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Ballad for a Blue Lady

It took a while for this to grow on me, but when one can accept that, okay, Starsky and Hutch aren't exactly cuddle buddies in this, then one can focus on the more interesting aspects, because there's plenty to analyze.

Marianne is, hands down, the most three-dimensional guest character to ever appear on the series.  I can't say that I like her, because I've never been able to relate to those who invest a great deal of time in smoking and drinking.  She is trapped in a very difficult set of circumstances, and I'm intrigued by how she handles herself.  I love her caustic, overly-dry humor.  I love that she can feel compassion for other human beings, despite everything.  I love that she feels a tangled mixture of love and hate toward both Hutch and Harry, her brother.

In the opening scene, we see her lure a man in a hotel room, so Finch's men can murder him, and one can see how truly horrified she is that "It was supposed to be just talk".

Hutch is hostile at the murder scene, presumably because he's frustrated that he's been undercover for a week, and hasn't come up with anything helpful for the case against Finch.  When fans talk about Hutch being burned out in the fourth season, this is certainly a scene that one can point to.  It's intriguing, but also frustrating, that after he throws out the boisterous Deputy DA Stanton, and looks so forlorn with his arm leaning against the wall, director PMG apparently wasn't interested in giving the viewer an opportunity to see Starsky's reaction.

It's hard to know if Hutch was getting attracted to Marianne the past week while undercover.  Perhaps so because, at the bar, she and her brother both reference having seen him around.  And he was very quick, at the murder scene, to jump on the suggestion that "the lady" had something to do with the murder (though that was also common sense, that a woman wouldn't be able to beat somebody like that.)  But he also seems properly interested in what her brother is up to, at least as much as her.  But he's eager to flirt when he has her attention, and writes her a few lyrics from the "1927 Kansas City" song that was on DS's first album.

Whatever her degree of helplessness, one has to give Marianne credit for some kind of inner strength to turn Hutch down for some food... twice.  Would YOU turn him down?

Of course, Hutch then sees her outside the club, and they run away from Finch's men.  When we next see them, they're at Hutch's apartment, both neatly dressed.  When I started watching the episodes again, a couple of years ago, I kept thinking that a scene had been cut of them getting out of Hutch's bed.  But after I saw the DVDs and talked to a fan friend, I realized that it was all in my imagination (as was related in the short novel Phantoms), and no such scene ever took place.  Therefore, because neither has a strand of hair out of place, after their fleeing run, and after some probably impulsive sex between the sheets, it's tempting to think that sex didn't happen.  But her anger at being deceived, and her comments later to her brother, make it clear that sex did take place.

Anyway, when they are at Hutch's apartment, she starts asking who he is, and says, "One minute you float into my life, and the next thing I know, I'm in another movie."  That's a great line.  The way Hutch looks at her, you know how badly he wants to tell her that he's a cop, but refrains.  She quickly figures it out, anyway, and course feels devastated at being used, and wants to leave.  It's one of the greatest lines in the whole series when she yells at him, "Who do you think you are?  I'm a person."  (I can't tell you how many times I wanted to scream that in my young life, when I got hit with the "you're a girl" cut-down.)  Not that it's all Hutch's fault.  Surely, whatever bedroom play there was, she was an eager and consenting partner.  So, she's surely at least as mad at herself for letting her guard down in the heat of the moment.

If Hutch then needed some "me time", one has to wonder why he chose the stairs of the PD to contemplate his current life and the current case.  The lack of compassion from Starsky, and the "you're a cop" lecture is dishing back the same thing Hutch dished out to Starsky in "Blindfold".  (The pep talk also happened in "Rosey Malone", but at least Hutch had compassion for Starsky's feelings.)  In any event, one can hardly fault Hutch for walking away.  And it's hard not to wonder how their partnership got to the point where personal feelings mean nothing.

Still, I'd like to think that it's his concern for Hutch that causes Starsky to go to Harry directly and give him a bit of a good-morning pep talk.

