Last time on Strange Paradise, Jacques seemed to decide that he was tired of sharing Jean-Pauls body and just took up permanent control; Raxl contacted Tarot Lady to enlist her help in getting the Conjure Man to join the fight against evil; and Hollys Evil Mum came to the house for a little visit, with the twin goals of getting her hooks back into Holly, and seducing the everloving heck out of Jean-Paul. She doesn't know that he's possessed by Jacques, of course, but I doubt that would stop her. Those two are a match made in the other place.
Where will todays episode take us? Who can tell? I doubt the writer even knew when he sat down to type SCENE ONE. Let's find out though, shall we?
We open on the Hollys Evil Mum coming down for breakfast, staring at the talking portrait of Bill Compton for a bit, having a bit of a flirt with Jacques and then standing around looking smug as Jacques mercilessly mocks Raxl for a couple of minutes. The actor is on fine form, I have to say, and the woman who plays Raxl is having a hard time keeping a straight face. All in all, an inoffensive cold open.
After the titles we get a bit more banter between the three of them, then Evil Mum is left by herself for a bit whereupon she starts wandering around, admiring the fixtures and fittings with an acquisitive glint in her eyes and muttering 'One day this will all be mine, mwahahahaha' under her breath. As you do. She shits herself though when she turns around and finds Quinto standing right behind her with his trademark mad stare on the go.
|Da fucq you lookin' at?|
You have to admire the guy playing Quinto. It's a thankless role, but I think he's having fun with it. He just stands and stares at her for fecking aaaaages, while she tries to shoo him off, it's brilliant. Or I'm easily pleased, one of the two.
Once she manages to get rid of Quinto, here comes Raxl. She's coming from upstairs, and not just because the actress is using the set as her very own stairmaster this time; she's been up waking Holly so the little dear can come have breakfast with her Evil Mum. Won't that be fun?
When asked what should be served for Holly's breakfast, Evil Mum replies with, 'I haven't the slightest idea what her tastes are. Or any respect for them.' You know, because breakfast is being used as a microcosm of their entire relationship? It's called subtext, people! I'm not surprised you didn't get it, it was fiendishly subtle.
Anyway, talk moves on from Holly, to Mrs Desmond, and you can practically see the drool at the corners of Evil Mums mouth when Raxl says there isn't one. This is gonna make that whole gold-digging seduction plan way easier! Result!
Raxl wanders off when Holly comes down, but the scene is showing no signs of ending; their getting their money's worth out of Evil Mum this episode and no mistake! She tries to be all friendly with Holly but Holly is all, 'Get tae fuck ye wee money grabbing wench, I've nae time for tha likes of ye!' and strops off in a huff like a good little 30year old teenager.
Evil Mum follows her though and their argument intensifies; mainly over the inheritance coming Holly's way when she turns 21 but also about some piece of jewellery or other that Holly apparently pawned to get cash to run away. Evil Mum is gonna charge her with the theft in order to get her locked up, so she can keep control of the fortune.
You'd think that would be a mean enough thing for a woman to do to her daughter but Evil Mum isn't done yet. She insinuates, and this one was actually kind of subtle so I'll give them props, that she may kill Holly if that's the only way to stop her getting her inheritance; I started calling her Evil Mum as a joke cos she was a bit controlling and mean, but I think I may have been more on the ball than I thought!
|Evil Mum CRUSH|
Enter Jacques, who reminds us that no-one has actually eaten that breakfast they were going on a out earlier, and drags them off to the dining room because, as he puts it, 'It's always better to argue on a full stomach.' He's got a point, you have to admit.
As he leads them in to eat he entices them with the words, 'Come on, this isn't the time of the Borgias, there is no poison here', just in case you were feeling shortchanged in the barnowls crazy dialogue stakes this episode. And then Raxl pops up with...
|'Except In The Air.'|
After a short break in which the housewives of America were no doubt cajoled into buying soap powder, stockings and some smooth smooth cigarettes, we come back and the three of them are sitting around having a nice old natter. What I want to know is where Painter Dude and Doc Carr are. They're staying at the house too aren't they? Are they not allowed any breakfast? What's going on, Jacques?
Anyway, the conversation turns to jewellery, the sowing of youthful wild oats, and whether or not Jean-Pauls wife is deaded or not. Evil Mum is under the impression she is, but Jacques is being vague, which prompts her to ask, 'Do I deceive myself?' Because that's totally how someone wonders if they've gotten the wrong end of the stick. Seriously, what is up with the dialogue this episode?
Jacques takes his leave, for no other reason than the writer needs Holly and her Evil Mum to be alone, and Evil Mum demands that Holly tell her once and for all what the score really is with Cryo-Wife.
Why? Are you after his money too?
Well, Duh! I figured that out ages ago and I haven't known her my whole life. Come on Holly love, get your act together! Holly does her patented teenage tantrum, which she does very well for a 30 year old, and runs upstairs. You'll never guess who's coming down them as Holly goes up.
|RAXL ON THE STAIRS|
I'm really on board with all the renewed Raxl on the stairs action we've been getting lately. It speaks to my soul.
