Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Switch: Season 1, Episode 6

It’s time for the solstice party – which means lots of packing, lots of preparing and Stella driving everyone up the wall with her checklist. And Gloria, Grace’s mother, ringing every 5 seconds. And Gerry is going to miss Grace and is angling to come with her. Grace realises she has to tell the truth and builds up to the big reveal – of being a witch. Which Gerry shrugs and takes. When she reveals she’s going home for solstice, he’s even more eager to go.

She runs to the others and begs for help, she’s not ready for Gerry to see all the weird and whacky stuff around solstice. Jude says to tell him not to come, but Grace doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Hannah proposes a switch, but Grace says they’ve already done it a lot in the month she’s known him, it’s exploitative and wrong. Stella giggles and wonders what Gerry will say to Grace’s mum’s naked solstice dance – Grace changes her mind about the switch.

All Switched they set off for Lower Sooth where the solstice is being held and, car trouble aside they arrive. Only to find that Alexa’s family owns the land and is now charging £50 a person to attend and a further £75 to park – miles from the actual event. And extra corporate sponsorship.

Grace’s mum Gloria is also unhappy with the corporate everywhere and is dressing as a red squirrel in protest (it makes sense to her).  To Gloria’s house where we find Grace’s dad is silent and radiates dullness and Gloria acts like she’s not had Grace home for decades when it’s actually been a week. And she’s trying to set Grace up with someone – which is when she sees Gerry through the window.

Grace talks to Gerry about how important solstice is for her and how narrow her mother’s expectations are for her boyfriend (beard, sandals, bad breath). She wants to go slowly and be careful. And he has to hide – she takes him to see Hannah and Jude in Hannah’s mum’s caravan

And in Hannah’s mum’s caravan, Hannah and Jude are shivering and it’s looks kind of bleak, Hannah’s mum is missing and not answering the phone. Hannah reflects on her childhood and how unloved the caravan is now.

They gather up outside the caravan and Gerry begs to be let out long enough to go to the bathroom, she relents and he goes against a sacred rock – which is when Gloria arrives. Outraged, of course, she demands to know who he is and Grace panics and says he’s Stella’s boyfriend. Gloria is confused since Stella is a lesbian and she stutters that she’s not any more, it was a phase, a 15 year phase (and she gives Grace a brief death-glare).

OH COME ON! Ok, Grace is spineless enough not to claim Gerry as a boyfriend but she has 2 fellow coven mates who are right there and are straight. Jude has even not-quite-dated Gerry in the past. But Grace chooses Stella? She decides that the lesbian is the one to cast as Gerry’s girlfriend?

Gloria insists that Gerry stay with her as Stella is – only they’ll have to share a single bed. (Grace complains to Jude and Hannah that she doesn’t like that – Stella’s a lesbian but he’s not gay. Yeah I think grace is not the one who gets to complain here). And to add to the fun, Gloria brings them both back dressed as fertility idols to lead the solstice.

More bonding, friendship and blessings – and Alex arrives and to finish off her awfulness, her mother has joined the coven to bring them up to full power again.

Grace is introduced to Geoffrey – who her mother is trying to set her up with. He grows plums. This concludes the one interesting fact about him.

And Jude goes to see Jack, a guy she’s been texting who she had a fling with when she was 18 and is worried that he wants far more than a fling now. Turns out she needn’t have worried – he already has a partner, Summer. And their daughter, Willow and they want Jude to be her guide-parents. She worries she’s no good with kids but Jack remembers Jude letting his little sister tag along all the time – she still talks about Jude. Jude agrees to become a guide-parent.

Time to gather up again and Gloria has an… interesting motivational speech to get them psyched up and ready should they be chosen to open the ceremony.  Grace apologises to Gerry but he’s having a wonderful time. And spend a minute making out in the bushes, which is when Gloria and Geoffrey come past.

Gloria begins to lecture Grace for betraying Stella and Grace reiterates that Stella is a lesbian – and confirms she loves Gerry. But it’s Gerry who sells it by being willing to come back to Lower Sooth and make a life there with Grace, having quickly fallen in love with the place. Gloria unleashes the group hugs.

