The Man Who Fell To Earth, Ep 4
Who is ready for Summer Vacation? 🤚✋🏾 We are!!
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writers: Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet (Walter Tevis himself actually writes 3 episodes)
Producers: Adrian Kelly, Jane Maggs & Bill Wolkoff
Listen to the Podcast HERE
Before we get started…
After finally finishing the book, and doing some reading online, I realized now why we thought he was just going to take water to Anthea — because that’s what the movie was portraying. They never say anything about his actual plan of infiltrating the world’s governments. And we finished the movie before finishing the book.
The tv show is definitely sticking closer to the movie than they are the book, but sometimes they go with the book canon.
Like — the movie doesn’t make it all that clear that Newton has gone blind, just that his contacts have fused to his eyes. But he’s actually permanently blinded towards the end of the book, thanks to the FBI and the CIA’s negligence. They use an x-ray on his eyes, which was sort of portrayed in Episode 3, but nowhere near like it was in the book. The book actually does a much better job of explaining what happens to him, and both the movie and the show sort of … fuck it up. But it gives you the meat of the issue, which was that the US government took away his ability to make anything happen on his mission and he drowned himself in gin afterward.
Also, last podcast, we were like “Who the hell is Mary Lou” — The book has this character named as Betty Jo, the movie decided to change the name, her relationship to Newton, and the tv show is further changing her character even more. Really not sure how I feel about that…
Janae: What’s Up, Weirdos! I’m Janae
Amanda: I’m Amanda. And together we are
Both: Girls Go Books Deep
Janae: We take deep dives into the Fantasy & Science Fiction content you love the most
Amanda: Today, we’re talking about Episode 4 of The Man Who Fell To Earth on Showtime, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Naomie Harris, featuring Bill Nighy, Rob Delaney, Sonya Cassidy, and Laurie Kynaston as Clive Flood.
Janae: So, hit that like button
Amanda: and stay tuned…
Janae: Hello Everybody! Thank you so much for joining the conversation today. Amanda and I are currently watching The Man Who Fell To Earth and discussing Episode 4: Under Pressure.
- If you haven’t noticed, all of the episodes are named after Bowie songs. ❤
- Bee Symbolism: Focus, Dedication, Hard Work, Team Work, Fertility and Life, Prosperity.
- First and foremost, bees are known as industrious and social insects. They cooperate to maintain the hive, with a strict organizational structure that gives each bee a clear role. That makes them powerful symbols for collaboration and hard work. Their role as pollinators also makes them vital for the survival of many other species. So whilst bees are small and can be overlooked, they are incredibly important. This too can hold an important message. The most important contribution rarely comes from those who shout the loudest.
- The episode opens with a man playing the piano, and when Justin sits down next to him with a nice little smile on her face — it hits me. I can’t believe I haven’t once thought about this child’s father.
- I know a lot of people will say something very stereotypical right now. Please know — it is mostly because I don’t think of my own father. I grew up with a single mother who took care of her ailing parents and I had very little time spent with my father. So I can identify quite easily with these characters — that’s why. I don’t think of my own dad — so why would I think of hers. Just saying…
- The scene devolves from something very sweet and wholesome to quite gruesome and scary very quickly.
- From this, we finally get a bit more info into Justin’s past. She’s woken up by the dream and her phone ringing.
- “I had a dream about Danny.” (Why is it always a Danny…)
- She starts talking about the warnings her father gave to her before. She’s visibly shaken by this dream and honestly, I’m not surprised — with the sheer amount of change that’s happened over the 2–3 day period. She’s being triggered & shorting out from the stress.
- “We’re scientists… everything is all error until the day that it’s not.” — meant to calm her but she can’t help thinking about Molly. All of the travel, science, and responsibility; eyes on her, everything in her hands — and she doesn’t have her daughter around. She’s very much to the point of having a panic attack and running away to hide.
- She’s in the hotel room after the Book Club incident and the evening news is going ham about the electrical event.
- Now we see Faraday in the bath searching for Thomas Newton (you’d think he would have already Googled him by now, right? No? ok…) He walks out naked “The scent of him is gone.” and get’s congratulated on his penis by Hatch. This is how the question gets finally posed by Faraday as to what exactly happened to his Adept?
