Season 2 Episode 5

You, I'll Be Following

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 16, 2009 on Starz

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • While the story drags a bit, it still holds some fascinating developments in the Bo Olinville and Seth Blanchard arcs, and wisely eschews what's going on in Inez's world this week.

    First off, a smart move was made by jettisoning the Inez portion of the show for this week because it is often the least interesting. However, the decision to ignore the most slowly developing set of characters was balanced out by making the rest of the story arcs less interesting this episode.

    Bo Olinville's arc was again the most fascinating to watch. His controlling traits are coming more to the fore and seem less sympathetic, particularly in the way he addresses his mother over the phone. Yet, he is invoking more sympathy by appearing more and more a lonely person who feels a need to appeal to others for attention. In Bo's case, it's often the wrong kind of attention, since he can't tell the difference between behavior that attracts people to him and actions that make them want to exploit his neediness. An odd shift back and forth seemed to be happening as he talked with his main student and the professional ball player's son, Eddie. One moment he is pushing hard for the student to keep practicing to improve his skills to be that player Bo could have been. The next moment, he shifts tone toward a kind of cocky relaxed attitude when asked by Eddie if he can have sex with another prostitute in front of them -- and he's quick to believe that Eddie is earnest in wanting him to show off in front of them that way; we learn that Eddie is just goading Bo so that he can make fun of what appears freakish behavior.

    When the boys show up later on to exploit his neediness for company to get him to buy them beer, Bo insists that they drink it with him so that he can monitor their consumption and make sure they don't hurt themselves while drunk; it's likely that he really wants the company, though. Eddie finds a scrapbook Bo has been keeping of articles covering the student's accomplishments in newspaper articles. He jokes that Bo has homosexual feelings toward his student. Bo gets angry and protests that this is not evidence of unhealthy obsession and is simply a sign of innocent pride in him, but it is obvious by the student's reaction that he is uncomfortable. This is confirmed when he tells Bo the next day that he doesn't want him as a coach anymore. What's interesting is that the student is realistically portrayed as not necessarily the humiliating bully that Eddie and his friend are, but not strong or caring enough to not be an accomplice to Eddie's attempts to lull Bo into some humiliating behavior or to exploit the mentor's insecurities. Bo is upset by the student's decision and insulted by the offer that he can still come and watch him play as a conciliation. Bo tries to part on good terms by giving the student his scrapbook, but grows angrily when the student initially refuses the gift by insisting he take it.

    Bo goes to a strip club to console himself. However, he seems uninterested in all the naked women there -- with his dissatisfied, even disgusted, look on his face and his almost threateningly rude refusal of a lapdance. This begs the question of why he is there at all and makes one wonder if he is indeed a closet homosexual -- in love with his former student -- and trying to force himself straight. It makes his arc even sadder to realize this, and I admit to a certain amount of joy in his attacking Eddie in a street, but his going so far as to beat his arm to the probable point of permanent damage is frightening. I do hope that there is more mystery and complication in Bo's character -- that he isn't just what I've concluded and that there's still more to uncover. I particularly hope that -- based on his shadowy clothing, he is not the one who killed Ben Cendars' daughter Cassie. Still, this is the best part of the show and I hope this arc never takes a break.

    Speaking of the character of Ben, Dennis Hopper continues to be the worst actor on the show to a remarkable degree; there's always something off in his reactions; he never mad enough and too restrained, despite the pain his character is alleged to be going through. His attempt to provoke the record company lawyer was predictable in its outcome. Rather than go to the police with the evidence he and Anthony had accumulated of his years of corruption, illegal profiteering off of clients, past spousal abuse and disappeared former girlfriends, Ben chooses to stalk whom he suspects is his daughter's murderer with predictable results as the cops arrest Ben and Anthony; the only interesting moment was when Anthony was treated especially aggressively by the police -- a comment on racial profiling or perhaps just racism on the part of LA police.

