I’ve been planning on writing about The Fades since just after I saw the first episode, and now the entire season is over by a couple of weeks and I still haven’t written it. Well, enough excuses, I’m doing it now.
First let me say that The Fades is a good television show. You won’t hear me raving about it like you will some others, but it’s a solid show and very striking visually. (You’ll be able to tell right from the opening theme – which is super creepy, by the way – that this is first rate.) And the first season only has six episodes, so it moves pretty fast and it won’t take you long to watch them all.
The genre would probably be best described as horror. It’s definitely drama over comedy – the moments of levity are few and far between. I don’t know if British is a genre, but I think it might qualify. I watch a number of British shows, but they always do feel a bit…their own. The Fades airs on BBC 3. I don’t know much about British television, but BBC 3 must be kind of like our premium cable channels, because The Fades is pretty hardcore – masturbating, naked bums (I speak British!), the f word galore, etc., etc., and well the violence and “scariness” are pretty hardcore too but we rarely associate that with ratings anymore, do we?
Our main character is Paul Roberts. Paul is your typical 17 year-old loser who is – you guessed it – maybe not so typical. He begins having dreams of ashy apocalypse and seeing freaky shit.Turns out Paul is something called an angelic, a special kind of person with special powers, including healing and the ability to see the dead who still walk among us.
The deal is essentially this: when people die, they become ghosty things and then a few days later they ascend to the other side. But around where Paul lives, there began to be problems with ascension, and a certain number of ghosts were left behind – unable to ascend, unable to interact with the world. These left behind ghosts are known as fades (aha!). They’re a little disgruntled.
Sarah, an angelic, is killed by a fade called Polus who is soon identified as the fades’ leader. Paul, rather coincidentally, ends up in that same spot just as Sarah’s friend Neil, another angelic, shows up.
Neil identifies Paul as a brother-in-arms. You see, the angelics have a rather murky role protecting the humans. And Neil, in particular, is militant and belligerent about the whole thing. He believes that Paul isn’t just another angelic, but a sort of savior.
Paul confides in his best friend Mac, who is just as much a loser as him but 10 times funnier.
They have the most adorable friendship. These guys are just so cute together. They’re such good friends and have been for a very long time and they’re really in-tune with each other. They’re total nerds who love movies and just being nerds together and having matching pajamas and it’s fantastic. Mac is the comic relief, so when he’s sad or angry or terrified it breaks your heart. Mac has a difficult relationship with his father, who is the chief of police and spends most of his time investigating Sarah’s death and eventually some other deaths related to the fade troubles.
Sarah was estranged from her husband, Mark, and oh my gosh I ship them so hard. Their love story is one of the best things about this show. He crosses paths with our main characters both through the investigation of Sarah, and because he is a teacher at Paul’s high school. Sarah wanders around as a ghost for a while, but then she is unable to ascend and she becomes a fade, so just because she’s dead doesn’t mean she’s gone, although she’s unable to interact with anyone but angelics. Watching her follow Mark around is the saddest thing ever. Of course, once she’s dead, he realizes how much he loves her and that they never should have been separated, and the same for her of course.
Where’s the sibling, right? That’s what you’re asking. That’s what you’ve been wondering all these paragraphs. Well, the time has come! Paul has a sister – a twin sister – named Anna. And she’s a firecracker.
Paul is kind of quiet, different, unpopular. He wets the bed, he spends his weekends watching movies with Mac, or talking about them. Anna is the opposite. She’s bossy, officious, in-your-face, popular, mean. In fact, their dynamic is one of my favorites for shipping high school age brother-sister pairings. My grand original incest novel is a totally different story, obviously – no fades…in this draft, anyway – but the dynamic is very similar between my brother and sister characters.
Anna wouldn’t have been very popular at my school. She’s abrasive, and she’s got an arresting face but she’s not make-up model pretty, and her hair and clothes are very punkish. (Of course everyone on this show dresses kind of weird.) She’s kind of fabulous in her way but she’s not the way I write my popular girls and she’s not the way the popular girls were at my high school. But in this show she’s the sh!t, apparently. Mac seems to agree, he’s got a crush on her that becomes increasingly more clear in his singularity and intensity. But she’s also a real bitch. A real piece of work. She runs the school, and everyone is afraid of her. Including Paul.
And including Jay, her best friend, who is also Paul’s love interest. I don’t really know how I feel about Jay.
And I don’t understand why she likes Paul. What she sees in him. Not because of anything about Paul, specifically, but because it just feels like Jay picked some guy she thought she could control completely. Have you seen Thumbsucker? It reminded me of Thumbsucker.
Paul and Anna’s father isn’t in their life, but they have a very caring and loving mother, although Anna clearly has a complex about being overlooked. She feels like their mother loves and treasures Paul and Anna is just chopped liver. Although, I have to say, the evidence wasn’t really there. We have to take Anna’s word for it. Not like with Ursa and Azula.
Just to be clear, I should mention that the show doesn’t position Anna and Paul as love interests or turn them into a canon couple. This isn’t a show with incest in it. Like most of the other entries on this blog, Anna and Paul are just a pairing for which I think a hook up would be very satisfying. But…it is also worth mentioning that the show does go some pretty interesting places with their relationship and there’s a lot more to go on than with most of the brother/sister pairings I’ve discussed.That is the set-up. There are more and more fades every day, and I won’t tell you how but they begin to get a foothold on the physical world and it’s very dangerous for the humans.
All right, let’s talk cast.
I think he does a good job, though. He has a great intensity. Paul has this personality quirk where he’s always serious even if he’s joking. Iain does a good job with that.
