|Better Call Saul
took some surprisingly big leaps forward last night, bringing it much closer to Breaking Bad
. But the leaps were done in such a way that writer Alison Tatlock and director Deborah Chow clearly showed evolutions in character relationships to make the tipping points very effective.Spoilers after the screenshot
The months pass in split screen and we see Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) diverge in careers and lifestyle even as they continue to live and sleep together. It's nicely done, like watching Kane and his wife gradually sitting further apart at the breakfast table in Citizen Kane
. Jimmy goes from putting the paste on Kim's toothbrush to not even eating with her.
So then it makes sense that there's suddenly a culture clash between them. They grew apart so gradually that Jimmy springing the news that he'd been selling drop phones is a severe shock. I love how uncomfortable Kim looks in that scene, you can tell she's absolutely repulsed and wants to be a million miles away from Jimmy.
Who'd have thought Huell (Lavel Crawford) would have such an important role. The scene where he hits that cop over the head with a bag of sandwiches is just the right mixture of sad, funny, and credible. And then, against all odds, Kim does find a point of interest in the case; it seems Huell is facing "unequal justice", the prosecutor aiming for an unusual amount of jail time, the implication being that institutional racism is at work. The episode ends with a tease that Kim has cooked up something clever but the real axe hanging over the episode is the sense that, rather than drawing Jimmy and Kim back together, it'll be the final wake-up call that drives them apart. It's a testament to how well done this show is that you understand both points of view--Kim wanting to help people and have a stable career and Jimmy wanting respect and a job that challenges him. These two simple differences in motive are exacerbated by the characters belonging to two different cultures now, as highlighted in the office party at the beginning where Jimmy embarrasses Kim.
And he has business cards now that rhyme "call" with "Saul", an omen of the fate the show's promised from the beginning. The inevitability nicely plays off the complexity of the characters so that you feel how deeply sad it is that Jimmy is trapped.
Current Music: "Josie and Truman" Twin Peaks season 2 OST - Angelo Badalamenti
When it comes to revenge fantasies, it pays to go big. 2018's Mandy
casts Nicolas Cage as its bloody avenger, putting him in a handsomely realised fantasy version of north American wilderness populated by psychotic biker orcs on LSD, vigilante lumberjacks, a dangerous Christian cult, and at least one tiger. The influences are clearer than any real vision on the part of its director and Cage completely overwhelms the film in its second half. But it's a nice, gratuitous ride.
Cage plays a lumberjack named Red who goes home to his pretty young wife, Mandy, played by Andrea Riseborough in one of the few roles I've seen her in where she doesn't come off as the heroine in a romance novel. Mandy prefers to read fourth rate Lovecraftian prose and she reads aloud in narration a ham-fisted description of a fantastic landscape.
As though reality is paying tribute to her literary tastes, the backgrounds seem to get stranger and stranger as Cage gets to work avenging her. He even forges an incredibly cheesy, useless looking battle axe.
It's all so very metal and the filmmakers seem like nice people you'd want to have a beer or headbang with. But the film is more of a nice piece of Mad Max
fan fiction than a comparably effective fantasy in itself. Nicolas Cage gives a base level Nicolas Cage performance. The screams of remorse and rage he gives in to in a strange sunflower papered bathroom could've been sampled from any number of Nicolas Cage films. The villain is a really cheesy, pathetic Christian guru and Riseborough's best moment in the film is when she laughs at his intensely ridiculous sales pitch of his godliness. He's a skinny little twerp, he's not half the crazy eyed walking god Nicolas Cage is with his crossbow he calls "Reaper".
The elaborate fonts in the chapter titles and the synthesiser score by the late Johann Johannson sometimes make Mandy
feel like The Theme from Stranger Things: The Motion Picture
and one suspects this film getting made had a lot to do with the 80s horror nostalgia Stranger Things
instigated. The dialogue is spare and not great in the first half of the film but it's well worth watching for the Frazetta and Heavy Metal
homage imagery and Nicolas Cage flexing his crazy face in an appropriate setting.
