Tuesday, November 27, 2012

666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue
Episode 8: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
By: Carlos Uribe

666 Park Avenue is about the resident managers of a supernatural apartment.

Spoilers Ahoy!

There is one way to stall the plot and it's to have the character forget an important plot point that the narrative skips over. This episode is an example of that. It picks up 36 hours after the previous episode. Jane has been missing for that time period and Henry is searching for her. She's not under the building as she's soon shown at Times Square. She's discovered by a police officer. Where has she been since the mosaic closed on her as she's going down the spiral stairs? That's exactly what she forgets. This leaves her with a new plot to try and remember what happened to her as snippets of her memory filter throughout the episode. Stalling the plot is necessary at times but it's frustrating when it's done with this manner. When a show has a cliff-hanger that the character is about to discover something but then glosses over the actual discovery with amnesia, it makes it feel like the show is wasting the audience's time. It's possible to do this right (Fringe comes to mind) but 666 Park Avenue doesn't have the writing skills to pull it off.

The entire plot doesn't just stall but it misses some good opportunities. Jane is held at the hospital for most of the episode because she's forced to be under observation. The idea is that intense therapy will bring her memories back. There's a character who happens to resemble Nurse Ratchet in appearance. This means the show could have taken two approaches. The first is to have the nurse be an actual antagonist rather than someone who occasionally gives her pills. The second is to use the intense therapy to reveal something about the character and make her question her own sanity. The show doesn't even use a single therapy scene. It instead uses Jane to find out there's a patient in the violent wing of the hospital that knows about the spiral stair case. All this patient gives her is a mysterious sign. I'm not trying to write the show for the writers here. It's just that the episode itself sets up two directions that they could have taken but it doesn't pursue them. The show might have it's reasons and the sign might end up being important but it simply feels like an attempt by the writers to add more questions without answering any. The question becomes why the mention that Jane has to go through some therapy if you're not going to show it or why make the nurse look like she's Ratchet if she's going to be irrelevant. The writer's intentions shouldn't be compromised but they also shouldn't set themselves up for plot points they're not planning to cover. The therapy might be an excuse to keep her at the hospital but all it needed was to claim she's under observation because it's the law. It's fine if the writers are going to keep the plot on their point but it becomes annoying when it hints at something much better than we actually got.

The Jane plot gives us a simple symbol to wonder about but the Shaw plot moves forward quite a bit. He has Shaw captured and he's trying to find the location of the black box. During his questioning, Shaw tells Gavin that his daughter killed herself because she had discovered that her father is a terrible man. He makes sure to point out that his wife knows that it's a suicide. This point is important because Gavin is able to confirm it in a later scene. This information shakes him up but it's kind of disappointing how short his reaction time is. It was a major secret but the scene where he confronts his wife ends up being very anti-climatic. It's probably a good thing that the episode didn't really build up to that scene between the time Shaw tells him the truth and when he confronts her. The hype wouldn't have been worth it. Gavin is able to figure out where the red box is and he retrieves him. He goes to finish Shaw off but finds out that he escaped. How? He revealed a bigger bomb to Olivia. He tells her that her daughter is still alive and he convinces her to free him so that he may lead her to him. The scene where Olivia finds her living daughter or discovering that Shaw played her better not be anti-climatic since the series is actually building up to that.

The love triangle scenes largely continued as expected but with a few twists and turns. The turns is that Brian becomes incapable of writing when he isn't with Alexis. Let me be more clear: he literally is blocked from writing. His computer will freeze and his pens will dry out as soon as he uses them. He tired to use a pencil and it broke. The only way for him to get them to work is to go be with Alexis. The twist is that Alexis isn't seducing him of his own free will. It was pretty clear that she was seducing him with Gavin's help but this episode reveals that she's actually just paying him back for a debt that she owes him. She's starting to feel guilty about the whole love triangle she has created. This twist does lead to a lot of questions such as why Gavin wants Brian to leave Louise. It at least helps to center this entire arc more into the actual series since it becomes about the high cost of Gavin's deals. It also makes it slightly more interesting.

666 Park Avenue has a pretty good episode. It might have some flaws but I did find myself surprised when it ended because I thought for sure it was going to last a little bit longer. I was enjoying myself and the series did advance two of it's plots significantly. It might have stalled the major one a bit and it set up two potential arcs that it could have taken to make it more interesting but it was still pretty good. The series is heading towards it's series finale as it's been canceled although the finale has been altered to actually end the show and answer most questions. This episode is an indication that the series at least has something to go towards to.

Other Notes:

There was a pretty prominent “Once Upon a Time” advertisement in the Times Square section.

Whoopi Goldburg guest stars in the next episode as a neighbor who knows a lot about the Drake.

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