The spotlight belongs to Michael Fairman today for the touching Trevor Project PSA by the cast of Venice and a fantastic and lengthy interview. Worth the time. Thank you, Mr. Fairman, for being so awesome.
Welcome to the seventh in my series of angst-free Venice reviews. This post contains spoilers. We’re on twitter, btw! Kelinswriter and Jaina47 and rysler. Follow the Venice Episode Reviews at ryslerfic.
jaina47: “First thought: ‘Oh my god, she’s gorgeous.'”
For the last couple of episodes we’ve gotten our heroes in isolation. Owen brooding. Gina vacillating. Guya, who really probably shouldn’t be left alone. Episode 7 opens with that taken to its extreme. Gina is in a bleak place as she waters the plants.
kelinswriter: “Gina’s desultory plant watering in her hippie dress amuses me so.”
It’s not quite her T.S. Eliot zone, but she cannot take this anymore. Time to re-engage. Every time Gina gets a tiny victory with the Colonel it evaporates. She can barely look at him without the tension anymore. Without crying.
kelinswriter: “And this scene? Kills me. It’s official. I can’t watch this scene without crying. There’s too much emotion there.”
jaina47: “Is this like the five/seven stages of grief? Gina’s reached bargaining.”
Any time a box appears in a show, it’s going to be a magic box that will bring revelation. The box in Episode 1 unraveled Gina. This box will unravel the Colonel.
Start with what hurts the worst: Owen.
Then Katie–The character so present it’s almost like they cast her.
jaina47: “It’s almost like she’s baiting him with the photos. She just wants some reaction – any reaction from him. She’s really trying to make a connection and he’s not having it. It’s making her all sadface. Okay, I really like this scene. Obviously being called a quitter by Gina does end up affecting him, and I’m just now noticing…does Katie? The dead mom, have her own theme music?”
Gina shames her father. Still nothing. She leaves.
Where has Owen been in all these scenes? kelinswriter: “It’s not uncommon for the hero sibling to take all the responsibility in this situation. And I understand those choices.”
The nature of the party Gina’s running off to: kelinswriter: “If she leaves just to leave, she’s failing in her responsibilities. If she leaves because she has a commitment, she’s honoring her word. There is a logic in how you manage to carve time for yourself in an unmanageable situation.”
Meanwhile, Ani and Lara are drunk off their asses on the beach.
kelinswriter: “OK. Drunk!Ani? Hilarious.”
jaina47: “If they were any cuter, it’d be a crime!” Yes, thank you, Jamie. This is what I’ve been saying!”
Jess, Michele, and Jamie are there, sunning themselves. In fact, almost everyone is here. This is the opposite of isolation–interaction. kelinswriter pointed out that Venice Beach is also a character in this story and it permeates here. Owen and Sami and Van. Guya. Jess and America. The Colonel–Ani and Owen both remind her that she can’t escape him. Even Richard is there on the periphery, another part of Gina’s life. Welcome to Gina’s salon. All these people are connected to her. The bohemian actor. The fortune-teller. The girl with the gallery opening. The girl dreaming of her own decorating prowess. And the guests they’ve all brought with them. The people who aren’t couth or polished enough to join the inner circle. They’re there to cause trouble or to provide entertainment. Drew. Van. Brandon.
Is it any wonder that in the center of all this, Gina and Ani can’t take their eyes off each other?
Gina drives a gorgeous Prius. She has a gorgeous dress. And a crazy blanket. She is ready for the party. This is her party dress! She passes a van labeled Veggie Oil Powered and scoffs at it. After all, she is in Venice Beach. The hippie cultural fabric is there for her to absorb and reflect back, in all its ways.
And in this way, everything old is new again. Richard, like Van, is back home from an odyssey. Gina’s still stuck on the van.
Gina: “Is that yours?”
Gina: “What the hell is that?”
jaina47: “Also, her blanket matches his shirt…just noting. Idk.”
There are a lot of great lines in this episode and many have been quoted at me, but I do love the classic, “Be here all week. Tell your friends.” Peter Reckell is such a charmer. It’s great to see him. He’s a big hot shot soap star! And he’s still funny, isn’t he?
