Hi and welcome to the third recap of Venice the Series: Season 3 with Kelinswriter (@jessiewolf), Jaina (@Jaina47) and myself (@Ryslerfic).
Kelinswriter: There seems to be a recurring them of pushing people out of their comfort zones in this episode and this year in general. Michele’s designs, the mailed letter, Ani resisting being “changed”, Lara having to change how she behaves, Guya getting goaded by the ghost of her dead sister – this season seems all about people getting kicked in the ass to take chances they’re not wanting to take.
We open on Dot Stella in repose, which is how I think all episodes should open. She is torturing the Colonel for our viewing sport.
Jaina: Heeee. Watching Nurse Stella watch the Colonel do some exercises – just for her own amusement – now that is awesome. I wonder though if it takes the Colonel back to his army days. Maybe he has the potential to be a good little patient once she pushes all the right buttons?
Kelinswriter: Love love love everything about the Stella/Colonel scenelet. The framing with the painting in the background, the Colonel coming up into frame, the off-camera “Oh, shit.” That was awesome.
(Kelinswriter: I’m kind of amused that her framed picture of Owen is his head shot. *smh* Actors.)
Meanwhile Owen and Sami are about to be emo. Owen’s here to win her back with his dark eyes and his elegantly greying hair, but Sami says, “This isn’t a movie, Owen.” She slams the door in his face, even though all she wants to do is hug him. Girls, amirite?
Kelinswriter: Owen seems to be replaying his “I screwed up” pattern that we heard about in season 1. We’re on to the abject apology/”I miss you” stage. I like that Sami’s not buying it, but it looks like she’s pretty close to a heavy-duty meltdown.
Rysler: Many characters are being pushed out of their comfort zones, as you mention, but Owen is right in his zone. The place he’s spent entire life. And he’s crawling back there after trying to go legit with a Real Movie and a Real Woman. Does this mean he’s going to get extra screwed later?
Jaina: I…um…I remain a bit confused. Sami seems way pissed off for Owen lying to her. Does she know…has she guessed that he was cheating on her? I mean, other than not coming home – once – I would guess, or we haven’t been shown any proof that she knows. Or did I forget something? I do that sometimes. I mean, I get that what he did was harsh, but on a certain level it was understandable. At least to me. Dude was embarrassed. He lied. It’s not like he embezzled. Mind you she was already pretty upset with him about the Colonel thing last season, but she hasn’t even gone there this time.
Jaina: And then, for like a second there, Owen really tries. But just as quickly he’s back, adopting his sardonic defense. Go, Owen?
Jaina: …Huh. Sami actually grew on me there for a second. I mean, I actually felt bad for her. When she came out she seemed more pissed off generally, than hurt pissed off. But then gradually you could see her start to come apart. And that’s something that’s been present in Sami underneath the surface since the beginning of the series – that about to break quality. She’s always seemed a little sad under her smiles. And now she’s finally breaking. But what else is going on under there? That’s the question I’m still asking about her, because I don’t think we – or she – have gotten to the bottom of it yet.
(I have been waiting for this shot. The over-the-shoulder. Soaps invented it. Bam!)
So, Guya is holding her dog in her arms when she runs into Katie. She immediately turns and runs. Katie chases. “Please, Janie, I will always find you.”
Jaina: “Janie, I will always find you.” I find that to be a bit creepy and terrifying – even more so if I was Guya. She seems so broken and scared of her sister. Or is she scared of losing her mind? Because she honestly seemed worried about that when she was talking to Owen and Gina.
“It was an accident,” Guya protests. Who is she trying to convince?
“I know that,” Katie says. “But nobody else does.”
Guya trembles. Guya protests. “It was my fault.”
I’m quoting this in detail because those four words are fucking up the whole show. Reverberating throughout the beach. Guya holding on to this is a Bad Thing. It made a ghost appear! The ghost cries, but takes all the blowback, and then uses small words and speaks slowly. “All of these lies… cause nothing but pain.”
Kelinswriter: As intense as Guya’s plea for mercy is, what got me choked up was Katie begging her to start to let go of the truths she’s been hiding. Stellar work from both ladies, but the Guiding Light fan in me was elated at getting to see Liz have something that she could really sink her teeth into. I freely admit that I’ve teared up every time I’ve watched this. (One question though – wouldn’t some of these secrets Guya has been holding on to have been in the accident report? I’m a little confused as to what exactly it is that Gina et. al. don’t know.)
