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14 February 2016 @ 01:27 am
Rewatch: S1E02 "Dark Knight, the Second Chapter" (May 6, 1992)  
I rewatched both the Region 2 and Region 1 versions of "Dark Knight, the Second Chapter" (S102).

While the Region 2 DVDs stitch the two halves of "Dark Knight" (S101 & S102) together seamlessly, where the Region 1 DVDs separate them as aired, there is otherwise essentially no difference between the two regions for DK2 (S102)! Where the Region 1 DVDs present a version of DK1 (S101) that's distressingly full of holes, lacking many scenes that originally did air in Canada, those same DVDs present an uncut version of DK2 (S102). Even scenes that didn't always air in North America (like the "I shall repay you" flashback, and Fenner cutting the brake line with Nick hearing his keys) are right where they should be on the Region 1 DVD.

I don't know why the two regions treat the two halves of the one premiere so differently. You know FK. :-)

DK2 opens with a recap of DK1

Speaking of separating the two episodes, have you ever observed the clip-show recap of DK1 that opens DK2? I hadn't paid a great deal of attention, I must admit. Usually, I watch the two episodes back to back. This time through, watching them a week apart, the recap's excellence struck me.

More than just revealing what viewers need to know in case they missed DK1, the recap winds up the tension and re-establishes the suspense at an even higher pitch than DK1's own ending! Lacroix's voice-over is literally calling Nick out, a virtual Nightcrawler monologue heard by the audience but aimed at Nick, asking questions that summarize the mystery case and insinuating threats that summarize the theme. It's very nice work. Kudos to the writer and editor!

(Curiously, the clip-show recap includes little bits of scenes cut from DK1 on the R1 DVDs, so the R1 DVD audience would be seeing them for the first time in that fleeting form at the start of DK2. Oh, FK.)

Jeannie's courage

Jeannie is very brave to call out "No! Please!" when Fenner is about to murder Alyce. Jeannie had seen Fenner murder Topper, and had almost died at his hands herself. She's in terrible shape; she needs that ambulance for which Alyce phoned. And yet Jeannie calls out and falls off Nick's couch, trying to save Alyce.

We never learn much about Jeannie, just that she and Topper were inseparable, and that she's the one who decided that they shouldn't stay in Nick's garage because she didn't "want to owe anyone anything."

(Kathy W. once wrote a Jeannie fanfic, presenting what happens to Jeannie after DK2. If I remember correctly, it doesn't explore where Jeannie came from, her relationship with Topper, or why she worried so about "owing." It's about her future, not her past.)

Tag scene

Natalie asks, about the jade cup, "Are there any more like it?" Nick answers, "No one really knows." This means that a new jade cup may be discovered any time that a story calls for one. Naturally that's true of fanfiction! But, for the very first time, it occurred to me tonight that it could have been as true of canon. With all the conscious recapitulation of "Dark Knight" in "Last Knight," had the cup been revived as a plot element instead of... well, it would have made for a very different pair of bookends, anyway.

Rewatching on a bigger screen than I've been used to all this time, I'm newly charmed by what's going on down in the lobby, as Alyce watches from above. Natalie demands the cigarette in Schanke's hands; he reluctantly hands it over; they turn to go. Nick holds them up, demanding the box of cigarettes in Schanke's pocket; even more reluctantly, Schanke hands it over; they all head off.

Speaking of Alyce watching from above, outside, undead and well, in different clothes and jewelry than we last saw her... we never do learn why Nick thinks she's dead-dead -- "Alyce and Lacroix: they're the lucky ones" -- when she's not. Presumably Mr. Parriot had something in mind?

Repay and regret

Again, the "I shall repay you" flashback, notoriously missing from the CBS US broadcast of DK2 and then reused in "I Will Repay," is on the Region 1 DVD.

Storyboard: Lacroix sneers, "What do I have to do to get a rise out of you?" Nick, flat on his back, gathers himself and pushes, throwing Lacroix across the abattoir as Lacroix has previously thrown him. Lacroix lands on a metal spike on a grating. After a moment, Nick walks up and touches the metal spike. Nick then looks at the smashed shards of the jade cup on the concrete floor. Nick flashes back to his first night as a vampire in 1228, when he begged Lacroix to return his humanity, Lacroix refused, and Nick kissed Lacroix's ring, saying "I shall repay you." Nick leaves the abattoir and gets in the Caddy's trunk. Lacroix, on the metal spike, very faintly, smiles.

We pretty much all agree on that storyboard, I think. Yet few of us ever agree on what's going through these characters' minds, or what this flashback should mean to the interpretation of this episode and the entire series.

