The Sound and the Fury! I like this one – there’s something about Eiffel getting stuck arbitrating an incredibly petty and childish argument while no one pays attention to something profoundly weird and unspeakably dangerous that seems to sum up Wolf 359 quite nicely. At least for me.
This is the last of what I think of as our genre-pushing episodes. If Cataracts and Hurricanoes was an action thriller, Cigarette Candy a paranoia horror piece, and Super Energy Saver Mode was a haunted house story, The Sound and the Fury is about as pure of a sitcom episode as Wolf 359 is ever going to get. It’s another episode concept from the original ten in the series proposal, and I was excited to do something sillier and lighter after the last three episodes. The central conceit itself – Hera and Minkowski acting childish and immaturely while a bewildered Eiffel has to be the voice of reason – is very much a standard “Freaky Friday” role reversal sitcom trope, and I remember trying to model the feel of the dialogue and the jokes on a few of my favorite sitcoms – particularly Stephen Moffat’s Coupling.
Which, for anyone who’s keeping track, was a dumb way of doing things. “Dialogue and jokes.” I was copying the surface appearance of a masterfully written sitcom, but I wasn’t paying attention to Coupling’s clockwork plot structure, which is the real key to its humor. This isn’t just imitation – which I am always willing to condone – but imitation that misses the point. Tsk, tsk, Gabriel, rookie mistake…
Hey wait a minute, I thought I said that I liked this episode? Hmm…
Well, I both like it and I see its shortcomings. It was a blast to write, particularly because it was the first time that we really got to see Minkowski and Hera talking to each other for a prolonged period of time. I like a lot of the jokes, I like the turns, I even like both of Eiffel’s big speeches. It just kind of feels like what it is: a collection of good moments that don’t necessarily build up to more than the sum of their parts. Not a bad thing by any measure, but looking back I’d love to be able to go back and take another crack at putting a bit more bones under that meat, to completely over-belabor a metaphor.
What brings it all together, at least for me, is the Hilbert/Blessed Eternal subplot. If I remember correctly, the Space Mutant Plant Monster possessing Hilbert was Zach’s idea, and it felt like exactly the right ludicrous counterpoint to everything that was happening with Minkowski and Hera. I’d actually intended for the Plant Monster to never be mentioned ever again after the events of Discomforts, Pains, and Irregularities, but the idea of Hilbert getting turned into a puppet for a sentient, malevolent botanical monster was too good to not use. Plus, it meant that I was able to use that Little Shop of Horrors reference I wasn’t quite able to squeeze into the third episode. All hail the Blessed Eternal…
I know that some people have real problems with this episode because they perceive the central conceit to be that Minkowski and Hera fighting is meant to be funny because it’s the two female characters having a spat. My sincere apologies if this is what you got out of this episode – rest assured that the joke was intended to be funny because they are the sanest, most competent members of the crew, nothing more or nothing less.
“Shut up, Plant-Hilbert,” is one of my favorite lines in the series. I so wish that I’d realized that it very much wanted to be a last line in an episode and cut everything after the comms getting switched off. Oh well.
Ahh, Hera’s biology rant. A lot of people’s favorite Hera moment, and I do quite like it. Much like Eiffel’s back-and-forth from the previous episode, it does a good job of sneaking in some important character perspectives through the amusing hijinks.
Our second Shakespeare title? Not quite. Eiffel was probably thinking less Macbeth and more about this event.
Out of all the crazy things that I’ve made Zach Valenti read, Plant-Hilbert’s long, droning speech extolling the wonders of the Blessed Eternal might just be the weirdest. If you haven’t already, you can hear the full version at our website’s Extras page.
And we’ll go on directly with a new post. This is GIVEs “Heaven Is Waiting” ep in two different versions. I grabbed the blue one for 4 Euros at Refuse Records Distro during the Despise You Europe Tour this summer. It is limited to 175 copies. The pink one is with a special Sound & Fury Cover and is limited to 100 copies.