Episode Review: Moonlight 1.09, Fleur De Lis: Hang on to your Seats. Or alternately, turn them into appropriately symbolic stakes.
Tracy S. Morris is the author of the award-winning Tranquility series of Southern paranormal humor mysteries.
Morris's story Fish Story will appear in the Baen anthology Strip Mauled
Her new novel Bride of Tranquility Is available now from Yard Dog Press.
Her website is http://www.tracysmorris.com/
With that pesky problem out of the way, we're free to move back to the Coraline story arc with episode 1.09, Fleur De Lis. And, hang on to your seats folks, it's a heck of an episode.
The first thing I noticed about this episode was that Beth was doing the voice over instead of Mick. Typically, it's Mick's story to tell, but this time around, it's Beth's. The next was that the story started with Beth staking Coraline before segueing back in time twenty four hours, to tell the story of what lead up to this.
It's a move that reminded me of J. J. Abrams back during his Alias days. This style of en medias res instantly gets us invested in the action as we wait to find out what series of events led up to Beth staking Coraline.
Going back in time twenty four hours finds us in Beth's car, watching 'Morgan' through her bedroom window, and wondering if she was actually Coraline. Having just re-watched The Ringer, I was impressed at the role reversal in the characters. Before it was Mick unraveling as he wondered if the woman with the familiar face was his ex wife. Now it's Beth who seems two tacos shy of a fiesta as she remembers that she was kidnapped by a woman who resembles her photographer.
While Mick tries to talk Beth down from her mental ledge, he's got just enough doubt as to Morgan' s true identity to keep her busy while Beth digs into her background.
At this point, plot A and plot B take off on different tangents. Beth snoops through Morgan's things, and finds a photo of Mick in a band at one of Coraline's parties. It's enough evidence that her next step is to talk to Josef, who sends her to Coraline's party house. There, she finds the evidence she's looking for: photos of her and Mick that Coraline took while she was stalking them along with the little girl's room where Coraline held Beth prisoner while playing mommy dearest.
It's a little chilling to me that Coraline has been stalking not just Mick, but Mick and Beth all this time. And that the child's room is still in pristine condition. That, combined with Morgan's hints, give me the uneasy feeling that Coraline is still carrying on her mommy dearest fixation with Beth.
Meanwhile, Mick has a case conveniently fall in his lap that calls for a photographer. He offers Morgan the job as a peace offering. She accepts, and the two take off like the Scooby gang on what seems to be a standard 'catch the cheating wife in the act' job. While they investigate, Morgan makes passes, Mick proves to be less-than-immune to her advances and Beth picks up on the sexual tension.
Except that the cheating wife is cheating with her step-son and Mick thinks he hears her say that her husband would kill her if he knew. In a last-minute surprising twist, Morgan discovers that it's actually the wife and son who are plotting to kill the father/husband. They rush to the rescue and save the day.
Afterwards, while Morgan is cleaning up at Mick's house, Mick sees her tattoo andrealizes that she's actually Coraline just in time for Beth to show up.
At first, she's nursing a mad-on fueled by her formerly-repressed memories and wielding a stake like Buffy after a Big Bad. What she sees at Mick's house does nothing to put that fire out: Mick is soaking wet and his shirt is open.
Then Coraline comes down the stairs, also soaking wet and wearing only another one of Mick's shirts.
Mick may say that it's not what it looks like, but Beth isn't listening. Instead, we're right back to the opening, where Beth pulls a Van Helsing and stakes Coraline with a piece of wood pulled from the child's furniture in her girlhood prison.
Watching Sophia Myles take a turn portraying mentally unhinged. Her acting is reminiscent of Alex O'Loughlin's turn at having a psychotic break only two episodes back. Apparently, Coraline has that effect on everyone.
Myles also takes us on a wonderful journey through Beth's emotional development as she investigates Morgan. As her repressed memories return, she moves from a fragile state to a vengeful one. When she smashes a piece of furniture from her childhood prison, makes a stake from the wood and goes hunting for Coraline, it's a wonderful way of establishing that she's moved on from being a victim.
I also thought it was wonderfully poetic that she staked Coraline, her onetime jailer, with an item that the vampiress used to furnish her prison room.
I also like the hints of backstory given to Coraline. Particularly the scenes where she was shown to have been branded against her will. The implication that Coraline was also once placed into a situation she had no control over mirror Beth's.
However, in Coraline's case, there was no one to save her the way Mick saved Beth. Instead she somehow saved herself. How she did this is still a tantalizing mystery and will no doubt play into how she became the controlling and slightly deranged woman that we know now.
The history buff in me is rebelling at the idea that French courtesans were branded with a Fleur De Lis. But courtesans in France rubbed elbows with the nobility. Common criminals were branded.
On the other hand, it's possible that Coraline could have fallen from the favor of her patron in some way, been accused of some crime and been branded as a criminal.
It's a minor point, but one that bothered me.
The verdict: If the history of Coraline's Fleur De Lis is the only thing I have to complain about, then show did something very right.
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