Someone recently reminded me that many FK fans truly think that Nick owes Lacroix fealty and honor for enslaving and abusing him. As you know, I don't think that.

What I do think is that the "repay" in Nick's grim statement means something different to Nick than it does to Lacroix, both at the time it's originally spoken and at the time we witness the flashback. Lacroix hears and remembers the statement as one-sided, a one-to-one exchange for what Lacroix considers an unmixed gift. Nick speaks and remembers the statement as multi-faceted, a complex response to an already troubling and regretted acceptance of a gift that cannot now be returned. To "repay" Lacroix with vengeance would be proportional, eye for an eye. To "repay" Lacroix with forgiveness would be saintly. Lacroix has just attempted to murder Alyce and has smashed the jade cup, and, with it, Nick's hopes. Instead of decapitating Lacroix (as Lacroix mere minutes ago threatened to do to Nick), or finding a wooden stake or pushing the grating into the sunlight, Nick lets Lacroix live. Surely, they're now "even?" Is not Lacroix "repaid" with his life for whatever good there was amidst all the evil?

No?

And this is why some of us are Knighties while others are Cousins. :-)

3 rhetorical questions

Nick asks, "Who cares how I did it?" Natalie answers, "You do!"

Lacroix asks, "Who needs to kill?" Nick answers, "You do!"

Lacroix asks, "Does it matter how or when?" Nick's actions answer twice, and his answer changes. Structurally, the scene where Alyce and Lacroix, in the present, urge Nick to bite Alyce, parallels the scene where Janette and Lacroix, in 1228, urge Nick to bite his first victim. (Alyce stands in for both Janette and the anonymous, comatose first victim.) In 1228, Nick succumbs, accepting the premise of Lacroix's rhetorical question. The second time, Nick refuses, his refusal a resounding, if unspoken, "Yes! It matters!"

And that's why I'm a Knightie. :-)

Miscellaneous observations

  • I love the detailed, prop-abundant sets! Only first season got to use reality as its set. Look at all that stuff in the background in the abattoir, the garage, even the clinic! I'm noticing it more than ever because of today's TV's much larger screen, but it's been there all along.

  • I like when Alyce cringes and raises her hand to her mouth in dismayed disgust when she sees Lacroix drink from the ladle of blood. It's an important reminder that this is shocking, that it's not the norm that Lacroix is trying to make it out to be.

  • It's 1992, all right: the "Can you get AIDS from sharing food?" and "AIDS Awareness Week" posters in the hospital, and the swimsuit-girls pin-ups in the garage.

  • Schanke's crack toward the nurse who wouldn't let him into the records without a warrant -- "There's a word for women like you, and it isn't nurse" -- is sexist, unprofessional and uncalled for. Maybe it was considered funny when it was first written in 1989.

  • Natalie has a pink African violet on her desk in her lab. I don't see a grow light, so doubtless that's why it doesn't last.

  • Alyce points out that she's a scientist, as she insists Nick bite her. Later in the series, but earlier in time, in the "Only the Lonely" flashbacks, Natalie will point out that she's a scientist. And of course much, much later in the series, in LK, Natalie will insist that Nick bite her. I wonder how all these things bump up against each other in Nick's mind at the critical moments.

  • With both Schanke and Lacroix, it's Nick's use of Alyce's name that gives away that he has a personal interest in her. When Nick says "Alyce" instead of "Dr. Hunter" to Schanke, Schanke thinks Nick's "withholding evidence." When Nick yells "Alyce, get out of here!" instead of just "Get out of here!", Lacroix wonders whether this is someone he "should meet."

  • In two scenes in DK2, Nick's expression crumbles and he tucks his face away... it looks as if he must have begun to cry, but you can't see (in the trunk after the jade cup is destroyed, and over Alyce's dead body). This is fairly unusual over the whole series; as a set of gestures, it doesn't happen often, ever, but it happens twice here.

  • DK introduces (repeatedly!) the weak(by vampire standards)/hungry/blood motif, and does it from all the angles, ensuring that canon is thoroughly mixed up on this from the start. :-) Lacroix says that Nick "needs blood to fight, needs blood to live," while Natalie says that "it's the blood that keeps [Nick] from coming over" and that he needs to "keep eating," and yet Natalie also says that Nick "would have starved to death" without the transfusion. Slow and steady is Natalie's prescription for eventual humanity. Instant gratification is Lacroix's prescription for vampirism.


What do you think? :-)

Next week: "For I Have Sinned" (S103)

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