We see that a lot with Freddie, who uses Palaka to do the things he is scared to do. Rather than go to Bill himself, he got Palaka to do it, and here he gets Palaka to investigate the meeting, in a great scene. Paul Ben Victor is just so much fun to watch, with his goofy mannerisms and surprising sensitivity. I love the scene where he listens to Freddie pray at the end of the episode.
Throughout the show, there’s so many beautiful moments. It’s very harsh on the surface, but that makes the moments of warmth even more powerful. I love Cissy’s total reckless devotion to Shaun as she wanders around, seeking anyone who can help her. The best moment here was Butchie and Kai’s embrace, the way he held her closer when Tina came in. You know that meant so much to Kai, Butchie is committing to her and in their union, the family is drawn closer together. Kai has been more of a mother to Shaun than Tina, and together, she and Butchie could really help him.
A while back, I was thinking that Tina and Linc were enemies of Shaun, and the show would end with some kind of showdown, but I don’t think that’s the point Milch wants to make. They are part of the Imperial Beach world, and even if they’re not quite on the same wavelength as the Yosts, they can help in their own way. Everyone is coming together to save Shaun, in the same way they came together after his initial injury. The scene with Mitch talking to the press was a clear parallel to the second episode.
It’s notable that all of our major supernatural players are absent this week. Zippy, Shaun, and John have all gone missing, forcing the humans to deal with their own problems. Ultimately, their absence may provide the final push forward, and they will have to care for each other, like Dr. Smith cared for Barry. The community can continue to exist despite the removal of its immediate purpose.
So, that leaves us with the question of the mystery stick figures. The message behind their multiplication seems clear to me. We began with John, one man, and he gathered others around him. Now, his ‘disciples’ are everywhere, all the characters in Imperial Beach impacted in some way by his presence. John was there with one man, now there are many others, and he is absent from the video.
This series is just so special. One could point out flaws, like the fact that this episode basically retreads the conflict from last week, but “for real” this time. But, I don’t even care, the milieu is so wonderful and the philosophical and thematic points so interesting, the narrative recedes to the background. I can think of almost no other television works, or works of fiction in general, that are so rich and layered. Reading about Milch’s process, the creation of the show seems to be guided by a kind of divine hand, or perhaps just a collective subconscious that builds story.