chamekke: (cha_bamboo_with_leaves)
[personal profile] chamekke

And here's the second part of this two-part essay... because LJ does not like long posts :-P

Full of Women banner




Sam and Carol: the odd ones out

I was really struck by how much Carol mirrors Sam in this episode. In the pre-coital scene between Carol and Sam ("I knew you'd take your socks off first"), it's impossible not to sense a fellow feeling between them, a recognition that they're both unwanted by their "partners".

Carol and Sam, last to be chosen

In the bedroom scene, Sam asks her no fewer than three times whether she has misgivings about her husband's philandering; each time Carol drops her eyes and her posture sags; each time she fails to answer Sam directly. In turn, Sam's body language screams out his reluctance, indicating that he really doesn't want to be there at all.

Carol and Sam in the bedroom

In the split-second before Carol asks Sam to kiss her, she literally braces herself, crossing one arm across herself and rubbing the other as though to give herself reassurance.

Carol braces herself

It's ironic, then, that this is the one couple we see actually engaged in anything sexual — even if it's merely an interrupted (and very unenthusiastic) kiss.

Carol and Sam, sitting in a tree...

In general, there's a lot of male incomprehension of women in this episode. Consider the other main pairing of the episode.

Sam and Annie: words left unsaid

Sam's protectiveness of Annie is prompted partly by concern over the risk she faces (especially in the undercover job), but Annie correctly senses that this is bogus; he's never before shown particular concern over her walking alone. So she objects:

Walk me home?

"Are you walking Chris and Ray home?"


She naturally reads this as condescension, believing that Sam doesn't respect her or take her seriously, as a woman or as a colleague.

It's impossible to know the degree to which Sam is motivated by protectiveness, but it seems to me — given the scenes of Sam's loneliness, which only we the viewers can see — that what he really wants at this point is Annie's companionship. But it seems that Sam can't bring himself to admit this need, perhaps not even to himself, and he may have convinced himself that "protecting" Annie is what he's really after. When she says no, and explains why she's angry, Sam's at a loss for words.

Sam is certainly guilty of underestimating Annie at times, but he's not the most introspective of men, either. My guess is, he's primarily motivated by loneliness but doesn't entirely realise it, so he's using "Manc the Knife" as a pretext for spending time with Annie which doesn't require him to examine or confess his own vulnerability. (I think the clue is Sam's offer to treat her to a drink, a date-like gesture he wouldn't have made to either Chris or Ray. Unfortunately, Annie didn't pick up on the significance of that.)

For her part, Annie doesn't clearly explain why she's so annoyed with Sam. In fact, in the middle of the canteen exchange in which she is (quite reasonably) stroppy, she breaks off and asks Sam why he's upset — thus making the "problem" his rather than hers.

Pissed-of Annie

She mockingly sings a snatch of "Anything You Can Do", from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. (The full lyric is: Anything you can do / I can do better. / I can do anything / Better than you. / No, you can't. / Yes, I can. No, you can't. / Yes, I can... "

SAM: This is not a competition! You don't have to prove yourself to me, you know, or anybody in this station.
ANNIE: What is wrong with you today?

And then out comes the eyeroll. You know it's bad when Annie lays down the eyeroll.

Even more pissed off

Sam worries aloud that if Trilling is the killer, "we" (he and Annie) will be imperiled by going undercover. Annie, correctly, hears this as Sam being worried primarily about her.

That's when a beaming Gwen interrupts to give Sam his special custard, in the sole maternal/nurturing gesture that 1973!Sam experiences in the entire frigging episode.

Gwen and the custard

This, too, irks Annie, possibly because she doesn't get that kind of pampering from either men or women at the station. (Although it should be noted that Sam fetches tea for Annie, not the reverse, at the beginning of the backstory scene.)

Sam gives Annie tea

Annie bridles at Gwen's almost fawning presentation and asks Sam, "What is it with you and women?", echoing Chris's earlier comment of "Women like you!"

At no point does Annie come out and say she's fed up with being treated as second-class by the men of CID, although this fact of life surely underlies most of her choices in this episode, not to mention the arguments she has with Sam. Perhaps she, too, has issues with vulnerability ("Anything you can do—"). Or maybe she's just deeply annoyed that Sam can't see how dickish he's being.

In some ways, come to think of it, they're very much alike.


Watching the detective

Annie is eager and willing to go undercover. Presumably she longs to engage in some real detective work, to test herself under more dangerous conditions, to experience some excitement, to prove her competence to the men on her team, and — only last — possibly to impress Sam and/or to have the pleasure of working with him. (For all his incomprehension, Sam is still far more supportive of her as a working colleague than anyone else in this episode, and Annie does seem to enjoy working with him.)

In preparing for the undercover job, Annie and Sam concoct, together, a back story for them as a couple. I love this scene because of the way Annie teases Sam about "Tony's" being a virgin prior to marriage ... implying that she (or, at least, her character "Cherie") is not.

In this scene and elsewhere, Annie seems more sexually knowledgeable, and perhaps more sexually confident ("Hope you've got clean Y-fronts on, sir"), than Sam is himself (especially in the two "sex scenes" with first Carol, then Roger Twilling). Annie also invents very freely for her back story. If only we could have seen more of this side of her in other episodes!

In contrast, Sam's part of the scenario is honest ("I was lonely... wondering if I'd ever find her... the one we're all searching for"). He self-consciously rolls his eyes on the word 'her' but, when forced to explain, Sam then drops his gaze and makes a totally unnecessary "note" on his notepad.

