Friday, July 5, 2013

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 7: Reaper Madness

George – as Millie – is at work, musing sarcastically about brain cells and not doing a whole lot of anything when Delores drops in with a super new job for her! Fiona is a new employee and Millie/George gets to mentor her! (Which, as George notes, is like a promotion but without the pay raise). Still George takes to it well, despite Fiona’s eccentricity, telling her the various pointlessnesses of the job (filing paper no-one cares about into boxes no-one even bothers to label)  of the job and for a brief, horrible moment it looks like George may become responsible and Delores mark 2! Until she tells Fiona where the good pens to steal are.

Her snark reflects on how she did very little for the first 18 years of her life and her regrets  - not big hopes and dreams regrets, but little regrets: like Reggie and her toilet-seat tree who she barely even noticed when she was alive.

Which brings us to George’s reap – apparently a schizophrenic, Ronnie Dobbs, and right next to Mason’s reap – and she’s stopped just in time by a call from Rube calling her to the Waffle house; there’s been a clerical error and Ronnie’s not meant to die – not yet anyway. Oops. Daisy continues to be a headache to everyone (now freaking out about cottage cheese. We also get another order of “look we should hate her” slut-shaming). And George is slightly uncomfortable about Ronnie because she’s sure he was looking at her significantly

Cut to Ronnie in his psychiatrist’s office, scolding him for going off his meds  - and Ronnie can clearly see the graveling that causes the death of Mason’s reap, a window-washer. He goes downstairs where Mason plans to get high with the ghost (of course) and he, again, sees the gravelings, notices Mason – and focuses on George.

At work, George finds Millie has utterly failed to do the job she gave her, because George had inspired her not to care by describing how pointless it was. George is strangely proud of this – she had inspired someone! She was a role-model! This flashes some more memories of George’s – including regrets; her mother, Joy, didn’t give her money or treats when she lost her teeth as a child, she gave her little notes with inspiring messages like “you are loved.” Awww, of course being a child means she screwed it up and threw it away because it wasn’t money and Joy found it in the bin. Awwwww, now I definitely feel sorry for Joy. I’m not quite sure how inspiring the slack-assness of Fiona prompted the memory, but I’m willing to leap along. So began George’s disillusionment when Joy didn’t try next tooth – and so did George imagine the same for Reggie, and so George left her a gift basket tied to her toilet seat tree.

George goes on to her next reap in the park – and sits on the same bench as Ronnie. Who tries (awkwardly) to flirt with her – and she tries to responds (equally awfully) confirming that “undead” doesn’t mean “dead”. In between the flirting – Ronnie predicts a death, seeing the Gravelings (he predicts the wrong death, but still).

George reports this to Rube who just puts it down to him seeing George too many times; calls her sloppy and tells her to live on the fringe more. Which, as George snarks, is ironic because she spent her whole life living on the fringe.

Back at the Lass household, Reggie opens the box with lots of clippings from George of fun, inspiring activities to try including horse riding. While Joy and Clancy argue about what to do with Reggie, Joy is flailing around and suggests moving her to a private school. Joy’s frustrated by Clancy’s unwillingness to make a decision or confront the issue that Reggie may be different and may not get the best education suited to her individuality in a large public school. And Reggie comes in and says she wants to ride a horse.

Ronnie follows George home – which is hellaciously creepy stalking. But he’s convinced he’s going to die because he keeps seeing the gravelings following him, which he thinks is death. George tries to reassure him that they don’t mean he’s going to die (she doesn’t have his note any more after all) and invites him in for the awkwardest non-flirting almost-date, ever (though George assumes it can’t be a date because he’s mentally ill. Her being undead I’ll give you – but mentally ill people can date). She learns he hears voices – one voices – yelling at him mainly. And he’s stopped taking his pills and doesn’t sleep – so she gets Mason to give her some sleeping pills from his enormously huge stash of pills.

He’s happy and alert the next day when George heads to the Waffle House and Daisy is still exceedingly annoying; and they have a group job the next day. All hands on deck. Rube encourages George to try and find some distance in Reaping, so a big group reap doesn’t bother her. But Rube notices Ronny watching and wanders over to talk to him, telling him that he’s a doctor and George is part of his group – implying she’s mentally ill and a danger to herself and others. He talks to George who swears she didn’t tell him anything which is good because Rube thinks the living would lose their shit epicly if they learned Reapers were around. He puts it down to a mentally unstable young man who likes George and may or may not be lying about what he sees to get close to her.

Poor Joy, meanwhile, takes Reggie horseback riding and then buys her a horse jacket and desperately attempts to bond with Reggie. But Reggie, having done horseriding, decides it’s not for her – and now tries the next picture from George’s box – the drums. Joy would be an awful parent to accept such rudeness from her kids and tells George off over throwing her gift back so harshly. Joy keeps on trying with the drums.

Time for the wedding – and mass Reap. But Ronnie has followed George (which is really really creepy) he’s there to kiss here. And kiss her goodbye; since if he stays in the city his doctor will test him and force him back on his meds. Which is when he sees the Graveling. He jumps up on a pew and tells everyone to leave. And he gets kicked out – Rube furiously warning George as well. And Ronny realises that George doesn’t try to stop death and after much babbling puts George as working for death.

The wedding goes on, George kisses Ronny – and reaps him, yes his name was on the note. Mason and Daisy reap the bride and groom and Rube goes to check that George did her job and praise her for doing so. And Ronny falls from the upper level on top of the bride and groom. Messy. Everyoen collects their ghosts

And Reggie leaves a message on the tree thanking George for the drum kit idea. And Joy has to live with the noise. And George takes the thank you note and puts it under Joy’s pillow with “I love you” written under it. Awwwwwwwww.

What happened to Roxy? Did I miss something? I mean, I know what happened to Betty, but why did Roxy drop off the planet? Roxy being almost absent removes the one attempt at POC inclusion this show had. And also severely reduces the number of women in the show who aren’t so annoying you want to jump out of a window to avoid them (George and Joy)

I hate Daisy. I’m expected to hate Daisy. Daisy exists to be hated. That’s fine (though, again, we need Roxy to balance the women-I’m-not-meant-to-hate numbers), but I still think her tales of the men she’s slept with are supposed to be PART of why I’m supposed to hate her; which is grossly unnecessary. She’s quite hateful enough without implying her being sexual is hateworthy.

While I appreciate George’s snark and self-reflection, the sarcastic viewpoints seem to have turned more and more to slightly sappy navel gazing. It’s well done sappy navel gazing, but I’d like more of a hard edge. At the same time, the story I find most compelling is Joy – trying so very very hard to connect to Reggie

I can’t say I especially like the idea of disabled people having super-special powers to “make up for” their disability. There seems to be an urge to make disabled people special because of their disability in fiction rather than special as well as disabled – like the only way disabled people can be shown on TV is if we can dredge up some kind of mystical upside. It’s not the worst trope in the world, and is certainly preferable to the whole “rising above” or “pitiful yet inspiring victims” and certainly than the “evil depraved psychopath” we see so often. It’s interesting how they presented Ronny, despite mental illness being raised as a reason why someone can’t be a love interest by both Rube and George, was still definitely a love interest. They presented the trope, the idea, and then vehemently challenged it by making him the very thing they said he couldn’t be.