For about four hours last night, more than half of America was staring at a screen. When half the Super Dome lights went out, everyone took out their phones and began tweeting and retweeting, coming up with theories and the wittiest jokes about the power outage. The Superbowl is often a night of social gathering, but more so than ever, it’s a collective gathering of many individuals.
In last night’s episode “Follow Me,” Amy Jellicoe is wary of this kind of interaction, or lack thereof. On her “date” with Jeff, she confesses her disapproval of screen staring, turning the human population into Zombies and cutting them off from human connection. That could be the rehabilitation center talking, or it could be the fact that she’s been staring at a screen every day for work, and wants her freedom looking into something real.
But Amy’s always been a little unclear of what she wants. Is bringing down Abaddon purely an environmental justice or are the fifteen improperly respected years she’s given, as she preaches to Dougie, the kindling to a revenge-filled fire? It’s a similar confusion with Jeff, whom she proclaims to her mother is not a date. But remember in “The Key,” Amy dons her makeup in the car next to Tyler, claiming she wants to make a good impression. What kind of impression? Maybe Amy doesn’t know, but she’s leaving it up for interpretation.
This ambiguity is often dealt with in Amy’s selfish selflessness, most frustratingly in Krista’s hospital wing, where her own personal goals and daily problems can’t stay backstage in light of a bedridden coworker. “Do you have a Twitter?” she awkwardly questions Janice. Krista’s tolerance level for Amy seems to be rising but this episode more than any other felt like Laura Dern was playing a caricature, not Amy. I often wonder what Amy’s professional social interactions were like pre-meltdown. Was she this socially inept, this naïve, this unaware?
You can see it in her puppy-dog expression when a couple comes to greet Jeff at their restaurant. “They recognize you from your writing?” It’s not that it’s a dumb question, but it’s more telling of Amy’s technologically clouded mind. After explaining the power of social media, and the allegorical mobilization of armies, Amy equates Jeff with an angel, following him to another world, an idealistic one of richness and fullness, not muddled down in the “small, dumb, and mean” occurrences in life. The name-calling, the finger pointing, those are characteristics found both upstairs and in the bowels of Abaddon.
In the latter, I’m referring to Dougie, who for all of his aggression is really a sympathetic character. “This is my domain!” he yells, and his frustrations over losing Omar appear to bleed into his own life. Is he mad Omar is gone, or is he mad Omar escaped from the hard drive lined walls in which at certain moments blend right into Dougie’s deep colored button-down. For all of Levi’s socially hidden anger last week in paradise, this episode is curiously blunt, but progresses the situation considerably, political correctness be damned.
I don’t blame them. It starts with Amy wanting to look the CEO right in the eye. “Who are you?” he asks her. “Just a nobody who’s worked here for 15 years,” replies Amy. Tyler’s not happy she’s blown her anonymous cover, but it’s too late. Amy has started her new life on Twitter, excitedly typing in “P-E-T-A,” “Amnesty International,” and then “Mia Farrow.” She’s written her first “twit.” “Follow me!” she barks at Connie, ironically trying to gain attention over the computer screen, in a deftly framed shot. “She’s a fucked up chick,” Dougie finally gets off his chest to Tyler regarding Amy. “You’re a retarded techy!” he throws at her. The insults fly, the truth revealed.
But just as easily as they are dished, they are received back in spades. Dougie, is the most insulted after he sees the email gossip. I’ve found that what hurts these characters the most and heightens our compassion for them, is the un-confrontational banter. The stuff spewed behind closed doors. It happened after Amy’s “fake” proposal to the board last season and it’s happened to Dougie over the Internet. Those two worlds, one of fulfillment, one of bitter smallness, affect Amy because they come from the same place and exist in the same space. The Internet can create armies of good, hope and enlightenment. It can also diminish them.
Watching the elite do-gooders schmooze makes Amy feel out of place, like her outburst at the librarian’s wine drenched celebration. She has followed Jeff to this new world she spoke of, and like being dropped in a foreign country must quickly learn the codes, the customs, the language. But you can see Jeff’s interest in her research diminishing, as it quickly rises in just “her.” Maybe he’s not her prophet. After all, she’s gaining followers in more ways than one. Dougie’s on board and Tyler reaffirms with a fist pump of solidarity. These “dirtbags” are connected through rejection, with Amy as their spiritual guide.
“Even a nobody like you can have power,” Jeff asserts to Amy. If a librarian can master social media, anything’s possible.