Anna is played by Lily Loveless. I like Lily’s portrayal of Anna, although I don’t think she had as much opportunity to go places beyond the script the way some of the actors could because of Anna’s fierceness. But she has…a quality. A je ne sais quoi.
Joe Dempsie, Daniel Kaluuya, and Lily Loveless were all on Skins, and even though The Fades is an entirely different genre, the two shows share a certain feel.
I feel a little funny about him because I had this dream where I found out that he was my father. Him or one of his characters, I’m not sure. Dreams are funny, aren’t they? He’s not even close to being old enough to be my father. I’m laughing so hard right now just thinking about it. Anyway, I always call him my father now. Like, “oh look, it’s my father.”
Finally we have Natalie Dormer, who is probably the biggest name on the show. And she’s relevant to our interests, because she played Anne Boleyn on The Tudors and will be playing Margaery on Game of Thrones.The Boleyns and every permutation will be discussed in a post of their own whenever I get to it.
I’m going to get more detailed at this point, and probably discuss developments from later episodes (possibly as far as episode 6, the season finale) as they are relevant to Paul and Anna, so if you think you might watch the show – and I encourage you, if you like horror, to do so – then you may want to stop reading right now. The show does have a fair amount of OMG moments, though I wouldn’t actually call it twisty.
And, as always, if there’s a scene you’d like to see, just make a request and I’ll post the clip on youtube.
The first time we see Anna, Paul rushes past her and messes up her nails. She throws a fit. He’s just wet the bed, although all Anna sees is their mother holding a sheet. Their mother says she doesn’t know what’s up with Paul, and frankly I think he’s being rather pissy (and I don’t mean that in the urine way) for a guy with such a sweet, affectionate mother, but Anna says that he’s just a teenage boy, except that he should be wanking rather than pissing. Wanking is British for masturbating, of course. Right off the bat we’ve got her discussing his sexuality. I feel like it’s slightly less to weird to encounter dialogue like this on a British show and from a snarky character like Anna but it’s still a little suggestive.
We see them later at school. Anna, Jay, and another minion walk by and Paul says hello to Jay. It’s very awkward. Anna and Jay turn around to look at him after they’ve passed him, and Anna says, “F—k off, Paul. How we came out of the same egg is a mystery to me.”“The same womb,” Paul corrects. “We came out of the same womb. Egg and we’d be identical twins. There are some differences between us, if you hadn’t noticed.” And he laughs.So much here!
Obviously Paul should get some points for standing up to Anna. I don’t think very many people would correct her – and with a tone! – especially out in public like that. So he may be scared of her sometimes but he’s got backbone when he feels like it. And then the way he laughs at the end – he’s basically not only saying that she’s wrong, but that she’s stupid. Took balls.
And then how about the fact that what was just Paul saying hi to the girl he likes became a conversation about Paul and Anna’s relationship? One that she initiates. By saying hi to Jay Paul was showing that he was interested in her, and Anna jumps right up to shoot that down. First she insults Paul in front of Jay to show Jay that Paul is NOT an option for her, then she establishes a sort of ownership over Paul by mentioning their relationship as twins.
As if that wasn’t enough, Paul makes a show of “domination” over Anna by proving that he’s smarter than her, and then he makes the conversation about their naughty parts. “If you hadn’t noticed…” he says, as in, “Gee, Anna, I really hope you know by now that I have a penis.” And I bet Paul has certain feelings about the way Anna views his penis.
This conversation would be…intriguing at any point in the show, but this is only the SECOND time we’ve seen them interact, and the first time had Anna talking about him wanking.
Well, Anna has a noticed a difference between them, “Yeah, you’re a retard,” she responds before walking off (and muttering to Jay that “he’s such a wanker”). And while that’s not a particularly intelligent rebuttal, it’s very well executed. I’d say Anna wins this round. And that’s why she’s Queen B.Paul sort of rolls his eyes and sighs and quickly walks off in the other direction with Mac. That’s a fairly effective way of showing that this is par for the course.
Jay finds Paul sitting on a bench smoking. He’s just trying to be cool, I think. She says that she didn’t know he smoked, and he says something like, “I’m just learning. I tried to write L on the cigarette in my sister’s lipstick”. I have ZERO idea what that means, but it sounds intimate. Either way he was in close proximity with her lipstick or what he thought was her lipstick. And it seems like he was going through her stuff because I don’t think she would just give it to him. And he just inadvertently referred to Anna’s lips.
Well, they talk for a minute and Paul says that Anna would kill Jay if she caught her talking to him like, and Jay says that she would probably kill him too, because Anna doesn’t believe in the “intermingling of the species”. We can take that to mean that Anna likes the popular kids with the popular kids. But maybe that’s just what she tells everyone to keep them away from Paul. In my novel, the sister is quite Machiavellian in the way she keeps her brother ostracized.
There’s a sweetness to Jay in this scene as she tries to encourage Paul even though he’s sort of clueless, and I like what she says about her Dad and she calls Paul and Anna’s mum wicked (in a good way, which she is). But I don’t like how aggressive she is with Paul in general even though her intentions aren’t nefarious. And I’m running out of even half-as$ed reasons for why I dislike her so I’m resorting to, “she just rubs me the wrong way”. But honestly this isn’t just because of Anna. I wouldn’t ship it even if there was no sister.
Anna obviously smokes too, but it just seems sort of badass with Anna. Lung cancer would be scared of Anna – that sort of thing. And like she wasn’t stupid or peer-pressured into it, she’s just tough and likes to live on the edge and she’s bad and fierce and all that.
