Slings & Arrows S3 commentary

Holy frakking hell, I just finished Slings & Arrows - litterally like 3 seconds ago. And I've got to tell you, it was amazing. 

I should probably clarify though. S3 wasn't amazing in the traditional sense. It was, in many ways, a tale of failure, of fall from grace - of  absolute and utter destruction, mirrored in the performance of King Lear and the death of Charles Kingsworth. It is a very thinky, very heavy, very critical satire (though I hate to use the word) of the modern television history, made all the more poignant because the show is, in fact, a television show itself. It is absolutely brilliant and though I would suggest that everybody watch it, I sincerely doubt that most people, even my mother (who has near identical tastes to me, despite her dislike of SG1/SGA), would like it. 

As the interviewees in "The Promised End" say, theatre's only reason for being is to tell the story we absolutely need to hear and people are so sick of being sold to, of being bombarded; they want a place where they can go where they can actually hear the truth. This isn't just true about theatre. It's about all media. I mean, sure, I love The Avengers, but what does it actually tell us? (Okay, maybe that's a bad example. Avengers is a Joss Whedon movie, which means it has depth not inherent to the genre, but you get the pictures.)

At first glance, I'm hard put to find the meaning in S3 of Slings & Arrows  - hell, in the entire series. It seems like nothing more than a bunch of people bumbling around in slightly fantastical RL situations, with no hope, no end in sight. They build up this company and than ruin in, in part because of unfortunate mistakes on their own parts, but largely because the world does not want them. Because the world does not want to hear the truth. 

But once you think about it, once you take that second glance, it's really a beautiful story. In many senses, the whole series is mirrored into to Geoffery taking the place of Kent - the moral centre of King Lear - in the preformace. He steps, unwitting and unwilling, into Oliver's shoes - Oliver, who he was so (justifiably) cruel to his final moments, who domninated his entire acting AND directoral career. And agian he steps into Kent's shoes, taking up acting again (if only briefly) after so long. And throughout the whole season he does just what Kent does - care for his dying King, the man who made him want to be an actor. And perhaps he's an imperfect moral centre, but who really is? I mean, he shoots up an old man with heroin and aides and abets his decent into death and madness. Hell, Geoffrey is barely sane himself, albeit much improved from the first two seasons. 

In many senses, Geoffrey is the only sane one in the entire company. Or, at least, the only one with the right focus - which is the play. That's all he cares about. He doesn't want the drama. He wants the best play possible every time and all his troubles come from trying to carry out his raison d'etre.  He doesn't deserve anything that happens to him, doesn't ask for it. He's just trying to cope with life and failing terribly, just like we all are.

And the ending, which is a quiet nod to Shakespeare, epilogue, and goodbye to Oliver all at once (because, don't forget, all comedies must end with a wedding, and all tragedies with a death, and in this we get both, which really SAYS something about what this series really is. An almost absurdist tragi-comedy.) And I swear, when they faded out on that empty, closed up chair.... I started to tear.

On a more fandom level, I can see why there isn't really one. It's a wonderful series, but there really isn't anything you can add to it. There's no impetus, no desire to do so. S&A is complete as is - and, slightly damningly, there really isn't any real ship to ship, despite the multitude of relationships to explore or cheer on if you so desired. The only decent, long fic I've found out of the paltry sum that exists is a single crossover with due South, which isn't really a complaint so much as an observation about the various series. 

But still. It was brilliant. Standing ovation. Brava

Tags: ,