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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Q of P - Analysis Guina (Read 4969 times)
Guina
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Q of P - Analysis Guina
Sep 25th, 2010 at 8:16pm
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Hi,

QoP is one of my favourite episodes, not just because it gives us a peek behind the facade of two recurring characters (Straker, Alec), but also as it hints at a difference in some of the aliens, and for its general tone, which is so not what one finds in run of the mill TV series.

==============================

So here we go with Part 1:

Straker with his son John at the Studio

I concur with Louise, the incidental music is hackle-raising as per our modern day and age, though I guess it was alright at the time to convey the fun father and son were having.

However, the chemistry between Straker and his son is working out very well, the kid is cute and sweet, very clearly enjoying the time with his father, and we get to see a side of Straker we haven't seen before (and - in this form - will not see again): he laughs wholeheartedly, he smiles with great abandon, he is quite simply very happy with his son and he lets down his (emotional) hair with the kid in a way else not ever happening. Not even the wedding scenes of Confetti Check show just that carefree an Ed Straker.

Straker with his son in the car/SHADO HQ

There is a nice give and take between Straker and his son hidden behind that little horseplay about the radio and the phone. Very clearly the "guy thing" - both know what they are doing, enjoy their banter which already has - almost - taken on the form that adult buddies use to enjoy closeness. Again, very clearly, there is a lot of connection and love between the two, and lots of innuendos both have the key to.

The UFOs and Alec intrude, and we see the switch from father to commander and back. Very smoothly done, and also proof of how seriously Straker takes his obligations as a father. He remembers about the boat, and shows his interest in his son's work. Again - good parenting, in spite of the work intruding.

At Mary's House - Straker, Mary, John, Rutland

Straker pulls into the driveway, not his former house, but a very representative and nice one. John is happy to be home so he can show his dad what the boat looks like. Straker on the other hand becomes more subdued with each second, pulling a deep, shuddering breath when he opens the car door - like a man steeling himself for something taxing and potentially unpleasant. His whole body language already says "I'd rather be elsewhere".

Mary comes out of the house, greets her son, makes exactly one step towards Straker's car, then half turns, waiting for him to come to her, rather than go and greet him (as would be normal with a wanted guest). Straker on the other hand has a death grip on the wheel of his car and the mien on his face speaks volumes. He doesn't want to go and speak with her, but that's what he obviously has to do to satisfy her.

His body language as he gets out of the car again speaks loud and clear: he rightens and tugs at his clothes like someone preparing to face a fight, he stops and his whole body leans backwards and away from Mary as far as balance allows for, hands at attention at his side, back ramrod straight, like a soldier trying to appease his ranking officer.

And he is right - the first thing she does is accusing him of being late, even though we learn it's just half an hour in the next sentence. Straker's face shows a mixture of such sick fear and forced (on him) conciliation, it's actually painful to watch (kudos to Bishop here, he knew how to act with those eyes!), especially accompanied by these small, nervous, jerky movements of the neck and face, which are totally atypical for Straker. Add to that a tone of voice which was pure grovelling.

And he is grovelling and very, very small - as we learn with the next part of this scene. Mary tells him to get John a week later the next time. We see the hurt in his eyes, but he agrees with her, so conciliating and meek in manner, that he is almost unrecognizable as Straker. He wants to talk about John, and she brushes him off there as well, practically telling him he has no business wanting such a thing.

Rutland calls twice, then comes outside to look what is going on. He has a jacket along, obviously they were planning to go somewhere. He waits in the doorframe as soon as he sees who is there, not protective, nor aggressive, simply waits for what happens - and he doesn't look like he wants to meddle with what takes place there.

Straker wants to wait for John and the boat, and Mary brushes that off as well, telling him to leave. Again we see Straker's hurt over not being allowed to share this last thing with John, something he promised his son. But again, very very small, he agrees to leave, once again without even trying to argument with her.

