Monday, July 22, 2013

Spiral. Star Trek Fan Fiction. I Don't Know.

Did like nothing this weekend but watch Spiral. Well, also went to Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, which was so much fun, and which I walked out of feeling just... happy. Helped by the fact that I went with Loren who loves Firefly. There were like maybe eight other people in the theater and we definitely laughed the most/loudest which I was like proud of? I don't know why because a lot of our laughing was just at like... the sight of Nathan Fillion. (And Nathan Fillion's performance, which was hilarious.)


I think I'm going again tonight and taking Mum. Is this a Much Ado About Nothing post now? What do I have to say about it other than that, as I already said, I walked out feeling... purely happy, which is kind of a change from how I feel when I watch Spiral, which like I already said is what I've spent like the past three days doing, and which makes me feel mostly stressed. And when it makes me happy it's like... the end of season two when they find Samy alive in the trunk of the car and I start like uncontrollably crying with relief. Spiral makes me happy pretty often, too, but a lot of the time that's just because—see also Nathan Fillion, above—of Judge Roban making faces like this


 and Prosecutor Machard who doesn't need to make ANY face 

"What, are you still here?"
and Pierre who doesn't either.

"I'm here to give you back my card."
These aren't even good lines but lemme tell ya. It's not about the lines with these two.
I mean come on.


These may not even be the best screenshots of Pierre because if I started pausing the show to take screenshots of Pierre I might literally never stop. I don't even care about Pierre as a character that much, it's just. Grégory Fitoussi's face. Personally, I'm more attracted to like. Judge Roban. I'm serious. And Commissioner Bremont, which also serious, but less embarrassedly so. (Kind of embarrassed about the fact that the scene in Episode 9 in which he is smoking a cigarette while talking to Laure led to me sitting in my car at 9:30 last night smoking. And again in the car on the way to work this morning. I smoke often enough to always have a pack handy but infrequently enough to take like four months to get through said pack. Aka not twice in less than twelve hours. Guess that just tells you how attracted I am to Commissioner Bremont? Or something? Good God.) But in terms of like. Pure handsomeness. Which as I explained to Mum just the other day (in reference to, you guessed it, Grégory Fitoussi) for me is just like a type, one of many, and not necessarily the one I'm most attracted to...

I mean look at him. He's too handsome to be attracted to. He is not of this earth. Okay.

First, I definitely watch Spiral from the first of Film Crit HULK's four levels, or maybe the second. If, on the first level, we watch movies and shows in a naïve, childlike state, with what he calls an "easy state of emotional transference" (in other words, we experience them as if they're real)—and if the second level is inhabited by people who've watched enough movies to "grow up" and move beyond the first level and yet, like an addict, continue to chase its emotional highs... I flatter myself that I'm in the third level, people who—to paraphrase—not only approach entertainment analytically, but understand that this can be as "powerful, stimulating, and emotionally affecting" as a level one experience. In other words, as I put it in a half-finished piece of Kirk/Spock Star Trek (meant to be TOS, but they kind of act more AOS*) fan fiction that I wrote, "Spock took notes most of the time, and when Kirk grumbled that why couldn't he just enjoy things without analyzing them said 'Analyzing things is how I enjoy them.'"** 

In other words, I'm (my) Spock. I may not be like an ~expert at it~ yet but I do want to understand how things work—largely because I want to learn how to make them. But I also, not gonna lie, love that level one experience, and that's what I have when I watch Spiral. Maybe because it's French, maybe because I haven't seen the actors in anything else, maybe because it's just so well made, but I have absolutely no sense of it as a made thing. At the same time, I'm trying to move to level three with it, because I want to understand how it's so good that its goodness prevents me from wanting to understand how it's so good

And I'm getting there. Sort of. Part of the almost unbearable tension of the third season—which is about, among like five million other things, a serial killer who mutilates his victims with a scalpel—is that in the first few episodes Laure and her team apprehend two possible suspects, both of whom turn out to have alibis, so by the time they arrest the third, Ronaldo Fuentes, you're already predisposed to think they're wrong again. And they have no evidence against him. Basically their only "proof" that he did this (sorry, ugh, I'm sorry)

