Like Uncle, Like Niche: Rucaya and Eric/Rachel/Jack
Remember how Michael Jacobs once said that Riley is more like Eric than Cory?
This is about to get complicated, but hear me out.
In terms of BMW-analog assumptions, most people came into the show with the assumption that:
Riley = Cory
Maya = Shawn
Lucas = Topanga
Farkle = joke character who’s there for comic relief (like Minkus)
That’s the impression we’re given in the pilot, anyway. It’s never explicitly stated that Lucas “is” Topanga, but that’s the assumption we were primed to make based on Cory saying that Riley “is [him].” Later on we learn that Farkle isn’t just LIKE Minkus, he IS a Minkus. Isn’t it interesting that they left his status as a biological legacy character out of the pilot? And that it didn’t come up until later, in GM Maya’s Mother? It’s like they didn’t want us to think it was a big deal…but it kinda is. Anyway, I digress.
So, there was NEVER a Cory/Topanga/Shawn triangle on BMW, not really. There were a few moments where you thought, “oh hey…maybe?” But no. Noooo no no. Not a thing.
But on GMW, turns out the “Shawn” and the “Topanga” DO have feelings for each other. But they can’t exactly parallel the REAL Shawn and Topanga because well…that never happened.
When it comes to the Rucaya triangle, the truer character parallels are:
Riley = Eric
Maya = Jack
Lucas = Rachel
(Farkle = non-issue, no parallel)
Eric is the goofball weirdo. Jack is the cool guy. Their friendship dynamic is similar to Riley and Maya in a few ways, but that’s the big one. Both Eric and Jack are attracted to Rachel from day one. They meet her completely at random in the hallway of their apartment building as she’s leaving her boyfriend. (Later on it’s kinda implied that she and the boyfriend came to Philadelphia from Texas although it’s never explicitly stated to my knowledge.) She immediately becomes their roommate.
They start out by actively competing for her, but quickly decide that they should all be friends. It doesn’t really stick.
At one point, Rachel says that she likes Eric’s goofiness and Jack’s sensitivity, and that she wishes she could combine them into one person. SO ERIC DRESSES IN ALL BLACK AND FAKES A KIND OF A SOULFUL SENSITIVE GOTH PERSONA.
Remind you of anyone? **cough*MOROTIA*cough**
Like Uncle, like niche:
Eric, Rachel, and Jack are a lot older than these kids, of course. Rachel takes Jack down to the laundry room and pretends to seduce him before basically saying that she wants to have Eric around, not pretend-dark-Eric. Eric returns to normal.
At the end of the episode, Eric and Rachel return to the apartment to find Jack dressed in a clown costume, riding around on a tricycle. Eric exclaims, “that’s my bike!” The episode ends as Rachel takes Jack down to the laundry room, presumably for the same talk Eric got earlier although we don’t actually see it.
Jack as a clown riding Eric’s tricycle, Maya as Riley talmbout circuses:
Granted, the catalyst for Eric & Jack’s transformation is different from the catalyst for Riley & Maya’s transformation—and the resolution is different too—but the overall theme of both plots is eerily similar.
Later, Eric and Rachel play The Fiancée Game with Cory and Topanga. (They were just kinda hanging out in the student union when they got roped into playing, they weren’t a couple by any stretch.) We only see them answer one question, but Rachel knows that Eric’s favorite fish is a “Pengwin.” Because of this, an elated Eric believes he and Rachel are meant to be together, but he returns home to find Jack and Rachel kissing—she’d been comforting him after Chet’s death. (Cory and Topanga, on the other hand, miss every question. 😂)
Like Uncle, like niche again:
And there’s a slight parallel between Eric walking in on Rachel and Jack kissing and Riley overhearing Lucas and Maya’s conversation on the rooftop.
In season seven, alterna-future Rachel has moved to…Texas.
