Part 13 - What story is that, Charlie? (SPOILERS)

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AXX°N N.
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Re: Part 13 - What story is that, Charlie? (SPOILERS)

Postby AXX°N N. » Mon May 25, 2020 1:21 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:I’ve come to really like most of the Mr. C material, but for some reason the arm-wrestling scene just doesn’t really do it for me. I’m always rooting for it to pull me in, but it just feels like such a normal, predictable scene that could be from any movie. It is interesting that Mr. C sort of becomes the protagonist, or at least the guy we’re rooting for, for one scene. Kyle is good as usual, and we really get a good look at those black contact lenses in his closeups, which is a pretty chilling effect. I love when he’s calling for Ray: “I came to see you, buddy!” And then, “I came to see my friend Ray.”

It's hard to consider it a normal scene, because it's so ridiculous, but I guess it's ridiculous in the way a lot of normal films are, if that makes any sense. :) I love the scene, but it's worth noting that my viewing partner was a bigger fan of it than I am. He likened it to something out of a Carpenter film, which I could see. There's also just genuinely strange things about it, though, like the weird set dressing of this middle of nowhere boy's club silo, how it's almost like a Masonic lodge of reptile brain masculinity, Richard's jarring presence, the animal nature of the gnarled crowd and the accountant. There's a lot to like about the scene, but I do agree with you and think that the writing is a little too confident about the reaction it's causing in a viewer, that it tracks it in a way that feels too much like hand-holding, and that the payoff is sort of choreographed and telegraphed. But it's for that reason too that, like LateReg says, for a scene in TP it's so ironically strange.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:What is Jeffries’s place in all this? If Ray even did speak to the actual Jeffries? He wants Ray to kill the doppel because he has “something inside that they want.” That on its face sounds like he’s allied with Judy/etc. But note that he doesn’t actually say if Jeffries is working with the “they,” or against them. If the above theory is true, Judy/the Woodsman DON’T want Mr. C killed. They want him alive with Bob inside until they can pull him back in (hence Mike and EotA being so helpful to the “good” Cooper; they want him to succeed in being the one who stays out). So by killing Mr. C, Ray would free Bob, which seems like “Jeffries” is...aligned with Bob? Or, maybe more realistically, just opposed to Judy (it’s safer to have Bob wandering as a free spirit than to let Judy reunite with him?).

Or, another possibility: Jeffries told Ray to put the ring on the doppelganger, which seems to transport Ray back to the Lodge after his death. So perhaps if Ray had put the ring on Mr. C’s corpse, Bob wouldn’t be able to escape before he was transported back. So whoever Ray was talking to IS aligned with Judy and the Woodsmen.

What’s really weird about this any which way you look at it, though, is that Ray planned to kill Cooper at Jeffries’s command BEFORE he ever got arrested, and before the prison guard gave him the ring. So initially Jeffries didn’t mention the ring, and only later did this factor come into play? It’s really convoluted no matter how you try to look at it. It would all make so much more sense if Ray just had gotten the ring earlier. Maybe Ray is just lying about who gave him the ring, but why?

Now these are some things I've never thought about. It's strange how many preconceived notions I build up without ever realizing, because teasing through these possibilities feels like a great undoing of those notions, to begin to arrive at what feels closer to the truth. And yet, it all leads back inevitably to two scenes which, all along, always felt like reversals to whatever the audience had been thinking. One is Jeffries' apparent confusion and lack of involvement all along (although this is a huge bit of plausible deniability on his part), and the other is the twist of Ray getting the upper hand, at least for a second, on Cooper with the whole gun switcheroo. Up until that point, the audience thought Mr. C was in total, almost supernatural control of the situation, and Mr. C does too, apparently genuinely shocked, if not prepared for the Woodsmen to bring him back anyway. Perhaps the whole thing with Darya, which you pointed out in an earlier thread as rather shitty on Ray's part, is actually even shittier than that. I've toyed with the notion before that Betty, Hastings' assistant, was never involved and Ray roped her in as a kind of scapegoat to deter Mr. C from finding Brigg's body, because Ray never mentions Ruth to Mr. C, only Betty, whose car he later rigs to explode after trusting that Ray got the pertinent info from her. Maybe along the same lines, Darya was set up to get killed and make Mr. C believe that Ray was totally ineffectual. It's Ray's call that gets her killed, and yet his call is already part of the lie and set-up with the prison. And Mr. C does, creepily and almost in a savoring way, seem reassured and confident while killing Darya, and it's that scene which contributes also to our sense that Mr. C is unstoppable. Perhaps this is the way you can get Mr. C's guard down in a Bond fashion, but instead of the promise of a lasting romance with a damsel who later turns on him, it's the turning on and the offering up of her to him for a brutal and lascivious killing. :o

Mr. Reindeer wrote:Also, if I am correct, and the only viable options are to let Bob roam the Earth as a destructive free spirit ruining lives, or send him back and give Judy what she wants (which, according to TFD, could result in the destruction of the world)...sheesh. What a choice to make.