Episode 1
is this

Episode 3
which he had in his apartment, and which is a poster of "Blooming Roses" (1930) by Salvador Dalí. By episode six (of 12) they're forced to release him. By like episode eight it's clear that he's guilty, but what I'm trying to say is that for like more than half the season neither the police nor the viewer know this for sure. And here's the thing. "Who's the killer" is as much a literary analytical question as it is a literal one—that is to say, it exists on two separate "planes," Laure's and the viewer's—and the occupants of those planes arrive at an answer in different ways. Laure is absolutely convinced that Fuentes is guilty, saying she "saw it in his eyes" and pursuing him even after she's taken off the case. Eventually, she finds a garage full of breasts floating in formaldehyde belonging to Ronaldo, which establishes his guilt. However. I—I have to resist saying "we," because I could just be unusually thick—as a viewer, unlike Laure, thought he might be innocent for like 6 episodes, and was convinced otherwise not by the garage, but by the amount of screen time given Ronaldo (and his sister/mother, and her husband, and a guy who saw him like cutting off a dog's balls or something with a scalpel) by the show. If Laure was wrong, that time would be wasted, so she had to be right.

My point, I guess, is that Laure experiences the events of the show on HULK's first level—on something even lower than the first level!—because for her they're real. I was experiencing the show on the first level, and, not knowing whether Fuentes was guilty, the primary emotion being transferred was stress, and the stress basically forced me into the third level, or at least out of the first. Laure could spend weeks of her life pursuing Ronaldo and be wrong. Spiral couldn't spend six episodes "watching" her do this if she wasn't right.

I have this half-developed theory that detective work = literary analysis (and that literature majors would make good lawyers, but that's mostly because I want to be like a non-corrupt version of Josephine Karlsson). Both the law and literary analysis involve evidence, and arguments, and sometimes both are about not verifiable truth (a confession? A cell phone video? An author's letters?) but the better of two (or more) arguments. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, like a literature student, has read about uncountable numbers of cases to help him solve his own. He's done his homework. HULK says that to get to level three, you just have to watch more movies, aka do yours. I've allotted like the next three years of my life to "watch more movies"—although in my case it's technically "read more books," because I want to be a writer—but I kinda want to be a screenwriter, don't know. You can also, it seems, allow the intensity of your level one experience to push you, almost self-protectively, into level three. My uncle Steve said recently that this very intensity is why he doesn't like watching movies, and that he reads summaries so that he knows what's going to happen—so that he knows, for instance, that Ronaldo Fuentes is in fact the killer. Which is, instead of escaping level one by transcending it, diluting its emotional effects so that you can stay there more comfortably.

*

I had more I wanted to say about this show. I wanted to make a list of just—like, especially compared to a show like The Killing, in which just ugh, 1/3 of a thing happened per season—how perhaps on paper excessively much is happening in this third season, because like. Ronaldo Fuentes. Niko's prostitution ring. Vlad, whoever he is. Gilou wanting to leave Laure's team. Gilou accidentally shooting that drug dealer in the lung. Laure basically having a breakdown. Laure protecting Gilou. Laure sabotaging Gilou. Laure/Bremont. Laure vs. Bremont. Judge Roban's mother. Judge Roban and Villedieu. Judge Roban and his ~~~gf. Arnaud, the intern de merde. Machard vs. Pierre. Pierre and Josephine. Pierre/Josephine? Josephine's money problems. Pierre and Danny. Pierre/Danny? (There was a ~reason he smelled Pierre's shirt like that, right?) And like you can break it down into three storylines—Pierre and Josephine's new firm, Judge Roban and Villedieu, Laure's team and Ronaldo—but you don't realize that every seemingly far-ranging thing falls into one or more of those fairly narrow categories, or even falls across them—Josephine defends Ronaldo, Arnaud is blackmailed by the mayor of Villedieu—until it's already fallen. I wanted to write about how, especially in season two, everything bad that could possibly happen, happens. I wanted to link to this video of Matt Stone and Trey Parker explaining "but/so" vs. "and then" storytelling to an NYU scriptwriting class and talk about how brilliantly "but/so" Spiral is. But that's another post. As is my like "Reasons Why I Love Laure Berthaud" post. As are like 600 more pictures of Grégory Fitoussi's face.



*Because, in all honesty, my entire... and oh my god this is going to ruin it, but my entire Star Trek fan fic writing style is, um, heavily influenced by Your First Time Should Be Special, which is AOS and which a) I've read like fifteen times and b) is the only Star Trek fan fic I've ever read. 