- They ask him to put pants on, he’s like what the hell is your problem — the temp is fine in here. Hatch claims that we’ve progressed into eating fruit with company wearing clothes, and Faraday calls us out on our pretense about exactly how far we’ve ‘progressed’
- “If they had simply sent this one pineapple with it’s hexagons and perfect expression of your prime numbers, I would know that I was dealing with scientists.” Why communicate with excess? What the hell is all of this… He’s like, the internet is scrubbed of Newton WTF? “His patents created the environment for the internet to exist. He was waiting for you to catch up, he would have mastered it. He would have mastered you! But you’ve somehow managed to erase his life, steal his work, and make him unrecognizable to his own species. What on this planet could possibly have brought the collapse of Thomas Newton?’
- At that second, we’re introduced to Clive — Edie’s son, who will be a clear representation of “addiction” in this episode. One of the main reasons behind Newton’s collapse.
- Everyone in the book was an alcoholic and it’s this descent into gin, [ w/ sex, and mindless entertainment in the movie] that mostly keeps Newton from accomplishing his mission. I was wondering when that element was going to present itself in the tv show, and now we have a partying nephew to introduce this effect to Faraday — which we’ll talk about later in the episode.
- The spinning camera work around the actors as they go around the room searching for the source of a bad smell, with light streaks from the windows as he pushes his agenda to his mother. It feels like a very awkward, uncomfortable dance between the two of them, from his viewpoint it seems. A wakeful dream-like state, because he’s high.
- He whistles, ticks, and stutters as he confronts his mother with technically the right idea. He’s not backing down and it’s interesting to watch.
- The Funny Trio is on their way to meet with Edie after she gives in to her son pushing the issue and insisting.
- He fills them/us in really quick on why they’re going there and what is going down. Offers speak now or forever hold your peace moment, and weirdly — I guess because she knows the documents are sealed, Justin makes a joke about his indiscretions instead of confessing her own before walking into the lion’s den. “Fear is my fuckin bestie.”
- Spencer is in his office watching the leaked footage of Faraday from the news online when Lisa walks in to brief him. She shows him the airport video and gives him quick info as to what she was told from other depts about the electrical incident in London.
- He’s like, well, what do you think? That tech can’t come from this solar system. He’s like BINGO! And yea — her face says everything as that info kind of really hits her. He breaks her off with the basic plan — we let him run around and do everything he’s going to do. (basically the same plan the CIA had in the book, lol) He leads us right to Newton, and bam — we gram them both. She then tells him of a possible link to Newton through Mary Lou from KY who’s now running a rehab in Brighton, England. He’s off to find her.
- The Funny Trio pulls up to the house in Cornwall and he describes that their parents split when they were right out of diapers, mom raised them in Cali until she died when he was 11, and then they came there to live with their father in England for the rest of their young lives. Dad was a sociopath. Edie worshiped him. She had her kid @ 16 for a bid at autonomy. So #1 the plan is to NOT mention Thomas Newton to Edie, at all!
- Inside, they say hello and start talking facts and numbers. Clive joins in at the last minute. When he sees his uncle and gives him a hug, he asks about the shingles, so they’ve clearly been in touch recently, which is probably why he was saying “I’ve got an angle.” He’s been looking for a way to get his mom to talk to his uncle.
- When asked to see it, Justin lets them know that the Prototype was drained at Book Club, it won’t work again. It was a small, personal-sized version that could power Buckingham palace on less than a gallon of water for over an entire year.
- (the looks on their faces as he puts peas in his pocket….)
- To replicate the cell on a mass scale, they would like to partner with OriGen. Because of “family” And the USDOE has the power to tie us up in regulatory scrutiny for about 2 decades. But since our father made an arrangement with them during his tenure as CEO we need to buy into OriGen’s legal clearances and infrastructure. You are our fastest route to the energy market.
- So he shoots for a crazy high number, he’s doing shark tank business here, asking for 85% of the company — I think to clearly negotiate down to 50%.
- But they’re interrupted by Edie being Edie, and as she’s standing up to leave and go circle the same issues and arguments some more, Faraday breaks with the plan (again!) and asks about Newton to then be told by Clive that he has some of his music on one of those old World Enterprise spheres.
