27.6.09

Harper's Island: Week 11 non-Recap

There is no reason to continue recapping Harper's island, so I'm not going to.

In the two months since Harper's island began I have been generous to a fault with it. Cutting it every kind of slack imaginable based entirely on my love of mysteries and my naïve faith that the show would in fact be a mystery. I looked for clues I tracked alibis, all based on the assumption that the show's plot would in some way be solvable.

Last week's reveal that John Wakefield, the character that everyone thought was the killer, was, in fact, the killer has made all of that work utterly useless. It doesn't matter who was where when because any murderer a character couldn't have committed could have been committed by the show's "Jason" John Wakefield. And what a fake Jason he is, running around harpooning people, getting into knife fights, emotionally torturing his victims... oh, John Wakefield, if this were a better show I could really appreciate you as a villain.

While it might seem odd that I'm complaining about a show just being a slasher film when slasher films are the things I love more than anything else, my frustration stems from the fact that we were promised something that the show failed to deliver. What I mean to say is, it's fair to take 13 hours to tell a mystery because in a mystery character's personalities and interrelationships and motives matter, because they're integral to giving the audience clues to figuring out who did it. But if it's just a story about a guy stabbing people, then in no way can you justify that story taking 13 hours to tell.

It's also getting much harder to forgive people's incredibly stupid actions. You've got people back at the Cannery waiting for news on Abby's confrontation with John Wakefield - because now they know it's John Wakefield - yet they're totally unprepared for the possibility that John Wakefield might be coming to kill them after having killed Abby (which he didn't actually do, but since she's walking into a trap it's the most likely outcome). This, naturally, allows John Wakefield to bust in and stab Nikki to death before getting into a knife fight with Shane. This knife fight is, by a wide margin, the episode's most ludicrous event because while Shane is trying to defeat John Wakefield in a fight armed only with a hunting knife weighed against John Wakefield's weird whaling sword (pictured below), the girls are all running into the bathroom in the hopes that they can find some form of escape in there. Which raises the question again - doesn't this place have a back door? Are there no fire codes on Harper's island?

What's so incredibly stupid about this, other than not just going to the back door? Trish has a gun. See?
She has a gun, and Wakefield does not. She could shoot Wakefield. She's about 10 feet away, so it will be hard to miss. She doesn't shoot him though. Nor does Shane suggest that she shoot. In fact, Shane tells her to run away while he delays Wakefield. Look, I know all these characters have been up between 36 and 48 hours at this point, but there is no way on earth Shane doesn't just say 'shoot that guy right now'.

What's worse is that the shotgun doesn't serve any dramatic purpose in a later scene. Trish locks herself in the bathroom and then John Wakefield comes pounding on the door. So she ineffectually fires all of the rounds from her shotgun at the closed door. Because it's easier to hit someone through a wooden barrier than when they're standing out in the open 10 feet away from you. So if the shotgun wasn't effective at killing John Wakefield and wasn't used later, why give it to Trish at all? The way it stands now the only purpose the shotgun serves is to make Trish look like an idiot for not shooting John Wakefield when she had the chance. Take that shotgun from her and she's got a reason to run away rather than stay and fight. Hell, take away her weapon and Shane's death becomes a noble sacrifice rather than irredeemable stupidity.

So it seems the divemistress was right and I've reached a point where I'm willing to call the people who made this show irredeemably stupid.

It's not particularly important to recap the rest of the show. Other than to say that there's a lot more stupidity. People running off alone when they should be sticking together, people leaving injured people to fend for themselves so that they can run after Wakefield, even though he's clearly just leaving them away so he can look back and killed the injured people. And of course Douchey frat continuing to not die.

There is a bone thrown to us late in the episode about the possibility that someone else has been involved in John Wakefield's killings. It's delivered in the most awkward possible way though, through hideously annoying child character Madison. Madison and Shea, who, sadly, it seems is also not likely to die, are locked in the Sheriff's attic where they feel it will be safe until everyone else can get together and make an escape from the island. Madison starts looking through the Sheriff's John Wakefield files and her mother scolds her for doing so, because her mother is an idiot. I mean I know it's been well-established that Shea is a moron but this kind of takes the cake. Really - you're on an island being stalked by a madman who wants to kill all of you and you think that reading documents about him, his history and methods would be a bad idea? God what an waste of skin.

