Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"A Discovery of Witches" | S3:E1 | An Analysis (contains details of E1)


Before I get into the actual episode, this season of "A Discovery of Witches" is one of the first shows filmed during the pandemic. The extra effort that it involved in keeping everyone safe will not be seen on the screen. If you follow the show on social media, you'll have seen behind-the-scenes footage of enduring all sorts of protocols as well as torrential downpours, and freezing cold temperatures. I have a great appreciation for the hard work put into making this season happen amongst all of the challenges that the cast and crew faced. I'm so grateful to have the privilege to watch this show. I enjoy connecting with the characters adapted from the three books, All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness, therefore, writing about the show brings me closer to them.

The following analysis is solely my own. Some of it offers an opinion while recapping portions of the episode. The analysis below is intended to focus on a particular aspect of the story or aspect of a character. This may or may not recap every moment and may not cover every character of the episode. Anything written for this post is created by the blog's author who is an inspired fan with the intention of promoting the work. If you enjoy reading this, please leave a comment here or on Instagram @thataddamsgirl.

This episode:

  • Director: Jamie Donoughue 
  • Writer: Lisa Holdsworth
  • Description: Matthew and Diana return from Elizabethan London to find tragedy at Sept-Tours; Agatha challenges Knox in the Congregation; Diana learns she's carrying twins.
If you haven't watched season 3, episode 1, or any episodes from the two previous seasons, you will be spoiled if you read any further. 
Get ready for a very quick season consisting of seven episodes of "A Discovery of Witches." Season 3 covers The Book of Life, the third book in the All Souls Trilogy. The first 7-½ minutes remind us of where the story left off. The recap runs down the basics, but the camera angles, the lighting, and the location shots let us know we’re dealing with a life-altering crisis. 

The opening is the POV of someone flying above and arriving at the castle grounds of Sept-Tours, first passing over the sacred space, aka the temple, where Emily Mather (Valarie Pettiford) was murdered by Peter Knox (Owen Teale), and then over the castle Sept-Tours. Interior shots with the familiar hallways and early dawn's light streaming through the windows as Diana (Teresa Palmer) and Matthew (Matthew Goode), through her magical Wiccan powers of timewalking, return from the 16th Century. A devastated Aunt Sarah (Alex Kingston) is surprised to see them. She's at the bedside, holding the hand of her partner, Emily, and within seconds Emily succumbs to her injuries.

The story continues as we see the Congregation member and daemon, Agatha, saying goodbye to her son, Nathaniel (Daniel Ezra). She's heading for Venice to call a meeting with The Congregation to deal with Peter Knox. Notice the portrait to the far right of the screen just barely visible with a dim, amber light above it. It is the portrait of Philippe de Clermont, whom we previously met in episodes 5 and 6 of season 2.

Philippe became one of the most beloved characters of season 2 and was a key part of Matthew's arc; his coming to terms with his past. In season 2 we saw Philippe welcome Diana, a witch, into the de Clermont family. Philippe had previously established The Covenant that states species should be kept separate and not cross-mate or even socialize with species other than their own. For centuries the creatures have existed under the radar, blending in and avoiding detection by humans. Vampires and witches are particularly forbidden from being with each other. Philippe changed the rules by welcoming Diana but he kept their presence secret all of these centuries, which keeps The Covenant intact. The Congregation still thinks the species cannot have relationships with others outside of their species like a vampire and a witch or a witch and a daemon, or a daemon and a vampire. In season 3, episode 1, The Covenant's usefulness/uselessness is debated, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Portrait of Philippe de Clermont in the entryway of Sept-Tours.
This is a screen capture using the stream at HD 1080p. The indoor photography for this show is notoriously darker, which can be quite frustrating.
Matthew is back and calling the shots at the first gathering following their return from the 16th century. He stands at the table with all gathered around. The camera captures him from below just like it did in season 2 when he was meeting with Queen Elizabeth I as a man exhibiting confidence. Notice the framing of the drapes vs. the columns. 

