7:52

I committed a crime on Sunday- in Scotland it would be called “Falsehood, fraud and vitious [sic] intromission”. But first I want to tell you about the comic torture scene.

It occurs in 7:52, the nineteenth episode of season 2 of “Scandal”, first broadcast in April in the US, and on 7 November (last night) in the UK. How on Earth do you make a torture scene funny? Well, first you establish strong sympathy for the torturer, which I retain, still, at the end of the episode (or, perhaps, not). He is what we English would call upper working class, a soldier coming home to his teacher girlfriend, and there are sweet scenes of the two together. He is intelligent and observant, and the Federal Assassination Bureau notices him and offers him a choice: a large salary in Washington, with her, for undisclosed duties or going back immediately to Kosovo even though his tour has just ended. It is not actually called FAB. Then, you intercut scenes of him with her, and of him at work, over It’s a bright, bright sunshiny day.

In the comic scene, he is fiddling with a drill, hands shaking, then drilling saying “The sooner you tell me the names, the sooner I can stop this”. In that scene we see very little of his victim, hardly identifiable even in the context, and his hands shaking is funny, though not as I have described it here, and even though immediately after laughing I felt sick.

I don’t know if the US government uses assassins against US citizens- it murders without due process foreign citizens with drones- but if so it might be better to use psychopaths. Huck scandal 2Peter Quinn in Homeland is also not a psychopath, and his qualms provide part of the drama. These are not thrillers like a James Bond film, in which the events are the main entertainment, but use empathy with stressed, decent-enough people who happen to commit murder- or at any rate their feelings are part of the story, even if the storyteller creates enough distance to make me observe rather than identifying with them.

Why do we tell each other these stories?

My crime was to travel back from London on an old train ticket, which had not been visibly marked as used, so that I have an unused return ticket for Sunday. I have gained about £30 by this, if I do something inconvenient tomorrow (9th). I did it in the hope of getting rid of a talisman, which does me no good. I want to see myself as a good person, and that gets in my way.

Huck and Quinn do what I would like to be unimaginable things, even though they stress about them. I want to do acceptable things, retaining a kind of integrity, to escape my living room. To live. That talisman, “I am a Good person”- I fit the rules, I do the altruistic thing- which has helped me tolerate myself has too high a price. I am good enough, a decent human being in difficult circumstances, and must tolerate myself in the world without-

“perfection”- I am groping here-

I fear the inhibitions I have against particular action.

7 thoughts on “7:52

      • I think American television writers suffer from a terrible disease. Most of these series start out beautifully thought through- THEN the writers start trying to outdo themselves and beginneth the descent into the absurd. Seasons 1 & 2 of nip/tuck were genius. They were about real emotions, real human issues. By the end it was a circus. They presume people’s attention span is that of fruit flies and so they take things ridiculously far in an effort to keep us entertained. To be fair some British writers do the same (eg. Julian Fellowes).
        So much of Scandal was good. The extra-marital relationship, the brooding, ambition, real crises. It’s a shame they’re going in this new direction. They’re trying to create a formula for the show and soon it’ll be transformed into something un-watchable.

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        • I am fed up with the love triangle, because it goes nowhere.

          Worst is Homeland. Series 2 was tense, with a sense of danger. This has the occasional brutal moment, but mainly the Americans are completely in control and there is no threat.

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    • I was doing it as an exercise. Does one do right from integrity, or fear of punishment? I have not answered that. I could make the argument that, the social contract fraying at the seams, the obligations it places on me dissipate- but I think that specious. It is probably not a good thing to repeat- I am glad you still love me, losing that would mortify me.

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