Paul tells Jay during this conversation that he never wanted to be different and he doesn’t like being different, and he recounts a few moments from his past when he was called different and it made him feel worse. And it makes think of Anna, and how being popular she is the prime of example of the “right” and “normal” way to be.
Well, Anna and her friends go out pretty much every night, Jay tells us. So that night Paul and Mac follow them out to the woods and watch the cool kids hang out. You really just see a campfire, and a few people in collapsible chairs from a distance. Anna is sitting on her boyfriend’s lap. She’s the one who does all the moving and she’s the only one you really hear, and with her blond hair she stands out a lot more. It really seems like she’s the only one that they’re watching. Jay just sits there you practically have to pause it to even see her.
I was really excited about Paul and Anna after this first episode. It seemed like most of the Jay scenes were actually more about Anna and Paul than they were about Jay and Paul. Unfortunately Jay is a little bit more than just a catalyst, but there’s still plenty of exciting Paul and Anna stuff.
On to Episode 2!I already mentioned that Paul sometimes has dreams of a prophetic nature. Well, at the beginning of the episode he has a dream where he hears a noise, and he runs up to his room, and he sees Anna sprawled on his bed, in her underwear, with her throat slit. Then he goes to their mother’s room, and sees her seizing and bloody. Then he wakes up. We see this dream, and then we cut to Paul and Mac at school, and Mac is saying, “Your sister was naked?”How perfect, right? I mean, how perfectly perfect. How delightful. How wonderful.
First of all: that’s Mac’s exact wording. He doesn’t say Anna. I bet in almost every other conversation they have, Mac refers to her as Anna, but this time she’s Paul’s “sister”.
“Yeah, well, the important part is that she’s dead,” Paul argues.“Dead, naked, and in your bed,” Mac responds, not be swayed from his path.Again, kisses to Mac for his wording, because he says “in your bed”. Which makes me wonder how Paul worded it when he originally told him, because Anna’s head is actually at the foot of the bed and she’s on top of the covers, so most people wouldn’t call that “in” the bed. Of course prepositions are often tricky, and in/on re: bed doesn’t have cut and dry rules, but the sexual connotation of “in” one’s bed vs. “on” one’s bed is much, much, much higher. And the fact that the more sexualized wording was used here even though it wasn’t, strictly, accurate is interesting to me.“She was-it was only partial nudity,” Paul argues. But it’s interesting – fascinating, really – that Paul even bothered to tell Mac what Anna was wearing. It must have been stuck in his mind.He doesn’t make eye contact with Mac during this whole conversation. They’re standing across the parking lot from the school staring at the school, only Mac looks at Paul when he speaks. Paul doesn’t look back.
It’s true that Anna was wearing a bra and boy shorts in the dream, but it was a black bra and she was all bloody up top. That’s what we call sexualized violence. Skin and blood. And lace.
Paul gives him a half look and then starts walking towards the school.
But Mac’s not done. “Hear me out!” he says, beginning to follow. “Dreams represent subconscious urges.” Now, I like where Mac is going with this, but I do have to argue. I’m not sure that’s really true. I’m not sure that I want subconsciously want Tom Ellis to be my father, for example. Still, I’m a Freudian at heart and I’d love to think that dreams mean something most of the time. “Which means,” Mac continues, “part of you wants to see your sister dead, naked, and in your bed.”
Notice “in your bed” again!
Two out of three ain’t bad! If he means all three equally but separately we’re in Shangri-la.
And even if Paul did have a subconscious urge to see Anna dead it wouldn’t bother me much. She’s such a bitch to him that him having a violent response to that seems pretty natural to me. We all have a primary urge towards violence when we’re angry. The fact that her bullying bothers him so much (to the degree that if this were a dream of subconscious urges and he wanted to see her dead) it would only represent the degree to which she’s embedded in him. I love that angst.
Paul has no response. And this coincides perfectly with the two of them encountering Anna. She’s out in front of the school trying to get volunteers for her party committee.
“It wasn’t a dream, it was a vision,” Paul finally says. Kind of a letdown, because the Freudian implications of the dream are fun, and the implications of the vision are just sad and scary. But I suppose it’s good that when Paul walks up and sees Anna, he realizes that she’s in danger because he’s had a vision of the future in which she’s dead.
“It wasn’t a dream, it was a vision,” Mac repeats in a mocking tone. “Sick. Sick.” And then we realize that “Oh no, Anna will be dead” but but but WHY WILL SHE BE NAKED IN PAUL’S BED?!!!! Or, rather, why is she partially nude on Paul’s bed?
Anna sees Paul, smiles at him, flips him off, and then resumes her task. Paul walks off. Mac pauses. Anna totally ignores Mac, every time. All she sees is Paul. When we cut to Paul walking down the hallway, Mac shows him the slip he picked up. He wants to be on the committee. He tries to convince Paul, claiming that they’re in serious need of action.
Paul flatly refuses, repeating no over and over again, and then stopping and saying, “It’s my sister’s ball committee! No way.” OK, maybe they always call her his sister. I’ll have to keep my ears open. But it’s nice that Paul isn’t refusing because he doesn’t want to be on the ball committee, but because of Anna.
Mac informs him that men with more active sex lives are more likely to live past 80. Paul responds that they wouldn’t live past 18, because she would kill them.
“And knowing she was naked in your dream wouldn’t push her to homicide?” Mac asks. Blackmail, smooth. Friends don’t blackmail, Mac. It’s how you know they’re your friends.
Paul seems to be considering it, and then he makes a noncommittal noise and begins walking again. I think Paul called Mac’s bluff. Paul and Mac really like these walk and talks.