She says good-bye to him in a tone that I think must have given rise to the notion that she regrets their separation. But after what went before that, all I can see there is her chagrin at having been a bit too hard on her ex right then and there - because Straker, as he turns towards the car, shows the body language of someone hurt and broken seriously over something. And that goes for his whole demeanour while driving away. His reaction to that good-bye is an expression of disillusionment.

John sees his father drive away and runs after him now. Again, he too bypasses Rutland standing there without the slightest hint of fear or caution, just like Mary.

Unlike many I do not think that Mary and Rutland act particularly reprehensively for not stopping John, it's daft, but yeah, parents can be daft.

All four adults involved react immediately though. Rutland races to the hurt kid just as fast as Straker bolts for him and Rutland looks quite shocked and at a loss as to what to do. That Mary demands action from Straker is in this light not completely incomprehensiible.

==============================

I've watched this scene roughly 4 times in a row now, and I think I can put the finger on three possible reasons for seeing Rutland as threatening/bullying. I do not think the assumptions correct though.

Firstly, he is bearded. That can incite a certain dislike or seemingness of being manly/aggressive/severe for people who are not used to bearded people or in general dislike facial hair. It can cause faulty attribution of expressions as well.

Secondly, when Straker asks whether he may talk about John, Mary brushes him off by saying "We are fine, we are both fine" and Rutland comes out, with Straker staring at him. This might be construed into her denying wife-bullying as it is - nowadays - often portrayed. But taking into mind that we see something filmed 40 years ago, this connotation is definitely not so self-understanding. Instead what I see here is a woman wishing to keep Straker well separated from a husband she knows might be jealous of her seeing a lot of Straker or making anything of him.

And lastly, Mary (Suzanne Neve) has an in general curious body language, as if she still plays at being a small girl - all breathy and cutesy. Today this might be seen as a woman intimidated by her husband. Again I think we fail to take the 40 years of time difference into the calculation. Mary behaves within the parameters of what makes the men in her vicinity heed her wishes. And these signals of seeming helplessness were very common formerly.
  
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MkIXHawk
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #1 - Sep 25th, 2010 at 8:47pm
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A minor point; John's boat had been a gift from his father - possibly Mary resented such gifts- it'spossible that most of John's presents from Straker 'went 'missing' between Straker dropping them off and Christmas Day
  
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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #2 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 6:18am
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Hi K-k,

Quote:
I thought of Mary as a victim even then. I had a friend who was physically abused by her mother. So, some of the cues I'm seeing may be influenced by that information. The Burning Bed was released about that time. Therefore, I'm sensitive to the issues of abuse having seen them in play around me.


I think that one major very basical logical point stands against this take: all she'd need to do to be out of such an abuse is ask her ex for help. That she knows, has to know. And if not her ex, then her parents. She did so before, it's not as if she was the hapless breathy bambi she plays at being. She managed quite nicely to extract herself from a marriage she disliked before, we know it wasn't Straker who wanted the divorce.

Quote:
Anyway, interesting that both you and Louise see her as demanding, manipulative and in charge. Must be the European background


Oh definitely. I just had a longish discussion with a younger American woman about "feminism" and never even managed to get her to understand why I think it (aggressive feminism) has done immense harm to society in general and that unfortunately we had and still have the debris of that washing over to Europe from the States. Dworkin and Cie. certainly have to answer for a lot of twistedness and harm done to both genders.

As to manipulative women, Mary telegraphs that in my book. In Confetti Check her main beef with Straker was being unsuccessful in manipulating him as neatly as her mother manipulated her husband.

When she tells him here that he was too late, that he gets to see John a week later than normal, that he has no business meddling with John's basic life and even shouldn't stay around after his alloted time, I certainly do not see her as helpless, or as hapless and bambiesk as she makes. She's pretty assertive instead there and takes full possession of her position of power over Straker, even if it apparently still gives her some bad conscience.
  
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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #3 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 7:18am
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Hi K-k,

Quote:
Straker wasn't an abusive spouse. And people ask every day why women/men don't get out of abusive relationships when there is help all around them ... go figure. Much of it has to do with psychology ...


