Saturday, June 24, 2017
It Is Time To Re-Examine "No Exit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Five years ago, darlings, I wrote about this very disturbing episode of "Law And Order, Criminal Intent," first broadcast in 2005. I recently had a chance to view it again, and some new observations popped up, which I thought I would share.
The actor pictured is Arye Gross, one of our great character actors. I am sure he has quite a range, but he is best known, to me, for playing sycophants and losers. Like Oscar Anderson, in the Cold Case episode, "The Dealer," who murders Donna D'Amico, played by Frankie Ingrassia, simply because she called him out for being the Office Dinosaur. And then there is his brilliant turn as Hubert Skoller in "No Exit." Hubert will be discussed, at length, because there is more to him than one realizes.
Just as there is more to this episode, which is why it merits more than one viewing.
Let's start with the opening, which is one of the most disturbing three minutes and fifty two seconds ever filmed. If watched initially, one thinks a group of young people are getting ready to go to a party.
If the viewer is clever enough, maybe when they stop at the train tracks, or when Drew tosses the keys, one can begin to catch on. But, what was interesting to me, this time around, is, if you watch carefully, knowing what the episode is about, the back story of why these young adults, who are in their late twenties to early thirties, have chosen to end their lives, is clearly outlined.
Time to examine them carefully--
Drew Esterhaus--A loser. Arrested in Oregon on a protest charge. He drops out of law school; another failure in his life. He moves about, ends up in Manhattan, living in the YMCA, eking out a barely tolerable existence at a dead end legal research job. I am not sure I agree with his decision; things can always improve, even if they take time, but that is me.
Nicholas Rozakis and Eugenie Crawford--They have to be jointly examined, because they are a couple. Their situation is simply an update of "Splendor In The Grass--" but that story carried out to the point where Deanie did not fail at her suicide attempt. Like Deanie's parents, Eugenie's feel she is too young to be so involved. And they say they will stop paying for her college education, if she continues seeing Nicholas. Nicholas, meanwhile, loves Eugenie, is clinically depressed, and cannot find a job. He has a history of a prior suicide attempt, when he was younger, and his mother died. Granted, things look bleak for them, but, with all the social service organizations in the city, something might have been worked out for them. But, again, that's me.
Wes Richmond--I really missed, big time, on this one. Ah, Wes. He is the one I wrote about, who wears glasses, and, in the last minutes, as the train approaches, bearing down, appears to be the only one having second thoughts on this, only it is too late now. The irony is, if any of these four have a valid reason for doing it, it is Wes. Though his situation can be argued, too. How could I have missed Wes' back story, but I did. He is seen, in a hospice, making a three month advance payment on his mother's care. The physician is not sure if she has even that long. Wes says he wants to cover her payment, as he will not be around for awhile. It is learned that his mother is in the final stages of Huntington's Disease. Wes has been tested, knows he will eventually get it. He was married, but got divorced; my guess is he pushed the wife away when he discovered the gene he carried, or she left him, because to have kids would not be right. He is alone, doomed, he feels, to an isolated life. So, I get Wes' reasoning. Where I disagree is, who knows what advances will be made in years to come; AIDS proved that. A married couple does not have to have children. And, lastly, while dying from Huntington's is far from pleasant, is it any worse than a train crashing into you? I do not care how quick death comes; in this case, before lapsing into unconsciousness, something is going to be felt, and I certainly would not want to feel that. I think Wes realized this, in his final moments. He is played by actor Zach Wegner, and his little vignette adds up to one brilliant performance. Which is why Wes is the one I felt most sympathetic toward.
Now, Carmine Ruggiero--Carmine turns out to be the story's first victim. Having only chatted online with these four on what he thinks is a party line to socially hook up, Carmine thinks he is out for an evening of fun. But, when the train comes bearing down, he realizes the mistake he has made--whether he knows he was set up is not made clear--but the fact is his shoes had glass shards on them, indicating he was trying to kick his way out of that car up till the moment of impact, because he was not part of this suicide pact.
