Saturday, February 16, 2013

Enlightened: Follow Me (2.4)

A moment that really resonated this week was Amy's trip to a party being held by an acclaimed blogger, somebody who started her own corporate revolution from behind her computer screen. Even without the expected anxiety of showing up at a party where you don't know many of the other guests, Amy finds herself struggling to handle how technologically savvy everybody seems to be, how they're talking about things and doing things that have entirely passed by her social radar. She has that hope and determination to eventually understand it all, but it's still a huge gulf.

Follow Me continues the season's overarching theme of people coming together to support Amy as she rallies against management, social media used as a key part of that. Dougie, initially painted as a major antagonist as he tries to unravel the hacking mystery, eventually discovers the truth about job losses on the horizon and partners up with Amy, in as angry and confrontational a way as expected. It's interesting in these moments, though, seeing how powerful Amy appears. When she rests her back against the wall, confident in what she's saying and slowly reeling Dougie in, she exhibits this burning confidence -- like she knows what she's saying is true, and feels it's her duty to bring things to a head. It's a nice contrast to a lot of the rest of the episode, Amy all scatterbrained and anxious with other people. The internet remains an unknown world but this, reality and all that that entails, is her domain, and she's working it. Or so she thinks.

Because it feels unlikely that this will actually do anything positive long-term, but I also like the idea that it's just another one of Amy's delusions. Yeah, fancy cyber-revolution sounds tight and legit on paper, but body bags still line the ground while the word gets out. That's a huge leap, naturally, but it's another sign of Amy's lack of social understanding that she'd merely assume everything is going to be all right.

Elsewhere, Jeff is becoming an interesting presence on the show. He represents something of a spirit guide to Amy, so much that she believes that he's been sent to her like an angel. He also seems wary of her overbearing qualities, though, noticing at the party that she's somewhat over her head. But there's definitely an illusion of chemistry there, even Helen recognizing how much Amy is trying to impress him. Their kiss is intentionally difficult to read, so much that I'm still a little clueless even after it watching it a couple of times. At first it seems like Amy has misread a signal, but it also appears that Jeff is really initiating it, only to have it sort of backfire and falls away.

The Twitter angle to the episode heavily relies on Amy being insufferable and annoying, to great returns. The way she steamrolls her co-workers with requests to follow her, or the way she tweets that she's visiting Krista in the hospital right as she's about to actually do it -- in a lot of ways it's a neat representation of the very worst aspects of social media (the pointlessness, the glorification of the mundane), but it also says a lot about Amy's eagerness to jump into things without thinking them through. And I love that in an episode featuring Amy's proclamations that she can make a real difference and bring people together features her being brutally snobby and arrogant towards the Chili's server she stumbles into at the party.

This is smart and knowing like always, an episode that moves the plot forward while continuing to say a lot about how we are as people, and where we're at when it comes to social interaction and believing in a mission. The comedy is wonderful (would Amy Jellicoe realistically follow anyone but PETA, Amnesty or Mia Farrow?), and the character beats intrigue. A

Mike White Director Mike White

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