Some younger kids come by and make fun of them, and they realize they’ve reached a new low. Paul asks if Mac really thinks being on Anna’s committee (he called her Anna!) would make a difference. Mac says, “You saw your sister dead, naked, and in your bed. A little normality…a little normality, golden ticket sex (with someone other than your sister), would be good for-“ And then he’s interrupted because Neil appears.
“…with someone other than your sister”. Oh my God. I’m crossing over into another dimension where this show is reality right now just so I can kiss Mac. (I think because I’m poor I always imagine remunerating people with kisses. If I had money I would give them money.)
Wasn’t this whole conversation glorious?
First, it’s important to take note of the fact that Mac suffers from word vomit (which is to say, he’s glib), so the fact that he just talks and talks and talks about it might not be 100% indicative of anything. (You should hear how long he talks about a hypothetical situation in which Bruce Willis’ character in The Sixth Sense tries to order coffee.)
And Mac has a crush on Anna, although it really isn’t until the fourth episode or so that that becomes super obvious even though he reveals that the crush dates back to when they were kids. Did the writers already have the crush in mind when they wrote this episode? Probably definitely. So Mac harping on Anna being naked has a certain understandability to it.
But STILL. Flippin’ still, you know? As in “that conversation was so ridiculously tailored to me in spite of those explanations for why I shouldn’t be quite so excited”.
Let’s go back to the beginning. WHY did Paul even bother to mention that Anna was naked and “in” his bed? If I had a dream of my brother in his underwear in my bed, you can bet my friends would get a less detailed version. All Paul needed to say was that he found her dead upstairs.
There’s two possible options to this: 1) Paul thought so little of the fact that Anna was naked and in his bed that he didn’t even think not to mention it to Mac, (boo!) or 2) the dream/vision was so alive in Paul that he forgot to edit. Or he was so excited that he decided not to. Excitement can do just as much for your inhibitions as alcohol. I had this crush on this guy, and I wasn’t going to tell my friend about it, but then we got talking about I just got into a confession sort of mood and got excited about him and everything that it just sort of came pouring out. That happens. So, no, I don’t think the fact that Paul mentioned Anna was in her underwear necessarily indicates that Paul felt nothing shameful about it.
I like how few protestations Paul makes. Mac is basically accusing him of harboring incestuous feelings and Paul just kind of walks quickly and says nothing.
That whole “protesteth too much” is B.S. by the way. The vehemence of one’s denial has nothing to do with how true it is, only with how much you care whether other people believe it or not. Back in high school my friends accused me of having a crush on a certain guy. I did not have a crush on this guy. So I told them that. They seemed to think that because I was very forcefully saying that I did not have a crush on him, that I did. Because that was logical for them somehow. Whatever. And I of course started blushing, but that was because of all the attention, and nothing to do with how I felt about the guy.
Now, I already mentioned that Mac’s crush on Anna might be reason enough for him to cling to the subject, but what if he’s always felt threatened by Paul where Anna is concerned and so this is him trying to give Paul feelings of guilt and shame to push him away from Anna? It’s plausible. It’s certainly what he achieves, whether that was his intention or not and whether it was necessary or not.
The sheer length of this conversation, the sheer number of times that the fact that Anna played a sexualized role in Paul’s dream is mentioned…well it blows me away. The conversation is almost four minutes long, with short dalliances into other subjects, of course. But four minutes! For a TV show that is a substantial scene. And Mac and Paul never discuss Paul’s mother.
And you can understand how exciting this is, coming off of the first episode!
Well, Paul explains his dream to Neil. He says, “And Jay is lying dead on the staircase.” We didn’t see this when the dream was shown earlier in the episode, although the dream is repeated in a later episode and we do see Jay that time. Kind of interesting that she was cut from this one. Putting the emphasis on Anna. Mac didn’t have anything to say about Jay. “And then Anna is lying dead on my bed,” he tells him. And then he pauses, and says, “which Mac thinks is…weird, because she’s semi-naked.”
Paul has made some changes. You’ll notice it’s “on my bed” this time, and “semi-naked”. Paul spends a second searching for the word “weird”. I’m not sure it’s quite strong enough but Neil gets the picture. It seems that Mac convinced Paul that there might be something to Anna’s location and partial nudity, enough that Paul is willing to tell Neil even though it’s a little embarrassing. Neil isn’t really interested. He doesn’t have an opinion on the incestuous implications.Paul and Mac do join the committee, to Anna’s dismay. She refuses to let them on until Jay suggests they could do some of the nastier jobs.And I just have to mention this, because it’s just a coincidence but so hilariously relevant. Paul went off with Neil earlier in the day and had a run in with a fade called Natalie, sort of Polus’s lieutenant and I don’t want to spoil it up but they’re so cute together. Anyway, Paul tells Mac that he met a girl that day. “Fit?” Mac asks.“Dead,” Paul replies. “Dead and fit?” Mac then asks. “Are you into necrophilia now?” Paul asks. And Mac jokes that he is, he always thought he would appeal to the dead because he has good teeth. Anyway, I just thought the mention of necrophilia and dead and fit girls was pretty ironic given the dead and fit Anna of Paul’s dream/vision.
The principal cancels the dance, and Anna is pretty angry about it. Mac is sort of following her around I guess because I don’t know why else he would be there. He says, “So that’s it? You’re just going to give up?”
Anna responds, “No, I’m going to find a room, lock it, and thrum myself off thinking about you and my brother in your Y-fronts.”Now, I’ve never actually heard the term “thrum myself off” (though I like it and it makes sense and I hope it catches more) or “y-front” but I think it’s fairly clear what she’s talking about. First I just have to say what? WHAT?!!!
