Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hex, Season 1, Episode 6: The Release

Finally Thelma’s getting some attention with her and her fellow Lesbian ghost Peggy from the 20s, sharing historical sexual fantasies and pork scratchings (which is so, perfectly, Thelma) . They quickly move from that to discuss Azazeal (how sad is it that 2 lesbian ghosts with a bag of pork scratchings still can’t pass the Bechdel test?) upsetting the natural order of things, hence their existence. Said disturbance in the Ancient Egyptian times (per ancient Egyptian tablet that was hanging around the school for convoluted plot reasons) was caused by Azazeal’s lover, Herath, having a child. While Cassie is not possessed, they’d expect the natural order to be restored – but they’re still around so clearly not. That’s some subtle foreshadowing there guys. Really

We move from the plot point dropped on us like anvils to Azazeal looking tragic and sexy (not hard) staring at the school. I’m not sure why but it’s a cool scene so I’ll go with it – Azazeal is sad, folks.

And since it’s morning, Thelma finds Cassie in the bathrooms being sick. (At this point, if you haven’t guessed that Cassie is pregnant, you probably need hitting over the head with a home testing kit. And no, that doesn’t count as a spoiler. If they were any less subtle, Thelma would be knitting baby booties and Azazeal would be mixing baby formula). Thelma gets Cassie tucked up in bed with her “food poisoning” and Cassie asks Thelma to stay with her, which is touching and lovely and sweet and more mixed signals.

The next morning Cassie is sick again and Thelma spares us more foreshadowing with a gentle snark “it’ll only last the first few months” and gets her a pregnancy kit, which comes back positive. Cassie leaps on the best possible option and decides the baby’s Troy’s. Thelma points out that she used a condom with Troy but with Azazeal Cassie didn’t use protection.

Which si a great time for teacher Jo to arrive (the hypochondriac), even better for Cassie to pass out. While Jo panics and looks to call a doctor (as the only staff member around during the holidays). Cassie has to tell her she’s pregnant – and Jo, sensibly, goes to make a doctor’s appointment anyway. Jo acts in a many kinds of awesome way, trying to find the father relatively delicately (though she does hope it’s not Leon, which is understandable). She then talks to Cassie about what’s she’s going to do – but advises Cassie to wait (while making it clear she’s not a pro-lifer, in a disparaging tone which balances her advising Cassie wait) before making any decisions. Cassie says she doesn’t want to keep it and she’s sure – and Jo says “ok, your choice.”  

After a night of nightmares, Cassie wakes up to ginger tea, prepared by Azazeal who is by her bedside. He is talking strollers and baby names and the legacy their child will have and how there’s no way Cassie will kill their child. Cassie gives him the appropriate side-eye and goes to Thelma. Where, they discover, Cassie already has a bump – the baby is growing very quickly. There is snark, yes yes there is.

But when going to the taxi to take them to the doctors, they run into Troy who has driven back to school to try and patch it up between him and Cassie. He’s like an over-earnest puppy and won’t be put off. And then he sees Cassie’s baby-bump – causing him to run into earnest “I love you” and “I will support you.” Thelma’s facial expressions say it all. She says she’s decided – he protests that it’s his child (even though she says it isn’t) and she goes anyway.

At the doctor’s, Cassie finds that the super-speed growth of her baby means she’s now 20 weeks along. The doctor, unnecessarily, asks if she was using contraception and asks what she wants to do – she makes it clear she wants a termination (and sticks to it when doctor questions it). He’s more than a little judgemental.

Later Thelma slaps down the doctor’s judgementalism and cheers her up with a fun Jesus and Judas analogy.  Meanwhile, Teacher Jo and Azazeal have got together and are in her room at the school. He also reminds us that he’s the leader of a whole pack of 200 fallen angels, the nephilim (in case we forgot).

Peggy returns to update Thelma on her research – to stop evil and badness it’s not necessary to kill Cassie, but the child must not be born because, if it is, it will unleash 200 demons. Yes, Thelma makes the leap to the nephilim. But she also realises that if the child is killed the dead will no longer be able to talk with the living and she won’t be able to see Cassie again. Thelma cries at the idea of losing Cassie

Pulling herself together she reassures Cassie, who is worried and afraid. But later runs into Teacher Jo and…. Azazeal (looking yummy), in Jo’s room. Still Cassie is reassured and planning what they’re going to do at New Years – after all 48 hours and it’ll all be over. But midplans, Thelma breaks down since, in 48 hours, she believes she’ll be gone. Lots more touching bonding between them – a really good scene with lots of heavy emotion.