Jaina: I wish we knew more about her accident as a whole or rather what everyone thinks happened. Because so far we only know what Guya knows and I’m curious about her reliability as a witness. Not deliberately but…I don’t know. Accidents like that are weird things. What you think you know, what you think you happened, isn’t necessarily true. Mmm, lieeeeeeeeeeeesssss. Now, see, I’m even more convinced that something else is going on. Is it a memory that Guya has repressed? Or something to do with weird bleed through from Candy Cane’s own death? I’m intrigued.
Back to the land of the light-hearted (though you’re kidding yourself if you think the Owen storyline is fluff.)
(Seriously. Kidding. Yourself.)
Owen is at Nadine’s Irish Mist in Sunset Beach, where Miss Thing works. He whines about Sami and dumps on her. Owen delights her. I mean, he may not be the greatest guy, but he’s better than wiping down an empty bar.
Kelinswriter: I’m kind of amused that s3’s newest addition to primary locations is ANOTHER bar. Also, Adrienne looks smashing in her red toga. (Is that meta? I can’t decide.)
Jaina: Dear Owen, running from your current disaster to your one-night-stand that you cheated on her with? Never a solution, dude.
Jaina: Xena’s Daughter seems fun and bright and like a breath of fresh cheery air into Owen’s life. …just like Sami did however long ago this has been in Venice time. So I guess I’m saying that it definitely seems like Owen has a pattern now. I’m just curious if Xena’s Daughter will play into that pattern, break the mold or if Sami will have more of an influence than it appears now.
“I gotta get my shit together. I don’t know where to start,” Owen says. Not here, dude. Not here.
Gina shows up at the Colonel’s, ready to strangle him.
Jaina: Oh god! Shit, meet Fan! I kind of did not expect this confrontation after Gina went racing out Lara’s place last week. I mean, I figured she’d get there eventually, just not quite yet maybe. But ooooooohhhh boy did she ever get there fast. And pissed. Something tells me she’s taking everything out on the Colonel that she was too beaten down to take out on Lara.
And she’s wearing her power jacket. The Colonel is hilariously disarming at first. “I said thank you.” But it doesn’t work. He mailed Gina’s letter to Ani and Gina is very upset about it. My heart breaks when Gina says, “I don’t think we can even be friends anymore. You’ve made everything worse.” The Colonel is similarly bummed, but he thinks Gina should walk it off.
The Colonel points out that Gina’s acting just like OWEN, and he expects better. “You go for it and you damn the consequences. That’s bravery.” Oh Colonel. You’re a terrible father.
Jaina: I, um, the Colonel’s an asshole, but damn it, I like him. He really was trying to help Gina, really, really. And I think the way he said it, she gets that. He wants her to be brave. It’s admirable. They’ve reached the level of mutual respect. I think the Colonel sees her as an adult. He doesn’t have that for Owen yet and that’s the difference in the way that he treats them. But I liked his pep-talk, as defensive, as don’t blame this on me because it could have gone the other way, as it was. He tried to help. It didn’t work. But in a way he is right. If it really is done, it really is over, then Gina needs to move on. And I think he was right to tell her that. So…go Colonel?
Kelinswriter: Gina comes roaring in, foaming at the mouth over the letter, and all I can think is “Tank top leather jacket combo of hotness ftw!” (I’m shallow like that.) But I really love how straightforwardly the Colonel acknowledges that yes, he did indeed mail it. You don’t see “Yeah, so what?” as a response that often on a soap. Also I laughed out loud when he called her out on addressing the (magically unaddressed then addressed) envelope. The look on his face was so “Don’t bullshit me, kid.” I love how he calls her on her excuses, even though as someone who has a very Colonel-like father I totally feel her pain. But for someone like that, he’s actually doing something that semi-approximates being a good dad. I mean, he was still out of line, but his heart really was in the right place. Sometimes we need a kick in the ass, and he gave her one.
He leaves her with, “Maybe there’s where else you’re supposed to be,” and Gina remembers she has a JOB.
Jaina: I love that he calls her on addressing the envelope, because he never could have done it if she hadn’t. But Gina still has to keep trying. It’s like a call back to Season 1, that first big blow up with him, where she comes in primed and ready for a fight, and not that he doesn’t deserve it, but she jumps a little too soon. And here she is, going back at it again. If she lets it go, she might have to face herself, have to face that it was her one best shot to get Ani back and now (she thinks) Ani has shot her down. For good. Harsh.
Ani has (supposedly) shot her down because…
She and Lara are heading out for their morning duties after what’s implied to be a glorious night of makeup sex.
Lara tests the waters. “Can I call tonight?”
“No,” Ani says. “Just come over.”
Ani has all the power in this scene. Lara spent all night trying to make her happy, trying to win her over, and Ani’s enjoying it. Why not? For once, Lara has to change. Not Ani.
