Tuesday, September 12, 2017

REVIEW: 'One Mississippi' - Tig Shares a Powerful Story On the Air That Changes Every Relationship in 'I'm Alive'

Amazon's One Mississippi - Episode 2.06 "I'm Alive"

Thwarted in their attempt to deal with their uncomfortable work situation, Tig takes their situation to the airwaves and tells a powerful personal story. Bill attends a wedding with Felicia and makes an impression on her family. Tig supports Bill and Remy, as the men face difficult truths. Tig and Kate go to a new place in their relationship.

In many ways, the second season of One Mississippi was different from the first. It was an exploration of different themes and emotions. It centered on this family figuring out how to move forward with their lives following a tragedy. It was about them pursuing their own versions of love. It was different for all of them. They've all had highs and lows on this journey. It was a season that saw them go on their separate paths. They didn't need to rely on each other as a family in order to get through these troubling times. It was just a comfort to have the other people around to make it all feel less lonely. And now, it's key that they are all equally traumatized from their own shared experiences. Their pasts are each defining their current relationships. Each of them are forced to face the same issues as soon as Tig tells her most personal story yet on her show. It's a declaration that they can no longer continue avoiding this subject and acting like they've all found some semblance of peace with it. Tig being molested throughout her childhood by Bill's father has always been an important story in the life of this family. It was a huge plot point in the first season. They unraveled the difficult feelings of it then and tried to figure out how to move forward as a family who loves and supports each other. They did that and hoped it would be enough. It turns out that it wasn't. Each of them are still deeply traumatized by that event. Tig was the one actually violated in a physical way but both Bill and Remy are carrying around the guilt of that abuse as well. That's stunting them in their own relationships in an incredibly tragic way.

All of this comes out again because of Tig's extreme reaction to how everyone is handling Kate's sexual assault. It's important for her that Jack gets fired for his behavior. It's simply not acceptable behavior in a workplace. She's being a fierce advocate for Kate because she knows that she is traumatized and in shock because of what happened. The question inevitably builds to why Kate didn't just leave the room as soon as she realized what was happening. It seems like the sensible thing to do. Both she and Tig are trying to explain just how traumatizing it was that it forced all kinds of rational thought out. It's an explanation that is hopefully good enough. Ezra seems very respectful and concerned. He's taking this accusation seriously. He even had heard rumors about Jack in the past. But the best he can offer right now is an internal investigation by HR. It may lead to Jack's termination. Or it may not. It's the proper way to handle things. But it's just not good enough for Tig. She's furious that no one doesn't just trust Kate's word on what happened. She's furious that this behavior doesn't have immediate consequences. Now, they have to continue interacting with Jack. HR will claim to keep them as separated as possible. But this seems like a business where they will still run into each other a lot. Jack even pops in to Tig and Kate's studio space to see if everyone is okay. It's twisted but it's the reality of the situation for Tig and Kate.

Tig is so furious and wants to use her platform in order to speak out on what has happened. But this isn't her story to share. She's furious on Kate's behalf. But this is still Kate's story to share with the world. She should only do so if and when she is ready for that. She knows the power of that platform they have with this show. But she needs to reign Tig in a little bit as well. She knows that there is so much more going on with her that is producing this big, visceral reaction. She mentions that Tig is reacting this way because of her own complicated feelings towards her own sexual assault. It's because of their personal bond that Kate is able to call her out like this and Tig is willing to step back and realize that it's true. It motivates her to finally share her story on-the-air. It's absolutely brutal to listen to. She was sexually assaulted by her step-grandfather since she was two. She didn't have the courage to speak up about it until she was 15. Her family had no idea it was going on. The guy was always a great grandfather outside of that too. No one could have suspected that he could be this monstrous. It's a cathartic experience for Tig. She feels a release in getting to share this story. It allows the two of them to be in sync more in the show. They are able to put together plans for a female-based website that warns people about troubling behavior from men. It seems like an empowering idea that could work in the real world. It sounds smart and rational. It's a genuine thought that makes this conversation productive in a meaningful way.

But this conversation isn't cathartic for the other people in the family. It forces them to realize their own stunted growth regarding their feelings over the years. It's so significant that Bill and Felicia gave into their feelings for one another. They are a great pairing. They understand each other. It's nice to have Bill have this kind of dynamic again. He is allowed to have happiness in his life following the death of Caroline. He is allowed to love again. He's shown the willingness to change and grow as well. He's stepped up to inform himself about the crucial reality of history and modern culture for people of color in this country. It's important for this relationship that he's been willing to do this. It makes it seem genuine and meaningful for both of them. He is able to go to Felicia's daughter's wedding and be a good influence for her there. And yet, he returns home to a changed world. He prides himself on always listening to Tig's show even though he objects to some of the stories she shares. And now, everyone knows what kind of monster his father was. He did share that with Felicia before the wedding. He didn't go into detail but he did share that his father was a monster who is dead now. But actually hearing the truth because of the show makes Felicia curious to know how Bill has dealt with this revelation over the years. She wants to know if he ever got help for realizing how monstrous his father was. She wants to know if he has done anything to cope with that. She fears he may not be able to give as much to this relationship if he can't reckon with the past.