And what’s interesting about that is how much the “bad” future from the BMW S7 prank war episodes wound up coming true. Eric becomes Mr. Squirrels for real, Jack becomes an “evil businessman"…we don’t know anything about Rachel except that she and Eric are still friends and she and Jack parted ways. And obviously it’s a BIG DEAL that Eric & Jack showed up to tell Riley the story of their triangle just as the Rucaya triangle starts to go way high key.
The parallels go on and on (and I’m not going to catalog all of them here), but I think what sticks out most to me is…the blocking. As the Eric/Rachel/Jack triangle plotline goes on, Jack and Rachel are usually put next to each other, and often have furtive little moments that don’t call too much attention to themselves. They have big ones too, but the little moments happen for them in a way that they don’t really happen for Eric and Rachel, even though they have some sweet moments too.
I mean, they even pull the same kinda trick in the credit sequences:
So yeah. Obviously I think the Rucaya triangle is going to ultimately settle the same way the Eric/Rachel/Jack triangle did, with The Rachel and The Jack together. But (aside from the obvious age/developmental gap) there are some major, important differences to consider as far as how it’ll play out in the long term:
(1) Eric and Jack didn’t have nearly the friendship foundation that Riley and Maya do. They’d only known each other about a year when they met Rachel, they weren’t childhood friends willing to sacrifice their feelings in order to give the other a chance.
(2) They actively competed for Rachel’s “hand,” as it were, from the start. This is not the case with Riley and Maya. And it’s implied that Jack and Rachel’s breakup at the end of S6/beginning of S7 is primarily a result of Eric & Jack’s cavalier attitude about said competition.
(3) Jack and Rachel kissed and then kept on kissing once their moment arrived. They jumped right on in. They began officially dating almost immediately. They end up cohabitating alone almost immediately because Eric moves out. They kinda consider Eric’s feelings, but not as much as the new generation kids take each other into consideration.
(4) They didn’t have grown-up Corpanga for mentors.
And of course, even when there are strong parallels, stories on GMW never play out EXACTLY as they did on BMW, at least not in terms of those initial BMW-analog assumptions which I detailed at the beginning of this post. So even though I think the Rucaya triangle will resolve with the same pairing as the Eric/Rachel/Jack triangle in the long run, I don’t think the story is going to play out the exact same way, because the underlying relationships are different in some very crucial ways.
Finally, there’s the way Eric comes to the realization that he doesn’t really love Rachel. When Shawn asks Eric point blank why he thinks they’d make a good couple and what it is about Rachel spiritually that attracts him, all Eric can talk about is how pretty she is. He realizes that he was more into the competition than the girl herself. Obviously this differs from Rucaya in a major way because there’s never been an active competition between Riley and Maya (and the friendship between Riley/Lucas and Maya/Lucas is stronger than Eric/Rachel and Jack/Rachel), but the basic concept is that while Eric IS genuinely Rachel’s friend, his romantic feelings toward her were based entirely on aesthetics. I wonder if Riley is going to come to a similar conclusion sometime in S3—although her Lucas feels aren’t based on looks ALONE; it’s a combo of looks+idealism.
So yeah. I recommend an Eric/Rachel/Jack-based re-watch of BMW S6 & S7. Pay particular attention to the blocking in S6, and those little moments where the emotional connection between Jack and Rachel grows. It’ll make your brain crumble a bit.
It’s a bummer this photo never got run by the mag. It was primarily due to the fact that a Back 360 is more a sequence trick. I was inspired by Kyle Camarillo to shoot a still over the former. Probably the craziest trick I’ve shot to date. You’re one of a kind Cam.
I started writing about Spectre yesterday, thinking I’d have a lot to
say, but—I kinda don’t. I enjoyed it enough to see it again the next
day, but sadly it didn’t reward a second viewing. I mean, I loved it,
because I’m a Bond fan and it’s SUCH a Bond film. Very self-consciously
so: it seemed to go back to the style and substance of the pre-Craig
years, not least in its constant references to pretty much every other
Bond film. But it just doesn’t have the emotional depth of Skyfall. You
can tell right from the pre-credits sequence: Skyfall used its action
opening to set up a complicated story about Bond’s relationships, from
the moment he catches the downed agent’s eye but is forced to abandon
him (“I have to stop the bleeding,” he says over his comm. “Leave him!
