Season 3 Episode 8

Leviathan Smiles

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jul 30, 2006 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Wyatt Earp and his brother ride into town.

    I must admit I only tuned in the see Gale Harold play Wyatt Earp. But I become addicted to the characters and I was amazed at how the show was written. Although I did have trouble figuring out the story line at first. As for Gale it was nice to see him portray a role so different from the one I used to seeing him in. I really enjoyed it.
  • „Set me where you stand and let go my hand…”

    The morning starts off quietly as Merrick and Blazaonv deliver the newspaper to all the eager parties of the camp, yet asleep and motionless. The silence before the storm has never been more evident perhaps. But it does not last long, as soon gunfires are heard in the street and Seth hurries to meet them with his usual firmness. Morgan and Wyatt Earp apparently make their appearence in this episode, at a totally unexpected time if you ask me, which is all the better. While the wild west legend (Wyatt) seems a little too young and green, he still retains the touchstones of a famous sheriff, similar in ways to the more experienced Bullock. Of course, Al hurries to invite Wyatt to a drink and test his story and standing in the current situation of the camp. However, he sighs relieved to find out that they are not "Hearst’s reply", simply two strangers who wanted to make a hero’s entrance and „kicked up dust, whooped and hollered and played all the parts themselves”.

    Meanwhile Joanie Stubbs is apparently moving out of Shaunessey’s, while Jane comments that „she never moved in”. Steve’s story takes an unexpected arc when he is brought in a vegetation state by Field’s horse. It’s actually a very interesting change in their story’s evolution. The General taking care of Steve, even if he has an outburst at first when quoting Jane „that them that don’t eat, without exception, fail to survive”. He isn’t really upset on Steve, but rather pitties him. He sees that Steve isn’t truly a bad person at heart, as we already saw from his invitation for the General to stay. It’s his preconceptions that impede him from being himself, and the ones that are truly the cause for all his „bad luck”. Still, when he’ll wake up and see that he was cared for by the person he least would have had expected, he will be given two definitive choices: Mend his ways or continue with his self-destructive, irrational rage. I think both have an equal chance though.

    Martha and Seth have come very close this season as the tension between them dissipates and they finally get accustomed with the idea of being married. That’s a welcome change as well, though they’re still not quite there yet :).

    But despite everything that took place in this episode, nothing comes close to Chesterton's brilliant, final act. This is definetly one of the best written and acted deaths of a character ever seen on television, if not the best. Brian Cox and Aubrey Morris did an absolutely terrific job. I should say that as much as I would like to analyse this scene, its complexity overwhelms and my assertions as to its significance and symbols might be falacious; but still, I will try.

    As they stand next to each other, holding hands, Chesterton makes the remark that comedy and tragedy are the same thing. It’s an interesting surmise for him to utter at the end of his life and not coincidental perhaps, as maybe before the end he sees the omogenity in all the incongruous elements of our existence, as how everything in the great stage that is life only bears different masks, but has similar essence. His friend is there for him and continues by setting the stage before his fading eyes. Reminiscent of old times and proof that the spirit is forever young, Chesteron enquires about the rake, to which Jack replies with the adequate, genial tone „18:1 old trooper”. After this begins the brilliant Shakespeare interpreatation from "King Lear". The utter silence in the theatre, accompanied only by the sound of a distant, yet not unconspicuous cricket, sets the perfect atmosphere for the scene. „Bring me but to the brim of it and from that place I shall no leading need”. This heavy line is followed by the light-hearted, humorous description of the fly tower: „If you mount up, take firm a rail in each hand… I’ll boost your bum darling”. I find this alternation interesting and in the context of Chesteron’s previous assertion, slightly ironic: Jack coalesces in the same phrase, a tragic quote, with a comic description. Then, Chesterton takes up his role as well saying „Here’s the place”, ensued by the climatic point of their prodigious interpretation: Jack: „How fearful and dizzy it is to cast one’s eyes so low…”. With a tear in his eye, Chesteron replies „Set me where you stand and let go my hand”. Jack untightens his firm grasp as his thespian friend approaches the „cliff” between this life and the next. „You are now within a foot” he says, to which Chesteron replies „Line… l-line…”. To the exact meaning of his last word I stand puzzled. Is he asking to hear another line of the play, or is he announcing that he has reached the line at the edge of the cliff. After his final breath, Jack says a prayer for his friend.

    No matter what interpretation might be the actual one, far simpler or more complex than my humble, possibly off the point and delerious opinions, I hope we can all agree that this scene is truly outstanding.
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