Friday, August 28, 2009

"Classic" Recap: Wonderfalls "Lovesick Ass"

"Smitten and eager are bad. Now you know what you get with smitten and eager? Romance. Relentless, treacly, manufactured romance. That kind of romance never ends well.”

So, even though I’ve watched this episode of "Wonderfalls" plenty of times, I still find it difficult to figure out where to start when writing about it. The reason, I think, is that I identify with Jaye Tyler…a lot. I get her struggles, and I get her point of view. There are scenes in "Wonderfalls," and this episode in particular, that feel extremely, almost painfully, real to me. After processing my thoughts on the episode, however, I think I’ve come up with a few tidbits- some serious, some less so.

Every time I watch an episode of "Wonderfalls" (or any Bryan Fuller show, for that matter), I pick up on little nuances that I didn’t notice in previous viewings. My rewatch of "Lovesick Ass" was no exception, right from the very first scene, where Eric is installing a satellite dish on Jaye’s trailer. Eric’s ulterior motive to helping Jaye with the satellite dish greatly amuses me, and, honestly, I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up on it before. Eric, in addition to just being a helpful and nice guy, is hoping that installing the satellite dish will lead to an invite over to Jaye’s place some time to watch TV. It’s really a very cute exchange between the two of them. Jaye says that she only has one, very small TV, and Eric smartly replies that’s just fine because they can sit close together. Before this rewatch, I just sort of took this scene for what it was. Eric would do anything for Jaye, and Jaye’s drooling over Eric, but too afraid to do anything about it. Eric’s extra motivation gives the scene and the character more depth. It makes Eric seem less “whipped” by Jaye, for lack of a better, less misogynistic term. And it makes me chuckle.

I especially like how the climax of the episode plays out. The perceived threat to Eric (the creepy kid has taken him to the cabin by the lake…oh no!) is quickly neutralized. Eric easily grabs the baseball bat away from Peter, and we see that this episode is not going to take the shape that we might have thought. It’s not going to be a suspenseful thriller, it’s going to be about a kid talking out his feelings about his mother’s death and a guy talking out his feelings about (sort of) unrequited love. We don’t escape the episode without at least a little more Peter-induced mayhem, though! The scene near the end where it turns out Peter is a bit of a pyro and Eric’s car suddenly goes up in flames never fails to get a laugh out of me, just because of the way it’s shot. The flames are so sudden and engulf the car so quickly. There’s a scene in the pilot (or “Pie-lette”) of "Pushing Daisies" where a truck catches on fire in much the same way, and that never fails to make me laugh either. Bryan Fuller has said, in the DVD commentary to “Lovesick Ass,” I believe, that had "Wonderfalls" continued, Jaye eventually would have been institutionalized for hearing the voices of the Muses, and while institutionalized, she would have run into Peter again. I definitely would have liked to have seen that play out. One of the many reasons why "Wonderfalls'" way-to-early cancellation is so tragic (in the TV show cancellation universe, not in the overall grand scheme of things- I do have some perspective, I promise!).

A line in this episode that really stood out to me is when Peter, in his frustration at Jaye not returning his affection, says that he’ll “teach [her] how to love.” In a sense, that’s exactly what he does, only Jaye’s love isn’t exactly directed at Peter. Peter’s “kidnapping” of Eric motivates a panicked Jaye to hotwire Eric’s car and trek all the way out to the cabin by the lake because she’s afraid Peter will hurt Eric. She does truly care about Eric, even if this is the only way she is capable of showing it. Best of all, Eric clearly recognizes that and truly appreciates the gesture, even if it does slightly baffle him. Jaye still has a long way (and several episodes) to go before she begins to work through her issues and believe that she could be a good thing in Eric’s life as opposed to a source of pain, but it’s Peter who set her on that path. At the end of the episode, Jaye asks Eric why he would want to waste time trying to be in a relationship with someone as avoidant and messed up as she is. He replies, “Because you make me happy.” And isn’t that really what life, and love, are all about?

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