Monday, January 21, 2013

Potential Hazards

Melodramatic Mondays

Hannah/Belle struggles to maintain a professional working relationship with Duncan, while Bambi does the same with Byron. Meanwhile, Ben has decided to end things with Jackie but is unsure of how to go about it.

Previous: Mechanics and Technicalities

No stranger to failed relationships, Hannah/Belle (Billie Piper) is always prepared to warn those around her in regards to the difficulties of maintaining a romance in diverse situations. Given Bambi's (Ashley Madekwe) occupation, Belle warns her against falling for Byron (David Dawson), but what stresses Belle even more than watching her friend enter a doomed relationship is the realization that it may not be as impossible for Bambi as it was for Belle.

Despite not having had a scheduled appointment, and not getting paid for the evening, Bambi mentions that Byron had stayed at her place the previous night, and though she argues that it was "just a laugh," Belle is quick to point out that he's taking advantage of her and that she needs to make the boundaries of their relationship very clear. Things grow more confused when Byron shows up at Bambi's, unannounced, hoping to give her a brand new bicycle as a gift, at which point she tells him that "[he] can't just turn up" at her place, explaining that she can't be with him because of her job, and even though he says that he doesn't care about her job, she knows that, eventually, it will become something of an issue for him. In one of her more mature moments, fighting against the whims of her heart, Bambi explains that she can't let herself get invested in him only to later get hurt because he can't handle her being a prostitute anymore, and while she's greatly enjoyed the time they've spent together, she thinks it might be best if they stopped seeing one another. Emotionally broken, Bambi reaches out to Belle, hoping that some time with her friend will put things back into perspective, but Byron has other plans of burning a profession of love into the lawn in front of the building, and Bambi's made to realize that even if things can't work out in the end, maybe she should take the chance anyway. Their relationship could go one of two ways, either it falls apart, just as Belle predicts, and Bambi is left heart-broken, or it works out and Bambi's given the opportunity to leave escorting behind and start a brand new life.

Belle notes that her client needs her to look impeccable, with a series of dishes prepared and ready for his arrival, warmed to body temperature, with everything else in the room covered in plastic. When Des (Colin Michael Carmichael) arrives, wearing full formal attire, he proceeds to fornicate with the food as Belle slathers other foods all over him and his suit, and soon the two of them are throwing pies at each other's faces and sliding uncontrollably over the plastic-covered floors. It's a scene that's clearly uncomfortable for Belle, despite her attempts to remain professional, and it depicts exactly how horribly her sessions can go wrong should not everything go according to plan. The scene is so bizarre, even to Belle, that she finds it almost funny at first, but the longer it continues the more distressed she becomes, until Des finally ends the session early because it's clearly not Belle's thing. Belle protests that she can continue, stating that she's simply not used to it, but can learn to be, but Des leaves anyway, and it's very interesting to see Belle fail to please her client. Even though their time together went horribly awry, Belle calls Des up in the end, asking for another go, and finally starts taking pleasure in their food play.

At one point Ben (Iddo Goldberg) asks Hannah to break up with Jackie (Joanna Bobin) for him, and it's not only incredibly cowardly on his own part, but very insensitive to both Hannah and her sister. Jackie is clearly pained by the breakup, which is understandable, but rather than continue living with Hannah as she works out her marriage, she simply moves back home and states that her problems have been resolved; this is a storyline that warrants a more elaborate conclusion, or at least a discussion about how she can go back to her husband, angry that he had been cheating on her, to talk about how she, too, had taken another lover in his absence.

Hannah shows up at Duncan's (James D'Arcy) office dressed as Belle, clearly prepared to seduce him, and the two of them have sex on his desk. Hannah/Belle states during the build up to this situation that it's a bad idea, and the subject of sex complicating relationships is something that she's spoken on before, so the fact that she simply can't control her libido here is somewhat puzzling.

The chemistry between Piper and D'Arcy is great, the two of them conveying an attraction that seems absolutely genuine, while Piper's dynamic with Carmichael is equally fantastic, though in a much more comedic way. Goldberg and Bobin play the break up of their characters very well, while Madekwe and Dawson prove to play gloriously off of one another in their portrayal of young love.

There's a lot to like about Owen Harris' choices of direction in this episode, though one of the most interesting pieces is Belle trying to concentrate on Duncan's critiques of her work but instead being unable to imagine anything outside of him pleasuring her. The scene of Bambi and Byron's break up, inter cutting Bambi's crying with Byron's cycling off, flashes of the things they had done together interspersed throughout, is very well done, and the musical choice here is perfect. Through their later reunion in the rain is very cliché, it's also very sweet and provides a nice end to the episode.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz takes a chance here to write about Hannah/Belle's struggle to write as well as her inability to handle a man's perception of her. After her failure with Des, Hannah worries about whether or not she'll be able to make a chapter about the experience in her book, worried that her audience will be uninterested in anything outside of her most elaborate fantasies, and believing that it's nothing more than an afternoon wasted. Though Duncan offers her good advice and support, he also fails to connect with her as she did him, and when he offers to call her a cab she realizes that he still sees her as a prostitute when she thought that their relationship had gotten to a deeper level. Belle tells him that it's been nice and dismisses him as she would a normal client, and though he notes that her statement sounds somewhat final, she replies that "it's meant to." Duncan is the first man that Belle has really connected with as Hannah since Alex (Callum Blue), and the fact that he doesn't recognize her in the same way is almost as devastating to her as it was for Alex when he found out the truth about her work.

Hannah/Belle's relationship with her editor is tense as it is, given her need for secrecy and desire to go to bed with him, but after this situation it's likely only to grow even more strained, potentially jeopardizing her future in publishing. Though Bambi and Byron are both well aware of the difficulties lying before them in pursuing a relationship, it seems likely that he will take her away from this life and they could make a good go of things.

Next: Taking Chances


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