I really wasn’t in the mood for this today. In part, it was the heat, that’s depressing yet further my already depleted mental faculties, but mainly it was last week. What Horace and Sylvie, and especially Horace, did to Pete took me at least over a line that’s hard to cross back. Some things are unforgivable.
This episode did nothing to suggest forgiveness might be possible. Last week might never have existed, all seemed as it was between Horace, Pete and Sylvie. Nothing was said, nothing was even glanced. I’m sure that there will be longer term consequences, and even now Pete is going behind his cousins’ backs to apply for ‘Landmark’ status for the bar, which if granted will make it harder to sell, or even modify.
Otherwise, his quiescence in what was done to him was dramatically flat, though it may have been an extraordinarily subtle way of demonstrating how broken Pete is, how narrow and trapped his life, if he really has no possible reaction to that swinish fuckery than to swallow it.
It was an odd episode, not really seeming to know what it wanted to do with itself. At fifty minutes, the episode was longer than the last three, but it had no structure. The first half was set in the bar and was a mish-mash of disparate scenes. Kurt tells a provocatively homophobic version of the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah, until he uses the C word, and Sylvie throws him out and bars him for life. Alice visits to introduce her boyfriend Eric to her Dad: Eric is whipped, nervy, ineffectual, incoherent. He’s at the same Law School at Alice (prime lawyer material) and their relationship seems to be an emotionally sadomasochistic co-dependency.
Sylvie, trying to go through the accounts, gets hit on by some barfly who gets sexually aroused by woman cancer patients, which was creepy to the max and very much deflated his exit monologue about being disregarded, about being a giver who in turn received only rejection. I might have recognised a lot in what he was saying, but for his predatory weirdness having totally alienated me. Oh, and his truly horrible Seventies style yellow and brown striped shirt.
And Pete talks to a couple of cops, one of whom was an old school buddy, the other a somewhat insensitive berk, who got asked to go sit on his own for a while whilst Pete asked his old buddy, who is on the Mayor’s detail, to steer the Mayor towards this ‘Landmark’ application.
Short scenes, linked only by taking place in the bar. No sense whatsoever of what the episode is about except in the show’s exploitation of the many different ways people cannot/do not communicate with each other.
Early in the opening scene, whilst Kurt is spurting on in his very annoying manner, an attractive 40ish, light-skinned black women enters the bar, takes a seat in the foreground, orders and drinks a bourbon on the rocks and proceeds to sit there quietly, saying and doing nothing. This is another theatrical move, and I was waiting, half the episode as it turned out, for her to become involved because it was only too clear that she was a Gun in Act 1.
Her name was Rhonda, and Horace fancied her. He attempted to chat her up, a process made easier by Rhonda’s having earlier been crying unobtrusively (I didn’t see that, stage attention having obviously been directed away when it was shown). She’s not unhappy over a man, she proudly insists. She doesn’t need men to be lonely. Men are only useful for two things, lifting furniture, and fucking. Horace lightly used this as a way to declare that he found her attractive, and that he would like to lift her furniture.
Laughter got her into his bed and the following morning, both attested to a spectacular night of fucking, a sexual boastfulness that, applied to Horace, seemed rather at odds with the entire series. Rhonda didn’t mean to fall asleep (yay Horace the Stud! He da Man!!!) from which we all know that conversation over a scrambled egg breakfast was going to be another disaster.
In a manner I didn’t quite get, the suggestion arose that Rhonda might not be entirely who she seems to be in her skin, that she actually have been born a man and have transgendered. That idea fucks over Horace’s brain, for all his soft liberal attitudes, his belief in equal rites (that Rhonda painfully and swiftly shafts), that he might have done something gay, might have fucked what, from his own testimony is all woman, now, but may once have been man and, to Horace, are forever damned to be so.
Horace thinks that women who once were men should announce themselves as such prior to fucking men who have only ever been Men, because the only men who want to fuck women who once were men are men who only want to fuck women who once were men and, being such freaks, don’t want to fuck women who have only ever been women. Horace is a self-deluding prick.
Not that I have ever knowingly known a transgendered woman, let alone been in a position to have sex with one, so whilst I hope that the things that attracted me to such a woman would be all I would concern myself with, I can’t say that I too might not be affected by such a shadow. Throwing stones is a quease-making thing when you can’t truthfully say I have been there, I know I behaved better. We are all of us products of our time and of our history, and there are deep pools and unwanted eddies that drive us faster than our conscious mind.
The episode tops itself with another switch of pace. As Rhonda leaves, Sylvie returns. She’s had her results, the tests are back. She’s going to be ok. The cancer won’t kill her. It’s a better note on which to leave Horace: he’s awkward, feels unable to be demonstrative, even as Sylvie, for all her relief, is fragile. But he is crying too, with relief, and the two manage a hug that expresses more than their words.
So let’s end on an unsentimental piece of good news for once. As I’ve said, Horace could sure do with it, not just in his character, but in the character’s status with the audience. I am still not filled with sympathy towards Horace Wichtel VIII, and I wonder how far the story has to go to steal that back from me. Three more episodes in which to see.