Thursday, October 24, 2019

REVIEW: 'Daybreak' - Josh and Angelica Discover a Witch at the Mall Who Proves Very Helpful in 'Schmuck Bait!'

Netflix's Daybreak - Episode 1.02 "Schmuck Bait!"

Josh, Angelica and Wesley take refuge in a pristine mall, match wits with its annoying "owner" and cross paths with a familiar witch.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Daybreak.

"Schmuck Bait!" was written by Aron Eli Coleite & Brad Peyton and directed by Brad Peyton

Josh Wheeler is telling the audience his story. He is narrating the events of the apocalypse. He is the one who decides which details are important and which aren't. However, there is an omnipresent pressure as well that seems to force him into telling things a certain way. The camera essentially represents this. It lingers on him in the opening scene instead of rolling around to show what he is experiencing behind the hood of this masked motorcyclist. He is very reluctant to share his story about past embarrassment at the mall. And yet, he feels compelled to do so because of some narrative importance. He can talk about the various shows out there that lure the audience into fearing the lead characters are about to be killed only to have them miraculously survive in the end. He calls it schmuck bait. It's deceitful and only designed to fool those who really have no grasp of the basic storytelling structure whatsoever. He refuses to fall prey to those same conventions. Of course, the premiere ended on the suggestion that the audience would be shocked by the identity of the motorcyclist. In reality though, it's just a new character who went to high school with these people and has established his own base of operations in the apocalypse. This truly is Eli's big introduction to the world. He too presents as a survivalist who headed straight to the mall knowing how independent its power source was and its ability to provide valuable resources for awhile. He has fortified the place with explosions. No one can get in without him wanting them there. Even when Josh, Angelica and Wesley make their way in, it comes with the understanding that nothing is ever as it seems. The show is still just introducing its own sense of mythology. It established early on that Ghoulies are adults who only repeat the last thought they were thinking and have a thirst for human blood. That may make them easy to lure into a trap. This episode though suggests that some Ghoulies are capable of highly complex thoughts. That means Ms. Crumble is completely re-introduced into this world. Previously, she was simply a teacher at the high school. A teacher who was ridiculed by absolutely everyone until she was forced into changing her own name. She lost her sense of identity long before the city was nuked. But now, she seems to be a mysterious witch capable of helping the people who come across her even though her mind may not fully be there. Her body has undergone an extreme physical transformation but she is still refusing the temptation of turning against humanity. She may be better than many of the other adults in this world. But again, the show highlights the masochism of the world. Turbo and his gang rule in such a loud, commanding and obnoxious way. It's the typically story of the jocks having all the power and subjecting everyone else to their rule. And yet, it's no longer original to say that the nerds are the underdogs the audience should be rooting for to take over. They are just as toxic as the alpha males who define the jocks. The protagonists have to be some other outcasts entirely because nerd culture has grown so main stream that it presents as the sole form of pop culture. It dominates so much. Josh is constantly making references to genre shows that delve into the apocalypse. It means he and the audience are well conditioned to believe a bite from a Ghoulie can be fatal. It's only after cutting off a finger that he learns that isn't true. Again, it doesn't seem like many people know how to survive in this world. But that's also the absurdity of the piece. Everyone treats the apocalypse like high school where it's validated to have a societal place while the pressure is on to look physically fit and come across as very intimidating. That pressure can be so dangerous. These can be insightful narrative ideas. However, the core motivation still comes across as something the show desperately wants the audience to believe in despite Sam only existing as a character through Josh's perception of her.