Anyhow, somewhere within the files Madison the discovers that they aren't just a background on Wakefield, there are files on other people as well! By which Madison means there's a file on Jimmy. She phrases it awkwardly so that we can wait a few extra minutes to hear who the file's about. That's right, Jimmy's still alive. Having suspiciously survived of the boat explosion the previous day, he even more suspiciously was not killed by John Wakefield when John Wakefield was alone with his unconscious body in the cannery after everyone else had left. These three facts are supposed to suggest to us that Jimmy is secretly evil which would be a much more persuasive theory it wasn't being revealed to us two hours before the show is ending. Which means that if Jimmy is actually working with John Wakefield there can't be a last-minute surprise. More importantly the fact that Jimmy is now a suspect is based largely on the file. This seems damning enough, but if the Sheriff suspected Jimmy of anything why on earth would he make his last act on earth telling his daughter that she can trust him? Not making a lot of sense right now.

No, at this point literally the only thing we know about John Wakefield in the clue related area of things is that he wants to kill x number of people (x being the unknown variable), for some reason he didn't kill Henry or Jimmy when he had the chance. I point this out because, in addition to Jimmy's suspicious survival we still haven't had an explanation for how Henry ended up with defensive wounds all over his arms. Did he come up on John Wakefield while John Wakefield was killing JD? Then John Wakefield reflexively stabbed at him before realizing who was? At this point the show seems to be suggesting that Henry is John Wakefield's partner in all of these murders, if only because no one other viable suspects remain alive.

Oh, sure black frat and Douchey frat are still kicking around, but what are the odds of either of them being responsible? Not great. Technically my original pick of Jimmy could still be correct, but as I mentioned earlier, outing him this early would ruin the ending, unless it's going all-action no surprises.

Whoever the extra killer might be, if there does in fact wind up being someone helping Wakefield, this show is going to have to do a hell of a lot of explaining to reason it away. Because right now we're dealing with a Colonel's Bequest situation, and that is the worst solution a "mystery" can possibly have.

Basically what I'm asking for here or at least 10 to 15 minutes of the final episode to be devoted to the killer or killers explaining just what the hell is going on - and for the love of God please - giving us a motive.

This is especially important because this week the show's only sympathetic character was killed off. I didn't mention it until now, but yes, Cal the only likable one on the entire show died this week along with his crazy girlfriend Chloe. Along with Nikki, Shane, and fat deputy that makes five kills - the show's highest body count to date. That's exactly the kind of thing that would make me happy if the show weren't so dead set on pissing me off.

4 comments:

DiveMistress said...

I hate to say I told you so.

"Just a show about a guy stabbing people." I laughed out loud at that.

DiveMistress said...

I can't believe you didn't consider the possibility of Jimmy being Wakefield's son. That's why the Sheriff has a file on him, and why they were buddies. It also explains why he wasn't killed repeatedly. How gives a crap why Henry was covered in blood--it's not like it's gonna make sense when the explanation comes. If it ever does.

BedazzledCrone said...

Jimmy can't be Wakefield's son - that would make Jimmy and Abby half brother/sister. While that would explain why the Sheriff wanted to separate them in the first place years ago - but wouldn't explain why the Sheriff told Abby in his dying breath to make a life with Jimmy. So that's out.
The best bet is that Henry is Wakefield's son and why he and Abby never hooked up but were always best friends from childhood.

I now think that maybe Shea is a good bet. it would go something like this. She was always a little crazy. She met and fell in love with Wakefield when he was hacking up the island the first time and she was just an itty, bitty girl (She is older than the sister, right?). She keeps in contact with him throughout the years. Her sister is getting married to Henry - this could split up the inheritance from the father (particularly if there are children) - she hates her husband, etc. (Hell, maybe Madison is yet a 3rd of Wakefield's children - the way this show has been written anything is possible!!!!!!!!!)

Ages ago, I picked "douche frat boy" to survive the island - but I can't believe that he would be the 2nd killer - if he is that would be just plain idiotic.

Bedazzled Crone said...

Oh, and if Henry is Wakefield's son, that would explain why Wakefield stopped when he started to attack Henry, then realized who it was.

Since I don't believe in the "bad seed" theory, I go with Shey/Shay - what the hell - but who knows what the writers think.