Not Picture Perfect Endings

Two of the ‘drama’ series on TV that I enjoyed this fall have come to an end for this season. American Horror Story: 1984; Castle Rock: Season Two. I’m pretty sure AHS will return for another season but am not sure about Castle Rock. I enjoyed being immersed in the bloody, gooey worlds that each of them created but while AHS paid brilliant homage to summer camp slasher mayhem, Castle Rock failed to deliver much more than atmosphere.

 

 

The only tease that AHS failed to deliver was an appearance by Billy Idol – the season was an interesting mash up of summer camp & Groundhog Day. Killed ‘campers’ returned to life very time they were killed – each resurrection slowly taught them important life lessons: accepting that you are dead eases the pain of being dead etc. Revenge is a distraction not a solution. 

Castle Rock: Season Two turned out to be all window-dressing for an essentially empty store. The premise of Annie Wilkes (Misery) backstory was promising but got lost & nearly drowned in the goo. Lizzie Caplan’s Annie was so clearly unbalanced from the get go that her drug addled journey was more boring that revelatory. She spent so much of the time covered in blood or mud I felt sorry for make up & continuity. If she ever forgot a line all she had to say is ‘Where is my daughter’ or “I’m protecting you from the dirty-bird world’ & it would have been fine.

 

The window dressing included Somali immigrants, most of whom disappeared after a few camera shots established them. Not even the goo people were interested in them. Joy & Chance flirt – sweet teen-age lesbians but nothing develops. Chance sure does handle a gun well though but we were spared her backstory in favour of the goo people. The window dressing of racial conflict, sexual diversity are dangled then given no substance.

 

Pop’s redemption story as ho-hum, Annie’s descent into madness was a forgone conclusion. Many episodes were so uneven they felt like different writers, directors were working on different shows with the same setting & then the show runners stitched the parts together. They gave us an ending that didn’t make up for the mess of missed opportunities that preceded it. The best part of the show was Fan Critical’s Castle Rock podcast commentary, they were much kinder to the show than I was. Season Two gets two blueberries. Fan Critical gets five.

Watching how the narrative elements in each series are structured is a great lesson though. They make me aware of maintaining enough logic that one’s readers/viewers understand what is going on even if they don’t know why. Don’t make backstory more compelling than the main story: Joy’s birth story & how it played out was the most interesting part of Castle Rock.

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Horror Rock

I have been thoroughly enjoying American Horror Story: 1984. It features great work by regulars Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd & stellar work by John Carroll Lynch (he was also amazing in Chanel Zero’s No-End House – 2017). A season without stunt casting, unless one considers the 80’s look stunt casting. And what a look it has, from the workout gear, music, even bands (will Billy Idol do a guest spot in the finale?)

The plot is ‘Friday the 13th’ summer camp massacre with a handful of horny camp councillors, who one knows from the get go, that are all going to die. Throat cutting is very popular. Identities, loyalties, motivations constantly shift. Everyone is given a juicy back story while the series has time to explore the random coincidences that link them. Every trope of the genre is explored with respect & humour. Each week another one comes to the surface. Ah now it’s the spirit of the mother of the boy who drowned in 1948 whose brother grew up to a …. that is behind all the mayhem. For once I’ll be sad to see the season wrap up. 

I’m now four episodes into the new season of Castle Rock. With Lizzy Caplan as a seriously disturbed Annie Wilkes the show has a real backbone to build on. Add Tim Robbins as Pops Merrill, this promises to be a great mash up of Misery and Salem’s Lot, plus we’ve already had a good helping of Stand By Me & Gerald’s Game. But one doesn’t need to know anything about those King works I just named checked, to get pulled into this multi-layered story. So many layers I’m still not sure who the ‘bad’ guys are or where the plot is going. 

Each episodes has added a new layer or direction in the many plots that are already in the air. Who is Annie running from, is Joy her child, what about Joy’s friends – can they be trusted, what’s with this growing army of reanimated corpses, will Barkhad Abdi be able to keep the Somali community safe? Yes, that’s right there is a large community of Somali’s living in Jerusalem’s Lot. Steven King often uses ‘the other’ in his novels & here they are clearly present.

The race issue, which I don’t think King ever really uses in his writing, plays a big role in the superficial conflicts – but perhaps not in the supernatural conflict that the show seems to be building up to. The budding romance between the two teen girls brings yet another sense of ‘other’ in to the mix & I’m interesting seeing how that is developed. Of course, as is often the case, girl-on-girl romance is more acceptable as a plot device. 

I’ve also been enjoying Fan Critical’s Castle Rock podcast as they discuss each episode in some detail. They also talk about which of the King works are being infused in each episode from plot details, character names or even locations merely mentioned. I look forward to their comments almost as much as I do each episode.

Mugged

there are objects in my home

that haven’t change position since 

they were first placed there

silent sentinels of memory on shelves

coffee mugs from places visited

tea cups & saucers 

from the estate of the dearly departed

some rarely even moved to dust

they sit indifferent 

to what they are imbued with

 

was it a yard sale 

where that collector plate came from

who cares about those hours 

spent scouring second shops in Montreal

for just the right knick knack

I don’t remember where I bought 

many of these things

yet I hold on to them

ornamental diversions

for guests I suppose

to demonstrate my sense of humour

how eclectic I am

 

I am reluctant to let go 

repurpose or regift

I do resist now 

adding to the accumulated debris

maybe this is the day 

I’ll force myself to let go of one thing

one dusty treasure

 

o let there be a blank space to savour

can I clear the field

resist the call 

of what are now fragmented 

nostalgic moments

in an unmoved unused 

coffee mug

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet