Splitsies on Trade Me: When gods go bad

August 9, 2013 § 31 Comments

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 1.31.11 PM

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.

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§ 31 Responses to Splitsies on Trade Me: When gods go bad

  • Pilgrim jake says:

    A frustrating side note – they have released an almighty J app with all sorts of background detail. But you can only buy it in nz and Canada 😦
    Once again us passionate and erudite fans cannot help pay $ and support the show. I really wish they would gt away from this Balkanised media model. It ain’t doing any favours. So do any of you folk have access and installed it?? Would love to know what’s in them!!

    • Maria says:

      Even though I don’t yet have an iPhone / iPad – I’ve bought the App here in Canada….just to show support, and hope the numbers increase by indicating interest for iTunes (And the App will download appropriately when I get one of said devices.)

      You know – there are ways to set up iTunes accounts in one country when you reside in another….plus ways to buy iTunes cards in other currencies for said accounts without leaving home.

      Just saying’!

      (Oh- if the above is inappropriate – respectfully ask the blogger delete it.)

      Cheers!

  • Chris says:

    For anybody unfamiliar with the wonders and majesty of Norsewood.

    Socks are made there.

  • Susannah says:

    Typo in the… fourth-to-last? paragraph – you have a Colin where it should be a Derrick. (Please let Colin never vomit on Axl’s feet.)

    I am highly amused to see the return of Whangamaungamoa, which I have always taken to be a false version of Whangamomona, a lovely little stuck-back-100-years town in the absolute middle of nowhere in north island NZ with scrubby farms and handmade gravestones, which even issues its own passports to visitors if they want them. It’s that sort of bizarre place. I went there when in NZ a couple of years ago, and Derrick really feels like the sort of person who could fit right in…

  • drjuliebug says:

    Damn, I used to have a Canadian App Store account before moving back to the US. Maybe the app and the show will both roll out here soon….

    Loved Axl on the Skyflyer. I rode one of those in Toronto. Awesome!

  • Ratatosk says:

    Thanks again for giving me even more to think about than this ep. already had…

    Loved it – so many of my predictions smited (or is that smut), and introducing what looks to be a couple of new gods… someone on the facebook page has suggested that the barmaid might be Saga which could make for a very drunken Axl

    I thought the pub seemed familiar but it wasn’t until I checked where Whangamomona was that I realised I’ve had a pint there and the area is exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find Norse gods… just miles upon miles of hills and forest, and interestingly for Axl, a long way from the sea in a country where that doesn’t happen often…

    Loved too that Mike is displaying behaviour every bit as repulsive as Anders, while Michelle is using her powers for the good of Zeb and Ingrid – although I agree that Ingrid has not been using hers in assessing the risk factor… still I loved her speech about returning the goddesses to their rightful position – can’t wait to see where they take that, especially if they get to welcome the barmaid to the fold

    Lastly, I’d like to apologise for my fellow NZers being total dicks who can’t see when the best show ever to screen on television is in reach of their remote controls every Thursday night. sadly, the dumbing down process has worked well here, and they are too busy watching Australia’s My Kitchen Rules. So glad the rest of the world gets it.

    • kiwigods says:

      “smote”.

      I’m pretty sure that Whangville is completely fictional. I am sending you a virtual chocolate fish to thank you for contributing to (however sad) viewing numbers.

      • Ratatosk says:

        Of course it’s smote – somewhere in the recesses I knew that, but these days my brain is being taken over by conundrums inspired by TAJ. If it’s any consolation those of us who love the show, really love it, but I think part of the difficulty of getting people to tune in is that you really need to have seen it from the beginning. I’ve turned at least 2 friends into rabid fans by sitting down and making them watch the first series – I consider it a public duty.

  • drjuliebug says:

    At first glance, I thought the bartender was Derrick’s adopted sister. Haven’t re-checked season 1 ep 6 for this, but I think it’s just that she has the same hair color and hairstyle. (Hmmmm, wonder if we’re going to see Delphine again! Maybe even meet Ross The Shear Milker!)

    Mike is in a seriously bad place, Michele is in a seriously complicated one, and there are definitely some teasers going on regarding Zeb’s link to Ingrid. Olaf has finally been moving into patriarch mode — in a good way — for the last two episodes, even if it meant attempting to literally knock some sense into first Johann and then Mike. Listen to Grandpa, guys. He’s smarter than you think.

    I’m glad that the writers are giving Dawn some more interesting things to do. (For those who think that her bike-path-and-park approach to campaigning is thinking too small: That’s exactly how Harvey Milk got elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.) But, Dawn getting professionally entangled with Colin — yeeeooowwww! Either Ty and Anders will wind up at each other’s throats over this one, or else they’ll unite to protect Dawn. Or maybe a little of both, because, after all, they’re Ty and Anders.

    Best lingering image: Colin and Anders washing Dawn’s dishes.

  • Pilgrim Jake says:

    I’m worried that Loki has designs on Dawn. What a way to torment both Ty and Anders. Curiously enough – now that Ty is now mortal, does he no longer need to follow the strictures on telling mortals of their existence? Could he spill the beans to Dawn to save her?
    Hoping we are also seeing a story arc fermenting where Axl is challenged and we get some development out of this manchild. (chrysalis from pupa Axl to a more adult Odin — just for u Dr Julie 🙂 )

    And Loki is still proving himself to be far cleverer and more devious than all of the Johnson hicks combined….

    The amusing part of this show to date is – whenever a new character turns up ….(Tansy, Amelia..barmaid) we cant help but immediately wonder if its a new scion of the pantheon. We’ll have to be right sooner or later.

    • kiwigods says:

      I suspect the code of Deomertà mandates that Ty continues his policy of silence.

      I do worry that Loki is continuing his policy of targeting Ty with this latest campaign and Dawn maneuverings.

      • Susannah says:

        It only occurred to me today – what happens if Dawn goes over to Colin’s house for campaign planning or whatever and sees a photo of Eva? Because she’d remember her, right? And probably getting locked in the freezer by her, too. Does Colin even know that happened, or does he just know Ty asked Agnetha for help which got Eva killed, but not why?

        Either way, could be interesting…

  • drjuliebug says:

    There’s some Tumblr chatter going on now about Martin. Apparently he’s shown up in earlier S3 eps, including in Mike’s bar. He may also be the man who let Gaia into Anders’ apartment.

    I’m traveling and won’t have access to my episode collection for a few days, but if anyone has the time and inclination to check, have at it!

  • I am loving this season, especially with the pretty camera work and the awesome writing.

    I dig the new Dawn storyline. I’ve always liked Dawn, but it is so refreshing to see her in a non-Ty storyline. I like her relationship with Anders, I’ve always received the impression that she is one of the few people he cares about and trusts implicitly, douche-baggey aside. Did anyone else get a hint of future Anders-fancies-Dawn shenanigans, particularly after Colin queries Ander’s relationship with Dawn. I hope I’m wrong about it.

    So many LOL moments in this episode, from the Thor vomit to the Loki one-liners. Can’t get enough of TAJ here in Australia – saves me from rubbish reality tv such as My Kitchen Rules 😉

    • kiwigods says:

      I think Anders is pretty much done with dating his brothers’ girlfriends. I suspect his protectiveness of Dawn derives from other reasons, such as his work relationship.

      • just another mortal says:

        You’re probably right, kg – I hope so, because his brother do not need any more excuses to treat Anders with contempt – but I got exactly the same vibe as barelyshocking about Anders maybe having “feelings” for Dawn. She has always been one of the few people he cares about and trusts, agreed, but it seemed more overt to me this week. I would have attributed that to his non-romantic fondness for her coming to the fore because he recognises the danger he’s exposed her to from Colin but Colin’s q about their relationship did seem designed to make us think otherwise….

        Hm.

      • kiwigods says:

        I wouldn’t mind if they did go there, especially given the whole Ty thing and the Valerie/Gaia background, but I think they’ve already covered that ground, and will give us something different. Until now, Anders has been defined solely as he-who-picks-up-and-abuses women. Having a different kind of relationship with Dawn will be very welcome.