*and one of Spock's favorite things to do was point out inaccuracies in the holomercials about science that Kirk sometimes watched to try to understand what in the hell Spock was talking about and one time he found Spock sitting at his computer with the dictionary cartridge inserted and Spock got called to the bridge before he could remove it and when Kirk next turned on his computer there, right on the screen, was the word "empathy" and its definition and Kirk imagined Spock sitting there, forehead wrinkling almost imperceptibly, lips maybe moving as he read the words—"the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of others"—and was forcibly reminded of the times, early on, when they'd fight and Kirk would say something about how that made him feel and Spock would just look at him like he was waiting for Kirk to continue, like what he'd just said had been a prelude to what he was actually going to say and then all of a sudden Spock had started saying, enunciating carefully, "I understand how you feel," which had freaked Kirk out way more than the blank/expectant stares, and he'd ignored it the first few times but then once when he'd been really mad had yelled "No you DON'T" and Spock opened his mouth to argue but then just closed it again like he knew Kirk was right. 

A few days later Kirk was in Spock's quarters looking for a copy of a journal he wanted to borrow and found a pamphlet entitled "I Feel You: A Field Guide to Successful Communication" on Spock's desk, under a stack of heavily annotated science journals and sure enough, there was "I understand how you feel" under the Listening section and seeing it there—with a little pink flag marking the page—made Kirk feel guilty and protective and something else all at once. Spock stops saying he understands how Kirk feels. And then the next time they fight Kirk yells something like "Why are you standing there staring at me like that it makes me feel like you can't even hear me" and Spock looks at him and says gravely "When I stare at you it makes you feel like I cannot hear you" and Kirk goes "YES, thank you, that's exactly what I—" and then he goes "WAIT."

Spock just stands there, waiting. Kirk narrows his eyes at him. 

"You got that from that communication pamphlet, didn't you," he says accusatorially. 

"How do you know about that pamphlet," Spock says.

"I saw it on your desk when I was looking for that Vulcan Science Academy Quarterly that you were telling me about last week," Kirk says, a little abashed, and then, defensively, "Where did you get that thing anyway?"

"Dr. McCoy's office," Spock says.

"What!" Kirk yells. "What did you—you didn't tell him it was because of—you know? Did you?"

Spock rolls his eyes. (It makes Kirk want to point gleefully at him and say HA, you do do that, but he's pretty sure if he calls too much attention to it Spock will stop doing it and he definitely doesn't want that.) "No," Spock says, speaking in the rapid and very precise way that means he's pissed. "I did not tell him that it was because I am in a secret romantic relationship with you and given that this is my first such relationship with a human I have no standard against which to compare it and given that the relationship is secret there is no one I can ask. I did not tell Dr. McCoy this because it is not the reason I took the pamphlet from his office. I did so because the above statement, minus its "secret" and "romantic" components, is applicable to every single member of this crew who is not Vulcan, which is approximately 423 people. And furthermore I would like to inform you that repeating what they have just said back to them to demonstrate that I am listening has worked on several members of the crew so far and if it is not effective on you that only serves to strengthen my hypothesis that you are the most confusing person I have ever met."

"I'm confusing?" Kirk says. "And who exactly have you been practicing this on?"

"That warp core engineer from Deltron V," Spock says without hesitating. "Dr. McCoy's assistant, the one with the hair that I like. Yeoman—"

"Oh my god, stop, STOP," Kirk says. "You were supposed to say no one, Jim, no one but you, it's only ever all been for you—"

"It has only ever all been for—" Spock says, like he's testing out the words.

"Well now you're only saying that because I told you to say it," Kirk says. "You have to do it spontaneously."

"I can be spontaneous," Spock says. "In fact, might I suggest—"

"NO," Kirk says. "That may have worked last week, but it is NOT going to work again. I know what you're up to, and frankly I am very surprised that Dr. McCoy keeps instructional pamphlets in his office that tell you how to do that."

"I did not learn that from an instructional pamphlet," Spock says with dignity. "As you may well remember, there was a certain amount of trial and error involved."

That's it. This is a Star Trek fan fiction blog.

I would say I'm embarrassed to have posted that publicly but truth be told I've been looking for an excuse to do so since I started this blog. If you thought that was the reason I wrote this whole post you'd be wrong. But not that wrong.

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