Wednesday, July 24, 2013

666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue
Episode 13: Lazarus, Part 1
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

I'm sorry I'm a little confused here. The title for the series finale seems to imply there's going to be a second part. This might have been the plan when they first came up with the episode but they were told in advance that they were going to get canceled. They surely had enough time to drop the “Part One” from the episode title. It's not like the episode even ended on a cliff-hanger. If anything, it's the closest thing to an ending we could get. Henry has been elected mayor, Jane is now working directly under Gavin, and Gavin is still the most powerful man in the show. The love triangle turns out to be the biggest waste of time as it doesn't add anything at all to the conclusion. What was the point of following them this whole time if they were just going to get stuck in a wall before they could actually influence the main plot? It feels like they were filler or merely added because the show thought it needed a love triangle to help attract viewers. Oh, I guess there was a cliff-hanger where Gavin basically prophesies that Jane's child is going to be a leader that takes over the world or something. The episode ends with Jane revealing she's pregnant. It's a big moment but it lacks any push a cliff-hanger should have. If anything, it actually feels more finite. Why is that? I'll cover that in a bit. Lazarus, Part 1 implies there's going to be a second part but there won't be. This show is done but it's not like the ending completely leaves the viewer hanging. If anything, it just feels like a good place to finish the series. Granted, that might be because we still don't know the show's universe, it's actual rules, or what the show is actually about. The viewer is just as lost as ever and I guess they'll never figure out how all the details come together. What is the Order of the Dragon? What is Gavin? What is his power? Why does Gavin want Henry to win his election seat? There's a lot questions that won't be answered but I'm strangely okay with that. I don't think I need to ask the writers because I have a suspicion that they don't know. That they were just making stuff up as they went along. I think that's why they never properly defined the show: it allowed them to do whatever they wanted without having to worry about fulfilling some established canon. Those who were expecting answers from 666 Park Avenue shouldn't be surprised that we got very little. In fact, the only question that got answered is what Jane's destiny was.

The most frustrating part of the finale has to go to the love triangle. It's back to just two people now because Alexis is dead. Brian and Louise decide to depose of the body by hiding it in the basement. Only they are the most incompetent people ever because Louise accidentally leaves her earring with the body. They go back to the covered up hole in the wall where the body is only to discover it's gone. Gavin reveals himself, gives his usual speech about how he owns them, and then they get stuck in the wall for all of eternity. At least until they die from thirst. That's it. We just watched their whole plot arc so that they could be stuck inside the Drake. It's so anti-climatic, so unimportant to everything that's going on, that it deflates the whole narrative. A tightly written finale would have found a way to make their plot relevant to the main narrative. It would have mattered. It wouldn't have literally been buried away, to be forgotten. It's so irrelevant that it's mind-puzzling. They must have realized they had a whole portion of the show going on that was very detached from everything that was going on. They didn't bother attaching it but rather merely made it go away. That's just lazy. What were the writers thinking? I guess it's tragic their going to suffocate to death or die from thirst but it's just not enough. Brian and Louise were never strong enough characters nor did I care about them as a couple to really care about the plot on it's own merits. It needed to matter and the writers utterly failed at this point because they didn't even try. I could have at least respected them if they had failed miserably after trying because at least it's a sign of effort. The way they did it was just a slap in the face to anyone who has stuck through the show for the whole season, wondering where they were taking the love triangle arc. Wondering how it was going to make a difference.

