dig (on usa!) thoughts: ep 6 (soulful wells)

I'm sorry! I am sorry. I typically try to do these on Sundays, but I'll just be flat out honest and tell you that I spent the vast majority of Sunday mourning my life. My Spring Break came to an end and I had to go back to my real job. Which is not even half as awesome as my make believe job (except I can't tell  you what my make believe job is, or I'd have to take you to an underground bunker and do things to you that are total violations of the Geneva Convention, yet Dick Cheney approved).

Okay. So my thoughts (from my notes!) about episodio numero seis de DIG (en USA!) (te prometo--no mas espanol. Debe ser en hebreo pero yo solo se espanol) (you can just copy/paste that into Google Translate and decode it...I'm trying to flex my Spanish muscles more these days just...cause I want to). 

Where was I?

Yes! DIG. On USA.

So (again) amazing writing (just expect me to write that during each one of these thought blogs--these writerly people have gigantic, smart brains...how the hell did they DO all this research and then pull it all together to tell this complex, magnificent tale???). Also expect one bad ass, HOLY SHIT TORPEDOS! moment--this week's was a resurrected dead person (didn't Jesus do that, too?). 

Here are things I noted that I thought matter a lot (from my notes!):

The Essene. Are you convinced he's a good guy? 'Cause I'M convinced (more and more) he's a good guy. Here's why:

1-He didn't kill Avram. In fact, he re-enacted the entire basis to the entire religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the ONE big scene from the Old Testament all 3 major religions agree on, the one incident that kind of makes us one big religious family...no matter how many times we've tried to warmonger, murder, and bomb the crap out of each other: this story is the reason we all like to say GOD IS LOVE. 

(This story is, of course, the part where God tells Abraham to take his most precious and beloved son Isaac up to Mt. Moriah and plunge a knife into him as a human sacrifice to prove Abraham's devotion to God. Abraham's totally going to do that, but then God stops him right before the knife goes down, and it's to show Abraham that God would never, ever require such a thing of HIS children--unlike that freaky Egyptian god Horus.

God loves Abraham [and Isaac] too much. But also: don't forget it, children--God's a jealous God, and so don't even try His patience. But yeah. God's got your back and loves you, you crazy kids!) 

side note: This is where religion gets really dysfunctional for me; these kinds of stories just seem like really fucked up parenting, and that an omniscient, all-knowing Creator ought to know better than to even suggest His children do such terrible things to one another. But then...I've done talk therapy and read hundreds if not thousands of self help books, and Psychiatry was just not a thing in ancient times.

So at any rate, that Essene is one cool jelly bean...when he wakes up (he wasn't REALLY asleep--are you kidding me? Essenes don't SLEEP) to find Avram with a knife over him, he gives him a chance to kill him, even instructing Avram how to do it properly. But The Essene knows--this is a sweet, innocent kid. So he re-enacts that scene to scare the crap out of Avram, teach him a lesson, but also show him mercy and love...in sort of a dysfunctional God-kind of way. Marching him to the spot he's going to do this, the Essene also tells Avram that maybe his tears can cleanse him of all the innocent blood that's been shed. 

So I'm leaning toward: Good Guy Essene. Kind of intense. A little over the top. But somebody you want with you if/when you're lost in the woods or the Negev Desert. 

2-Avram was plunged into a mikveh. I wrote about those. The writers did a good job incorporating that--it was historically accurate. Natural water in the tub via gravity. Ice counts--in my mikveh research, I did see a video of some men rolling around in some snow in Norway or Canada or somewhere Arctic-y to take a mikveh. Mikvehs--as long as it's naturally sourced water and you can submerse. 

I wasn't sure why the Essene burned some of Avram's hair, so I looked it up. I couldn't find anything specific about Essenes burning hair, but they were all about ritual, so it seemed legit. Maybe it was some kind of non-living sacrifice/repentant/part of Avram's repent-and-cleanse process? 

However, I did learn some more things about Essenes (if you're interested): they were all about repentance for sins (thus, the mikvehs), and they LOVED the color white (hence the Essene's dressing in white robes, shirts, outfits a lot). The mikveh that the Essene plunged Avram into would have been a regular ritual for an ancient Essene: many scholars contend that John the Baptist was an Essene, and this is why he baptized people in a river (mikvehs)...it would be a necessary act of repenting.

Oh, AND! Did you note? Avram and the Essene were eating vegetables--no meat on that table. And they were eating communally, which would be something the Essenes would do. Shared meals, no meat, very very somber at their meals (actually very somber a lot--Essenes took life SERIOUS. I, on the other hand, am unable to resist a good toilet joke).

Some more thoughts about DIG #6:

3-Catatonic Gregory. He's got Jerusalem Syndrome (maybe). Jerusalem Syndrome is a psychosis brought on by extreme religious or spiritual fervor due to a visit to Jerusalem. People become so consumed with the feels brought on by being in THE one city in the world that, if you were going to casually run into the Lord God Himself having coffee in a quiet side street cafe? This would be that city. People with JS become total, complete psychotics and don't get over it until they're removed from Jerusalem. (I sense this is behind what happened during The Crusades.)

So Gregory has the mysterious key symbol/architectural design for Crazy Ted's cult-y compound carved on his chest. Supposedly, Gregory carved it there himself after his father was killed by members of The Order of Moriah and Gregory went a tad nutty over it. 

So Gregory is unresponsive, but tracing--over and over--the name "Jehoshaphat" into dust on the windowsill. When Peter questions him about it, he goes berserk and attacks Peter. So let's talk about what Jehosophat means, who he was:

"Jehoshaphat" means "God judges." He was the 4th king of the Kingdom of Judah, about BCE 914. Jerusalem was located in Judah at that time, and there was a northern Kingdom of Israel. Jehoshaphat became king at 35, and ruled for 25 years. His father was Asa, and Jehoshaphat honored and followed the ways of his father, which was to worship the one true God. He worked as hard as he could to teach his people about morality and religion, and his riches and honors increased because of these good deeds. However, no matter how hard he tried, Jehoshaphat could not convince his people to worship the one true God of their ancestors. Later, at the end of his reign, there was a big battle called Ramoth-Gilead, and Jehoshaphat became Ahab's ally, and he also made an alliance with the King of Israel, Ahaziah, who was an evil man...and God destroyed everything Jehoshaphat had worked to build in a war with nation of Moab.

In the Bible, there is mention of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This is a valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives; the river Kidron runs through it. Jehoshaphat defeated enemies of Israel here, but it's also the location where, supposedly, God will gather all of the nations of the world when He's ready to caste His judgment on them. Jews have also used this valley since ancient times as burial ground, and if you go there, you can see it's all paved over with flat stones (for tombstones) that have Hebrew inscriptions.

Thus concludes your Jehoshaphat research geekery. I don't know if any of that will come into play later in the story, but maybe...since the Valley of Jehoshaphat sounds ominous with all that judging of nations by God going on. And the dead bodies underneath it.

4-Debbie, Charlie, and Josh. Don't you just want them to be a little happy family? I mean, sure Josh is a brainwashed future Temple Mount #3 High Priest, possibly also being groomed to be the Messiah because my research told me that was possible.  And sure, Debbie's a recovering addict insecure still about herself and her place in the world. And sure, Charlie's clearly been burnt by her in the past and has lingering trust issues. But it could happen! It could happen.

My favorite scene in THIS episode was the one between Debbie and Josh, right before Ted B. and Company turn up to pee all over it. Debbie tells Josh that God is responsible for all the stars in the sky, that God created it all both good and bad. And Josh tells her Ted B. told him that every star represents a soul, and the place all those souls reside is in something called the Well of Souls which is beneath an ancient temple in Jerusalem. And then, speak of the devil (Ted) who shows up? Right. On. Cue.

5-So let's talk about the Well of Souls. 'Cause I researched 'em. It. Whatever. Here's your quickie for the day:

In the show, the Well of Souls is either very near or beneath tunnel 7 (that's a mystical number, by the way). The controversy around the Well of Souls is that it may contain the Ark of the Covenant (aka the container the Ten Commandments were housed in). In the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones finds the Ark in a room called the Well of Souls, but it's in an Egyptian city called Tanis. The REAL Well of Souls is far more religiously/politically contentious. 

