Tuesday, October 16, 2012

666 Park Avenue, Season 1, Episode 3: The Dead Don't Stay Dead

 Last week, Jane got locked behind The Door. She’s trapped in their now, lit only by the failing light from her mobile phone. She’s in a room full of creepy dolls that are whispering “let us out” (for the record, that’s me, gone. Out the building, out the city, out the state. This is my “I would so have run” moment). She also sees movement in the darkness, very fast movement and almost catches sight of a little girl. Then something grabs her leg.

She screams and Henry opens the door. Looking, he doesn’t see a little girl – and he points to an air vent in the ceiling from which you can hear conversations from above, explaining the whispering (yeah, right. I’d be running).

As they leave the basement, there’s a blur behind them – and a little girl holding a creepy doll hiding behind a rocking horse.

We have a new resident of the Drake – Annie, a journalist who writes obituaries for a newspaper but wishes she could do so much more as she complains to Gavin Doran in the lift. He offers to help – encouraging her to embrace her creativity and make herself an opportunity. She takes his advice and, when writing an obituary, she changes it to make the man a famous Cold War hero, making the column massively more interesting and appealing both to readers and her bosses.

But the next day she’s taking a taxi to work and finds the traffic is grid-locked to allow a major diplomatic funeral to take place. She checks the news and finds her fictional Cold War hero is being given full honours. Her obituary is being treated as real. Freaking out a little, she runs back to the Drake and tells Gavin what happened, that people have believed her fiction and she needs to correct it. But Gavin says he’s being buried as a hero –does she really want to take that away from the man, to say nothing of her career – so she lets it go.

At work she’s praised for her piece by her co-workers and one of them wishes her mother had been there to see her success. Annie had already mentioned her mother, how she had written hundreds of children’s books but never got them published and never truly reached her dreams. Inspired, she decides to edit her mother’s obituary, changing her into a best selling children’s author. As soon as she sends the edit, the photograph of her mother transforms to that of a far wealthier woman – as do her own clothes, jewellery, hair and makeup to reflect the 4 million copies her mother sold. Her stories are changing reality.

She’s called into her boss’s office who is amazed at what she’s achieved even though something doesn’t feel right to him. But the editors are impressed and want her to write a piece about Kandisky – the fictional Russian agent she invented as an enemy for her Cold War hero. They want a full profile on him and if it’s good it could be a huge boost to her career. She hurries home, pours some champagne and writes her fictional biography of a scar-faced killer who tortures people with wrenches and pliers. As soon as she sends it in there’s a man at her door. She goes to check – and sees a scar-faced man with a tool bag. She tries to run but he breaks in and catches her, dragging her away from the window and tying her to a chair.

With the protagonists, Jane continues to talk architecture at a completely uninterested Henry. She’s determined to dig up all of the building’s secrets and notices that The Room is not on the plans – which means it’s been renovated and there are original plans out there. Henry thinks it was walled up for a reason and maybe it’s best to leave things along rather than knock down random walls. But Jane views Gavin’s desire to restore the Drake’s former glory as permission for her to uncover everything.

Jane goes to see Gavin about the original plans and notices that there are orchids throughout the building, there in tribute to the Dorans’ dead daughter, Sascha who died on that date. Gavin agrees to get the plans but asks Jane to keep an eye on Olivia since on this date she can be… self-destructive. Olivia arrives then and Jane hurries to ask her to lunch and Olivia agrees (snarking about her clothes in the process)

At lunch Olivia makes the conversation as awkward as possible, discussing Jane and Henry’s sex life, his political ambitions and eventually brings the conversation to Jane’s dreams – her visions that leave her unable to feel what is real and that the dead won’t stay dead. Odd dinner conversation and Olivia looks perturbed by it – though not because it’s rather tasteless to say such things on the anniversary of her daughter’s death.

On the way back to the Drake, Olivia drives at extreme speeds and incredibly recklessly – nearly smashing them against a concrete wall. Which is how Sascha died, against that wall and, unknown to Gavin, after writing a suicide note. Olivia never mentioned the note or that the death was suicide because Gavin had an argument with Sascha before she died and Olivia didn’t want Gavin to blame himself. She mentions that something happened to Sascha when she was 15 – something that changed her.

