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TV Review: John From Cincinnati – “His Visit: Day Nine”

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One more lingering enigma is the Chemist. He seems to be in touch with what’s going on, and when he stares out at the stadium thing, he knows that’s where the message is coming from. He’s the only one with the perspective to recognize what’s right in front of them all.

And at last, we come to the initially baffling final moment, a shot of Cass and John’s narration: “Mother of God CassKai.” Now, this is a tough one. John has equated Cass and Kai previously, as has Cass herself. I would argue that the reason he calls them the mother of God is that they are the first two women to follow his teaching. So, they will birth his God out into the world. We previously saw them equated during the end of last week’s episode, where they’re both watching Butchie out in the water, waiting for Shaun. They each have had contact with John and each have “seen God.” They are the people John confides in, and are best able to understand him. Each grow frustrated by him at some point, but ultimately are in awe of his abilities.

This episode shows John taking the first step in spreading his mission to a larger world. He has saved the Yosts, and they shall be his representatives, but the ones who had faith in him from the beginning were Butchie, Shaun, Cass, and Kai. They are the core, and that is the reason that CassKai is the mother of God. That said, why is this the end of the show? We’ve spent so much time talking about John’s father, it would be logical to address the mother. Both have seen God, via John, so they shall carry him out into the world. He showed no one else that vision, they are special. And, it is through Cass’s camera that his word is spread out to us, the audience of viewers parallel to their universe.

From here, John will spread his message, and if there is another season, I’d imagine that will be the focus. After all, we are all one larger organism, and more people need to realize that. When they saw God, it was other people, so why not save the entire universe?

Will there be another season? I don’t know. I’d love to see it, but all we can do is hope. If this is the end, it went out on a fantastic note, and I feel satisfied with the ending. All the major plot and character threads are resolved, but the door is open for more. This series has been a masterpiece, leaving me in awe every week, and now that it has wrapped the season, I can confidently say this one of the best pieces of art to ever air on television, and I want to thank everyone involved in making it for bringing something so uniquely powerful to our world.

About Patrick

  • Savannah

    Thank you for an excellent and insightful take on the very satisfying finale. I loved it, and was equally exhilarated with the opening sequence as I was when Zip returned. I will need to own this season/series? on DVD so I can watch it again and again to be filled with hope. Milch is a genius, and I believe he accomplished exactly what he set out to do with this series.

  • Sean

    In the words of the immortal Crow T. Robot:

    “A scene is always more exciting when you have no idea what the hell is going on!”.

    I guess I am just not as in touch with the universe as everyone else, but I leave the season finale feeling like a Rube that’s been taken for a ride by Carnies.

    Open narrative and a total lack of narrative are two different things.

    Introducing new characters and stories while totally abandoning others mid-story?

    How very profound.

    To leave on a positive, I feel the show was interesting, and Ed O’Neil has shown himself to be just a brilliant performer.

    The warmth and sympathy he brought to “Bill” was just wonderful.

  • Dane Janeiro

    The parade was one of the most brilliantly stages comedic sequences in television history. The obvious allusions to Christ entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday were brilliant!

  • Anthony B

    Amen, my brother

  • http://www.bobbatchelor.com Bob Batchelor

    Great overview of the last episode! Thanks so much for posting. The beauty of Milch’s work is his ability to create characters that are inherently interesting and compelling — outside the confines of plot.

    In your essay you’ve captured what so many reviewers/commentators have missed by providing the bigger picture and linking it together. Great point, too, about Milch’s ability to bring out the best in the actors he relies on. Who knew Ed O’Neil had those chops?

  • http://www.prodigalaspersions.com Cynthia

    El Camino

    I thought,at the time, and checked to be sure, and El Camino is “the road” or, if you will, The Way. And John says that Linc is the El Camino. He provides the way to reach others.

    I am gonna be seriously disappointed if this show doesn’t return.

  • rusty

    From the Double-Tongued Dictionary;

    fourwall, v. to pay for the right to entertain at a theatre or on a stage. Subjects: English, United States, Entertainment, Jargon

  • http://www.myspace.com/trish_from_memphis Trish from Memphis

    I just read your blog and I totally agree…I think you are dead-on..I hope that they bring this show back..along with Deadwood and Carnivale…

  • D.J.

    Amazing summary. You had me look at this finale in an entirely different way which tied up some loose ends in my head. I need to watch this episode again!

  • Lauren

    Thanks so much for yet another brilliant write- up. I share your in your sentiments about how this show is easily the best piece of art yet to be created for television.

    I really hope this isn’t the end although I did read [off the record] that it will be canceled, which stinks. I would love to see more of John, the Yosts and the rest of this fantastic cast!

    Thanks again for your fantastic analysis Patrick.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Congratulations! This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States.

  • Eric Olsen

    wow Patrick, what a sensational, deep survey you have provided of the series – I can’t thank you enough. Though I am not as completely sold on the “product” as you are, we watched it faithfully, even compulsively and there were many moments of hilarity, insight, and even wonder. I probably prefer a little more bones in my stories — the metaphors upon metaphors can hurt my head — and piling narrative obliqueness with so much opaque dialog was perhaps too much of a good thing. But some of the performances was stunning — particularly Ed O’Neill, Brian Van Holt, Greyson Fletcher, and Paul Ben Victor (cast list here).

    Thanks again Patrick, you have performed a real service

  • kevin

    What about the “we are coming on 9/11/14″ statement made by John during his discussion with Linc!? Anyone?

  • http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/classic_bullseye.htm Robert Pitera

    Great review, and some wonderful insights – regardless of whether or not they are Milch’s actual intent.

    One correction though, that’s not a ‘stadium thing'; it’s a very high frequency antenna array used by the Navy to intercept intelligence communications as well as locate their source. They pick up signals from ships and aircraft and then determine the location by triangulating with other arrays (The Navy runs 9 of them located throughout the world’s coasts)

    This particular one is located at the Naval Base in San Diego – I’ve actually seen it fairly close up and it’s huge.

    They call the array type a “Classic Bullseye” style because the array is circled around the listening post (located in the center).

    I’m sure that brings a whole new meaning to the symbolism that John and the Chemist seem to go there for a purpose.

    I hope this info helps you and other fans out.

  • Rob

    Very inciteful reading of this dense and beautiful show. I too beleive this may be the finest televsion since Twin Peaks and better than Milch’s Deadwood.

    I believe Patrick is right that God’s message will be distributed by Stinkweed and his interpretation of the meaning of the stick figures. However, I beleive Cass’ camera is not a metatextual reference, but rather the way in which John’s message will be spread to the masses (the antenna array one wise reader pointed out that the Chemist was staring at). She will document whatever it is that the John, Shaun, Butchie and Mitch adventure will bring to the world.

    I too thought “father” during the car dealer scene. Notice also that the deleer refers to John as the “Country”. Perhaps merging that with the constant references to terrorism, 9/11 and the “towel heads” referred to by John might yield interesting results.

    Re: 9/11/14 – obviously this could refere to 7 years down the line (perhaps as far as Milch planned- second coming?) or else the biblical reference to the “blood of Christ” and the suffering for humanity’s sins.

    I would, howeer, say it is safe to conclude that John is not Jesus as he is clearly not human and does not undergo the suffering a human does. And he would know how to communicate.

  • Matt

    This seems more like a fansite of the show rather than an impartial blog review of the series. Im sorry, but thats just my opinion. The show was universally hated by critics and viewers alike and I cant believe that 13 of the 14 comments all love the show. Obviously most of the negative ones were deleted. Probably like this one will be.

  • Carlos

    Did anybody see the game on the floor with the numbers 9 11 14?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    I love this show, but I think overanalyzing it spoils it. And I can certainly understand why some viewers like Matt were alienated.

    But I prefer to think of it like David Lynch, 2001, Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, and yes, the final Sopranos episode. There may have been a specific meaning and interpretation intended by the filmmakers…but I’d rather not hear it. John from Cincinnati is beautiful as is. “Interpreted,” especially poorly interpreted, it becomes far less interesting.

  • Paul

    @15 ‘I too thought “father” during the car dealer scene. Notice also that the deleer refers to John as the “Country”. Perhaps merging that with the constant references to terrorism, 9/11 and the “towel heads” referred to by John might yield interesting results.’

    I felt the “country” reference was shorthand for “country boy” or someone unsophisticated. The dealers additional comments about “high performance”, etc. bear that out for me. He also seemed to be commenting on the lack of sophistication in other of John’s ilk. From that, I’d take it that the dealer is part of the Father’s crew rather than a recent recipient of “the message”. There’s also his quote regarding “mother/son handjobs” – not sure that would be part of a healing message!

    Thanks for the great summary.

  • http://192.168.40.150 jas

    Patrick’s review is right on and informative. I think the camera is the modern day Bible. She is to film and post on the internet. This will capture the teachings and message. She is “writing” the next Bible.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    to Matt (#16)

    Where do you get “universally hated by critics and viewers alike”

    I’m sure it wasn’t loved universally either – but it does have a good following.

    And comments are never deleted if they disagree with the post – ONLY if they are abusive. (No personal attacks allowed, etc…)

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Oh, and Patrick – this was good. You covered so much, I don’t know how you did it.

    About the car salesman – yeah it took me a few minutes to realize he was speaking like John. Then when he said for the second time (to John) “Hey, I took you offline” – I realized what that really meant. It was his turn to give the message.

    I like how the stick figure (turned into Stinkweed’s logo) was made of of a “zero and ones” – as in the 0s and 1s (binary?) from Cass’s camera – meaning both the imagine she unwittingly filmed of John with the stick figure behind him on black sheet – and the technology that produced the images.

    This is definitely the kind of show you need to sit around in a bathtub to figure out (like in Animal House)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Sorry to be the one to break the news, but HBO announced the cancellation of John from Cincinnati today. :(

  • JLM

    WHAT ABOUT ONE OF THE LAST HIDDEN COMMENTS, IN THE FINAL NARRATIVE THAT SAID, LINC IS JOHN. ??? I MUST WATCH AGAIN, BUT DIDNT ANYONE HEAR THAT?

  • PPR

    Love this show, dont cancel

  • Bill B.

    This show was critically divided, but it certainly wasn’t universally hated. Entertainment Weekly loved it as I’m sure many other critics did too and it certainly had a public following as this site indicates. I thought it fascinating, though at times frustrating. That frustration may have been due to my own inability to grasp all that was happening, but I sure did enjoy the trip. Patrick’s “review” of the final episode is wonderous and I couldn’t agree more about the opening of the final show. It was completely exhilarating and one of the finest cinematic moments I’ve ever seen put on TV. I will miss this show, these characters and many of these actors. These are career highlights for Nichols, O’Neill and especially Van Holt.

  • Camel Jockey

    Does anyone know the title of the Bob Dylan song in episode 10?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The Dylan song is “Series of Dreams,” available on the albums The Bootleg Series and also Greatest Hits vol. 3.

  • http://www.thoughtsonstuff.com Patrick

    This seems more like a fansite of the show rather than an impartial blog review of the series. Im sorry, but thats just my opinion. The show was universally hated by critics and viewers alike and I cant believe that 13 of the 14 comments all love the show. Obviously most of the negative ones were deleted. Probably like this one will be.

    re #16: None of the comments are deleted, but I imagine most people who don’t like the show stopped watching and aren’t going to read a 2500 word review of the last episode just so they could say how much it sucks.

    I’m not particularly interested in impartial reviewing, particularly for this series. It’s so full of rich thematic concepts and ideas, in writing, I hope to fully understand them myself and convey that understanding to others, and help them appreciate the show, or at least understand it in a new way.

    I’d agree the show wasn’t well liked, but since when is popularity the best judge of art? Once the show is separated from Deadwood’s cancellation, and the disappointment surrounding that, people will take a fresh look and realize what a powerful piece of art it is.

  • http://www.thoughtsonstuff.com Patrick

    And to everyone else, thanks so much for the positive comments. It’s great to know there’s other people out there who dig the show and understand what Milch was trying to do. I’m writing up another post, a post mortem for the show, as we speak. So, look for that soon.

  • jb

    “four-walling” in a theatrical rental term means to take an empty shell (of a theatre or studio) and re-equip it yourself from scratch, to your own specifications, for your own purposes.

  • http://paullevinson.blogspot.com Paul Levinson

    Good analysis. Here’s mine – just came to me about 15 minute ago … John from Cincinnati is … Neo in the Matrix! … it makes sense … explains the computer/Internet stuff … how Shaun was brought back to life … where John and Shaun were day before last … I give this a slight higher than 2 percent chance of being right … still…

  • http://hbo brody

    JFC was probably the best show on TV in a long time…. what a great art work… on every level it was surpurb…the main YOST family, John, as weel as the supporting cast.. and the writing was so amazing … hopefully it will be acclaimed for what it was.. wonderful… I will continue to watch it time and again …each time doing so I pick up a new thought…it is so sad that the mass audience did not take the time or the thought process to understand the deep enrichness of JFC.. it is their loss.

  • babeeblues

    Many thanks to Patrick and others who have contributed here.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere and I could be wrong, but some things lead to believe that HBO not only declined to pick up “John” for another season but cut the season we have a couple episodes shorter than originally planned.

    Has any HBO series had a normal season with less than 12 episodes? Wasn’t it only very recently that it was announced “Big Love” would be moving back to Sunday nights after the finale of John for the remaining Big Love epidsodes?

    This may explain some loose ends, some characters/plot lines that got introduced but seem to have been short-changed, underdeveloped, left hanging — and not necessarily by design or preference of Milch and his creative team

  • babeeblues

    Regarding the card dealer: I agree he seemed to be a significant and strange, portentious fellow.

    The HBO Episode Guide states: “John’s El Camino dealer is clearly not your typical used-car salesman; he comes off more like John’s supervisor, repeatedly telling him, “I took you offline, Country.” His interactions with Linc and Jake probe similarly bizarre territory, referring to the Yosts’ family problems and warning, “Not one damn minute to waste.” John produces $15,000 in cash to pay for the El Camino.”

    It’s no small matter to have taken John “offline”, and no mean feat. Nor to provide “El Camino” and to come back at Link and Jake that he’s got far more dealerships or whatever than they grasp, or perhaps even could; and to have some of the grabbag omniscience as John shows. I agree he doesn’t come off as an especially benign figure, as I’d expect John’s “Father” to be; but a supernatural one, yes.

    Patrick’s comments about Cass/Kai are thoughtful, incisive, as with so much else. My recollection is that these were the two characters who were overwhelmed with full-blown visions/revelations — Kai after John implored her to “See God.”

  • http://www.thoughtsonstuff.com Patrick

    I believe the new season of The Wire is only ten episodes, as is Tell Me You Love Me, so maybe HBO is just cutting back in general. But, that could definitely have resulted in some compressed storytelling. I also read an interview with Rebecca De Mornay from before the finale where she talked about scenes where Cissy gets injured, so clearly there was some alternate stuff filmed, perhaps the DVD will illuminate things.

  • http://blogcritics.org/video/article/tv-review-john-from-cincinnati-his5/ Frank from Queens

    Nice to know I’m not the only fan!!! Bring john back. I love salmon