Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hex, Season 2, Episode 3: Spiral.

Last week, Cassie died to Ella’s magical knife which was Not the Plan which is quite a shift for any television programme.

Awesome Headmaster David makes one of his brief appearances to hold a school assembly about Cassie – who has not been seen for several weeks (obviously). And Leon, Roxanne and the mean folks are rather tastelessly taking odds on what has happened to Cassie(dead in a ditch, etc etc) – with Ella playing banter with them, while Thelma looks on in a Most Displeased fashion. With so many weeks with no news, the headmaster is returning the college to normal – no more ground’s restrictions etc. Earnest preacher, Jez throws in his own, religiously slanted, words which the headmaster handles adroitly.

Ella chases Thelma after the assembly, chiding her for being too sad for too long and wanting her to move past it (after a few weeks, yes Ella is not the most pleasant of people) and throwing in a lecture about how Cassie should have listened to her (Ella – some career advice – do not become a grief counsellor).  Their conflict is put aside when a Seraph appears – near invisible predator-style spirit creature that eats souls – and causes massive fires. Fires which apparently make Ella severely freak out and freeze – requiring Thelma to chivvy her into running and hiding.

So, brief Seraph resume – they eat souls and only become visible just before they kill. But they like pure souls – the souls of virgins, which means Ella needs to use a virgin as bait. They have their eyes on Leon.  This leads to Ella inviting Leon for a drink during judo class (yes, this college has an interesting curriculum), during which Jez, the therapist/priest/judo teacher notices the scars on Ella’s wrists.

While preparing for her date with Leon, Ella tells Thelma why she’s not worried about Azazeal – after their last battle Azazeal left behind his large amber necklace he let Malachai play with – it’s the stone of Belial, inscribed with Angelic script and allows one to bend the laws of space and time. Handy little gizmo, and Azazeal will probably return to get it back. We get some past of Ella – she’s the daughter of John Dee and Azazeal killed him.

Ella takes Leon on their date and flirts with him and drops lots of hints of sex later, but at the end of the date he’s too nervous to push on for more. But she continues the next day, flirting (much to the surprise of Roxanne, Tom and their group). Thelma wonders what the chances are of Leon ending up dead, Ella seems fairly indifferent.

More flirting over Jenga, more swapping personal stories and being sweet and luvvie, Leon actually acting human. Which eventually ends up back at the room half naked, getting hot and heavy – until Elle suddenly stops him, asking him to take it slow. Leon, confused and a little angry, slopes off. This leads to Ella doubting herself, how ruthless she can be and whether her personal feelings – both for Leon and in the past when she was late in arriving to kill Cassie, are signs of weakness and leading her astray. Resolved, she sends Leon an apology and arranges to meet him again. The problem is, as Thelma spots, that Ella is beginning to care for Leon which makes it hard to use him as bait.

We have a very powerful, extremely well acted and highly touching scene of Thelma watching teacher Jo (the Wet Lettuce) and awesome headmaster David clear out Cassie’s room, talking about her and visibly grieving for her. Later, Thelma sits in the packed up room and sobs alone –until Azazeal arrives and offers Thelma a chance to say goodbye to Cassie – one last chance, but to do so she’ll have to bring the Stone of Belial to Azazeal. If she doesn’t then “Cassie will spend eternity thinking Thelma didn’t care.”

Naturally this pushes Thelma’s buttons and we next see her attacking the fireplace where Ella hid the gem with a tool box, pulling the stone free. Which she takes to Azazeal, oh Thelma, Thelma no; even after death Cassie can be used to manipulate her. But Azazeal fulfils his part of the bargain – and Thelma gets her chance to say goodbye to Cassie. Thelma wants to find a way to die fully to be with Cassie – but Cassie urges her to stay to help Ella – and gives Thelma one kiss goodbye.

With his gem back – Azazeal also visits Jo, who wants nothing to do with him. But, after whispering in her ear, he leaves her seizing on the floor, eyes wide and unconscious. She’s alive, but David puts her on a sabbatical to help her recover – and has Jez take over her classes. Jez also raises concerns about the scars on Ella’s arms, asking for a careful eye to be kept on her, believing them to be signs of self-harm.

Ella finally ends up at the big seduction with Leon – deciding she wants it to involve tying him half naked and blind folded to a tree (all the better to make him bait). But Thelma is receiving a cryptic message on her mirror (from Cassie? Who said she’d always be with her?) telling her Ella is in danger – the Seraph is not a Seraph, it’s actually the Nephilim Araquiel. Thelma grabs Ella’s blasting rod, while Araquiel stalks Ella and Leon. Ella watches Leon, waiting for him to be attacked, but Araquiel attacks her instead – thankfully Thelma is there to save the day.

Roxanne continues her attempt to seduce Jez, which, again, doesn’t advance a whole lot. This time using grief over Cassie’s disappearance as an excuse to talk to Jez, leaving something behind and then using it as an excuse to return to his rooms late at night. Rather than have her go out at night all on her own when it’s so unsafe, Jez invites her to stay for a drink (uh-huh) and finally they kiss. It’s still a rather excess storyline. Of course, after the fact he has a lot of thinking to do to try and get used to the idea. She leaves him to think – and runs into Leon, half naked, blindfolded and tied to a tree. And she promptly takes pictures – Thelma and Ella leave.

Azazeal goes to the church and finds Jez, praying. And tells him that Aqarquiel is dead – which upsets Jez and causes him to growl and grow demonic ears – yes, he’s a Nephilim.

So Cassie is actually dead and that death is a real death – not a TV “may come back later through magical shenanigans” death – Cassie is gone she is an ex protagonist, she has shuffled off her mortal coil and joined the choir invisible… which is a big shift of protagonists. This is my second  watching of Hex so I knew what was coming but I still sigh that the new protagonist is, of course, Ella and not the awesome Thelma.

The whole idea of virginity = purity is never a pleasant one, it’s sex-shaming, it’s ridiculous but, at least, in this case it’s not aimed at women as is usually the case. But in using Leon it almost lampoons itself; the most unpleasant and awful character on the show, so far, who isn’t actively demonic is the one with the “pure soul”? Yeaaaah.

While I did very much love the scene where Jo and David are so poignantly grieving Cassie – and it was powerful and beautiful, I can’t help but remember that when Thelma was murdered, Cassie was the only one who grieved for her – and the only one who was expected to. In fact, Thelma’s death barely caused a ripple in the running of the college. Felix’s death, similarly, happened with minimal grief and scarcely more disruption’s than Thelma’s (though at least grief counselling was an issue then) I am glad a protagonist’s death has weight and isn’t just brushed under the table – but it’s glaring how little weight the other deaths had.

I also am not the biggest fan of the whole Roxanne/Jez storyline, the wicked, cunning school girl setting out to seduce her naïve teacher? Uh-huh, not the way the narrative usually works. Thankfully it’s finally been redeemed by Jez not being who he seems

I think this episode was largely transition, moving the story along to the new protagonist and new story as smoothly as possible.