I am having a ball with this TV show, and everyone that knows me knows it. I just can’t stop myself from watching, recapping, reacting to, contemplating, theorizing, scrutinizing, and blogging about this show. Its awesomeness, and its singular concern with telling a complicated story in a way that is interesting set it apart even in this, theGolden Era of Television.
I am here for all of this, the bizarre confinement of Jeremy Iron’s Ozymandias. I am here for the “don’t tell people how I live,” vibe that Looking Glass gives off. I am here for the alternate history that landed Robert Redford, the Horse Whisperer, in the White House. I am here for all the cloning, cryptic, future telling insanity. I am here for Angela Abar just kicking ass, and maybe taking names later if it turns out to matter that she does so. I am even here for weirdos in silver suits sliding right into the sewers on a river of lube...
Inspite all of this though...
Laurie Blake is the best part of this show and quite frankly it isn’t even close. I honestly think that this gushing column isn’t even going to do justice to how much I enjoy her appearance on the screen. This week, when Angela walked out of the Greenwood Cultural Center, and found Laurie laughing like a maniacal Walter White in a crawl space, standing next to the wreckage of her own car. I immediately thought to myself, “Thank God, the main character is here.”
That’s right, I can tell you, that despite how awesome Angela Abar/Sister Night is, I am still all about Laurie Blake. I do want to be clear that this isn’t a slight in any way to the work of Regina King. For the first two episodes Sister Night was my favorite, and she is a breath of fresh air. A no nunsense (get it?) detective with good instincts and the survival skills of Bear Grylls with Spidey sense. I am fully aware that I am writing this blog post a scant ONE WEEK after Angela saved a police funeral’s worth of dignitaries from a deadman switch bomb. Not only that, but she also got her chief’s body exploded, which is one of the most metal things ever. (His limbs went flying into the air… HIS LIMBS!)
Perhaps it was ordained by my devotion to the Comic itself, but my favorite parts of the TV series are the ones that pull from the source material. Laurie is one of two characters plucked from the nine color panels of the comic and dropped unceremoniously in our HDR world. Of the two that we have seen so far, Laurie is by far the most well-equipped character to make the conversion. Veidt it would seem was far to idealistic and trusting when he made hisFaustian Bargain. (Speculatively with Lady Trieu.)
Another testament to the quality of the work is that I am fairly indifferent to Laurie Juspeczyk in the comic books. Part of this is that she is written almost as a damsel in distress. Now, next to her partner at the time, Dr. Manhattan, even the burliest of the Oakland Raiders would appear to be a damsel in distress. So, this isn’t a knock on her, but ultimately I think Laurie gets second billing to the other male characters in that story, and it’s a shame because if it weren’t for her, Dr. Manhattan wouldn’t have come back to earth at all(Which assures that he becomes aware of Adrian’s crimes, and I think most likely saves Dan Dreiberg’s life at Karnak.)
Witnessing all of this, after a life steeped in superheroism, Laurie has a world weary cynicism that I think is perfectly suited for a universe where all of our greatest heroes have failed. In the comics, Adrian tells the heroes that their greatest achievement was failing to prevent his saving of the world. It makes sense that she would shed any sort of idealism and embrace Veidt’s consequentialism. A “There are no good guys,” approach suits both her, and her world the best.
Laurie Blake is a person who lives with knowledge that nobody else has. It is made clear in the Peteypedia files that Laurie relied on her knowledge of “the events of 11/2” to obtain lenient treatment from the government. She aso flips on Dan Dreiberg, and swats down supposition by the FBI that she is in a relationship with Dreiberg, which we know to be false, as she was his lover in 1985. According to a redacted interview transcript, we know that Laurie continued vigilante activity after 1985. She is arrested after foiling the Oklahoma City Bombing. She is glad to hear of the death of Timothy McVey, (And who wouldn’t be, fuck that guy forever). But she regards her captors with contempt. It is the same contempt that she reserves for anyone in her world now, twenty-five years later, that has the audacity to wear a mask and rip off another WB property (shh don’t tell Chris Nolan). That contempt means that Laurie Blake is the funniest character on the show. She is always dripping with sarcasm, and has very little patience for bullshit, people that think they’re above the law, and people that think dressing up like a mask is fun. Her insinuation that Angela is wearing a mask to protect herself “from the pain.” is hilarious because she then immediately has her underling, Dale, recount her trauma. Dale sums it up, “Her dad tried to rape her mom.” Which is blunt and true and very telling about the type of person Laurie Juspeczyk grew into. HBO has a history now, of this sort of biting wit ensconced in a matronly character. In this way, Laurie reminds me of the Queen of Thorns from Game of Thrones.
Jean Smart is doing great work here, and the company she is doing this work in magnifies it. There are no fewer than two Oscar winners on this cast. She is on the trail of an Emmy, and running away from the events put into motion by another.
Before I go, I would be remiss to add that Jean Smart has imbued Laurie Blake with a type of vulnerability despite the brashness of the character, and the face she wears for the world. Ironically in a world of masks Laurie wears the most impenetrable one. She wears her contempt like armor and she wields her tongue like a sword. However, we see behind the facade. We can see what it looks like when Laurie Blake, twenty-five year FBI agent, and lifetime super heroine, double scion of a legacy of violence and pulp, the long term object of desire to a literal GOD! When she is by herself she aches for the world of her youth just like everyone else.
Is it really Laurie Blake’s fault that her glorious youth is symbolized by a 13 inch Vibrator designed to mimic her ex-lover given to her by another ex-lover? (The God and the Owl, respectively). Some girls can’t catch a break!
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