Tuesday, July 31, 2012

'The L.A. Complex' Asks Us to Choose Battles, But I Can't Even Choose My Favorite Character...

As much as I loved just how matter-of-fact Simon (Michael Levinson) is about Hollywood-- and how ridiculous Nick's (Joe Dinicol) walk back to the writer's room-- in direction toward In N Out, by the way-- the third episode of the new batch of The L.A. Complex was really all about Raquel (Jewel Staite) and Kal (Andra Fuller) for me.

"Choose Your Battles" saw Kal back in the studio, laying down a hot new track about his time with Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson). Perhaps because of the subject matter of the song and his recently, increasingly fragile mental state, he kept seeing Tariq everywhere, which tripped him up when dealing with the press and with the beats. While it's supposed to be therapeutic and cathartic for an artist to put their feelings, experiences, and emotions into metaphorical stories, this time around it didn't seem to help Kal. And I also have to wonder just how those who stood there bobbing their heads along to his beat didn't know exactly what he was talking about. Singing about swinging and screwing up a guy's left eye isn't a metaphor: it's an exact recap of what happened! While his "boy" is looking out for him right now in the basest sense and making sure he doesn't take drastic action again, he's not doing what Kal really needs: he's not being a real friend and asking what's going on. If he suspects, he's sweeping it under the rug, letting it go unsaid, and that can be even more detrimental in the end.

I want to believe that Kal is really torn by what he did to Tariq-- not just because of Tariq but also because of what it says about himself. I see that he is torn, period, so clearly on Fuller's face in every scene. He does more behind the eyes than I believe I have ever seen. It is the epitome of "That faaace," to indicate how much his emoting makes the audience feel, too. 

I want to believe that Kal sees just how dangerous his frame of mind is. I think we got hints of that during the (amazing!!) battle (that punk obviously came with a prewritten verse, which is a bitch move, and it was still inferior), but we got even more when he pulled his friend off the kid. He's learned a lesson, even if it's not the full one yet, and he's taking steps towards being a better man. I imagine that's what giving away his posturing chain and going to visit his father is about. I only hope it doesn't prove to bite him in the ass.

On the flip side, Raquel truly brings out the best in Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore), and it was oddly sweet to see them, well, being oddly sweet with each other. She doesn't necessarily challenge him, but she certainly makes him feel comfortable, and a guy like him just needs that sense of security to survive, let alone thrive. She calmed him immediately when he was worried over the rewrite, and then she forced him to step it up on-set. She really is good, and Staite is great at acting within acting, a surprisingly nuanced task that not every talent can successfully tackle.

I am a fan and a friend of Krista Allen's, but if this show doesn't start letting us into Jennifer's world soon, I'm going to have a hard time watching her carry on with Connor and still care. Right now their relationship is still very much an orchestrated B.S., and I have a hard time believing Connor would toss away the good thing he started to get going with Raquel (though it was kind of amazing how quickly he "switched on" when she popped up on set) for something that means nothing. He's not even getting a per diem out of it!

Now, I know we will eventually get to know more about Jennifer and the deeper "why" behind this strategic move, but I want it to get there a bit faster, which is something I never thought I'd have to say for this show. Perhaps it is because they have yet to spend any real alone time together-- even at his birthday dinner, they were in public; there was a paparazzo with them; they couldn't be open and real. And maybe she isn't interested in or ready to open up to him yet. But even seeing moments that depict that pulling back would speak volumes about her vulnerability.

Raquel is so razor sharp, though. Her quippy little marks to Jennifer about "apparently not" being in anything she would have seen or "just about to" grab the knife certainly made me smile, and it seemed like they did for Connor, as well. Those two have an understanding, and I want to see them roll their eyes at each other, in on the secret that this "relationship" he has for the tabloids is ridiculous. She already knows more than she should, and the idea that she might use that as leverage-- or simply as a way to bring herself closer to Connor while Jennifer continues to keep him at bay-- is what makes her so interesting. She's smart, and she knows how to play the game; it's what makes her such a joy to watch.

"Choose Your Battles" left me with so many questions, though: Will Raquel ever tell Connor he was her baby's father or will she consider it a moot point now that she's no longer pregnant? Does Kal's dad know he's gay and was praying for his redemption from those considered sins or was he simply asking his son to purify himself against the rest of this lifestyle-- the groupies, the partying, the bright lights and bong hits? Is Kal actually going to his father to attempt to be saved? Clearly next Tuesday can't come fast enough!

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