He was a cheating spouse (by the way - that's something I would find harder to forgive) in her mind, and he wasn't allowing her to bend him to her wishes. She did manage to leave that relationship quite easily. Hell, she remarried within but a couple of years and a rich wimp doing her every bidding at that! Grin That's not hapless or helpless to me, nor sign of a victim.

Quote:
From your point of view, Mary doesn't have the victim psychology ans is completely in control of everything ... mind you, if she's in so much control, when it was becoming obvious that Straker wasn't going to succeed, why wasn't there a plan B? Or is John just a sacrifice to her ego? in which case, the lady is a complete sociopath and someone should shoot her ...


HUH? *totally astonished G. here*

She had her dad collect her on deciding to leave Straker, nice as please. Then she found herself a biddable, rich husband on turnover of her divorce from Straker. As Straker doesn't live anymore in their former large house, nor she, the obvious conclusion is that this house was sold to provide for divorce damages (which means she made quite a stash out of the divorce). John was served a new daddy (in Rutland) and he clearly accepted him at least as part of the household, the boy wasn't afraid of Rutland.

In fact - her plan B includes a biddable husband at home at half past 5 (!!!), a very beautiful home and a daddy for her son. Okay, she has to put up with Straker wishing to stay in contact with John, but for a plan B hers sure can't be faulted much. She has it really plushy

We seem to really look at this with extremely different cultural eyes. *scratching tousled hair here*
  
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #4 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 7:24am
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I'm keeping out of this!

although I could put the cat among the pigeons by coming up with the theory that......

actually no..

I'll go away and hide until it is all over!!!

sniggering

  Smiley Smiley Smiley
  

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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #5 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 7:25am
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Tongue
  
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MkIXHawk
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #6 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 9:15am
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Mary,like her mother, is very manipulative-very much a 'Daddy's Girl', able to wrap her father round her little finger.
It's interesting to speculate what attracted her to him in the first place - she probably saw an 'up and coming' officer who was going places and wanted some of that. Ed was trying to protect her by keeping her out of SHADO - what she didn't know couldn't hurt her but also, had she known, it would have been a matter of time before her mother found out, then it would have been:
"You'll never believe what my son-in-law's doing..."
Perhaps Ed should have told Mary that he was retiring from the Air Force to become a Film Executive - everyone knows how busy they can be...
  
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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #7 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 9:21am
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Hi Colin,

your take tells me that it really must be a bit what Kira-kun also already has surmised: there's a distinct cultural thing to this.

Yes, given her antics so far, I am much more likely to see her as manipulative than anything else. And what she says *is* definitely an out and out power trip.
  
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #8 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 10:17am
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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

and all that!
  

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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #9 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 12:57pm
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Lightcudder wrote on Sep 26th, 2010 at 7:24am:
I'm keeping out of this!

although I could put the cat among the pigeons by coming up with the theory that......

actually no..

I'll go away and hide until it is all over!!!

sniggering

  Smiley Smiley Smiley


Come on Louise, be brave let the kitty cat in! Grin

It's quite interesting to read all the different takes on Mary. I could make arguements both for and against each one of them. In my reckoning of the UFO universe this episode probably took place in late spring of 1981. By then the laws concerning parental rights of the non custodial parent had already begun a major shift and I take that into consideration when I look at this scene. There's my kitty cat loose amongst the pigeons. (snigger) Wink

Looking forward to more, and I'll eventually get to mine, but first, Moonlight and Vodka! Cheesy
  

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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #10 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 3:16pm
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Hi Matt,

Quote:
In my reckoning of the UFO universe this episode probably took place in late spring of 1981. By then the laws concerning parental rights of the non custodial parent had already begun a major shift and I take that into consideration when I look at this scene. There's my kitty cat loose amongst the pigeons. (snigger)


Err - not.

