Okay, Reader(s). You had Friday, Saturday, and I've given you all of Sunday morning to watch the first episode of DIG (on USA!). If you haven't followed directions, then you're about to have the whole thing spoiled for you. I mean it: the WHOLE thing. Maybe you like that, though, maybe that's your kink. If so, then this blog entry's for you.
First, I will just tell you my overall reaction to the show: gorgeous. (You knew I would say that, right?) The cinematography really was beautiful though; even critics who weren't impressed with the show itself said so. I don't know what episodes 2-10 will convey, but if you haven't seen the first show (and if you haven't, our coffee dates are all canceled til you do see it), then please watch it for that. You can "feel" Jerusalem. I must go there now. I must. (It's always been towards the top of my travel bucket list, but now it's number 2, right under the UK. I will feed my anglophilia with a UK trip, and follow that up with my need to be surrounded by something ancient...in Israel.)
Second, I felt the cast was wonderful. Anne Heche was so good at being no nonsense and in charge; Jason Isaacs does a good Lucius Malfoy, but he also knows how to portray inner wounded lambs magnificently; Ori Pfeffer was such a dick (not really, Ori Pfeffer! just Ori's character); and Alison Sudol was ethereal. ETHEREAL. And then there was Richard E. Grant. I mean, hello: Richard. E. Grant. (We'll talk Richard another day.)
Next, some business items:
I've been reading some of the critical responses, and I have a problem with them. Mainly I have a problem with them because they feel so early. This is not a typical American television series; typical American TV series go on and on and on (they hope). This does not. This tale is finite: there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. And it's not like the people connected to the show haven't been all over the Internet, talk shows, and podcasts saying this over and over til they're blue in the face. Americans! Connect the dots!
So the first episode reviewers who've announced the show is a big ol' mess--phhht. That's like reading E.M. Forster's Room with a View and after 1 chapter going, "Eh, I don't get it." That's like a book critic reading 10 pages of a book and going, "This book sucks." If you do that, then you're kind of missing the point behind storytelling. BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO READ THE WHOLE THING. Stories are about making connections--in 2nd grade Reading, I talk to kids about making text-to-text (this reminds me of the book...), text-to-self (this reminds me of when I...), and text-to-world (this reminds me of the time my neighborhood...) connections. I'm telling you this because I want you to understand why I hard rolled my eyes to the back of my head when I read reviews that went: This was confusing, or this was boring, or this was a mess (or whatever, there were at least 10 that made me hard roll my eyes waaay back). Because my teacher brain hears 2nd graders not paying attention to the story, people who were NOT listening to the directions, because they're playing with their little friends instead or whispering about what happened at recess...I think that when I read stuff like that. And by the way those kids always get UNsatisfactory on all their quizzes.
In addition, this is a relatively new concept for a TV series to America. Americans are used to the mini-series concept--2, 3, or 4 episodes that usually re-tell a really popular romance novel and usually shows on Lifetime Movie Network 100,000 times and is always on at my mother's house. But this is not really a mini-series. You can call it that, if you're an inside-the-box thinker, but it's not really a mini-series. It's a TV series that lasts one season. They've hinted there could be more, if this is wildly successful, and they've hinted that because TV networks are all about the money. But from every piece of information I've gleaned, the creators Gideon Raff and Tim Kring wrote it on spec (without being asked to) and weren't really thinking about creating a multi-billion dollar TV show franchise. They just wanted to tell a good story.
Which I think is nice. And I've long said that NBC (which owns USA Network) seems to be trying to do different things with television. It's a tricky medium. I'm not in the film/tv industry, but I have friends with family who are, and I'm telling you: this is a tricky medium to tell stories in, particularly in this country. I mean, you show your first chapter and people are suddenly declaring it shitty. And then the network gets skittish and yanks it off the air and re-runs episodes of Sarah Palin's Alaska instead.
This was never created to go on and on and on; the whole story is airing, whether you watch it or not, whether you like it or not. If you hate it, it's not being yanked off the air; it's showing, every Thursday at 10/9 Central and if you're not interested go watch The Voice or The Kardashians or something. That's a new concept for Americans, and a big reason I think some people aren't really getting what's going on. That, and we as a species have developed terrible attention spans along with the ability to creatively problem solve and process large pieces of information...thanks smart phones and testing obsessives!
Okay! I'm done, I am done. My rant is done. Now for the de-brief.
First of all, I'm not going to recap the show. There are people out there who've already done this, and are far better at being concise than I. Here's--> a good recap if you need one (and full disclosure: I'm absolutely using it because they pulled my tweet about the show and used it in their article, and my narcissistic tendencies are on full display now and I really don't care what you think about that.)