The Henry plot basically reveals how he wins the election. He's the only candidate who doesn't attack that city councilman for sleeping with a staff member. He's taking the high road because he wants to run on integrity. Gavin isn't sure this is going to work until the former city councilman kills himself. Suddenly, taking the high road turned out to be a bright idea. Gavin thinks that this was some calculated political move but Henry was just being a good guy who caught a break. I wouldn't say lucky because a man died and all plus it's weighing heavily on Henry's mind. There's never any real question he's going to win. The series never tries to create any real tension and we skip through the whole campaign process. Considering how it would have likely just been Gavin disagreeing with Henry about taking the high road every step of the way, this is probably a good thing that we rushed to the end. I guess it's nice we got to see Henry get his dream of becoming a local politician but the reality is that we don't find out why Gavin wanted this to happen. It does but then we never learn about his purpose with Henry. Why did he want to use Jane to get through Henry before he found out who she was? Why was he so important? We'll never know and I doubt the writers do either. While we may have gotten the predictable resolution here there is just as little resolution when it comes to why it was important.

The final piece of the puzzle is Jane. She's been trying to discover her place at the Drake and she has one by the end of the episode. She tries to use her father to get some answers but she discovers the shocking secret that her dad drowned her mom. Granted, her dad had no control over his own actions at the moment but it's a pretty big revelation nonetheless. This gets overshadowed when her dad shoots Henry. Her father is taken away to be killed by the mafia guy while Gavin offers Jane the chance to save her fiance. He does two things before he's willing to do that. The first is that Gavin reveals that he's actually....Jane's father! Star Wars twist! He believes this is the reason that Jane was sent to the Drake. I guess her whole mission and quest to release the magic or whatever was just a huge red herring. Jane is going to join her dad on the dark side because of Henry. See Gavin is only willing to save his life is Jane joins him in fulfilling people's needs via deals that always end badly for them. Now the series missed a great opportunity here. Jane was always searching for answers about the Drake, not just herself. The writers could have taken some time (away from the love triangle plot) in a cool montage sequence to finally establish what Gavin is and the guidelines. They could have even made a cool montage out of it. They could have used it to explain the show's universe but they don't. So while we know Jane's destiny, we' still don't know the secrets of the place. Which basically means it was all a giant waste of time as well.

I don't just mean the narrative. I mean the whole show. The show's universe wasn't a small part of's literally the series. You can talk about how 666 Park Avenue is about a supernatural hotel with an owner who does deals but your only explaining the basic premise. Why is the hotel supernatural? What gives the owner his power? What is the owner? It's these questions that 666 Park Avenue should have answered from day one. By being clear about this, then we would have a clue what's going on. When Gavin gives his prediction about his grandson, it's hard to comprehend the magnitude of this because we don't know Gavin's power. 666 Park Avenue might have done some cool stuff during it's run but it ended up being a huge waste of time. The love triangle was buried away, we never find out why Henry needed to enter politics, and we don't know anything about the Drake or Gavin. All we know is that Jane is now his partner but we don't really know what that means. It was fun while it lasted but it was a big waste of time.

The name Lazarus, Part 1 might fit this episode better than I thought. Not because there will be a part two but because it promises something that's never going to deliver. 666 Park Avenue might have had characters, episodes, writers, actors, sets and props but they never really came together to form a cohesive whole. It was more of a shadow of a real television show. A fake one that could never become a real one because I don't think anybody involved knew what this show was really about. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of fans left the finale feeling cheated. They were. They just watched thirteen episodes only to find out there were no answers waiting for them. Simply the harsh reality that nothing that happened ultimately mattered. Even Jane's turn to the evil side meant anything she did before this episode was a waste of time. Likewise, this episode setting up a second part is a waste of time because there isn't going to be one. It's merely an illusion. Which is why I think I'm okay that I got no real closure from 666 Park Avenue. Why I don't care that almost none of the questions were answered: it's because this was only pretending to be a television show. It had no universe, no set rules, and it was all mystery. It was simply...spinning the wheels from the very moment it begun. That is 666 Park Avenue: a machine meant to fool you into thinking your were watching something real. But ultimately it failed because audiences didn't fall for the trap. They recognized a fake show when they saw it. I guess I was just a fool sticking around, hoping it would become real like Pinocchio but there was no Blue Fairy this time.

Other Notes:

Also, I partly stuck around because of the amazing cinematography. Seriously: it rocked.

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