One of my favorite scenes of this episode follows the meeting. Phoebe (Adelle Leonce), Marcus’s girlfriend, introduces herself to Matthew. He’s very tense and acts quite in the same patriarchal manner as Philippe, who was rather cold when Diana and Matthew arrived at his command back in season 2. Matthew's attitude is stern and reprimanding. In fact, Phoebe finds Matthew looking out of the window where we last saw Philippe doing the same at the end of episode 6 of season 2. Matthew is standing in the very space that was Philippe’s office when he loses his cool. Matthew echoes Philippe’s tone of disapproval in addressing Marcus who enters shortly after Phoebe. At the end of season 1, Matthew entrusted him with the responsibility of the Grand Master of the Knights of Lazarus. He sees Emily Mather’s murder as something Marcus (Edward Bluemel) should have prevented regardless of the powers that overcame him when he went to the temple to stop Peter Knox.

Beautiful framing that calls back to Philippe in S2

The funeral for Emily Mather
The return of Gallowglass (Steven Cree) riding up the Sept-Tours driveway and in his motorcycle jacket creates an image of a tough exterior. He is a thick-bearded biker with chunky silver rings. Observe closely that his fingers are inked with tattoos of runes. The runes are part of his story of being a very old vampire dating back to the time of the Vikings. Gallowglass figures much more as a protector in the books and we'll see how much he fits that role in the TV version of his character. I know that the fans have a lot of expectations, but I hope all of them can be patient with the fact that book-to-TV adaptation may not give as much time to the characters as one may hope.

In the book, Gallowglass and Diana's reunion is slightly different, but the script for the TV captures essentially what the book's text is here without tears flowing:
“There, there.” Gallowglass lifted her into a bear hug. “It’s been some time since the sight of me brought a woman to tears. Besides, it really should be me weeping at our reunion. As far as you’re concerned, it’s been only a few days since we spoke. By my reckoning it’s been centuries.”
Steven Cree portrays Gallowglass. You can almost see his grin beneath the beard.

If you are an All Souls book reader, Gallowglass's hug likely made your heart swell as it did this writer.
The index finger has a tattoo with a combination of runes from the ancient alphabet. Bind runes may be depicted in this shot of Gallowglass's index finger.

Another choice moment is the gathering of only the de Clermonts in which Baldwin (Peter McDonald), Philippe's bloodborne son, tells Matthew, “Family only, oh, but bring the witch,” and he is the worst passive-aggressive family member in every possible way. He cannot say anything nice without it sounding like a backhanded compliment, like his toast, “To my brother’s mate, and their unborn children, whatever they are.” He continues to enlighten Diana that a witch and a vampire had a baby and the witches were the species that "sent the baby with the mother into the desert to die." 

We finally get to hear about the vampire Matthew sired named Benjamin. I was hoping it would come up in conversation so that Diana could tell Matthew that she met him. Soon she does and Matthew explains the reason for turning him into a vampire was to "expose his true nature" in hopes he would be caught and killed. Here Matthew cannot downplay any of his irrational decisions and admits to Diana that his "abandoning a new vampire with blood rage" was "a horrible miscalculation" on his part.
Matthew Goode as Matthew de Clermont



Agatha's eyewear is by Campbell Marson.
Thank you for the info, Molly Emma Rowe, costume designer.
Tanya Moodie portrays Agatha Wilson.

Satu (Malin Buska) voting to banish Peter Knox from The Congregation.

Season 3 introduces a new character in London. Fernando (Olivier Huband) greets everyone upon arrival. He is a vampire who was mated to Hugh de Clermont. Hugh is Gallowglass’s father and we learn what happened to Hugh when Fernando offers his kind sympathy to Sarah. He also makes coffee for Sarah, which is something mentioned in The Book of Life. In the book, the coffee is brought in during a later chapter with a bottle of whiskey on a tray. The episode definitely has wine, but not the hard stuff.