Current Music: "Black Dog" - Led Zeppelin
What could a Catholic priest have to say to a Communist woman in a Nazi occupied French town? What kind of answers can he give her in light of that kind of trouble? 1961's Leon Morin, Priest (Léon Morin, prêtre)
avoids nearly all the answers you might except and yet feels remarkably natural. With a gorgeously textured cinematography and perfect performances, it's a lovely film about someone's conception of reality being completely altered, or rather, someone whose intellectual conception of reality is brought into harmony with her instinctive conception of it.
Barny (Emmanuelle Riva) is a young widow with a little girl. She's worried about her child because of the occupation. In an early scene, she meets with Jewish mothers and other Communists to discuss ideas on how to deal with the town being occupied. Many decide to get their children baptised. At this point, a simple solution like this seems workable because the Italians who initially occupy the town wear silly feathered hats and are more congenial than the Germans who show up later. At that point, some of the men take to living in the woods as an arm of the Resistance and Barny decides to send her little girl to live with two old women in the countryside.
Barny's sexually frustrated and starts to fall in love with a Jewish woman in the office named Sabine (Nicole Mirel). Leon (Jean-Paul Belmondo) tells Barny it's just because she hasn't been around men in a while and, it's true, there are few male characters in the film. Aside from Leon, there's only one other named male character, Edelman (Marco Behar), her Jewish boss who flees the town at some point.
She meets Leon in the confessional, to throw "Religion is the opiate of the masses" in his face. But her instincts had led her to him because she was already starting to feel the inadequacy of this maxim. Certainly faith is a lot more traumatic in this film than sedatives tend to be.
In Roger Ebert's review of the film
he says that the director, Jean-Pierre Melville, "cleverly plays with our expectations." The expectations Ebert refers to are expectations of cinema, stories, or popular ideas. We expect some kind of confrontation with Sabine, with Barny either scandalously falling for her or find the attraction part of a terrible downfall but neither occurs. When Barny has a brief physical fight with a woman in the office who turns out to be a collaborator, ending with Barny slapping her, the woman unexpectedly kisses her.
And Leon doesn't seem to proselytise very stridently. He even admires the self-denial Communism as fostered in Barny's lifestyle. He doesn't blink when she frankly tells him how she uses a stick to masturbate.
It's hard to imagine any two other actors in these roles; Emmanuelle Riva is so clear eyed and honest in her spiritual quest while Jean-Paul Belmondo musters his cool, angry grace perfectly in this context. He's respectful of Barny but also kind of brutish in his abrupt manner, he even, without apology, pushes her when she blocks a doorway. When they talk about the existence of God, he stresses that logically proving God's existence misses the point. And the film subtly bears this out by continually presenting contradictions that wouldn't fit in a philosophy as unyielding as Communism. Contradictions presented subtly by the film but there for the viewer, and certainly Barny, to see; there's the fact that Leon, a Catholic priest, is helping the resistance and hiding Jews. There's the American soldier who tries to extort sex from her, humiliating her in the street, and the Nazi officer who's kind to her daughter. There's Barny's budding friendship with the collaborator and how the two argue frankly their points of view with each other while still remaining friends. All of this could be interpreted as absurd, chaotic human behaviour, but then again, it fits with what Leon tells her about how God even loves heretics.
Beautifully shot with fascinating editing choices that include abrupt fades seemingly almost in the middle of scenes, Leon Morin, Priest
showcases Melville's unique command of cinematic language. He makes this a strikingly effective story.Twitter Sonnet #1155Expectant turtles wait upon the cloud.
Below, the sort of citrus towns evolve.
A set of glowing toys were disallowed.
The pages reckon now what books involve.
In choosing rooms the crown decides a head.
Ignoble lights illume the flashing sign.
A thousand feet protrude from 'neath the bed.
The growing maze consumes the mental twine.
A cool and wary eye regards from fur.
Above the fan a danger waits for air.
Through smaller fans computers always purr.
An offered fruit was very much a dare.
A second coat of paint repaired the house.
A cheese foundation pleased the local mouse.
