Saturday, August 3, 2013

Almighty Johnsons, Season 3, Episode 5: Unleash the Kraken

Wrestling Johnson’s brothers! But only Ty’s shirtless. And there’s no oil anywhere.  But Ty has leather trousers and Olaf is dressed as an octopus

*ahem* No, the octopus broke it for me, alas.

Rather than explaining that we’re going to do that very very very annoying TV trick and skip to 15 hours earlier where Mike has just come face to face with his long disappeared father who is having noisy sex with Michele’s mother

And you thought your family reunions were awkward.

Daddy (Joe) tries to weasel his way out of actually talking to his son (who he hasn’t seen for 15 years. Nice man). Joe uses his nature – as Njord, god of the sea – as an excuse for walking out on his family. Bonus points, Joe didn’t realise that Karen and Michele were goddesses. Karen (Lofn) takes this as an opportunity for some ocean-based innuendo I shall have to hook out of my brain with a needle later. Michele and Mike are heavily traumatised.

At Axl’s flat, Ty is moving out as he’s found a flat of his own – only big enough for him. Ingrid lays on a little bit of a guilt trip over that. Axl assures Ingrid she can keep crashing there while Zeb is rather sharp about the lack of rent – since he’s the one whose name is on the lease, he’s the one who gets grief when the rent is due and he’s found a new flatmate who will pay rent. Well, kind of – though Axl’s not going to like it. Apparently the new flatemate is Amelia Tennant.

Who? Apparently an old friend of Axl’s – a friend who performed oral sex on him while she was dressed as Princess Leia and he was dressed as… I have absolutely no idea. Either way Axl is adamantly against her because she is, in his words a “psycho nutbar.” Which sounds like an ableist breakfast cereal, or possibly a knife-shaped granola bar. Zeb doesn’t agree with this summation.

Back at Michele’s flat, Joe has made everyone an amazing breakfast – but Mike still challenges Joe about the 15 years of no contact but Joe explains it away with being at sea – and Mike even seems to buy it. With the apparent peace, Karen decides they absolutely must have Johnson reunion BBQ party at the flat – and it should be fancy dress. This sounds horrific, Michele agrees – but it’s too late – the power of Lofn, party organiser and matchmaker of the gods, she decides to throw a party, it happens. Anders, Axl and Ty already have invitations, neither are thrilled and both are even less thrilled to hear their dad is in town.

To drive home how little Joe knows about his sons, Mike tells Joe what gods his brothers are (he even forgot Axl was old enough to manifest). Which means he gets the shock of Axl being Odin, just in time for Olaf to call, unable to escape the Lofn call of bad parties, to learn that his son is in town (is it odd that I can see Olaf as Mike’s grandfather but Olaf as Joe’s father breaks my brain?) And Olaf is far more pissed than the brothers – apparently Joe broke Olaf’s one rule and Olaf intends to bring all kinds of hurt down on him; he sounds serious enough to mean it. We even got emotional piano music.

Back at Axl’s, Zeb brings in Amelia – much to Axl’s teeth-gritting annoyance. However she comes with pluses – she works promotion for an alcohol company which means she can pay rent, she comes with free booze, introduction to cute girls and a big screen TV. I think she had Axl at free booze. Poor Ingrid is out, of course.

When alone Axl still takes the chance to tell Amelia he doesn’t trust her and that she’s exploiting Zeb’s desperate crush on her – and we learn that Axl didn’t tell Zeb about the whole Star Wars oral sex moment and he really doesn’t want Zeb to know. And it looks like Amelia is still interested in Axl

Karen and Michele are shopping for costumes (well, Karen’s wearing a costume, she’s trying to get Michele to wear underwear and call it a costume) and Michele continually tells Karen to not get her hopes up as she always does around gods (she still has hope for Colin and Michele). But Karen seems pretty immune to any warnings. Later Michele goes to Mike and asks if Joe used his power on Karen because Karen is substantially more attractive than Joe (harsh, but accurate). Mike doesn’t think it’s likely but, among the banter, he realises he doesn’t even know what Joe’s powers are.

Ty goes to Anders’s office, for once not to stalk Dawn (she gets the thankless task of skivvying for Anders and finding him a costume for the party. Hah, I think that’s risky – if you ask someone who is annoyed at your to buy you a costume you can’t complain when you go as a bag of spam). Ty wants to know how to handle their dad being present and Anders has very unhelpful advice.

At the costume shop (where Dawn also goes and snarks that at least one of the Johnson’s brothers can do their own shopping) Olaf tells Mike Joe’s power – he can calm troubled waters, both literally and figuratively. At sea that means less waves and storms (and ruined surfing) and when talking to people it means people find it hard to be angry with him – hence Mike calming down so quickly. If you want to pick a bone with Joe, don’t let him get the first word in.

To the party – Dawn has dressed Ty as a Native American, Anders as a cop and Mike is still dressed as a builder (which he actually is, of course). Yes, Dawn has dressed them as the Village People. Ty gets ready to unleash on Joe – but Joe gets in the first word and the anger dissipates.

At the Axel house, Zeb is desperately trying to impress Amelia and Amelia is oh-so-casually putting her hand on his leg which he doesn’t stand for. And we see the rest of their awkward Star-wars oral sex moment: Axl asking Amelia to stop out of concern for a passed out Zeb about to be sick and choke on his own vomit and Amelia declaring that this concern means Zeb and Axl are “closeted homos.” Well this character has gone to great lengths to endear herself to me. Amelia has nothing but contempt for Zeb which Axl found despicable and he pushed her away. Back to the present and Amelia protests she was young she knows better now – and she wants Axl to take her to the party despite the fact Zeb is cooking her an amazing house warming dinner. Axl decides to go to the party. Zeb continues to reveal all the information he knows about Amelia through her facebook page – which is all creepy and stalkery.