Here, have a male eyeroll

Slightly embarrassed

Annie's responses to this are flippant; she doesn't seem to realise that this isn't entirely a role that Sam is playing. Or maybe she's just amused.

Annie smirks


A forward woman

Unsurprisingly, Annie shines in her undercover role. She manages to be flirtatious and provocative with Twilling at the tennis club — far more so than she ever is with Sam in their sometimes-professional, sometimes-romantic relationship. (In this episode, she flip-flops almost continually between familiarity and calling Sam "sir".) In fact, she plays her undercover role with far more confidence than Sam does; Annie really is, as Twilling calls her, a "forward woman".

Annie being forward

Not only this, but Annie joins Sam in arguing with Gene for the undercover operation at the sex party. At the party itself, Annie plays along deftly, feeding Sam one of the dreadful hedgehog canapés and thereby keeping their hostess happy...

Have a hedgehog

Whereas Sam draws unwelcome attention to himself by audibly deriding the hostess's choice of music:

Santana!

Later, when Sam says he's off to the "little boy's room", the phrase seems apt. Sam shows a sexual naïveté in this episode that is quite striking. When he asks Carol in the bedroom whether things get "frisky", he reveals he's concerned that "it must be difficult sometimes, to keep things under control... when people get excited," Carol naturally asks if that's what turns him on. Significantly, Sam avoids the question in such a way as to imply that he was referring to Annie's welfare and not himself ("It's my wife's first time, too, so... you know, she won't want to be — hurt").

However, it's hard not to get the impression that Sam is afraid of unbridling his own passions — or experiencing someone else's. (Witness his pure astonishment when he finds Annie whipping Twilling: "Police, don't mo— what the hell? Are you all right?" It's telling that his next physical action is to punch Twilling in the stomach as hard as he can, and then stalk straight out of the room, all without saying a word.)

Sam punches Roger

There are two times where Sam and Annie express uncomplicated concern for each other. The first is when Sam goes off to search the Twillings' house, and Annie tells him to "Be careful." He answers, "I will."

Annie to Sam: Be careful.

The second is at the beginning of the actual sex party, when Sam whispers, almost inaudibly, "Don't do anything you don't want to do." Annie looks at him and knows he's not speaking from condescension, but out of genuine concern for her as a partner and a friend. And she replies, simply, "Okay."

Sam to Annie: Don't do anything you don't want to do.

This echoes Sam's own advice to Chris: "She's a human being, just like you. She'll be nervous, she wants to be liked, same as you. Be kind. Show her some respect."

As we later learn, when Chris takes this advice (something Sam himself has difficulty doing properly with Annie), the unnamed girlfriend responds with warmth, and she and Chris find happiness together. But the simplicity and honesty of this approach eludes Sam himself.

Nice is good

At the end of the episode, Annie is completely vindicated. Gene praises her ("Cartwright, you did well today") and, possibly more importantly, bestows a special honour on her that truly acknowledges her as one of the team: "I'll allow you to buy me a whisky chaser." This is wholly different from fetching tea and Garibaldis, and Annie knows it. She goes happily to buy Gene his Scotch; it's her baptism of acceptance.

Gene's whisky chaser

Interestingly, Annie doesn't linger to enjoy the moment, but leaves immediately. Sam follows her, and adds his praise ("The guv was right, you know. You did well."), but she brushes this off modestly ("Well... I learnt from the best.").

I learnt from the best

Both of them know, though, that this was entirely Annie's accomplishment, born out of her stubbornness, intelligence, and resourcefulness.

And Annie's not staying not to bond in the pub with the CID team or to have quality time with Sam. No, she's off to enjoy the evening by "meeting a bunch of mates" and, perhaps, celebrating with them instead.

She invites Sam to come along, but that's not what he wants, and he stammers out what is obviously a false excuse: "No, no, it's okay. I'm, er... I'm-- I'm hoping to... meet a, see someone... myself tonight, so..."

Sam's got plans

She leaves him with a verbal pat on the head: "Well, good for you, sir." And off she goes, while Sam stares longingly after her.

Sam looks after Annie longingly

Because the sad thing is, Sam still can't bring himself to say that he needs Annie. Maybe he feels that he can't trust her with that admission (she might reject him, especially in her newly empowered state). Or, more likely perhaps, he's scared to acknowledge out loud just how lost and lonely he's feeling.

So Annie goes off to her evening with her "mates", and Sam? He goes back to his bedsit, his wine bottle, some final words from Heather-on-the-telly, and the chillingly maudlin lyrics of Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Alone again (naturally)

You're left wondering what might have happened if he'd been honest with Annie instead, confessed how lonely he was, and agreed to go out with her and her "mates" — even if the price was to have to share Annie's company with others.


"Women like you!"

This episode — the one in which Sam most keenly longs for female companionship, but is singularly inept at attracting it — is the only episode in which Annie is comparatively unsympathetic to him. As mentioned previously, in the canteen scene Annie is indignant when Gwen sidles up to Sam with her offering of pudding. She says incredulously, "What is it with you and women?", echoing Chris's earlier comment of "Women like you!"

The problem is that in this episode, women don't like Sam. They think there's something's really wrong with him. In fact, they're always disagreeing with him, opposing him, or being flat-out insulting.

Denise is suspicious of Sam and disappears when he goes off to buy her a second drink:

Denise is suspicious

Heather rejects him harshly, asking "What is wrong with you people?" (meaning Sam), telling him not to touch her or to try his "lame lines" on her:

Heather glares at Sam

Annie herself rejects two attempts by Sam to "walk her home", and also demands at one point, "What's wrong with you today?"

