Why I Love The Following

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

In 2003, FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) captured Edgar Allen Poe obsessive, Briton and serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).  He was also stabbed in the heart and banged Carroll’s wife.  Carroll has become the leader of a cult from behind bars, and when he escapes to pursue his homicidal hobby, Ryan is drawn back in to hunt Carroll and his disciples down…

Episode 4: Mad Love

At the house:

Emma: Paul, you and me got some serious sexual tension to go with our inexplicable mutual jealousy over Jacob even though he looks like his own waxwork figurine and is totally wet.  Also, you shouldn’t go round kidnapping and gagging random young women even if that’s what we do as members of a deranged death cult because, y’know, standards. Oh and we’ve got Carroll’s idiot son running about the place and even he might get suspicious if he sees her.

Kidnapped woman: Mmph mmph mmph.  (“Yes, Carroll’s boy does appear to be unusually stupid.”)

Paul: Fuck you Emma.

Emma: Not ‘til the end of the episode.

Paul: Jacob, I got this woman for you because you’re a killing virgin, and frankly it’s a little embarrassing.  I don’t judge but Emma definitely will, because that girl is all kinds of crazy and I definitely don’t want to have sex with her in a shower.  You should stop lying to her.

Jacob: Wait, I’m confused, lying about not having killed anyone, or lying about how our make-believe relationship involves a lot of real man-on-man action and a genuine emotional connection?

Paul: Yes.

Jacob: Come to think of it, do you not think that our relationship is a little demeaning to the gay community?

Paul: You mean how we’re two murder crazy straight guys who have to pretend to be a couple for no logical reason particularly while we were engaged in a highly sensitive, heavily pressured surveillance mission and as such our relationship is almost entirely gratuitous and one of us could have easily been played by a woman and kept the kinky love triangle thing with Emma and how implying a link between homosexuality and murder craziness is perhaps insensitive given the relative paucity of gay couples on the tv?

Jacob: Yes.

Paul: Can’t say I’ve thought about it.

Jacob: Well that’s fair enough.

____

At the FBI:

Ryan gets a call from his sister but ignores it.  There’s a flashback to 2009 to remind the audience that Ryan’s totally an alcoholic, which helps him self-medicate his emotional issues even though both ideas are massively cliché.  In the present Ryan goes to talk to Carroll in a nod to Silence of The Lambs.

Ryan: You look like shit in orange.  How’s the hackneyed Edgar Allen Poe obsession going?

Carroll: Don’t be silly, Bacon – I’m quite literally the sexiest serial killer ever.  I don’t even need charisma because I look like James Purefoy.  That’s why you spend so much time flirting with me despite me being almost entirely useless as a source of reliable information.  You’re not bad yourself considering you’re an alcoholic with a literally broken heart.

Ryan: Yeah you got a good pouty squint going, and ok maybe we’re getting a bit homoerotic, but you can’t out-intense-eye-acting me – I’m Kevin Bacon.  Tell me about Maggie.

Carroll: Didn’t she shoot Mr Burns?  She’s very special – I’ve got very high hopes for her, Bacon.  Thanks for killing her husband by the way, now she can really flourish even though she’s an established serial killer in her own right.  Oh damn, I totally didn’t mean to let that slip.

Ryan: Ha! I’m going to take your info leak at face value even though that would never happen.

Carroll: Cough-ARKANSAS-cough.  Sorry, bit of a tickle in my throat.

Later…

Ryan receives another call from his sister, which he ignores.  There’s another flashback to 2009 to remind the audience that Ryan has a pacemaker fitted as a result of being stabbed in the heart and is an alcoholic with emotional issues, which is impacting his health.  In the present he gets another call from his sister.  He picks it up.

Ryan: Go for Bacon.

Maggie: Tricked you! If you want your sister back, you have to come to her restaurant that is the first place any investigator would probably look.  And you have to come alone and unarmed.

Ryan: Sounds reasonable.  Bacon out.

Mike: Bacon, I’m YOUR creepy follower, so I know who Jenny is and what you look like when you’re sleeping.  Don’t worry, I didn’t tell anyone at FBI though – they just think we’re going for ice cream or something.

Ryan: I’m pretty sure that Maggie’s insane and I shouldn’t risk my sister’s life by breaking her rules needlessly.  But what the heck, it’ll be nice to have some company on the drive over.

