Haven't seen this mentioned: at the beginning of the Sunset Blvd. clip, Norma Desmond mentions "the old team back together again...nothing can stop us!" I presume, combined with the Gordon shoutout, this deliberately teases a reunion between Coop and his former colleagues. And of course there's the added irony that Gordon's name is spoken by Cecil B. DeMille (playing himself), a founding father of cinema and a decidedly mainstream director. What a perfect clip.
On my cold viewing of this Part, I missed Hutch's line about the US being built on the murder of "Indians." Another strange case of a topic that obviously interested Mark being very casually name-dropped in almost whimsical fashion (a la Lewis & Clark in Wally Brando's ramblings). There's a "chicken or the egg" quality to all this. We know TSHoTP was written after the script was done, at the same time DKL was filming...we also know a lot of stuff on the show was added/expanded during filming (unclear how involved Mark was in the process, or how much was scripted vs. improvised on set). Obviously, the NM nuclear test stuff was written into the script then expanded on in the book...but when it comes to these casual, almost inconsequential, mentions of topics Mark explored in the book...did DKL drop them into the show during filming at Mark's request as little Easter eggs, or were they in the original script? BTW, Chantal and Hutch really started to grow on me with my rewatch of this Part. Their little scene was perfect, especially the button at the end of Chantal pointing out Mars. Up until tonight, I was sort of of the opinion that JJL was a bit wasted on this material, but I really fell in love with the character tonight rewatching that scene. There's almost a childlike innocence to her alongside the casual cruelty (sort of reminiscent of Taryn Manning as Doggett on Orange Is the New Black).
The Gersten/Steven scene didn't do much for me on first viewing (maybe because I was struggling to make out the dialogue, and my streaming feed was also freezing repeatedly, frustrating me)...but on rewatch, I found it mesmerizing. As soon as I finished rewatching the Part, I went back and watched that scene again with subtitles on, then again with subtitles off, having internalized the dialogue. The performances are raw and beautiful (I've been in love with Alicia Witt ever since I first saw the "Blackout" Hotel Room episode; I've been looking forward to seeing what DKL gave her in TP:TR, and I'm glad it ended up being such a powerful scene. Goddamn, she delivers). The prolonged closeup of the two is claustrophobic and suffocating....then without warning, DKL suddenly propels us into one of the clinically distant super-wide-shots that have been a trademark of this work, making us feel the alienating emptiness of the entire woods, the entire world, with these two tiny people so alone and isolated. On the one hand, I understand -- and even agree with, to some extent -- the argument that these characters haven't been properly developed and built-up from a conventional narrative standpoint, that we have no reason to care about them. But, to me, the scene itself is the reason to care about them, because it's so damn engaging. If this were a standalone 5-minute short film, no one would be complaining that we didn't have hours of setup and backstory. I'm not trying to excuse TP:TR for its unconventional and occasionally flat-out sloppy narrative progression (see Walter Lawford, who may as well have "Dramatic Device" printed on his business card); this is an element of the show I think many of us will struggle with and debate for years. I love seeing DKL experiment with expectations and spit in the face of convention, but that doesn't mean everything he does is gold, or that he and Mark aren't just lazy or overconfident in themselves sometimes. And, if this is the end of Steven, there's a good argument to be made that we should have seen more of him / been more invested. (And if Becky did indeed die offscreen, that's a whole other percolator of fish.) But, big picture aside, I honestly think this was one of the more incredible scenes we've gotten from TP:TR, and along with the Log Lady death sequence, functions as Exhibit A against those who claim there is a lack of humanity in the new show. Maybe it's not the type of humanity some fans WANTED...but the characterization of this show as cold/removed just doesn't make sense to me. As I mentioned above, the Steven/Gersten scene utilizes one of those wide shots that many of the Profoundly Disappointed have cited as frustratingly distancing....but DKL deploys it in a very intentional, strategic way to conjure a particular mood, and it doesn't pull us away from the characters AT ALL. Quite the opposite, it makes us feel their isolation.
I know there are a ton of theories about Audrey (I personally love the "wood" theory), but I'm just going with it and revelling in the Beckett/Sartre of it all. I can't be the only one who finds Middleton's performance hysterically funny, right? Every line reading and gesture is a perfect manifestation of passive-aggressive impatient patience.
Has anyone commented on the fact that Margaret appears to have a second land line on the table, right next to the phone she uses to call Hawk? I've noticed it since Part 1, and always found it weird, but I don't think I've mentioned it in a post. I doubt there's any significance, but it's certainly an odd set dressing choice.