Gemma: This episode was all kindza not up to snuff.
Rasha: After the last couple of episodes, which were so wonderful at effortlessly passing the Bechdel test, it felt like this episode was some writer’s homework assignment after getting yelled at. I don’t mind Jane developing her writing, but it would be nice if we got a sense of what that was turning into.
G: Indeed. And I bristled at the characterization of the advisor—which may be my knee-jerk responses, but I did—and the denouement of the Rogelio plot, which was already lacking as we discussed last week, was anticlimactic and lackluster. Also, it’s that the two women with names are talking TO EACH OTHER about something other than a man. Isn’t it? They kept leaving that out.
R: You know women, they just talk into the ether. Rogelio needs a counselor, and no self-respecting (presumed lesbian) gender studies professor would wear that—was it even really denim?—jacket. The hair and the glasses I’ll buy.
G: That changes EVERYTHING. It felt like the show was trying to parody itself when it hasn’t in fact had an egregious problem in that particular direction in the first place, so it read as a weird overcompensation that made me wonder if I had been overestimating them.
R: To be fair, the show only tallied the scenes where women were talking to each other, but yes. It’s why Lord of the Rings, though it has awesome female characters, does not pass the Bechdel test even a little. I’m tired, frankly, of trying to suss out where their heads are at. This was a disappointing episode. And I’m sure they’ll have good ones to come, but my sense is that the writing room might be uneven in terms of mission orientation.
G: That seems possible, yeah. It would certainly account for the rollercoaster tonal shifts. But nothing in this ep quite clicked. The notion of a woman wanting to be likable is a good one to explore…
as is a woman who doesn’t want to bond with her infants…
…but both the plots were missing that balance that they often have, and the Rogelio and Michael’s parents and Pablo Alonso Segura were just lacking.
R: It felt like a puppet show.
G: And not the good kind.
R: Whereas last week felt like real people. This is why writing matters. The same actors, the same story, but this week it was too much on the surface. Rogelio better need more time to process his trauma.
G: Indeed. And that could have been done so much better in the confines of Rogelio’s character! His processing his trauma didn’t quite feel like him, because it was rushed. It needed to be larger in scope.
R: It was Telling, not Showing. Also, I cannot care about Raf’s brother.
G: Yeah, I care zero amounts about Derek.
R: My only guess about Derek is that they need another connection to Elena after killing Rose, and they felt like they needed more masculine energy around Raf, who mostly interacts with the female characters since he hates Michael and Rogelio doesn’t like him.
G: Sure, fine. But they could’ve come up with a dude who has something going on beyond “IS HE OR ISN’T HE?” And I hope Bridget wassername got another job, because killing Rose is not in any way paying off yet.
R: He both is and isn’t, and he will be before he won’t be, but he’ll always be sort of, which makes him boringly untrustworthy. Did we need two young handsome stupidly wealthy men on this show? Just develop Luisa as a better foil! #MoreLuisa.
G: Seriously! This is a bit what I’m concerned is happening on HTGAWM, too, honestly. They’ve written themselves into corners and rather than use the tools already at their disposal they’re just throwing More at us.
R: I guess that is always the temptation.
G: Perhaps. But it’s lazy.
R: I did dig Pablo Alonso bringing the Gabriel Garcia Marquez-style curse with him from Venezuela.
I am interested to see if it develops into something that translates in the modern context. I think Alba is going to have to work some magic to lift the curse, which now that I think about it, makes my feminism angry.
G: Unpack that a bit?
R: Just the structure of the story–because PAS is Alba’s storyline and she’s the character we’re invested in, she’s going to have to make some decision/take some action that will resolve the curse storyline. And that an awesome lady has to clean up some messes that an old dude doesn’t know he’s making and won’t take responsibility for does inflame my feminism.
G: Ah. Yes. Legit.
R: Maybe he’s not cursed? But he’s definitely cursed. Probably not fuku-cursed, but still cursed.
G: Your argument is that he is probably cursed by being a careless and thoughtless fool…right?
R: That scans as a metaphor for reality.
G: I don’t know. I could see some good conflicts for Alba if we don’t keep him in the end. But you’re right, the direction they’re foreshadowing does not look exciting.
R: For world-building, I’m all for magic and magical realism and folk stories bubbling up through the fabric of what we think of as modern life. And I think it’s cool that (unlike aliens), magic is something this show can go for in a storyline.
G: You think it can? I think it leans pretty heavily on the magic-as-metaphor frame. It’s not going to have us believe there’s a genuine Curse without explanation.
R: I think it can maintain some ambiguity, though I agree there will be alternative explanations. But there’s no denying all that snow/petals falling when true romance arrives. I kind of like the curse as the bad magic side of the romance trope.
G: Fair enough. @JaneWriters, please resolve your arguments already. It is very clear which style works better.