Pissed-of Annie

Carol is suspicious of Sam's investigation of her bedroom, looks decidedly unenthusiastic at being paired off with him, and (when finally captured) taunts him with: "There's nothing more stupid than a man who thinks he knows everything." She knows he's clueless.

There's nothing more stupid than a man who thinks he knows everything

Mrs Luckhurst disagrees with Sam by opposing him on the question of Gene and Suki's participation in the party ("I think Mr Brown should be allowed to stay");

Mrs Luckworth objects

Even Suki pushes back at one point, when Sam exclaims that she's a prostitute and she retorts, "I am here, you know." She's reminding him that he's being ungallant; she is a human being with the same feelings he has.

Suki objects


Annie: a success story

Ultimately Annie does "do better" in this episode by playing the same game Sam and Gene does, only more successfully. When the men bug Twilling's car with Sam's transmitter, Twilling's solicitor threatens them with legal action and public humiliation. When Annie covertly does the same, she discovers critical information about the murderer's identity and, ultimately, is able to save Denise's life.

Annie saves the day

Sam may be the one who gets to cuddle and comfort Denise (taking the role of nurturer here, rather than receiving nurturance)...

Sam takes care of Denise

But it's Annie who muscles the murderess out the door of the caravan and to her fate.

Annie takes care of Carol

It is, after all, Annie who pushes for the undercover operation to continue when Sam tries to back out — no fewer than three times!

SAM: Er, well, maybe some other—
ANNIE: We'd love to!

SAM: I'm sorry. We should go.
ANNIE: If you go, you go without me. I'm enjoying myself.

SAM: Okay. This is getting out of hand. You were right. We should just pull him in.
ANNIE: No! [Twilling's] gonna give himself away, I know he is!
GENE: Good girl, Cartwright, at least somebody's got some balls.

Annie stands firm

Similarly, although Sam and Gene are both with sexually confident women at the sex party (Carol and Mrs Luckworth respectively), only Annie is shown as being in control of her partner and her situation. Sam is clearly uncomfortable with Carol (not with her personally, so much, as with the sexual intimacy that's about to occur, and possibly with the fact that she's taking the lead). In fact he's done nothing more than to reluctantly remove his socks, unbutton his shirt and begin kissing Carol when he's "saved" by Annie's shout.

(It's also implied that Mrs Luckworth, a sexually assertive woman if ever there was one, is more than Gene could handle, judging from his ambiguous description of her: "You know that bloke in the Bible who wanted to stuff a camel through the eye of a needle? [...] Well, he had nothing on Mrs Luckhurst." I favour the theory put forward by [livejournal.com profile] amproof: that Gene is describing anal sex, an interpretation supported by Carol's earlier comment that "Trevor learnt things from Mrs Luckhurst that would be illegal in some parts of Wales".)

Annie, on the other hand, is not only comfortable in her role as spur-of-the-moment dominatrix but is actually obtaining information when her male team members rush in to interrupt the show. It's actually possible that she might have put together the whole story earlier if she'd had more time to extract particulars from the hapless Twilling.

Annie extracting information


Gracie: Annie's unexpected ally

At the beginning of the episode, we see children playing together in the urban waste land where the victim was found. Gracie, the girl with (Hollywood) Tourette's, is some distance off from the others.

Gracie and her playmates

We learn from Chris that she was the one who discovered Sandra Trotman's body. Because she's unable to speak in anything but obscenities ("Wanker! Shit bloody shit! Shit woman dead! Bugger! Arsehole!"), the police don't take her seriously. The normally kind-hearted Chris calls Gracie a "foul-mouthed inbred," and even the other kids seem to be avoiding her. We only see her from a distance, and she seems small, scrawny, of no significance.

*The question of Gracie's cursing reminded me of a feminist I once read who said that the reason masculinist society considers it offensive or unacceptable when women and children curse is because the world is not theirs to damn. And indeed you'll notice that in the course of the series, Annie and Phyllis don't curse, not even so much as a "bloody" or a "damn". In Sam's world of 1973, the only women who curse are shrieking harridans like Mrs Trent in 1x02 (whom Gene silenced by stuffing a pair of knickers in her mouth).


As we learn at the end, it's possible that Gracie might have witnessed something more — who knows, perhaps she even saw the murderer placing Sandra's body there. But even the 'enlightened' Sam, who recognises that Gracie has Tourette's and knows it implies no cognitive deficiency on her part, never thinks to try and learn more from her.

When the identity of the murderer is revealed at the end, it's because Gracie is heard on the police radio to be speaking virtually the same gnomic words as she did at the beginning ("Shit bloody shit!"). And again we see the Cortina charging through dust into the same waste land. Again a handful of kids are present, and again Gracie stands slightly apart from them. This time, though, we see her at close range for the first time. Sam asks her the whereabouts of "the lady with the makeup", i.e. the Beauvoir Lady*.

*TBH I'm puzzled as to why Sam assumes Denise would still be wearing her uniform. As it turns out, she was, but the previous victim hadn't been; Sandra's corpse was dressed in a cream-coloured shirt and a slate-blue cardigan.


This is when we discover that Gracie herself is wearing makeup — as I mentioned, she's sporting a single gash of lipstick that crosses her mouth and continues across her face. (Why the lipstick? I don't know; but this drabble provides one possible explanation.)

Gracie pointing, with lipstick

She's older than she appears at the beginning, recognisably a young woman and not a "kid", actually beautiful but still strangely alien. When Sam asks her for directions, she no longer speaks (in obscenities or anything else), but only points, in an almost oracular fashion. This time, Sam asks for and accepts her silent counsel, and it leads him to catch the murderer, who is on the cusp of killing another woman.


