Monday, September 11, 2017

REVIEW: 'One Mississippi' - A Disturbing Encounter at Work Traumatizes Tig and Kate in 'Can't Fight This Feeling'

Amazon's One Mississippi - Episode 2.05 "Can't Fight This Feeling"

Frustrated by the impossibility of a relationship with Kate, Tig withdraws. Kate has a disturbing encounter at work which infuriates Tig. Remy hosts a dinner at Bill's house with an unexpectedly long guest list.

"Can't Fight This Feeling" is such a deeply unexpected and traumatizing episode of One Mississippi. It takes quite a turn in one of its stories. It's an especially pointed and insightful commentary on sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. It's a very resonant moment because of the impact it makes on a bunch of characters and not just the one who is being assaulted. It also takes the time to say that this is something extremely serious while revealing just how casual it is still perceived in the world of 2017. Sexual assault has always been a significant story on this show. It's a part of Tig's backstory. She's shared that she was molested by her grandfather during her childhood. Earlier this season, Kate talked about all the casual harassment she and other women have had to deal with since they were young. In that moment, Kate never saw it as a big deal that would require the use of the word molestation. It was simply a man grabbing a woman's body parts in a way that he shouldn't. It never went further than that. At that point in time, Kate saw molestation as a physical act where a woman was violated in an intimate way. And now, Kate is the victim of a sexual assault. That's the way to describe this encounter with her new boss at the radio station. The two of them never physically touch. But what he does is extremely traumatizing and abusive. It creeps up on the audience and Kate. It makes us uncomfortable. We experience it right alongside Kate as she's baffled that it's happening and doesn't know what to do because of it.

It's such an interesting pivot in the main story as well. Kate and Tig moved to this new company for their show because it was an outlet that wanted to work with them. They didn't have to fail because no one would sponsor their show. But all the troubling signs were there that this workplace may not be all that respectful to either Tig or Kate. In the first interview, the two male bosses, Jack and Ezra, were more interested in how Tig's personal story of loss could be exploited for a more compelling show. And then, it was revealed that Tig and Kate were working for the same company that also finances a show with two dude-bro hosts produced by a repressed gay woman. Things seemed flirtatious at first between Kate and Jack. He seemed like a viable romantic interest for her if she was determined to continue dating men. But now, it's clear that his fascination with her was deeply troubling. He always seemed very open to every idea that she had. That didn't make him seem like a great boss. He was completely willing to let Tig and Kate move to New Zealand and continue their show there. That sounds like an expensive venture. But he's interested in it somehow. Now, it's clear he's engaged because of his sexual fascination with Kate. Her pitching this idea seems to turn him on. It's just wildly inappropriate.

It's an incredibly fascinating scene. Kate was full of confidence and ready to pitch her idea. Of course, it did suffer an incredible loss in Tig not wanting to do the show with Kate if they weren't going to be together in a romantic way. That was her being more blunt and upfront about her feelings than usual. Kate was telling her that they could rent this cabin and live together while they are there. It's a nice idea. But it continues to send the conflicting signals of whether Kate wants to be more than just friends. That's not healthy for either of them. So, Kate is a little flustered but still interested in producing this new show. But she just completely shuts down during the pitch because Jack is visibly masturbating in front of her. It's a very subtle buildup to it. It's not an inherently political plot point either. It's not going the easy way out of saying that Trump supporters are the people who act like this and his victory has allowed them to be more open with it. Jack seems just as against Trump as the other characters. But that doesn't inherently make him a good guy who knows that this is wrong. It just shows the complexity of humanity. One can say that they oppose acts of sexism. But actions speak so much louder than words. Jack does this in front of Kate and doesn't think anything of it. He knows he can get away with it because no one else is the room to witness it. He can just deny it when he's confronted. It creates a hostile workplace of fear. It crushes Kate's spirit. She's been violated and completely detaches from the world.

