Friday, September 9, 2016

Everwood "Reckoning" Review

The Internet opened opportunities for fans and staff of a TV show to interact. LOST’s run used to be the apex of fan-creator interaction and fan obsession until Game of Thrones existed. Obsessive fans always want the latest spoiler. They scan websites to find stills from a shoot or episode titles or episode synopses. Fans studied the season six GoT trailer for every spoilerish detail. LOST made fan interaction an integral part of its online marketing. Games, book clubs, scavenger hunts all helped fans feel more involved in the experience of LOST. LOST famously shot three alternate endings to season three’s finale to prevent the Internet learning about the greatest twist in TV history in advance.

Writers like to tease the die-hard obsessives, too. Twitter gave writers’ rooms an easy way to tease, torment, and trick the viewer. Girl Meets World, one of TV’s lowest stake shows, a show so inconsequential, has a writer’s Twitter feed that taunts its most fervid base of fans. Here’s an example: 
“Tonight: Maya shoots everybody, Riley dies and the world ends twice.” 
Some context: it’s about best friends that like the same boy. Read that nonsense again. It’s like a tease for a gritty AMC show, but not even the bombastic AMC shows use such hyperbole. NBC’s Grimm has a writers feed where they’ll pre-apologize (as a tease) to fans for what’ll happen to their favorite characters. Grimm and Girl Meets World share some small things in common besides tantalizing tweets. Both shows feature confounding plotting, plot holes the size of Siberia’s giant holes, odd pacing, inconsistencies, willy-nilly characterizations, and writers who seem oblivious to these shortcomings.

LOST’s Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse subverted the tease, for example, by telling everyone that Charlie would die in “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” The audience, then, thought something or someone would save Charlie. No such thing did happen, which made his death hurt harder.

Everwood’s writers couldn’t use Twitter to tease a big storyline or character choice or an impending death. Obsessive fans scoured episode titles for clues. “Goodbye, Love” follows “Reckoning.” The pre-Twitter days played with the die-hards in ways a more casual viewer wouldn’t know about it. The writers knew some fans would wonder which character would die in “Goodbye, Love.” Who would it be?

“Reckoning” has misleads, forebodings, and an elderly long-lost parent. Would Rose’s cancer return? She already made her decision not to fight its return, so maybe. She asked Edna to come home for her retirement adventures to take care of Harold “for awhile.” Her PET scan was clean, though. She’s cancer free.

Would Bright survive his fall through the bar window? Bright’s brush with death is the most abbreviated version of Everwood’s annual “Life or Death health situation” for a character. Halfway through the episode he hurts his head, and no one knows whether he'll survive. The montage sequence recalls Colin’s first and second surgeries, as well as Rose’s. Ephram buys Amy something. Everyone’s huddled, praying, and hoping. He’s fine, though. Hannah’s plea for him not to die wakes him up.

Did Andy’s absent father return to make amends with his son because he was dying? No. Andy’s father entered the narrative to complete the arc of Andy’s life from the moment he heard his wife died and he took his kids to a small, forgotten town in the Colorado Mountains to his present life as a family man and family doctor. His father did the opposite of what Andy did after he lost Julia.

TV always loved swerving its audience. In Buffy, Joyce seemed on the mend and fine until Buffy walked home and found her prone dead body on the couch. The Summer girls thought they avoided the worst thing in the world until they didn't. It seems the audience avoided death in “Reckoning” by the end, and that “Goodbye, Love” would bid farewell to Nina, Jake, and Sam, who will leave for a new life in Los Angeles after Nina told him she chose him. The last scene of the episode found Irv preparing breakfast for Edna before his old, poor heart gave out on him.  Irv’s heart hadn’t been a plot point for a long time. Rose and Harold will have to look after Edna “for awhile.”

Death at the end of an episode, whether it’s Irv, Joyce Summers, or Mitch Leery, breaks the formula. In TV, that last scene is strange. The viewer may wonder why he or she needs to watch Mitch Leery use an ice cream cone as a microphone while driving or why he or she needs to watch Irv make breakfast, then the viewer glances at the clock, and he or she understands, “Oh, something bad is coming.” In life, one’s routine, one’s own private formula and structure, is thrown off by bad news.

“Reckoning” is an interesting episode, especially the second half of the episode with Bright’s fall and the impressive amount of melodrama the writers condensed into twenty minutes. We needed Andy stepping in to perform miraculous surgery on him, but alas.  Nina made her choice to leave Everwood. Ephram met a woman and brought her to the party right in time for Amy to realize she still loves Ephram. Typical end of season stuff in an otherwise untypical episode.


David Hudgins wrote this episode. David Petrarca directed it.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.