____

At the house:

Emma: Look Paul, I know your secret – I know that you’re totally gay for Jacob.  I get it, he has a face like an unlit candle, you guys were always gonna’ get your gay on.

Paul: That’s a surprisingly crude way of putting it, but actually that’s not the secret.  The secret is that Jacob is a killing virgin.

There is a flashback to 2009 when Jacob tells a spectacularly unconvincing lie about his ‘first time’ which they all believe because they’re exceptionally dull-witted. Paul has curlier hair and wears glasses to emphasise that he’s a total loser-outsider.

Paul: Man I was such a loser-outsider then before I met you guys and formed this weird threeway thing.

Emma: Threeway comes later.

Paul: What?

Emma: Nothing.  I can’t believe Jacob lied to me – that is so not cool.

Paul: I know, right.

Emma: Here’s a knife, Jacob, go into the basement alone and kill the girl.  We don’t need to be there, we’ll just take your word for it that you killed her and didn’t let her escape.

Later Jacob will go to the basement, find that he’s unable to kill the girl and instead help her to escape so she can hide in the barn.

____

At the restaurant:

Ryan: Wow I can’t believe that after I read the note and put on the blindfold like you wanted, you hit me in the head and tied me up.  They don’t train you for this at FBI.

Maggie: I know about your pacemaker, here is a magnet, which will totally kill you.  The likelihood of you actually coming here alone without alerting anyone at all is vanishingly small, but I’m going to accept your word at face value and kill you in a slow, James Bond villain sort of way.  By the way I’m totes off message on this, so don’t think I’ll let you live just cause’ James Purefoy gives me a total lady boner and he wants you to suffer at least until the end of the series unless we get picked up for another one.

Mike: By the power of FBI I demand you stop this nonsense.

Maggie: You really want to go, kid? I’ve got a knife.

Mike shoots her with his gun.

____

At the house:

Emma: Wow.  I am totally turned on after killing that girl.  Look Paul, I know you love Jacob and I know this is hard for you.

Paul: You mean I’m hard for you.  (he raises a hand for a high five which will never come)

Emma: Let’s wash this mud off in the shower together.  But we’re definitely not getting it on, ok?  By the way, I’m sending mixed messages here.

They start going at it.  Jacob shows up, also a bit muddy.

Jacob: Guys I’m feeling a bit emotional right now, I’m properly sorry for lying to you guys, lying is pretty much the single most awful thing anyone can do. I’m also pretty sure I should be upset that you’re both cheating on me with each other.  Wait Paul – I thought you’d gone straight up gay?

Paul: It’s ok Jacob, we don’t need labels – this is the 90s.  Now get in here so the three of us can do some kinky porno stuff to each other.

____

Ryan: Claire, we traced Maggie’s phone call to upstate New York so I’m going up there even though I probably need some medical attention and time to recuperate, having a pacemaker and an alcohol dependency problem and all. But the Bacon won’t rest until he’s saved your son.

Claire: I appreciate that, but things have been pretty tough for me since my serial killer ex-husband set his cult on me and kidnapped my boy.

Ryan: With hindsight you should’ve known he was a bad guy in the first place – he is British for Chrissakes.

Claire: You’re right…I could really do with some company and support, just someone to reach out to even just for one night because I’m terrified and emotionally wrung out.  Please stay with me – we don’t need to talk because I know you’ve got emotional issues and you’re trying to be a modern twist on the stoic John Wayne type.  I, I just need someone to hold me close, even if just for five minutes because it’s been so long since someone reached out to me and, I’m really struggling.  It, it feels like I’m drowning.  Please, I’m literally begging you.

Ryan: No can do, babe, Bacon’s gotta’ do what Bacon’s gotta’ do.

Ryan leaves.

 

The end.

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Why I Love David Sedaris

“I’d tried to straighten him out, but there’s only so much you can do for a person who thinks Auschwitz is a brand of beer.” (Naked)

I am languid and lounging, sipping coffee on the train with the opening strains of Cannonball Adderley’s rendition of Autumn Leaves caressing my ears.  It’s the third cup of coffee that my companion, the writer David Sedaris, has bought me.  He is hoping to form a sort of writers’ idea exchange.  Not dissimilar to Hemingway and Fitzgerald in Paris in decades long since past.  But that is really an excuse to get close to me, to breathe my air and gaze adoringly into my piercing ice blue eyes.

