Midnight, Texas S02E02 "The Monster of the Week is Patriarchy" Review

On this week's "Midnight, Texas" Manfred is tasked with ridding the hotel of an evil spirit... but there ends up being more to the story than what he initially suspects. Fiji is increasingly suspicious of the strange happenings around Bobo and worries that something evil is after him. Joe is dodging the calls fo his new hunter 'friend' Walker. Then there's Lem and Olivia whose struggles over their invasive mental connection are approaching a boiling point. What strengths do these stories have? Let's explore.

Colconnar didn't kill my plants.

What each of the three plot arcs I've picked out to highlight for this week's episode have in common is that they're refreshingly subversive. When Fiji quickly picks up on the impending supernatural threat that is coming after Bobo, she never lets his optimistic naivety sway her from knowing that this threat is very real. It's not to say that he's completely helpless, of course, but considering the existing 'damsel-in-distress' trope that often plagues heterosexual romantic pairing dynamics in works of fiction it's exciting to see Fiji swoop into action and even use her powers if necessary to intercept a flying object that's about to take Bobo out. Parisa Fitz-Henley beautifully portrays the worry of a woman that has searched so long for romantic love and now is at risk of potentially losing it.

I just need you to back off.

The very concept of romantic love is often depicted as uncomfortably dramatic. Passion and lust can be over-the-top but for a relationship to truly stand the test of time, there needs to be a healthy, functional dynamic. The idea of 'two people becoming one' isn't compelling, nor is the equally bizarre stereotype that removes an individual identity from the people involved or in worse cases their agency too. Lem's permanent access to Olivia's thoughts, feelings, and emotions has quickly lost it's shine. Olivia is and has always been a highly independent woman. Even if in the heat of the moment of a brawl or some other intense incident she is experiencing a less-than-pleasant internal sensation it does not mean that she can not handle the situation. It's only natural that Lem jumping into action to handle her problems for her would be irritating.

Still, the writers have beautifully balanced the conflict by having Lem elaborate that the nature of these sensations is how painful it is for him to not jump into action since it truly does feel like he is the one experiencing the threat at that point. This means neither party is blatantly right or wrong and so the problem doesn't have an obvious solution. Often times in scripted dramas the fabricated conflict between two characters will feel petty, incessant, and become grating very quickly. If the problem is easily fixed, the more insufferable it becomes for viewers to sit through writers drawing out the drama for drama's sake. This 'fight' between Lem and Olivia feels more real, despite the cause being supernatural. It's a clever plot point and viewers are left to ponder just how it can be resolved and further incentivise them to continue watching.

Entombed in the hotel forever

Manfred copes with the loss of Creek, who has now left Midnight to start life anew, by throwing himself into 'psychic work', so to speak. He realises there is a ghostly presence in the hotel and a guest ends up dead from being attacked by it. Through further investigation, he learns that there's actually two ghosts that were a married couple while alive that had an incredibly volatile relationship that culminated in the husband killing the wife before killing himself. As the title of this episode addresses toxic patriarchal behaviour, which this ghost-husband fully embodies, it offers Manfred the opportunity to learn from this terrible behaviour.

When all is said and done with defeating the ghosts and releasing their spirits to move on from their haunted state, Manfred admits to Patience that he will not chase after Creek when she has already made it clear that she wants her own space (the ghost-husband did the exact opposite of this when his wife tried to leave the relationship). Though he still loves her and is open to the possibility of getting back together, it is up to Creek to decide if and when this avenue will be explored someday. François Arnaud continues to demonstrate his power as an actor. When given the task of acting out the married couple arguing back and forth while both spirits are inside his body, Arnaud masterfully switches back and forth without ever letting the absurdity of what's happening take over. If the audience didn't take this exchange seriously then they would be taken out of the dramatic momentum of the story. Arnaud's performance is a crucial component in keeping things grounded.

"Midnight, Texas" airs on Fridays on NBC at 9/8c.


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