Anna’s favorite thing is sarcasm. Obviously, by saying that she is going to go off by herself and masturbate to the thought of Mac and Paul in their underwear, she probably means that’s the last thing she would do. BUT…the fact that she even mentioned it? The fact that it even crossed her mind as something to say? And she could have just said Mac. He was the one there with her. But she included Paul in it – Paul who is off with Neil somewhere and hasn’t been seen all day but clearly isn’t out of sight out of mind with Anna. I just…this show! Who says that? WHO SAYS THAT?
And I don’t know if Anna/Mac will ever be a couple, but if Anna has a love interest (besides Paul mwhahaha), it is Mac. So when this sarcastic joke becomes ironic because she’s dating Mac, what happens to the Paul half of the equation?
Anna is looking for Paul at the dance (it’s back on) because she wants him to clean something up, and she finds Mac. She grows frustrated because he doesn’t know where Paul is. “Sometimes I don’t know where he is for a full 30 minutes,” he jokes.
“Almost like he’s getting a life,” Anna mocks, although it makes her look rather more observational about Paul’s life than one would have thought at this point. “You don’t just like Paul. Love Paul. Depend on Paul. You need him,” she says to Mac.“There’s nothing more pathetic than needing someone. You really are a pathetic freak.”That was when I figured Anna would end up with Mac at some point because no one says something that cruel to someone of the opposite sex that isn’t your family and means it unless they’re love interests.Of course, even though this is the cruelest we’ve seen Anna to date, her statement about needing people gives us a lot of insight into her. She’s probably got feelings of abandonment re: her father and feeling disfavored by her mother has turned her into this heartless bitch who really just has walls up around her heart.
I also like that this conversation is about Paul. Anna’s looking for Paul. She finds Mac. They talk about Paul. About Mac and Paul’s relationship. Maybe Anna is warning Mac. Paul has never been there for her, and she thinks Mac should know that Paul may not always be there for him.
There’s something I forgot to mention: I just don’t think that Jay and Paul would make a very good couple. They just don’t have enough in common. Even without this angelics-fades thing setting Paul apart. He talks about things she doesn’t understand and makes tons of references to movies, and Jay just doesn’t get it. She actually says she doesn’t really watch movies. As someone who, obviously, spends a lot of time watching movies and TV and talking about them, I could NEVER be with someone who didn’t enjoy that or wasn’t into it. I don’t just watch TV and movies because I don’t have anything better to do – that’s what I enjoy.
I will warn you that the biggest stuff is over. The most exciting Anna/Paul moments were plenty, but they have largely passed.
In episode 3, Paul and Jay are making out on the basketball court, and Anna comes along. Uh-oh. She speaks to Jay first, which I think is interesting.She says, “You and my brother? My sad, twisted, lonely brother? My f—king twin? You had might as well be kissing me, only not kissing me. Kissing the worst part of me. Kissing my ass, my ugly ass of a brother.”First of all: God what a bitch, right?
Second: It really bugs me that she says that Jay kissing Paul is basically the same as Jay kissing Anna, because that’s just such bull. Like Paul pointed out earlier – it’s not like they came from the same egg. Fraternal twins are no closer genetically than any typical brother and sister (or any two brothers or any two sisters). And obviously, Anna highlighting the idea that Paul is so much the same to her as to actually almost be her is not the direction we want to be going in if we’re shipping Paul and Anna. Unless that’s her kink, which, who knows, it might be. She does seem to think a lot of herself. But what I do like is Anna emphasizing again their twin relationship. She spends plenty of time insulting Paul here, but she doesn’t just say he’s a loser, she says he’s her brother. So she isn’t attacking Jay for “intermingling” as much as she is for being with Paul specifically, her brother specifically. And she just doesn’t just say, “I’m not comfortable with this. This is unacceptable,” she again ridicules Paul and makes him look small and unworthy in front of Jay, and tries to give Jay feelings of shame about being with Paul, because she doesn’t want them together and she probably feels that’s the method most likely to succeed. (And we’ve seen that Jay cares about popularity and that’s why she’s friends with Ana.)
Anna doesn’t want Jay and Paul together. Obviously. But why? I think part of it is that she’s afraid she’ll lose Jay to him, the way she’s lost her mother. But there could always be more to it than that.
I also like the lens this turns on Mac’s crush on Anna.
Let me say first that I think that being in a romantic/sexual substitute relationship with a relation of the person you’re more tightly drawn to is much more a fictional device than something you’re going to find in real life. And when it happens in real life, I think it’s more often coincidence than anything psychological or subconscious. And when it happens in fiction, it’s just as often a tool of convenience to reduce the number of necessary characters as it is significant in any way.
But it does still have its place from time to time. I don’t think that Jay’s interest in Paul has anything to do with Anna. But I don’t think that Mac’s interest in Anna can be fully extricated from his relationship with Paul and, as Anna put it, his needing of Paul, and I don’t think that if Anna ever has feelings for Mac that they could be considered separate from her relationship with Paul.
Even though Mac has, probably, the most distinctive personality on the show, he’s still Paul’s best friend. That’s still how he’s going to be defined. That’s always how Anna is going to think of him, I bet, especially given the fact that Paul and Mac have been inseparable for TEN years. So if Anna ever returns Mac’s feelings, that’s going to have implications about Paul. Tons of implications.