Miriam (Aiysha Hart) is holding the page from Ashmole 782. Matthew walks over and looks at a painting across from him. It is another portrait, but this time it is of both Ysabeau and Philippe, which is also dimly lit. We fans really loved the distant relationship in episode 6 between Ysabeau and Philippe. I know it was one of the most memorable episodes of season 2. This is a loving acknowledgment of their undying love for each other.

Portrait of Ysabeau (Lindsay Duncan) and Philippe (James Purefoy)

Diana sets up a meeting with an old friend and research scientist, Chris (Ivanno Jeremiah). The goal is to analyze the page's DNA from the book (actually printed on the skins of ancient witches) and to study the genetics of the disease that causes blood rage. It sets up next week's episode in which we see Matthew talking to an audience about the fact that he is a vampire.

Diana is wearing Philippe’s arrowhead pendant that he gifted her at the end of season 2. Much more visible, slightly bigger. She’s wearing it to show others that Philippe de Clermont willingly, as in, he wasn't bewitched by Diana, welcomed her into the family with a blood vow.

Blood rage is going to throw off the balance of everything in Matthew and Diana's world. Domenico hands Baldwin evidence that ties the killer to Matthew and Diana. He makes it clear that he's not helping to take down the de Clermonts, unlike Gerbert.

Gerbert (Trevor Eve) hates the de Clermonts and is determined to rid them of their power.
We arrive at the moment in which Benjamin Fuchs, the vampire that Matthew sired and abandoned, gets a call, which could be informing him that Matthew is back. Recall in season 2 that he sensed Philippe's powerful blood vow as Diana stood in line while he passed and then he told her that he recognized it. Benjamin leaves a calling card of dead bodies everywhere he goes and is likely conspiring to take down the de Clermonts. His screentime is exciting because he's dangerous to the lives of everyone he touches including other creatures. The supply of creature parts that Gallowglass discovered in Rudolph's secret collection, i.e., vampire teeth, a witch's hand, etc., were all a result of Benjamin's actions.
Jacob Ifan plays Benjamin Fuchs

Indeed, Matthew and Diana land back in the 21st century to deal with threats in what's to come as they try to unravel the mystery of The Book of Life. It is likely more characters are going to be introduced as Marcus sets about to form a scion. This is explained in the episode, however, if you have the book, go to chapter 5 where you can find the explanation. I've copied it out of the book for you here:

"Any male with full-blooded children of his own can establish a scion, provided he has the approval of his sire or the head of his clan. The new scion will be considered a branch of the original family, but in all other ways the new scion’s sire shall exercise his will and power freely."

We're also going to see a couple of other characters return from season 2. Stay tuned for more posts!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Loving Denis Villeneuve's Dune as a Theatrical Movie Experience

It was unfathomable some 16 months ago that I'd ever feel so invigorated by the simple act of anticipating going to see a big, thrilling action movie on the big screen. The prospect that I was about to see Denis Villeneuve's Dune, which had a 2020 release date postponed until 2021, made me feel elated about movies again.

Charlotte Rampling is Rev. Mother Mohiam (she has a box of pain) - credit: Warner Bros.

I felt like I was levitating six feet off the ground as I entered the elevator at the bottom floor of the mall to head up to the level for the movie theatre. I held the doors when I noticed about six to eight guys heading towards the elevator. The small group arrived. Immediately, I asked, “Are you all headed up to see Dune?” A few answered, “Yes.” I added, “Are we all ready to leave this planet, never to return?!” An even louder “YES!” answered me. I felt a rush of adrenalin; I was with my people again! Fans of epic sci-fi and action-filled drama! If I was given the opportunity, I would have stood in front of the entire theatre to do a warm-up routine and introduce each member of the cast on the poster.