Richard is as surprised to see her as she is to see him, and as she walks away he knows with certainty: He gonna get laid.
Ani and Lara have become that annoying, in-love couple that cannot take their hands off each other that are at this party for the same reason Gina is–They want to show everyone they’re alive, before they descend back into their personal spaces. But they brought their personal spaces with them. It’s good to see Ani happy, but also mellow. This particular crowd–Gina’s family–is probably used to this Ani in their lives. She, too, came home.
At 5:21 I think something important happens.
Ani and Lara are so beautiful in these scenes they’re like a painting. Whoever dressed them and posed them and did their hair deserves a raise.
Gina doesn’t seem to take it personally that everyone instantly flees when she arrives. After all, she’s alone with Ani. And that makes them both ADORABLY NERVOUS. Also, I swear to God, Gina gets more beautiful in Ani’s presence. All soft and melted. Her hair looks better. Her skin looks better. That pasty weariness has evaporated.
kelinswriter: “And Gina tries to defuse it a little with that wink, and it just makes it stronger. She looks so pained afterwards. It literally hurts her to be around Ani right now. But she craves it too.”
jaina47: “Aw, damn, Gina and Ani are so adorable, what the hell do we do, with each other. But Ani can’t resist the crack. Also the Colonel is like their version of talking about the weather. When you don’t know what else to say, just go with that.”
Ani tells Gina she’s the smartest person she knows and everyone dies. Gina basks. She is the moon and Ani is the sun.
(No, I’m not drunk, have you guys SEEN Jessica Leccia in this?)
Gina smiles. Gina laughs. Gina looks like she’s going to puke from all the butterflies in her stomach. She has no fucking idea what to say.
jaina47: “That scene…I think I need to watch it a few hundred more times. There are so many layers with them and it’s like you could fill a book with all the things that they’re not saying to each other and the fact that they’re not touching is almost like physically awkward and painful. It’s just weird to them and weird to me, but in a ‘that’s how it’s supposed to be…for now’ way.”
The Colonel is alone. Eating my brand of cereal.
jaina47: “I hope Kellogg’s is giving them some money for this.”
Back on the beach, the theme of this episode is shirtless men. I am so down with that.
Gina sits with Sami like she’s at a funeral. Ah, the due diligence of party hosting. She left Ani’s side for this bullshit. Or Lara appeared and subtly drove her off. Then Owen shows up shirtless and all my dreams come true! Gina and Owen! They are indomitable together. All surly and roly-poly. Van shows up and they think he’s a douchebag because he is neither surly nor roly-poly. He’s the golden boy and the Colonel loves him.
(Does Owen kind of look like a vampire here?)
jaina47: “Shirtless Owen! Now we just need Brandon and Van and our collection will be complete! Damn! Ask and ye shall receive! Double Damn. And may I say thank you, Crystal.”
kelinswriter: “OK Wes Ramsey is hot. He should never be allowed to wear a shirt. Ever.”
He look gooooood. He joins the wonder twins and Sami. My favorite part of all this is how freaking much Gina hates him. Like, a super lot. Owen is willing to put up with the bullshit because he’s a laid back meek kind of guy, but Gina is firing on all cylinders. She is wide awake. First Richard, now Van. This is not her day for surprises.
As noted, Shawn Christian also has his shirt off. He is stunningly pretty.
Of all the people on this beach, Gina is happiest and most comfortable with Guya.
Guya: “He ripples.”
Gina: “He does ripple. Even I notice that.”
jaina47: “Guya is so cute when she says “I like him.” Like it’s this big admission.”
Guya: “What a spectacular view. The ocean view’s not bad, either.”
For a moment, everything is all right in Gina’s world.
Jess, who was a bit uptight when she first arrived, has completely acclimated to the beach and booze lifestyle. Because this is a salon, Michele and Jess discuss the philosophical nature of inspiration, and how it seems great but can be dangerous if you’re Icarus.
Drew and Brandon go surfing together. Shirtless. Jamie can’t resist. The girls mock him as he runs to the boys.
