So almost immediately after writing my analysis of the first episode of Harper’s Island, I watched the second one. I was out on the patio with with the laptop, transferring some tomato plantlings to larger pots. I was putting two into six-gallon pots (a roma and a yellow pear) and two into smaller pots (another roma and another yellow pear) to give away to friends. The size of the pots will be important later, so take good notes. I was potting them that day because I was taking stock of all my plantlings in their styrofoam starter cups so that I could see how many of each to bring to my friend in LA with a yard, who I was visiting. (It ended up being three: one roma, one yellow grape, and a red currant.) Funny thing turns out to be that they can’t plant tomatoes in their yard because of something to do with petroleum in the soil, so they’ll be putting them in containers anyway, which dashes my hopes to test plants growing in the ground against the plants I’m growing in my pots. It was going to make me feel like Mendel! But the two plants I put into the six-gallon pots withered and died during the heat on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, when I was unable to water them. Their little roots just couldn’t get to the bottom of the taller pots where the water had accumulated. I also lost my tiny little oregano sprouts, which is a bummer. Fortunately, I still have oregano seeds and I had plenty of yellow pear and roma plantlings in styrofoam cups and replaced what needed replacing. I may harvest tomatoes yet, if I can get rid of those damn aphids again. I don’t have a yard; everything is standing on tile. Last year I bought a pint of ladybugs and set them loose. Maybe I’ll pick up one of those next time I’m out and about.
Believe it or not, but there are problems with watching TV on your laptop outside while potting plants. Part of it is that your hands get so dirty you hesitate to pause or rewind at the good parts because you are loath to get compost on your computer. (To those of you who have been following my compost machine adventures, the answers are no, the replacement has not been shipped yet and yes, I had some left over from when I was making it this winter.) The bigger problem is that you can’t see the screen for, well, shit. You can tilt it, you can wear sunglasses, and you can drag the umbrella over for shade, but those liquid crystals are as opaque as granite. Fortunately, the soundtrack on Harper’s Island does the work of letting me know when the good parts are coming, and the dialogue was crystal clear. I can’t tell who’s who on the show anyway, so actually looking at the people doesn’t really enhance my understanding of the plot. The scenery really isn’t breathtaking, either, so I’m not missing out on cinematography, unless it’s gorgeous and I have no eye and experience life like a barbarian. Fortunately, the Accent Guy I was curious about from episode one has an accent, and the proprietor of that local establishment sounded old and that little dog did a lot of barking. You could get a lot of information even without looking up, which I still took time to do despite my previous declarations to the contrary.
AVAST! HERE THERE BE SPOILERS. CONSIDER YESELVES WARNED.
I didn’t really think they would kill the Englishman in the second episode, because why go through the bother with the ring in the first? As I suspected, however, there were troubled times ahead for Ocean Girl (she is Chloe, right?), and the little upset in her relationship with Englishman set her right up to be on the receiving end of sexy moves from Predatory Rich Guy, a fellow who maybe could be excused for making the scavenger hunt switcheroo with some kind of horny wedding guy explanation, but who has gone onto the “Clearly Has It Coming” list for leaving Englishman hanging upside down in the forest. That was plain old evil. I mean, Englishman is nothing to him, so I suppose moving in on the girlfriend isn’t a violation of the bros before hos policy (although it’s scummy behavior no matter who you ask), but dooming someone to certain death over a girl you don’t even know is the kiss of death in a slasher movie. (Does he know her? I know people are dismissing Englishman as an outsider, but are all the rich people as tight as the proverbial thieves?) I’m glad he lived at the end, so we get to see his character go through the anticipated grief of a dead almost-fiancee (genteelly standing up for his girl, I guess, since Chloe is alive), among strangers, on a freaky island with a broken boat. He could be the plucky outsider who is not burdened by emotional baggage and interpersonal history that lessens the others’ chances to evade danger.