I have always enjoyed watching movies in a communal environment in which the entire crowd is going through an experience with you for the first time. I saw Dune with an audience who I could feel were also paying attention. When there were quiet moments, it was a very quiet audience; no sounds of eating, not even anyone snoring! We were all so absorbed with the action and hanging on each word. The tension was apparent like during the ferocious battle -- the screams of the dying settled, and I heard myself exhale and then others. We all needed a moment of stillness -- it was heavy, not gory, but the action was very intense.

Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto (Paul's father)- credit: Warner Bros.

On the day that the movie was released widely, my co-worker informed me about her plans to see it. She, too, was seeing it in a theatre equipped with Dolby Atmos. I had originally told her the day after I attended an early preview screening to see the movie in this kind of theatre, not first through HBO Max, which was her original plan. "You'll feel as though you're inside the vehicles. It's an extraordinary immersive experience." I was so satisfied to feel she was convinced, so I just said, “Take a deep breath and just enjoy the immersion.” 


Dune has to be seen in a theatre with Dolby Atmos and should be seen on IMAX (Technical details). It is not just the surround sound, but the score by Hans Zimmer brings out the emotions that these characters are experiencing. You feel a sense of anticipation when the desert sand blows into the ship as the doors rise up. You can hear the grains of sand hitting the deck. A film score consisting of booming kettle drums and the bagpipes heighten the formality of the arrival and being greeted for the first time by the Harkonnen people. The music doesn't drown out the chants of "Lisan-al-Gaib" meaning "Voice of the outer world" and the name for "Messiah."

David Dastmalchian is Piter De Vries (his name is synonymous with devious) - credit Warner Bros.

When I finally saw my co-worker again a few days later, she said that her husband was never so happy to have gone to the theatre for a movie. He said that the sound is such a significant part of the story as much as the landscape and the characters. You get the immersive experience, which is how it was intended to be seen.

I asked her if she had known the books before seeing the movie and she had not, but now she wants to read the books. She went on to say that she has a family member with the original books who's read them quite a few times. 


I asked her which character she identified with the most and it was the Fremen servant, Shadout Mapes (Golda Rosheuvel), whom Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) was skeptical; reluctant to trust, and it was because the woman wanted to help the family that my co-worker identified with her.

Rebecca Ferguson portrays Lady Jessica - Credit: Warner bros.
Shadout Mapes portrayed by Golda Rosheuvel - credit: Warner Bros.

She and I are both fans of Jason Momoa and we discuss his work. She said that it really upset her to see his character Duncan Idaho look as though he’s been killed. I still don’t believe that he is dead. NOTE: You can easily be spoiled if you look deeper into the character of Duncan Idaho. I think Jason Momoa is going to be in forthcoming sequels.

Jason Momoa is Duncan Idaho - credit: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures


Countries where Dune filmed include Austria, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, and Norway.

Baron Harkonnen's pet (screenshot from Dune)
Villeneuve’s Dune contains several special moments that are enhanced by the Dolby Atmos sound. Of course, now I only want to see movies in that kind of theatre.
  1. feeling like I’m inside the Ornithopter!
  2. Mongolian throat singing
  3. Use of Voice for controlling people
Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen - credit: Warner Bros.
Director Denis Villeneuve appeared after the screening and here are notes from the Q&A.

Villeneuve read Dune when he was 13 and has known the story well for 40 years. He identifies most with Paul’s journey.

He was a student of biology and was interested in Dune’s ecosystem.

He saw a lot of elements in David Lynch’s Dune that he enjoyed, but it was not his dream of the book that he saw on screen. He wanted to focus on the book in the spirit of getting back to the images. He worked like an archaeologist to go back to the uncorrupted images and ignore the old dreams.

He picked Timothy Chalamet to play Paul because on a physical level he wanted someone who was youthful -- a 15-year-old -- yet a very mature person. It was his idea to find someone who was a charismatic “rock star” type so he needed an actor who could bring that and carry the whole movie.

