Sarah, in particular, was mesmerising. What an amazing performance from Lena. I don't always feel she brings it in terms of heroism but I do feel she captures a particularly female form of strength very, very well. This episode capitalised on that wonderfully. From the opening scene with Kyle's voiceover and flashbacks leading up to Sarah getting shot, the show did a great job at capturing Sarah's delusional and fragile mental state, but also the depths of her determination.
The visceral way in which Sarah's physical pain was shown in this episode was quite confronting for someone like me who's phobic of medical procedures. However, it was so well done I couldn't look away--from the relatively low-grade wince of Sarah pulling the needle out of her arm, to the 'childbirth'-equated pain of being operated on without anesthetic. Lots of interesting messages about pain were given within the episode. Kyle tells us that 'pain can be controlled'. Felicia reminds us that women have a higher pain threshold than men and she and Sarah make the connection to childbirth. The bearing of extreme physical pain is female heroism--Sarah not only gave birth to John but continues to suffer physically for him.
Throughout the episode I found the voice of Kyle to be fascinating. I love the idea of Kyle as an aspect of Sarah's personality--of her using him as an internal motivator and 'conscience'. He acts both as a reminder of what she's fighting for and also a reminder of the standards to which she holds herself. He's a rational voice in times of panic, a voice of strength in moments of terror. In many ways, the little time they actually spent together allows Kyle to be anything Sarah needs him to be in her mind. So for me, what was most fascinating about Kyle in this episode was the aspects of Sarah's own personality that he embodied. However, it's also, of course, an acknowledgement of 'real' personality attributes of Kyle's as well. I'm not sure Sarah would be so fast to see these attributes in herself but her love for Kyle allows her to see them in him.
One of the most moving moments was watching tears fall from Kyle's eyes as Sarah spoke about being tortured. Sarah doesn't spare herself very much compassion. Ever. But she knows that Kyle would--and so that moment was a very important one, an acknowledgment of the tragedy and her determination to withstand whatever pain is necessary to protect John.
The dream sequence in shadows beneath the apple tree was beautiful. I'll be fascinated to see what aycheb has to say about it. It is in this sequence that the vision focuses more clearly on the connection between Kyle and Derek, and the link between Kyle and Sarah that Derek represents. I love that Sarah's photo arises again. This sequence leads into the one in which Felicia mistakes Derek for Kyle and the moment of 'truth' in terms of relationships.
I love the 'call HIM' line from Kyle and the fact that calling Derek was a Really Big Deal, a last resort, for Sarah. I also love that Derek is well aware of this and that no words are necessary for him to know that Sarah may be dying from her leg wound. 'Don't worry about John' may seem like an abrupt potential farewell, but it is so appropriate for their relationship--cutting to the absolute essentials, containing the certainty of loyalty borne out of love, but also completely unemotional, the direct pledge of a subordinate to their commanding officer.
Afterwards Sarah offers to open up, to tell Derek about Kyle and John. He responds in the same way he has to her the rest of the episode, relieving her of that burden by saying he requires no explanation. Derek is very clear about the relationships. The silence around Kyle is not a problem to him. His calmness seems to trigger Sarah into another moment of grief--perhaps because it is a gift to her. She would have explained out of a need to keep things from being awkward, but the fact that Derek respects the truth as Sarah's private business and doesn't demand any 'rights' to that story, is, in a way, a sign of his true loyalty to her.
Derek's position in this episode was fascinating in terms of the different roles he plays. I loved seeing John take the leadership position with him, and John leaping up when he heard about Sarah's leg. I also enjoyed the war of pissy!faces that ensued from having Derek throw John's 'made the call/live with it' line back at him. Derek is still John's uncle, and acts in that way; John hasn't quite pushed things into a new dynamic.
Riley is the other woman who suffers physically in the episode, but her agenda is far more opaque than Sarah's. She tells Jessie she slit her wrists to hook John in even further, and to drive another wedge between him and Cameron. She certainly reacts territorially to Cameron's presence beside John. However, was it really so orchestrated? Riley is a desperate character and the fact she'd suffer such physical pain willingly is a sign of her extremity. We see her desperately trying to text Jessie, even as Jessie arrives to kidnap her. She longs for intimacy with Jessie but is kept at arms length. I am fascinated by Jessie but found it totally chilling to see her grin at Riley's slit wrists with amusement when she heard it was for John's benefit.
How awesome are this show's gender politics? So awesome that when I saw the skinny blonde female doctor who Sarah kidnapped, I did not for one moment think that she would turn out to be tough as nails in her own way. And so it proved. Sarah was able to manipulate her, it's true, yet in many ways she saw what she needed to see, just as Sarah did. She needed to see an abused woman fighting hard, determinedly, able to weather any pain and come out the other side. She saw herself reflected in Sarah and when it came down to pulling the trigger, she pulled it at the person who really created that feeling of rage and terror. She also becomes a liar like Sarah--a liar for a good cause; Sarah tells her the police will think she did it, and all Felicia has to do is let them--just as all Sarah had to do was let Felicia believe what she wanted to believe.
The plot I haven't enjoyed that much this season has been the Ellison-Weaver one. However I was riveted and chilled in this episode. Seeing John Henry play with the meccano toys, and then talk about ball and socket joints... eeek! I loved him asking Ellison a question for his god. And I also love that he used Ellison's own name on the internet to uncover information that chills Ellison. I can see that Ellison is going to be forced into playing parent just to stop the tide of information flowing to John Henry.
Of COURSE giving him access to the internet was a dangerous idea. That goes without saying, and I've been frustated with the naivety evident in this plot. However, in this episode the pay-off was better than in most because Weaver herself came face to face with how advanced and dangerous John Henry is, and reacted with shock as well as recognition.
In an episode that sees Sarah and Riley both hospitalised 'for' John, it was very interesting to hear Weaver tell John Henry that everything she does, she does for him. Weaver's rampage through the warehouse in the desert was totally chilling. The inhuman form of 'parenting', the ways in which she justifies actions are a fabulous parallel to Sarah justifying all she does as 'for' John. The two situations are not equal, but they are similar. And I'm now far more intrigued by Weaver's agenda than I've been all season.
Finally, so many questions remain... what really did happen to Sarah between getting shot and ending up in the hospital? what exactly did she nearly uncover? and did Riley just play right into Cameron's hands? Because that certainly seemed to be the case in the final hospital corridor scene between her and John.