Sunday, 21 April 2013

Strange Paradise Episode 3

G'day to you, fellow travelers in the realm of bizarre soap opera land. It's been a while since last we checked in with the denizens of this Strange Paradise, but from what I can remember; Raxl and Quinto have gone down some  possibly time traveling steps; Jacques/Jean Paul was alternately talking to his dead wife, or a painting of Bill Compton, depending on which of his personalities was in control at the time; and Doc Carr and Forrest are in a pub, getting sloshed and also possibly getting conned by a painter dude.

This show is f*ck'n insane, people.

Join me now as I delve into episode 3; you can watch along here, if you'd like.

We get a nice shot of the mansion house, then pop inside to meet Raxl and Quinto coming back from the tunnel they went into at the end of last episode, with no explanation as to what they did while they were gone. I call bullshit, as our American cousins are wont to utter.

Raxl has a bit of a chunter about fighting to free themselves from Jacques, and the camera zooms in on his crypt. Unfortunately you can barely make out the name on the plaque, so in the next shot they have to zoom in on his portrait, just so people know what's happening. Top notch directing there, Mr Director Man. Then we get the opening titles; they're not hanging about.

Oh NO! When we come back from titles we're still on the picture, but it's an empty frame! Whatever could that signify????

We don't have time to wonder though, cos almost as soon as it registers what you're looking at they cut away to Raxl hugging the coffin of Jean Paul's dead wife and muttering some portentous rubbish. Then she has a chat with Quinto in which she drops some leaden exposition about some place called the Temple of the Serpent. Seriously, she's talking about something completely different and then BOOM!

"For the love of God! Don't tell anyone about the temple!"

All right missus, calm down, he wasn't going to, ffs.

Then some more melodramatic waffle. I swear, 2 minutes in and I just want to strangle her. We. Get. The. Point. Of course, if you actually listen to what she's saying, she's basically just explaining the plot of the last 2 episodes. In case the audience had forgotten what had happened yesterday.

When she does finally shut up we cut to a priest giving a sermon to TV's funkiest ever congregation.

Once they've all filed out the Priest, whose name is Matt, but whom I shall call Ted, because he looks like Ted McGinley, is accosted by one of the congregation. Take a look at that screenshot again. Can you guess which one it is. I bet you can.

Yep, it's the blonde with the ridiculously large sunglasses. Did you think she was blind? I thought she was blind. She's not blind.

Anyway, she's having a pop at him because she thought they were friends but he helped her mother put her in a 'house for kooks.' Bad Priest!

The scene takes the guise of a heart to heart between the two of them but it's basically another big old info-dump; she and her mother hate each other, her father left his fortune to her and when she turns 21 she plans to cut her mother off. I don't know who her mother is, or who her father was, but I'm sure that will all become clear. They're probably devil worshiping pygmies.

Next scene

Yep, she's still talking to the coffin. More waffle about fighting Jacques. Then she and Quinto head back down to the temple. They were already down there at the start of the ep. So... they came out just to explain the plot to a dead woman? Is that what just happened? Moving on.

Blonde lass is still at the church. Her mother has shown up. They're having a bit of argy bargy. I'm sure this will be important later, but for now it's just tedious. Moving on.

Oh God, we're back with Raxl and Quinto. They're making their way down into some caves. How deep are these bloody catacombs? Raxl gets herself nicely positioned in amongst some rather naff looking symbolic squiggles on the floor and starts shouting again. She does like to shout.

She wants the devil to come and have a chat with her. He doesn't show up. I mean, be honest, would you? It's possible he would have come, and was just putting his coat on, or was on the loo or something, because she doesn't give him much time to respond before going off on one and announcing that she's gonna use all this magic she apparently has to fight 'THE EVIL THAT IS [THE DEVILS] ONLY ALLY.'

She's not one for subtlety, is Raxl.

Back at the Church, Reverend Ted is still having a bit of trouble with his two lady visitors. The Mother is saying that unless the Daughter; whose name is Holly, which may or may not have been mentioned before; goes back to the institution she'll have her dragged back. Holly storms off and Ted has some stern words for her Mother.

We stop in with Raxl and Quinto just long enough for Raxl to send Quinto off to pick up the cryogenics folk who are coming to freeze the bosses dead wife - bet you'd forgotten them, hadn't you - and then we're straight back to the church.

Reverend Ted is trying to convince Holly's mother to be nicer to her. I don't think it's gonna work, to be honest, but fair play to him.

Mind yo business, motherf*ck*r
No, hang on. I've changed my mind. I think he's trying to convince her to get Holly sectioned so she can keep control of the fortune. It's hard to tell; either he can't act, or it's very badly written. Has to be one of the two, cos it can't be both, right? Right?

Raxl is still shouting abuse at the Devil. The Devil is turning up his music to drown her out.

The vicar is flip-flopping again. Holly's mother is calling him out on it.

Raxl is shouting. I don't think she's shouting at the Devil anymore. I think she's shouting at God. Why God should pay attention to someone who is standing in a Serpent Temple and has just decided to start using the old magics again, is beyond me. Still, Raxl knows best, I'm sure.

Oooh, get this, the Mother is accusing Priestly Ted of being in love with Holly. Is he? Who knows? The smart money based on his reaction

is yes. But then, given his contradictory behaviour throughout this episode, it's hard to care. I mean tell. It's hard to tell.

The episode ends with intercutting scenes of Raxl leaving the tomb to talk to her bosses dead wife for a bit and then head upstairs where we see that Bill Compton is back in his painting, and Ted stripping himself of his priestly garb and heading off to '...find Holly. And myself.' Oh, doesn't the dialogue just sing?

There is, at a generous estimate, about 5 minutes worth of actual plot, and maybe another 5 of character developing dialogue in this episode. The rest is, quite literally, Raxl standing in various sets and yelling at the sky. It is incredibly annoying. The contrast to the first couple of episodes, where the plot moves like gangbusters, is shocking. Hard to believe it's the same writer.

Join me next week (assuming I don't disappear for 4 months again) when we'll see whether this is our lot, or whether he'll remember that there is actually meant to be a story of some kind.

Until then, on this blog, I am God.

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