Villeneuve only wanted to shoot in real environments; use reality-based angles, which is something he could not achieve on a backlot. It was important for him to embrace the nature in the story, the power of the desert in all its emotion and its spectacle. He wanted to work with several people with whom he previously worked. It was important to work with people he knew so that it didn’t overwhelm the writing process. He was able to focus on Paul’s experience. He spent time being outside. Paul’s psyche changes with the landscape on a very human level and soon he is on a deep journey.

Timothy Chalamet as Paul Atriedes - credit: Warner Bros.
Every element of the book was used to design the whole movie. Villeneuve made sure that he took his time to make and fix mistakes. He used the images from Herbert’s book from childhood. His favorite element was creating the Fremen culture.

The last part of the film he had to cut was of Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) singing, which will be moved to part two. However, this is the director’s cut, this film, and there is no other director’s cut.

Villeneuve often felt as though he went through a transformation during the making of Dune. He had a sign on his office door that read, “Adapt or die.” He experienced so many obstacles as challenges, which were quite difficult, so he kept those words in his mind.

If he was going to make part two, it would require a lot of design work. Yes, we know the “language” but technically it will be more challenging.

He wrote the beginning from Chani’s POV because he understands how the beginnings of movies are delicate. He didn’t want to get into the hardcore element of sci-fi language at the very beginning. He was faced with the problem of wanting it to be a movie that his mother could understand. It is an invitation to read the Herbert book so he wrote the beginning in a way to keep it simple and elegant. It felt accurate to start with her and it only came to him at the end of filming. He wanted the audience to experience a slow immersion into the story and that it be an audience-friendly film; a welcoming experience.

Dune part two has been announced and we can look for it in theatres in October of 2023.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Premiere of Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men #AFF28

Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men by Lorien Haynes
23 SHORT FILMS, 21 FEMALE DIRECTORS, 1 MOVIE FEATURE TO SUPPORT SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

poster
Poster design by Anthony Kirk: Homemade, scrapbooking elements using a familiar medium of Polaroid photographs reveal clues by way of a handwritten label nicknaming each guy. “Mr. Jung-Freud” for The Therapist, as well as “Mr. Peter Pan,” “Mr. Some-Guy-Off-The-Telly,” and “Mr. Wouldn’t Know a Nice Guy if He Slapped Me in the Face,” -- just a few of the least harmful men. The names of the directors are embossed onto embossing tape with a DYMO label maker. Anyone who was around from the 1960s-1989 would recognize it.


The film Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men, premiered on October 23 at the 28th Annual Austin Film Festival, offering live and virtual screenings. Congratulations on the premiere to all of the entire team of actors, directors, producers, crew members and composers who volunteered their time to get this film made. The film was made prior to the pandemic and has become much more relevant due to the unfortunate reports of an increase in domestic violence cases occurring during the pandemic while isolating at home. 


It opens with the filmmaker, Lorien Haynes, portraying herself, The Woman, at the point in which she is devastated, beaten, and staggering into the shower with bruises on her shoulder, bleeding from an assault. We’re drawn into wondering what happened and who did this? Her daughter (Clara McGregor) arrives to comfort her. Moments later we see her meet her new therapist. We never see his face, yet, the voice of Alan Cumming is certainly recognizable. He collects information about her history while offering support. She struggles through a traumatized memory to recall the details. Her jacket has a button that reads “I AM SURVIVING”.


Incredibly smooth editing by Matthew Cooke was key in connecting her as the survivor who is telling the story while parts of the individual short films act as flashbacks. The entire film becomes much more cohesive than if the short films were presented as individual vignettes or episodes. 


As a writer and a mother, Haynes is penning a thoughtful diary for her daughter, and offering title pages to aid in creating fluid transitions from one relationship to the next. She allows us the firsthand experience of her journey through each therapy session. 


The stigma of admitting to oneself that you need therapy is tough, so using titles in the diary pages such as, “Reasons to Go Into Therapy” or “Reasons to Not Go Into Therapy” opens the conversation; breaks down the wall. Talking about the problem you don't like talking about is a huge factor in why people avoid finding a therapist.

