Friday, November 1, 2019

REVIEW: 'Dickinson' - Emily Throws a Party That Quickly Grows Out of Her Control in 'Wild Nights'

AppleTV+'s Dickinson - Episode 1.03 "Wild Nights"

Emily and Austin throw a party, and their mutual love for Sue causes tension.

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 AppleTV+'s Dickinson.

"Wild Nights" was written by Alena Smith & Ali Waller and directed by Lynn Shelton

Emily Dickinson slow dances with a bee voiced by Jason Mantzoukas after taking opium with her friends while her parents out of town for the night. That's exactly what happens here. It's such an insane way to describe the plot and tone of this show. However, this episode embraces fully what this show hopes to be. It can be so outrageous and ridiculous. It never wants to take itself too seriously because this is fundamentally a silly way to tell the story of Emily Dickinson's life. But it still wants to have some genuine heart at the core of its stories as well. It aspires to be more than people pining after those who are unlikely to love them back. There is a lot of that featured in these early episodes. And yet, it's explosive when Austin walks in on Emily and Sue as they are kissing. He has never once been suspicious about just how close they have been. He has always seen them as close friends. The relationship he has with Sue is one of true love. But he's projecting all of those emotions and expectations onto this dynamic. Sue still wants to be in mourning after losing every member of her family. She is all alone in this world. And now, the Dickinson family is suffocating her. She enjoys the love and attention from time to time. But it's very overwhelming too. She doesn't want to plot out the details for the rest of her life. She wants agency over what she can do. She wants the responsibility of having to pay off her family's debts. There is a lot of them because of the illnesses that took them all down. She could easily escape to Boston and work for a couple of months. That appears to be what she wants to do. The world wants to keep her contained to this community. That's what Emily and Austin want for her. They view their lives as being better with her in it. That may inherently be true. And yet, none of these people have the emotional maturity to truly understand love or how it may apply to their lives. Emily is so close and intimate with Sue. They share so many experiences together. Sue is there to lift Emily's spirits after getting her period ruins this party. That too is a very practical concern that is rarely seen in stories. Emily wanted this party in order to celebrate the freedom that comes from their parents leaving for the night. They rarely do so. She wants to take advantage of that. She coerces George into supplying drugs. She wants everyone to partake in them. It's a fun experience. But it all comes crashing to an end because of her period. It has absolutely nothing to George. He fears that she rejects him in such a physical way because he is a bad kisser. That has nothing to do with it. Instead, it's a different kind of pain that creates a new hassle for her to deal with. It's something she simply has to do no matter how quickly it puts an end to all of the fun she was having. Again, she has the support of Sue to get through all of this. She feels that her life is ending because of this pain. She understands exactly what it is. It is essentially death that comes once a month. That's what it means to be a women. Others are allowed to keep the party going downstairs. But that's an environment filled with sexual desire and the need to undermine the secrets and relationships that define this world. As such, Austin goes looking for Sue and that's when he discovers what she has been doing with his sister. He is thrown and doesn't know how to recover. Emily doesn't either. She expresses herself in such magnificent words because it's personal to her connection with Sue. But love is complicated. It's not always healthy either. Lavinia is attracted to a bad boy, Daniel, who immediately comes across as repulsive. He keeps a locket of hair as a trophy for each of his sexual conquests. That's horrifying. And yet, Lavinia remains fully smitten with him. The broad humor of this episode works too because it's clear that everything is working in unison to go for these big laughs and genuine emotions.