Second, there was so much going on in this episode. SO MUCH. Which is one reason why I think many of the anti-DIG reviewers said it was messy and confusing. That may be the point; it's supposed to be confusing, because there's a lot going on. There are symbols, hidden meanings, weird happenings, and no you don't get to know the characters right away, just like meeting a new person for the first time...relationships take time to develop; be patient. This happens in novels all the time, by the way. There are character arcs. Focus. Pay attention.
Because this is a television show that seems like a novel: episode 1 was the exposition: Once upon a time, there was a man named Peter who had a terrible thing happen to him and so he went to Israel...we're going to tell you a story about what happens next. Now there will be rising and falling actions, a climax, and eventually a denouement. This isn't for dumb people, is what I'm saying.
Which is why I'm a little annoyed they piggy backed the premiere with a FAST AND FURIOUS 7 preview. I think it sent the wrong message. (I'm being a tad flippant here and totally alienating all the Vin Diesel fans...but I'm also sorta kinda serious and don't care what the Vin Diesel fans think, actually.)
Third, I think if/when I de-brief the next 9 episodes (and can I be honest and let you know I'm not sure I will? I have a shitload of shitty shit on my Life Plate at the moment, and I'm ignoring about 90% of it so I can write this), if/when I do that, I will just deal with what I think is happening/my theories. Since I only have time to cull what is in my brain. If I try to pull from all the stuff that's out there, there will be explosive brain matter all over my kitchen--or wherever I write, because I like to be mobile.
I asked Jason Isaacs during his premiere live tweet (in which he did not stick to his stated program, which was that he was supposed to only tweet DURING THE COMMERCIALS. I have it on good authority that he takes direction well, but Thursday night was one time he did not.) And he actually answered me (!!) (I think he just felt bad about not answering any of my other fabulous questions I tweeted to him in February when they premiered DIG in New York and that was his apology) (I really don't ask Jason questions on Twitter; typically, I like to vary between just flippantly harassing him and expressing maternal sympathy for any man problems he tweets about. But when I do ask questions, I try to make them thoughtful...unless I'm in a flippant mood.)
Where was I? Right! My question was if Alison Sudol's character was real, if there are paranormal aspects to the show. Jason said that was an interesting question and I was a good thinker. And so, in a nutshell, Jason Isaacs totally knows me now: an interesting thinker type. And if he's read any of my other tweets, he could add the words ridiculous and neurotic and hyperbolic. And also, he answered me but he didn't answer me. Tres misterioso. Jason Isaacs for UK Prime Minister! (I'm joking with Jason Isaacs, who has a marvelous sense of humor...if he'd actually answered anyone's questions that night, he'd have been in hot water with the USA Network people.)
So I'm running with it. Because I don't think Peter had a real interaction with Emma; I think it was in his mind. But then how would he have known what she looked like when she turned up murdered? And she slipped a stone into his pocket; how would that have gotten in there? So! Many! Questions!
Other things that make me think Peter Connelly isn't having real experiences in Israel: he called his wife. He didn't speak, and she basically told him to get a life and stop doing that and hung up on him. Later in the story, she calls him and complains about what he said to her the other night when he called her. I think she accused him of being drunk, but I'd have to go back and re-watch and Miss M and I need fresh air and sunshine today and so I don't have time. But isn't that interesting. (One reviewer complained about that--that person said it was sloppy writing. And that's why I say to those reviewers: YOU NEED TO WATCH THE WHOLE STORY. And pay attention. Stop expecting your information spoon fed to you. And quit talking to your neighbor during the lesson; there may be a quiz.)
Also, Peter first sees Emma in the market and she disappears on him, like an apparation...when he finally does get to interact with her, it's preceded by a weird band of religious-y people walking around with torches and some creepy guy in a red cap looking strangely at Peter. At the end of the episode, he's in a bad car accident but still manages to chase down, on foot, a fleeing car. The chase leads him back to Emma's apartment, with the bad guy (Khalid) there in the apartment waiting for him. How did he get there? Why is Khalid there? How did both of them get in without the old man landlord and his key, the one who let Peter and Golen in the first time? And why did Khalid not kill Peter? He just took the stone and silently disappeared. Sooo...was Khalid actually even there? I have questions. And I'm totally okay not having them answered in episode number one. In fact, you know what, lazy thinkers? I'm ALSO okay not having all my questions answered by episode number 10. BECAUSE SOMETIMES LIFE DOESN'T GIVE YOU ALL THE ANSWERS. Entitlement = a real problem.
SO many other things going on this story I could write about, but that was a big one for me, that I don't think all of this is real or that maybe there's something paranormal/otherworldly going on or maybe Peter Connelly is just straight up fucking crazy. Personally, I hope it's all about the Universe. I'm a spiritual mystical, Divine Infinite type, and so I'm all about ley lines and spiritual crossovers/connections. This is where I made the text-to-self/text-to-world connections in the story exposition, and if you haven't made any connections yet, I think you should watch 2-3 more episodes because I bet you will.