That's what makes it so triumphant that Kate has a friend like Tig. Tig isn't afraid to confront people and call them out for their horrible or hypocritical behavior. She wasn't there to witness the behavior. But she immediately knows that something is wrong with Kate. Of course, it happens in the middle of their show as well. Tig came into work determined to tell a story about trying to deny what's truly going on in one's life. She's telling it in a not so subtle way to get Kate to realize she's just refusing to give into her true feelings for her. But it carries more resonance than that. It takes until Tig is done with her story for her to realize that something else is off with Kate. She is looking at her but doesn't actually see and understand her until there's that break. After that point, she becomes a warrior on Kate's behalf. She's not afraid to yell at Jack for his horrendous behavior. It's her standing up for her friend. But all of this creates an uncertain future for the two of them. They were so happy to be working in this new environment. And yet, it has revealed itself to be a toxic workplace. The two of them will always feel uncomfortable when they have to interact with Jack. They'll have to if they continue working here. They are feeling hopeless and angry because there's seemingly nothing they can do to correct the situation. This place saved their show. If they left, would they find another outlet to produce it? Or is this the cost of doing business with Jack and Ezra? In order to make their show, they have to put up with sexual harassment from their bosses. That's absolutely horrifying. The consequences of this action should ring out in this narrative throughout the finale. A big decision needs to be made about the future for Kate and Tig.

Right now, the only comfort that Tig can give Kate is allowing her to spend time surrounded by people. She'll continue to be supportive and caring while her family will be very courteous to her. And yet, that dinner sequence is traumatizing and surprising in its own way. It's once again Desiree's presence and personality being extremely shocking to people. Right now, she's afraid that Remy isn't into her as much as she wants. He never seems to want to have sex with her. That's likely because this entire relationship is happening too fast and he hasn't dealt with his own problems first. But he's doubling down on trying to make her happy. Meanwhile, Desiree is trying to win the love of the family. That's more difficult - especially when she truly believes that dinosaurs are a myth. That's such a strange and peculiar belief. It makes her appear as a person who believes in religion but not science. It's nice to have Felicia around to have her speak to the merits of both. But it's more important to see what happens following dinner as well. Kate wants to be a good guest and help clean up. That only sparks a conversation between her and Desiree. That's an unlikely character pairing. But it's one that reveals more complexity to Desiree as well. At first, she seems homophobic because she couldn't believe that someone who looks like Kate could possibly be gay. But then, she actually provides some clarity on the subject about lesbian romance. It's different but could be meaningful if a person craves that kind of touch and intimacy.

Tig has made her feelings known that she would like to grow old with Kate. Kate has been very hesitant to reciprocate those feelings because it's never something she thought about before. She feels this attraction to Tig but she worries about what that actually means. Does it mean that she's been fooling herself this entire time by thinking that she's straight? Is she only attracted to Tig because of her personality and not women in general? But now, she needs to reflect on if the life that Tig imagines is something that she wants as well. The show confirms that it's true in a fantasy sequence that is different from the norm for this show. All of the previous fantasy moments have been from Tig's point-of-view. She's the lead character. This is a way of expressing how she is feeling in any given moment. But now, the focus shifts to Kate as she imagines this life in a nursing home with Tig. It's a pleasant thought. The two of them then go to sleep staring into each other's eye with smiles on their faces. They are growing closer together because of a chaotic and traumatizing world. In a world where men have gotten so toxic, it's comforting to have someone like Tig. Kate is really appreciating that and wondering if there really is more to these feelings than she is willing to admit right now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Can't Fight This Feeling" was written by Cara DiPaolo and directed by Minkie Spiro.
  • This is also a huge episode for the relationship between Bill and Felicia. It turns from companionship to something romantic. It's a very rewarding moment as well. It's this grand and sweeping thing where Bill has to admit that he has never connected with someone as much as he has with Felicia. He loved Caroline but this dynamic feels right as well. It's great. He absolutely deserves this kind of happiness.
  • Felicia notes that her daughter's wedding is the following day. She's free tonight because there is no rehearsal dinner. Of course, it's also convenient that she doesn't get Bill's message cancelling the dinner. It's a good thing too because it forced the two of them to admit their true feelings. She's initially frightened away because of stories about Caroline. But that's what makes Bill's later declaration so moving and powerful.
  • Desiree continues to disrupt Bill's careful organization around the house. She's filling china dishes up with candy in many rooms. She's running her business out of the kitchen. And she and Remy are making dinner when Bill really wants to craft a specific meal for Felicia. It's only been a month so far but Desiree really hasn't learned how to be around Bill yet.
  • There is definitely more to unpack with the information that Remy hasn't had a serious girlfriend since high school and is now afraid to have sex with Desiree. He always has an excuse of the baby being around to see. When the baby is gone, he is instead caught off guard by a vision of his younger self from the picture Desiree laughs at because of his dinosaur shirt.
  • There's a brief moment of Tig interacting with the baby. She is able to calm her down very quickly. She proves herself to be very good with kids. She even mentions that she would like to have a family one day. There are just some more logical things to figure out first. So, that seems like an intriguing premise should the show continue for awhile.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.