Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cult: Season 1, Episode 2 In the Blood

We’re on the set and Kelly is being showed a body by her partner (can we get a name for him, already?) who has been buried face down vertically. As in, they’re looking at the soles of his feet. Time for a 7 year old flash back to Kelly in a hole, head down, feet up with water lapping around her forehead (aaaargh, this, right here may be my very definition of Hell).  She’s raised up with a rope around her ankles, pulling her out of the well into the rainy night and swept into Billy’s arms. She’s really happy about this unconventional hair care treatment as he welcomes her to the family. Billy, I have to say right now if this is your initiation right, I don’t care if you’ve got immortality, a pet unicorn and the power to manifest bacon from the ether to all new initiates, you’ve lost me.

Returning to the present Kelly tells her partner that Billy is behind the murder and that it’s a message, for her because she was the closest person ever in his cult. On the floor, Kelly finds a coin – at which point Jeff, watching the show, pauses it.

He goes looking through his brother’s notes and desk – and finds a coin that looks a lot like it. At which point Skye wakes up from where she’s crashed on the sofa. They discuss hidden messages on the show, Nate’s notes and the fact the news hasn’t reported Miriam’s suicide (is the Los Angeles news likely to? Is it big enough news?) Jeff repeats that Nate told him to talk to Miriam – well, unless you have a medium it isn’t going to happen.

Jeff goes to Fandomain but finds the back room for Cult fans has been locked up after a second person was found inside with a concealed knife.  Jeff asks after Nate but the barman says he’s never heard of him. He notices Cult is on again and asks if they play it all the time – Creepy Eyed Fan regards him with Creepy Eyes. She’s Kirsty and she works there (Creepy Eyes suits her better).

Jeff gets a phone call – from Billy who says “I’m glad you’re one of mine now” when a pink haired woman says “boo” behind him and actually scares him. It’s E.J. a co-worker of Jeff’s who he asked to meet him. He wants her to check his laptop to see what identify theft software is in it (she is duly contemptuous of his “let’s load up this random dvd!” habit) and to check his phone to see if she can find out where the call from Nate came from – she’s also blatantly crushing so extremely hard on Jeff. She also has Miriam’s last name – Livingstone.

E.J./Jeff/Skye? C’mon you know there’s going to be a love triangle. It’s CW, there are rules! C.W. without a love triangle would be like HBO without gratuitous nudity.

At work Skye is approached by her colleague Paul who tells her about the Network exec who was going to lay down the law disappearing. This makes her get all worried and thinky and he tells her she needs to stop obsessing over the creepy creepy fans – shows need an edge and Steven Rae, the show’s creator, is obsessive about stopping all spoilers leaking and she may end up being suspected if she keeps poking fandom. The fans are fine

Time to see Kirsty, the creepy fan, in a warehouse full of dead animals with a Network executive tied to a chair, wrapped in cling film with his lips sewn together. I think she’s graduated well beyond creepy now. She promises someone on the phone she’d do anything for them, kisses the exec then tells a guy lurking with a knife to “do a good job on him”.

Jeff meets Skye to go and see Miriam’s husband (she’s there because she saw a woman commit suicide in front of her, she wants to know why) and Jeff shows her the call he got from Billy – she assures him it’s standard from the website of the show and nothing to worry about. Mr. Livingstone is packing to leave and is very hostile and won’t talk to them – when they push he’s so on edge he points a shotgun at them and demands they leave.

They go to the police station and for a second Jeff thinks he sees Kelly (who only plays a police detective on television) to see Detective Sakelik (and her Cult tattoo). They tell Sakelik about Livingstone leaving, his fear and extreme reaction but she tells them to back off, stop harassing the man and let her get on with the investigation.

Back to the show and Kelly meets Billy at the crime scene, she says he normally kills people with the upside down burial for betrayal and asks what he betrayed. Billy denies killing anyone and Kelly scoffs – he always uses surrogates to commit all his crimes. Billy says she’d know all about that – given how much she did for him and he wonders what her boss, Captain Brazil, would think about her record.

Back to the real world and Jeff asks more Cult fans about Nate who claim to know nothing. Skye checks Miriam and her husband out and they’re normal normal normal and more normal, nothing suspicious – except Miriam’s funeral is already scheduled, already for this afternoon. Jeff thinks this is a great thing since he can crash it and grill grieving relatives! This is totally not an awful idea guys

Which is when E.J. shows up, introductions follow, Skye meet E.J., E.J. meet Skye. E.J. become jealous angry and snippy, of course. While E.J. digs out her tech stuff Skye clearly clocks on to the huge crush and how Jeff’s “she’s a kid” is so inaccurate. On actual technical news, Jef’s lap top is now a paperweight, all data replaced with a squillion teeny tiny images that when enlarged turn out to be triskelions – of arms holding swords.

Having dumped E.J., Jeff asks Skye if she’s seen the symbol on the show – she hasn’t. And apparently she hasn’t seen Steven Rae either, he’s a recluse and usually sends messages and rarely shows up on set, it’s all done remotely. They arrive at the funeral and find Mr. Livingstone entirely alone – despite belonging to a church there are no friends, no neighbours, no-one, just him at the service. And his phone starts ringing and he answers it, listens to it briefly and walks off (I feel sorry for the priest now).