,” M orders), to the moment Moneypenny’s forced by M to “take the bloody
shot,” and hits him. That whole chase is punctuated by shots of Bond’s
fellow agents—M, Tanner, Moneypenny—reacting to his fate. It situates
him in a network of human relationships to be broken and re-formed in
the course of the film. That’s what Skyfall’s about, really:
relationship, shared history, and the price and reward of needing
In contrast, Spectre’s opening gives us Bond lone-wolfing
it in Mexico City, chasing down a mysterious someone for reasons we
don’t know, and while it’s absolutely classic Bond action, it’s harder
to care because you’re not sure what’s at stake. (Eventually Spectre
explicitly walks away from what made Skyfall moving: “We can’t just
desert Bond,” says Moneypenny. “We have to,” says Tanner. “We only make
That’s pretty much the whole film, actually:
nothing much is at stake, though they keep trying to say there’s a Great
Mystery about Bond to be known. Seems they’re trying to give a payoff
that ties together all the previous Craig films, but man, that payoff just didn’t work for me. It has no thematic heft. It wanted to be about ghosts, but
didn’t seem willing to just go with that metaphor; seemed leery of
metaphor in general, actually. Instead of integrated motifs it had a
series of sticky-note references, starting with the epigram, “The dead
are alive,” clumsily telegraphed again and again: “”With him gone, I’m a
dead woman”; “Here we are, two dead men enjoying our evening,” etc. I
can drag out interesting tropes, but they’re piecemeal. Skyfall was
unafraid of metaphors, and managed to make them organic, like that
Turner painting in the gallery where Bond met Q, “a grand old warship
being ignominiously hauled away for scrap.” Spectre doesn’t seem to want
to go there; it’s all action, with none of the striking setpieces that
made Skyfall memorable. (Silva in his glass cage, for instance, or the
Macao fight in the glass skyscraper, or the Skyfall estate with its
moor, its stag gates, its chapel, and the gamekeeper who remembers Bond
as a boy, another emotional relationship he finds that he needs).
So the lit geek in me
has a sad; there’s no theme here, no deeper guiding meaning. Skyfall was
a story about relationships, history, embodiment, and age. Spectre is
about…Spectre, I guess. About systems of information and surveillance,
sure, but without powerful images to hang those themes on. (And dear
god, the tentacle porn credit sequence does not count.) Inasmuch as it’s
about systems, it also seems to be more about the franchise as a whole
than Bond as a person; the pleasure comes not from following Bond’s
character development but from catching all those references to other
films. (Baron Samedi from Live and Let Die; the train fight in From
Russia With Love; the helicopter fight from For Your Eyes Only; death at
the Spectre meeting table from Thunderball; the alpine clinic from Her
Majesty’s Secret Service; Bond talking to the rat in Diamonds are
Forever; the torture scene from Goldfinger…I could go on.)
But Q, right? And Moneypenny with her heart of gold and spine of spunk. Yes, there was definitely more of them, and yes, my shipper’s heart perked up—but the relationships
weren’t loaded the way they were in Skyfall, because neither presented a real
challenge to Bond’s self-definition. I mean, it’d be hard to match Eve’s straight razor scene (”Old dog–new tricks”), or that gallery
sequence and the painting, but still. (Hm. It’s tempting to say that Spectre’s more of a fanboys’ film than fangirls’, because it rewards mastery of lore more than empathy with relationships, but that whole men-are-from-mars-women-from-venus thing is only so useful.)
So yeah. Great as a Bond film, fun but not deep. I’ll wait for the fanfic.