Sunday, July 08, 2007

"I still wanna say what part I play in the Christmas pageant.": John from Cincinnati

After a couple of weeks building to what felt like the larger myth of the series, John from Cincinnati took a week to fill in a few gaps in its backstory. It wasn't all bad (indeed, most of it was really quite good), but it was probably the least-involving episode since the pilot. But that's the sort of thing you need to do from time to time on a series like this. The weirdness and metaphysics are only as good as the characters they happen to, so we need to know as much as we can about those people before plowing in to further oddities.

First observation: I know I complained about them a few weeks ago, but I really missed the three guys at the motel (the Three Wisemen, as others on the Internets have dubbed them) this time out. I really liked the idea set up in the last episode of the motel being a place where the various characters would meet up and converge (and thanks to Justin for so wonderfully handling the blog duties on that episode). To that end, I also missed the doctor, who's rapidly becoming my favorite character (all episodes must have subplots that have nothing to do with anyone but the doctor). And even Bill got only a couple of scenes where he pontificated to his parrot (much like Swearengen and his Indian head, I guess).

It's interesting to plot the various ways the characters on this show are similar to characters from Deadwood (and dissimilar). While many others have pointed out similarities between the Yosts and the citizens of Deadwood, I'm fascinated by how Link, having finally shut Cass out of his life, is now essentially Cy Tolliver -- cut off from the other characters and plotting against them, planning his evil deeds behind closed doors.

I'm still not completely behind the Cissy and Mitch marriage plotline (though I did like getting a better idea of how the whole drama with Shaun played out back in the day). I think a large part of this is due to Rebecca DeMornay, who simply seems flummoxed by some of the dialogue she has to spout. DeMornay's not an awful actress or anything, but when she seems lost in one of those long, long monologues, she goes way, way over the top. Granted, this is a show, where a seeming idiot man-child gets away with listening to people defecate and then copying the noises they make, but everyone else seems tuned in to a certain reality that the show grasps. DeMornay's just not there yet.

Greyson Fletcher, who plays Shaun, gets a lot of criticism from other corners of the 'net, and I can see where everyone else is coming from. I honestly wrote him up as something I didn't like about the pilot. But he's starting to grow on me. He's completely affectless, like most teenagers I know, and that's a bit refreshing when compared to all of the other little-adults that pass for teenagers on most other shows.

Meanwhile, there was a sign in the background of one shot talking about investigating 9/11 (and another sign about Jesus). Considering that nothing is a mistake on this show (and considering that Milch said something in a Newsweek interview before the show aired that I won't spoil for you here), I'm thinking that we're going to get a full dose of how the events of JFC hook in with that tragic day. Deadwood, with its ruminations on how we construct civilization in the face of lawlessness, was decidedly a post-Sept. 11 show, but it will be interesting to see Milch confront the day directly.

All in all, I don't have a lot to say about this episode. Stuff happened, but not of the sort that makes for interesting blogging. Suffice it to say I liked it (especially Cass' monologue, quoted above, and Joe's recitation of John's miraculous healing to the bartender), and I'm anxiously awaiting next week, when the event in question from the Newsweek interview happens.

So how are you liking this?


Edward Copeland said...

I agree that this was the least interesting installment so far but since I'm halfway through the season, I might as well ride it out. The characters outside the Yost family are so much more interesting than the Yosts themselves that I think the heavy focus on the family in episode five is what made it drag.

Carrie said...

I agree with Edward. Mitch and Cissy do absolutely nothing for me. I sort of get what they are going for with the characters but its not connecting yet. I could spend the entire episode at the hotel with the doctor, Bill, Frankie, Frankie's weird friend, and the Three Wisemen and be happy. Well, as long as John and Vietnam Joe made appearances as well.

I'm very intrigued to see what happens next week, per your cryptic hints.