In the hospital, her foetus is still growing quickly – and Azazeal shows up to give her flowers and express surprise at how hostile she’s being (he used mind control on her then raped her? Why would she not be hostile?!) But no, she’s angry because Azazeal slept with Teacher Jo. Azazeal urges her to keep the child and Cassie tells him to go (not nearly forcibly enough).

And, sure enough, when Thelma arrives Cassie is having doubts. She can’t be sure she doesn’t love Azazeal, Azazeal really wants the baby and it’s not the baby’s fault. Thelma tries to blame the hormones but Cassie rejects it, but Thelma hits back with sense – this isn’t a normal baby and there’s no way Azazeal doesn’t have a diabolical plan. Cassie protests that she can’t be sure (Cassie, he’s a Fallen Angel and you’ve just gone through nearly 24 weeks of pregnancy in 3 or 4 days. Yes, you can be reasonably sure). Faced with Cassie’s blithering denial, Thelma reveals what she and Peggy have found out about Herath back in ancient Egypt. Cassie is shocked! She thought he really liked her! Oh, she should have known. Of course, Thelma goes into full comfort mode and again she’s there to stay with her as long as she can.

Of course, Azazeal has his own plots. Going to a church meeting he speaks to a circle of people studying the nativity and how Mary was an unwed mother, facing shame with courage and throwing pro-life rhetoric at the circle. Of course, one of the small group of congregants is Cassie’s doctor.

As a bonus, Cassie gets a nurse talking about how wonderful it is to have kids at Christmas. Wow this hospital is over-brimming with professionalism!

Cassie finally goes into her operation, comes out asleep, without her bump. There’s a brief moment where we think Thelma is gone, the abortion having removed the ghosts – but no, she’s there and still awesome. The bad news is the doctor took it upon himself to intervene, urged by Azazeal – and the baby is in an incubator. With the menacing words “God isn’t going to forget this”.

It’s almost unique to have a woman pregnant and unabashedly choose an abortion. And I do like that Jo is very quick to say it’s her choice. There’s a lot of doubting going on, though, and, of course, Troy’s histrionics. Unfortunately, the whole thing ends up magically derailed by the super-speedy child so I don’t know how much this actually does subvert the whole “ABORTIONS MUST NEVER EVER BE SHOWN!” Especially with the abortion being stopped by religious intervention and the huge anti-choice speech Azazeal gives – though said religious intervention is demonically inspired and leads to evil happening, which somewhat derails it. It starts so very well and then crashed awfully

The only reason Cassie slept with Azazeal was because she was possessed. She was raped. To have her then be jealous of her rapist sleeping with another woman? No no no, ye gods no.

And on that note. Cassie’s “I thought he really liked me.” “I should have known.” Yes, you should have known. He’s a Fallen Angel who POSSSESSED YOU into making you sleep with him to produce his demon baby AFTER stabbing your best friend to death. And after you heard numerous stories of how he killed and drove insane the McBains and drove your own mother insane. Seriously, at what point in the proceedings does the demon guy earn the benefit of the doubt here? How could anyone with the common sense of a concussed hedgehog believe Azazeal has even remotely positive intentions here?

Series notes:
I dislike how Thelma was treated throughout the series. She was constantly used and sacrificed, she revolved around Cassie. Even when she had the very limited, semi-relationship with Peggy it revolved around Cassie and Azazeal. She was poorly treated by Cassie well before the possession with the constant mixed signals Cassie sent – she even lampshaded it, Cassie flirted with Thelma which ended up controlling her. Thelma was a GBF – and because they made her a ghost she was inherently required to orbit around Cassie and have no independent exist. Which is a shame because she was a far more compelling character than the rather dull and washed out Cassie.

I think there can be no greater proof of Thelma’s low worth than the treatment of Azazeal – to not treat him as a monster, even think he may be a potential love, after he stabbed Thelma, Cassie’s best friend, is pretty gross.

Speaking of gross – Leon and Azazeal have sexually assaulted and raped Cassie respectively, but it is never treated like that. Both characters actions have been extremely downplayed.

On the good notes the settings are amazing and the emotion and tension of the story was excellently portrayed (especially by Thelma). We have many scenes that just exist to portray powerful emotion or to give us the setting of building tension and they’re not boring or excessive – they’re artfully well done and makes this series far more thematic and atmospheric than most series. It’s very absorbing and the thing I loved about the series the most.