Monday, December 17, 2012

Tentatively Normal

Melodramatic Mondays

Hannah gives up her life as Belle in an effort to win back Alex, taking a job as an office temp and getting rid of all of her call girl paraphernalia. Her first night with Alex doesn't go quite as planned, though, when Ben appears at her door and professes his love for her.

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

Hannah (Billie Piper) has made half-hearted attempts before to give up her life as Belle, but they never have quite taken due to her love of her work; however, she has never loved anyone quite as much as she loves Alex (Callum Blue,) and for him she will do anything. In giving up Belle she is giving up a part of herself, but in doing so for Alex she is gaining a new component that's very important to her, and he might just be her shot at leading the life of a normal girl.

After ridding her apartment of anything Belle-related, Hannah asks Alex over in the hopes of changing his mind about her, only to have him state that he had never felt as humiliated as he did when he learned the truth, unable to feel anything but disgusted by her, elaborating that he has never hated anyone as much as that moment made him hate her. Eventually the two come to an understanding, getting everything out in the open, and he even goes to bed with her, but finds that he can't perform because all he can picture are her other clients. Alex's hesitation is absolutely understandable, and it's great to see that there are consequences to Hannah's actions, that it's not a simple fix and that they both will have to work at their relationship should they want to make it work. This feels like a very genuine reaction, and while it's clear, given the narrative of the series, that things probably won't work out between them, it's nice to see them given a chance to make a try.

Ben (Iddo Goldberg) shows up at Hannah's drunk, telling her that their friendship is over because she thinks everything's about her and doesn't listen to him when he's talking. He explains that he and his girlfriend had broken up shortly after he and Hannah had slept together, that he had moved out and gone on to have sex with a girl named Lisa (Sian Polhill-Thomas) because he had no one else to turn to. As he breaks down, sobbing, Hannah is finally forced to think about her own actions, stating that she "thought it was Belle complicating things, turns out it was [her] all along," and while the story ends before she has a chance to deal with this revelation, it's great that she's finally been called out on how she treats people. Hannah spends so much time on her own, in her own head, that it's nice to see her finally have to acknowledge the fact that she mistreats those around her for her own needs, and hopefully this moment will help her change her ways and learn to start treating those around her as friends rather than a means to an end.

At the top of the episode, Hannah is boxing up all of Belle's things because "[she] need[s] to get Alex back, so [she's] decided to go straight," which is a very mature thing for her to decide to do. Unfortunately, the reality is that she doesn't make much of an effort at her new job, quitting during the first day when she's asked to shred paperwork; not only could shredding not be a simpler job, but the situation puts her desire to be with Alex into question since she's not willing to suffer the tedium of a menial task in order to get her life together. Hannah talks a big game in this episode about trying to act like a 'normal girl,' but she's completely unwilling to do what it takes to be so, and, should Alex discover her failure here, he's likely to question her commitment to him.

Hannah asks to meet with Ben, leading him to believe that she wants to talk about their getting together after the night they had spent with one another. Instead, Hannah tells Ben that she's giving up escorting and getting a proper job in favor of getting back together with Alex, altogether avoiding the subject of the two having slept together a few days prior. As Belle, Hannah has always prided herself on being able to read people, to give people what they need and tell them what they want to hear, and it's incredibly distracting that she can't manage to do the same with the man she claims is her best friend.

Most everyone is at the top of their game in this episode, but the standout of the bunch is definitely Piper's performance as Hannah. Her breakdown into tears is absolutely heartbreaking, and it's clear that her character is beyond devastated when Blue's Alex refuses to give her a second chance. Piper is able to call up tears at the drop of a hat, and it lends itself to the scene very well here, showcasing just how vulnerable she really has become since meeting Alex.

Director Peter Lydon gets the chance to explore both Hannah's attempts to get into the regular workforce as well as exploring Ben's character for what seems like the first time. Through montage we see Hannah struggling with mundane tasks, being unable to make the copy machine at work function properly and questioning her own ability to do even the most menial tasks, noting that "[her] problem with the job market is that [she's] used to working on [her] back, not [her] feet." In Ben we see the quick destruction of his character, sleeping with Lisa and revealing to her that he and his girlfriend had broken up, and that he had moved out, when he hadn't even told Hannah yet, eventually becoming so distraught with his situation that he gets drunk while at work and is sent home.

The script, as written by Tim Price, definitely has it's ups and downs, with perhaps the laziest piece of writing being the fact that Alex is drawn back to Hannah's apartment because his car has broken down in the parking lot; this means that not only has his car broken down at the most inconvenient place and time, but his phone has either gotten lost or died, that there are no surrounding pay phones he can find, and also that no nearby businesses or homes are willing to let him use their phones. It would have seemed far more believable had there been a short cut scene depicting Bambi (Ashley Madekwi) meddling with his car in an effort to get him to speak with Hannah, or if he had simply returned to continue yelling at her. Slightly more forgivable is Hannah's attempts at breaking the awkwardness with jokes, telling Alex not to worry because she will touch him only if he pays her, which he quickly notes as inappropriate, but given the situation between them it's rather funny. The highlight, however, comes later when Alex discovers that Hannah had unplugged the phone to stop him from leaving, managing to convince him to come for dinner by admitting the truth about what she did, stating that she only did so because she loves him.

Ben's drunk outburst at Hannah's apartment seems to imply that he will, in some form, reveal to Alex that he and Hannah had had sex recently, possibly leading her to choose between the two of them. As for Hannah's inability to work a day job, her return to escorting is fast approaching, and it's highly unlikely she will be able to hide that fact from Alex.

The review for Episode 2.8 will be posted on December 24th.


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