceeds to tell her about how chickens are a different story while Elizabeth CONTINUES TO CHOKE.

Finally, Laura has to meekly slap Elizabeth on the back to get the chunk out, and Perry laughs but tries to hide it. As soon as Aunt Elizabeth gets her voice back, she shouts at him to get out of this house! That's a little more like it.

Once Perry is out of the room, Elizabeth forbids further questions and adds that she will tell Emily The Secret of Babies herself “when the time comes.” When is that time? “The night before your wedding. Should anyone be foolish enough to marry you.”

Finally we are BACK ON TRACK.

Now Emily is writing a letter to the weird placeholder guy in her handwriting that looks nothing at all like an adult's handwriting, in a bold attempt to get him to marry Laura in spite of his engagement to the smiling lady, whom she has decided is wrong for him because that's the way it would happen in a book. Meanwhile, Laura takes a pie out of the oven! Good job depicting the exhausting physicality of late 19th-century kitchen work, ETV, I mean that. I am not being sarcastic.

Now Ilse is stealing the pie so they can sneak it down to Mada. Of course Laura finds out because they are eleven years old and haven't gone very far yet. But it's Laura, so she just stands by the window and watches them.

Curiosity unabated, they ask Mada how the baby got in. She fills them up with misconceptions they will carry with them for decades to come. Then she gives Emily a folded-up piece of paper-- money? And tells her to “give it to your cousin Oliver. Figure he owes me a good feed at least.” I am not sure that is the best idea, Mada.

Oh, by the way, Emily has been seeing ghostly visions. What else is new? This one is a very small child in a red winter suit.

Emily walks into the office. Oliver is there, and I guess Wallace? This is not going to go well.

The note indicates to the viewer that Oliver is probably the father and asks for help. Oliver crumples it up, and an employee storms out.

Hey, it's Teddy! Hi, Teddy! Emily tells him she is never kissing anybody ever again. That's how it starts, you see. This scene needs Perry.

And like a good neighbor, Perry is there!

When they go into the Disappointed House, Mada is putting makeup on Ilse. Listen, writers, in The Blue Castle, fourteen-year-old Valancy is humiliated because she pinched her cheeks too hard before a party and there was a rumor that she was wearing rouge. Thank God Perry is there to remind the rest of the cast that makeup makes you look like a clappy old town bicycle. Thank you for being century-appropriate, Perry.

Mada demands to know why there is a double standard. Well, Mada, that is a good question. And Perry owns that when you put it like that, it don't seem to make much sense.

Teddy? Any misogynist wisdom from your mom? Teddy?

But Teddy is silent.

Then Emily reads a thematically appropriate selection from Oliver Twist and Mada gets a thinking look on her face. She tells Emily and Ilse she's going to Halifax where no one knows her and they got them music halls where she can go on the stage. Emily and Ilse are distressed when she tells them she is going to give her baby to the nuns, and try to convince her to keep it.

The priest came back! He's only in the scene to give Emily his opinion on adoption, which is that it's better than being all poor and rashy and probably having shingles. Will Emily try to adopt the baby herself and raise it in the Disappointed House with stolen meat pies? Will hijinks ensue?

Oh no! Aunt Elizabeth has found Emily's secret copy of Oliver Twist! Is she going to sit down and read the whole thing, causing her to unharden her heart toward the kindly strumpets of the world?

Yes she is. She is going to read it all.

And when Aunt Laura catches her at it, she is going to hide it.

Oh, and there's that letter Emily wrote pretending to be Laura. I will freely admit to laughing out loud at the conclusion: “Yours in fondest anticipation, with all my love, Aunt Laura.”

Aunt Elizabeth agrees that it is the funniest thing on the show so far.

Oh no! Emily is planning to hide the baby in the Disappointed House! She is in for a whole additonal layer of disappointment! The kids are bringing Mada blankets and milk cans and a cradle and Teddy drew her a Madonna. Then, of course, she goes into labor and is attended by four little kids instead of demanding that one of them go for a doctor. Aunt Laura shows up and is useless and fretful and Perry saves the day.

The baby is born, thanks to Perry, and then there are a lot of slow-mo smiling closeups and a flute plays.

I generally hate childbirth scenes, but I love patently non-newborn babies in childbirth scenes. This one looks about six months old. Ouch, readers.

Mada asks Emily to come up with a name, and Emily picks “Oliver, after Oliver Twist.” Noooo. But Mada's ok with it.

Emily wakes up in the morning and everyone is gone! She has to save the baby from the nuns! Oh, but she's too late! The baby's already been dropped off with the insufficiently condescending priest!

After Mada leaves, Emily and the insufficiently condescending priest decide to go after the baby's father. And then. . .total anticlimax. Oliver acknowledges the baby pretty much as soon as he learns it's boy, and now that the embarrassing slutbag is off to die of prostitution in Halifax, the Murray men can stealth-adopt the baby without bringing shame on the family and isn't it sweet. Whatever, writers. I love how you are pretending this is totally ok.

As Emily delivers the final benediction, we see that Aunt Laura is writing her own letter to Mr. Placeholder, and Aunt Elizabeth reads Oliver Twist and puts her feet up on the settee.



In conclusion, Episode 7 has its ups and downs, but makes up for its many shortcomings by allowing Perry to explain the facts of life and subsequently use that knowledge to save a lot of well-bred and ignorant people from total panic. This episode resembled the book in that several characters had the same names, that it took place in Canada, and that Perry is the best ever.

The next episode is called “The Tale of Duncan MacHugh.” As there is no Duncan MacHugh in the books, I can make no guesses about what it might entail.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
sur_le_quai
Feb. 2nd, 2013 06:37 am (UTC)
Your comments on the ETV episodes are so spot-on as well as hilarious that I have stopped bothering to keep my own.
Although I only allow myself two episodes a night (all I'll sit still for, really), and I'm itching for some canon at this point. To JUDGE.

-S
evelyn_b
Feb. 4th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like them! I'm sort of considering buying the DVDs the next time I get a paycheck, since I can't find Season 2 on YouTube anymore (and I might want to make screencaps?) and I want to know if Evelyn is ever going to show up and a bunch of other things besides.

So there may be more ETV recaps in the future.
sur_le_quai
Feb. 4th, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC)
I be watchin' Season 1 on da hulu.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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