Minor Character Love: Mrs. Biggs (Mrs. Big Arthur)
Played by Glenda Linscott
Dead Weight, S2 E4
Yes, she did commit murder. But I felt great compassion for this character. Her husband runs a traveling boxing troupe and is the quintessential hawker. She gets stuck with the sweeping up and the laundry. It can’t be an easy life or an easy marriage.
[Is that Archie’s tie from Dead Air?? But I digress…]
The Biggs take in an aboriginal boy, Jimmy, who becomes part of the troupe and is billed as “The Black Belter”. But he is so much more to the childless Mrs. Biggs, who comes to love Jimmy as her own son.
Jimmy dies after being severely beaten in the boxing ring by Kevin Bradley, a much larger bloke and member of a local gang called the Woolpackers. Kevin has been busy extorting money from Cora Derimutt whose sons, Tom and Dan, were involved in a gang scuffle the week before that resulted in the death of Constable Fry.
Mrs. Biggs witnesses an altercation between Cora Derimutt and Kevin Bradley during which Cora threatens Kevin with her late husband Possum’s bayonet.
When Kevin overtakes Cora, Mrs. Biggs wrenches the bayonet from Cora and stabs Kevin, telling Cora, “Go! Run! Your sons need you.” Mrs. Biggs then rips the money from where it is pinned inside of Kevin’s jacket, later telling Phryne she was going to use it to pay for Jimmy’s grave.
During her heartbreaking confession, Mrs. Biggs tells Phryne that Jimmy was more than part of the troupe. “He was my boy.” “Me, barren as the Nullarbor, like somebody’s mum.”
Mrs. Biggs straightens up, wipes her tears and states, ”I’ve got no regrets.”
Alright, can we
talk about episode 7, The Seventh Man,
for a second? Because I’m curious about what everyone else thinks as I haven’t
seen anything written about it, even though I’ve been hoping to catch something
in the tags.
Alright, so, the
Expanse - we’re years into the future,
yeah? So far into the future that people have become colorblind to the idea of race
(which, yes, has its own sets of problems, but that’s a separate issue). Racism,
as a whole, doesn’t seem to exist, but cultural oppression does. We have two
separate bodies in a position of power with a third that’s clearly being
oppressed and abused. Given what’s going on in the real world, I’ve always read
the conflict between inners and belters as an allegory to modern day racism,
which is why the framing of The Seventh
Man has been incredibly hard to swallow.
To be more
specific, I’m talking about the scene in which Fred (fucking) Johnson is
speaking to the Belter masses about the need to band together, about
leadership, about finally having a seat at the very table that’s been keeping
them oppressed for years. Considering everything that’s happening in the real
world, having a black man take point on this conversation is pretty empowering.
The issue is, they have Fred bow out, giving ownership of leading his people
out of their oppressive state to Dawes, who is white.
But Fred is an Earther, of course he
would hand this over to a Belter.
Okay, sure, but he’s
also a black man in the middle of a story line that’s dealing with oppression and
prejudice, a story line that can easily be substituted for the racism we see
Not only does Dawes
take control of the meeting, but he’s later joined by Holden, another white
man, who is attempting to support Fred, but is ultimately speaking over him. He
then continues to speak over Naomi, a black woman, about Belter issues, in an attempt
to justify why he spoke up in the meeting in the first place. (This isn’t about
Holden specifically, this issue is much bigger than him, and his character shouldn’t
be dragged for the framing of what happened).
I get that in the
Expanse!Verse, Fred is technically in the position of power. But it’s still
really shitty to see two white men taking on the roles of the ‘saviors,’
especially when it means sidelining and talking over Fred and Naomi. And for a
show that highlights its diversity, the framing of this particular episode is
really jarring, and is a nod to racism in media as a whole?
***addendum: Character wise, it makes sense, and I can understand the pitfalls, framing wise, it’s straddling a very slippery slope, pitting two white men against two black characters. This isn’t about Holden being as asshole.