My favourite murderess!

I've always found Carol a strangely sympathetic villain. There, I've said it.

One may smile, and smile...

Just to recap what we know (or think we know):

At the end of the ep, we learn that Carol murdered Sandra Trotman because of a love affair Sandra was having with Carol's husband Roger. Wife-swapping under controlled conditions was acceptable: falling in love and endangering Carol's marriage was not. Carol was too possessive of her husband to let the affair continue. So at some point, she kidnapped Sandra, (presumably) took her to the caravan, and killed her.

Because Denise was "harassing" Roger about the fate of her friend. Carol decided to kill Denise — presumably because she thought Denise posed a potential threat to Roger. So this murderous impulse was prompted not just by possessiveness but by a kind of protectiveness of her husband.

Granted, murderesses are rare, but it's still surprising that Sam, even when presented with the evidence of Carol's sadness over Roger's philandering, doesn't twig that Carol had motive, means and opportunity. When Carol tells him in the cells that her husband is incapable of murder, she is being nothing less than truthful; but Sam fails to draw the correct conclusion.

Falling in love is not allowed

So Sam misreads Carol, correctly perceiving her sadness at Roger's infidelity, but not recognising that it might be powerful enough to provoke her to violence. As with Annie, he doesn't really believe that she's capable of agency. It's a near-fatal mistake.

Carol and Sam

And Sam's not the only one to miscalculate. Roger seems aware of Carol's jealousy but is oblivious to how profoundly unhappy it makes her — and how that unhappiness is capable of driving her to murder. Carol is aware of her husband's philandering, but unwilling to face the fact he will never be truly faithful to her. There's a lot of denial going on in that family.

Two lonely people

Still, there's one thing about this story that puzzles me. After Sandra is killed, we hear (through the magic of radio surveillance) Roger and Carol talking together at the car dealership:

TWILLING: That bloody tart's [Denise] been hassling me again.
CAROL's VOICE: Just ignore her.
TWILLING's VOICE: I don't know anything about her poxy friend [Sandra].

Obviously Carol knows about the affair because Sandra has already been murdered. But Twilling's speaking about Sandra as though he despises her. Are we to think that he hasn't yet confessed the affair to Carol? Or has he confessed the affair, but not the part where he'd fallen in love with Sandra (as he later admits to Sam)? Was Carol left to work that out on her own? If so, and the "love" element was never acknowledged, then on what grounds did Carol object to the affair?

Not to mention the mystery of the wardrobe and Sandra's (?) Beauvoir uniform. Heh. I think there are stories yet to be told about the Twillings! Including the possibility that Roger is one slippery customer and may have been cleverly pulling Carol's strings the whole time... ;-)


So in conclusion...

Here's why I love 2x04 <3

(1) The focus on women — women as agents, as movers, and as the essential characters in this story — and the subtle feminist message underlying its portrayal of sexism.


2x04 ... full of women

(2) The story of Annie — her complex emotions, Sam's profound incomprehension, her triumph at the end of the episode. Yes, Sam got her promoted to WDC in 2x01, but 2x04 is all about Annie proving herself despite Sam's efforts, not because of him. And she resourcefully applies the techniques (undercover work, radio surveillance, suspect interrogation) that the men in the ep spectacularly fail to master. Sam nearly blows his cover with his Santana outburst, then does so decisively when he bursts into Twilling's bedroom; his radio connection fails (thus obliging Gene to crash the sex party); and Sam and Gene are useless when interrogating Twilling in the presence of his solicitor. In contrast, Annie's undercover work is seamless; her spontaneous smuggling of the radio transmitter into Twilling's car breaks the case open; and her interrogation of Twilling (avec whip) was getting answers right up until Sam interrupted.

Pissed-of Annie

For Sam/Annie shippers, this is arguably the shippiest of all episodes. Not a great ep for slashers, especially with Gene's two (!!) references to his wife, but a wonderful one for anyone who loves Annie as a character. And what's not to love here? She's hard-working, patient, annoyed, defiant, resourceful... as well-rounded a female character as the show ever gives us.

And we even get to see Sam and Annie hanging out in the pub, reading peacefully together like a couple of old marrieds:

Sam and Annie reading peacefully together

(3) The themes woven through the story: red as erotic signifier, the clever mirroring (including Sam and Carol as funhouse reflections of one another), the feline motif, the layers of meaning under "Beauvoir"...

The original Beauvoir Lady

(4) The possibility of other interpretations. Is Roger Twilling sexually aroused by women in red, does he need them to be dressed in red in order to come? Does he know all along what his wife was up to? Is he actually manipulating her to take care of his 'problem' women? What is the timeline of Sandra's kidnapping/murder, when did Roger acknowledge his affair (he seems not to have done so in the "tart" conversation), and most of all, how in the world could Roger have been unaware of his wife's guilt? He acknowledges that he knew she was unhappy about the affair...

Annie being forward

(5) Sam's story: he really is remarkably useless with women. His fixation on Heather. The possibility that he can only relate to women well when he's acting as their protector (cf. Denise at the end)... not so different from Gene after all, perhaps?

Walk me home?

(6) The Sartorial Sam. More clothes changes in this ep than in any other! We've got little!Sam in pyjamas, big!Sam in pyjamas, Sam's usual leather-jacket outfit, the jogging suit, the tennis whites, his two-piece pinstripe suit and jacket/tie ensemble at Roger's parties... the lad should go undercover more often.

