Marco and the Red Granny, Part 5

There’s something exciting about trying to download a podcast and finding that it’s been so popular that the site it’s hosted on has crashed. A bit frustrating, but exciting, too.

That’s part of the reason this review is so late. The other part (as you’ll probably know if you’re following me on Twitter) is that life is just BUSY at the moment. I know I’ve been ‘reviewing’ other things, but, let’s face it, drunkenly undead-blogging Misfits isn’t quite the same.

Anyway, on to the review.

The plot definitely moves on in this episode. We finally meet the elusive Penelope, Marco’s ex-girlfriend, and we get some answers about the ‘Alcoholics’ Guild’, which has been floating in the background. After the invasive ’emotion mapping’ procedure Marco endured in the previous episode, Our Hero has some doubts about signing with the Li-Jun, but ultimately caves on being told that it won’t happen again, and he might be able to finagle some more money. But life as a pet writer seems somewhat bland, and Marco misses drinking. The Li-Jun frown on drinking, and the question as to why has been hovering around behind the rest of the action in the earlier episodes. Marco reasons that he hasn’t been expressly forbidden, though, and decides to wander out in search of booze. He finds it. Along with the Alcoholics’ Guild and his ex-girlfriend, who turns out to be a member. From there he learns that there are only two ways out of patronage: alcoholism, or The Most Dangerous Game.

OK, so that’s the plot, but what’s going on in this episode? One thing is that we get a lot more interest out of the whole emotion mapping thing. I can’t believe I missed it before, but even without the interesting intro and outro on the subject from Al Stuart, this ep does a lot to bring it to the for. Of course the emotion mapping is a metaphor for artistic endeavour in general. We draw on our most painful experiences, we bleed them onto the page, and then we try to flog them. There’s definitely some truth to this, but it’s a pretty bleak picture. It’s clear that we’re not meant to think emotion-mapping and the Li-Jun patronage system is a great pathway for art to go down, but it’s not clear what the alternative is. The Alcoholics’ Guild?

I’m puzzled by what’s going on with the Alcoholics’ Guild, here. They started out as witty background fodder – ‘Lol! In the future there’s a guild for alcoholics!’. I quite like that they’ve been developed into something more, but I’m a bit puzzled as to what that is. The relationship between alcoholism (or drug abuse of other kinds) and creative types has a history that’s both romanticised and over-criticised. Most creatives are not abusers alcohol, but it’s undeniable that some of the greatest have been. I’m wondering where the author is going with this. Is Marco there to find a ‘Third Way’? Or is he going to blow this whole set-up wide open, exposing both the austerity and exploitation of the Li-Jun and the symbiotic relationship one extreme has with the other – encouraging the reaction from the Alcoholics’ Guild.

And there are other questions floating around, too. All along I’ve been wondering if the real reason House Blue have been interested in Marco is his angst over the break up with Penelope – are they engineering situations to arouse further strong emotions in him, before pushing him into The Most Dangerous Game? And you have to wonder about the latter – after all, in the background is always the thought: What does the Red Granny have to do with all of this?

So: this episode leave me with a lot of questions. The plot has thickened and so have the themes. Good. This soup is almost ready. All that’s left is to taste: I want to see how this baby ends!

If you’ve not seen it yet, the latest episode is available here. Hub also has all the previous eps available if you want to back track. And remember, this stuff is free to you (and me!), but not to them – if you like it, and can afford to, there’s a tip pot for the lovely people at Hub, as well as the author.

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