Starting on Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore) once again in "Home" just proved that in this ensemble show, he really is the male lead. His erratic POV shots were a stylish way to showcase just how off the rails he was spiraling, but they almost weren't necessary. His erratic behavior has been saying it all, and if he isn't getting the rush or the fix he needs with drinking, burning himself, or random sex, there isn't anywhere else he can look for it that's not completely detrimental. What makes his story so tragic, though, is that even with a team of people around him, no one's really looking at him. No one sees the problem; they just see a young kid partying hard in the aftermath of his first success. No harm, no foul, right? Except there's a lot of harm being done to his psyche, and the longer everyone lets it go on, the worse it's going to get. That tea kettle wasn't enough anymore, so how long before getting punched in the face doesn't do it, either? Then where does he turn? Crashing a car into a tree? It's fascinating. So many people in this town just want to numb out, and here you have a guy desperately chasing to feel.
Sending a guy like Connor home from set for being unprepared or high as a kite is akin to suspending a kid who talks too much in class. It's removing him from the environment that actually has structure and therefore is the one in which he should be because those there are ill-equipped or time-deficient to properly deal with him. So he'll go home; he'll get into more trouble; he'll show up worse the next day. If they can't get the performance out of him that they need, they'll replace him-- or they'll make excuses and suddenly his character will develop a problem so his real life "eccentricities" are explained when they bleed over on-screen.
Taking him "home" to The Lux, though not that Teamster's fault, is also problematic. If The Lux is one non-stop party, that's the worst place for him. Whether he's high on something new or simply this unbalanced when he's off his regular meds is not really the issue. The issue is to cocoon him in safety and comfort with people who love and care for him. As selfish as she is, I think Raquel (Jewel Staite) would be there for him if she knew just how bad he was. She would provide a tough love that might not be the best approach for someone so damaged, but at least she'd be trying.
I feel like Abby (Cassie Steele) would be there for him, too. She's equally ill-equipped, but for different reasons (she's too young and naive to really have experienced the kinds of things that are troubling him), but she's not one-track-minded enough to hear the sad, dulcet tones in his voice about being sent home and immediately have her mind job to the opportunity he is wasting that she never would, ala Raquel's thought pattern. Though, she heard how torn up he was about being sent away again, and he was so desperate to just sit with her rather than to have to do so alone and in silence, and she couldn't-- or wouldn't-- respond to it. This show really makes me reconsider just when it is we have a responsibility to step in and intervene if someone we love or even kind of know seems to be in trouble. We may not always have the perfect answer or know exactly what to say or do, but taking an interest, and acknowledging the situation, is half the battle. It proves the other person isn't really as alone as he fears. Or feels.
Though there was a little part of me that couldn't help but smirk when Connor was trying to think of where "Home" even was and then the show cut to an establishing shot of the Vivid building.
Meanwhile, these weeks have flown by so fast that had the "previously on" not included the bit where Abby points out to Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson) that Kal (Andra Fuller) would never out him because it would be outing himself, I would have spent the entire sequence in the recording studio wondering if Kal was just paranoid and then how Abby actually knew about their relationship. Sometimes a fast pace in storytelling is a double-edged sword. In this case, an important character moment got buried in my mind under a lot of other stuff, and that was a shame because it made me watch the new moments differently.
I have come to love Kal so much, I admit that I watched him threaten Abby with a slight eye-roll. Fuller may have been one hundred and fifty percent committed to showing Kal's tough side, and Kal might have been the same, but I couldn't shake the image of how sweet he can be from my mind. This isn't a case of him really being Jekyll & Hyde for me-- I really believe his tough guy act is complete persona; a facade he hides behind. I'm not saying he doesn't know guys who could make Abby disappear-- and I'm not saying Abby was foolish to believe what she saw in front of her, but I've seen more, and I just don't believe he would ever really let it come to that. And the fact that he thinks he'll get better results by threatening her than leveling with her and just having her sign some kind of NDA or something is what makes him the most tragic of all.
Tariq standing up to Kal in the studio had to be short-lived. He's put up with worse than his friend being disrespected in order to keep his internship, after all. But Dynasty (Dayo Ade) watching the scenario play out and kind of sneering and rolling his eyes at Kal's front made me question if Dynasty has had his own suspicions about Kal's sexuality for awhile now and if this will come back to bite either of these guys in the near future. Everyone else in there is a guy on Kal's payroll, someone he tells what to think, and they just do. But not Dynasty. And what would he do if he knew the truth?
