Series 2 Episode 4: Baby bats in mourning

March 22, 2012 § 3 Comments

Honestly, it’s really hard to try to organize my thoughts about Episode 4. I loved it. That said, it’s not exactly easy to discuss exactly why I love it. I can’t decide if it’s the slower pacing, the better characterizations, the improved staging, or that we really only had one story to focus around this week: Eva’s death and its aftermath.

As to whodunnit, it’s Agnetha what done it. And she’s just as forceful, bossy, and unremorseful as her character ever is as she sets up all the evidence so the Police won’t be a bother. Ty is just as easily swept into her machinations as he was into Eva’s, with Dawn waiting in the wings to pick up the bossing duty.

There’s a wonderful sequence at the start of the episode as Ty, clearly on the edge of shock, is manipulated through a series of clean-up steps, ending with two cars in the forest, one body, and a bit of bother to get all the evidence sorted out. Agnetha remained batshit psychotic throughout.

It struck me as I watched — hey, this is what gods do. It’s admirably mythogical — after Freya murders Hel, she and Hod dispose of the body in the woods, making it appear as if Hel had stumbled to her death. In turn Hel promised Freya revenge once she arrives in Helheim (“Hunger will be your plate for eternity”), and her godly aspect ascends. This, this, is what happens in those stories, and here it is happening on-screen in modern day Auckland. It was just a gorgeous juxtapositioning of myth to life and really highlighted what this show is about. I mean, anyone can murder their daughter-in-law and convince their long-since-abandoned son to help hide the body, but the myth bit, that’s what sets TAJ apart.

That’s not to say that Colin was fooled by all this, even in the slightest. He instantly knew that things weren’t kosher on the death front — for whatever “kosher” equates to in Norse God terms.

Instead, we have another terrific scene — this in the most beautiful morgue room that has ever graced dead people. I’d kill for an office like that. Leaving aside that the room dressing seemed unusually high end even with its little wheeled medical cart in the corner, there’s Colin and Ty identifying the body. And there was so much to love. Colin insisting that Ty call Eva by name, Colin’s attack on Ty once the officer left the room, Ty’s emotional response and defence of Eva, and the smart, smart camera work looking down at the two of them and intercutting the fight scenes. I really liked this sequence.

I particular appreciated how much Cortese focused and didn’t overplay his lines. I’ve complained in the past that both Colin and Agnetha have been written over the top, to comic villany. This wasn’t. It was nicely restrained, and because of that, more moving and more menacing in the end. Let me add how much I appreciated that Agnetha chuckled throughout the episode but never descended to cackling.

Both Mike and Olaf were well-used this week. Mike, like Colin, sussed the true situation out and provided the firm fraternal support that Ty needed. I know I should complain that Mike moved from depressed and useless to strong and reliable  too quickly once he won the bar, but I rather like this version of Mike. There were several great scenes between the two, and I particularly appreciated the “gods among men, brother — bloody Johnsons” moment.

Olaf brought humor and charm to his thankless task of exposition. He was world weary and funny, and clearly continues to get on well with Ingrid. I thoroughly adored the hungover!Olaf!reborn!Baldur sequence, which could have simply been a data dump but turned out delightful.

In the end, Eva’s earthly vessel was sent on its way, and each group stood apart before the bonfire in their little narrative clusters.

Can’t wait for next week. Here’s hoping I get to see it before Autumn.

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§ 3 Responses to Series 2 Episode 4: Baby bats in mourning

  • Claire says:

    I was finding that I wasn’t enjoying the second series quite as much as the first, although this one cheered me up considerably — and I think it’s entirely because I was afraid of a “whodunnit” storyline. But the show turned that on its tail and had Agnetha in the hot seat from the beginning. And she *enjoyed* it. For that alone, I would have loved it. But it just flowed really well, and while I personally think it couldn’t have been a flawless plan, if enough circumstantial evidence was there I suppose they wouldn’t have probed much deeper into it. Definitely the most morbid (and largely unsuccessful) attempt at mother/son bonding I’ve seen in a while!

    I also agree with you on Mike, that perhaps it seems a fast turnaround back to his more usual self — but then, I think you’re right, it’s to do with the bar. Mike thrives on *purpose* and with the bar, he’s got something propping him up again. He needs his tangible responsibilities to remind him of what he’s doing. I think, too, that’s a large part of why Agnetha’s turning up again threw him so badly; his family is his responsibility, and after what his mother did once before he’s certainly not going to trust her easily again.

    I also adore the way they utilise Olaf; both he and Ingrid run the risk of being little more than exposition fairies, but both are so affable and *daffy* in their own ways that I can’t help but adore them both. Also, Olaf gets it *wrong* just often enough that even when he is info-dumping we as the audience kind of know to take it with a grain of salt. ^_~ Yes, I adore Olaf so.

    I also can’t wait for next week. Thanks for sharing such a great review, it’s always fun to see other people’s thoughts on the show. ❤

  • Loved it also.

    It was so bleak and beautiful, the music was minimal and unintrusive and the jokes a lot less plentiful but very well-judged (“So this is a god funeral with a sci-fi theme?” Heh.)

    A brilliant performance from Jared Turner as Ty, too, I thought. I was a little worried he might actually throw himself on the pyre at one point.

    “Nothing brings a family together like a funeral” was spot-on too, as the brothers (and even Ingrid and Stacey) came together to help Ty through it. The bond between them is lovely, even if they kick against it sometimes. And I like this version of Mike too – I agree, it’s running the bar that has sorted him out. Good.

    Like Claire, I wasn’t looking forward to a long, drawn-out whodunnit, so I was hugely impressed when Agnetha rocked up almost immediately, no messing around, no apologies. Hod may be the go-to-guy for all things dark and cold, but Agnetha is practically ice – nothing gets in the way of her purpose, whatever it is.

    If I did have one quibble, it would be that perhaps the story was a tiny bit stretched to fill the running time – maybe 5 minutes or so too long – but not so much that it was a problem. It was very different from the usual knockabout fun, but pretty fantastic.

  • Starbug says:

    I just found your blog and I absolutely love it. I’m American, I live in Canada, and I discovered TAJ via a long flight on Air New Zealand a few months back. Let’s just say I have ways of keeping up with the show, but I would love to see it actually hit North American TV. Of course, since all five of the guys release my inner cougar, I’m a bit biased. 🙂 I’m restraining myself from potential spoilers because of the time zone difference, but just wanted to say — keep up the great work!

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