Back to the scene at hand:Even though Paul has indicated from time to time that he’s afraid of Anna, you’ll notice that Anna doesn’t address him at first. She addresses Jay, because she knows that Jay’s the one who will do what she’s told, but Anna can’t control Paul. She might temporarily subdue Paul – she might win the spat the way she did in the first episode with the egg discussion – but Paul isn’t going to remain subdued.As Anna is saying this stuff, Paul is staring down at the ground just sort of taking it through clenched teeth. Jay is cowering, which I like. Most people would like her better for standing up to Anna and defending her love or whatever, but I think it’s much more sympathetic that she’s afraid. I’d be terrified of Anna. I haven’t had to deal with very many intimidating people in my life so I live in terror of such confrontations.Paul finally says, “No.” And he yells, “Stop”, and holds up his hand in front of her face, and it starts glowing, and then her skins grows over her mouth and seals it shut.Yeah. Gross.
But I do like that he was so angry at Anna that he ignited powers he didn’t know he had.I don’t like how unconcerned he seems about it. Jay, and Anna’s boyfriend Steven, are both begging him to fix it and Paul’s just sort of milling about telling them that he doesn’t really know much about what he just did. But I think he can just barely believe that he did it, and they don’t understand that he doesn’t know how to fix it.We cut away to Paul knocking on Anna’s bedroom door and her telling him to go away, so it must have fixed itself, whatever he did.Cat’s out of the bag now. Anna’s being vindicated for every time she ever called him a freak. But you just know what if you have superpowers and someone is calling you a freak, they’re just jealous. Everyone wants superpowers. No one wants to be normal so much that they wouldn’t want superpowers. Seriously. You’d have to actually have them in order to understand why you might not want them.Paul tells her that he’s not going away. Awww. Anna asks, “Why aren’t you going after Jay, anyway?” He tells her that he wanted to talk to her first.D’abord: Yes, thank you. This is the way it should be. Paul should definitely be talking to Anna before he goes after Jay.
She sounds super jealous when she asks why he isn’t going after Jay. I mean, objectively speaking, she has a jealous tone. And she could be jealous of Paul – jealous that Jay wants to be with Paul – and I think she is and like I mentioned about their mother there’s reason for that – but she’s talking TO Paul about an action that Paul is could be doing, so it only makes sense, for that particular sentence, for Anna to be jealous of Jay.
Even though Anna doesn’t want to be around Paul, she clearly thinks he owes her something (which, yeah, he does), and Paul agrees, because he does go to see Anna first and he does stay there even though she’s trying to get rid of him.
And what I love even more is that Anna is the one asking about Jay. Paul just did…whatever, and Anna wants to know more about Jay. You can see where her thoughts are at, what she actually cares about.
Anna tells him to f—k off and go and see Jay. I guess now she wants them together? Or maybe she wants them broken up and wants to force their next encounter while Jay is still totally freaked out. When everything that happened – including what Anna said – is still fresh.Their mom walks up and asks about a portion of the conversation she heard, and Anna says, “Paul is having sex with my best friend. And then when I found them and shouted at him, he did a magic spell on me.”
I just love the matter-of-fact way she says “he did a magic spell on me”, and the way she words it. I wish you could hear it. I really like Lily Loveless’ voice and the way she says things, even though her dialogue isn’t usually that sharp. It’s severe but not particularly clever.
Anna makes it sound like she walked in on Paul and Jay having sex. Maybe she would have liked that? All she saw was some light kissing against a fence in public at school.Mum’s a bit more caught up in the sex bit – though she’s impressed, not alarmed – and Anna reminds her that the point is “he has superpowers.” Paul gets exasperated and leaves, after saying that it was only a misunderstanding. Right. Whatever.Later, Mum and Anna are having a conversation. Mum asks what exactly Paul did to her. Anna says, “He zipped my mouth shut.” And then Mum, smart Mum, says, “And he’s sleeping with Jay,” like she knew that was the real reason Anna was upset. And Paul is positioned at the guilty one here. It isn’t, “And Jay is sleeping with Paul”, is it?
“Behind my back,” Anna adds. I’m sure she understands why they’d want to keep it a secret, so I’m not sure why she’s getting whiny about that.
Jay and Paul have sex later in this episode, if I recall correctly. She says, “You’re a freak. You’re my freak, though” which, well, it’s hard to dislike that sentence even if you don’t ship the couple, isn’t it? Even if you don’t like the character.
It’s funny, earlier on, there’s a scene of Paul jacking off and when he comes he sprouts wings.And when he and Jay are first sort of starting their relationship, she asks him if there’s anything she should be afraid of, and he says that he grows wings when he ejaculates. Of course it sounds just like a joke, only it’s 100% true.And now she knows he’s a freak.
I love Mac and Paul’s friendship so much. Paul actually says to him, “You know that no matter what happens with Jay, you’ll always be more important to me.” That’s a pretty bold statement, but it was something that Paul was able to say, and something he knew that Mac needed to hear. And I appreciate it because it really does diminish Paul and Jay’s relationship a little bit.
Being Paul’s sister, Anna has an “in” like Mac does.
Paul gives Mac a key to his house as a show of friendship. Mac says, “You do know I’m going to use this key to steal your sister’s knickers, right?”
They’re walking and talking, as they do, and Paul halts. Then Mac throws some ice cream at him and runs ahead. They get into an ice cream fight, and Mac continues, “I’m going to comb through your photo albums and find pictures of your sister in her bikini.”
I suppose Mac isn’t very open with Paul about his crush. In this scene, he’s using it to antagonize Paul. Even though their fight is in good humor, Mac is still taunting him using Anna. Of course then he moves on to Mum, but Paul can’t hear at that point anyway, because Paul says, “I’m not listening,” and he plugs his ears and runs away, singing a song so he can’t hear.
And then he gets hit by a truck.
Only episode 3!