I contemplate my handsome profile reflected in the window – it’s really no wonder that the other passengers keep turning to look at me.  “Is that really him?” they ask each other, craning their necks for a better look.  The susurration of their conversation should soothe, but I find the attention exquisitely painful.  I am unusually sensitive to human emotions.  I feel myself blush; the dash of colour on my artistic cheekbones only makes my features more appealing.

It’s understandable, though, the attention.  In addition to my devastating physical beauty, I have just been awarded my sixth Nobel prize for literature, to go with my collection of Pulitzers, Peabodies and Hugos.  I am told that I was the first ever debut novelist to win the Nobel prize, and the only person simultaneously to receive the Nobel prize, People’s Choice and Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice awards.  I have not checked to see whether either is true for I am not motivated by acclaim.  People are often moved to tears by my humility and lack of conceit.

I do not write for the bragging rights, I do not write for fame.  I write not for the awards, not the money, not even the many sexual favours I receive from besotted Hollywood starlets and supermodels.

David notes that I have finished with my coffee and insists that he be allowed to buy me another from the buffet carriage.  I am famed for my consumption of coffee: it is my one vice besides red wine, sex, cigarettes, methamphetamines, vodka, marijuana and the occasional hit of smack.

The coffee is quite dreadful but I of course thank him for his kindness – my physical grace is exceeded only by my social graces.  He stares at me rapt.  I find this hero worship a little tiresome, demeaning even.  He asks me what I am listening to and begs that he be allowed to interrupt it to tell me once more just how much my work has meant to him.

“Your latest book,” he says, “it’s really something else.”

I smile indulgently and note the awkward pun, the weak attempt to wheedle his way into my social circle.  I was there, I saw what he did; I was in the front row, is what he imagines he will say to my future biographers: he was real and authentic and in my time with him I myself became more tangible.  But what David doesn’t know is that I am a loner, indeed it is an irony that I am so praised by critics and the public for subverting the cliché of the lone wolf.  I have no social circle, and no real peers either.

This is not hubris you understand, but one of my many sources of pain; as I have said, I am unusually sensitive to the human condition.

“Seriously, the first time I read your work I realised how awful I am, how crude is my own writing. God, that first one was like someone dropping a toaster into your hot bath while you’re in the middle of an orgasm, it was that good!”

I do not really follow; I start at the start and write to the end.  My work barely even needs editing.  And once it has been published I never think of it again – I have never read a single one of my own books.  The memories brought up by each and every word would probably kill me.

It would sadden me to know that I can never enjoy the fruits of my own labour, but I don’t think in such egotistical terms.  It’s one of the personal qualities that is most often commented on by others.

In any case, I have very little time in which to enjoy myself.  I am considered by other authors to be extremely prolific, publishing between 5 and 6 novels a year not including my nonfiction works.  I am naturally athletic and my body more or less effortless, but I enjoy running double marathons twice a week.  I don’t keep track of my times, because I’m not competitive.  Professional distance runners have often complimented me on my technique, speed and endurance.

Everyone needs a hobby.

I am also driven to give my time and my money.  Mothers stop me in the street to bless their children.  My accountant is forever asking me to double-check his calculations; my lawyer relies on me to assess her legal opinions and modify them accordingly.  It’s exhausting, but I am compelled to offer what I can.

I have founded a hospital for children with weak chins and girlish hands; I have started a charity for the rare furless mountain bear and raised their young as my own.  I often weep for all the furless mountain bears that suffer and die within a month of birth because they have no fur and live high up in the Himalayas.

David can sense my kindly and forgiving nature; it’s the only way he can bring himself to spend time with me.  Unlike me, poor David is riven with crushing self-doubt.  He feels clumsy and oafish, because he is, but I would never dream of saying so.  If there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s condescension towards others.

I am aware of my incredible genetic gifts; I just prefer not to talk about them.

“Why don’t you get out of bed little Lord Fauntleroy; it’s 10:30am! And get a goddam job, asshole, go to business school, go to law school, just do something with yourself!”  My mother denies that I am adopted, although she is willing to say that I was an accident and a mistake.  She lights a cigarette and wanders off, muttering to herself “I don’t know where he gets it; his father isn’t this goddam lazy…”

__

David Sedaris is the writer of several essay collections, as well as a playwright and novelist.  He shot to fame in 1992 with his essay The SantaLand Diaries, an account of his experiences working as a department store elf.  This is included in Barrel Fever (1994).