Fashionplate Sam

And the HUMOUR. "God help us!" Men are stuck skulking about in surveillance vans and darkened garages while Annie simply gets the job done <333 Vol-au-vents!

God help us!

Yes, it's full of women.

And it's FANTASTIC.


* * * * *

[livejournal.com profile] chamekke is the daughter of an Avon Lady.



(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 10:06 am (UTC)
loz: (Life on Mars (Annie is amused))
From: [personal profile] loz
I am in awe of this detailed analysis. WHY haven't you shared this before now? Okay. I know, I know. But, Cham Cham, this is so enlightening and engaging. Even the assertions that I would have disagreed with going into a discussion of this episode made perfect sense when shown in context.

You know, I have also always loved 2.04, and I'd picked up on a smattering of what you clearly delineate here, but I think I really only loved it on a surface and a half level? But here you show there are so many layers.

Yes, yes, yes to this being Annie's episode. This is the episode, along with 1.05, that I point to when people say that Annie isn't a 'strong female character'. I ADORE her vulnerabilities in this episode as much as her strengths. Like you, I wish Annie had always been given this much time to show how amazing she is. Yes to it being themed around female agency --- both the dangers of ignoring it and the reward that can come from it. Yes to the all-encompassing use of colour and the undertones that can be derived from it.

ALSO, can I just say that I really appreciated all the pictures and quotes? The way you organised and set this essay out made it so easy and entertaining to read. I feel like I've learned something by having fun.

♥ ♥ ♥ I have been waiting for this because I knew it would be excellent, but it was still even more excellent than I was imagining. You are a shiny gold rock star!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Yay! I'm so pleased you liked it ♥

There are many layers to this episode. Don't you have the sneaking feeling there are many others still to be discovered? I know I do! (I didn't include absolutely everything in this essay, BTW. There was a ramble about the motif of water that just didn't fit... and it was probably just my imagination anyway ;-)

One thing I love about 2x04 is how richly cinematographic it is. There are so many running leitmotifs and synchronicities and thematic echoes, it's hard sometimes to believe that it's merely a series episode. Sometimes it feels like a miniature film.

And OK, maybe I'm reading some things into 2x04 that aren't 'really' there, but the choice of the name Beauvoir? I swear, that can't have been coincidental. I really think Ashley was trying to tell a feminist tale — at least, as much as he was able, given the constraint that the show's two main characters are male and that everything must be shown through, and revolve around, Sam's POV.

I ADORE her vulnerabilities in this episode as much as her strengths.

I do too. She's sympathetic, and amazingly resilient, but Ashley still writes her as a human being with thoroughly human foibles. (Can you tell, I fangirl AP almost as much as you do MG ;-)

Thank you for the lovely comment!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basaltgrrl.livejournal.com
This. Best thing ever. Made me think so much; I'm still thinking - about Annie's life, Annie's evening after she left the pub. About her complexities as a character. About the dichotomy of Sam the lover of women, and Sam the inept.

Re: Sam's failure to communicate with Annie, it seems that it may have to do with the conflict between his head and his heart; he's only human and he's alone and has been for some time -- he yearns for simple human contact nd kindness. And yet he still knows (or believes) intellectually that he's in a coma, that he needs to "get back" to his real life that, as you point out, is feeling increasingly distant. And then there's his les than stellar introspection; he's NOT putting it all together. He thinks, and he feels, but he doesn't necessarily integrate.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Re: Sam's failure to communicate with Annie, it seems that it may have to do with the conflict between his head and his heart; he's only human and he's alone and has been for some time -- he yearns for simple human contact nd kindness. And yet he still knows (or believes) intellectually that he's in a coma, that he needs to "get back" to his real life that, as you point out, is feeling increasingly distant. And then there's his les than stellar introspection; he's NOT putting it all together. He thinks, and he feels, but he doesn't necessarily integrate.

I quoted this in full because I absolutely LOVE this insight. YESSSSS!!! It's like Sam knows on one level that he wants/needs Annie's companionship, but he only allows himself to try and connect emotionally with 2006 (and Heather-in-2006) because he's convinced it's reality and 1973 isn't. So there's this colossal ambivalence, because Sam thinky-thinks that Annie's not real, and he can't quite bring himself to reach out to her — even though, underneath it all, that's what he really wants.

And I'm sure that Sam hasn't even articulated this to himself, because introspection? Not one of his superpowers.

Oh, Sam ♥ ♥ ♥ You're one confused puppy. *hugs him tightly*

Thank you so much for the enthusiastic comment and the fantastic insight!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-05 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basaltgrrl.livejournal.com
Your response made me ponder even more about darling, confused Sam. How interesting would it be to write an essay about LoM and Sam through the framework of id, ego, superego? Or left brain/right brain? Or even just going into more detail about the head and the heart and whether Sam will ever really connect with both of them...

In any case, your essay may inspire me to write fic; the seed has been planted, anyway.

Gosh, Cham, you rock so much.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petronelle.livejournal.com
I enjoyed the hell out of this.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Thank you! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grassle.livejournal.com
I can pay this no higher compliment than to say I started reading, stoppped, fetched my knitting and a cuppa, and settled back down. No gribaldis, sadly. Nor pink wafers.

What a detailed analysis. I love how you move from squee at the 70s!visual porn (Avon ladies! vol-au-vent! cheese and pineapple on a stick! Black Forest Gateau!) of 'the one with the women' to discuss the deeper (leit)motifs.

Even on first viewing I thought the use of red throughout striking and the amount of protagonism the women had. And Annie as a strong character who happens to be a female not a Moffatised strong (= superhuman) female character was great to see.

