Episode Review: Moonlight 1.16: Sonata. Sex in the City with Fangs. And oh yeah! There's a murder in here somewhere too!
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/
It's entirely appropriate that this episode is entitled Sonata, because up until this point, Beth has been under the belief that her relationship with Mick has been just that: a fantasy. However, a murder that threatens to expose the Vampire community cause the facts of dating a vampire to intrude on Beth's life. And soon, her fantasy world comes to a halt.
The show opens at a benefit where Josef is helping to dedicate a sports arena that he funded. Mick and Beth are there to support Josef. While Mick is otherwise occupied, Josef tells Beth that he founded the college. He also introduces her to his date, a mortal named Simone. Simone is Josef's lawyer and sometimes blood donor. (Vampires call them freshies. The implications make it seem very tawdry.) Beth seems unnerved by this news, and wants to know how many freshies Mick has had over the years.
The opening scenes have all the markings of whodunnit, complete with a cast of red shirts that will either be murdered, or suspects by the end of the night. Including Lawyer/freshie Simone, a former college athlete now turned NBA pro named Dominick, his rival Hank, who never made the big time, Dominick's date and Hank's former girlfriend, Lisa, and Dominick's agents Jackson and Emma Monaghan.
With so many suspects linking to Dominick, you know he's got to be dead before the end of the first act. And he is. Just seconds after Beth is teasing Mick that they're on their fourth official date. Official meaning that there were no dead bodies. (Since Mick is technically dead, doesn't he count?)
While the vehicle that drives the episode is the whodunnit, this is really just window dressing. The real story of the episode is the nature of Human and Vampire relationships. Beth gets to see the pitfalls of dating a vampire, as well as the drawbacks to a long term relationship like Jackson and Emma have. (The vampire couple has been married 150 years.)
And I do mean drawbacks. The vampires aren't shown to their best advantage as boyfriend material in this episode. At one point, Beth walks in to find Mick feeding on Simone. He assures her that it's just so that he can be certain that she's got a different blood type than the killer.
Later on, same argument. Beth tells Mick that she's confused by his mixed signals. When he fed on her in the desert back in Fever, he made it seem like a big deal.
As Beth peruses the trail of Dominick's killer, the women she comes into contact with give her more to chew on.
Emma gives Beth a little more hope, because she seems devoted to Jackson, and he to her. But that hope quickly unravels when Emma is revealed to be the killer. While she loved Jackson, she was dating Dominick because she was bored. Then the ball player dumped her for a younger model: vampire cheerleader and eternal college girl Lisa. Emma killed Dominick accidentally in a fit of rage.
When ADA Talbot finds that Emma is the killer, he goes to arrest her. She's on the verge of killing a few police officers when Mick arrives and talks her down. Later, when Mick lets Jackson in to see her, she delivers an ultimatum: either Mick break her out of prison, or she reveals the vampire community.
Beth feels further rejected by Mick when he sends her away so that he and the rest of the vampires can deal with the problem. First by rescuing Emma in an Ocean's Eleven-style caper, and then by dispensing vamp justice on her and Jackson with a blowtorch.
The message that Beth takes away from this episode is clear: vampire/human relationships can't end well. She tries to break things off with Mick. Firstly by telling him that she doesn't want to be a vampire, and secondly by sharing that eventually that's what they'd both want. Especially as she starts to grow older.
Mick refuses to accept that. He's learned a different lesson from Emma and Jackson: That love is all that matters. He convinces Beth that their love can overcome all obstacles, and the episode ends with Mick staying with Beth.
I have to say that I'm very disappointed with CBS for not giving this show a second season. Moonlight has been refreshing to me in that the characters are people first and vampires second. Most of them (let's overlook the cleaners for this statement) hold down jobs that don't involve wearing PVC, whips and chains. They don't hang around in night clubs staring into glasses of blood-laced red wine. And while Mick is kind of anti-vampire, he doesn't spend his time with his hand stapled to his forehead going Woe! Angst!
Instead, you have believable characters. Josef likes to watch the Lakers. Mick is confused about dating the way anyone who is jumping back into the dating pool would be. This is vampirism for thirty somethings who have never played Vampire: The Masquerade. Or possibly, for those of us who haven't done so since we were sixteen, but we remember fangs with fondness.
Yes, the show has had some behind the scenes problems. Recasts. Multiple show runners. But despite this, it's held together admirably. CBS is loosing a gem. I only hope that it finds a new home, and I get to come back next fall and review season two.
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