Oh but Alicia (Chelan Simmons) is a very close second. She makes the worst decisions, and even when her gut tells her something is wrong, she doesn't listen to it. I would judge her less if it was her gut telling her to do porn so at least she could put money in the bank and keep the roof over her head to continue on her dance audition quest, but if that were true, she wouldn't be embarrassed about telling people what she does-- even a complete stranger like her new car salesman.
I'm going to tell you something I don't like telling people: I worked on a show for PlayboyTV right after college when I needed to just take any freelance production gig to get credits and cash to pay my bills. I was never on-screen, but it was still not a project I advertised. And I wasn't alone: at least one of the cameramen used an alias in the on-screen credits. I never saw the finished product, and that was the only show on which I worked for which I never tried to hunt down a copy. And I worked on some crappy shows in my day. But still, even with my limited knowledge of that business, I have to imagine that Alicia's experience was a little too cookie-cutter. When she almost broke her contract at the last second, no one threatened her; no one even reminded her of her contract. I'm glad she remembered it, but her defensiveness was so short-lived, and she caved quite easily. It was all, happy family in the lunchroom, and bonding over candy like five year-olds, and cake! Sadly, there was never any cake on the PlayboyTV set. And I bet there are no sets where people give speeches about how thankful they are to have found everyone else there and loving them and toasting the new girl, who is ultimately new competition. Just ask Jenna Jameson. If that doesn't happen in the general industry, I really highly doubt it does in the adult industry.
Alicia is this wayward flower, and though she was never taken advantage of, she still seemed manipulated. That director (who really did dress like a lawyer) may have meant what she was saying, but it was still a party line. Even picking Maggie to show Alicia around felt calculated-- like you could lead the lamb to the slaughter if the lamb was first put at ease by another lamb who had assumedly been through the same process. And because of it, it was still a bit uncomfortable to watch someone who's clearly conflicted get talked into something that 1) you know will be bad for them and 2) doesn't seem to know what she really wants. I don't believe for a second that something good is going to come out of this choreographer's meeting her on the porn set. Even if he wasn't staring creepily at her mouth the whole time they were talking.
I have to say, I'm also a pretty disappointed in Gary (Rob Stewart) this week. ...You thought I was going to say Raquel, didn't you? You thought I was going to say that was her chance to come clean to him, right? But come on, we all know her better than that by now and the most we could hope for was that she'd apologize for falling off the fake wagon, which she technically did. No, I'm disappointed that he was as selfish as he was with her. That's a true indicator of someone still stuck in his own disease, and for that, he was right about one thing: it's too early in his sobriety to be involved with her-- or her business deal. But if he thinks she's messed up and in a worse place than him-- and needs a meeting-- then isn't it his duty as someone who recognizes the signs to get her the help she needs but may not be able to admit to yet? He left her standing dripping wet at the entrance to her apartment while he drove off in his hundred thousand dollar car, judging her. So typical L.A.
The juxtaposition of her big, dramatic apology in A.A., followed by her waiting in the parking lot because she just knew he would chase her out there, and Kal and Tariq's parking lot "apology" was quite poetic, though. I saw a glimmer there-- and then one later when Raquel and Gary were in bed together-- that said she really did have feelings for him. It may have started as a manipulation, but now her emotions may be manipulating her. The moment that flashed on her face, she tried to correct it, but why? Why not give in to this relationship? Why hold onto something that isn't going anywhere-- that can't go anywhere because you're both damaged in the same exact ways. Gary and Raquel are both damaged, but since she's not actually an alcoholic, it's not in the same manner. They say relationships can't last if they start on a lie, but I'm not talking permanent, til death do them part long-term. I'm just thinking actually dating, rather than her using him to get ahead.
Though, I do I feel like Kal and Raquel would be great friends and could probably even figure out a way to use each other to get exactly what they want, fame-wise. Of course, there is no organic way for them to interact in this story as we know it (bummer for me), but in some parallel universe...I can dream. This show has taught me that most of all.
Watching Nick (Joe Dinicol) finally sleep with Abby was a bummer for me, too. I want to see him succeed, and I loved that he finally got a moment of that in his personal life with Sabrina (Georgina Reilly). Their bedtime banter was adorable, even though I admit I went 'Really? Him?' when she wanted to jump him after just seeing him perform terrible in an Improv class. But to then turn around and sleep with Abby hours after? Gross, dude; did you even shower in between?
Random life lesson I picked up from an odd place tonight: I think those 24-hour sobriety chips should be handed to you when you turn thirteen, and then you should have to work to keep it. It puts something very real at stake for a lot of kids who are going to think their mistakes are just immature indiscretions.