He grabs a package and they follow him. He meets up with Detective Sakelik. She tells him that Miriam’s suicide put them in a difficult position, she kisses him, takes his package and gets in her car and leaves.

Back to Jeff’s flat, he’s ranting away and Skye researches Sakelik and find she has multiple commendations for valour, she’s a super cop. Then Skye sees his notes about Steven Ray and comments how there’s nothing online about him – and adds “you’ll never get to Steven.” At which point Jeff becomes super suspicious, especially since Skye approached him at the studio when he asked to see Steven Ray. He questions why she’s so anxious to help him (so do I, to be honest)

She gets up to storm out, pointing out she never questioned him about his Washington post lies, his lack of family or friends or anything, she respected his privacy. He demands to know and she says she’s doing it because she thinks he can help her. She wants to know about what happened to her father – she doesn’t believe the union investigation claim, believing he was working on something else, even bigger. After her father’s lawyer died she got a box of his work notes – including an investigation just begun into Steven Ray, with the word “cult” very prominent. This was 10 years ago. Time for beers and rebonding!

E.J. calls with a lead on where Nate made the phone call from – but the map she sends covers 4 city blocks, it’s too broad. She recognises the block as somewhere that Cult was filming – one of the businesses on it anyway

They arrive – at a children’s play activity place thing (what is the word for these kiddy distractors anyway? Except “lower circle of hell”?) where Nate apparently got in at 11:45pm. They spot the CCTV camera and somehow manage to get the manager to let them look at the tapes (“hey, manager of child-activity establishment! I’m a complete stranger with no credentials but want to look at your tapes of all the kiddies.”)

They see Nate, calling on the phone but surrounded by people, including Miriam’s husband who angrily takes the phone off Nate. But the tape finishes – the 24 hour recording being reset.

Cut to the cast reading through their lines round a table and Kelly and Oz (her partner – he has a name. Well, almost!) or the actors playing them are interrupted by the guy who plays Billy who wants to complain about his scene. He turns to the new temporary Network rep because he was talking to the last one about including some of his ideas and complaining about Steven Ray not being more malleable with his scripts. Tempt Network Rep just boots the problem down the line to when Mark, the guy she’s covering for, returns (that’s cling film guy) and adds a gentle but not very subtle “get with the damn programme and do your job.”

Jeff and Skye pay a late night visit to Mr. Livingstone – he doesn’t answer the door so Jeff decides to break in, joined by Skye after he gives her another chance to back out.  Inside they find he ripped the paper off the wall and that was what he gave to Detective Sakelik. From the writing that bled through they can see it looks like the same in Nate’s notebook and they find the swordarm triskele – just before hearing a noise.

They follow it to the kitchen. To the cupboard under the sink… and open it to find Mr. Livingstone tied up and gagged. When ungagged he says that they don’t think they can trust him anymore even after he stripped everything. He babbles about how he should never have let Miriam watch the show, she only did it to get closer to him. Jeff starts angry questioning. There’s a bang and someone runs past the window – Livingstone says the True Believes have come back. Another bang, someone else runs past the window giggling, and Jeff smells propane.  They try to drag Livingstone out but he says to leave him, they keep pulling and he says “well hey, these things just snap right off”. Skye and Jeff look at each other and run, getting out just before the explosion.

Cut to the show again, with Billy playing with children in the child’s play activity centre place. A large man sits next to him and Billy gives him a paper wrapped package – a severed finger with a large ring on it. The big man understands he’s to ensure it gets into “that girl police detective’s” hands since tomorrow is the anniversary of her initiation. It will let her solve the murder she’s investigating, almost.

Jeff and Skye talk on the phone, realising that Livingstone’s death has been put down to an accident. They ponder the whole idea of True Believers and boggle at the idea of people willing to kill over a television show – and wonder if Nate, who “wanted out” was one of them. Jeff decides to keep his brother’s apartment in case there’s something still there or someone comes looking. Skye is working late and almost gets a chance to intercept a call from Steven Rae, but is interrupted by Paul, her co-worker – who has brought food and notices soot on her face.

At the gym, the actor who plays Billy runs into his biggest fan, Kirsty the Creepy Eyed Fan who has a thing for cling film. Oh he was questioning Steven Rae’s script… buh-bye Billy

I’m really happy that Skye has her own reason for doing this – because it was skeevy as hell that she’d give up so much to play the Black woman sidekick to Jeff out of simple curiosity and

But why isn’t SHE the protagonist? She has the longer grudge, she has the insider position, she has far far far more knowledge about the show and the people in and around the show than Jeff, who barely even knows the show’s name. Why isn’t she the lead and he her newly arrived, slightly stunned reporter sidekick with some useful contacts and Nate’s confusing notes? To me she makes more sense to be the lead than he does.

The show is still creepy. And I am still very very very very intrigued.