Kelinswriter: Lara’s so eager and Ani’s so relieved. I think she just wants to forget and let things go back to normal because it’s easier than trying to work through the real, underlying issues. And the slap on Lara’s backside as she walked away was cute. But still, for all the sweetness in the scene, it makes me feel uneasy.
Jaina: Lara and Ani…They still have awesome chemistry. And it’s all sweetness and light and…but there’s this tension underneath it. It’s like fruit that’s gone just past being a little over ripe and has taken that single step over into fetid. It’s okay-ish, but underneath it there’s that rotten aftertaste. Especially knowing what Lara did to Gina.
Kelinswriter: After Lara’s master manipulation of Gina at the end of the last ep, this feels odd to me without having seen how Lara wormed her way into Ani’s good graces. I want to know if Ani just gave in because she was tired, or if Lara sweet-talked her with her roses and her groceries, or if there was initial resistance on Ani’s part.
Another hard scene followed by some Adrienne candy. This pattern works. Owen is daydreaming about Sami when Adrienne comes out of the bathroom wearing his shirt. He tells himself to be grateful for what he has. Or at least, flirtatiously polite.
Adrienne introduces herself. She loves warm places and cold beers.
Kelinswriter: Hot rumpled hot girl is hot. I love Adrienne’s description of herself, especially her bit about the Zodiac supposedly changing (I will always be a Scorpio, you bastards). “I love fucking you a lot” is really interesting. It defines the terms of their relationship, but I think more than that, it says a lot about who she is as a character. I think she’s going to be a lot of fun to have around. In other news, Owen, as usual, looks clueless.
Jaina: Can I be Team Adrienne now? I mean, she’s a reader. I like readers. They’re cool. I’m a reader. But if she hates assholes…why is she with Owen?
Back to the heavy. Guya’s gazing at her son. Katie is at her side, but she’s still not sure she can do this. Knowing what she knows. Knowing who he is. There’s silence.
Kelinswriter: The framing of this first shot is so perfect. That low angle, the magic hour light, the way Amber walks up behind Guya…there’s a surrealistic quality to it that’s a little bit Buñuel, a little bit Spielberg.
“Be his mother,” Katie says, all passive-aggressive. “Think about how much I wish I could be a mother to my own babies.” AS IF GUYA THINKS OF ANYTHING ELSE.
There’s some tense banter as Van and Guya try to be nice to each other.
“Are you freaking’ out about your aura? It’ll come back, don’t worry about it” Van says.
“It’s not. That’s not it. I mean it is, but it’s not. I mean, it’s connected. You know. You. It. Everything.”
Guya apologizes for being a shitty mother, Van doesn’t forgive her, Guya pries, Van deflects. It’s like watching Gina and Ani! They even pretend they’re going to be friends and that won’t be awkward at all. Except Owen is between them. Like Lara. I… okay, clearly I got nothing. I do like Eric.
Kelinswriter: I like Eric’s Van – I think he has a harder, more cynical edge than Wes’s did, but I think that also fits after what’s happened. Guya’s trying to check in and figure out who Van is and Van really won’t let her, but I like the way they’re dancing around each other. They’re each trying in their own way and underneath it all there’s still a lot of affection. But that last line and the look on Van’s face gave me chills. Look out EJ!…uh…I mean Owen.
Jaina: This seems like the most buttoned-up we’ve seen Guya. Ha! I find it awesome though that she knows how to fix his motorcycle. And I love the line about fixing things for him when she can. Isn’t that what she’s been trying to do for him since that accident. Fix it so that he didn’t have to know about what really happened that night?
Rysler: Do you think he knows he’s done something, somehow, deep inside, and that’s what drives him?
Gina has taken off her power jacket, because she is powerless. This walk, remembering happy times, has become a ritual. The shoes, the memories. She is more defeated than she’s ever been. Maybe because she’s given more of herself than before, in the letter.
Flashback to Gina photographing Ani on the beach, which we have wanted to see for so long, and yet, like the letter, everything has gone disastrous. Ani takes the camera and cradles it sullenly. Gina is baffled. She was having fun. Ani says a lot, but the most important thing she says is, “I don’t want to have to work so hard to figure out if I’m enough for you.” Gina doesn’t understand.
Jaina: “You are always taking pictures of me.” “Yeah, that’s work.” Hmm is that how they met? I’m curious now. And I’d like to state for the record that we so called that, Ani always taking pictures of Gina throughout their relationship. Calling all the way back to what was supposed to be their last kiss in Season 1. Damn did I love that moment and these layers they’re adding on just keep making it better and better.
