So the awful aftertaste of last week's boardroom is wiped out -- briefly -- by the SmartMouth of REVOLUTION. The Smartness is in the removal of all the stupid gimmicks of this season! Arrow heads into the mansion, the teams are dissolved, everybody shuffles down into three teams of two, and the tents are gone forever. It starts looking like the show again, finally. No more Haves, no more Have Nots: just good fun competition all around, right, which lasts for about three seconds until Nicole starts acting up and getting in drunk fights with Frank about nothing whatsoever. The re-teaming goes smoothly, mostly: Team James/Stefani is a foregone conclusion, but Kristine makes the surprise jump from Heidi to Team Nicole, after her disappointment with Heidi last week, leaving Heidi with Frank! My two favorite cast members! What ON EARTH could go wrong? Oh, just like everything. In the world. The three teams create marketing campaigns for a new Trump Tower being built in Vegas, and after a lot of yelling and freaking out and weird fugues and narcolepsies, everyone convenes in the BR with Trump and Don Jr. and their hair. James and Stefani's presentation is, of course, magical and perfect, and contains in itself a secret land mine second awesome presentation. The other two teams start crying at this point. Then Nicole's dumb girl act finally bites her in the ass after she can't get Powerpoint going, and the brochure Kristine put together while Nicole was snoring like a boar contains the wrong phone number. Frank and Heidi are the worst: she totally chokes, and they stare at Trump for hours before mutely pointing to a lame video of cabinetry and flooring. It's not even close! What follows is a fight between Heidi and Frank that is, if anything, even worse than the fight last week between Frank and Tim; again, Frank is right about all of it because he's too dumb to lie, and Heidi is a bastion of truthiness who tries to leverage his stupidity against her own serious missteps. It's really hard to watch. Trump fires Heidi, after letting the hideous fight go on too long, then Kristine as an afterthought, finally ridding the world of Kinetic forever and making our Final Four: James, Nicole, Frank and Stefani. Arrow Forever! The only bright spot in the episode's latter half is a decent and pretty sweet limo moment between Heidi and Kristine: Heidi takes responsibility for the loss and feels Kristine shouldn't be leaving with her, and Kristine admits that she screwed up their obvious re-team because she wanted to take Heidi out, then they giggle and vow revenge on each other. Altogether depressing as last week, but at least it ended on a nice note. Two more episodes and then we'll never have to talk about this show again!
This is maybe the most interesting episode of this show that I've ever seen, but explaining why becomes something of a process story, so buckle in. You know how I'm always talking about fighting your TV and not taking your entertainment at face value? Especially the more accessible or nutrition-free or disposable it all is? So then I give you these 20-page speeches about how if you don't agree with me, it's because you're lazy? I got a heaping helping of that this week. It's been educational. First I learned that Tony Bennett is a sacrosanct American icon and cannot be discussed in rational terms without every old white guy in America coming after you, having gotten confused about who you're talking about. I learned that no matter how clear you try to be, you can't expect the Ideal Reader who ruminates over every single thing you write. Especially given how accessible and disposable and lunch-hour my medium here is. Drawing a parallel between a given show and Brecht's use of the audience's preconceptions against them is bad; mimicking that within the text of the piece itself is way too much, no matter how storied the literary technique of using form and function in unison to make a point.
So the process story comes in with the recaplet, above: I was utterly convinced by the episode, and not even really invested enough to care. We'd seen Tim go down a path of yuckiness the week before, and Heidi seeming to do a similar thing struck a very disappointing, very disheartening chord; Kristine's been sidelined throughout the season, so her firing as an afterthought didn't register. I thought about digging a little deeper, but couldn't justify it: my love of Heidi and Kristine isn't something I've kept quiet about, and I know you're expecting some kind of feminist blow-hole spout whenever a woman gets fired, all about how Trump is evil and white men are evil and dumb and I have daddy issues and I want all men over 45 exterminated, et cetera et cetera. So could I justify it? No. I have a sort of pact with you that whenever I step over a personal line to make a point ("Tim is being gay about how he's not actually gay"), I have to give you something of equal or greater value ("As a child I dressed as a Pussycat Doll and was the recipient of wooing from furries") in order to level the vulnerability playing field. Earn it with some "give," instead of taking all the time.
So if I went looking for reasons that Heidi and Kristine are totally blameless while Trump, Frank, and Don are worthless bastards, I'd have to come up with something that earned back my credibility to that degree, as part of our agreement, and there's nothing short of that brief flirtation with male prostitution back in the '80s that could do that, because to suggest that means that not only the show and myself, but also you, are fools. Not going there. Which is kind of a relief, because I get to write a different kind of recap, and look at the whole "the day Smug Superstar Heidi gets fired is the day a bunch of men cream their pants like Martha Stewart and Oprah just got discredited while in bed together" situation from another angle for once. To be surprised by this show, even about its ugliness, is remarkable. But when I went back to the episode and viewed it a second time, to create the transcript and notes for this episode (this show is so dialogue-intensive and emotion/dynamic-oriented that it takes twice as long to do notes for as any other show I've ever recapped, which is rather hellish if you think about it), there was a sinking feeling that only got more and more intense: that's exactly the fucking recap I have to write. And the reasons for it have to do with Dostoevsky and Tony Bennett, or as we'll be calling them in this recap, "Heidi" and "Donald J. Trump." Or "Kinetic" and "Arrow."