Monday, December 3, 2012

Love is for Other People

Melodramatic Mondays

Belle's session with a disabled client is interrupted when Alex walks into her apartment. Unable to look at Hannah in the same way, Alex goes to Ben for information about who she really is, wondering if she ever really loved him and if he can stay in a relationship with someone who continuously lies about who she is.

The review for "Three's a Crowd" can be read here.

Having nearly lost Ben (Iddo Goldberg) when Hannah (Billie Piper) told him that she was an escort, and still on the outs with him from telling him that she was in a relationship with Alex (Callum Blue,) Hannah is keenly aware of how tenuous the state of her relationships are at the moment. The risk of losing Alex is all too much for her, but the thought of losing Belle, of giving up a fundamental part of who she has become, may not be realistic for her.

Hannah has a lot on her mind these days, and as she wakes in the morning she muses about how sometimes, on a perfect day, she'll open her eyes and her head will be relatively empty, ready to start a brand new day; instead, today, she feels as though she hasn't slept at all, having spent the night tossing and turning, dwelling on her decision to tell Alex the truth about her life as Belle. As she wonders when would be best to tell him, Alex asks her to a work function that he'll be attending on the weekend, and while she absolutely wants to go with him, instead she tells him to wait and see, knowing that he likely won't want to see her anymore after learning the truth. Later, when Ben asks her why she's decided to tell Alex the truth, she states that the lying separates them, as though she's looking at the world through the wrong end of a telescope, making everything seem really far away. Hannah notes that, before Alex, she had never wanted to cook for anyone, and her realization makes her even more afraid of him leaving, knowing how much she really cares for him. In the end, when Alex has walked away from her, she goes to Ben for comfort, instead seeing that he and Alex are drinking together, and she's forced to leave the two men she wants to speak to most and wander the city alone.

Wheelchair-bound Blake (David Proud) is very straightforward in telling Belle what it is that he wants and what he needs, while his father Gary (Clive Russell) is the one that's nervous for his son. As the two of them get down to business, Blake asks that Belle not play up the fantasy of it all, stating that "if [she does] that it feels like porn, like [Belle's] not a real girl." It eventually comes to the point that Blake is having trouble performing, unable to get passed the fact that Belle's so inauthentic and instead just someone that his father had paid to have sex with him. The interaction between the two of them feels very real, and their scenes are some of the best of the episode.

Belle leaves the door to her flat unlatched under the assumption that it would make Blake feel more comfortable if his father had the ability to get back into the apartment should he need to. Later, when Gary needs to come back to retrieve Blake's MP3 player, he needs to be buzzed in by Hannah/Belle to get into the building, and it leaves the question as to how Alex managed to get into Hannah's flat without a key to the building. One could assume that he had followed someone else inside in a case of good luck, but, in the end, he comes upstairs once more without using the buzzer, and it screams of plot convenience. From the moment that Hannah/Belle leaves her door unlocked it's clear that Alex will soon walk in, and the reveal could have been done in a much more authentic manner, having Hannah/Belle answer a knock at the door assuming it was Blake's father only to have Alex standing there instead, for instance.

In a heart-breaking moment of professionalism, Hannah/Belle is forced to give Blake's need for privacy and help priority over her own need to reconcile with Alex as he walks into her apartment. She has no time to spare her boyfriend's feelings as she screams for him to "get out" while simultaneously calling for Blake's father, spouting her frustration that he was meant to visit her the following day instead. It's difficult to watch as she's unable to reconcile with Alex, forced instead to put her client's needs before her own, but it feels as though, were the client less sympathetic, the situation would have played out much differently. Were her client an older man with full mobility, this scene would have been framed much more differently and she likely wouldn't have given priority to the client here, and the narrative here was probably only to make the audience feel empathy with Hannah's situation to present her as less of the villain in the story.

Piper's chemistry in her scenes with Blue and Proud is great, and she shows good emotion as her character loses the only man she's ever loved. Blue is also quite good in his confrontation with Goldberg's character, breaking down and saying terrible things, in the heat of the moment, about the girl he thought he knew. Proud and Russell, playing father and son, also have a very good chemistry, selling the idea that they truly care about each other in a very limited amount of screen time.

Peter Lydon directs this episode with an affection for montages, displaying Gary's worry over his son as he waits in his van, and closing the episode with a series of quick shots, both focused and unfocused, that lend themselves to Hannah's prolonged sense of solitude. The scenes between Hannah/Belle and Blake are well done, showcasing the difficulties that Belle has in her work as she struggles to remove Blake's clothing and checks with him periodically to make sure that she's not hurting him. The pacing of this episode is a little strange, and it's surprising that there was no connection made between Gary's nervousness for Blake and Hannah's same uneasiness in regards to revealing the truth to Alex.

Nicole Taylor and Paul Duane team up to write a script heavy in contemplation as Hannah considers her place in the world, both on her own and with Alex in her life. Blake says it best as he notes that "falling in love, having a relationship, it feels like something that happens to other people," a feeling that Hannah/Belle couldn't relate to more than she already does. In trying to put Blake at ease, Hannah/Belle reveals to him her real name, something she had sworn never to do in her work as an important safety precaution, proving to him that she is a real girl despite the false front she's forced to present in her work. Later, as Alex goes to confront Ben, he asks if Ben knew the truth, if he was laughing the entire time, and despite Ben's dislike for Alex, and the fact that he himself has had his heart broken by Hannah, he consoles Alex, defending Hannah and trying to mend fences. "It's just a job, it's what she does, not who she is," he explains, understanding all too well what it is to feel betrayed by her, but knowing that she's well worth having in your life.

Hannah's first romance within the confines of the series has come to a close, though I imagine she will attempt to reconcile with Alex at some point in the near future. What that means for Belle's work remains to be seen, though seeking employment may be rough on her, and Hannah's likely to revert to Belle sooner than later, depending on how well she can hide it from those around her.

The review for "In Sheep's Clothing" can be read here.


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