The diary format also is used to help her daughter learn from her “lessons”. The notation titled “lesson learned” follows the story of each relationship. 
Each story is heartbreaking, and too often painfully familiar. Hopefully, we learn to never make the same mistake twice. It is condensed in a simple, but memorable phrase. For example, at the conclusion of “Mr. Peter Pan,” it reads, “When a man asks you to babysit, make sure it doesn’t mean him.”


As discovered most often in therapy, a pattern is revealed. She admits to The Therapist, “I know there are some very nice men out there, but I just don’t want to sleep with them.” It is not solely the problem of the guy being a thief, or a bully, or an addict, it is that the men all seem to have one problem in common: that they give up on making the relationship work; it's too much work to fight for the relationship. The Woman is the only one in the relationship making sacrifices for them.


In addition to writing the film, which began first as staged readings in Los Angeles, Haynes chose to play herself. She said in the post-screening Q&A that it was important to make the woman relatable to any woman you could meet on the street. It was her intention to play herself; not adhering to the pressure of aesthetics that actresses go through of maintaining a youthful and thin appearance. She said that The Woman was not supposed to be likable in that way. In this way, she's able to allow herself to be vulnerable. She said that it was important to be as honest and truthful as she could be to remain consistent in character. 


In the pre-recorded Q&A, Haynes described how she found that each film had onset parity -- a 50/50 man to woman ratio. She witnessed female directors and female directors of photography bringing their own vision to create each story. She said that she was accepting of everyone’s vision and allowed them to take control. Saffron Burrows directed the final scenes. Haynes said that Burrows really pushed her hard in that scene to go somewhere that I couldn't have gone without her. 
 Haynes said that both Jason Isaacs and Saffron Burrows collaborated on writing “Indigo” with her and was the script that went furthest away from what she had originally written. 


"The pathos of it is that she's had so many negative experiences with men that she's not capable of having a positive one," said Haynes. In "Stonebridge" directed by Jodhi May, it was May who had the idea to increase the age difference with Issy Knopfler as The Woman and James Purefoy as Stonebridge, because originally the characters were the same age. "This gives the whole dynamic a very different feel. It was this that helped Haynes see another person's vision of her work. "It was about not being a control freak as a writer... It's tough as a writer to let go into that space because you inhibit your world, you control the world that you write, you have a reason why you're writing something in the first place... In this case, I was very lucky to be close to production and seeing something being written realized."


The experiment of writing this film further encouraged Haynes to keep writing. She said that she has wanted to write films with a social purpose and tell stories relevant to us now. She has gone on to write about climate, immigration, and reproductive rights. Haynes is working on a story about Shakespeare’s women and their story of abuse. This blog writer is looking forward to seeing more stories from all Haynes as well as all of the collaborators on this film.

All of the directors are women who Haynes knew as friends whom she encouraged to direct especially if they had never directed. Each of them has gone on to direct something else almost immediately after making their short film.


Spread the word about this important work and maybe we'll see it play more festivals, or have wider distribution.


View the PSA made during the making of the film.


The list of directors is below and is followed by the list of cast members.
Directed by 

Talia Balsam

Saffron Burrows

Fuschia Sumner...(Olivier)

Lucy Brown ...(Eve)

Gia Carides ...(Duke)

Maryam d'Abo ...(Richardson)

Kate Danson ...(Loudon)

Tara Fitzgerald...(Moody)

Katherine Flynn...(Longfellow)

Amy Gardner ...(Egerton)

Laura Merians Goncalves...(Longfellow)

Lizze Gordon ...(Elm)

Sienna Guillory...(Honiton)

Robin Gurney ...(Tully)

Susannah Harker...(Richardson)

Lorien Haynes ...(Moody and Survivors Story)

Falguni Lakhani...(Adams)

Jodhi May...(Stonebridge)