While Jane is with Olivia, Henry is with Gavin, at his club, playing squash. Gavin is trying to draw Henry out on his ambitions, determined that Henry mention his business aspirations not his love life and further determining that Henry must aim high, pushing Henry to expand his dreams and immediate aspirations. Eventually Henry settles on wanting to be the Chief of Staff of a city councilman who is likely to be making a run for mayor. And he has an interview in 4 weeks for the position – Gavin pushes further, an interview isn’t enough, followed by lots of “seize the day” “take what you want” rhetoric.

After squash they go to the restaurant where Gavin continues his message – take what you want, don’t wait, don’t hold back, ruthless, cut throat, rah rah rah! And who should be eating at the other table than the very Councilman Henry wants to work for! Gavin pushes Henry to go introduce himself and to be forceful, push for the job, demand the job. Reluctantly, Henry goes and speaks to the Councilman. He gets a brush off originally but Henry finds some more confidence and takes off the gloves with a harsh and frank assessment of the Councilman’s campaign chances. The bleak but cutting assessment impresses the councilman who invited Henry to sit with him.

With Brian and Louise who still need to prove to me they have a point on the show, Louise is healing miraculously well from the elevator attack. So well that they’re ready for morning sex – until Alwexis barges in without knocking, something Brian finds rather intrusive to say the least.

Brian runs into Henry and congratulates him on his new job – and asks Henry to look over his lease to see if he can break it, Brian’s looking to get out. At Brian’s apartment they go through the lease and find it water tight, so Brian appeals to Henry to intervene with Gavin since they’re so close. While there, Henry also sees Alexis stripping through the window. Brian invites Henry and Jane to go out partying to celebrate Henry’s new job offer.

At the party there is drinking, dancing, unfortunate spilled secrets (Louise didn’t know that Brian was planning to break the lease and Jane didn’t appreciate Henry telling Brian she thought the Drake was haunted) but eventually Henry and Jane leave happy. Alexis shows up and dances with Louise, flirting with Brian until he snaps and he and Louise go home.
At the Drake, Jane continues to have spooky moments that make her more curious not, for example, running for the hills as fast as she can. Including hearing bell chimes through the vents in her room, every time she hears them she hurries downstairs to The Room (that would be the room she was trapped in. No, this woman does not learn quickly) seeing blood flow all over the door while the spooky girl ghost with her spooky doll whispers (spookily) “it’s bad.”

Later, after the party she sees the girl again (more spookiness) who tells her “don’t let them out” before vanishing all spookily. That night while trying to sleep, she hears the chimes again and, like any sensible woman, decides to go wandering through an apartment building bare foot in the middle of the night. Like she does every night, it seems. She goes to The Room and finds a dusty, cobweb covered suitcase with a bell on the handle. She decides to take it back up to her room and go back to bed – and the fabric stretches as if there’s someone inside the case struggling to get out.

Gavin has a little meeting with Henry’s new boss in his penthouse apartment where it becomes clear that the councilman has only hired Henry for Gavin’s sake. Gavin also wants the Greenpoint development and after some pretence that the Councilman can’t make that happen, he admits he can but that he’s got a better offer. An investor who isn’t offering money, but something he’s really after. Realising he can’t change his mind, Gavin pushes the Councilman down what looks like an elevator shaft – and when he hits the bottom there’s a blinding flash of white light. Don’t say no to Gavin.

Henry goes to see Gavin at the request of the concierge despite it being 2:00am and finds him on the balcony. Gavin warns Henry off the job, telling him he knows the Councilman and knows he won’t succeed – he has far too many skeletons in his closet. Besides, Henry shouldn’t be trying to be chief of staff, he should be trying to be the Councilman

In the aftermath we see Olivia on a bench dedicated to her daughter, holding Sascha’s suicide note. On it we can see the words “he’s evil”. Olivia burns the note.

My main barrier to enjoyment o this show now is Henry and Jane. They both feel so very bland as characters. I mean, I expect a lot of the horror movie tropes here – Jane deciding to go wandering with all the dangerous beasties, so I’m not complaining about them. But the character just seem so uninteresting

I also think that the Dorans’, well, seduction of the couple is clumsy to say the least. I can understand the Dorans slowly insinuating themselves into Henry and Jane’s lives but they haven’t done that. They’ve been clumsy, hurried and rushed. I can’t see why Henry and Jane don’t see it as extremely creepy that these extremely rich, powerful people are being so generous and so close to them so quickly. To be honest, if I were them, I’d be expecting Gavin and Olivia to spring an invite to a weekly swingers party.