  • just another mortal says:

    I preferred last week’s ep, but this was still excellent and as you said totally plot-tastic but in a really interesting way – I’m excited to see how every single one of the storylines they built up turns out. Especially the Anders/Loki/Dawn one, OBV, but also Axl/Thor because Axl could really do with a comedy storyline after the past few weeks of woe-is-me. Yay for Thor!

    • kiwigods says:

      Even a “lesser” episode this season still rocks. I had quite a few qualms about last year — the over the top Agnetha storyline, the rather ugly Ty/Eva one, the silly “amnesia” thing. Going back to my favorite episodes (the one with SheAxl and Ty’s excellent day), they show a lot of general weakness on viewing again, whereas the first series eps really stand up. This year is (in my opinion) even better than the first. The show is stronger and more interesting and coherent. Not sure why, but it’s just clearer, more focused, and characters are growing and changing, not just reacting to oddball situations.

  • drjuliebug says:

    Thanks for the help with “sharemilking”, KG! (I’m not as good with NZ pronunciations as I sometimes imagine I am!)

    Regarding viewers who haven’t seen seasons 1 and 2: The creators of the wonderful US cult animated series The Venture Bros. just ran season 5 after a long post-season-4 hiatus. They actually made an 8-minute video aimed at potential new viewers, so they could catch up with the running storylines right away. While no substitute for viewing the first four seasons, it still worked quite well. Maybe not applicable to new US viewers — I presume it’ll start at the beginning of S1 here — but something like this could be a good strategy for bringing new viewers to a show that’s been running and developing its characters for a while. For instance, it could drum up S3 interest in the UK and Australia.

    Back to our story: Does Colin know the history of Ty and Dawn? He did bug Mike’s bar, so he probably at least heard some chatter about their relationship. But if not — I doubt Eva told her father that she once shoved Ty’s ex into a freezer, or that any other friends or relatives spilled any specific gossip to Colin. Alternatively, Colin may not know about Dawn’s link to Ty, but finds it useful to co-opt Anders’ loyal employee.

  • PilgrimJake says:

    One thought is that the ‘regodding’ of Ty is driven by Lokis’ interest in Dawn. If he feels that Hods power is the only way to save her and fight Colins’ firepower then you can bet your bikkies that the ever noble Ty would jump into the breach once more…I have been too suspicious that Ty is showing waay to many signs of being relatively happy. Surely the writers cant put up with that for too long.

  • drjuliebug says:

    Just for fun, a two-part prediction: 1. Ty will indeed get re-godded. 2. But it won’t be with Hod.

    • kiwigods says:

      Much as I’d love that, it seems like too easy an out for Ty — regodify, get Dawn back, live happily ever after. I’m hoping the writing team is aiming for a grittier, more complicated solution.

      Plus, Ty must suffer. It’s a rule.

  • Pilgrim jake says:

    Have just got the app ( was tempted by NZ address of Denmark st in danniverke Nz but Can was easier)
    A short assessment for folks. All episodes that have played are available as a novel – however don’t seem to have any extra scenes. There are interviews with cast and writers scattered throughout – haven’t listened yet. The section on godsis pretty short – but it does list a few gods we haven’t seen so could be hints- spoilers.

    There is also a language guide. Not so important for an oz viewer but could be handy for others.

    A more detailed review once I’ve had a play

  • just another mortal says:

    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/08/13/syfy-acquires-hit-new-zealand-original-series-the-almighty-johnsons-to-premiere-in-2014/197331/

    Yay! Although sounds like they will be screening it too late for US audience numbers/further sales potential to have any effect on cancellation/renewal. Boo!

  • Freddie AppsHero says:

    “As for the Ullr “getting his Odin (I paraphrase) on”? Color me curious.”

    There’s a mythological answer to that; in the religion, Ullr is a pretender to the throne, who disguises himself as and overthrows Odin, and rules Asgard for 10 years as Odin. That would explain a lot about Mike’s love of being the leader of the family.

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