I’m sure by now, that everyone is talking about the new hit Netflix show, Haunting of Hill House. And I’m more than confident that almost everyone had taken their full of YouTube videos, blog posts and online reviews raving the show and how deep and psychologically endearing it is.
But this post, as far as I can hope, will be quite different. I will pick one episode in particular; “Two Storms”. And sift through its nuances to reveal the true essence of this unique show.
I still remember the words of Larry Brooks in his masterpiece of a book, “Story Engineering”, and how he adamantly insisted upon the power of a theme, and how easy it is to overlook such a powerful element in your story.
In other words, theme is the powerful concept of any story that relates the fictional premise to our own real world. In other words, theme should speak about one of the issues which take place in our lives.
As I watched the episode a few days ago, I couldn’t miss the idea behind what was going on along the scenes.
Even better, it was summarized in one word that defined every behaviour, every infliction of emotion.
It was full blown Grief.
Of course the concept of grief is well familiar to all of us. There isn’t a day that passes by, without someone losing another loved member of their family and friends.
But in this episode, I witnessed the shifting stages of such a powerful humanized process, condensed into the time-frame of one episode. Thereby, it amplified the sequence of events, blurring the margins between the flowing phases of grief.
At first, we see the Crain family unite under the gruesome banner of loss. They exchange their usual stale pleasantries, each word barely scathing the surface that hid the turmoil inside each and every grieving character. Then as the scene progresses, no camera cuts, just a swirling continuous thread of agony slowly fraying away.
Theodora drinking herself into denial, cowardly sinking into her own misery numbing what is left of her senses than to deal with hard cold reality.
Steven shed his calm composed facade. He breaks down and finally succumbs under the weight of the event. He starts pointing accusating fingers around; a complete, yet understandable transition from his previous usual state.
We see Sheryl falling apart after she had barely kept herself together. The jagged shards of her hardened self, cannot hide the anger boiling inside.
And in that heated moment, more revelations come to light. More secrets are divulged exposing the charade that had been in play up to that point.
In a way, their common torment acted as a cleansing fire, burning all pretense, and under the harsh bright light, all is seen, felt and touched.
Even more interesting, is how Luke, the most troubled character, from whom we’d expect to break, mysteriously fades into the background. As If he belonged to the gloomy atmosphere. He is rarely seen, like a specter. Silent, calculating and watching while the others fall under the burden of sadness. Luke is a denizen of this venue. A place very well recognizable to him.
Two Storms, in my opinion, is one of the most endearing, engaging pieces of entertainment that hits so many delicate spots, on so many levels. Grief is an emotion that not a lot of us can handle competently. So many of us get easily drunk on our misery. As if the act of sadness is secretly a cathartic refuge for poisonous feeling we dare not deal with in our usual daily lives.
I had always been intrigued, and haunted by the concept of loss. Why does life offer us so much, then snatches everything on a moment’s whim? Our cynical voices could speak less, but yet, if we analyse the inner altercations that take place within us as we grieve. We realise how we can take heed from our most genuine and bitter emotions..so many things unappreciated can morph within a day. Things we used to take for granted are now revealed to be responsible for the very core of our happiness; Old grudges, mischievous secrets wouldn’t be able to hide anymore under the frosting spell of death.
I urge everyone to watch this series. Callling it great would be the understatement of the month. If there would be a reason to watch a TV show after a hard day’s work, than it would be to feel something. Experiencing the dangerous nuances of life from a safe fictional vantage point. In the same time, we discover much more about ourselves.
The train trundles off, shaking the static world. We pierce the round mouth of darkness, and deep into the cable strewn intestine we venture towards another dusty bright island of tangible land.
I take my seat beside a hunched female passenger. The train shrieks as it swerves away from another juncture. I close my eyes to align the shaking rhythm of my body with the train’s trembling pace.
After I had regained my footing, and all my senses wound down to relaxation, my eyes catch the pleasant sight a young woman, neatly dressed with a hat tipped to the side, a stuffed mustard jacket, complemented with denim trousers tucked into long glistening boots.
What caught my prodding attention wasn’t the way she held herself together; a reposed collected way of sitting with pure ease. Her gaze dipping deep inside her hard covered book obscuring half her face. What really enticed my inquisitive appetite was the title of the book :’I WANT YOU’.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t getting a subliminal message intended to lure me into her steep web of seduction. But rather, it was a magnetic fascination into the human mind. How this young woman, if I could summarise her with that noun, was a curious, intriguing and fascinating creature. Capable of containing so many unfathomable depths left uncharted. Awaiting the proper explorer to delve into her adventurous facets. How did I get that message from a simple sentence? A simple affirmation written by some author, on the cover of a book, conjured into imagination perhaps years earlier, had mirrored this woman’s deep and poignant desire.
