Episode 7

March 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

I really, really liked Episode 7. This despite the fact that there were about 10 minutes of fighting that were awful, uncomfortable, and ugly. Once you got past that, the episode really shone.

So, after 15 years of repressing his true nature, Mike finally gave in. And man, what an awful job of it he did. He approached the Casino in what I can only call an Axl-level of cluelessness. There are ways to win subtly. I’m surprised the Casino let him gamble as long as he did.

And why was he there to start with? Because of his need to control everything. Poor man, he was forced into responsibility at age 21, not just taking care of his three younger brothers, but also taking the blame for Coma Rob. He was trying so hard to do the right thing by his client, and in doing so completely failed to allow Valerie into the decision making.

His marriage is threatened by so many factors: by Rob, whose coma seems unnaturally tied to his godhood, by his unilateral decisions about shifting money and hiding his financial crises that don’t involve Valerie, and by Valerie herself who instead of backing up Mike for trying to live up to a guiding principle of integrity lost herself in visions of IVF and washing machines, instead of working on details of how to make things balance.

Mike’s few hours with Croupier girl (I didn’t catch her name) were far more honest and healthy than his 15 years with Rob’s Fiancé. Notice how I put that? Because I don’t think that Valerie ever let go of Rob, and I’m not entirely sure she ever went into this marriage fully accepting. As she said, a few episodes back, “Not my family.”

Maybe Valerie really is meant to be with Rob.

As for Mike falling from the pedestal, I’m glad he did so in such a incremental way. The darts game opened the door for the casino, (I had to Google up “tin ass”) and I’m pretty happy that he made a such a naive mess of things in the casino, so it will be hard for him to try to do that route again.

And yet at the same time, he accomplished what he had to — getting enough money to take care of both his professional reputation and his family.

Interestingly, the guy who plays Mike wrote this episode. And I think he really got Mike, especially in how desperate he was to make things right with Croupier girl. Over and over and over, he tried to make amends for the harm he did her, as he realized he had been so focused on his immediate needs instead of thinking of others around him.

And yes, I am so glad that he relaxed and didn’t try to control himself. And I really liked how Croupier Girl analyzed the situation and tested him. She’s quite intrigued by him and I really really hope she hasn’t left the story for good.

As for Anders, it wasn’t really his story this week — spending a good deal of it off-screen or unconscious. We always knew that his actions verged on date rape — this week confirmed that it really was as bad as Mike made it out. His actions crossed the line into destroying lives, even if the women in question were obviously emotionally weak to begin with. Read on to see what I mean by “emotionally weak” because I understand that describing victims in that way is harsh.

After all, accepting your errors and moving on with your life was the whole theme, something that these women failed to do, focusing instead on fruitless revenge and bringing innocents into their crosshairs as well. Zeb and Axl were drugged, threatened with bodily harm, and held captive. Basically the boys were forced into situations equal to or worse than any of these girls experienced, and yet none of the girls copped to that. Axl was right in that their actions deserved jail, even before going through with Anders’ “surgery”.

What the girls role in the larger scheme was, was to show Axl the error of his path and re-direct him towards a more righteous approach to his quest. Why was he so jealous of Gaia & whatshisname? Jacob? The fault was Axl’s entirely. As Zeb pointed out in his monologue on “bonification” (not to be confused with boniface), by following Anders’ lead, Axl’s promiscuity was driving away the very person he so wanted to be with. No one likes a player, Axl. That was established in Episode 2.

That jealousy motivated Axl’s desperately need to numb himself to it all. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Axl has now been denied this escape. I am not a big fan of alcoholism. (I reserve judgement, however, on the use of super-strength in opening locked doors, something that I can see myself getting behind under certain circumstances.) More than catching an arrow, more than throwing a hammer, this week godhood was full front and center in Axl’s life. As Zeb said, it was inhuman. Inhuman in a way that couldn’t be overlooked. Inhuman in a way that really messes up your attempts to live a normal life.

As for Zeb, how wonderful it was that his discovery mirrored Croupier girl’s. All of these gods, not just Mike, really need to establish honest non-lying relationships with mortals. Week after week we’ve seen how toxic this god thing can be. In the most extreme case, Ty can barely experience humanity without causing physical harm to those he’s near. Olaf can never establish a real loving relationship without imperiling the whole god secret, so his “serial monogamy” is actually serial abandonment. Mike and Valerie’s marriage is built on lies and deception to such a degree that Mike can never really be himself around her. Axl’s actions are threatening his friendships, isolating him from his youth. Anders uses his abilities as a crutch to keep him from ever growing up and taking responsibility for anything. These guys *need* people. Far more, I suspect, than people need them.

I really like how they handled the Zeb conversation at the end, and the simple and strong friendship it reflected. Zeb is able to accept Axl, even if Axl is suddenly afflicted by godhood, and Zeb may be able to provide that link to humanity that the king of the gods needs to remain relevant to people.

As for ruling, I *really* loved how Axl grew up, took charge, and started setting ground rules. He has the moral code that Mike instilled in him, but he’s been suppressing it the last few weeks/months, as shown in the opening building sequence, where he acts like a complete idiot. By the end of the episode, Axl displays a willingness to both accept and act on that code.

Going forward, it looks like things will be ramping up. If I guess correctly about what I saw in the previews, it looks like they find Frigg and it is *not* Gaia. If so, I think Axl will follow the trend that previous Odin incarnations have, i.e. choosing love and a good life over power.

Here’s looking forward to Rob/Valerie/Mike flashbacks, Oracle-Oracle romance, more Bragi-Sjofn fun, Frigg-finding, story arc revelations, and more.

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