A few thoughts on Episode 17. There are some slight spoilers, but if you haven't watched Episode 17 yet, I have no sympathy for you. I couldn't believe it. It's a masterpiece of editing, score, acting, and some lovingly tuned special effects. But what drives me to blog again after so long? It's how long it took Barry to release a new Ragged Isle episode. Just kidding, it's the acting of Meghan Benton and Krystal Kenville that inspires this blog. Why single out a few actors over my other actor friends in the episode? Because no one can stop me. I have no wife to ask me to rethink it, or hold me close prior to a wild romp.
I'll start with Krystal, because her scene that inspired me comes first in the episode. For me, the magic starts at time 2:10. I don't know how great actors do it, but by God it stands out when they do. At this point in time, right now, I know more about Krystal's character than most of the viewers because of course I've seen the script. That said, Krystal's eyes and expression speaks volumes of story to me. Story that, creatively, goes back years in my mind when I first saw it being born. I wish I could describe more about that, but these secrets will end up being your friend, so don't fret. When the show ends up completely posted and some viewers go back to study it all, once they have all the answers, they will feel, as I do now, a great empathy and heartbreak for certain characters. A depth to what was done, and to whom. It will hurt your heart to know it. You can't really guess at the answers right now, because the ending is too damn inspirationally clever. It's not trying to torture you by being impossible to solve, it's setting you up for a kind of delight that only comes around every decade or two. RI isn't mean, it's built properly. As a fan, you can rest assured that it won't drop the ball and rip you off.
Back to Krystal, there are lots of ways to look at her performance, but only mine and others who agree matter. She is giving you pages of story, history, and overwhelming weights of emotions and intent without speaking a word. I'm getting more out of her 16 seconds than I can emotionally bear. It's overwhelming, combined with the post production composition of Barry, Derek Kimball, and Richard Decosta. As I write this, a second ago via Facebook chat, Barry told me of his lighting technique for this scene. The guy has it. Like a Gorham Doctor Who. Back to Krystal. Krystal is awesome. Krystal is amazing. Krystal is a real actor. Please read on...
Now to Meghan. We all got together one night in Harpswell and set up some big lights over salt water on a wobbly wharf and tried to freeze a young, thin girl to death. I've waited a long time to mention the impact it had on me. That night was strange, heavy, and exhausting, psychologically and physically. Meghan's dedication and human vulnerability left an impression on me I'll never forget. Brilliant young actress Meghan Benton (pronounced Mee'-in) as Vicki Burke plunged into icy waters late at night for the camera. She then had to float there motionless without shivering. I had to pull her out of the water twice, because the first time I had the angle wrong and fell short of getting her up and onto the dock. Pulling someone soaking wet straight up out of the water as you're leaning over is harder than you might imagine. I hoped I could do it, but I couldn't. I felt terrible that she had to go into the water again because of me, but at least I got her on the second try. I just yanked like hell. No problem. Her shoulder will likely pop back in. Soon after, I had to push on her chest pretty damned hard (because I hate it when TV CPR looks fake) over and over. Meghan of course toughed it out, with the occasion "Oh my @#%& God," as she shivered uncontrollably, sinking into hypothermia in front of all our eyes. She would however stop shivering, again and again on "action." I got to see my friend get colder and colder, soaking wet in the Maine night as she laid on the dock for what seemed like forever. While acting, pretending to save her, I wanted to save her for real. Poor little shit, having to be the toughest one of us all. A bootleg video I took of her jumping in will effectively illustrate the water temperature, but that's a treat for after the end of this, the final season. Don't worry, the Dodd's had her in a heated vehicle wrapped in blankets after not too long. She survived to act another day. Triple pneumonia doesn't last forever.
I've been a fan of Meghan's acting since the beginning, and got a huge reminder in this episode. In particular, her realization with Eric at time 8:05. I couldn't believe the combination of grief, fear, dread, realization, terror, and loss in her face. And her running away broke my heart. That's poor Vicki's brother for Chrissakes! I find her acting flawless. She makes me believe that Vicki is real, and a completely different person than Meghan, but with Meghan's unique stretch-a syllable dialect, which I love. Unfortunately, I very rarely see her, but she's fantastic and I believe she's Ragged Isle's leading asset.
And of course I must mention Barry's direction and editing. His editing style has a signature that I've come to know, and we're fortunate that it consistently puts us ahead of so many. Sorry community, but the show is tight. In the editing bay, Barry sets up and supports mood like few others can, and does it with performances that he guided seemingly with almost no effort.
And finally (they're always last in the DVD extras, aren't they?) the composer. Richard DeCosta's scores are invisible on the first viewing, because his music so perfectly conveys the emotion of the scene. It aligns with it. I don't notice the score at all, at first. I just notice my emotion building because of it. The score commands respect but doesn't draw attention to itself. It doesn't make me think "Oh, so this is what they have for a "score"." I go back and listen carefully later, pick out the instruments, and enjoy its craft. It's hard to do, because I keep getting drawn back into the gripping story, and his score becomes invisible again.
Bravo to Episode 17. I'm in love with it. Watch it again. Share it on Facebook. Would it KILL you to SHARE it on FACEBOOK? A friend of yours might like it, and they won't know it exists it if you don't share it. Episode 17 won Indie Series of the Week on We Love Soaps! I got Best Actor of the Week too, and thank you We Love Soaps, but to my eyes Meghan and Krystal were way better.
Episode 17 is awesome. Click here to watch it! And don't forget to track down that share button...