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22 February 2016 @ 12:34 am
Rewatch: S1E03 "For I Have Sinned" (May 12, 1992) by Philip John Taylor  
"For I Have Sinned" (FIHS) is one of the many episodes for which the German title ignores the English context. The English title quotes the traditional opening line of a Catholic confession ("Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned"), which resonates through the episode on different levels for Nick, Schanke, Magda, and Father Rouchfort — and perhaps even for an attentive audience — as well as for the villain, while the German title, "Avenging Angel" ("Der Racheengel") applies to the villain alone. (And of course this choice uses up that title before the actual "Avenging Angel" (S3E17).)

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with FIHS. Some elements, like St. Joan and Magda, I adore! I can happily watch their scenes over and over. Other bits, like Nick egging on Schanke's confession, I struggle with. I still can't sit through that scene without chastising Nick, although I do begin to see its humor as I couldn't when I was younger.

Catholicism in FIHS

FIHS is one of the more accurate invocations of my religious tradition that I've seen in service of plot points in a television police procedural, but that's a low bar, and the episode still has a few issues.

Tonight, I don't feel like grappling with those issues one by one, so instead I'll just sum up the good old rationalizations:
  • Where a character says something not quite right and the character surely knows better, we'll say that it's because that character was under great stress or distracted, and didn't find the right words for exactly what was meant.
  • Where certain costumes, props, sets and behaviors are conspicuously outdated, we'll say that FK's Toronto in general and this St. John's in particular are just markedly traditional.

I do love that the episode is set during Lent, and was originally meant to air during Lent, and, hey! it's Lent right now. Nick even wears a purple t-shirt, matching the purple stole... subconscious or pure coincidence, it's fun.

FK's Joan of Arc

FIHS offers a bounty of observations and theories to push and pull about this version of St. Joan, but tonight the one that particularly intrigues me is that in the first flashback (1428), Joan knows Nick's name ("Nicolas de Brabant, the man of the night"), but Nick doesn't know hers ("Courage! What's your other name?"). Did her grandmother, who told her about vampires, personally know Nick, or know a tale of him? Or had Joan previously encountered Nick? Or did her voices — Sts. Margaret, Catherine and Michael — tell her about Nick?

FIHS comes so early in the series that there is yet no established formula for the flashbacks. When there is a trend to which to compare, FIHS will be unique in setting its flashbacks so far apart (1428 and 1431).

"Why tackle this now?"

It's perhaps worth noting that the Nick of the flashbacks — "dark" Nick, presumably — apparently had no problem walking into churches, past all sorts of symbols and trappings, while today's Nick is rendered dizzy and even unconscious by them. On the other hand, huge tongues of fire erupt when flashback Nick even reaches toward a cross, while today's Nick, in the end, can hold Magda's cross necklace without injury ("It burns, but not as much").

I wonder at what points in his history Nick noticed the arcs of these tolerances bending. And why they bend.

Region 1 v. Region 2

I rewatched only the Region 2 DVD of "For I Have Sinned" tonight.

As I recall from earlier rewatchings, fwiw, the only cut dialogue is from the extended version of Alma's scene when she plans to bite Schanke, in which she has some lines of little resonance, such as being "a dancing doctor" in her next life. (This is another of the FIHS scenes at which I always cringe.) The "Eurominutes" cuts are all dialogue-free: Nick walking down the street, Nick hearing Magda from a distance, more establishing shots all around, more shots of the villain.

(Is anyone besides PJ following this? If it's just me and PJ, I'll stick to Region 2.)

Schanke, adultery, and sexism

We learn in FIHS that Schanke's father and grandfather were adulterers, and that this has apparently left Schanke with the mixed-up convictions that committing adultery is somehow a masculine virtue and a human vice, simultaneously. I wonder how Schanke learned that about his father and grandfather, and what pain that behavior caused the family, generation after generation. I wonder how this contributes to potential suspicions of Myra's fidelity faintly alluded to in "Dying to Know You" and "Partners of the Month."

In the parking lot outside the furniture and appliance store, Schanke's initial disbelief that the woman victim could have been having an affair is both a little charming, via Nick's crack "I thought you were a man of the world," and more than a little sexist, as it's apparently boast-worthy for a man but unthinkable for a woman. This becomes an early component of what later episodes will build into an oblivious, persistent, low-level sexism by Schanke. Letting Natalie and Nick look raised-eyebrows at Schanke over this from time to time in various episodes proved useful as a commenting technique.

We never do learn anything about Schanke's mother, do we?

Garlic pills

The garlic pills that Natalie has prescribed clearly put Nick through some kind of terrible reaction when he swallows them. Does she know about that reaction, I wonder? Or has he hidden it from her, whether on purpose or by mistakenly just assuming that she knows when she doesn't?

In FIHS, Natalie talks about Nick needing to "confront [his] immortal fears," and that perhaps the cross should be "next" on their list of such fears (after food, sunbed, garlic pills?). This might seem to imply that she's prescribed the garlic less in hopes of a specific biological result than because she considers it something of which Nick is unreasonably afraid, and she's hoping that desensitization conditioning will render it less fearful to him. Yet Nick doesn't necessarily seem to perceive the garlic pills that way, judging from his "the garlic pills are an improvement" remark, looking at his hand, burned by the earlier victim's cross.

Magda and the babysitter cop

The scene between Magda and the officer in the hotel room should be comedy, as written, but, in my opinion, the actor playing the officer didn't play the role in the way that would have brought it off as comedy. Obviously, Magda is deliberately driving this poor man out of the room — so that she can escape and go play bait — by saying and doing inappropriate things. If this officer is really the sort of person who can be driven by those behaviors, shouldn't he be blushing and reacting, not calm and steady?



What do you think?

Next week: "Last Act" (S1E04)

Comments on Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable
 
 
 
waltdwaltd on February 26th, 2016 05:06 am (UTC)
100-103
Hi. I'm following you and I think it's a great idea. I just having had the time to make any cogent comments.

Very briefly:

Nick Knight - I liked it; it had some really good moments

Dark Knight - had the very real advantage of being a re-write. Perriott had a chance to change, adapt, update, whatever. Adding Nigel Bennett was brilliant.

FIHS - I loved the scene with Schanke in the Confessional; to me it's just hysterical and very evident of FK's ability to no take itself so darned seriously like some series do. And, even though it's very early in the series, basically I think it's very well written.

:-)
greerwatsongreerwatson on April 20th, 2016 10:18 pm (UTC)
Re: 100-103
The scene in the confessional has always been one of my favourites, too.