His stories about his life and family are so heavily exaggerated that they should not be sold as nonfiction even though they are.

Needless to say, I believe every word of them.

Funny as a heart attack and on occasion emotional as an episode of Glee, Sedaris is acidic, sweet, self-deprecating, self-aggrandising and bitchy, but always sharp.

If you’ve not heard of him or read any of his work, do so.  If you have and have and don’t like it, well as I always say: there’s just no hope for some people.

“I hate you’ she said to me one afternoon. ‘I really, really hate you.’ Call me sensitive, but I couldn’t help but take it personally.” (Me Talk Pretty One Day)

Why I Love Homeland

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

Previously on Homeland:

CIA Procurement Dept:  Guys we’ve got the new vehicles in for your stealthy ops.  You get a choice of enormous black SUVs with tinted windows, or massive vans.

CIA Operatives:  Won’t they be a little bit obvious?

CIA Procurement:  EXACTLY. It’s a double bluff – no one would think we’d be stupid enough to use vehicles that might as well come with “CIA Super-Secret Missions” written on the side.

CIA Ops:  That doesn’t make much sense.

Carrie:  Look, I know we’re in a race against time to stop a(nother) terrorist attack on our soil, but I don’t know this Quinn guy even though the CIA is a pretty secretive organisation so that’s not that unusual.  Check him out for me: I think he played Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice.  So I don’t trust him.  And he’s British, so, y’know, BAD GUY ALERT.

Virgil:  He’s British? Jeez why didn’t you say?

Carrie:  Back the fuck away, Sergeant Mike.

Sgt Mike:  Uh, I’m actually like a captain.  Or am I a major now? I forget.

Carrie:  Jeez you’re wet.  Yeah the show’s writers have been doing that too.  Who’s the mole from series 1, for example?

Sgt Mike:  They’ll pick that up again, maybe next series now that we’ve got to stretch this thing a bit more.

Carrie:  We got picked up for series 3?  Go us! Anyway, fuck off, Mike, Brody’s mine.  I mean ours. The CIA’s.

_____

Virgil:  Quinn’s apartment is well secured – he’s got coins on his windows and everything.  Also, it’s kind of empty except for this convenient photo and a copy of Great Expectations.  Is that some kind of clue?

Saul:  Gosh, I wonder who he really is.  Get your gimp to follow him.

Virgil’s Gimp:  ZOUNDS!! He got off a bus and crossed the street to get on another bus; I am confounded with shock at how slippery this guy is.

(does a massively obvious U-turn)

Virgil’s Gimp:  I will pull up by the side of the bus and photograph him in my black super-not-obvious van.  That he would undoubtedly recognise if he just looked out the window.

Saul:  Well I shook the trees by sort of cack-handedly talking to his ex. Totes deliberate, by the by, not a screw-up.  Trust the beard.  So he’s probably suspicious, but I doubt he’ll go so far as to look out the window.  Who’s he talking to?

Virgil:  I have some photographs.

Saul:  OM effin’ G he’s that guy from Amadeus.  He got all twisted ‘cause he couldn’t write music as well as some 5 year old, joined the CIA and now he black ops kills people.  Quinn must be black ops too.  I thought there was something off about him STABBING BRODY IN THE HAND that time, which isn’t in the training manual.

Meanwhile…

Sergeant Mike:  Carrie called me, you know, the crazy lady from the CIA who everyone inexplicably still trusts to go out in the field despite being the very definition of loose cannon.  Nice lady.  Anyway, I’ve got to take you somewhere real safe.

Jessica Brody:  Carrie’s a straight shooter; I don’t believe that she’s got you of all people to take me away in a stressful situation as a ruse to get us to bump uglies.

Sgt Mike:  The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.  Great ass, by the way, you been working out?  I’ll get the kids.

Dana Brody:  Fuck you I won’t go.

Sgt Mike:  You don’t get to talk to me that way.  Now I’ve given you the smackdown, people might start to like me more.

Dana Brody:  Wow, you’re right, suddenly you seem less like a weak plot device turned unintentional comic relief.  Can we explore my hit and run subplot a bit more?

Everyone:  No, Dallas rang; it wants its plotlines back.  They threatened to sue.

