Friday, March 1, 2013

Enlightened: No Doubt (2.7)

"Can't this have a happy ending for everyone?" I guess it was sort of inevitable that everything Amy believed to be true would wind up in the crapper. Whether it's the Abaddonn expose or her new relationship, it's hard for Amy to see the writing on the wall, even when it's blindingly clear that things are about to fall apart. Watching her for two seasons, it's always been noteworthy that the want to do right is usually a heavier, more satisfying feeling than the one that involves actually doing something. Not just because it's hard work, but because it means facing potential ugliness -- discovering that it wasn't like you imagined, or that you weren't looking for the right things in the first place. As Enlightened's second season reaches its conclusion, here we begin to see all the cracks appearing in Amy's foundation.

In a lot of ways, Amy has been entirely removed from Abaddonn this year. She's launched this enormous scheme to humiliate and damage the company, but has never seemed less present in the workplace itself. Her friendship with Krista being so fractured has only widened the feeling of "us" and "them", Amy plotting in the basement with her two acolytes and the hunky reporter she's seeing, entirely ignorant of the damage she is inflicting elsewhere.

So it comes as a surprise to her when Abaddonn's CEO paints himself as just one man leading an army, struggling in his job and frequently forced to make the decisions that nobody else would want to make. This tyrannical boss, face of the machine, is in fact just a man. Yeah, there are overwhelming perks to his job, but Amy suddenly sees him as an individual instead of an archetypal villain, and from there begins to doubt her whole enterprise.

And that's something Enlightened has always come back around to. If anything it's the central premise of the entire show -- what is the cut off point for being good? Amy has always spoken about saving the world and making everything around her somehow better, but here she is offered an enormous salary to potentially fix Abaddonn from the inside. In spite of the overt feeling that nothing will actually change as a result of her new position, Amy is tempted by it, enough at least to make her wonder whether she's lately been doing the right thing.

It's something that No Doubt singularly hinges on, Amy experiencing all of this change around her, while simultaneously trying to work out where she stands in amongst it all. She makes up with Krista, only for Krista to get confused when Amy tries to offer an olive branch by telling her about the Abaddonn story. She wants to help Levi, but rejecting his romantic advances leaves her publicly humiliated and Levi once again volatile and angry. Then there's Jeff, who has been cooling off of late, so much that he uses the looming Abaddonn story as a kind of excuse to end their relationship.

All of this combines to make things particularly hard for Amy. Has she gone so far that there's no going back? Or is there still time to claw at her old life and make subtle, less aggressive changes along the way? And maybe it's fine to go back, even if it seems to go so against everything Amy has been pushing since her initial breakdown. She's become less of a militant, more accepting of the bigger picture and where she can slot into it. In light of her break-up and another fantasy going down the drain, maybe it's time for her to explore?

No Doubt is unusual compared to much of this show. It lacks the contemplative quality that made Enlightened so sparse and odd when it first premiered, but the sense of spark and the art of narratives colliding together keeps it on the straight and narrow, never feeling alien to what we once knew. The show has suddenly become busy, wrapping everything up with a newfound urgency. I hate to say it, but even with the recent groundswell of critical support aimed in its direction, I feel like this is a show signalling that the end is nigh. A

Mike White Director David Michôd

No comments:

Post a Comment