Casus Belli

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Jake And The Black Man

After commercials, Hawkins examines his sharpened blade intently and asks -- without looking at Perkins, because demonstrating your total lack of concern for your victim by not making eye contact is as intrinsic to the torture process as straddling a chair backwards -- "When did you last see Eric Green?" What is Hawkins going to do with the Drano? Pour it down Perkins' throat? Slash or grate a few shallow but painful wounds and pour it in? Hook up an IV drip? I really want to know! Of course, part of the torture is not knowing what's going to happen. Hawkins could have placed a peppermill on the counter and it would still be scary coming from him. "Is he going to make me sneeze? Rub pepper in my eyes? Please, I'll tell you everything, just don't use the PEPPERMILL!" "Look," Perkins says, struggling at his bonds, "This is not my thing." That's not what Hawkins wants to hear, and he goes back to getting his knife even sharper. Of course, the truth of the matter is, dull blades do much more damage than sharp ones, so Hawkins is sort of doing Perkins a favor by getting the knife as finely honed as possible. Not that an idiot like Perkins can be expected to know that, though. "I didn't ask you that, did I?" Hawkins says, finally granting him a lazy look.

"Why do you act like we did something wrong?" Perkins babbles nervously. "We were attacked." With determination, Hawkins puts down the steel and moves a chair. (Here it comes -- straddling the chair backwards! You can't have a torture scene without that!) Actually, Hawkins -- never one to be predicable -- doesn't straddle the chair. Instead, he faces it forward, lays his knife on it, and removes his jacket. (You gotta have free movement when you're torturing.) Hawkins deliberately hangs his jacket on the back of the chair. (Just because you're a torturer, that doesn't mean you have to be a slob by carelessly tossing your coat on the floor.)

"How do you figure that?" Hawkins asks, referring to the fact that Perkins says they didn't do anything wrong. (I'm so entranced by all of Hawkins's movements that I'm losing the thread a bit.) Perkins stutters that the machines did overheat that morning, and it was all Eric and Heather's fault. They sabotaged the machines. "They would never do that," Jake insists. "We need that factory just as much as you do!" Perkins claims that he saw them. Jake jumps on this, demanding, "If you saw them, then where are they?!" They ran away. Hawkins, who has been pointing his knife at Perkins while sitting in -- not straddling, damn! -- the chair, starts laughing. Oooh, that is not a good sign. Torturers who laugh are rarely laughing with you. Torture him! TORTURE HIM! Wow, how did I get so bloodthirsty? I blame the Drano. Still laughing, Hawkins leans back in his chair, and then he just stops laughing. His face suddenly gets serious and threatening, which makes it all the more brilliant and hysterical when he looks casually up at Jake and suggests, "Hold his knees, please." Taking this in parts, the way Hawkins delivers that line is not threatening or evil or dangerous. It's calm, unhurried, casual; it's almost an afterthought. Hawkins has all the countenance of a diner glancing momentarily away from his dining partner to say, "Oh, and I'd like a martini, please." And then the actual line of holding his knees. Like, why? Why do his knees need to be held? WHY THE KNEES? Is the torture going to involve Phys. Ed. sit-ups? Seriously, what is going to happen to the knees, and why do I find it both really creepy and somehow terribly funny?

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