Brody:  Roya, I’ve got the Veep to agree to do this thing with the returning soldiers and everything because that would be a really good way to announce me as his running mate even though I’ve only been a Congressman for 5 minutes and before then I spent 8 years in captivity and am probably all kinds of batshit crazy.

Roya:  Wow, it is quite fantastically unbelievable that you’ve managed to do exactly what we want even though we know you’re in bed with the CIA and your reliability and loyalty are suspect.  We’re not even going to question that.  By the by, this is an unsecure line BUT WHEN THE BOMB GOES OFF YOU NEED TO BE WITH ME.

Brody:  Ok.

CIA:  She’s just given a hint about the bomb; they definitely think Brody’s loyal and reliable.  It could be a ruse to distract us, but it might not be.

Later…

Chris Brody:  Wow this is a CIA safe house?

CIA Lady:  Yes it is, check that view. Do you know what that represents?

Chris Brody:  No?

CIA Lady:  Defence Budget, LOL.  You should’ve seen our Christmas party last year.

Sgt Mike:  Dana, because you were rude to me earlier, I’m gonna bang your mum.

Jessica Brody:  The kids will sleep in my room, you get the guest room. Don’t worry, I spiked their dinner so they won’t wake up; let’s get it on with some gratuitous nudity, Sgt Mike.

Sgt Mike:  Ok, but I’m leaving my PJs on.  Leave the light off.  And don’t you dare LOOK AT ME!

CIA Ops Assigned To Look After Brody’s Family:  I can’t believe they didn’t think we’d have the place completely wired up for picture and sound.  Who wants to see Morena Baccarin’s breasts?

Next day…

Carrie:  I can’t believe I’ve not been given much opportunity to show off my crazy face this episode.  It’s got its own Tumblr account.

Saul:  About that, we’ve got a really sensitive mission; I think you might want to be there?

David Estes:  Everyone, I’m sending Quinn out.

Saul:  Is that a good idea to send a CIA analyst on an FBI mission because the CIA can’t legally operate within the USA or at least it’s a grey area?  It’s not like he did a good job at the tailor’s in Gettysburg.  How is your stomach in which you were recently shot?

Quinn:  I’m fit as a fiddle.  It’s like it never even happened.

Estes:  Quinn’s wearing two hats which should make him extra super-secret and spyish, because they’re both fedoras.

Saul:  Ok fine, but my beard is bristling with indignation.  Anyway, let’s watch the screens peeps.  At no point will I or anyone else register the fact that Quinn is nowhere to be seen.

Shady-looking probable terrorists very obviously swap camera batteries between vans…

Carrie:  That battery weighs at least 200 pounds.  It must be a bomb or something.

Saul:  What’s that in metric?

Carrie:  OMG Nazir’s not there.  I can’t believe that he’s not there.  He should be there like he is for all his terrorist attacks, even though he never has before.  Sort of relieved though, there are a few more episodes to go this series, and if we wrap this up we might have to get back into that bullshit hit and run subplot.

Estes:  Quinn, best not shoot Brody in that limo you’re driving because it might ruin the upholstery.

Quinn:  Oh but I wanna’… fine.

Brody:  Quinn, what are you doing here driving this limo that I am just getting into on a day I know there might be a terrorist attack and might need watching and/or protecting?

Quinn:  We got EVERY SINGLE TERRORIST.  Except Nazir.  So just for right now I’m your best friend in the whole world.

Brody:  In no way do I feel threatened by that statement, even though you stabbed me in the hand.

____

I also love the lack of any actual security at Langley – the phone calls, loud conversations in corridors, the open plan CIA offices in which Carrie can walk right into some sort of ops hub wearing only a visitor’s pass.  THAT’s the mole, or rather, everyone who works there is – place is leakier than the Mary Rose.

Oh and: Brody: Jessica, I’m working for the CIA, you can’t tell anyone.

5 minutes later… Jessica: Sgt Mike, Brody’s working for the CIA, you can’t tell anyone, like I didn’t.

See also Quinn’s evidence board (he really loves The Wire), which is right there in Brody’s face earlier in the season even though no one trusts him.  That really makes no sense, but that’s how Quinn rolls.  Because he fucked with Lizzie Bennett’s emotions and lied about why Darcy hated him.

Shark well and truly jumped.

God Bless Homeland.