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Sunday, November 19, 2006

3.11 --- Acts of Terror

Directed by : Brad Turner
Written by : J. Michael Straczynski
Starring : Melanie Mayron, Kenneth Welsh
First aired : 3rd of December, 1988.

Louise Simonson (Melanie Mayron, Missing, My Blue Heaven) is an unhappy woman living with an abusive husband, Jack (Kenneth Welsh, Four Brothers, The Fog '05). She ekes out a miserable existance by catering to his every need, while the only form of gratitude she gets is a new bruise every now and then.

One day, Louise receives a package from her sister. It turns out to be a porcelain figure of a dobermann, seemingly a birthday present. Some time after, Louise again receives a beating because she accidentaly burned Jack's breakfast. While she's weeping in silence, Jack is assaulted by a rabid dog just before leaving on a fishing trip. Louise is unaware of what's happening, and Jack dismisses it as a stray dog on the loose.

The night after, Jack is back from his trip, and the Simonsons are having Louise's sister and her husband over for dinner (note : at this point, I'm really uncertain if the couple which visits them are friends or family, even though the only other credited female in the episode is "sister"). Accidentally, Louise overhears Jack's conversation with Phil, the husband of Louise's sister, where he basically confesses that his fishing trips are just an excuse for something else. Louise is rather angry with this, and she gets on with cooking in order to calm herself down somehow. Meanwhile, Jack gets again threatened by a dog - and this time, in his own garage.

Police is summoned to the house, but they find no dogs anywhere nearby. After their visitors leave, Louise confronts Jack angrily about the "fishing" trips. Just as he readies himself to use the force again, the same dog appears behind him, growling. Jack tries to escape, but a dog seems to be hiding behind every corner. He is soon forced to retreat to the garage, where he loses a fight with the growling dobermann.

At that point, Louise comes in and realizes it is her own anger which unleashes the hounds, triggered by the statuette she received. She doesn't want them to keep on attacking her husband, but she can't help it, as she just doesn't love him anymore. Jack makes a desperate lunge at her and manages to break the porcelain dog, which makes the dobermann disappear. Still, Louise gets angry again, and the animal is there again - they seem to be psychically linked. She finally calls the attacks off, unable to deliver the finishing blow.

The next day, Jack is woken up by the sound of Louise packing and leaving. He threatens her to not to dare run away, as he will chase her down, but Louise just retorts he won't dare...a claim which is backed up by the barking dog who's suddenly on the passenger seat.

***

The Zone returns to the realm of social awareness. After battling discrimination, alcoholism, bigotry and whatnot, the TZ writers directed their ire towards spousal abuse. J. Michael Straczynski's probably strongest effort to date (he just keeps getting better, doesn't he ?) deals with this subject efficiently, with the ending pointing out that the liberation comes from the inside, rather than outside.

Apart from good performances by Mayron and Welsh, the star of this show is arguably the director, Brad Turner. This piece was one of the first assigments in his career which would later expand to directing many episodes of several acclaimed TV shows (24, Stargate SG-1, Prison Break, Jeremiah, La Femme Nikita), and he's quick to show his talent - observe the quick cuts in Louise's carrot chopping scene, as well as the nice pan shot when her sister and her husband arrive. Turner would return to the Zone some 14 years later, directing several UPN Zone episodes.

Overall, a rather sound episode.

Comments on "3.11 --- Acts of Terror"

 

Blogger reverb said ... (9:02 AM) : 

...hello,
well you bring me back some memories...

cheers

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:29 AM) : 

Sorry, I'll have to disagree with you here. I thought the script was cheesy and the performances awful. And that haircut was the final blow.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:35 PM) : 

"Arthur ruled a tiny kingdom . . . Our hour is past."

King Arthur, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh became in their tales archetypal and spiritually transcendent heroes with fantastic experiences, but Lancelot is right: from a purely earthbound perspective, all three ruled tiny realms.

I thought this episode was a beautiful elegy for the mythic power celebrated in such epics. I have never forgotten it since it first aired.

 

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