Amanda Nguyen...(Elm)

Barbara van Schaik...(The Survivors Story)


Cast, who all volunteered their time to fight sexual violence

Jason Isaacs ... Indigo

Eoin Macken ... Adam

James Purefoy ... Stonebridge

Alan Cumming ... The Therapist

Lesley Manville ... The Mother

Sullivan Stapleton ...Icabod

Jonathan Cake ... Oliver

Ben Lawson ... Longfellow

Jonathan Firth ... Egerton

Adam Rayner ... Campbell-Scott

Richard Wilson ... Michael

Alex Désert ... Loudon

Clara McGregor ... The Daughter

Lex Shrapnel ... Tully

Joe Sims ... Moody

Issy Knopfler ... The Woman

Lorien Haynes ... The Woman

Charlie Field ... Richardson

Emmett Carnahan ...Elm

John Power ... Honiton

Lyla Quinn … Young daughter

Richard Odufisan ...Opera Singer 

Sullivan, Stapelton

Travis Leete

Saturday, July 17, 2021

1st Anniversary of Amazon Original Series "El Candidato" - Will there be a 2nd season?

  
Today is the one-year anniversary of "El Candidato" (Amazon Prime Original), a 10-episode series created by Peter Blake. It's a gritty, edgy, narco-crime thriller. It takes place in Mexico City. 

Without knowing about the likelihood of seeing a second season, I first thought about how it could resume from where it left off after the last episode of the first season. However, as much as I really love it as an international drama, I enjoy imagining how the show could break with the format or genre, even just for one episode. 

Usually, Amazon's original series have never allowed a standalone episode, at least not that I've seen. Other shows have dared to do it and have done it well. In season 3, for example, of “Breaking Bad” with "The Fly," or Season 5 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the musical “Once More with Feeling.” “Stranger Things” in its second season made an unpopular standalone episode mainly because it focused on new characters that didn't appear ever again. 

A change from the format also means the writers can stray from the genre, as in, introduce comedy to a drama or play with fantasy outside of the show's typical realistic style. Sometimes it works well when it explores deeper the psyche of a character especially if it can be a standalone episode to take their personality quirks to another level.

As usual, my imagination kind of runs wild, so here are some fun predicaments, some plausible and some not so much:

Referencing how they tried to cover for something happening off the books in episode one, what if Isabel Alfaro (Eréndira Ibarra) and Wayne Addison (James Purefoy) really did go to a karaoke bar? Could it really be Wayne, in tribute to Elvis, singing "Heartbreak Hotel"? Does Isa secretly film it? Yes, indeed, she does, and she posts it online for all his enemies to see. And then comes the wrath the day after. (I confess, Latino pop songs are my weakness so I imagine Isa would be  culturally appropriate in picking a song for her own karaoke spotlight.)

Isabel, aka Isa, is talked into training a rookie CIA agent, who was part of a gang of Chola girls from Echo Park in Los Angeles. Isa clashes with the rookie because she recognizes herself from 15 years ago. After Isa loses a bet, the rookie gives Isa a makeover for one day. It's definitely against the standard image of a CIA agent. (Isa talks about her dark past a couple of times in season one, so her being asked to train this girl is plausible).
Lalo (José María de Tavira), currently mayor of Mexico City, is campaigning to become President of Mexico. The campaign office's computer servers are subject to a ransomware attack in which if he doesn’t do what they say, they’ll reveal information about drug cartels who are funding his campaign. They can regain access to the servers if Lalo finds a boy who was separated from his adoptive parents at the border. The boy was fathered by narco leader Rafael Bautista, and the mother gave up the boy for adoption. He finds the boy, but the child is against being reunited with his adoptive parents and wants Lalo to be his father. (Lalo was not hip on the idea he could be a father in season one).
30-second scene #1, in monochrome. Music scores the scene like in a 1970s spaghetti western-style of “Final Duel” and “Death Rattle” by Ennio Morricone from Once Upon a Time in the West. An owl flies down to land on a Santa Muerte display. Rafael Bautista's (Joaquín Cosio) voice is calling "Wayne," from inside the skeleton. Wayne Addison walks by and hears it. Stops in disbelief. It's midnight and no one else is around. He looks at the statue and Bautista's face flashes for a second. And then Wayne, startled by the vivid dream, wakes up, and the screen switches to color and the sun is beaming into the room. He's looking for something. The camera passes over the gun on the nightstand by the bed, the empty liquor bottle, and then pauses on the honey BBQ corn chips. Wayne grins with satisfaction while reaching for the bag.