- Edie takes this moment to tell Clive that she wants him to get Faraday talking in the worst way possible. … How can you be so overbearing and yet clearly not give a shit that your child is on drugs? This becomes more evident later in the episode, but it doesn’t excuse it IMO.
- Spencer arrives at the all-women rehab in England to look for Mary Lou. He poses as someone who is looking to get some help for his mother. Then suddenly he’s thrust into helping them deliver a breech calf on the farm. “I can’t feel my arms.” “She can.” LOL!
- As he’s cleaning up and changing his shirt later (which, btw, lol) I noticed the patch of gray in his hair that I hadn’t noticed before in other films/shows he’s been in. I searched the internet trying to find a picture of the back of his head — but was unsuccessful. Can anyone tell me is he has this patch of gray naturally or is it part of his character, because then that’s interesting — especially knowing that he doesn’t have any memory of the first 8 years of his life? Just saying, very interesting if it is so…
- He then asks Mary Lou about Newton and the bees start buzzing. Thunder rolls. Her whole demeanor changes.
- Back at the Cornwall House — through academic/scientific questioning, the bell tolling, and her anxiety at such a high point caused by last night’s dream and the level of stress she’s been under the last few days — she starts to crack under the pressure. All she can think about is him. She has this automatic reflex to run away, always.
- When Hatch tries to help her calm down and asks if she needs a break, she uses her family and being responsible for them as an excuse to quit and run away from these horrible feelings.
- We cut back to the farm and we get a bit more backstory through Mary Lou. She was in love with him. And when she heard that his company was moved to England, she followed in hopes of being with him still.
- This departs from the movie, and even more so from the book. I’m really not sure why her character is the one that gets switched around all of the time in order to make the story move where they want it to.
- On top of that, in the movie, Bowie (obviously) has a British accent and even says he’s from England. This departs from the book, but I get why they did it. But it makes sense that when she hears that the company has been moved to England, she goes there in hopes of reuniting. (from the perspective of these writers)
- She seems genuinely unhinged at this point as she’s scraping honey and smearing her face with it — as if to commit self deletion through bees. “Time for Penance.” Spencer is starting to worry just a tad.
- Now we’re in Clive’s grandfather’s study w/ Clive and Faraday here to listen to the W.E. sphere Newton made. Stony Balogne Clive is not ready for what he’s up against.
- BTW… an addict would never let his drugs bounce all over the place like that. But he’s from a crazy rich family that gives no shits that he’s on drugs, so he just may not give a fuck…
- He clearly has Tourrette Syndrome, from his motor & verbal tics.
- Stress or Tension tends to make it worse, while relaxation and concentration ease symptoms. *They are at a higher risk for developing substance use disorders because of this.
- While Clive is trying to question Faraday, weakly at best, he’s stuttering and whistling at Faraday’s usual strange questioning and then he hits his drugs (I’m assuming it’s Meth) and the 2nd hand smoke hits Faraday in the face — causing him to be slightly inebriated by it. It freaks him out, everything is loud and too stimulating. Clive is trying to question where he’s from at this point, but like always Faraday is mission-driven and he can smell the damn sphere in the kid’s pocket. So he takes it and plays it, listening to Newton’s sad song.
- These scenes of Mary Lou talking about Newton and her’s relationship and the fact that he had a wife back home, are juxtaposed with Faraday listening to the music that Newton created as a goodbye to his wife and home are revealing and almost haunting.
- She knew he had a wife, but she didn’t care, she just wanted to be with him. It seems to break her mind a bit. All the while, bees are stinging her and crawling all over her body. Spencer is… bothered.
- This is the same sphere of music that is mentioned at the end of the book, and they show a record at the end of the movie but it’s meant to be the same thing — the music Newton made that Bryce found and came to him with. But we never get to hear the music in the movie. Now we finally do, and we get to hear the words.
“I’m falling into darkness
I keep waiting to hit the bottom
To be unable to remember you
But I do
I remember you
I remember you
I hold you in my fist
I can still say your name
But they’re prying open my fingers
One by one
Maybe forgetting would be a relief
I had a last view of where the ocean used to be
Before I left home
I didn’t know then what I was looking at
But I was looking at the end of me
My mind is slipping away
Help me remember your name
You’re becoming a memory
- Seeing Newton in the mirror saying these things brings even more levity to the scene. The way the music softens to start making sense and slowly Faraday’s voice falls away to be replaced by Newtons. Bill Nighy’s performance with Chiwetel in this scene is heartbreaking.
