Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Mysteries of Day Break Infuriate Me in a Good Way

I want a more exciting reason for not writing lately. Unfortunately, I don't have one.

Two things come closest to excitement:

+ Spending 10 minutes a night editing my short story project and

+ Catching 2 episodes of Day Break Tuesday night and another 2 on Wednesday night.

Apparently, they'll release another episode Monday. I'm a little annoyed, though, that they'll release the second hour of the premiere this upcoming Monday, billing it an unaired episode. Still wondering how will fit into the continuity this time.

As much as I feel infuriated that they haven't put up all the remaining unaired episodes at once, I have to respect it at the same time. It allows for the suspense to keep enticing an audience to come back to a Website. And how to better measure ratings than Web hits? From my perspective, better than the Nielsen ratings. So yeah, I'm looking forward to the next new episode.

* * * POSSIBLE SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED ALL THE NEW EPISODES YET * * *

The last episode really finished on an interesting note. If you have the perception that ABC had released all the episodes, the end would suck and feel very frustrating. Hopper has apparently solved the murder mystery of who killed Garza and exonerated himself, but. . .but. . .but he wakes up in the same day, AGAIN!

This time, though, the show made a very big point of dramatically creating the impression that everything had been solved. Before he woke up again, Hopper felt great and vindicated. His girlfriend, his fellow cops, etc. etc. say all these things that make you feel that everything has concluded. They have caught the killer of Garza and others and have brought all these elements together that solves most of the connections between all the disparate characters. At least, enough of them have been resolved for satisfaction at the end of the day. Yet. . .yet. . .yet he wakes up in the same day, AGAIN!

Once I realized that this last episode isn't THE LAST episode, though, I started remembering a few elements that didn't feel resolved. Rita and Chad have something in their past that they want to stay hidden. The lead homicide cop has a big beef against Hopper and his (dead?) father. There's still the crazy guy out there who apparently suffers from the same thing as Hopper. And mostly. . .Why the hell does Hopper and the crazy guy keep repeating the same day?

Alex Epstein has touched on the issues of leaving things a mystery rather than having a bunch of pieces that come together in his recent blog entry, "Sometimes Confusions Makes it Realer". Sadly, his inspiration comes from a tragic situation, brings up a good point. Pan's Labryinth does do a good job at leaving a mystery that doesn't frustrate the audience (at least, not a good one). One girl in a college fiction workshop I attended had a great knack for creating these kinds of mysteries. One day, I hope I can accomplish such a task, but it requires a great amount of skill and craft. I don't feel ready to take it on yet.

Then we have a situation like Day Break. This show relies on putting together the pieces rather than leaving the audience with a mystery. The general premise pretty much goes: someone has framed Hopper. Who, why and how? It has taken him something like 3 or 4 weeks of the very same day to figure out how all these different elements fit together. This premise essentially creates the expectation of a mystery that will get solved.

But the show has also created an emotional expectation. At this point, we have all but two emotional elements created and resolved. Hopper helped Battle's drugee boyfriend get into rehab (I missed that one, but Denis McGrath does an awesome job analyzing and summarizing that episode in his blog entry, "Long Taye's Journey Into Night (With Moon Bloodgood)". The estrangement of Hopper and his sister. The good homocide cop has come around and becomes pretty kick ass.

Though possibly, most of all, we feel why Hopper wants the day to end. He doesn't want to just stay out of jail, solve the mystery, get captured the bad guys and repeat the same day because it annoys him. No. . .every time he see his girlfriend, his sister, his partner and everyone else die, he feels it like the first time. Some people might grow cold to it either because they see it so many times or because they think they'll wake up in the same day tomorrow. No, Hopper's a tough guy with some hard emotions. On top of that, though, he's also something of an everyman that doesn't necessarily understand the theories behind the crazy day repeating (even though Chad knows something about it, which is hilarious). He doesn't know why it keeps going, but neither he does he know when it will stop. All his loved ones could die then maybe the day won't repeat. But damnit, he can't live his life without those loved ones!

So we have two things told to us by the narrative logic: mysteries will get solved by the facts presented and emotional problems brought to our attention will get resolved. Crazy man repeating the days with Hopper presents a mystery of the repeating day along with an emotional issue. The crazy presents so many possible paradoxes. First off, if he somehow figures out how to reach the next day, what iteration would Hopper meet if Hopper doesn't make it to the next day? Crazy guy also has a mystery: he really does repeat day after day, but he had an operation that was supposed to fix it? Has his brother died? If not, where is he, really? What's up with that doctor, if the crazy guy didn't have the operation? In the end, though, does crazy guy and Hopper have to both do something to make the day stop reiterating? Maybe not so immensely important, but many possibilities introduced.

The head guy on homicide also presents something of a minor issue. For a guy who has such a big beef with Hopper and his dad, why does he cave so easily in the end? Does he have the intelligence to realize that the preponderence of evidence beats him, even though he tries to stop the investigation from going contrary to the original suspicion of Hopper killing Garza. Does the guy really have a beef? Or does the guy just have very simplistic ways of approaching things? Does he just want to get a case over and done with? I'd like to learn more about this guy's beef.

The biggest emotional sticking point, though, comes from the secret that Chad and Rita want to keep hidden. Chad has worked with one of the bad guys to keep the secret hidden. The head homicide guy brings it up during an interrogation and apparently the secret should have been erased from the books. That type of power can only probably come from the conspiracy that has framed Hopper and done tons of other crazy crap.

Most of all, though, this secret provides a great opportunity for TENSION! Right now, it's potential, which almost feels more tense than having it just about happen. The day hasn't stopped reiterating, and we have this big mystery and also the mystery about the head homicide cop. Head homicide cop doesn't matter so much. He did his job of showing a connection to the conspiracy and being the only one to bring up the secret other than Chad and Rita. If the secret is so huge that they want it to stay hidden, though, what will Hopper think? Did his friendship with Chad go sour because of it or just because Hopper started dating Rita. Did their relationship break up because of the secret? Also notice that on the Website, they're always pictured together (from the beginning, I thought it meant something insidious). Day Break has solved most every other mystery and the day iterates again, so I expect this secret to get revealed. Whether it brings on resolution, I don't know if I care. Right now, I just want to know the secret.

And, most obviously, the mystery of the reiterating day. What causes it? Will we get an answer to its cause? Does the councilman Tobias have something to do with it (he does keep talking about actions having consequences)? If so, why would he have Hopper reiterate the day? Maybe Tobias has taken to reiterating days every once in awhile to get it perfect but accidently sucks other people into that reiterating day? If so, how does he do it? Does the guy do magic? Does he have some kind of device? How and why does the day keep reiterating? Maybe I won't care all that much by the end if this mystery doesn't get solved, but right now, I really want to know the answer, especially since his original cause of vindicating himself and saving the people he loved hasn't stopped the iterations. I will wait on my tippy toes to find out the answer, and it had better be good.

* * * SPOILERS DONE * * *

OK. I ended up writing more than I intended. Stuff about the short story and other life things will have to wait.

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