From the outside, this woman had presented a congenial image, affable enough for proper human interaction. Yet, I was proud to know, that she was like a rumbling dwelling of exquisite energy. Rolling and growing, about to burst along with the proper sensual catalyst..she just needed the right agent who would elicit that overwhelming reaction of love and passion.
She hungered for love, not the word, but rather the stream of meaning the word had brought forth in all of us. She had the relish to explore into that subtle tantalizing experience of foreseeing the concealed world of imagination, and then to contend with the bounds of one’s own reality, for a mere iota of a chance to immerse into that fuzzy cloak of intimacy. I saw all that in her, how she swiftly oscillated her blue eyes across the lines of prose. She was entranced into the book, she had gained what she bargained for; a chance of life; to feel more human than most of us. To see the pulse, throbbing into the snakes of steel that stilt our world together. It bred the courage to seek forth my next adventure for love and life alike.
It was beyond inspiration, it was a singularity of new burgeoning companionship with fellow dreamers, like this woman sitting in front of me.
She was kind enough, not to conceal that part of her. And I was the lucky to receive that revelation. It made my day, and wrought the stream of these words.
The End, thank you.
I swirl my stubby espresso cup and draw the first sip. It is wonderous how the first sip of coffee promises a tantalizing sensation, only to rob you of that expectation just after you pass that bitter lush foam. Then it’s just coffee.
I pondered over the revolving taste in my mouth and took my eyes off the cup to witness the melancholic stupor peering from my father’s eyes.
The temptation to start a conversation with my old man was vigorous enough to draw first blood.
“So what’s been up with you guys?”I keep the answer open for a more general approach. For I knew how much he hated it being all about him.
But the usual answer forbade my daring hope for a more profound response.
“Nothing, same old, same old.”
I would’ve sworn that the man had more to hide than that. For I knew much more than he had to betray. A man encased with so many shells, some rough, with spines, coming down to the sensible raw creature who was my father. His years were blaring at me in the numerously scattered creases under his eyes dropping along the rim of his now plump lips.
He was void of energy and will, besides the necessary whim of survival.
I try to ask again, but a shattering wave dispensed of my nascent notion to talk further. It was more potent than the usual urge to establish communication.
His countenance was familiar to me, a haze of a past image alluring to the symbol of vigor and strength he once possessed, those same eyes, now dropping under wrinkled lids, were the same firey orbs that shot lances into my spirit whenever I faced him with my aspirations and dreams.
The same face that bared no remorse for scoffing my words. for discarding the very budding humanity I was to claim. Those hands, now covered in thin mottled skin, and bulged veins, were the same hands that delivered smiting pains of reproval, the same taps of thunder onto my aware body. It sent waves of destruction right into the depths of my soul, rewriting my essence, they were more than blows to my flesh, more like lashing tides, warping the image I had of myself.
His blows and insults threw me from the precipice into a dark, cold couldren of molten shame and disgust. It took so many years, to reclaim my identity as a human being, and much more to call myself a man.
Was it a journey of experience, of growth into the hardened shell I now occupy? Or was it a needless passage of torture, a hurdle I was burdened to cross? Or an eternal smear laced into my green fabric of being, forever to mark the years I had struggled? Were my years with this being that brought me into this world a sentence, or a test of my matter? Was fate a conscious pondering thing that examines its creation with trials of spiraling fear and torment? Was I merely the lab-rat which exceeded every known expectation? Was I the rogue variable that defied the inheritance cycle of violence?
I gazed again at my old man, and there he was, the man that wrought the metal seams into my pure, unblemished flesh; the one that carried the cosmic sentence I had to undergo. He was an old agent, past his prime in time. Now a loitering creature, lounging through his last days.
My son arrives at the table, and I witness in his eyes the joy I had barely known in my early years. That elating rush of meeting your father. He says hello to both my parent and me. He taps my hands asking me to join him in his venture for the day. I look back to my father, not to ask for his approval, for that myth never had the grounds to stilt its long withered feet. Yet, I sensed the revelation that called me with words simple enough to cast the arcane demons that ruled my memories.
That life gave Me a chance to make things right. In a way, I was the godly element that brought the necessary balance into this world. When life deals you wrong, you play the best out of it.
I walk on my way to assume my position among the foray of voracious eaters in the food court.
It is strange how your mind shifts from the usual family unit mentality into the solitary omega member that avoids contact with his surroundings. As if I close upon myself and block the world for the next few hours.
I reach my seat, with a shameless overstuffed platter of edible goods. I take another wary scan around me. I sniff the agitation and the quickening in every parent’s heart around me; the bustling column of hungry people pulling out their heads for that imaginary cozy bubble of existence in the mall; that coveted chance of peaceful consumption.
