We get offered an alternate point of view to shed some new light.
So last week, I was worried that this show was in danger of stagnating, not straight away, but the characters seemed to be caught in cycles. It wasn’t a worry grounded in objective fact, but a fear that the show had peaked with ‘LCD Soundsystem’ and was scared to attempt a high like that again.
This week, I’ve never been happier to be wrong about something I said because You’re the Worst gave us another episode on the level of ‘LCD Soundsystem’ with regards to thematic content, direction and a performance, front and center.
This will be primarily about Edgar, aside from one point I want to make, so buckle up and we’ll unpack each of my notes one-by-one:
- First thing that was noticeable – the amplified sound effects. The episode was dedicated into putting us in Edgar’s head and creating that subjective perspective right off the bat. This means we hear these as Edgar does rather than how the camera on the other end of the room going for the wide shot.
- On the street, the episode reveals another layer through it’s camerawork. Edgar gets spooked by a car further up the road and a switch is flicked – he goes into combat mode. Hanging close to cover and pushing forward in the shadows until he’s in range. Falk’s camera tracks him, it’s bounces around, but stays focused on him. Edgar might be a vet, but life is still a war.
- The kitchen scene is designed around the idea of being fresh out of combat. The ringing in your ears, the muffled dialogue, the shaking. Edgar has had to fight a battle just to be able to carry on with the rest of his day and the aftereffects remain. If anything in this episode shows how his PTSD has a strong hold on him, it’s this for how different this scene is compared to the trio awaiting breakfast.
- This scene also shows how closely tied this episode is to the one prior. Essentially this is like how ‘LCD Soundsystem’ started us with the new couple and then brought us to Gretchen’s perception of the same events. In this case, the scenes from Men Get Strong have been reshot and it highlights how Lindsay, Gretchen and Jimmy are assholes towards Edgar. Last week I found it hard to not cut Gretch some slack due to how much I relate to her, but from a new point of view it’s obvious how much this affects Edgar.
- The store scene is incredibly dense. First of all, the whip pans to show the people and the dolly down the aisles bringing more and more people into view lets us see how Edgar’s training is ingrained. His brain has come to parse the civilians from any possible threats. He’s constantly aware – always profiling the people around him.
- Falk’s camera gets more energy here and this scene reminds me off two movies related to war. The first is Full Metal Jacket just as it prepares for the ending. In that movie, a sniper pins a squadron down and eventually they make a push forward. The cameraman is on the ground rushing with them.
- The second of these is The Hurt Locker and the most human moment in that movie. Once Jeremy Renner’s character returns home, he goes to the grocery store, he comes to the cereal and he stops. He gets to make a choice and he has time to do it. It’s a startling contrast from the scene where he has to diffuse a car bomb while possible combatants keep popping up on rooftops or on the street. Edgar’s in the same situation here and despite a British snack shop being a safe place (theoretically), the option of choice with the benefit of time makes the entire scene feel uneasy.
- Nice touch of using the item scanner as a heartbeat, it could very easily be played as a gag, but tracking Edgar makes him our focus and we assume that it’s representative of his heart.
- With Dorothy, Edgar manages to keep his anger contained in a single explosion which creates a parallel with what follows.
- So Edgar goes to the VA meeting. Last week, this was the thing I was most terrified about, that when we got that shot of him drinking the car booze, he’d decided to not go. Don’t get me wrong, this scene goes horribly and it’s a damning statement on how veterans are treated, but also how the government seems to not be as bothered about veterans as they should be, but he at least went. I was on this rollercoaster when Gretchen said she was going to try therapy, if she hadn’t gone I don’t know how I would have reacted. With any luck this is the seed for Edgar taking his meds. He agrees he wants to better, but he doesn’t like how they make him feel. With some strength he’s going to be able to push through this barrier and accept the personality changes
- The dutch angles and camera in flux is some masterful direction that plays with our perception and skews everything about the scene. We’re stuck in the car, but at a loss as to which way is which.
- I study film. I get the wannabee’s director’s complaint about cameras (we weren’t allowed to shoot in HD during first year)
- The conversation with the tow truck operator could very easily have been the cap to A Very Special Episode. He gives out a lot of statistics about vets and suicide, but here it’s part of an arc. Edgar finds someone that both understands what he’s going through and is sympathetic (the main trio and Dorothy don’t really lie in the middle of that Venn diagram by any stretch of the imagination). It’s like the jogger at the end of Bojack S2, the ball needs to be put into Edgar’s court and he needs to be given reason to pick it up. Now he’s going to take another shot at it.
- I was relieved when it was revealed the car was being towed. The episode feels like a catharsis by letting Edgar explode and then rebuilding from there, but in the moment (and after 5 seasons of Person of Interest) that angle in a car is enough to put me on edge, even more so when someone takes their hands off the wheel. I was prepared to see the car tumble into a river as the camera drifts out of a window or something to that effect.
- Desmin Borges is wonderful in the silent film, while he’s a Chaplin stand-in, his acting is essentially a fit for the German Expressionism which is a real feat. It’s designed around being expressive beyond normal and done wrong it can dip into the
So there we go. It’s around this time in the year that I start collating preliminary top 10’s. These probably change prior to the end of December – last year Fargo seemed to have an impact to a list each and every week. In spite of that fact, I fully expect this episode to be a mainstay on many lists moving forward. While I didn’t connect with it as much as ‘LCD Soundsystem’, it’s an incredibly powerful episode from every avenue. Stephen Falk’s picked up more direction duties this year compared to previous seasons and it’s clear he’s dedicated to making each episode feel relevant to the focus. While last season he tracked Gretchen from behind and used long shots to highlight the sense of Voyeurism, here he puts the focus on Edgar’s face so we can deal with his reactions and be able to look into something. And obviously his scripting has been astounding since the pilot, so that’s a given.
Also, Desmin Borges has been added to the list of actors/actresses who deserve an Emmy or commendation for this. It’s a tour de force performance that contrasts with his one from last week, bringing new depth to the situation and making it tender. The show has occasionally leaned on the PTSD for a quick joke and while the humour fits with the show’s style, the past couple weeks have been hard to watch due to knowing how much he was hurting. As a result this feels like a turning point for the show like ‘LCD Soundsystem’ was, we’ve seen the problem, now it’s time to deal with it. For us, as the viewers, lets make the conversation as loud as it was when it came to Gretchen’s depression.
Next week, the final Sunday Funday.