- And then he sees Newton in front of him as if they were both in a dream-like state again. I think this is because currently Newton is drunk, and Faraday is high.
- Cutting back over to MaryLou talking about Newton. “He came to me because I was supposed to know better.” That line makes 0 sense. Zilch, zero, nada.
- But she blames herself for his downfall because she’s the one who introduced him to gin because she was an alcoholic. She’s been trying to correct that “sin” by dedicating her life to pious sobriety ever since not being able to find him in England. She’s helping others do the same because it’s a better life worth living and she’s been doing good, basically waiting for him to grace her with his presence for the rest of her life.
- “I made him love me and need me and it broke him. It broke his heart. Don’t let him need anyone! … Miracles are like Nightmares! You have to protect him or he’ll go insane!”
- That’s why he said only let them in a little bit to Faraday. But I don’t think that’s what drove him crazy. Like most women with long-standing emotional damage, she takes on all of the responsibility of a bad situation, when she really only needs to should say 20%. His mind breaking is really the CIA’s fault!
- But letting that bit of info slip about his heartbreaking — Spencer thinks he has something on them.
- “What is this? This does not happen to us.” Empathy, Feeling someone else’s feelings, sadness/depression, addiction.
- The horses are fighting this entire time outside while this scene plays out. Specifically, a white horse and a dark horse, are shown through the reflection of the glass window that Clive is looking through. Then we see the negative outline of the horse’s face over Clive’s face in the window (as if the white horse and the dark one have merged) and they start to attack the window, cracking it.
- That’s when, emotionally, Faraday grabs the sphere and chucks it through the window, shattering all of them at the same time.
- That’s when Justin walks up to the office and Faraday runs away.
- Cut to Spencer and his weirdo control issues. Dominguez is filling him on how the Funny Trio got to England and sends over the file on Justin from the DOE.
- Faraday is in the nearby field breaking down and crying with all of the feelings he is empathizing with Newton on — he really doesn’t like it. “I don’t have time for this.” Who can’t identify with this statement?
- She’s trying to comfort him but he bucks what she says at first “Antheans understand each other, we do not ENDURE each other.” “We do. We can feel them. The feelings of other people, sometimes even if we don’t know each other.” It’s the Human superpower that’s not on Anthea. This is such a great conversation about Imagination cutting both ways, and needing to know what others are feeling. He asks for her help, and it’s exactly what was needed to ground her and get her back on track with the mission’s plan.
- While this is all going on, we see Edie walk into a room where Hatch is waiting for his team to come back and they have a conversation about their childhood and the book she used to read that her father gave her.
- “Why do you need to feel like I hurt you?” “To remind me I’m not a pig.” But I never called you that — it was dad! She is honestly using delusions about her family members in order to keep from going nuts and not having to actually look at herself and how her father’s abuse has affected her adult life.
- Once tiny mention of the patents and she immediately digs her heels in.
- She is called away by Wyant to then go meet with Spencer, Mr. CIA, and all of a sudden she is slapped with the truth extra hard across her face. “Your father was a puppet.”
- After this exchange, we see them all coming to sit down at the table again to negotiate, but Spencer is with them this time, posing as a representative from the DOE.
- She’s very transparent because suddenly she’s ready to play ball and work with them on the terms. But Hatch isn’t stupid. “Greeks bearing gifts.” He wants to know why all of a sudden she’s fine with these terms and that’s when we hear that Edie is fine to do this arrangement as long as Justin is not a part of this business, because of what happened in her past. And this is where we finally learn Justin’s backstory.
- She killed a man. Daniel Holland, 28. Her father Josiah was present at the time. While at Los Alamos, she was doing experiments with fusion and he was exposed to lethal doses of radiation. So we’re in, but she’s out. Justin hangs her head in shame. Everyone on the OriGen side looks very pleased with themselves.
- “You knew the DOE had a mandatory evaluation period before you ran your tests, but you didn’t want to wait for their approval. You went in after-hours, even against your father’s advice. You were described as reckless, negligent, and even a zealot which is not a word you find often in official documents. You were so singularly focused, you didn’t realize the safety access system was off and you ran your experiments anyway. You pushed it, and you cooked poor Mr. Holland. You made a decision that cost a young man his life out of hubris and incomprehensibly poor judgment.”