Current Music: "Bicycle Riders" Blade Runner OST - Vangelis
I remember seeing a lot of people wearing Rose Tyler's outfit from "The Idiot's Lantern" at Comic Con. A Tenth Doctor Doctor Who
episode written by Mark Gatiss, it'd be hard to understand why young women would choose a costume that could really be a generic 50s outfit if you haven't seen the episode or were generally acquainted with this era of Doctor Who
. Watching it again last night for the first time in years, I was struck by the unusual chemistry between Doctor and Companion. They're just so into
each other, it's adorable.
excited to be wearing that 50s dress; he's so
excited she's so excited. She's so excited he's
so excited that she's
so excited. Who in their right minds would mistake this for a platonic relationship? Four and Romana were kind of like this sometimes but never to this extreme. Because David Tennant and Billie Piper are so charismatic and both are particularly good at showing unvarnished enthusiasm--without being even slightly obnoxious--their mutual appreciation is a real vicarious kick for the viewer.
He's just so dang happy to be in 1953, wow. That grin is going to split him it two.
Normally I'm not much of a fan of episodes written by Mark Gatiss but this one generally avoids his problem of writing scripts that make absolutely no sense. And the concept of televisions stealing faces from people works really well. I also like the sub-plot about the father who brags about fighting fascism in World War II only to be overbearing in his own home. The scene where his son tells him off is satisfying; "You fought against fascism, remember? People telling you how to live, who you could be friends with, who you could fall in love with. Who could live and who had to die. Don't you get it? You were fighting so that little twerps like me could do what we want, say what we want. Now you've become just like them."
Although the term "Idiot's Lantern" obviously refers to the television--apparently coming from a term writer Gareth Roberts remembers his father using--the idea of an electronic device in everyone's home that turns them into anonymous collaborators in a censorious mob certainly seems relevant to-day.
Another difference in the Russell T. Davies era from Steven Moffat's is how much more frequently people died. The episode features Ron Cook guest starring as assistant to the main villain--I'd just seen him recently playing Richard III in the great BBC Television Shakespeare
series from the 80s. His role is relatively small here but I like how he's established as someone at the end of his rope financially and therefore easy prey for the malevolent spirit onscreen. Repenting near the end can't save him in the Davies era, though, however sad it might be. I also like how that fascist dad ends up not being painted as someone who deserves to be thrown away and forgotten.
Why couldn't Gatiss maintain this quality in his writing? Maybe Davies, as showrunner, generously edited the script to "Idiot's Lantern". Whoever's responsible, it's a good episode.
Current Music: "Magic Bus" - The Who
Whatever the world or solar system comes to, folks still gotta eat. This is a chronic problem for the characters on Cowboy Bebop
but for one member of the crew its questionable how truly crucial it is.Session Seventeen: Mushroom Samba
Once again, there's no food to speak of on the Bebop
and the crew are looking at each other suspiciously after the emergency rations have disappeared. One thing leads to another and the Bebop
crash lands on Io, one of Jupiter's moons, which has been terraformed, apparently designed to be a "Western World".
But as Edward (Aoi Tada) discovers, this is another sign that can't be trusted. The world seems to be populated by characters from a Blaxploitation film, though even that's not an adequate categorisation as one man is dragging a coffin seemingly in reference to the 1966 Spaghetti Western Django
Like everyone else on the ship, Ed wants to find food. Or does she? As she's about to leave the ship, she starts putting on socks before abruptly changing her mind and deciding she wants to walk slowly across the desert barefoot.
Maybe her feet are really calloused but I think even a Hobbit would find this rough. Despite her theatrical screams, there's little since of urgency in what Edward does; a montage of images of her wandering the desert seem like she's consciously collaborating with director Shinichiro Watanabe, more interested in finding poses than food.
She decides to try on being a bounty hunter for size. When she actually manages to find a bounty, a dealer in hallucinogenic mushrooms, she sabotages herself with a gas gun she attempts to use on him. But it's okay; she's indestructible, she's too postmodern for hunger or injury.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Bebop
crew, on whom Ed has tested the mushrooms, are having a series of amusing hallucinations. The most interesting is Spike's (Koichi Yamadera) who thinks he's walking up an endless staircase. He encounters a frog who warns him it's a path to heaven, a "stairway to heaven" according to the English subtitles. It's funny yet it also foreshadows the end of the series as Spike continues on the path despite the warning. Ed, the postmodern agent, has given Spike a sort of premonition. But as a more realistic, mortal character, it's dangerous for him.
There's a nicely animated action climax to the episode involving a train chase but with Ed as the protagonist it functions more like Loony Tunes than anything else.
