Monday, February 1, 2016

Hemlock Grove, Season 3, Episode 5: Boy in the Box

One thing this episode has to tie up, or continue, is the remains of Andreas’s terrible terrible storyline. Now dead, his body is delivered to Peter to deal with.

Peter is, naturally, kind of torn up about having caused his own friend’s death to try and avoid a gang war, especially since said friend is engaged to his cousin who is even now stressing about his absence, shopping for wedding gowns and ominously bleeding on some very over priced fabric (and is biscuit a colour? Really?)

Peter breaks down while he and Roman try to pursue the often forgotten main plot and ends up beating up PI Isaac after Roman and he discover he’s also working with Olivia (this comes with some typical but unnecessary misogyny thrown at Olivia by Roman, of course, as it always does).

Roman helps Peter with the body – but Peter insists Andreas gets a funeral so his body needs to be found – and Destiny comforted which is going to be extremely awkward and emotionally draining for Peter. This promises to be a painful, powerful, wrecking storyline to say the least

While Olivia, having being rebuffed by Shelly (more than that later) decides the easiest path (after speaking with Isaac) is to check in on third child who hasn’t had to spend any time with her so doesn’t know how terribad she is. She tries to connect with Annie, comparing pasts and philosophies. It’s… awwwkward. While Olivia really tried and Annie really tries, ultimately they’re very different people. Olivia is very jaded, has been hurt too many times and generally considers vampires to be natural predatory species and who cares about the humans they’re chomping on. While Annie has pursued a career in medicine to atone for the lives she once took – and she is now dedicated to not hurting people. She has met men, loved them, raised families and even if she lost them to time she has a much more hopeful and faithful view of life – but it comes with a lot of hatred for what she is.

The conflict between them is going to be interesting to see develop – because they both have something to offer the other and something to destroy the other: Olivia’s self-confidence and faith in her species could save Annie. While Annie’s faith and hope and positivity can save Olivia. Conversely, their negativity is super destructive when combined

Ok, let’s hit the hot mess of Johann. A few episodes ago we had the strong indication that Johann is gay, deeply closeted and clearly having some severe conflict over that

We now have Johann hooking up with a guy – anonymously, in a sauna, with drugs and in the dark because he can’t handle it in the light.

We have a hot mess of tropes right there, but to top this off, the sex scene is interrupted by childhood flashbacks of Johann and his abusive daddy. Yes, we have a gay man having anonymous sex and that sex scene is inherently linked to his traumatic childhood – the 80s called, they want their storyline back. Aren’t we past “man has sex with men because of traumatic daddy issues”? Really?

Especially since we have to remember the only other LGBT representation we’ve had has been Clementine in season one who… oh yes, had anonymous sex (with a sex worker) and had deep seated mental problems as well. Hemlock Grove this shit is dubious to pull once, doing a repeat speaks volumes.

I do have a shred of hope, a tiny shred of hope that we have Johann preparing to come out at the end of the episode and it won’t be a totally awful storyline. Except this is Hemlock Grove. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The best storyline by far is Shelly. Shelly is growing and changing and developing in particular she has been growing in confidence for a very long time over this season. It has been powerful to see and she starts with some strength this episode – she certainly has considerable confidence in her physical capabilities, happily tossing around violent people who threaten her. But with Aitor’s endless (and slightly creepy support) she finds more confidence in herself, confidence in her appearance (there’s an excellent moment where she considers make up and declares that Aitor will have to accept her as she is – a scene rather diminished by her digging up a Black maid along the way).  It cumulates in her facing down her mother (and the reminder of why Shelly has such low confidence with Olivia’s endless contempt of her) and finally going on a date with Aitor.

I have a horrible feeling it’s all going to collapse but in the meantime, Shelly is the storyline which keeps me holding on