Anna and Jay are talking, and Anna tells her that she’s glad she f—ked him, “in case you were worried”, just so he had the chance to do it with “a real girl”. Since she thinks he’s about to die, this seems like a pretty reasonable response. And it’s funny, cause she says, “And you’re pretty good looking, and you’ve got a great ass, so frankly he did better than he could have done,” which is kind of sweet.
Jay asks her if she’s OK, and Anna just sort of glares back at her. No, Anna is not OK. She’s pretty calm but you can tell she’s been crying off and on. She’s still sort of in shock. But Anna is the type of person who embraces her pain, I think. She can face that he’s going to die, but that’s always going to be a part of her. Him and his death.
Mac goes and finds the angelics, and once they learn that Paul has a twin, they devise a way to bring him back. I’d been suspecting for a while now that the fact that they were twins was going to be significant, but again, it’s not like it makes any real world scientific sense because fraternal twins are no closer genetically than any given brother and sister. And I thought it was so ironic that they would go that route after having Paul, in the first episode, even highlight the fact that they weren’t identical twins. And I suppose if you believe in astrology there might be something there, but it’s not like they’re born at the exact same moment. I think there can even be hours between when one comes out and when the next does.
Mac then goes to recruit Anna. Silent tears running down her cheeks, she tells him that they’re going to pull the plug in an hour. He gets her to come along to do a ritual out in the forest. Back in the hospital, Mum and Jay are waiting for Anna to come along, and Mum says, “She was never there when I needed her,” which comes off so ironic because then it cuts to Anna in the forest trying to bring him back to life.
And then Mum tells them to go ahead and pull the plug. They don’t even wait for Anna! Unacceptable. Even if she was off smoking a cigarette you wait! It’s not like this is easy for Anna either.I don’t know what the ritual is exactly, but it’s like they pull something out of Anna and put it into Paul’s fade. Rather convenient they didn’t have to use his real body at the hospital, I suppose.
At first it seems like it failed, but then Paul’s fade disappears and his dead body comes back to life in the hospital, vomiting moths.I’m a little confused because there’s reference later to Mac trying to save Paul’s life and failing, but from where I’m standing Mac succeeded. Mac was responsible for the spell being done – both by informing the angelics that Paul had a twin sister and by collecting Anna – and there’s no other explanation given from Paul’s resurrection other than the spell.
And Anna never gets any credit. Paul doesn’t even thank her. There is zero acknowledgment of what went down. Which is stupid. Paul would be dead if it wasn’t for her.
So, by episode 5, the fade situation has gotten pretty serious. I think this is awesome so I haven’t told you until now, but the fades have been feeding on human flesh to make themselves physical again. They sort of cocoon themselves, and then they’re born again as normal looking humans. Polus was the first to do this, then his girl Natalie. By now almost all the fades have begun feeding on humans, and so tons of humans have gone missing, and many have become fades now, including Paul’s therapist and Anna’s boyfriend Steve. That’s right: Anna’s boyfriend is dead. Sorry Anna. It showed him missing for a while. She was VERY angry when he didn’t come to be with her at the hospital in episode 4. I haven’t misled you by not mentioning him yet. Steve isn’t really a character. I’m not even sure I would recognize him out of context and he certainly doesn’t have much of a personality.
Sarah, who has been wandering around sadly as a fade, mostly following Mark, her husband, around, has reached a low point. She had Neil go to Mark and act as a medium for her to speak with Mark, and that was cool, but now Mark is so freaked out because he knows that Sarah is following him around, and he doesn’t really know what to do with his life, so he asks her to leave because he knows he can never move on while she’s there. So Sarah decides to be a double agent with Polus (who’s called John now that he’s regrown his body), and she feeds on human flesh.Episode five takes place mostly at the school where a crisis center has been set up to deal with all the missing people, but the fades decide to sort of take it over.
Paul has his vision again, and this time we see Jay dead too on the stairs. He wakes up, and we see Jay in bed next to him although they’re dressed. Then Anna barges in and tells him that they’re going to school. Mum won’t drive her unless Paul comes along. She just opens the door without knocking, walks into the room, and throws clothes at him. “I’m not asking, Paul, I’m telling,” she says, so they go.
They run, and Steve chases them. The fades can’t be killed, so they make pretty fearsome enemies. Anna’s freaking out a little, but I wouldn’t exactly say she’s in mourning. “My brother, my stupid pissing brother,” she says after Paul explains what’s going on.
Neil is with Sarah as she’s about to do her cocoon thing, and it becomes pretty obvious that he’s in love with her and he’s super jealous of Mark. It’s really sad. Not only because of how unrequited it is, but because of what a mess Neil is. Neil wants Paul to be a fighter, but Paul doesn’t want to kill. So Neil has sort of fallen out of favor with Paul and with the angelics who follow Paul. He’s all on his own. Neil kidnaps Natalie and wants to torture her, but Paul is against that, of course, because he’s a softie. He tries to make friends with Polus/John, and brings him to come get Natalie, but then John kills a bunch of angelics and it’s a mess. Neil’s wearing his I-told-you-so face, and Paul feels a bit like an idiot but he still doesn’t want to be a killer.When Sarah has her body, she goes and finds Mark, and it’s such a great moment. In episode 6 they spend some time together, and have sex, but Sarah isn’t human, she’s a fade, and that becomes pretty clear. She craves human flesh, she still needs it. So she has to run from Mark. She realizes she can’t be with him until she understands what she is. She sides with John for awhile, struggling with her desire to be alive and the inevitability of John’s success, but she joins with Paul again before the end.