This entry is part of a series of entries I’m writing on Cowboy Bebop for its 20th anniversary. I’m reviewing each episode individually. My previous episode reviews can be found here:
Sessions Twelve and Thirteen
Current Music: Io
|» Be Kind to the Bears, Doves, and Fish|
Few trees can sing, fewer still can ring, so you can appreciate 1957's The Singing Ringing Tree (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen) is pretty extraordinary. It's a lovely, strange, not entirely well written fantasy film.
Very loosely based on a Brothers Grimm story, it comes off as a less coherent version of Cocteau's Belle et la Bete and with some of the visual beauty of Soviet fantasy films of the time; maybe it's not a coincidence it comes from East Germany. But I watched a version that became well known in the UK--not exactly dubbed but with a simultaneous translation from an English narrator. This is very similar to the common method of translating films in Russia to-day. It may be the best compromise for people who can't read subtitles but don't like cheesy dubs of foreign films.
A handsome prince (Eckart Dux) shows up at a castle one day where he asks to marry the beautiful princess (Christel Bodenstein) despite the fact that they'd never met before. Presumably there are political reasons for the marriage but they're not mentioned. Anyway, she has the temerity to refuse marriage right away to a total stranger and tasks him with finding that weird titular tree.
And he finds it. Pretty quickly, too, in the hands of an evil dwarf (Richard Kruger) who gives it to him on the condition that, if the princess doesn't love him on receiving it, the prince will turn into a bear. So of course he turns into a bear.
Or something like a bear. Maybe a little more like Lon Chaney Jr. What's life like as a bear? Pretty much the same as life as a man except now all the forest animals love him and he loves them in return for some reason. Even the fish--he's shocked when the princess empties a pool to leave a dozen koi to die.
That doesn't stop him from carrying her off, though, and from here the bulk of the film focuses on her as being forced to live with the bear teaches her humility. A worthy enough lesson though one might wonder why the prince wanted her so bad in the first place. Belle was kind and intelligent, this princess doesn't seem worth the effort, if strange, giant, googly eyed fish and golden stags are even up to the task.
But Christel Bodenstein in the role is a delight. It's a pleasure watching her in this Technicolour dream with its beautiful, shiny, saturated sets and costumes. It's available on Amazon Prime.
Twitter Sonnet #1154
Connected drops of moving rain return.
As buckets draped on tired shoulders sag.
Collapsing silent dancers dip in turn.
As pictures taken slow for evening lag.
Attuning pictures gained a crystal look.
Throughout the square the giant watches chimed.
At corner points you'll see another rook.
Aggressive lists were writ and slowly climbed.
Collected braids of living smoke emerged.
The written time consumed the blackened wall.
A daffodil and figure slowly merged.
A pollen rain displaced the airy mall.
To stop a saxophone the angels ran.
A garden riot pushed the flower Pan.
|» The Unofficial Scramble|
Are we laughing at the people in 2018's Death of Stalin or with them? It feels at first like an irrelevant question; hardly anyone laughs in the movie. And when they do, it's provoked by a commonplace sadism or arrogance. But do we see them as our fellow humans or as grotesque exaggerations? Despite the film being banned in most countries of the Eurasian Economic Union on the grounds that it slanders the Russian people, it's an extremely sharp and insightful film when it comes to the humanity of its characters.
Following the frantic machinations of high level officials following Stalin's (Adrian McLoughlin) sudden death, the film shows people having to make profound moral decisions ten times a minute while under constant fear for their lives. Their ambition is laughably shallow but do they have room for much else?
Reversing execution orders "was my idea!" Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) complains at one point when Beria (Simon Russell Beale) seems to be stealing his thunder. The circumstance has given Beria powers that seem little short of miraculous. He brings back a woman believed dead for many years from secret imprisonment, her sudden appearance forcing Khrushchev and her husband, Molotov (Michael Palin), to switch message mid-sentence from condemning her treachery to dismissing the obviously flimsy charges.
The absurdity is certainly realistic and paired with writer/director Armando Iannucci's comedic timing and temperament the story works out to be really funny at times. I've never seen Iannucci's American series, Veep, but I'm a big fan of his earlier political satire, The Thick of It. One thing The Death of Stalin made me aware of, though, was just how much of a contribution Peter Capaldi made to that series. I suspect his foul mouthed, champion belittler character, Malcolm Tucker, is much more charming than Iannucci or Capaldi intended. There's certainly no-one like that in Death of Stalin. When Beria brags about raping prisoners, one naturally feels only disgust.