    Ben's criticism of Anthony's uncle as too cautious due to his middle class background made me wonder if he was really commenting on how many blacks have had to be overly cautious not to provoke the law due to a history of racism; it also reminded me of how President Barack Obama is reacting to the unreasonableness of the right and the mainstream media (which is inherently superficial and conservative) in backing down on important issues, including their portrayal. Many minorities are taught by the system to lower their expectations and not defend their rights. Perhaps Anthony and his uncle are an expression of this because they've had to do this to get along with white society, and this is what bugs Ben, who -- as a rich, white person -- has always been freer to confront the law without as much fear of the repercussions. I do wish this political aspect of the episode had been fleshed out more or will in future. As it is, I'm not sure if the writers intended my interpretation at all.

    Ben's arc for this installment ends with a slightly more interesting moment of confronting the lawyer at gun point and learning that he was actually in love with Cassie, but that she wasn't so much in love with him as searching for a paternal figure. Most importantly, he didn't kill her.

    Seth Blanchard's arc is continuing along that of Jordan Collier in "The 4400"'s 4th season. For much of the episode he frustrates those around him by keeping secret his plans to help the poor. He visits a food shelter and and the woman in charge (Tess Nolan) tells him that recently the number of people coming for food has drastically increased due to the economic crisis; I liked that the show provides this even slight commentary on our time when the mainstream media often ignores the plight of the working class, let alone most disadvantaged, and when the right wing feigns concern about "big government" and a Democratic congress and President react by aiding big banks and corporations and not doing enough for those in need in such drastic times, for fear of appearing leftist; we need more than a return to Clintonian middle ground politics that only furthers the economic divide that began in the 1980s and was continued in the 1990s and 2000s, Mr. Obama!

    Anyway, Seth tells Tess that he wants to do more than just give money -- that throwing money at the homeless problem hasn't been a solution in all the years it has been tried. I grew nervous at this contention because it's often the excuse right wingers who care nothing for the poor have used to justify giving the most needy in our society the most basic necessities of life. This kind of convenient world view has often substituted the responsibilities of the state for "personal responsibility", which amounts to racist explanations for the blacks are so poorly off in American society. This is the kind of rhetoric that justified George W. Bush and other Republicans' intentionally weak response to the poor in the wake of Hurricaine Katrina (while Mississippi's governor fast-tracked millions in federal aid to expensive casinos and hotels; what Michael Moore rightly calls corporate welfare) as well as the present health care debate in which the poor are blamed for their ill health.

    Kenny eventually remembers the woman in charge of the food shelter from high school. As a reminder to viewers that not all people in prison are inherently bad, we are told that Tess was a juvenile delinquent who learned from her mistakes and reformed into a very caring person. It's obvious by her association to Kenny and her beauty that a relationship between the two will blossom. For the rest of the episode, Kenny keeps wondering how much money Seth will give to the shelter. He is the only one smiling when he finds out Seth's real plans, as Maggie and Seth's assistant fret throughout the entire episode at his reckless behavior (from the standpoint of the profit motive), including his decision to step down as CEO of his company. When Seth's assistant protests, he puts her in her place by insisting that she can either tolerate his secretive actions or leave her job.

    Seth seems intent on keeping people in the dark, but not on alienating his wife Maggie Cheon. He asks her to trust him and reaffirms his devotion to her by arranging a simple night together of pizza he ordered himself (which he apparently hasn't ever done) and wine. They make love and I suppose we're expected to believe his expressions of deep love and commitment to Maggie, but something rings forced or false in the way he says these things, especially after sex -- due either intentionally to the writing or, I fear, some poor acting by Eric Roberts, who is usually very good. Not the most interesting plot thread and it could move a little faster.

    Rather than building Promise City in a blighted section of Seattle, as Jordan Collier did for a discriminated group of people with special abilities, Ira Steven Behr is able to make that science fiction metaphor more grounded by having Seth literally build a city for the poor. Seth pledges to donating his entire fortune of several billion dollars to constructing such a city with its own institutions and facilities. Now, that's a gamble I didn't quite expect! I'm excited to see this go forth and eventually see where Jordan Collier's arc would have taken him if "The 4400" had had a 5th season.