Monday, August 29, 2016

BSN Mini-Review: "Deme"

There’s characterization in “Deme,” there’s plot in “Deme,” and there’s certainly plenty of humor in “Deme,” but the primary aim of the episode seems to have been to convey the subjective experience of being a particular kind of high. As in “Bryn” and “Nicky,” we spend the entire episode in the titular character’s head. Unlike Bryn and Nicky, Deme is “off [their] face,” as they put it, so getting inside their head isn’t in any way a cerebral experience. Every moment we spend with Deme in this episode is immediate; we’re not learning about their past or their relationships so much as we’re feeling what they feel.

Unsurprisingly, The Candle Wasters are extremely successful in that endeavor. The feeling you get watching “Deme” is probably as close to the feeling of being pleasantly drunk as you can get without actually consuming alcohol.  The swaying close-ups, the fuzzy pink light, the wandering music, the way certain sounds and sights suddenly overwhelm everything else. Even the way Puck suddenly appears in the background of the shot, with no fanfare announcing their presence, while Mia appears with a thunderclap. It all feels right.

Of course, because Deme is high, we have to take everything with a grain of salt. Being high can feel like being in love, but it’s not the same thing. We feel what Deme feels, in this episode, but Deme’s feelings can’t be trusted. Only time will tell if they’re truly in love with Lena. (If you’ve read a plot description of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you probably have an idea, but there’s nothing in Bright Summer Night to tell you.)

Which also means that, although we get inside Deme’s head, we don’t learn very much new about them. Every other episode that Deme’s been in has given the sense that, with the exception of their infatuation with Mia, they have their life pretty much together. They’re both confident of and happy with their place in the world. They know what they want, and they have no qualms about declaring and pursuing that. “Deme” doesn’t alter that idea at all. It gives Deme a different person to pursue, but it neither challenges nor changes anything else about them. Which is fine, because Deme’s doing okay for themselves.

Zander, on the other hand, gets some development here. The Idleness actually makes Deme feel like they’re in love with Lena, but it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t do the same for Zander. He feels affection for Lena—who’s quietly taking care of him—but his declarations of love are driven by his competition with Deme and his unhappiness with Mia. The exact nature of that unhappiness remains somewhat unclear, but this episode repeats and expands upon Zander’s claim in “Zander” that Mia is “too much” for him. Combined with his breathing exercises, you start to get the idea that Zander’s an anxious person, and that Mia touches that anxiety off somehow. With the Idleness breaking down some of his inhibitions, he fixates on Lena because she’s quiet and kind and she doesn’t push. Mia pushes.

It’s a good thing Mia’s episode is next up. After an episode’s worth of people talking about her, worrying about her, reacting to her, I’m ready to get inside her head.

Random Bits

As far as I can tell, there’s no particular plot or thematic reason to put Puck in this episode, but Puck accounts for about 97 percent of the best moments, so who cares? (It also lets Puck do some pointing and laughing, as called for by the source material.)

What is it with TCW and bathtubs?

That bathroom must have been a nightmare to shoot in: Confined space, four characters, tricky lighting, and there’s a mirror that I imagine prevented filming from certain angles, lest the crew’s reflection show up on-screen.  They did a good job with it, though.


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