Michele: “Damn. He’s never moved that fast before in his life.”
You know, I keep forgetting this is a soap. I see a web series as an insular thing. But all these people know each other. Work together. Grew up together. Have probably traded lovers as much as Viki and Echo. They live in a communal place where everyone knows each other, and there’s eccentricity, and a lot of money, and no one ever goes to work. And the wrong people are together and someone is being mysterious.
It’s a soap!
Yes, welcome to episode 7, rysler. Of the SECOND SEASON.
jaina47: “Oh, damn, this might be one of my favorite episodes ever.”
Van, Owen, and Sami sit around drinking beers and pretending to be nice to each other. Van probes and provokes Owen about Sami, who deflects casually. And then offers up a sporting activity. Red flag, Van!
Meanwhile Gina has circled back to Ani, and is with her at the beer table with Jamie and Michele. Ani is eating peanuts. Like grapes, it is truly the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. She is going to get so many peanuts for Christmas. Gina is staring at Ani. Ani is looking anywhere but at Gina. Gina senses her cousin needs her and heads off with her crew.
Ani: “Where’s everybody going?”
Shirtless men jump and stretch and their muscles, well, they ripple. And there’s rock music and quick cuts and then Owen slams a ball right into Van’s shoulder and drops him like a bowling pin. Bam! Van storms off. The way he did when Sami told him she had a date in an earlier episode.
kelinswriter: “I liked the action. I thought they shot that really really well.”
Sami slaps Owen because he’s been a bad boy.
Gina’s packing up the drink table and Lara comes up for last round. She’s fine. She’s “perfect.” She’s on full tilt friendly-sociable-drunk.
rysler: “Right before Lara comes up, Gina is looking at someone else, and smiling. I wonder if it’s Ani?”
Gina says the line that sold the whole season: “You know if you hurt her you’re going to have to answer to me.”
Lara doesn’t quite know how to react, but Gina’s very pleased with herself.
jaina47: “Wow, Lara made ‘Thanks, Gina’ sound like ‘Step off, Bitch.’ …and awkward moment that we’ve all been waiting for…simmer!”
kelinswriter: “Lara is HAMMERED. Like hard core had a flask of gin while she was gone hammered.”
kelinswriter: “EYEBROW! WE HAVE EYEBROW!”
kelinswriter: “I knew it was coming, and it didn’t matter. it still made me giggle. Gina is staking her claim there.”
kelinswriter: “There was a point disguised in that small talk, which is ‘I am allowing this because you make her happy.'”
kelinswriter: “Alpha vs. Alpha.”
kelinswriter: “Fantastic episode. I loved that it was built around the party. that’s such a soap staple.”
And it isn’t over yet. Guya’s brooding. And reading Katie’s diary.
Van, sullen, shirt back on, slinks back to his mother. He has guilt on his soul. This is my favorite scene of the episode. The most dynamic. I could watch Van flip out over and over. It’s crushing. It’s brutal. Whatever went wrong in him, Guya has no idea how to heal. She’s had a lifetime of trying.
And yet, Van and Guya are so much alike.
jaina47: “I actually feel a little sorry for Van. Nefarious intentions or not, it is a little harsh when even his mom won’t cut him a break. I mean, there’s gullibility and then not seeing someone for five years and giving them one tiny shot. Just saying’.”
Gina goes back to see if Richard is real. He is, and he has changed his clothes. She still has her dress and blanket, but she doesn’t want to go home. Not when the world is so filled with wonder. Peter Reckell, who, as already stated, is a charming and funny, is also adorable. He sits barefoot and shaggy like the ex-college-professor that he is. He catches Gina up on his life. Which has been really sad and recently aimless. They reminisce about college days antics, and Owen. SO MUCH OWEN IN THIS EPISODE. Gina reveals that The Colonel had a stroke.
Gina: “He’ll live if I don’t kill him first.”
kelinswriter: “It was a huge contrast to me how young and vibrant Gina was and how sort of ‘I’ve been in the forest gleaning nuts and berries like Lancelot after he went insane’ Richard was.”
They part. Gina’s almost purring. Richard’s watching her go.
The one that got away.