Kelinswriter: Ooh, I like getting this glimpse of Pissy!Ani, who wants to stay in the shadows, watching, and feels threatened when anyone tries to draw her out. Remember how we all thought she was the perfect girlfriend? I’m starting to think someone is actually pretty high maintenance. Which, oy. Definitely some trust issues going on there and a lack of confidence. This whole scene feeds into my theory of Ani as someone who gets attracted to and then steamrollered by alphas. Now I want to know more about why that’s her pattern, because it’s definitely showing up in whatever is going on in her head where Lara is concerned. Also, Gina’s happiness deflating makes me want to cry. I’m wondering just how much this “You don’t really want ME” thing Ani is doing contributed to the disintegration of Giani 1.0. I can see Gina hitting a point where she just kind of gave up.
Jaina: Aww, Ani’s inadequacies are – not back I guess since this is near-ish the beginning – but are apparent in full force. She thinks Gina is making fun of her when she says she’s sexy. She just can’t see it, can’t believe it, can’t believe Gina would even want her. Gina sees the glow she has inside but Ani doesn’t feel that. I think maybe she thinks the glow is just Gina’s reflection and she won’t be able to meet those expectations.
Gina is trying to let this bullshit go and move on with her life. Just like her father told her to.
Kelinswriter: Real time sad Gina with her awesome shoes and broken heart is KILLING. ME. SLOWLY. Would someone please give her a hug?
Sami drives over to visit Owen in his apartment, even though he totally lives in her building. She sees Adrienne walking out of his door. She pretends she lives across the hallway and fumbles with keys, but as Adrienne walks away, Sami stares. Dun dun DUN.
Kelinswriter: That horror movie push-in was fun. Poor Sami. She seems to have decided to give it one more try, and Xena’s Sexy Daughter has taken her place. That’s what you get for dating a himbo, Sami.
Gina, just like her dumbass brother, is embracing her old, bad habits in an effort to get a fucking grip on her life. She’s coyly sucking up to Alan on the phone. But he loved her designs. Totally loved!
Kelinswriter: “I know I’ve been a bad girl. You can spank me when we get together.” I have nothing to say about this line other than thank you, because it made my afternoon.
“Your new designs? Your best work ever.” So nice he said it twice.
Kelinswriter: Poor Gina is so confused. And suckerpunched again. It’s one thing to have her love life out of control, but her work life? Now that’s scary.
Guya visits her boyfriend at Jamie’s bar. Guya has such a complicated life.
Jaina: Damn it, he’s wearing GREEN this week. I don’t know what to make of that, BRANDON.
Brandon goes on about his dead woman in a funeral home case and all I’m thinking is HE IS SO HOT. Jamie overhears and sneaks over. Guya gives him all the details, despite Brandon’s protests, and Jamie has a disco-dead-body-flashlight.
Kelinswriter: It’s fun watching HBS play the straight woman for once. Beyond that I don’t notice anything because Harrison is simply riveting. And I almost forgive them for the daylight continuity issues in this flashback because it’s so fucking funny. Someone get that man a chiropractor stat.
Jaina: OMG. Jamie is the worst body-disposer ever. I mean, he’s there for Gina. The absolute definition of an awesome friend, but duuuuuuude. In broad daylight? Really? Seriously? That looked like a busy street!
Gina shows up for work again and Michele, remembering last time, is ready to pounce the hell out of her. But Gina already knows.
Jaina: “You sure about that?” Oh, Olivia Spencer, how I’ve missed your ass-kicking ways!!
“I’ll just tell Alan the truth,” Michele says, “And then I’ll just pack up my stuff.” But no, it is far more fucked than that. Alan thinks the designs are Gina’s. And he loves them. Michele smiles. Just a little bit.
Kelinswriter: Oh, Michele. How did you ever think this was going to work out well for you? I mean, seriously, HOW? Her excuses are just so lame. I mean, you’ve had weeks to come up with how to respond to this and this is the best you have? And here’s the real dagger – Alan loves them. Which puts Gina in an awful situation because no matter how she feels she has to keep Michele on staff. I really liked the simplicity of the last exchange: Gina’s ironic resignation contrasted against Michele’s split second of utter elation. This actually could work out really well for both of them career-wise, but I think their relationship is toast and that makes me sad because I think that was a really important friendship/partnership. But then again, maybe it was time.
Rysler: I still have high hopes for them as a duo. Time will tell.
Jaina: You know it’s funny how something that seems so necessary and no-other-choice in the moment, can seem so futile and indefensible when the time comes to explain oneself. Funny, the two of them are kind of in the same boat right now. They both got what they wanted – Gina gets her letter sent to Ani, someone important gets to see Michele’s design and approves. Yet it’s kind of gone to crap for both of them, the sweetness disintegrating into bitter. Isn’t that the theme of this episode for all of them? Even Ani and Lara.
Michele carries us to the fade out.