Go back to when Wayne tells Isa in the first episode to keep her hands off his honey BBQ Fritos or he'd kill her. Bautista prays to Santa Muerte aka "The White Lady" in several episodes. (NOTE: Eva Aridjis is one of the staff writers for "El Candidato" and made her own documentary about Santa Muerte that was released in 2007.)
30-second scene #2. Wayne, while recovering from his leg injury from the shoot-out at his place, receives a present, and when he unwraps it, he notices the card is signed by Nestor, thanking him for getting him a bed at a decent rehab facility near the ocean. Wayne picks up a cane from the box and pulls on the handle, revealing it is a custom-made sword cane. Why? There are not enough opportunities in TV and film for characters to use sword canes in fight scenes anymore. Once presented, it definitely has to be used later. 

o SPOILER NOTE:
Nestor is the character who was coerced to be the fake secret operative, "Penumbra." Isa has to be a badass on top of her already badass-ness to acquire Nestor's drugs so he can stop having withdrawals and suddenly he's unreliable. The eighth episode, "Fireside Chat," is so exciting and, in my opinion, exhibits superior acting, writing, and directing. It is distinctively apparent with "Fireside Chat" that James Purefoy had much more freedom to stretch in this show. It's thrilling to watch him go for it in depicting Wayne's desperation when he's in the hotel's bathroom.

I'm also a fan of the 7th episode "En la ciudad de la furia" (In the city of fury) because the history fills in why something transpired in the third episode with Ted Malek (David Fridman).

Finally, it would be amazing to pull off a crossover episode using mistaken identity between two characters working a case separately for different purposes. I've never seen it done before in which an actor has starred on two different shows years apart from each other would play two characters in merging the two shows into a crossover. The premise is that you have Hap Collins crossing into "El Candidato" territory from "Hap and Leonard" with his buddy Leonard Pine (Michael Kenneth Williams), and unbeknownst to each other Wayne Addison is working the same case as theirs, but not necessarily sharing scenes together. James Purefoy gets to portray two of our favorite crime-fighting characters! 
Imagine a scene in which Hap and Wayne almost cross paths, missing each other by two seconds. They both stop like they sensed something weird, and then shake it off and keep going forward to wherever it was they were going.

When Leonard mistakes Wayne for Hap out in public and then freaks out when Wayne says, "I've never seen you before in my life. I'm not your buddy, but I hope you find him." Hap returns from somewhere else and Leonard freaks out again. Hap suggests humorously that Leonard could have been hallucinating from something else in his pipe, and they bicker back and forth trying to make their point.

Or if Hap meets someone from the agency who mistakes him as Wayne. He has no idea of Wayne's secrets when they ask questions. It backfires so Wayne has to double back and fix it to keep people off his back.
 
Of course, this is most implausible, but it's really fun to write it. I admit that this is my most self-indulgent, ambitious, and risky choice. Keep it simple and focus on the comedy.

I love the "puzzles" made by David Lynch and Stephen King, yet, they tend to leave the viewer with so many unanswerable questions. There's also a tendency to over-complicate the story when involving twins, Gemini mythology, and alter-ego themes. When limited by a fixed amount of time, one can get into deep water with the overwritten psychoanalytical dialogue.

Share in the comments if you have other fun ideas for "El Candidato" or other shows you follow.

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