Hutch tries calling Marianne at home, which she doesn't answer.  One has to wonder how he got her number.

It's quite a scene when Harry comes over to Marianne's and demands to know who Hutch it.  She reveals he's a cop, and then reels off a string of sentences -- some goofy, and some deadly serious -- about how she felt about her time with Hutch.  And she ends with a cheerful, but caustic, "I hate that cop more than I hate my own brother."

That night at the club, Hutch is waiting for her after she's done singing, and she says, "Here we go again -- another action-packed walk."  LOL.

The scene in the alley is the high point of the episode.  Hutch mutters, "I'm sorry", and she's surrounded by emotional walls when she deadpans, "Sorry for what?  It wasn't that bad, was it?"  God.  That's both hilarious, and yet so sad.  He tries to clarify that he means, "About the way things happened."  She shoots right back, "What way is that?  You're there and  I'm here, and everything's more fouled up than it's ever been before."   When Hutch asks her, "What do you want?"  I love it when she says, "Don't insult me.  You aren't any more interested in what I want than the man in the moon."  Then she says, "I want you out of my life," and starts to leave, but Hutch holds onto her and repeats, "No."

Hutch's speech is interesting.  He starts out with the typical male justification for sex that, "We've had something special."  He goes on to emphatically say, "You're worth it. You've got to know that you're worth it.  For once in your life, you've got to own that.  You've got to own your life.  You've got to say, 'This is me, and I like it.  This is what I want, and I'm going to take it.  You've got to make that choice.'"

OK - [raising hand] - that's one of Hutch's most profound speeches.  Where did he pull that from?  What happened in his life that made him feel like an expert on owning oneself?  I think this is more fodder for the idea that he had less than a happy childhood.  I tried to explore it somewhat at the end of Phantoms, but, of course, there can be other interpretations.

Anyway, she refuses to be swayed, and eventually deadpans, "I want you.  We''ll get married, and we'll run away together.  We'll live happily ever after."    That causes Hutch to backpedal and mutter, "No, that's not the point."  I love how she taunts, "All you have to do is say yes."

Hutch realizes then that he can't penetrate her walls, so he gives in, and she storms away.

Then we get the unexpected, "Turn around, Ken" and flashes of a camera.

We then see a scene of Starsky marching all over the station, cheerfully asking if anybody knows where Hutch is.

Then we see a beat-up Hutch enter Marianne's room.  This is the hardest part of the episode to swallow.  Hutch hasn't been getting compassion from either Marianne or Starsky, and he chooses to go to Marianne when he's in pain.

It really is awful of Starsky to make Huggy run alongside the Torino, while Huggy tells him about Finch willing to pay for a hit on Hutch.

During the climatic shootout, I love the choreography of Starsky and Hutch shooting from opposite ends of the hall.  But, man, Starsky really did take a risk, shooting at Finch's henchman, with Hutch also in Starsky's line of fire.

All is well in the tag.  Starsky and Hutch are as cozily domestic together in Hutch's greenhouse as they've ever been.  Wonder what went on between the shootout and the tag that got them back on even keel.

Hutch mentions going to the bank for a home improvement loan, which suggests that he actually owns his apartment, which in turns means that it's technically a condominium and not an apartment.  I mean, home improvement loans usually require that the property being improved be put up as collateral, and Hutch couldn't do that unless he owned it.

Also interesting that he's accusing Starsky of being negative, when I thought Starsky was actually rather cheerful, to a puzzling degree, throughout the episode.  But then, after being around the droll Marianne, I can also understand why Hutch would be wanting Starsky to be his usual, cheerful self.  Of course, Hutch is in lecture mode about having a positive attitude, which isn't near as interesting as the lecture he gave Marianne about owning oneself.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2013 03:46 am (UTC)
This is one of my favorite episodes, not only for its drama and Hutch-angst, but it's a vidder's dream. PMG did an excellent job directing this one.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )