I feel like I say it every week, but it needs to be said again. This show is a brilliant piece of art, one of the most relevant and powerful stories being told in any medium today. David Milch is creating a work that fosters emotions and creates ideas in the audience unlike pretty much anything else I’ve ever seen on TV.
Shows like Twin Peaks and Six Feet Under have delved into metaphysics, but I’ve never seen as sustained a journey into big issues as I have here. This is to TV what Grant Morrison’s work is to comics, stories that address issues that are not of consequence to individuals, but instead touch on the progress of humanity as a whole. That is what the show is about, the way that people can move forward by coming together.
There’s so much to talk about here. Lately I’ve been watching each episode at least twice, so I probably won’t be able to fully assess this until another viewing. But, even after the first ten minutes, I knew this episode was going to be something really special. I’d argue that this is actually the best episode of the series yet, with each scene finding a unique kind of magic.
One of the most magical was Cass and John’s trip out to the field. First we got the 'funny at first, creepy in retrospect' discussion about whether they made a sex tape. Then, a beautiful piece of music came on the soundtrack and we saw the two of them out in nature, John imitating the statue and standing on the tower. Both this sequence and the opening with Butchie surfing placed me in a trancelike state, perfectly lost in the rhythm of the visuals. The best filmmakers are able to hypnotize you, trap you in a moment with the characters, make you feel what they’re feeling. These scenes worked on a subconscious level, the slow, beautiful visuals bringing me to the same place as the characters. It’s something we don’t get enough from cinema.
Films and TV are so concerned with reaching a narrative endpoint, they don’t stop along the way for beautiful moments like this. In fact, you could argue that’s the whole appeal of this series, spending time in moments that would ordinarily be passed by. People ask what’s the point of the hotel guys or Linc or any of the characters, but why do they have to mean anything beyond what’s in the moment? I love watching Ramon oversee the motel, or seeing the interaction between Palaka and Freddie. It’s not all about reaching some endpoint, the journey is what matters. This is a show about the creation of a community, the network of people gathered around this hotel, and the joy of it is watching them interacting with each other. That can mean seeing the hypnotizing beauty of the field scene, or the goofy comedy of a Palaka moment — both are equally valid expressions of what the world is.