I remember thinking how 'childish' Sam was seen as in this ep - probably the pjs, but also seeming like a kid in front of Carol and the canteen lady, and even the Beauvoir ladies. I loved the 'house full of women' throwaway of his childhood, especially as we know his father left: the matriarchy expanding to colonise that space. 'The Nan generation' Russell Brand calls it.

Hadn't picked up on all Sam's costume changes, but a thing I always liked was that as early as series 1 ep 2, Sam, dressed as a Lifeguard, is already fitting in, and conflicted about it.

I would say more and be more coherent (well, try) but I'm at work. Just to say thanks so much for this photo essay. (They're probably not called that these days.) I look forward to reading your readers' thoughts too.

(Wish I'd got into this fandom! Sadly I didn't even know there were such things as fandoms at the time.)

penelope grassle is the daughter of a lady who really made hedgehogs out of melons and stuck things on sticks on them for parties. And had a Soda Stream. And a Breville.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 06:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
First of all, thank you for the lovely compliment of knitting and a cuppa! I'm really touched and pleased. It's nice to be sat down with, if you know what I mean ♥

And Annie as a strong character who happens to be a female not a Moffatised strong (= superhuman) female character was great to see.

It's true! Annie is properly awesome in this ep. I really do love how Ashley Pharoah (damn I always have trouble spelling his surname) writes women. Did you watch the late lamented series Eternal Law BTW?

I remember thinking how 'childish' Sam was seen as in this ep

Hmm, funny you should mention that! One of many bits I chopped out (because, length) was a ramble about Sam's memory gap. It's like he formed NO lasting emotional connections between the age of 4 and his days as a DCI. All the people he ever says he cares about are either remembered from his early childhood (parents, Heather) or from his recent police career (Glen, Maya). Remember 1x06, when Sam literally can think of no happy memories between the day of his fourth birthday and the day he made DCI? It's like the lost years of Jesus or something! (Or maybe it's just another argument for Sam 'really' being Sam Williams. Hmm, again.)

*cough* Sorry, there. There's something about this episode, it keeps making me go off on strange tangents!

Interesting point about Sam's lifeguard outfit in 1x02! He did seem strangely exhilarated after the chase, though. Maybe all that adrenaline drove the existential angst out of his system for a wee bit. But only for a little while because, you know, Sam.

(Wish I'd got into this fandom! Sadly I didn't even know there were such things as fandoms at the time.)

I discovered the [livejournal.com profile] lifein1973 comm in 2009 and only really started posting to it in 2010, so I'm a latecomer to the fandom myself. It's still active, though! (Much more so than the Ashes to Ashes fandom, interestingly, even though A2A is much more recent.) Anyway, this was cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] lifein1973, so that's why you may see some comments here from people who aren't normally on my LJ.

penelope grassle is the daughter of a lady who really made hedgehogs out of melons and stuck things on sticks on them for parties. And had a Soda Stream. And a Breville.

Awww ♥ It's a little terrifying how many elements of the 2x04 cocktail party I actually recognise from my childhood. Hostessy hors d'oeuvres! Clever sculptures made from celery sticks! Good God, yes. *shudders appreciatively*

Thank you for leaving such a wonderful comment! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 08:48 pm (UTC)
lethe1: (love)
From: [personal profile] lethe1
Wow! I always love your analyses, but this is a particularly brilliant one. And a great preparation for next Sunday's watchalong! :)

Sam punching Twilling in the stomach is one of my favourite moments in this ep, because it reveals so much of Sam's feelings.

I must have "canonized" that drabble because I actually thought that Carol mentions Gracie in the episode.

As an aside, the screencap of Annie feeding Sam a hedgehog canapé made me LOL.

Wonderful! Into the memories it goes.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Thank you ♥

Sam punching Twilling in the stomach is one of my favourite moments in this ep, because it reveals so much of Sam's feelings.

Oh, mine too. Sam is comparatively inscrutable in this episode, in that we sorta-kinda know what's going on in his head but we're not 100% sure ... so that was a welcome moment of *cough* unambiguous emotional expression ;-)

I must have "canonized" that drabble because I actually thought that Carol mentions Gracie in the episode.

:-D

As an aside, the screencap of Annie feeding Sam a hedgehog canapé made me LOL.

I love that too. Their expressions are perfect. That was one of those moments that left me shipping Sam/Annie like a shipping thing. Sometimes they are just too adorable together ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] draycevixen.livejournal.com

I've never been quite sure how I feel about this episode, some things I love, some things I hate, but you've definitely made me stop and think about it all over again.

It's a beautiful in-depth look at an episode where it's easy to get distracted by its centrepieces, like Sam's interaction with Heather, or Annie with a whip and just get carried along.

Thanks, petal. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Hee, encouraging someone to stop and think about the ep is lovely! Thank you ♥

Of course, now I'm curious to hear what things you love and what you hate. Would you like to elaborate? I don't mind if you have a different reaction from mine, quite the contrary; I'm deeply interested in hearing different takes on it, if you feel like sharing them. Frankly 2x04 is one of those eps that people don't talk about much (I checked the comm, and did you know there was never a 2x04 episode reaction post?).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-02 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fern-tree.livejournal.com
CHAAAAAAAAAAAAM, this is.... This is amazing! I hardly remembered anything from this episode (I haven't seen it in months), but this allowed me to relive it with SO much more depth than I saw before!