I turn to my teriyaki rice plate, and recite its last rites. But a distant figure catches me from a corner of my eye.
A man facing his other half, a young woman, not too young to be happy about it. Not too old to be complaining about it either.
From my position I couldn’t catch a single word they said. But deep inside, the exchange appeared familiar enough.
Her eyes were dull, glassy and mournful. From my view, I recognized a twitch in his shoulders, exhaustion. What was he pulling from her. A word, a smile…any hollow form of affection. Like an overflowing jug of water, about to burst from its bottle-necked top.
As I said, it was familiar for me too. That lack of reciprocity could make a mountain shudder in fury. When every word or action a man takes dissipates against a blanket of frigid platitude. Her eyes betrayed no thoughts. She could’ve been an inanimate object. Nothing but the soft roll of her lips. I could read it clearly. That blaring statement carving a chunk out of the man’s heart with a frosty knife.
I will not a move muscle for you.
The man hesitantly takes off from his seat. His shoulders now curled up in defeat. She follows his ascent with two porcelain orbs. Then I see how her mind sank to a forlorn island of space and time. How her heart once belonged to him, now cold and broken under a ragged shredded banner. Forever lamenting the loss of her years, wasted on one husk of a life. Now halting back to a old familiar place. Where only flat, boundless surfaces awaited, no building or towers erected. Just old monuments, cracked and slanted from an arcane era. The time when she could happily belong. And others belonged to her.
It is strange how life could show such delectable cloying bites of human theater. I felt her remorse, and his tragedy. I was the solitary moved spectator of this unwelcomed end.
Minutes flow by, and I am joined by my other. It took her a while to catch up with me. And again, I am pulled back to a warm and congenial place. I am complete with her. Yet, the bitterness still lingers from the silent decay I had just witnessed.
Perhaps, in another corner of this mall, there could be other two souls brave enough to claim their share of happiness.
I hope and wonder.
My eyes ache, I must have overslept, the agony of meek existence creeping in.
But I remember, It crawls back to me like a soft piece of silk gliding over my hairy arm.
A beautiful face, my wife kissing me before fleeing to work with her glossy oily lips. Smelling her inviting perfume coiling my nose. It could’ve barely woke me up. It was that odd beautiful ritual that your brain stops caring after a while.
Now I really woke up. The curtains still stir from the blowing wind, no yellow rays filtering from the satin drapes, only bright gray luminescence; this day had a bad mood to it.
I turn on my back and pull back the skin on my face. Eagerly groping from the nearest thought. Then suddenly I recall a long-lost island of past senses sweeping back into a mosaic bouquet.
I ignore it at first, but again, it pushes back, ramming my gates with a forbidden face. A beautiful taboo of a face that called me once a handsome boy.
She had soft gleaming white skin, sprinkled with minute orange dots, too far apart to be called freckles, as if she belonged to an exquisite race.
Her eyes drawn, rudely piercing with iridescent blue, her two angled cheeks flowing down the shallow curve, leading me down to the pointed chin that complemented those thin, yet live protruding lips. Her neck curling into a full wide body, every poet would describe as a full well-grown woman, her mannerism, the way she draws the breath into her words, and sighs at the end of each sentence. I remember how she smelled when I came near her. How she laughed at silly things and cried with those alluring eyes. How her sobs made me ache for her, want her in me. As close as possible.
That lust was demonic, it was lush and vicious enough to claim a thousand souls. Happily given to the hot, humid push of her breath into my mouth.
I wished I had never remembered her, but I think my mind had found the world too placid that morning, so it fashioned a more palatable start for the day; I should be grateful. So did the mast rising from my bed. I was ashamed and tortured by the ghostly spell. How a thought could alter my inner world, and poke through a living limb into reality. Long story short, I dealt with it.
10 minutes and a sticky napkin later, it was all gone. All deflating back into the common recess of the long lost and forgotten, no more remembrance of that soft, sweet-smelling nymph of my past, no more shattering waves clashing between the tubules of creation twisting between my legs. No more rogue thoughts attempting the forbidden, on one flickering moment, I had wondered if I still had her number. If I could again hear that windy voice.
I pull out a hand, I see all of my shabby notions, sticking between the crinkled folds of cheep biodegradable paper. My lower half was relieved, but the other still lingered for a more tangible, solid answer.
Was all lust but a primordial chemical question, meant to incentify the propagation of a wretched flawed race? Why did we think of it as more than that? Why place so much meaning on such a fleeting, ephemeral gust? Why does our prude calculating minds cower under the rabid spell of our carnal whims? Even more, the mind advocates for these sensory depravities under the guise of passion and virtuous love.
I crush the wet napkin in my hand and toss it in the bin. The soft pat as it hits the tin bottom was more gracious than any answer I could ever request.