Paul is able to use his super special angelic powers to kill Steve permanently. Steve is coming after them and he just sort of does it. So it’s sort of like Paul kills Steve. And he kills Natalie too, but not because he wanted to do. (Of course that doesn’t make John very happy.) Paul doesn’t want to kill anyone, like I said, and he feels rotten about it.
Everyone is fleeing town, so once Paul, Mac, Anna, Jay, and Mum escape from the school, they go back home and begin to pack. But then Paul’s vision begins to play out. He sees Jay sitting on the stairs – she’s just fine. He runs into his room, and Anna is in there changing her clothes. She screams, says, “Can you knock?!” and covers her chest with a free shirt. As he leaves to go check on their mother she asks about a stripey-hoodie of his. So, Anna just wants to borrow his sweatshirt. I don’t know why she isn’t wearing any bottoms or a shirt, though. I mean, I usually wear something under a hoodie. And you’ve got to have pants either way. And the bigger mystery is why Anna wants to borrow his clothes. I mean I don’t think for a typical brother and sister that would be much of a deal, but Anna does not seem like the type to borrow Paul’s clothing. To even be able to distinguish any specific item of clothing of his. And why would she change in his room? Why wouldn’t she just grab the hoodie and then change in her own bedroom.
I suppose it sort of feels like I’m taking the innocent explanation they gave me to what seemed suggestive at first view (the vision), and trying to make it suggestive again in a pathetic way, but do you see all of the stuff here that doesn’t actually make any sense once you think about it a little harder?
Anna may not have been lying in his bed naked, but she did go into his room and take her clothes off and want to put his clothes on.
I love how she demands that he knock even though he was walking into his own bedroom. And the door wasn’t even fully closed, it was ajar. She was just asking to get caught. Was she asking to get caught?
He runs outside, and John is there. Apparently John was just giving him the visions to scare him. I don’t know how John knows what the future is or how he puts visions into Paul’s head, but whatever.
Well, Neil is very excited about what Paul can do, and he wants Paul to kill all the fades, but Paul isn’t into the whole killing thing – he wants to reopen ascension instead. So Neil takes matters into his own hands. He kidnaps Mac, but he can’t get a hold of Paul. So he kidnaps Mum, Anna, and Jay. That gets Paul’s attention finally. He hides the other three away, and then holds a gun to Jay’s head in front of Paul. Paul still isn’t quite cooperating.So Neil kills Jay.Obviously I’m not too broken up about Jay being dead, but I wish the writers hadn’t done that to Neil. The kidnapping was bad enough but not irredeemable, but this…you don’t really come back from that. I think it was losing Sarah that really put him over the edge.
Paul decides to cooperate with Neil after that. But at the last minute he decides to go back to his reopening ascension plan (which he spent the first part of the episode failing to do), however this time he succeeds, and he basically launches all of the fades (including whatever of Jay might have been left behind) into the afterlife.
Anna, obviously, is terrified.
She says, “Paul is coming, right?”Anna shares with Mac her first clear memory of him: they were six, and their Dad had just moved out, and Mac slept in Paul’s room for a week. Anna confesses she was jealous that Paul had a friend like Mac. They should have invited her over!
Mac says that he’s jealous of Paul because Paul could walk in at any time and see Anna in her underwear. And it’s funny because that’s what happened at the end of last episode! Obviously there’s not much actually suggestiveness in Mac’s comment, but the amount of sexuality in conversations about Paul and Anna is ridiculous. There’s just so much.
Mac tells Anna why he thinks they would make a great couple – he lists that they’re funny, exuberant in conversation (her with aggression, him with anecdotes), cynical, and that they both have low self-esteem from being overwhelmed by Paul, and that they both like the same people – Mum, Paul, Jay. These are pretty good reasons, although definitely not enough, in my opinion. And the two best reasons involve Paul, which I like and appreciate. If Anna and Mac get into a relationship, it’s going to be based on Paul. A Paul-based relationship.
Then Mac confesses that he has been in love with her since she was 10. She makes a serious face. She’s finally a little taken-aback.Mac and Anna escape after all the fades are sent away. They find Paul sitting on a bench, a complete mess. Tired, and upset about Jay, obviously. They don’t know what has happened to Jay. Mac says, “The good news is: we’re alive. The bad news is that I’m going to be your brother-in-law.” “What? You really aren’t,” Anna responds. Mac: “Anna’s decided she’s in love with me.” Anna: “She really hasn’t.” Mac: “She wants me so much she can’t control herself.” Anna: “She really doesn’t.”So, I think it’s pretty remarkable that Anna’s boyfriend dies, and Paul’s girlfriend dies. That’s narrowing the path if ever that happened. And I also think it’s remarkable that Paul ends up dating Anna’s best friend, and Anna will probably end up dating Paul’s best friend. You want to tell me that doesn’t mean anything?
Well, the sky starts turning a funny color, and there’s some thunder, and we see Neil, on the brink of death after his encounter with the fades, who says, “I told him, I told him you don’t f—k with ascension.” So if you were wondering what was going to happen in season 2, now you know. Sort of.And that’s that. I went through each episode and only kept the Anna/Paul scenes, and its about 12 minutes from each episode on average, in case you were curious. That’s a decent amount, especially for a plot-driven show. Even though Anna doesn’t do much, the show sort of reveres her and gives her this place of honor. It’s kind of hard to describe. But it’s like the show feels an obligation to do right by Anna, and even just a short scene here and there makes her seem very important.
I was trying to decide whether or not to include talk of Tony and Effy from Skins, and the movie My Soul To Take during this entry, because they’re both very similar and relevant in their own ways.But I just don’t have the time. They’ll have to get their own, separate entries some time in the future. Movies are so much easier than TV shows – there’s so much less to work with.