The screencaps were brilliant little dividers, making it really easy to understand the points you make. And every point you do make is so well thought out and explained <3 I think I now have a new appreciation for Annie and the way she handles things in this episode... And a new understanding of a lot of the female characters. And Saaaam and how he relates to Annie...

Whatever I say isn't going to do this justice - it's plain how hard you've worked on it, and it's just so completely genius. <33333 GAHHHHH, *flails* SO amazing!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful comment! Thank you so much ♥ ♥ ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] severinne.livejournal.com
Well, everyone else has said it but this really is truly fantastic episode analysis... see why I wanted a whole series of these on the comm?? *nom*

I'm happily nodding agreement with a lot of this but remain caught (perhaps in a feminist fail on my part, I'm famous for them *g*) by the ways in which the profusion of women in this episode - especially women in resistance to Sam's expectations, women who clearly can't stand him - are still bringing the story back around to Sam and that loneliness that for me is always the underscoring theme of the episode with its failures at intimacy even when given outlandish opportunity. Does that function undermine women's agency as active movers in this story? I don't necessarily think so, but I also happily accept that LoM is always and forever about Sam's journey, with every other character and circumstance - men and women - playing a supporting role in framing that journey.

The way both Chris and Annie assert that women "like" Sam always amused me in this episode and in general because it's not just 2.04 where women clearly don't like Sam. Go right back to Beryl Raimes in 1.01, completely thrown by his frenetic questioning and so often thereafter it seems he just can't win with women (remember Layla/Leslie? Fuuuuuck... *facepalm*). Sam always strikes me as someone who has internalized a guidebook on how to be respectful to women, but his practical scores still suck. If anything, I think Gwen is responding to his loneliness/odd duckling sadness rather than out of any particular "like" of Sam.

Other than that, just gotta say a big fuck yeah on Sam's amazing wardrobe in this ep. Fanservice of the highest order, that :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
Well, everyone else has said it but this really is truly fantastic episode analysis... see why I wanted a whole series of these on the comm?? *nom*

Thank you ♥ ♥ ♥ And may I say, oh hey, me too? I'd love to see a series of episode analyses, for sure!

Mind you, I do think I drew the long straw with this episode. Would 1x07, say, would have yielded as much meta goodness as 2x04 does? I don't think so, wonderful curry date notwithstanding. (Of course I'd be delighted to be proven wrong ;-)

Re: your question about the feminist message 'vs.' the Sam story... (and I hope I'm going to be coherent here, because: sleepy Cham + bedtime)

To be honest, yes, I agree that Sam's journey, and specifically his loneliness, are absolutely central to the episode. They have to be, because Sam's not only the central character, but EVERYTHING is necessarily shown from his POV. And Gene, the second main character? Also male ;-) Annie is a very distant third, at best. So we're always going to be seeing everything through Sam's eyes and, to some degree, through his life experience and prejudices.

That said, I do think Ashley Pharoah did a brilliant job at putting together a feminist-themed episode within those constraints. And I do see the Sam!loneliness tale and the female!agency theme as complementary, if perhaps not 100% co-equal, because they dovetail in Sam's conflicted yearning for Annie and Annie's frustrations with Sam. (And actually, when you recall how little airtime Annie has in most episodes, it's staggering how prominently she's featured in 2x04.)

It's similar with 2x02 and 2x03 and 2x06, really. We get a glimpse of the impact that racism and anti-immigrant prejudice and so forth have on Glen, Patrick and the Gandhi family respectively — and to that extent that's what the episode in question is "about"; but Sam is always, ALWAYS foregrounded and so there's a huge in-built limitation in how far those characters' stories can be told. So when you measure 2x04 against those eps in those terms, I think it stands up pretty well.

The way both Chris and Annie assert that women "like" Sam always amused me in this episode and in general because it's not just 2.04 where women clearly don't like Sam.

Wordy McWordisons! With an extra helping of word. *thinks of Eve Olawi*

Sam always strikes me as someone who has internalized a guidebook on how to be respectful to women, but his practical scores still suck.

OH GOD YES THIS. His advice to Chris! *shakes head* You have to wonder sometimes if Sam even hears himself. But then I suppose he really believes he's describing his own behaviour with women.

If anything, I think Gwen is responding to his loneliness/odd duckling sadness rather than out of any particular "like" of Sam.

Ooh, what an interesting idea. Yeah, that definitely could be an "Ooh you poor wee lamb" vibe coming off Gwen, there. (Or it could be culinary pride? Maybe the only canteen dish Sam's ever praised is her much-prized custard recipe? Heh, now you're making me want some Gwen fic. There just isn't enough out there!)

Other than that, just gotta say a big fuck yeah on Sam's amazing wardrobe in this ep. Fanservice of the highest order, that :D

Absolutely! When I was putting together that fashion montage for Sam, I kept thinking of this ;-)

Mind you, I'm still a bit aggrieved that the show didn't pursue the implications of left-dressing-in-sweatpants jogging!fitness!Sam. If Sam believes that 1973 is illusory then why is he working so hard at keeping his illusory 1973 body in illusory shape? But yeah, he's damn cute in that imaginary jogging outfit of his ♥ *hugs him*

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-25 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edzel2.livejournal.com
I'll post a (very belated) response to the wonderful essay in a moment, but I did just want to say that if you want some Gwenfic, I've erm, written a couple in which she's quite heavily featured:

http://www.thefreakiestshow.com/treacle-sponge-and-mint-custard.html. And a longer one:

http://www.thefreakiestshow.com/a-good-square-meal---part-110.html

I hope they fit the bill!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-03 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nepthys-uk.livejournal.com
Wow, what a fantastic in-depth analysis!

