"Falling Apart": Wordplay and Parallels

It is very interesting to note the parallels and links between the two main plots of the concluding storylines of Season 1, Episodes 8, 9, and 10. What does "falling apart" mean? It means disintegration, the integrated object breaking down into pieces. The two main examples are: fermentation, which is a chemical breakdown, and Monica's spiritual/emotional breakdown or broken heart.

Mirroring (analogy and opposition) between plot lines:

There are two parallel storylines, one for Monica and the other for Julie S. These characters are counterparts in the two storylines. Each is a mother with a loving son, and the two sons trigger parallel plot threads (one bitter, the other sweet).


Mirror elements:

Julie S's storyline begins when she gets a letter from her son and detects his hidden message about the fermentation/breakdown process in winemaking. (Incidentally, she needs Monica's assistance to create the recipe.) A group of inmates tries their best to make the winemaking project work. It's the funniest plot in Season 1.

Monica's storyline begins soon after, when she is informed of Spencer's death. (In both cases, the women's storylines are triggered by news/information from the outside.) The news breaks her spirit. A group of inmates tries their best to comfort Monica. It's the saddest plot in Season 1.

Crossover: actual links between the two plot lines

The two plot lines are linked primarily by way of Monica and Nikki, secondarily by Julie J. Monica's knowledge and isolation make her both the beneficiary and victim of her ivory tower. Nikki comes to the rescue in both storylines—for Julie's wine and for Monica. And Julie J. links the storylines symbolically in regard to loss and gain: she is one of Monica's primary comforters, and she's the person who opens Chateau Larkhall for Spencer's wake.

Monica's Ivory Tower: Monica is a well-educated person. She is the one who taught the Julies how to make wine, because she couldn't refrain from demonstrating that she was superior in knowledge and experience. We see the same point in Monica's own plot line: when Helen comforts her, saying "I know, I know" Monica furiously replies: "What do you know?" Monica also represents the second connotation of the ivory tower: she is trapped and isolated, thinking no one outside can understand her.

Nikki's fermentation rescues: First, in the storyline about fermentation, there are two crises involving searches, and each time Nikki saves the day: Bodybag discovers that something weird is going on in the potting shed; Nikki averts this crisis by pretending to make out with Julie S. And in vain, Jim Fenner searches the potting shed for the watering can; Nikki has already hidden it in the pile of compost.

Nikki's Monica rescues: Nikki's rescues in both storylines contain similar, inverted gestures--they mirror each other: hiding the winemaking project from Bodybag, and Monica hiding pills from Nikki both involve feigning, concealing a secret plan. Nikki's inducement of vomiting in Monica involves removing partly digested material from inside, while Nikki's hiding the watering can from Fenner involves putting something inside partly digested material.

As for the rescues themselves, in Episode 9 of Season 1, the first sign of the severity of Monica's breakdown is that she breaks off her appeal. At Helen's request, Nikki persuades Monica to continue her appeal. In fact, Monica only pretends to change her mind; really she has a secret plan. But at least there was an appearance of a rescue. Next, Monica has been collecting pills for her suicide. Nikki rescues her by inducing vomiting in Episode 10, with help from the Julies. The last (and in a way the greatest) rescue was Nikki's farewell speech to Monica. Setting Nikki's emotional and spiritual rescue of Monica aside, in a way it is the culmination of all other rescues Nikki has ever performed: because of Nikki's speech, Monica finally realizes that the meaning of her liberty extends far beyond her own life, and in gaining her freedom, takes that knowledge with her to use it to help others.



Thank you to Bill H. for assistance in translating the above schematic.

Orange is the owner of Orange's Review. It's the Chinese blog on LGBT movie, tv, book and culture. There are Chinese reviews for Bad Girls. To date, Series 1 has been completed.


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