This is one of the things that makes Khrushchev come off better by comparison but there's certainly so much blood on Khrushchev's hands by the end of the film that the distinction is certainly diminished. As he tells Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) near the end of the film, when urging someone's summary execution, the choice is between revenge from the person in question or his death. It's often hard to say what the right choice for a character might be.
Another writer might try to mitigate the apparent inhumanity of a character by showing him in some other aspect of his life where he's unreservedly warm or virtuous--maybe give Beria a child he deeply cares for, and we sort of get that in the fatherly affection he obviously has for Stalin's daughter (Andrea Riseborough). But in this paranoid ballet, nothing is ever really isolated from scheming.
As usual in parodies of Socialism, Communism, and Puritanism, the moral contrast between words and behaviour is extreme and commonplace, right down to the dictator, Stalin, consistently being referred to simply as "Comrade". Michael Palin's character may be the character with the most authentic feeling, generally coming off as a sweet old man whose ability to lapse instantly into a gratuitous and grandiose praise of the country and its leaders seems almost heartfelt. But at the same time, considering the abruptness of his about-face on his wife, his apparent candour could simply reflect especially extensive experience at lying.
I never laughed as hard as I did when watching The Thick of It but the film's impressive array of comedic and dramatic talent deliver a strange and solemnly effective comedy.
|» From the Mail Room to the Batting Cage|
"Piñata", last night's new Better Call Saul, had a script by Gennifer Hutchison, one of my favourite writers on the show, and was directed by Andrew Stanton. So it had a lot going for it and did not disappoint.
Spoilers after the screenshot
This was a really good portrait of the evolution of Jimmy's (Bob Odenkirk) self-image and motives. We start with a flashback and we get a glimpse of Jimmy when he was working the mail room at HHM. We see how the dynamic used to work when he had just a cosy office relationship with perky law student Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and was just barely tolerated by his brother, Chuck (Michael McKean as a special guest star). We see how being treated as an inferior fuelled his desire to study law and this fits well with the scene in the previous episode where he showed just how intent he was on being a lawyer again.
Jimmy tells Kim in this episode that he's decided not to see a therapist, which seems to carry the implication that his buried feelings are being transmuted to ruthless ambition. I really liked the lunch scene where Kim lets him know she's moving on. Of course, she has to look out for herself and as much as she likes Jimmy she's not invested in the chip on his shoulder. You can see she cares for him but probably doesn't quite know how much it burns him. But we see it in that brief moment where he goes back to the kitchen and the volume's turned up on the sound effects while we look at Odenkirk's face in close up. A nice moment.
And naturally he has no patience for Howard's (Patrick Fabian) emotional issues. At the same time, it does kind of show an odd compassion that Jimmy tries to motivate him by calling him a "shitty lawyer" but a good "salesman". The scene helps the climax feel very natural, when Jimmy gets his revenge on the three kids who mugged him. As I expected, he enlisted Huell (Lavell Crawford).
And it's satisfying. After all, the kids had robbed him once and were about to do it again. But tying them up and threatening them with a baseball bat does seem like the moment when he goes from being not a criminal lawyer but a "criminal/lawyer".
|» Kinds of Desperation|
The lost causes of youthful passion are replaced by cynical pursuits of wealth in 1971's Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead (Prega il Morto e Ammazza il Vivo). But the old scores are just waiting to resurface, the characters in this nice, sweaty Spaghetti Western quietly boiling in waters far deeper than the stolen crates of gold bars. But those are pretty important too.
Ominous strangers begin to turn up at a forlorn telegraph office; a gang of robbers and a mysterious man in Halloweenish black and orange who calls himself John Webb (Paolo Casella). The gang violently takes over the place and holds hostage the occupants of a stage coach that's forced to stop there; a prostitute and a wealthy man with his trophy wife, Eleanor (Victoria Zinny).
It's not clear if Webb is part of the gang or their enemy but he and the rest of the group have an uneasy, wary relationship. The group doesn't seem much more inclined to trust their leader when he finally shows up, a former Confederate soldier named Dan Hogan played by Klaus Kinski.
