Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Save Me

Save Me
Episode 5: Whatever the Weather
Episode 6: Heavenly Hostess
By: Carlos Uribe

Save Me is a show about a girl who thinks God is talking to her and has made her a prophet. I will be covering this show weekly.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Whatever the Weather:

One of the favorite commandments that my parents like to use is “Honor Thy Mother and Thy Father”. They pretty much go this commandment anytime I'm hesitant to obey them. It never really works but they continue to go with it because it's representative of their desire to be honored. They want to be respected by their kids. This commandment forms the basis for this week's narrative. It begins with Beth leaving multiple voice mails to her parents in an effort to reconnect with them and tell them that she loves them. She's trying to follow the amendment herself. It's a pity that the episode drops this element of the plot at the beginning. It would have been interesting to not only meet Beth's parents to see their reaction to her daughter's revelation that she is speaking to God. It could have also played into Beth's desire for her daughter to follow the commandment. There's a funny moment where she tries to show her daughter how to honor someone by example and there's a missed opportunity to back that up with Beth using her newfound attitude towards her parents to back it up. The episode actually is all over the place because it doesn't do this. Beth's desire is to earn the honor of her daughter. This begins with trying to be there for her daughter before following her instructions to go take God's love out to the world. Not only does this not really make a lot of sense but putting Beth at the workplace loses the touch with the commandment. Beth can't really be honoring her parents and I fail to see how Emily will honor her by doing this. If anything, it felt like a narrative move that was made because the writers didn't know where to take the story or because they were too busy trying to justify Beth going to her old workplace. There are ways the writers could have handled this-maybe Beth's dad works as a news anchor or something-but it really does make Whatever the Weather seem like it was done with a whatever attitude.

The first part of the plot was with Beth starting to honor her parents. The second part was trying to get Emily to honor her. It made sense and this was the right place for the narrative to go even if Beth's parents were in the picture. It would have made for a really tight plot if they were but they aren't so we're stuck with a decent plot at this point. Beth tries her best but she keeps falling short because Emily wants nothing to do with her. When Beth embarrasses Emily at her lacrosse game, Beth is banned from going to any games. She's making no progress with Emily and is told that she should take her desire to share God's love to the world rather than with her. A good plot would have ignored this suggestion and simply had Beth find another way to get Emily's respect. You know, a way that would have made sense. An example is honoring her parents or finding a way to earn her daughter's respect by surprising her in a personal manner. Beth going back to work might get some respect but it's nothing unique to their relationship. This needed to be a way for Beth to show that she loves her daughter in a way that would actually have reached her. As it is, the episode makes the mistake of having the plot go into a third part that has very little to actually do with the commandment that is driving the narrative of this episode. Which makes it go from a decent plot to a weak one as it loses a lot of focus and the climax doesn't feel earned. It was at least funny and entertaining throughout but I would have enjoyed a much tighter, rewarding plot more.

So Beth takes her new personality to her old workplace when she gets the idea of a news segment that focuses on making people happy. She wants stories about puppies, kittens, and old people doing surprising things. She wants to spread happiness. There could have been a whole episode focused around her trying to rebuild the bridges she's burnt at the station and salvaging her reputation with the station. The episode cant' focus too much time on it because there's a lot of other ground that it's trying to cover. Once Beth is able to get the station manager to listen to her, it seems like she might be getting the segment she pitched. That is until God intervenes and she's forced to interrupt the news segment to predict it's going to rain. She doesn't get the job. The plot moves back into Emily-Beth territory as Beth tries once again to reconnect with her daughter. Only Beth accidentally gets injured, which leads her to the hospital where her friend works. She quickly gets a job because God is able to translate all of the patients who speak foreign languages. Emily starts to respect her mom a little because she was sorry she had accidentally injured her mom but it's frustrating because it feels like such a last-minute cop-out. Plus, the ending narration tries to justify the attention spent on Beth's career by stating that the time she was now forced to spend away from her family made them honor the time she had with them more. Which makes sense but it wasn't a message that was properly communicated by the rest of the episode at all so it felt rushed.

Heavenly Hostess:

One thing that this show gets right is that God works in mysterious ways. Beth finds herself constantly at odds with what God wants even as he always satisfies her desire at the end. Heavenly Hostess is a perfect example of that. The episode begins by setting up that Beth is hosting a garage sale. When she learns that Tom is going to have dinner with his bosses over a potential promotion, she forces him into having the dinner at their house. She'll act as the good hostess and the supporting wife that she's always wanted to be. This means having to cancel the garage sale because she can't do that and the dinner at the same day. She has to concentrate on cooking and making the house presentable. A garage sale would take her attention away from the food and the actual sale would leave her front yard a mess. She's not too disappointed because she can always have the sale later. That is until God decides he has other plans as he wants her to continue through the garage sale when people start to show up. The biggest sign of divine action comes when Beth figures out that there's an ad for her garage sale on the penny saver. An ad that nobody she knows had actually placed, which leads her to the conclusion that God actually placed the ad himself. Beth finds herself having to sell things with her friend while her daughter cooks. This leads to disaster as Emily figures out why watching a whole bunch of cooking shows might make one an expert on food but it doesn't make one a four-star chef. There’s a fire, the entry is ruined, and it looks like the dinner is going to have to be secretly brought in from one of the best restaurants.

So the food is ruined but Beth is able to finish the garage sale in time due to her friend's attitude of having to move product at any cost. This means having to sell paintings for just a few dollars and actually giving away an air hockey table away for free. The garage sale is over which leads to Beth having to set the table with the new expensive china while wearing her new dress. She's quickly joined by a few late-comers to the garage sale who quickly express interest in the china. Before Beth knows it, she's sold her dress, the china, the dining room table, and the chairs. This forces her to come up with a last-minute dining room set-up that looks very bad. It's a good time to bring up that Tom works for a hotel company where the executives really value good presentation, food and hospitality. The visit to the Harper house already ruined the presentation. The good news is that the restaurant food is good but one of the executives is disappointed because a good hostess can always cook two excellent dishes. The hospitality goes down the drain when Emily showcases her barefeet to her dad's bosses in an act of rebellion because Beth had also given away her boots. The whole dinner seems like it's going to fall apart when Beth is forced to admit that God told her to sell the china, the table, the chairs, and the pie. Tom's promotion now goes from being guaranteed to being a pipe dream. Or so it would seem because one of the executives turns out to be a Christian. She believes that she talks to God, albeit in a traditional sense, and has been given similar instructions. It's implied that the promotion has been saved and the dinner goes relatively well.

Save Me presents an interesting idea because it presents God as a conflict-creator. Beth wants to concentrate on the dinner party but she's forced to do the garage sale. Beth thinks she's done once the garage sale is done but she's quickly forced to give away her fancy dining room and clothes. When Beth is forced to admit she talks to God, it's like she's admitting she's crazy to Tom's secular bosses. It looks like God is just putting obstacles in her path to do his will that seem to contradict what she wants done. And yet, he doesn't lead her down a bad path. She might have sold stuff she needed to impress at the party but she did make a nice profit. She might have admitted she talked to God but she discovered a fellow believer who put a good perspective on the whole dinner. In other words, doing God's will actually worked out for Beth in the end even if it ended up giving her headaches. It's definably an interesting approach to religion and one that is actually preached by some Churches: God isn't there to make life easy for you.


The next episode is apparently the season finale. It's here too quickly!

God seems to be losing patience with Beth's reluctance as he has started to give her painful headaches when she tries to ignore him.

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