It's the same kind of trauma that Remy is experiencing as well. He's always had a complicated relationship with love and intimacy. He hasn't had a girlfriend since high school. But he's always been willing to have a romantic connection to someone. He thought he'd have a family by now. It seems as if he has the perfect life now too. He has found someone he is completely compatible with. He loves Desiree and the life they will have together. But he's struggling to have sex with her. He's struggling to have that intimate connection with her. He believes it's a physical problem. He's willing to buy products to help him in the bedroom. But his problems are psychological. He just doesn't realize it until Tig unearths this trauma. It forces Remy to tell Desiree about being in the room when it was happening. He saw the abuse and did nothing to stop it. That was traumatizing in its own way. It helps explain why he's so afraid to be intimate with Desiree. He associates it with the trauma he experienced. He's internalized it and it's made him afraid to open himself to any person in that way. He worries about the damage sex can do without anyone truly realizing it. Tig knew this was happening when she was two. She can proudly say that. So, Remy is always afraid about what could possibly happen that could ruin someone else in this way.

It's all very poignant and moving to watch. It's so emotionally devastating to watch as Tig and Bill have that sit down on the front porch. Bill really wanted this relationship with Felicia to work. He doesn't want to lose her but is afraid he won't be the person she deserves. It's so encouraging to listen to Tig say that he can be the person. She knows that he can be. By the end of this episode, Tig really is the person who has found peace and healing. She's healthy again and trying to help her family though their own issues. She's had the time to figure things out because it was a very physical form of abuse for her. With Bill and Remy, it has been psychological and less necessary to address over the years. It's still important to do so for their mental health though. Tig is there for them. She's comforting to both Bill and Remy. She confirms to Remy that he was molested too just in a very different way. It's okay. He just needs to find a way to cope with it so he can have the life he wants to have. All of this is then building to a big romantic moment between Tig and Kate. It's because of Kate that Tig is willing to open up about these past experiences. It's that kind of intimacy that rewards true understanding. Kate is no longer confused. She has these feelings for Tig and wants to act on them. She believes it would be terrific if they were together in a romantic way. Sure, she's a little too eager but that's what makes it so endearing. This is a couple that has finally figured things out at the right time. Sure, things are still complicated and traumatic. But they find peace through each other which is just so special and empowering to see.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I'm Alive" was written by Kate Robin and directed by Minkie Spiro.
  • Desiree gave her daughter the wedding that she wanted. It was a Buddhist ceremony with no alcohol involved. It just caused lots of concern and annoyances amongst her family members who were expecting a more lively celebration. They compare it to a funeral while also questioning what's the purpose of life without the fear that a god is watching over them.
  • It's fascinating to see that Bill has informed himself about Buddhist practices as well. Again, he doesn't know anyone in Felicia's family. He just had one awkward interaction with Frank. But he's put in the effort to educate himself in order for him to be accepted at this event. It seemingly works but he may be too prepared as well.
  • Bill even seems to pass Felicia's mother's most difficult test. She happens to know someone who works for Bill's company and believes he'll be an elitist white man who doesn't know who she is at all. Instead, he surprises her by knowing the exact department she is in and the value she brings to the company.
  • Bill and Desiree haven't gotten along this season at all. She's been so disruptive to his home environment. So, he's completely thrown when she walks up to him with a big hug knowing what his father did to this family. It's strange and unexpected for him. It forces this conversation with Felicia to occur. But it could also be the first step towards Desiree understanding this family better.
  • It's such a nice final image for the season seeing Tig and Kate in bed together just staring into each other's eyes. It's a comforting thought. No matter what traumatic thing happens in this world, they will have each other. The hour opens in the same place as well. But the events of the finale allows it to have so much more meaning in the end.
  • A decision hasn't been made yet on whether Amazon will produce another season of this show. These six episodes were once again terrific to watch. The show will once more rate highly on my year-end best in TV list. If it isn't renewed, this seems like a fitting ending for the show in the same way that the Season 1 finale could have been a fitting ending. But it sure would be nice to have even more time to spend with these characters.

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.