Splitsies on Trade Me: When gods go bad
August 9, 2013 § 31 Comments
Whoa. What an episode! With money, sex, politics, corruption and betrayal in play, no one except Colin seemed to come out a winner. If plot were bricks, this hour would be an entire house worth, maybe even a small city. Almost no one ended up in the same place they started this episode and nearly everyone was the worse for wear.
Let’s start with Zeb, who frankly has been grabbing the short end of the character development stick this year. (I reserve the right to abuse many metaphors in one post.) He’s turned into a wind-up toy that repeats “I am the leaseholder. Mrs Kwan will be mad at me. Pay your rent. Give me money. I am (subtextually) lonely and in need of lurrrrrrrve.”
With such a large cast, and a (brilliantly welcome) emphasis on overall plot this year, not every character gets the time and attention they deserve, and (sadly) Zeb has been sidelined in order to allow the Johnsons to power forward the show whose title bears their name.
And yet, Zeb keeps popping up and grabbing some of the best comedy beats despite his limited screen time and repetitive catch phrases. His misunderstanding of Ingrid (especially given that she may yet turn out to be literally and not figuratively his mum) and her intentions are a great case in point. I had to stop the recording until I finished laughing. (A similar laugh-out-loud moment occurred when Derrick gifted his lord Odin with a rainbow bridge — not exactly Bifrost was it? — of his own.)
My favorite moment though was at the very end, with Ingrid happily rolling around on the wheelchair, blissfully unaware of Auckland rental prices, offering to split the proceeds with Zeb.
Ingrid, of course, has done a very bad and spectacularly imprudent thing. You’d think as Snotra, all her spideysenses would be warning her that going public with the less-than-spiritual Michelle might turn out to be a misjudgement. And yet, Ingrid’s desire for cash, need for a home, and overall lack of bargaining skills (you’d think a rheumatoid arthritis cure would go for quite a bit more, market price and all) lured Michelle into the promise of worshipers, religion, and (yes) money.
Money is on everyone’s minds, and it formed the backbone of the episode. Ingrid, about to be thrown out on her ear, Zeb desperate for paying roommates, Michelle, living with her mother, Mike with all hands held out to him, Anders, wanting that cash more than he wanted Colin, Johann, willing to steal his dad’s car to run away yet again. One after another, people made bad choices all motivated for their need for cash.
If rooming-with-your-mum does indeed turn out to be more than a red herring with Ingrid and Zeb, well at least those two are harmonious. It’s a bit too much for Michelle. Stuck with Karen, who still can’t quite grasp that she’s been thoroughly dumped, Michelle just wants away from all the drama. In this, she’s willing to lie, deceive, and perform a bit of faith healing to advance her cause. Knowing that Mike would disapprove, she quite deliberately fails to catch him up on her activities and the now burgeoning Church of Michelle that may yet be growing due to her actions. Michelle’s sarcastic “Whoa there Jesus freaks. You’re welcome but not that welcome” was gold.
On Mike’s part, he’s not going to admit to Michelle, she who is always in favor of him abusing his godly gifts, that he’s fallen off the wagon. Apparently, going to the Ullr side comes with a price, one that Karen’s father paid off with a shotgun. If the card game is to believed, Mike on games is addict ugly — never knowing when enough is enough, losing a tenuous hold on simple decency, living for the game but only the game.
I loved that Olaf was along for those scenes, because it really highlighted how bad Mike gets when Mike does Ullr. I especially love that this gives Mike a concrete reason for avoiding his godpowers. As for the Ullr “getting his Odin (I paraphrase) on”? Color me curious.
On the Anders side of things, he’s discovering that having a non-manipulatable client is a bit more trouble than he anticipated. Without his silver tongue, he’s getting sidelined and Dawn of all people is showing native if insecure political savvy. Of course, she’s watched the West Wing many many times — and I’m pretty sure that CJ is her favorite character. (Hi CJ!)
Colin is smart enough to place his bets on Dawn’s instinct, which leaves Anders without much to do except start to feel bad about the games Colin is playing. It’s lovely to watch Anders in a totally reactive role, as he continues growing as a person and a character — even within the selfish, shallow limits that Anders is never quite going to expand beyond. Colin gets to be wild and outrageous (because that is what Loki does) and Anders, placed into this unfamiliar sphere, has to start evaluating that outrageousness. No, Anders isn’t heading towards sainthood (hi Michelle!) but he’s certainly traveling somewhere compelling and interesting.
Finally, we have Axl and his rather strange Hero’s Journey. Instead of ending up in Norsewood as planned (as James Garner put it in Support Your Local Sherriff, Axl may be passing through on his way to
Australia Norsewood for some time yet), he ends up in Whangamaungamoa with Derrick (beautifully bounteous with his vomit), a fetching barmaid (hints of godessness of some sort) and Martin, who I am convinced may be Heimdall.
Joe proved himself to be an unreliable jerk, first seducing Axl with Zorbing and then attempting to shanghai him to Korea (the kimchee did sound good), he was willing to steal Olaf’s beloved car to get what he wanted. Axl finally getting to see his father act the way his brothers had remembered, gave him a much needed moment of clarity. (Plus, this was the true how shall I say this, father-seduction?, that was hinted at by Zeb.)
Martin, all seeing, shows up, transports Axl to where he needs to be rather than where he wanted to go, and then disappears again, the perfect monomyth Herald.
And there we are left, with Mjollnir imperiled, Axl needing to do his Odin thing to set things right (because that, as Joe reminded us, is what Odin does), a bartender with suspicious friendliness and free beer, and DERRICK! (Since I can’t have BRYN! this year DERRICK! will have to do.)
Another strong, fine episode. Loved it.
- A big thank you to Tim Balme for the kind words on his Facebook page.
- If you like podcasts and TAJ, you’ll love the Lesser Gods podcast.
- Googles searching for Almighty Johnsons Fan Fiction, rejoice: I give you not one but two repositories!