- Faraday gently asks Justin a few questions:
-He was irradiated and the file was sealed?
-Those were the terms of the settlement the DOE made with his family.
-What kind of radiation killed him?
-So you did achieve fusion.
-For how long?
-Just over a second. Beyond that would have been impossible.
- “Miss Falls Stays, or I go.” (The entire time, Spencer is completely fascinated by this conversation between the two of them.)
- That doesn’t speak very highly of your judgment, Mr. Faraday. No, Ms. Flood, it doesn’t speak very highly of yours. Hatch: You get us all or you get nothing and we all lose.
- Spencer seems genuinely impressed by the entire exchange.
- The documents are finally signed. It’s morning, telling us that the actual negotiations took all night long to iron out.
- Spencer shakes hands with Faraday and for the first time — Faraday doesn’t share what he’s wondering out loud or smelling from him. He just gives a very leary look toward Spencer and leaves. He goes outside to where Justin is having some alone time and that’s when she explains further.
- “I wanted it so bad. That’s why I kept pushing. His hair fell out. He vomited his teeth. After he died I found out I was pregnant.” “Daniel Holland is Molly’s father.”
- “Yeah. I never left my room during the pregnancy except to go to the doctor. I thought if I did, something bad would happen. That I’d be punished. I had Molly at home in the tub. Never left her side. I didn’t sleep. I just watched her for a year. I was waiting. I thought we’d both be punished. But we weren’t — She’s perfect. But my dad… sometimes I think maybe he was instead. She looks just like him. And she doesn’t know anything. I can’t do anything for them after what I’ve done. Except to try to save the entire fucking world. Maybe then they’ll be safe… from me. So I’m grateful to you. For not cutting me out.”
- “If we are going to continue, I need you to understand that your perspective is skewed. The nature of progress si that it requires sacrifice. You achieved Fusion. That only one person died during one of the greatest evolutionary steps on your timeline is what you would call a miracle. Somehow you see it as a failure. You succeeded. Do you remember what I said when we first met? Your mission is my mission. Neither one of us can go forward alone.” And then he simply walks away.
That’s the end of the episode, but I wanted to call attention to what he is saying in these last lines. Most people will think this is crazy, people should have to die in order for the evolutionary process to take place. But it is very much a real thing that happens.
Two immediate steps in our most recent human timeline that I think of are the Industrial Revolution as well as the Manhattan Project that gave us the H bomb that ended WWII.
We wouldn’t have any of the modern conveniences that we have now without that step forward. Yes, there are drawbacks, but there are major benefits as well, including modern medicine. But many, many lives were lost during this time to get us where we are. The Industrial Revolution was caused in party by European Imperialism, Capitalism, and the inventions of the time. *Factory* deaths in England alone were about 35000/year by 1900.
The Manhattan project was the lengthy experiment that produced the H bombs of WWII. In order to gain this scientific technology 26 men were exposed to Plutonium exposure and died slowly over many years. That doesn’t include the three men who were showered with hydrofluoric acid during one simple task of clearing out a pipe: Peter N Bragg Jr., Douglas Meigs, and Arnold Kramish. Or the two men who died in the exact same way that Daniel Holland died, also at Los Alamos: Harry Daughlian and Louis Slotin.
*Questions & Answers*
- 3 Main Mysteries (so far):
- What happened to Justin and her family to get them into this situation? ANSWERED
- Does Newton actually want to help Antheans, or is this all a play for something much pettier?
- What’s up with Spencer’s childhood?? Is he another Dexter? Was he abducted by aliens?
- New Mystery:
- Why did Hatch’s dad hate him so much??
- I think it’s safe to say that his dad didn’t like that he wasn’t able to manipulate him like he was able to do so with Edie.
Janae: That’s all we have for today, everyone.
Amanda: As always — Thank you for listening and subscribing to our weekly deep dives into the geeky culture we all love so much.
Janae: Talking with you guys is the best part of our week, so please stop by our Instagram and say Hi
Amanda: And with that, we bid you wake up
Janae: take up all the space
Both: and we’ll see you next week.