I guess I might as well jump ahead in the chronology and feel a little bad for Chloe Lucy who burned up, but she did have the nerve to undress for the camera and swim in the ocean (girls who have sex always get punished on TV), and then have a hissy fit about the footsie game and lose the engagement ring, be too curious about the killer (and other people’s personal, private business, and then try to pull rank at a local’s bar by insisting that her dog was a more worthy patron than regular humans. And it wasn’t just any dog… it was a yappy dog. There was really no way she could have expected to live with that kind of behavior. I’m not sure why her death was so awful, except that considering we’ve already had Fun Uncle chopped in half on a footbridge in the very first episode, and I’m assuming that the deaths are trying to outgruesome each other. Time will tell!
The hunting scene pissed me off. No one–I mean, no one–has the right to pin and muffle someone like that, even if they know her. They said that they were just culling the herd for winter, so it wasn’t a critical kill. Who cares if they missed the shot? All that scene did was show how touchy and jerky some people are, and how much better Abby (I remembered a name!) was to be off the island and in Los Angeles. If we didn’t know that she was fleeing touchy jerks who should know better as well as sad memories (and maybe some guilt? the story about her mother wasn’t really revisited), we wouldn’t understand her final acquiescence to the girl who wanted to live in LA, too. It’s not just sad memories these girls are carrying around; it is burdensome to live among louts. Fortunately, perhaps, for Abby, she got to be the hero by saying yes to the girl and then not actually have to share her studio apartment because the girl gets offed! Win-win. And lose. Very sad. Do we care? No. I am not sure why that girl was even brought into the show at all, because we didn’t need to see Abby be a nice person who remembers her roots (we already saw her do these things), and the death was just a hanging. Perhaps later we will bitterly lament her loss, for some insight or knowledge that the girl took with her to the grave. I can’t imagine why we saw the old guy die, either, unless it was for the same reason. It was probably also to make us think that Englishman was safe, and then be all like OMG I can’t believe there was another hanging foot trap in the forest!
I don’t really care about the deer head, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the hunters. There is a great divide between the touchy jerks and the guys who would decapitate a deer, smuggle the head into a hotel, and put it into someone’s bathtub. But it will, you know, cause strife and fingers will be pointed and people who need to work together to stay alive will be unable to on account of bad feelings established in this episode.
I’m not that surprised that no one misses Fun Uncle yet, I guess. They all figured he was scoring with the chicks, and if he’s on the island to partake of the libations and the labia then he’s really not going to be expected at the scavenger hunt or even to be awake before 11:00 AM. It’s odder to me that no one wonders who he hooked up with; a single line by any character referring to some local girl (or boy) who worked catering or behind the bar would have been a nice touch. Ah, well. One does not expect careful scripting in a slasher pic. Perhaps it was in a deleted scene.
The tension that underlies the whole ensemble is clearly going to be the introduction of the bride’s ex-boyfriend, invited to the party by the unhappy father of the bride who doesn’t want his daughter to marry someone poor or with a BFF who is a girl. He’s going too far, of course, and Ex-Boyfriend may be a rich jerk–not to be confused with the touchy jerks–but it’s possible he is not evil. The father is maybe behind it all, although it seems an extreme reaction, but if not, he’s definitely on the “Clearly Has It Coming” list, too. Perhaps it will come in front of his daughter. Perhaps he’ll redeem himself at the last minute by saving her. I’m betting that Bride lives for a while, if not until the last episode, because Dead Chloe sort of hits the Dead Fiancee/Bride requirement, and even slashers and network TV refrain from playing that card more than once. (Stupid facts ruined my perfectly good theory.)
I don’t think Abby is going to be offed anytime soon, either, because she is the Girl Living in Both Worlds and we experience the rich and the touchy jerks from her point of view. Groom I’m not sure about, but he seems too much like the Good Guy Victim to be killed before the end, either. Besides, he’s Abby’s ticket to mingling with the rich people and observing the callous way they treat the Hardworking, Earnest Locals Who Have Already Suffered So Much, and if we couldn’t observe that we wouldn’t be able to observe them get what’s clearly coming.
Episode three ought to show us the wedding party finding some of these bodies, because the real suspense and fear for the audience can really only come when the characters are afraid themselves. And frankly, I can’t take eleven more episodes of them just effing around and walking into traps. Death is one thing; it’s psychological terror that makes it real entertainment.