There’s something to be said for overacting past the point of absurdity… past the point of any rational thought… past the point any sane director would push an actor.
Ezra Miller put his FLASH chops to good use in episode 6. Here, Miller runs so fast and so far past the choices one could make with the Trashcan Man – one of King’s most memorable characters and a mashup of tragedy and insanity. Putting Nic Cage to shame with overacting choices, Miller at least gives something memorable and watchable to what has been a mess of a series. If you’re thinking this show needed assless chaps, baby talk and masturbating over setting an oil silo fire, then you’re in Ezra’s wheelhouse.
Now, does this make the performance good or bad? Smarter people than me have been driven to madness trying to decide, but it’s sure hard to take your eyes off the screen when Miller’s doing his thing here.
As for the rest of the episode, I will say it’s finally benefitting from leaving the flashbacks aside. Without that frantic back and forth through the timeline, you do finally get to build some anticipation and dread for what is to come. If anything, this makes the EARLIER episodes stand out all the worse, as you do get a feel for the cast here and long for what could have been with a more competent story teller.
We’re brought back to Flagg’s Vegas as Tom Cullen is trying to decipher Dayna’s warning letter from LAST WEEK. Tom, while being unable to read, does recognize the word “Run” as the same word on the on/off switch of his machinery so is sly enough to have someone read the machinery word to him. Tom decides to bounce out of Vegas at this point, having also seen Julie Lawry and only briefly flashing back to her cruelty to him and Nick. To escape, Tom decides to climb into the dead body truck from the fighting pits. While it’s no Shawshank River of Filth, it sure doesn’t look like a fun way to spend an evening.
Also in Vegas, we see the results of Boulder’s third spy, Judge Ferris. Ferris is given a few seconds early in the episode to show she’s on the defensive and is armed. Then, for reasons I really don’t understand, we skip to her in a body bag and one of Flagg’s henchman, Bobby Terry, being brought in front of Flagg for killing her when Flagg wanted her brought in alive.
At this point, we begin to see Flagg’s worry that he can’t sense Tom and his desperation to find out who the third spy is. Bobby Terry does not bend the knee here, flipping off Flagg, locking Flagg and his crew in the penthouse and trying to run away. Here, we finally get a glimpse at Flagg’s power as he blows through the locked door, teleports into the elevator, and brutalizes Bobby Terry, literally ripping his heart out.
What happens next is something that really screams bad show. The people in Flagg’s hotel, who now live in a 24/7 drug orgy and can go one room over and have fighting pits where the losers are chainsawed in half right in front of them and have random people crucified and put out on display? They’re shocked Flagg kills someone in the elevator. You can see the seams in bad shows like this, where they have multiple sets of writers, and time crunched production schedules. You can feel where one set of writers needs characters to act one way, the next set of writers are doing their own thing and writing how they think people would react to the reality they’re currently writing.
Back to Boulder, Stu and the rest of the Free Zone Committee are preparing a candlelight vigil while also being realistic in the odds of finding a 108-year-old woman that went out into the woods in early winter alive. Harold and Nadine look to take advantage of this situation, as they realize now would be the best time to take out the committee and leave Boulder behind. Harold seems relatively determined this episode: no hedging, full-on destroy Boulder. Nadine, on the other hand, sabotages Larry’s bike so he won’t be at the meeting and makes sure to keep Joe, the child she and Larry had brought across the country, away from the meeting as well.
Meanwhile, Frannie is still suspicious of Harold and breaks into his house and goes into the basement that Larry neglected to look at last episode. Both Frannie and Harold have been my least favorite parts of this adaptation. Harold, for characterization that never really gave me the tragic sympathy BookHarold got out of me, and Odessa Young’s Frannie for hollow acting AND story choices. So, in something of a surprise, I really enjoyed what comes next. The show goes off book here with a confrontation in Harold’s basement. Frannie realizes Harold is planning a bomb. Odessa Young finally shows life here, trying one last time to reach Harold.
Young telling Harold, “You’re my only connection to the world before all of this happened, I need that!” is a great line, and while unearned from everything shown in the show to this point is yet somehow believable from Young. Harold also has a moment to shine, laying out all the shame, frustration and heartbreak he’s felt in life. Harold’s “The girl I wouldn’t have had a shot with unless I was the last man on earth and then I was!” was a great line and delivery and a glimpse of what the show could have been. This ends when Harold shows a bit of sentimentality, or at least as much as a creepy school-shooter-in-training can muster, by locking Frannie in his basement, ostensibly saving her from the bomb blast to come.
From here, we stay off book and get a look at Mother Abigail’s pilgrimage looking for answers from above. In the book, we see none of this and only know she was gone for a good amount of time. Here, Abigail encounters Flagg. This confrontation does give Whoopie Goldberg’s Abigail more to do than she’s had up to this point combined, but doesn’t really do much for me. Flagg and Abigail talk of the strength of their convictions, right, wrong, and the mystical forces that power them. It’s promising, but their debate ends when you can feel the writers run out of things to say with Flagg channeling Superman and trying to blow Abigail off a cliff. When that doesn’t work, he summons birds to attack her. Some things not explained in the book should remain things not explained in the show!
The episode ends with a nice bit of drama. Frannie escapes Harold’s basement. Nadine’s Joe, who has been shown to have a connection with Abigail, “hears” her and finds her in the woods. There’s a race now for Frannie to warn of the bomb, Joe and the watch crew to tell everyone Abigail has been found, all while Nadine and Harold look down on the town and take a moment to detonate the bomb.
Staying on book, Abigail’s return means lives are saved, as people leave the bomb site to go to Abigail. Still on book, this is also the end of Nick Andros, as he’s the last one in the house and sees the bomb but with no time to do anything to stop it. I can’t honestly say Nick was ever a favorite character of mine, but I appreciated him in the novel. He served as the heart and soul of the Free Zone Committee. I understand the difficulty of presenting a hearing impaired character on an audio visual medium but the show did the character of Nick a disservice, stealing any of the character building the book did for him, truncating his role down to near nothingness and only really presenting him in show as a combative force, chosen by Mother Abigail to keep people from bothering her. Time will tell if the show continues to use the character, he had more to do after death in the novel. Based on his usage so far, I’m almost afraid to see.
So, all in? Better than the last two episodes. Telling the story straight forward has built momentum and while they have stayed close to the book on many details, they have some flexibility here in the last 3 episodes to at least keep me curious to see what happens. I’ll go 6/10 for Ezra Miller alone.
Project Blue mentions through 6 episodes? 0!