My Brilliant Friend Episode 3.05: “Terror” Review
The word “violence” is often narrowly defined in the Western lexicon. The word has explicit connotations associated with bodily actions and weapons, but is less commonly associated with words or the consequences of policies. The word has explicit connotations associated with bodily actions and weapons, but is less commonly associated with social hierarchies and stratification. The word has explicit connotations associated with bodily actions and weapons, but it is less commonly associated with bigotry and oppression.
Violence, like political ideology, is not always experienced in broadly defined phenomena. It is one thing to think about violence and political ideology in an abstract and theoretical way. It’s another thing to experience violence and circumstances that may or may not support the political ideology one is aligned with. It’s another matter to act on those experiences, and those actions often reveal who we are.
In episode five of My Brilliant Friend, Elena (Margherita Mazzucco) considers herself to be more avant-garde than she really is. Pietro (Matteo Cecchi) sees himself as an enlightened intellectual when deep down he is just a beneficiary of nepotism beating his wife, an act of crude brutality he associates with the lower classes. Nadia (Giorgia Gargano) happens to be a revolutionary who appreciates the candor of telling the truth, but she bristles at being told the truth herself. Pasquale (Eduardo Scarpetta) struggles against systems that crush community through brutality, but he has become a man who becomes unable to see beyond himself, love and lovelessness, and truly see what is is a revolution. These characters are so much more than that, of course, but their contradictions give one of the show’s best installments real weight and discomfort about the space the characters inhabit.
Violence of all shades is etched throughout this one-episode masterpiece. From the first explosions that set fire to the Solara supermarket, to the men whose mere presence near a rally for the Women’s Liberation Movement looks like a thinly veiled threat, my brilliant friend brilliantly understands the different shades of violence. But violence in the abstract can be difficult to process emotionally without understanding its personal impact. It’s no surprise that the best TV show has achieved this feat by slowly layering characters into its beating heart.
When Elena calls Lila (Gaia Girace) about the murder of fascist Gino (Riccardo Palmieri), Lila responds with the same tone of voice one might use to describe their afternoon tea. Lila doesn’t know if Pasquale is really responsible for Gino’s murder or not, but if he was, she supports him and in this support, she expresses the differences between his experiences and Elena’s. Elena lives in an upscale neighborhood filled with residences for doctors, lawyers, and professors. Lila lives in the neighborhood Elena left behind, a neighborhood where fascist bloodshed is a reality. As far as Lila is concerned, there is one less fascist who threatens her life and that of her family.
It’s the same experience that is quietly revealed when Elena asks if Carmela (Francesca Pezzella) had called the police for help. You can almost hear the combination of laughter, fear and disbelief in Carmela’s voice when she thinks of the police and says “The police? They are more fascist than the fascists.
Pasquale picks up this thread when he and Nadia show up at Elena’s. This sequence is so quietly uncomfortable that you could effortlessly and slowly melt into your couch. They are both unforgivable towards Elena and Nadia certainly has less ground to stand on when it comes to class struggle. Elena quietly calls Nadia for the wealth and privilege to avoid hard choices, but she might as well have shouted it into her plate of pasta.
Pasquale doesn’t want to see Elena as a person, which is nothing new for a man who long ago stopped seeing someone as anything but a vessel for his own projections and insecurities. But his cruelties, and Nadia’s cruelties, cut something deep in Elena. They cut through a gnawing feeling that erupted inside her with a sound that threatens to grow louder and louder until it erupts, the feeling that she, Elena, is lost. The façade of her life completely overwhelmed her. Ahe senses the insight of the Lenù that Pasquale no longer finds. She realizes that she can’t find this Lenù either. She was subsumed by a life that slowly sucked her in and left a wandering ghost in her place. Pietro can’t help her find Lenù – he’s too much of a part of the problem to ever be as helpful – nor can his family. She doesn’t even know if Lila can. And trusting yourself to find the version of yourself you know, the version that has been relegated to the shaky past, is a task even the strongest find daunting.
– We all know someone like Nadia, a person who claims to be super receptive to straight honesty but hates when she receives said straight honesty.
– “I will help Elena. Well, that’s a first!
– “I am mine and I have the power.
– “Tremble in fear, the witches are here” is a smashing protest slogan and we should bring it back.
– “The police? They are more fascist than the fascists.
“Feel how rough my hands are, Professor. If those hands weren’t like that, even a chair couldn’t exist. A car, a building. Not even you.”
– “If we, the workers, suddenly stopped working, everything would stop.
– “The fascists want to kill all those who do not think like them.
– “I will wait for you for eternity. / “Then wait!”
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