Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brad Winderbaum's Satacracy 88: Episode Six

The new episode of Satacracy 88 is up on itsallinyourhands.com; check it out (link on the right), vote, then come back here for the commentary.

This sixth episode of Satacracy has debts to Batman: Tales of the Dark Knight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a sixth season episode Brad has never seen), and plays with material from Nightmare on Elm Street in a fun way (objects from dreams can come back with you). But the influence I want to focus on in this post is the origin of all three.

Like the best science fiction (Dark City, The Truman Show, the first Matrix film, the Invisibles), Satacracy has found its Gnostic heritage. Creation is a flawed and dangerous illusion, a horrific prison world, and an inner light is your only guide, against all other influences. Even those we are closest to, those we want to trust, may be part of the nightmare, soldiers sent to keep us in chains with kind words and good intentions. Just as the Gnostic messiah -- or messiahs, as there are more than one -- enters the world of the dream (the world where we live), where he may become ensnared both physically and psychically and forget his true mission, Angela enters a dream with a mission she is in danger of forgetting. It is important that her most dangerous foes are kindly and familiar. This is how they come for you.

The casting of Max Ghezzi as Dr. Johnson is perhaps the best casting yet. He looks almost nice, almost right, but something about him is subtly off. It may be important that his namesake -- 18th century man of letters Dr. Samuel Johnson -- was famed for insisting on absolute accuracy in in all things, for hating illusion and having an almost pathological fear of the madness that might result from too much illusion. It is important that in the world of the asylum Brad has abandoned fancy camera work, weird music, and pulp effects of any kind. A dose of realism made his sci-fi effective; now his main character is in danger from an overdose of sober realism, which will kill her more than natural spark.

Brad and actress-and-co-writer Diahnna Nicole Baxter have made Angela's ultimate choice in this episode the best one yet, a genuine dilemma: Angela needs the Truth, and was told to hold onto it at any cost by Loyce; in the dream world it is Loyce who insists she tell the truth, but now it no longer seems like Truth with a capital T -- she did kill Martin, but that feels beside the point. Her choice is not between truth and illusion, but between mere accuracy, and the gnosis of her inner light.

2 comments:

Mitch said...

This episode is officially my second favorite episode, Brad. I don't really know how to classify this episode structurally, which is one reason why I like it. In it, the main plot of the piece seems to masquerade as a sub-plot. How interesting. Well done. Lord knows if you can get Geoff going about Gnosticism then you must be doing something right!

brad said...

Thanks Mitch. I thought about you a couple times while we were making this one. With this episode, we're set up for some cool twists down the road.