I was really frustrated the only copy of this movie I could get my hands on was the English dub. Normally I wouldn't mind so much when it comes to a Spaghetti Western, many of which were made to be dubbed, but the American who voices over for Kinski is completely wrong. A flat, run of the mill performance that's completely mismatched with Kinski's remarkable fire. Watching him, you can imagine the kinds of snarling shouts that must have come out of Kinski but it's all plastered over with a garden variety delivery. I hear the German dub is really good but I can't find it anywhere.
Fortunately, he spends a lot of time silently stalking about the room and the desert, his big goblinish eyes at turns sadistic and distracted when Eleanor offers herself to him or pleads with him. His mind is on bigger things and so is Webb's which makes the quiet regard they have for each other seem to make sense. Like Once Upon a Time in the West, the hero and villain seem to exist on a different plane from everything else which has the odd effect of uniting them even as they're deadly enemies.
Directed by Giuseppe Vari, Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead isn't as ambitious as Leone's best known films but presents an effective smaller story of a group of men and women struggling in the desert.
Twitter Sonnet #1153
A fading skate reminds you once you ran.
Beneath a minute time eclipsed to one.
Condensing loops of rubber held the man.
Descending stones of mountains held the sun.
The bending rails support a jelly train.
Translucent doors reveal the moving souls.
Pursuing trees at length began to gain.
Assorted plants amassed a million roles.
A box of painted lead misled the gold.
An autumn border faced a summer dust.
In further walks the stepping tells were told.
A knocking gale was treated like a gust.
Reluctant wigs become to-morrow's felt.
Beneath their dusty hats the killers melt.
|» The Black Dog's Second Tale|
The protagonists of Cowboy Bebop are bounty hunters, a profession popular among writers of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Westerns because it represents a blurred line between law enforcement and crime. For Cowboy Bebop, it also provides another way to explore its overall preoccupation with a changing world.
Session Sixteen: Black Dog Serenade
The second and final episode to focus on Jet (Unsho Ishizuka) reveals the story behind his mechanical arm. At the beginning of the episode, Faye (Megumi Hayashibara) casually asks him why he hasn't gotten a real arm to replace it, medical science now apparently being up to the task. He tells her that the Bebop is his ship and his arm is his arm, implying he doesn't like anyone telling him what to do.
This is immediately followed by a scene where a hostage is shot by the most erratic man in a group of criminals who've taken over a prison ship. The shooter tells the others that he doesn't like people telling him what to do. He's immediately executed by the gang's de facto leader, a quiet killer named Udai Taxim (Kosei Hirota).
As a former member of a crime syndicate, it makes sense Udai wants to enforce rules but, at the same time, like Spike, the syndicate expelled him long ago. So Udai is adhering to a way of life that has already rejected him.
Jet used to be a cop, a past we've seen something of in "Ganymede Elegy". We see some flashbacks in "Black Dog Serenade" of Jet wearing a traditional American detective's outfit, a suit and fedora (something that also makes him look even more like Jigen from Lupin the Third). It was in tracking down Udai that Jet lost his arm and somehow this led to him turning his back on the police force and becoming a bounty hunter.
And we meet Fad (Masashi Hirose), Jet's partner at the time, which gives the episode an arc partially similar to Faye's in the previous episode. Whitney Hagas Matsumoto established himself as a friend in her past, Faye re-encounters him in the present to learn he'd betrayed her back then, and the end of the episode makes it seem like he might have really had some affection for her after all. Similarly, Jet harbours only pleasant memories of Fad and is still loyal to him, we learn at the end of this episode that Fad had betrayed him, but finally we see that Fad did have some genuine loyalty to Jet after all.
A jarring part of the strange present is that it seems to not just kill the past but to deny it. The friends we thought we had weren't really friends--except maybe they were. Jet had sought out a livelihood that was more independent and required him to interpret morality more than when he worked for the police and now that decision seems even more justified. But Jet remains the "black dog who never lets go"; of all the Bebop crew, loyalty matters to him the most, which makes him the perfect subject for a story of betrayal.
This entry is part of a series of entries I’m writing on Cowboy Bebop for its 20th anniversary. I’m reviewing each episode individually. My previous episode reviews can be found here:
Sessions Twelve and Thirteen