Mr. Smythe--Now, I believe in Freedom Of Speech, but this kind of scum pushes the envelope too far. This loser runs a fictitious website called "Terminal Decision," for people who have made what he calls an "informed decision" to end their lives. Nice. He provides a chat room for hookups, a list of rooftops, bridges, high and low and deep places around New York City where people can off themselves. Real classy, huh? I looked online for a comparable site; I was unsuccessful, but let me tell you, there are enough sickos out there who would come up with this sort of thing, if they haven't already. Smythe is charged with four counts of manslaughter, and his website is shut down. And he is out of the story. Good riddance.
Leonard Timmons--He is the hateful corporate schmuck who runs the Longbridge Financial Company. He is played by Darrell Hammond, who, when I first viewed this, was not aware of his comedic talents. He is genuinely hateful; girls, if you have been in the workplace for at least ten years, you have run into one of these types. Self-entitled, arrogant, and drunk with power. Like I said, genuinely hateful, but Hammond tweaks a little fun into playing the role, stopping just short of Simon Legree. All that's missing is a moustache for him to twirl. But he succeeds in his role, and he does get his, though not enough to suit me.
Edie Elverson--She is the catalyst of the story. Her only appearance is in a photo of an actress purported to be her, posed like she has just taken a high jump from a building, which she has. Edie is Longbridge's initial suicide; she was being hounded mercilessly by Timmons, who seduced her, and when she wanted out, bore down on her mercilessly. She tried to complain, but that brings in Hubert Skoller, who will be dealt with shortly. Edie's parents try to file a wrongful death suit, which the company drops. Why Edie just did not quit--she could have lived with her parents for awhile-- is unclear to me, and, sadly, to brace herself for courage, she had to intoxicate herself so much to do the deed. Maybe her consciousness left her. If so, she left the world making a smart move. But suicide is not an answer. Again, that is me, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hubert Skoller--In the annals of the entire "Law And Order" franchise, he is one of the most interesting characters, because he is the perp and the victim. He is a disgusting sycophant, who sucks up to Timmons, doing anything he says, practically licking his boots, if not more, just to provide the affluent suburban lifestyle for himself and family. When Edie becomes a liability, it is Skoller who does Timmons' dirty work--looking the other way at Edie's complaints, forcing her to endure hostility and harassment to the point where she kills herself; when she does, he knows why, yet says nothing. He even has Carmine lie about Edie on a deposition. When Timmons asks Skoller to go to Edie's apartment to clean out her personal stuff which could implicate him, this cringing Uriah Heep does it. But, to his credit, this is all eating away at him; to quote Kendra Wilkinson, "The Devil is eating his soul!" Hubert may be remorseful, but he is not thinking rationally. If he can prove the company is a hostile work environment, he could help the Elversons win their lawsuit. So, he decides another suicide is in order. When clearing Edie's place, he discovers the website Terminal Decision, which she used to select her place of demise. Hubert needs to set up another suicide--even if it means actually killing someone. Impersonating Carmine on the website, he projects all his guilt--Edie's death, seeing her shadow at work--onto Carmine, as a back story. Only Carmine does not know he is being set up when he meets the four. But Hubert does. Already, this is a flawed plan. One suicide in exchange for another? When the scheme begins falling apart, so does Hubert, who begins to plan his own suicide. He is saved, but loses out by going to jail. I hope he is charged with Carmine's murder, because, by putting him in that car, that is just what he did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, Hubert is both a perp, and a victim. Should one feel sorry for him? No, because he did this to himself, and killed another to achieve his supposed goal. Which was only righted by he and Timmons going to jail.
You have to hand it to this episode for tying all sorts of elements together--suicide pacts and websites, workplace bullying, sycophancy and greed. What a scope. But, for me, it is the Fatal Four--Drew, Wes, Eugenie and Nicholas, who break my heart. They had other choices open to them. Why couldn't they have realized that?
Make sure you do, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every single day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!