I love this way of looking at it, from the potential eyes of those having to make the hard calls. Feels close to the 'hard decisions' way of looking at the Fireman's actions.
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Re: Part 13 - What story is that, Charlie? (SPOILERS)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Mon May 25, 2020 7:29 am

AXX°N N. wrote:Now these are some things I've never thought about. It's strange how many preconceived notions I build up without ever realizing, because teasing through these possibilities feels like a great undoing of those notions, to begin to arrive at what feels closer to the truth. And yet, it all leads back inevitably to two scenes which, all along, always felt like reversals to whatever the audience had been thinking. One is Jeffries' apparent confusion and lack of involvement all along (although this is a huge bit of plausible deniability on his part), and the other is the twist of Ray getting the upper hand, at least for a second, on Cooper with the whole gun switcheroo. Up until that point, the audience thought Mr. C was in total, almost supernatural control of the situation, and Mr. C does too, apparently genuinely shocked, if not prepared for the Woodsmen to bring him back anyway. Perhaps the whole thing with Darya, which you pointed out in an earlier thread as rather shitty on Ray's part, is actually even shittier than that. I've toyed with the notion before that Betty, Hastings' assistant, was never involved and Ray roped her in as a kind of scapegoat to deter Mr. C from finding Brigg's body, because Ray never mentions Ruth to Mr. C, only Betty, whose car he later rigs to explode after trusting that Ray got the pertinent info from her. Maybe along the same lines, Darya was set up to get killed and make Mr. C believe that Ray was totally ineffectual. It's Ray's call that gets her killed, and yet his call is already part of the lie and set-up with the prison. And Mr. C does, creepily and almost in a savoring way, seem reassured and confident while killing Darya, and it's that scene which contributes also to our sense that Mr. C is unstoppable. Perhaps this is the way you can get Mr. C's guard down in a Bond fashion, but instead of the promise of a lasting romance with a damsel who later turns on him, it's the turning on and the offering up of her to him for a brutal and lascivious killing. :o


I’m always hesitant to get too off-text with theorizing, but I do like this idea as something to think about. Listen to the way Ray says, “Betty, his pretty secretary,” with seeming disdain in Part 13. That fucker Ray has so many allegiances, who knows what he’s up to! (BTW, I’m waiting to see if we ever hear Mr. C curse again. That line may be the only time in all of TP where an incarnation of Coop says a stronger cuss word than “damn”).

Mr. Reindeer wrote:Also, if I am correct, and the only viable options are to let Bob roam the Earth as a destructive free spirit ruining lives, or send him back and give Judy what she wants (which, according to TFD, could result in the destruction of the world)...sheesh. What a choice to make.

I love this way of looking at it, from the potential eyes of those having to make the hard calls. Feels close to the 'hard decisions' way of looking at the Fireman's actions.


Of course, the Fireman apparently found a loophole/cheat with the green glove.
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Re: Part 13 - What story is that, Charlie? (SPOILERS)

Postby LateReg » Mon May 25, 2020 9:27 am

AXX°N N. wrote:
Mr. Reindeer wrote:I’ve come to really like most of the Mr. C material, but for some reason the arm-wrestling scene just doesn’t really do it for me. I’m always rooting for it to pull me in, but it just feels like such a normal, predictable scene that could be from any movie. It is interesting that Mr. C sort of becomes the protagonist, or at least the guy we’re rooting for, for one scene. Kyle is good as usual, and we really get a good look at those black contact lenses in his closeups, which is a pretty chilling effect. I love when he’s calling for Ray: “I came to see you, buddy!” And then, “I came to see my friend Ray.”

It's hard to consider it a normal scene, because it's so ridiculous, but I guess it's ridiculous in the way a lot of normal films are, if that makes any sense. :) I love the scene, but it's worth noting that my viewing partner was a bigger fan of it than I am. He likened it to something out of a Carpenter film, which I could see. There's also just genuinely strange things about it, though, like the weird set dressing of this middle of nowhere boy's club silo, how it's almost like a Masonic lodge of reptile brain masculinity, Richard's jarring presence, the animal nature of the gnarled crowd and the accountant. There's a lot to like about the scene, but I do agree with you and think that the writing is a little too confident about the reaction it's causing in a viewer, that it tracks it in a way that feels too much like hand-holding, and that the payoff is sort of choreographed and telegraphed. But it's for that reason too that, like LateReg says, for a scene in TP it's so ironically strange.