As they move off, Gerry tells Grace he meant it, he’d love to get a cottage there, live with Grace and have lots of kids (they’ve been together 1 month. Uh-huh)

Stella and Jude look for the absent Hannah and find her in the caravan, upset that her mother has abandoned her again. She tearfully realises she has to let her go.

Time for the big solstice meet with Lord Piedpoint (Alexa’s father) and La Bamba lager providing sponsorship. And in a moment of pure shock, the witches of Camden are invited to open the solstice.  But as Grace begins to read the scroll aloud, it’s clear she has been hexed and says lots of offensive things about the community being hippies with no grip on reality. Jude starts eating the sacred scroll. Alexa’s mother speaks up for their banishment – and in walks Hannah’s mother demanding they stop this “betrayal of sisterhood.”

Hannah’s mother, Gloria and 2 others join together in a circle to lift the curse and confront Alexa’s mother, Corina. There’s clearly bad blood between them and big secrets that Corina wants kept secret – Hannah’s mother had an affair with Lord Piedpoint – who is Hannah’s father. Hannah’s mum leaves and Hannah chases her.

Hannah confronts her, furious she was going to drop the bombshell and leave. She says they’re too powerful and it’s not worth spending your life fighting them.

And Grace talks to Gerry who is all excited about moving to Lower Sooth and tells him she doesn’t want to move back there, she’s happy in London. With her coven – and him. He’s happy as long as they’re together. Grace speaks to Jude and is worried that their switch to keep Gerry away didn’t work because he’s destined to live in Lower Sooth, an idea Jude dismisses and Stella leaves, dishevelled from the bushes with another witch.

Hannah says goodbye to her mother, who is just glad they didn’t have to grow up in Lower Sooth with Lord Piedmont and having to see him lavish his attention on Alexa while ignoring Hannah. Hannah has an inspiration and goes to see daddy dearest – telling Alexa to go away, she agrees to stay away from him on one condition. We don’t know what it is but Alexa tries to find out – and Hannah treats her with the contempt she deserves.

Hannah has secured the house she was born in for her mother – claiming what’s hers.  Hannah’s mother now has an anchor and a home. Oh and she gets the VIP area of the solstice declassified, more free booze for everyone. And Gerry joins in the naked dancing, of course he does. They party into the night.

Next day Grace and Gerry talk and he is utterly in love with Lower Sooth (based on one party – like you can judge a place by its holidays!) and Grace thinks he should stay – for good. They love each other but she thinks they want different things. As they leave, Gerry crashes with Geoffrey in Lower Sooth. He also asks Grace to give tom, his bandmate, his t-shirt back. The t-shirt she made the switch with. As they leave, Alexa watches venomously.

They return to their flat in London, commenting on the home blessing with Gloria’s rose petals and how it did nothing to stop Alexa’s hex. They enter the flat – and every surface is coated in rose petals – it was a HOME blessing.

And that is the end of a tragically short season. I hope there’s another. There’s so much good about this series. I like the magic, the characters and their daily dramas are always fun to watch. I do think Alexa’s coven needed more motivation, but it’s otherwise excellent.

The cast is nicely diverse. I am a little concerned that Jude is something of a Sapphire stereotype (that they justify with her being a Fire element), she’s sexual, brash and angry – perhaps more so than the other  witches. But they’re all sexual except Hannah (that we’ve seen) without any sex shaming and lots of enjoying their sex lives. And all of them have moments of flaring temper (perhaps Stella more than most).

Stella was an excellent portrayal, she had sexual relationships, she had relationships that failed but not for troped reasons and she was fully accepted and integrated as a lesbian without her being a joke (the unnecessariness in this episode aside).

However, despite Aaron adding a Black gay man to the cast, he was a walking stereotype and their handling of gay men in general was outright offensive. It’s a shame, having strong lesbian characters doesn’t mean it’s ok to pull out the homophobia for the gay men.

There are a lot of wonderful messages of friendship and the value of it – as well as doing what you want and need not what you think you should want and need and money not buying everything. Friendship remains the utter dominant theme of the series – and rarely have I seen 4 characters pull off friendship this well.