Friday, August 16, 2013

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 13: Vacation

George is facing family issues again – every year the Las family used to go on holiday and, of course, George used to be sullen and pouty about it because she was far too cool for family holidays. And now, separated from her family preparing to go on the first holiday since her death, she wants to go with them. She wonders if she haunts her family – especially her sister (while hiding in her sister’s cupboard to spy on her). Rube has an excellent insight – haunting is all about envy. George’s envy for the family she no longer has.

That family is, of course, full of lots of bickering between Joy and Clancy. And the phone keeps ringing then ringing off whenever Joy answers it – but there’s someone there when Clancy picks up. Uh-huh. Clancy also seems less than thrilled by the whole thing.

When they arrive at the cabin, Clancy is still not happy – and he’s brought a mobile phone with him. Joy tries hard to make the holiday good for Reggie in the face of Clancy’s indifference; which contrasts sharply with George’s happy flashbacks. Including an awesome in observation from Joy about not needing to work so constantly for stuff that makes them happy when the simple life in the cabin brings them such joy.

The next morning Joy asks Reggie if she’s ok and she says no – Joy admits she isn’t either. Reggie talks about missing George and going somewhere else on holiday next year.

At the Waffle House there are no assignments – the Gravelings are taking the day off (and also enjoying the Waffle House). No-one dies today – and no-one knows why (I’m going to go for “convoluted story twisting so you can force a holiday plot).  But no time off – it’s filing time! Filing time which consumes most of the Waffle House much to Kiffany’s annoyance until Rube orders food for all the piles. And the empty booth full of Gravelings (and, yes, Kiffany has seen enough that the Gravelings don’t phase her).

And George has actually learned things by working in filing and actually has useful things to add – Roxy also has useful things to add “shut up and get on with it.” Especially since the filing system includes the arcane “last thought” storage. (Regrets about pets are more common than regrets about spouses it seems). All around people do many many risky things that don’t make them die for once, while George is still having sad flashbacks of past family holidays. Mason flirts with Daisy, as always and Kiffany hovers around as well, trying to draw Roxy in conversation and further pad this episode.

George leads a rebellion against the manual copying and demands they use actual data entry methods and actual computers – everyone agrees with her and after Roxy puts her foot down, Rube caves and they sneak to Happy Time with the keys George still has.

They get there and Rube still tries to use his pen while George mocks him for the silliness of it all. His typing is awful and frustrated Roxy no end. Mason continues to flirt with Daisy which leads to more of Daisy’s sex stories – and George is awesome at it but also reminiscing constantly.

And then she and Mason notice that Crystal is in the office. Strange, nemesis Crystal. She watches them in creepy silence. And she offers to help… and she’s super, super super good. And Daisy gets a series of regrets to enter from people who wish they hadn’t died alone which strikes a chord with her. And with Mason. Daisy invites Mason to her house for a drink afterwards. And in a flip from Roxy and Kiffany, Roxy tries to engage Crystal in conversation

And George asks who all the work is for and Rube counters with “woo woo mystery” before pointing out each record is a person and they’re witnessing their last moments and they all matter. He says they’re doing it for whoever’s interested – he asks if George is and she realises she is.

Daisy goes to George and she’s upset – everyone has the same kind of regrets: things they never got to do, being alone… shouldn’t there be more different types of thoughts. She thinks of these unfulfilled lives and then going to an afterlife with more unfulfilled afterlives – is there next step more of the same?

Mason finds Daisy’s record. He last thought is “why has no-one ever loved me?” Mason walks her out – but rainchecks on the drink.

George thanks Crystal for her help – Crystal mentions how she likes Roxy and assures George she won’t tell anyone.

George closes with the thought that death is the temp job – and life is the vacation you’re supposed to spend with your loved ones. What would the last thoughts be then?

While writing this recap, I was ready to say how little happened and how Dead Like Me Seems to have resorted to filler content very early in its production.

But a lot was developed here – about Daisy and even Roxy, with hints of Rube. Joy and Reggie developing their relationship even while their family disintegrates and some overt mourning for George creeping in. There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of development and a lot of exploration

I am glad to see Mason backing off or at least changing tack with Daisy, but at the same time, his single minded pursuit of her is not cute or funny – it’s hellaciously creepy

One thing I do like about Dead Like Me is George’s continuing awareness of her own past flaws and how that leads to her growing and maturing. She looks back on her past bad behaviour with a really unflinching, non-sugar-coated gaze. But, at the same time, doesn’t feel lots of guilt about it – yes she didn’t always act in a pleasant way and, yes, she regrets it – but she’s not going to wallow in guilt for behaviour that is typical of many teenagers.