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Q of P; The real analysis starts here!
Sep 23rd, 2010 at 7:33pm
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A Question Of Priorities
Analysis.

Well, not my favourite episode by a long way. But, duty calls. And I have been promising to do this for too long. So, as I am near the end of Breathless (just THAT scene to do, Guina!) I decided to bite the bullet and start. I shall do it in chunks.. otherwise I lose concentration and donít remember all the salient (good word there..extra brownie points for me!) points.
So;

Credits.. and I was watching to see if the  mobile bashes its satellite dish on the roof... didnít spot it.. The opening theme still thrills me even today. And the images are as exciting as when  I  saw them for the first time all those years ago.

What? A girl in  a phone box? Huh? This is supposed to be UFO.. am I watching the wrong channel? And the guy in the mask.. clearly up to no good... eeuuuwwwww... unpleasant start , but then the camera pans back and we see the reality. A young boy, staring focussed on the scene.. and then Ed Straker.

Nice to see the out of action shot of the studio crew as well. So we a re reassured that this is merely one of the films at Harlington Straker.
Lovely touch to have John kick the lid as Ed swings him up into his arms. A tender moment and the look on each face ( naughty boys caught in the act!) is priceless!

The next part is frankly the bit I really donít like.. I think it is the music which annoys me the most. But it makes the next part even more effective, contrasting Strakerís pleasure at being with his son with the more business like attitude he shows in his car on the way home.. a return to normality, taking his son back. There are a couple of delightful moments on that car journey..Strakerís threatening look at John when John is messing about with things; but it is  a look that is only pretending to be severe and Strakerís small smile is lovely. John knows it and responds with a smile.

The two of them, conspiring together.. a lovely touch!  There is a tinge of regret on Strakerís face as John sits back down again, and to my mind it is regret because Straker  knows that it will be some time before he will  see John again. He is taking his son back and that is enough to make him  unhappy.

A much more serious Ed Straker now, much more Ďrestrainedí  in his car, none of the antics we saw earlier with the Model T and the Fire engine.

And so they get back to Mary.  John is fine, happy to ge tback  wanting to show his father the boat he has made. Then Mary appears. And Ed Strakerís demeanour changes totally. We can almost see him flinch away as  Mary comes out and stands there, not approaching, not making any effort to  make contact.

Ed has to get out, has to do her unspoken bidding. It is as if he is cowed by her, and his whole stance is that of a man who is terrified of what she will say or do. Mary is... bland. A smile, but not one that reaches her eyes. A fixed smile as she watches his get out, come towards her, almost grovelling  to apologise to the mother of his son simply because he was late getting the boy back.

Throughout all this, the unspoken contempt the desperate unsaid pleading by Ed, Maryís husband stands in the background. Not saying anything, no gestures, no movement. Mary does not look at Rutland at all throughout this scene. He is unimportant to Mary, she is not afraid of Rutland, he will do as she tells him.

If Rutland had been the bully that he is so often portrayed as, then Mary would have never dared stand there, straight, firm, ordering Ed Straker around. She would have flinched when Rutland appeared, would have kept looking back at him  for his tacit approval,  in case he wanted her to do something. Rutland, by his very silence, his stillness, his reluctance to get involved in the situation,  is a man who is ruled by his wife.  Mary tells Ed to make his next visit a week later.

A terrible thing to do to a man who is only allowed to see his son once a month. To delay that precious meeting  by a week. And Mary does not give any reason,  merely expects Ed to acquiesce.

And he does. He seems so terrified of losing any contact with John that he meekly gives in. Without a fight. Ed Straker gives every appearance of being thoroughly intimidated by his ex wife.  And she tells him that he should go..

The part that initially confused me was the way that, after John is hit by the car, Mary screams at Ed ĎDo something.í Listen to that scream. It isnít a plea for help, it isnít accompanied by her falling into his arms, distraught. It is a command. And she expects it to be followed. Rutland stands there, abashed, afraid  to move to get involved. Mary doesnít do what any normal other would do.. kneel down by the side of her son...she is too busy ordering Ed around... again.

Do Something...  as if it is all Ed StrakerĎs fault, but we know, and Mary knows, that she is the one to blame.

The look on Ed Strakerís face tells it all.


  

I need some air.
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Re: Q of P; The real analysis starts here!
Reply #1 - Sep 24th, 2010 at 11:42pm
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I see Rutland the way you do K-k, but after doing some hard thinking about it I think I could very easy defend either veiw of him. To qoute Ginny, "There simply isn't enough information." *grin* That's the problem when you only have one episode to form an opinion about a character. I watched this episode a few months ago just before I wrote "Mission of Mercy" I should watch it again as my current story brings Ed and Mary back together. Then I supose I'll have to write my opinion as to what was going on. Cheesy

Louise,
A great start to the analysis and certainly an interesting take. The only thing that I didn't see was Ed being intimidated, I saw that as something else. But the rest of it I could easly make as good a case for it as my own view. Nice work! Smiley
  

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Guina
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Re: Q of P; The real analysis starts here!
Reply #2 - Sep 25th, 2010 at 5:29am
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Hi,

I will be doing that one as well this weekend, it differs in some accounts (Rutland gets a worse appraisal from me, but also not into the bully direction), but my take on Ed is pretty similar.

I did some research into visitation rights for fathers in the UK this week and was rather shocked (sorry to all Britons). Not only is it so that in over 95% of all cases the mothers still get custody (even where contested) in the UK, mothers also still are able to pretty much completely bar fathers from any contact with their kids.

Even these days the court procedures to regain some measure of visitation times are not based on written laws (like for instance in many continental European countries), but pretty much decided upon by the court itself. And there needs to be just some serious doubts as to the father's proper conduct and there are no visits at all without much chances at any change.

This was even worse in the seventies, when apparently a mother was able to simply completely take away a natural father's visitation rights, especially after she remarried and the kids "had a father". And things were even worse in the USA in this respect. This led to often quite aggressively campaigning fathers' rights movements in both these countries.

Due that bit of research I also am rather sure that Straker was being written, directed and acted as living in utter terror of having his visitation rights taken from him by Mary. Every small gesture, his whole behaviour, the way he practically slips under the carpet to beg - all that is pointing into this one direction. Twice there is such an expression of sick fear on his face, that it literally makes my skin crawl, as you don't get to see it so intensely played often on the small screen.

I am rather certain that all of these men involved - writer, director and actor Ed Bishop (who had the experience of having already been once divorced and need only imagine what it would mean to lose access to his own son) were aware how the power slope between mothers (remarried with custody rights) and fathers (divorced, most likely as the culprit party) stood. In fact, Straker could not even chance any court case if she decided to keep him completely away, as quite commonly dirty laundry is washed in there and things SHADO most likely would have again been tabled.

So yes, I very much agree with Louise's take of Ed's demeanour.
  
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