Because right now, the Well of Souls is under the control of the Waqf Muslim religious trust. Muslims regularly venture down into the Well of Souls to pray. And sometimes, as long as it's pretty calm and peaceful, they'll open it up to tourists. But mostly: just Muslims get to use it. 

It's known by different names (Pit of Souls, Cave of Spirits), and the belief is that this is where all dead people gather while they await Judgment Day. The Dome of the Rock built on top of the Well of Souls (not a mosque, it's more of a shrine) was built in medieval times. I'll talk more about it in my Temple Mount research geek blog later, but that's some quick and dirty background for you.

The fascinating thing (for me) about the Well of Souls is that, when you bang on the floor of it, there's an echo. So there's some type of chamber beneath, but nobody knows what it is for sure, and nobody has ever seen it or been in it (except maybe Enoch...and the Order of Moriah!). The Temple Mount is actually full of cisterns, tunnels, caves, and chambers--about 45 of them. 

6-The bartender at the restaurant Emma liked to haunt in Jerusalem. He got found with some creepy collage of her in his closet (I know that's where I keep all MY creepy collages). So Golan and Peter had an exciting chase to catch him, Golan got punched in the nose, and he was all mad about it. (I feel the SAME way when I stub my toe.) They arrested the bartender for beating up cops but also possibly murder. But when they showed the bartender the pictures of dead Emma, he didn't really react but he did sort of close his eyes for a beat. And then sat really looking at her picture while Peter played a sneaky trick to get Golan out of the room so he could go in and ask his #DigDeeper questions. 

But Peter didn't get his answers in the end, just a sly wink from the (possibly innocent) bad guy.

7-Then Lynne came in to break up the fight and accidentally got punched in the jaw by Peter. (This one time, in high school, my 11th grade AP English teacher Mrs. Spoonamoore ran to the hallway to break up a girl fight. She wasn't watching what she was doing, and her flattened palm accidentally slammed into one of the girl's throats...it stopped the fight, and the girl could be heard gagging all the way down the hallways as she was drug off to the office. Then, Mrs. Spoonamoore slooooowly turned on us, the audience, and said quite deliberately, "Oh. I have a black belt in Karate. Don't try anything with me." Mrs. Spoonamore was like 85 or something.)

8-At the end, just as Peter's packing his things for a Walk of Shame (or, Flight, rather) back to the States, who should show up in his hotel room but red-haired murdered girl Emma Wilson. AND SHE WAS ALIVE. Bruised, muddied, battered, traumatized...but ALIVE. (And Alison Sudol! What an amazingly good actress in addition to beautiful singer...she knew just how to portray that trauma the right way.)

Questions I was left with from this episode:

*WHY did that bartender guy wink? WHY??? And he was so smooth about it. He totally could've picked me up in a bar and I'd have gone with him.

*Who is Gregory? Whoooo is Gregory???

*I didn't even talk about Rabbi Lev's use of (a) a mobile phone on the Sabbath and (b) ordering Avram to break a Ten Commandment by killing another human being. 

*Where'd the cow go? Obviously with the Essene. Who I don't believe will sacrifice it. He may have plans for it, but I don't think it involves ritual death, and getting turned into paste.

*Why doesn't somebody just get a freaking shovel and start digging in the Well of Souls? I'm sure there's all kinds of politically charged reasons for why they don't or can't, but seriously. Somebody just pull a Peter, grab the key from under the potted plant on the ledge, and just...DIG. Damn it. (WHAT IS UNDER THE WELL OF SOULS???)

*What. The. Hell. Happened. TO EMMA????

And that's it for this time. I think the 6 (heh, get it? Episode #6, so here are 6) important things you should take away from this are:

1. This show's themes are death, grief, and judgment.

2. A cold mikveh by candlelight may be a good idea after every impure thought. (I'd have to do this at LEAST 2000 times a day.) Also: let sleeping Essenes lie.

3. Hide your creepy collages better. If you can't do that, run faster.

4. THIS is an awesome song:

...Until Ted Billingham shows up. Damn it, Ted!

5. Stay out of Jerusalem if you even suspect your Holy Ghost may not handle it well.

6. Valleys and Wells of dead people are probably not smart places stand around in.

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