BBC’s 1980 Thérèse Raquin miniseries

2nd episode:

The next installment kicks off with Laurent informing the Thursday Domino Crew about Camille’s “accidental drowning,” so they can tell Camille’s mother. Everyone seems to accept the news.

Laurent starts lurking at the local morgue, in the hopes that he will be able to identify  Camille’s body. I’m not sure why it startled me so much, but the morgue scenes are quite shocking–I guess this created a furor back in the day because of the full frontal nudity, but I don’t care about that. I was disturbed by the very gross decaying bodies, though. Yeah, I’m not screencapping any of those

Meanwhile back at the local wine bar, Laurent has apparently been describing the horror of the morgue to his friend. Dear Abby Vidal wants to know why Laurent keeps going to the morgue since it is so upsetting. He truly is the voice of reason among these people, adulterous but not murderous reason.

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“Bring your problems to Dear Abby Vidal. All your problems will be solved.”

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Say it with me: “Stop going to the creepy-ass morgue.”

Laurent feeds him bullshit about how he’s just concerned that Thérèse won’t get whatever is rightfully hers if Camille cannot be conclusively proven dead. Dear Abby Vidal seems less than impressed.

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“My greatness is completely wasted on you.”

God, can you imagine having Laurent as a friend? All he does is mope and obsess. He’s that friend who, after getting in a relationship, can talk about nothing else and then doesn’t understand why he no longer has any friends because nobody else wants to listen to that shit when you’d rather be venting about work or chatting about movies or current events or, God forbid, the weather. If I were Vidal, I think I’d be drinking a shitload more wine to get through these visits.

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“There is not enough alcohol in all the world to make up for this.”

Laurent continues to visit the morgue because he just can’t help himself now. Then he spots what seems to be Camille’s body. I hope it’s true, so we can avoid more of these gross morgue visits.

[Note after watching the entire miniseries: It is Camille’s body. Overall, this show is tightly plotted, but I find it curious that none of the other characters discuss this plot development. Evidently, Laurent does notify them, as suggested by some comments later, but it just seems like something that would have been mentioned in passing with the Thursday Night Crew or between Laurent and Camille’s mother and widow shortly after this scene.]

Regardless, Camille’s death proves to not change much of anything because the Thursday Domino Crew still come once a week, come hell or high water. Literally. Camille’s drowning does not stop them. Camille’s mother’s grief does not stop them. They are gonna play dominoes and drink tea on Thursday evenings, dammit, and Camille’s mother just needs to cut her emotional sobbing shit out because it’s ruining the game.

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“My only son is dead, and you bastards just want to play dominoes as if he’s still here.”

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“My grief counseling training advocated minimizing the bereaved’s feelings in the most condescending way possible.”

What a bunch of assholes. At least Dear Abby Vidal comes with wine and tries his best to be sympathetic even when he obviously thinks you’re beyond the reach of common sense.

Later, Laurent and  Thérèse find some time to compare notes away from the others. I like how stilted Laurent’s and  Thérèse’s conversations are now that they’re trying to pretend like they totally didn’t murder Camille so that they can have an affair. You can tell they think they’re being really sly, and they’re really not. But, in a quiet moment, they readily admit to having no moral problem with what they did. As long as they’re both on the same page. . . .

We then go to Dear Abby Vidal’s studio, where Laurent watches his friend paint a nude model. In the meantime, we learn that Dear Abby Vidal is making a name for himself in the painting world and even can afford a new, spacious studio. Not that he ever has time to tell Laurent any of these updates because Laurent is too busy talking about how creepy the local morgue is. In a moment that is equal parts condescending, generous, and creepy, Dear Abby Vidal offers his model to Laurent, so she can take his mind off Thérèse. What a pal. Laurent turns him down.

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Being painterly.

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“I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

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“Friends pimp out their models, so other friends will stop being moping wet blankets.”

Meanwhile, the first real chance Laurent has to be with Thérèse, she turns him down. Sex just isn’t quite as much fun once you’ve murdered a guy.

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Murder: the ultimate libido killer.

And then the sexually frustrated, guilt-laden hallucinations about Camille start for both of them.Somehow, Laurent deduces if they were married and in the same bed this wouldn’t happen. I think Dear Abby Vidal would have had a better solution.

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“Did you know it’s scientifically proven you can’t have nightmares if someone else is in the room with you?”

Thérèse suspects his theory may not work and says they need to shut all this shit down, even in private. Then she decides that if they work it just right, it will cause the others to propose marriage for them, which will seem less suspicious than if they suggest the idea themselves.  Of course, the Thursday Domino Crew are easily manipulated into doing just this.

The  proposal itself is black comedy gold. They get what they want–everyone’s approval–but he goes on and on about how he’s just doing it to please Camille’s mom and because he promised Camille he’d look after his wife. Thérèse is less than impressed.

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“I always hoped a man would make his marriage proposal to me all about my former mother-in-law and the deceased husband we murdered.”

Their wedding night is even better as they both royally freak the fuck out when they think they see Camille’s ghastly corpse in the room. Again, these characters are not likable, but they are compelling to watch, and their joint meltdown is pathetic, sad, and hilarious all at once.

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The kind of wedding night everyone dreams of.

Next page: “Episode 3”

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