Feb. 16th, 2016

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So the leads' house represents their hasty partnering. It's sight unseen, has a lot of problems, may fall apart at any time given the frackquakes. His temper tantrum at the exploding lightbulb was a nice dovetail - anything can set man or bulb off. The need for safety has led to everyone being less safe.

Being safe in terms of odds was I guess the theme of the episode, esp. given its title - Orange Sticker, for the gov't verifications of non-departure on all Jarden's houses. The priest seems to be talking himself into it (as presented), his sister wants to be.

The "Better Shape Up" cover fits Kevin's self-castigations via hallucinated proxy, but the shift re. who needs a man puts it on her too. She's the one who grabbed his hand and led him through all this - adopting, the house etc. He's doing it out of reckless self-indifference (again, as presented), she out of restless self-interest: find two kids and a husband and a more stable home and voila, her lost life's replaced. She buys him a carton of cigarettes, still doesn't know his daughter's age (and gets her trashed), and doesn't seem to care about his lost time and suspiciously serial-killery behavior except insofar as it's left her alone. And she has a much more practical and unabashedly criminal way of approaching covering up Kevin's proximity to the disappearance. The handcuffs are deeply fucked up. She's bribing and cajoling people to stay with her.

Does Kevin fit the theme? Suicide can be sought as a form of safety, I guess, and so can refusing to accept you're suicidal. Exceptionalism is behind the town's neuroses and appeal, and their doctor neighbor isn't immune to her own version of it when speaking of her miracle daughter. Does Kevin feel that way about his mental health? People who have been through what he has - and people who share his genes - aren't always stable, but he feels he must be? Which means he ignores what's rising up inside him, which starts finding ways to escape. The specific manner of his first attempt to be imprisoned, his being in no hurry to remove his fingerprints, the implication that since his guilt hallucination knows where the phone's been all along he must too, his jumping on the person who doesn't have a gun when breaking up the fight ... part of him wants to be destroyed for his sins. Perhaps because that keeps him safe from wondering whether he's even committed any? In the previous episode we're reminded he blames himself for his wife's depression - and, via magical thinking, for the loss of her baby. For him Jarden (Jardin/Garden/Jordan?) isn't someplace physically safe but someplace new, so maybe free of reminders of his many ambiguous failures. It doesn't work that way, of course. Hence the suicide attempt, I guess? Another controlling (and wealthier) wife, another fragile home, and again with visions of the woman he buried. Definitive proof that the practice of Flitcraft won't work.

And the fireman? Isaac has either knowledge sans malice or malice sans knowledge, but he treats him like he had both. And even if he'd truly been threatening him, a second home attack ends up getting him almost killed rather than resolving a (highly ambiguous) promise of harm. So another death wish? Or is he trying to feel safe by convincing himself there can be no supernatural agency? What he wanted from Isaac in their earlier interview was admission that he was a charlatan; one assumes he wouldn't have kicked him out of town, or at least would have spared his house, if he'd received that. This seems like an iffier line of attack, but the otherwise great Nora episode from last season suggests that the show sincerely throws "New" style atheism in with the other destructive overreactions to pain, confusion, risk, regret and death.

I can't seem to remember how to do probability math, but I assume the 9300 or whatever isn't too far past being the largest community one would expect to escape unscathed if a 1 in 50 plague were to hit a world of 8 billion. Likewise I assume a 1 pound 1 ounce surviving premie is close to the record but not impossible.

The son is going for a different kind of safety: assuming God has taken his sister stops him from having to worry about her. With Him she is safe - which makes him feel safe - and to prove to himself he believes this (which in most religions is supposed to be part of what makes it true) he's taking away others' sense of safety.

Is anyone sensible? Kevin's daughter, I guess, though that's making her kind of dull. Though also helpful and helpfully able to ask for help. Realizing no one is safe permits risk assessment and management. Nothing else seems to.

Was there any meta-story dialogue in this one? The "exceptional" speech comes close. How protagonists are protected by audience-demanded rules: if they disappear they must be alive, if they seem to attempt self-murder it must be a drugging and frame-job.

The cult leader's adultery story, too: she wouldn't have believed her husband would tell such a cliched lie about such a cliched affair. And the one thing that's exceptional about that affair she cites not for its unpredictability but to further stress that she hadn't been exceptional after all. Which is an odd thing to be bitter about, considering the details, but that's probably the point. Thinking everything will always go wrong, looking at everything from the worst angle, is another way to be safe. From ambivalence AND ambiguity, here: suppose he sensed she didn't want to be part of that sex act, or thought her too good for it, so sought to spare her from his compulsion - and suppose he lied poorly because he was a good person hence bad at being bad, or wanted her to find out because of his guilt or his unconscious desire that she become part of his fantasy. Her reading is pretty much "my martiage was shit and the shit wasn't even for me." The food at this restaurant's terrible and the fuckers keep raising the prices! Which I guess makes the other episodes just as much about safety? But I guess the difference is we're looking at the same phenomena from this angle here, another one next time. Last time's was anger, more or less? Or rather the maddening void left when emptiness goes.


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