In the second episode of the second season of Slings & Arrows, the trainwreck has begun. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Slings & Arrows.
Oh my god, Kate actually left. SHE ACTUALLY LEFT. Look, so much happened in “Fallow Time” that I didn’t realize until after I was done recording that this show committed to Kate’s decision. I’m… shocked? It’s real. IT’S REAL, Y’ALL. Holy shit???
Okay, so, I needed to get that out of the way because… lord, it’s coming. This is going to gloriously derail, and I can see all the pieces of this disaster already, and it’s only a matter of time until it all comes crashing down. This is gonna be a nightmare, and I’M SO READY.
There’s an echo of season one throughout this episode, though the set-up happens so much quicker this time around. If the board—and Holly’s company—provided the means for a commentary on art and commerce, then Frog Hammer is merely a different iteration of that. And it is very different, mind you, and that distinction is vital. This time around, Frog Hammer represents a delusion: one where capitalism and art are apparently separated, despite the fact that they are indeed still very much a part of what Frog Hammer does. There’s a striking moment where Sanjay utterly rejects the notion that, as a marketing firm, Frog Hammer does any “advertising.” This rejection is meant as one of two things. It is either an intentional misdirection on Sanjay’s part, an attempt to trick Richard into using his services by making the company seem different from the rest of the other marketing firms. Based on other things Sanjay says, I’d argue this is what the writers were going for. However, it’s possible that Sanjay believes what he is saying, that somehow, the artistic intents of From Hammer cancel out the inherently capitalistic deeds of the agency. Which is… still bullshit? You are still trying to sell a product to someone; you are just ironic about the fact that you are. Still, there’s something eerily real about what the show gives us. It’s a satire, an exaggeration meant to make a point, and yet it managed to feel really fucking realistic. There are places that advertise just like that!
It’s also the first real indication of just how south this is all going to go. Oh god, how the hell are they going to reinvent the New Burbage Festival for a younger audience?
I admit that this is more of a worry for what might come than what actually happens. With Sloane out of the picture, Ellen is now free to be with Geoffrey, and… lord, it’s really endearing? I can see it! I can see their chemistry, I can see why they enjoy one another as much as they do, and I can see why this relationship works. Indeed, I expected far more drama from these two, but they actually seem to be excelling at domesticity. When Geoffrey returns home after Ellen’s disastrous Christmas tree outing, he doesn’t fight with her; he comes up with a solution that’s both elegant and thoughtful. When Geoffrey begins to see Oliver again, she doesn’t criticize him; Ellen listens. That’s not to say that there won’t be problems in the future, but it’s a fantastic place to start. I believed their relationship, both the past and the present of it, and that is such an important thing to establish.
The main conflict here resembles some elements in season one, but I didn’t get the sense that this was a repeat. Geoffrey is still contending with the legacy that Oliver left behind, but after surviving a season that was, at best, a stroke of chaotic luck, I got the sense that Geoffrey was ready to do his own thing. Indeed, that seems to be where this is headed. Geoffrey knows that Oliver was important to this festival, even if he fundamentally disagrees with how Oliver ran it, but he was ready to spend a year developing the season himself. Like, literally by himself.
And then here comes Oliver, in the form of Henry Breedlove, in the form of Macbeth, in the form of mock stages and production notes, in the form of himself standing beside a bunch of kids during a elementary school production of the very same play that Geoffrey has been asked to produce. At the end of season one, I assumed that Geoffrey’s story had been promptly resolved. Geoffrey had found a way to put on Hamlet, to live in the shadow of Oliver, and thus, there was no need for him anymore. And truthfully, there’s no need for him here, either. YET THERE OLIVER IS. Oliver is forced back into Geoffrey’s life because of Macbeth, and thus, there’s a reason why this manifestation of both his mental illness and his creative conflict stands before him.
Oliver is not done with Geoffrey yet.
Here, though, this is less about Geoffrey learning to love the theater again or to contend with a past he refused to cope with for seven years. Instead, this is about agency. How can Geoffrey choose to produce this play the way that he wants? Initially, of course, he wants nothing to do with Macbeth. It’s too difficult to effectively stage it. It’s too bloody. It’s too evil. And then there’s that little curse that might or might not exist, and why would Geoffrey tempt that? Yet once it’s clear that he will have to do Macbeth, Geoffrey… well, he procrastinates. A lot. Oh my god, that sequence was too relatable, please never do it again. Seriously, just add scrolling through Tumblr and Twitter and that was me. ME. And I’m much better about procrastinating these days than I ever have been!!!
But once he gets down to it, Oliver’s legacy continues to haunt him. And just like season one, I love that this is both metaphorical and literal. How can Geoffrey stage this play on his own? Well, as it stands currently, he can’t. Oliver’s notes are restricting him rather than guiding him. That’s my guess for the arc of this season: external forces are pushing Geoffrey away from what he does best. They’re diluting his vision and his creativity, and it’s only going to get worse. I say that not just because that’s how last season worked, but LOOK AT HENRY BREEDLOVE. Oh my god, I don’t like him. AT ALL. I can tell he is immensely talented and might even mean well, but that man wrested control away from Geoffrey at the table read, and I bet y’all that Geoffrey is going to have a hell of a time wrestling it back.
A DISASTER, I TELL YOU. It’s coming!
The video for “Fallow Time” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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