Where Ty is furious that Joe’s power means he now both wants to hit his father and hug him. More Joe bullshit follows – and Stacey and Olaf arrive – Olaf dressed as an octopus (or a kraken, he insists). Olaf doesn’t talk, he walks in and punches Joe for breaking his one rule - which is “never hit a woman.” And Axl arrives… dressed as a cowboy. Full Village People set (yes, there’s another gay joke. Of course there is) and Joe bows to him – as Odin.

This is news to Karen who quickly takes Michele aside to get her to pursue Axl. Michele tells her mother she has slept with Axl when Axl was a woman (it was complicated) and she prefers Mike. She walks away giving Karen the choice of seducing Axl or playing mother to him by staying with Joe. It’s also clear that Karen has issues with both her and Michele being minor deities.

The other 3 Johnsons congratulate Olaf on punching Joe – but Olaf wants them to make peace with him. Due to tradition, custom or simple random Olafness, Joe is their father and the sons should make peace with him.

While Mike encourages Axl to keep hold of his questions and anger before speaking to Joe, even the power-influenced Ty and Anders demand an answer for why Joe hit their mother – and Joe drops any pretence of excuse and goes with “I’m a prick”. Accurate, someone else should still hit him though. And Anders does – albeit about Joe talking about make up sex with their mother, but about being disrespectful about her not “ewwww parent sex”. Still, listening to Joe reminisce about them playing cricket as children has driven Ty and Anders to hunt down Lance (Dawn’s annoying boyfriend)’s bat and ball. Which results in much awkwardness with Dawn actually being there and Lance being half naked.

Mike, at the BBQ, confronts Joe with him abandoning the family which meant – with their mother being a tree – Mike was left alone at a very young age to raise his brothers, losing his chance at a life. It’s heartfelt and very real but Joe calls bullshit – Mike was born to lead, Mike loves leading – with all his brothers now adult he could leave (which is overly simplistic to say the least, especially since Axl and Ty have ongoing problems).

Time to make things worse – Karen invited Colin. Gah, for Norse gods, you’d think one of them would look up the mythology about Loki and decide to stay the hell away.

Axl and Joe talk – Joe saying that he’d been driven back to them, every time he sailed he found himself directing the boat back to Axl since he turned 21 and became Odin; though Axl wants to know, if he has so much influence over the sea, why it attacked him. Joe wants to know why Axl – why Odin – is so miserable. Axl brings out his story of being useless – including not being able to sort out his own flat. After a moment of talking Axl and Joe leave together (taking Olaf’s car), much to Mike’s concern but when he tries to intervene Axl gets annoyed at Mike’s protectiveness and control.

To the flat where Amelia is deftly avoiding Zeb’s attentions. Axl tells Zeb that Amelia is just using Zeb to get to Axl and how manipulative and controlling she is, but Zeb won’t hear it, he’s convinced Amelia cares about him and kicks Axl out. In the background, Amelia cries. She objects to being called a psycho – quite vociferously. She chases after him and hits him in the back. Axl turns and tells her that hurt and she needs help before walking out – with a knife stuck in his back. Amelia stabbed him. Zeb noticed. So did Joe outside who suggests going to the hospital despite Axl’s obliviousness.

At the party, Olaf has a tantrum because not only has Joe failed to apologise to him (sons reconciling with their fathers) but he stole Olaf’s car. Colin flirts with Karen, Karen and Michele snipe at each other and Colin reveals that Anders (having taken leave of his senses) is now Colin’s campaign manager. Colin makes moves on Michele who deals with him with an appropriate swift kick to the yin yangs. Watched by everyone, Anders and Ty play cricket and bicker (I could almost believe they are actually brothers). Then they start fighting (definitely brothers) Michele enjoys the show then Mike gets in between them creating even more of a farce before Olaf breaks up his grandson’s little squabble. He tells them this is what Joe does – he brings peace while he’s there but once he’s gone trouble water is left in his wake and he quickly takes over to organise proper cricket, Mike doesn’t get to play (and, for once, I see Olaf as the older parental figure)

At the hospital, Axl is released – and he and Joe go on a roadtrip. But ominous music plays and they’re watched by someone else – who knew where they were going before Joe said, implying Joe is working with him. His notes also refer to Axl as Odin.

Njord, god of the sea, has the power to make angry people calm? I’m having trouble getting my head round the idea of ANY Norse god having the power to make angry people calm (except Bragi, of course). I suppose Njord isn’t a terrible candidate for the power given the legends but still, it’s a stretch, especially when it doesn’t just reduce anger but has an almost-Bragi like power to compel people.

Amelia is interesting. I quite inclined to hate her for the obvious reasons and be impressed by Axl’s loyalty to Zeb that he is concerned about Zeb even at a moment when many guys would be… more singularly focused. At the same time, Zeb’s behaviour is classic “nice guy act”, if he pushes enough contrived niceness at a girl she must respond with affection whether she’s interested or not. But then, her tears and actually knifing Axl points to her being an actually mentally ill person – the show throws around terms like “psycho” and “crazy” with annoying frequency but in Amelia’s case there seems to be a grounding in her being mentally ill. In all, for a character who has appeared in so little time, there’s a lot of complexity to address there

Of course, I also kind of think that unless she’s a goddess (Skadi, maybe? Then she could slap Mike and ask since when is Ullr the Norse’s hunter deity?) I’d much rather we focus on the god storyline than Axl and Zeb’s more mundane life.