Blogging Harper’s Island (Because Someone Has To!)–Episode 7: Thrack, Splat, Sizzle

Gah! I wrote this more than a week ago, and just now noticed that it was still in “draft” status and never got published. I feel like such an idiot. Oh well. Now I’ll have two posts in a row. Could be worse.

(From June 7, 2009)
I have made a cardinal error. I have let too much time go by between me watching this episode and me writing my thoughts about it, although I have not made the cardinaler error of watching the next one. So I am two posts but only one episode behind. I will refresh my memory not by rewatching anything (unlike reading, say, Middlemarch, it doesn’t get better a second time), but by taking advantage of the three-minute recap on CBS. Or the one on YouTube:

Yeah, the show is sort of that insipid. OK. Onto the work of being a watcher.

I have forgotten whatever craft and subtlety I may have noticed the first time around, but I astonishingly had forgotten all about the two most noteworthy things: Abby’s mother dating Wakefield as a young woman (dating was such a funny word to use, I thought), and Madison being lured into a room with a self-closing door. I was disappointed by the Wakefield revelation, because going all OJ is just not that interesting. I hate that Wakefield is just another stalker–it’s so Lifetime–if just another stalker is what he turns out to be. I have high hopes that the father is some kind of unreliable narrator (certainly enough characters have said aloud that he is not to be trusted) and that the real story is something way cool. I’ve had Stockholm Syndrome on the brain all week because I’ve been watching Pixar’s Cars (the inhabitants of Radiator Spring really do a number on McQueen’s brain), so I wouldn’t mind finding an instance of it in this show. There could be this thing that Wakefield is really Abby’s dad (I am 100 percent expecting that regardless of how everything plays out) and that the mother was brought to the island by Officer Dad or something, and that Wakefield is really not the killer and that he’s really just lost his bloody mind and trying to bring is daughter home.

The thing about Madison is not interesting in itself. I don’t have anything to say at all about the actress, but the character might as well be a prop–she’s there to reveal things about other characters. She’s done all the work she needs to do for JD (a truly guilty man wouldn’t be so comfortable and natural and juvenile around children); she’s made her father more sympathetic; she jumpstarted–for no logical reason–the creepy tone at the start of the show (nothing creepy was happening external to the wedding party so they had a kid in anklet socks frying slugs with a magnifying glass); she opened the possibility of ghosts. I think ghosts would be pretty lame, but I think the rest of the show has answered the ghost question already. People aren’t just showing up dead in apparent accidents. They’ve all been manhandled. Something corporeal has done them all in. The big question with Madison now is how far the show will go to upset people. Will the producers kill a kid? It’s not something you often see on TV outside of the crime drama, especially not in the horror venue. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think that even in The Hills Have Eyes they killed the baby. But then there’s that scene in the Battlestar Galactica pilot/miniseries with Six walking through that farmer’s market on Caprica, and that baby stroller, and that weak neck… because that has happened on TV (post-primetime cable TV, true), there’s always the possibility that someone else will try it, too. Is CBS going to be that someone? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Gotta keep watching. Later, if Madison stays alive, I’ll be able to complain that the show demonstrated a real lack of innovation and courage for relying on predictable victims. I’ll see groundbreaking TV or I’ll get to play critic. It’s kind of a win-win.

Regarding the other content of the program… meh. Abby is going to pursue true love with the boy she should have never left behind. Trish is breaking off her engagement. I’ve never liked the engagement and these ugly incidents have revealed that Henry does have too much personal baggage for a steady relationship. All this business about how she’ll never be able to separate him from his brother about her father is just cover-up. She may think that now, but this was not a great match. I won’t say that she’s lying to herself because no one should have to marry the brother of her father’s murderer (I don’t think JD is the murderer, but this is a line of thought), but the shock would wear off. There’s some feeling beneath this story that is making it seem more true. I’m kind of impressed with Trish in this episode for pulling herself together. She did her panic/acute grief/shock thing and then put it aside when she had to. Girl’s got strength. She’s her father’s daughter! I wonder what other personality traits she’ll end up revealing.

The one death in this was the Beer Mongerer, Malcolm Ross. He had to be punished. It was a given. And thus, the thracking and splatting and sizzling. The blood on the actual money was a nice touch of color in a gloomy stretch of color. I don’t think he was very surprised to be knocked off, and it certainly happened at the luckiest time for a villain–the point of redemption. (Perhaps our killer is a Shakespeare scholar?) I vaguely wonder if his body parts will be tossed into the furnace, but it doesn’t really matter. The scene is grisly either way.

Goodbye, Malcolm! You never should have lied about your friend, or shot the boat, or had entrepreneurial dreams above your station.

Goodbye, Malcolm! You never should have lied about your friend, or shot the boat, or had entrepreneurial dreams above your station.

This episode felt a little flat after the fantastic one from the week before, but I haven’t seen the one after yet. If all the pieces were being assembled for some excellent drama, then I am totally stoked! I think I’d rather have one simple plot twist and lots of action, however, than a complicated explanation and a lot of talking. I’ll cross my fingers for some kind of posse. Perhaps Cal knows lots and lots about constructing a torch.

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  • Always  On June 17, 2009 at 9:11 am

    This works for everything from CSI and Without a Trace to the first season of Lost. Always

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