Even in 1981 a father in the UK had practically no rights at all, as per se. If the mother refused, he had to go before the court, and those were notorious for taking the mothers' side. All that was ruled by the law was that he had to pay for the kid.

As I said, until well into our time there has been a rather aggressive fathers' rights movement in the UK (e.g. it had been attempted to kidnap the sons of politicians to make a point) precisely because there are no real rights.

This is very different e.g. from continental Europe, where already around 1990 some states had enforced joint custody and the mother had to go to court so she got sole custody and usually did not manage that. And we aren't talking custody here, we are talking simply visitation rights.

As to Louise's hint - yeah, another possible motive to get back at an ex-spouse via the kid(s). Certainly not a rare one.
  
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #11 - Sep 26th, 2010 at 4:16pm
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I guess the UK was behind the times as the fathers rights movement was in full swing here in the states by 1981. Although the courts even today will award joint custody with the stiplulation that the mother tends to be awarded "primary status" for lack of a better term assuming that all things are equal ie "no fault divorce". But visitation could not be refused in the states unless the mother could prove that the father was a danger to the child. Even a abusive ex-sposue could get supervised visitation in the US.
  

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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #12 - Sep 27th, 2010 at 8:29pm
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Hi K-k,

Quote:
What I meant about Plan B was when it became obvious to Mary that the antibiotic wasn't coming as promised, why did she have no Plan B to keep John alive? I'd have had a Plan B, C, D and probably up to about M. There's a doctor out there somewhere who knows an appropriate non penicillin based antibiotic to use ... or something. (I mean, the way you and Louise see her, having two men doing her bidding ... heady power trip that! And then the doctors ... The writers just could not get that woman written correctly.) That was what I meant by "sacrificing John" which would have made her a complete sociopath, not just a manipulative, scheming she critter.


OK - that is VERY easy to answer: that woman is daft. I've met a lot of women who were as manipulative as hell and still very eminently non-intelligent. Mary Straker never had one single moment in the whole series where she showed even an acceptable amount of intelligence apart from girlish cunning and what she apparently gleaned from her mother. That's all it takes.

As to plans B to M - in general - when one's son was just run over, and it is a matter of hours between life and death, especially if you do not have any means to do anything, you don't have alternate plans. That's actually a too tall order (as I can well remember from an own time in an ER, waiting for the final verdict dependant on a special treatment). Shocked

Which - err - doctors? And which writers? Shocked

Quote:
I thought it was canon that Mary was told Ed was retiring to become a Studio Head.


Nope - it nowhere says so (no ideas about scripts, but in the series there's no mention of the studios to her). He wore uniform repeatedly while already working on SHADO.

Quote:
but if the lady is that smart and had married a military intelligence man to begin with, which Ed was, how could she not put two and two together?


All it takes is saying "yes" in front of the priest. For both parties involved. And there are not few highly intelligent men who married buxom blondes (real or false ones) without more than two braincells to shake around and still they were happy ever after.
  
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Guina
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #13 - Sep 27th, 2010 at 8:56pm
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Hi K-K,

where do you see intelligence and potential strength in that woman? I am really willing to mend my impression - but I do need a reason for that!

As to alternative plans, and as I am currently rewatching this umpteenth times - there were really only hours between the accident and having to come up with the drug. I'd have to check, but I think Straker drove to the hospital at dawn. That would make it some 10-12 hours or so.

I can't see anyone - indeed short of someone like Straker - being able to do much in that short time. And the doctor said that there was no alternative available in the UK or Europe.

  
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Re: Q of P - Analysis Guina
Reply #14 - Sep 28th, 2010 at 7:21am
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Dragon..

Quote:
OK. I quit. Obviously I have no clue about much of anything and apparently live in my own little world. That's ok, they know me here.


I live in my own little world as well!!!  Perhaps we could link universes.. an overlap? ..as long as it doesn't overlap in your lair. I HATE spiders. How about an overlap in the pub down the road from me? Nice food, cold beer...good wine?  Cheesy
  

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