Raxl heads down to the basement to see Quinto, who apparently lives down there in a cell. Ok. He has a parrot, which is quite cute I suppose, and Raxl gives the parrot a treat, whilst smiling no less, which softens her character. Shame she ruins it all by demanding that Quinto gets in touch with The Conjure Man. You know, the dude who did Lord knows what to the poor sod, and leaves him quaking in fear at the mere mention of his name.
|Who does he remind me of?|
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First there is a scene that must go on for a good five minutes or more, in which Raxl basically explains the entire plot of the series so far. It had been on the air for less than 3 weeks at this point; did they really think their audience was that dumb?
Next scene has Painter Dude; so I guess he hasn't gone walkabout after all; sketching an animated and happy Holly, so I assume time has moved on a fair amount since she ran upstairs in a huff. Or she's just really changeable. Girls are like that; very flighty. I still don't trust Painter Dude by the way. In fact, you might say I think he's rather..
They're mainly nattering on about how weird it is that she is modeling for a portrait he's painting of a dead woman neither of them have ever met. Which is a pretty good point, to be honest, but they don't half ram it home. Painter Dude gets very animated at one point and declares 'I don't know how much more of this I can take!' which is very dramatic and everything but he only fucking got there yesterday. Have a bit of staying power man!
Some reiterating of their backstory; from, like, two episodes ago; is cleverly disguised as them commiserating over their respective misfortunes, before we move on to their deciding that if Evil Mum manages to snare herself a Jean-Paul, with all his fortunes, she'll have no reason to worry about the smaller fortune Holly is due to inherit.
|Look at them there, spying on the oldsters. Judging them.|
Sound reasoning, but I hope it doesn't lead to a fucking Parent Trap pile of bobbins.
Jacques comes barreling in and gets all snippy about them taking a break, insisting he wants to see the portrait 'this lifetime.' Again, Painter Dude only got there yesterday. I don't think they have a word for patience in...er... wherever this show is set. What comes next is one of the most disgraceful act breaks I've ever seen. I'm serious, the writer was taking the piss, and he knew it.
Painter Dude points out that he's limited in what he can do with Holly as a model. After all, she looks nothing like Cryo-Wife, so all he can get from her is a basic shape and an idea of lighting; anything more and he's going purely from memory and one old sketch he did weeks ago. 'Oh no', says Jacques. 'That won't be necessary. I can arrange to refresh your memory.' He grins like a lunatic, the music swells, the camera zooms in for shocked close ups of all the other characters, and we fade to an ad break...
HE'S GONNA WHEEL OUT CRYO-WIFE!
No. He's gonna show Painter Dude some photo's. Fucking shameful. This is the second time in recent episodes that this show has made me genuinely angry at the writing. I honestly thought Chris Chibnall was the only guy who could have that effect on me these days, so, bravo, I guess.
Painter Dude and Holly are both as pissed off as I am and decide they can't possibly spend another minute in the company of such a horrible old hack tease, so they head upstairs to get changed for a swim. The prospect of seeing Holly in a bikini calms my anger a little. Just a little, mind. Fucking photographs.
Of course, once the 'young' ones are gone, all we're left with are Jacques and Evil Mum, so of course it's time for some awkward flirting; strained puns about Jacques being really really old, dead, and or the devil; and more awkward flirting.
Jacques is definitely looking to tap that, asap, as the yoof would say.
There's a very brief interlude with Raxl and Quinto down in Quinto's dungeon-esque bedroom, where he's playing with a mouse while she yells at him about the Conjure Man. This shit was all sorted in their previous scene, so I assume the script was running short. I'd have preferred Holly in her bikini to kill the airtime, but whatever.
Back upstairs, and Jacques is plying Evil Mum with drink. She makes a token protest that it's too early in the day, but she's fooling no-one and soon enough they're chugging it back like they're Norm and Cliff. Shameful behaviour from two such pillars of the community.
Flirty flirty, knowing looks, kissing of hands... it's all happening, but Jacques decides, just as Evil Mum looks ready to pounce, that he has to be off. As he leaves, Holly enters and gives her Evil Mum a slow clap. Evil Mum just looks smug.
I don't understand why Holly is being so catty about the whole thing though. We've already established that the best thing that could happen to her would be for Evil Mum to hook up with Jean-Paul and/or Jacques. She's a fool to herself that girl.
Speaking of Jean-Paul, he seems finally to be getting his act together and wresting back control of his body. He's wandering round the crypts when it happens, and he has a bit of a speech, so we know it's him...
Oh Erica, what is he doing to me? What am I doing...when he enters my soul and possesses it, Jacques Elois-DesMonde! I pray that you know when he is in my being! That it is he, not I, that poisons the air... Did I say pray? I, that denied God, by denying you a Christian burial?
That's not the whole thing. It goes on in that vein for fecking ages. When he's finally done he goes and gives Cryo-Wifes coffin a bit of a hug, because it's been a while, and then the big neon TO BE CONTINUED sign flashes across the screen and we're out.
Here's the thing, I really enjoy this show a lot of the time. Evil Mum is a proper nasty villain when she's allowed to be, and Jacques, when it is Jacques and not wet blanket Jean-Paul, is a scream. I just wish they wouldn't ruin it with their incessant teasing that leads to nothing. Today's example is the worst I've seen, but it's by no means the only one.
Let's face it though, I can complain all I like but we all know I'll be watching for as long as Raxl keeps walking up and down those stairs.
Join me again next time, for whatever hack-tastic gubbins they have in store for us. Until then, on this blog I am God. So just think on.