When you say that it's confident in the reaction it's causing in the viewer, what reaction is that, exactly? Viewed in this way - as confident in the reaction it's getting - the scene is even more complicated and powerful. It fits in with so much of The Return either predicting viewer response or literally speaking the viewer's thoughts in real time. Again, I don't see the scene as predictable at all, or I should say that I certainly do find it to be a true original, but there's a definite power in the most "expected" or telegraphed outcome to occur; I definitely don't see any hand-holding, at least not in any negative sense. After all, the last time we saw Mr. C, Ray got the drop on him in what was one of the most surprising plot twists of the series. Might that happen again here, which is absolutely a possibility? Or will it provide Mr. C with the opportunity to re-assert his dominance? It makes the viewer very curious as to which way it will go, and I think confidence is gained as to which way it will go only gradually throughout the scene, and so I think the scene is operating on a few levels of playing with expectation at once. On the one hand, it is encouraging the viewer to root against Mr. C alongside the roaring crowd. "Take him down!" is indeed a hilariously intense statement, and I'm right there with Ray. On the other hand, such rousing noise eventually encourages the viewer to root for Mr. C, partly because the viscera is so strong, partly because we want to see what will happen and what Mr. C is capable of (it's the scariest Mr. C is since the Daria scene, so for me it lives up to having not seen him for 3 Parts), and partly because, on the level of pure storytelling that also happens to be about storytelling, we NEED Mr. C to win so that he can advance towards his confrontation with Cooper. It's just masterfully accomplished storytelling that fits right in with the viewer participation angle of The Return, which demands the viewer to want certain things from it.

But this in-depth analysis is all moot. It's the greatest, wildest arm wrestling scene in cinema history, full-stop, so what the heck more could we ask of it? :D

One thing I'm wondering that seemed easier to speculate on when the Part first aired than it is now...what exactly might the whole repetitive "starting positions" speech be about? While it aired, I thought it was about how the series was knowingly holding us at a standstill (time standing still and doubling back on itself in Parts 9 - 13) before it might advance into something much more uncomfortable. But since that week long speculation between parts, I've been wondering what extra meaning the dialogue may hold.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:Also, if I am correct, and the only viable options are to let Bob roam the Earth as a destructive free spirit ruining lives, or send him back and give Judy what she wants (which, according to TFD, could result in the destruction of the world)...sheesh. What a choice to make.


Very interesting. Is there a third option? Which is that Bob goes back to the lodge so that he is kept from Judy, who perhaps doesn't have access to the waiting room? Or does Part 2's "I will be with Bob again" prove that Judy wants Bob returned to the lodge, which is the precise place that she can unite with him?
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Re: Part 13 - What story is that, Charlie? (SPOILERS)

Postby AXX°N N. » Tue May 26, 2020 8:33 am

LateReg wrote:When you say that it's confident in the reaction it's causing in the viewer, what reaction is that, exactly? Viewed in this way - as confident in the reaction it's getting - the scene is even more complicated and powerful. It fits in with so much of The Return either predicting viewer response or literally speaking the viewer's thoughts in real time. Again, I don't see the scene as predictable at all, or I should say that I certainly do find it to be a true original, but there's a definite power in the most "expected" or telegraphed outcome to occur; I definitely don't see any hand-holding, at least not in any negative sense. After all, the last time we saw Mr. C, Ray got the drop on him in what was one of the most surprising plot twists of the series. Might that happen again here, which is absolutely a possibility? Or will it provide Mr. C with the opportunity to re-assert his dominance? It makes the viewer very curious as to which way it will go, and I think confidence is gained as to which way it will go only gradually throughout the scene, and so I think the scene is operating on a few levels of playing with expectation at once. On the one hand, it is encouraging the viewer to root against Mr. C alongside the roaring crowd. "Take him down!" is indeed a hilariously intense statement, and I'm right there with Ray. On the other hand, such rousing noise eventually encourages the viewer to root for Mr. C, partly because the viscera is so strong, partly because we want to see what will happen and what Mr. C is capable of (it's the scariest Mr. C is since the Daria scene, so for me it lives up to having not seen him for 3 Parts), and partly because, on the level of pure storytelling that also happens to be about storytelling, we NEED Mr. C to win so that he can advance towards his confrontation with Cooper. It's just masterfully accomplished storytelling that fits right in with the viewer participation angle of The Return, which demands the viewer to want certain things from it.

Certainly the apprehension and uncertainty and everything else you describe is part of the desired reaction and one of the beats--but as soon as Cooper is doing the starting positions schtick, the next beat is the expecation that Rizzo has no chance (which seems obvious), and then there's the unexpected knockout shot, the desired reaction returning to surprise.

As for me, I'm rooting for Mr. C the whole way, because the gaggle of dudes are so clearly lowlives and whatever Mr. C can advance for the viewer is far more interesting than a setback as brought on by these guys--and also, we've already seen what a setback for Mr. C looks like. The next time he's in a jam and it's extremely interesting, it's with Jeffries, and it's because Jeffries too is an obscure entity and more of a challenge.

As for the meaning of starting positions, I've always taken it as being somehow metacontextual and referring to the sense that there's a time loop going on, or the possibility to undo certain things. Or perhaps keeping in mind that TFD suggests the return of Bob to Judy harkens the end of the world, the 'starting position' is oblivion, perhaps the cut to black which ends the series.
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