More things I think viewers ought to pay attention to:
*Numbers and letters and symbols matter. I think there's something important about Emma's initials (EW) being carved on the wall. I think the number 7 in Tunnel 7 will have significance later on. I think the numbers 12 and 13 matter. I think the breast plate and the stones that are missing from it matter (the stone Emma slipped into Peter's pocket is from the breast plate, I've deduced).
*The boy, Joshua. Clearly being groomed to the next Messiah. But there are more than 1 Josh, which is why Fay the evil lady (or is she evil? maybe she's not) was so okay smoking him in the desert (shot him...Fay killed a little boy, is what I'm saying). I bet they have about 12-13 clones, and each Josh is about to turn 13 years old.
(Can we talk about how mystical the number 13 is? In Christianity, 13 is an evil number, bad luck. In Judaism, it's basically the number for God. In Christianity, God the sole entity is split into 3 pieces (the Trinity); in Judaism, all the pieces lead back to God...there's a thing about a cube, I think--a cube has 12 lines on it and all the lines connect in the center, which is 1...12+1=13. All numbers lead to God. And Hebrew letters all have a significant meaning; in addition, they are each assigned a number. There's a thing called gematria that you do with Hebrew letters. The Hebrew word echad which means "one" equals the number 13. The Hebrew word for love (ahava) equals 13. In Hebrew, if two words together equal the same value, then the essential meaning of the two words is the same. And so, ahava is 13, echad is 13, another word Hashem (meaning, essentially I think: God is all) equals 13. Therefore, echad ahava Hashem...God is love, God is one, God is all. Equals 13.)
In fact, 13 is all over Judaism. There are 13 examples of God's divine mercy; Jewish boys and girls have bar/bat mitzvahs at 13. There are 13 Hebrew letters in the name Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The names of their wives, Sarah, Rachel, Leah, and Rivka also all have 13 Hebrew letters. The Hebrew Bible has 39 books (3 x 13). Adonai, the Hebrew holy word for "God" has a numerical value of 26, which is 13+13, and there's a thought that's because it's a balance of masculine and feminine. ....and 13 is also in Christianity as well: Jesus had 12 disciples (plus Jesus = 13). Also think about: 12 months of the year, 12 signs of the zodiac...
Holy shit! You guys! I totally HEART stuff like this!
Also pay attention to the number 7. God created the world in 7 days. And the dig is about the lost ark, the covenant. The first covenant God made with man was with Noah. Noah's father lived to be 777, and had Noah when he was 182 (14x13, which is a multiple of 7 times the number 13).
I mean, I could go on, but I bet you have things to do. The breast plate is an important piece to the puzzle, as are the missing 12 (see? numbers) stones. The breast plate is a real thing--it's called the Hoshen, and it's basically a direct line to God. Priests wore it to atone for the sins and misjudgements of the Children of God. There are 12 stones that fit in the breast plate, and each represents the 12 tribes of Israel. Some researchers believe the initials of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives were engraved on the stones.
The stones colors I think will matter, at least the color red. The red heifer is a thing, and the stone Emma put in Peter's pocket was red(dish). Some scholars think the other stones in the breast plate are the colors yellow, green, and blue. In addition to black and white, those are the first 6 colors all languages recognize. That might become a focus later on, but now I'm just reaching at everything.
So I'm going to stop here. Because it's a beautiful, sunny day here and I would like to take my little girl for a walk. And also I have a cold virus that's set up shop in my sinuses. And tomorrow is Monday and I have to go help wayward children become model citizens. And if I keep thinking about all the secret code stuff that was in this first episode alone (and I know I've missed TONS--for example, I didn't even get to Richard E. Grant's suspicious character, the key symbol, the peace sign symbol in Emma's window, her journal and Peter's stealing of it, that whole weirdness about Peter and Emma skinny dipping in the holy water at the dig site, and Emma kissing Peter and his freaking out about it. I didn't get into bad guy Khalid and the car crash, or into the whole Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock stuff either), then my brain will explode. And, y'all, listen: I really, really need my brain this week.
To summarize: this show is smart, and if you don't think so I'm not saying YOU aren't smart, but I am suggesting maybe you're not focusing. Also, I'm going to Israel. I don't know when, but I'm going. And God is in the numbers, and so now I wish I was better at Math (ha! just kidding-no I don't; I'm fine sucking at Math). Last, we are slowly devolving into a species that (a) doesn't listen, (b) doesn't pay attention, and (c) has no focus. There people out there who will take advantage of this, mark my words.
If Gideon Raff or Tim Kring need someone to file papers for them or make them coffee or whatever, they can contact me. I can be free all summer.