In the eighth episode of The Middleman, now I’ve missed every reference to The Ghostbusters. REITMAN UNIVERSITY, MARK. IT WAS RIGHT THERE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Middleman.
“The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation”
- In my defense, the last time I saw The Ghostbusters was when I was… ten? Eleven? It’s been a long, long, long time.
- Also, I may have recognized Ashley Johnson from Dollhouse, but I know her because she is Ellie from The Last of Us and Gretchen Grundler on Recess.
- Now that I’ve got that out of the way? HOLY FUCK, I LOVED THIS EPISODE.
- It toys with a number of science fiction/horror tropes – Ghosts! Body snatchers! Evil scientists! Memory loss! Disembodied souls! – ALL AT ONCE, and it’s both a parody and a brand new story. Like, do you realize how cool this is??? All of those things I just listed are in one episode of this show. And somehow, the writers are able to create a story that’s engaging and funny without it being needlessly cruel, either.
- Let’s do the main plot before we talk about Tyler Ford. There are so many ways this could have gone wrong, but lord, this is so fun. Ghosts! Ghosts exist in the Middleman world! And that’s not even what Wendy and the Middleman deal with, but this episode confirms that GHOSTS ARE REAL.
- This was definitely the most difficult mystery to figure out, y’all. Bless that moment where Wendy saw that a ghost was standing next to her human body. It was so shocking to me!
- I also just realized that the culprit was named IN THE VERY FIRST MOMENT WENDY WALKED INTO THE HOUSE. Eleanor didn’t know the handshake. ELEANOR DIDN’T KNOW THE HANDSHAKE.
- Oh god, there’s just so much to the way that this is designed that I adore. We’re meant to think that Alley is cruel and antagonistic, but the truth is that she knows something is horribly wrong in her sorority, so she has to act suspicious of everyone. And guess what? She actually gives Wendy good advice. She’s a good friend when Wendy needs it!
- And if that scene where we see the ghost next to the body was surprising, then the moment where Alley quickly says they need to talk and then Eleanor shows up PERFECTLY ON TIME was one of the few super eerie moments in The Middleman. I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH HER.
- Yet there was no way I could have guessed this. The writers play with a trope we’ve all seen before – nerdy girl tries to take down a sorority – and they give us a gift in the process.
- Matt Keeslar playing The Middleman with Eleanor inside of him.
- This is a gift that shall continue to give until the world turns to dust.
- Honorary gift? Louis imitating nearly every single character in this episode.
- (Which makes my brain hurt because all I can think about is Enver Gjokaj’s work on Dollhouse and MATT KEESLAR WAS ON DOLLHOUSE AND HE WAS NOTHING LIKE THE MIDDLEMAN.)
- The whole thing is a brilliant joke that KEEPS GOING AND GOING. I love that Louis has to act as the middleman for the Middleman and I JUST REALIZED THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A JOKE, TOO. And that moment where Alley said, “God?” when Louis was looking up? Perfection. And then it gets surreal as hell as we have to imagine that it’s Eleanor fighting Wendy towards the end, but inside the Middleman’s body.
- I imagine that Ida took great joy in injecting the Middleman with that tranquilizer. But, I think it’s easy to imagine Ida taking great joy in inflicting anyone with pain. It’s what she does.
- So, with Eleanor safely contained in Greenland (which is an incredible joke about how supervillains are often just sent any ol’ place just so that they can’t do anything in the plot anymore), we are also dropped into one messy emotional crisis for the Middleman and Wendy.
- I certainly didn’t expect this show to be very serialized after the first few I watched, so I was pleased that “The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation” addressed the fact that the Middleman just told Lacey that he couldn’t date her. All of this made me want to know more about his past! Has he ever been romantic while he’s the Middleman? Or did he swear it all off after something happened? Clearly he’s not even remotely over his feelings for Lacey, and it burns him that Tyler is in her life. But at the same time, the Middleman recognizes that the most important person here for him is Wendy.
- He puts her needs first. He tells her that he’s there for her so that she can unload her emotional burdens and they can work together. (It’s not lost on me that this conversation happens in the dressing room, which is precisely where the Middleman said these kind of conversations should happen.)
- Obviously, this is a very difficult situation for Wendy. It sucks to watch the guy you’re crushing go for someone else you care about. Oh my god, it’s a tragedy, isn’t it? This happened to me a lot in my early twenties, though I suspect there were other issues at hand. I was always the “safe” friend that a lot of guys I liked came to because they knew they could trust me, but they never were attracted to me. It sucks, but you know what? You can’t force that kind of shit. And Wendy couldn’t blame Lacey or Tyler for who they were attracted to. And at the end of the day, Lacey is Wendy’s best friend. That should be Wendy’s priority, and that’s what Wendy eventually comes to believe. She has to support her friend because… well, that’s what friends do!
- So yeah, I was definitely surprised that at the end of this, Lacey and Tyler decide they’re not really all that compatible. No, the girl that Tyler felt a connection with? It was always Wendy. And shit, y’all, these two seem made for each other. OH GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET THERE BE A CATCH TO THIS. IT’S REALLY CUTE.
The video for “The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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