You've raised some really interesting points here that I didn't consciously spot when I watched this: Annie's strength coming out in so many ways, and Sam's sheer awkwardness with women, in particular. I agree totally with Sev's point above:

Sam always strikes me as someone who has internalized a guidebook on how to be respectful to women, but his practical scores still suck

His interactions with women are nearly always shown as awkward and embarrassing - and although you could put that down to 1970's women not being able to appreciate his 2006 sensibilities, I can't help thinking that it's Sam himself who is just a bit socially (and emotionally) inept.

Anyhow, thanks very much for this, it was a really stimulating read and makes me want to watch the episode all over again :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-05 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chamekke.livejournal.com
His interactions with women are nearly always shown as awkward and embarrassing - and although you could put that down to 1970's women not being able to appreciate his 2006 sensibilities, I can't help thinking that it's Sam himself who is just a bit socially (and emotionally) inept.

I agree 100% with this. Sam's generally gauche around women, it's just particularly obvious in 2x04 where there are so many in one place. Maybe he's less awkward with Annie (*cough* some of the time), but I wonder if that's largely due to her role as his sole confidante? Otherwise, yeah, it's hard to think of any Sam/female interactions that aren't a bit cringifying in one way or another ;-)

Speaking of cringifying, maybe it could be argued that Sam's overprotectiveness of Annie here is partly down to what happened to Maya in 1x01 after that awful "standing you down" exchange; but then again there's no reference to Maya whatsoever in 2x04 so it's probably a dicey theory. (And anyway, if Sam had any sense he'd see that trying to keep a motivated female detective down is just a really crap strategy!)

Thanks for the kind comment ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-08 10:11 am (UTC)
talkingtothesky: (samannie)
From: [personal profile] talkingtothesky
I don't have much intelligent to add, but you've definitely thrown some points into sharper clarity for me, especially Annieeeeee, who I didn't think I could love more but ohmygosh she just took it all in her stride and whipped him having lured him in with promises of only doing what she's told. And she has mates! Outside of the department!

Also it will never not be hilarious trying to figure out what Gene meant by the eye-of-a-needle comment.

I really don't feel like I've read very much at all here. It could have been another 10k words long before I started to find it in the slightest bit taxing. You. Just. I so appreciate the time you took to structure this so coherently, because I can't even write this comment without rambling. YOU WIN. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-01 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] margo-kim.livejournal.com
So I was linking to this for a LoM thing I'm working on (and will apparently never stop working on because I've been plugging away at it forever ;_;) and I realized that I've never commented on how brilliant this is.

In quick summary: ALL OF THIS. ALL OF THIS IS BRILLIANT.

That scene of Annie and Sam coming up with their identities reminds me of the shooting script for 2.08 where Annie's recapping the way they met, talking about Sam as if he was a different person and Sam playing along and flirting back. In 2.04 where Sam's wound-up and a little self-conscious during this teasing, by the end of the series he's able to banter back and forth with Annie, with even a little bit of self-deprecation.

The sartorial section made me think that maybe it would be interesting to do something like this or this on the comm, a look at the episodes through the clothing and set design. It's one of those things I've been tossing around, but will most likely never end up doing. But someday, someone should for analysis! And interpretation! And so I can have a list of all of Annie outfits (LOOK AT THAT COMBO UNDER 5) SAM'S STORY. I LOVE YOU, 70S, FOR GIVING US THIS).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-25 10:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edzel2.livejournal.com
A shooting script for 2:08??? Really? Where might I find this, do you have a link, please? I've seen the marvellous transcript but don't think I've seen an actual shooting script... *wants*

I Was Nearly an Avon Lady

Date: 2012-11-25 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edzel2.livejournal.com
...well, girl, actually, since I was barely into my twenties at the time...but the thought of knocking on all those doors and maybe not being welcome scared me off! And there is a letting agency in my area called 'Belvoir!' which every time I see one of their signs, reminds me of this episode of LoM...

What can I say about this frankly brilliant essay, except that I think it's awesome and I would love it if you were able to do this level of research and interpretation for every single episode (cos you're so good at it)... I just love in-depth analysis like this and wish I was capable of writing it myself...alas I'm not nearly clever or well-educated enough to even know where to start, so i'll just enjoy reading it by those who are!!

I've always loved this episode, mostly for shallow reasons (and mainly to do with lonely, needy, hapless yet sartorial Sam) and because visually, IMHO it is one of the most beautifully sumptuous episodes - even Sam's suit/shirt/tie combo at the party gives me little shivers of delight - it would probably look hideous on anyone else, but John Simm (whom BBC exec Julie Gardner once called a 'walking clothes horse') manages to pull it off and look damn fine whilst doing it...

I think I had subliminally registered some of the elements you pointed out and analysed, although I could never have explained/articulated them quite as succinctly as you've done here. They and the ones i hadn't picked up on so much all make perfect sense, even the ones you hinted you'd left out or were possibly just your imagination. I wold love to know just how many of those were intentional on the part of the team which created them, or if they were incidental, perhaps even unintentionally subliminal because of the subject matter...

I remember that sequence in A2A where Alex dreams about Sam and his jacket... Its one of my favourites because I spent the whole of A2A longing for the real Sam Tyler to appear, even though I knew he wouldn't... But that's another topic for another thread, I think!

In short, thank you for writing this, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the screen caps were the icing in the cake! (And in completely shallow mode, TracksuitSam doesn't leave much to the imagination, does he....?!? *drools*)



Edited Date: 2012-11-25 11:04 am (UTC)

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