skieswideopen (skieswideopen) wrote,

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Thoughts on Battle Creek 1.13

I have to confess to being a bit relieved at what Milt's secret turned out to be. After the Drawer of Broken Cellphones and the previews showing him screaming in his car, I was a little concerned at just how dark they might take him. Instead, the finale essentially ended up reinforcing my first impressions: Milt has constructed a persona that reflects who he wants to be (rather than, say, one that's intended to manipulate people or something like that). Clearly, despite his protestations, it's not entirely who he is, or he wouldn't have to struggle so much to maintain it (that drawer of cellphones), but the fact that it's what he genuinely wants makes it an authentic reflection of him in its own way.

The episode also explained his speech in the pilot about not being defined by one's actions, and about dedicating one's life overpowering one's mistakes. As Russ correctly observed, that speech was personal. Intensely so. Milt plans to spend the rest of his life in penance, making up for those two kids' deaths. (And how ironic and painful must it be for him to encounter the kind of success he does while following the book exactly? Of course, one then has to wonder whether he was that lucky before his change--whether he's always been that good, and there are some suggestions he as--or whether it's a product of his new persona.)

I'm curious just how much distance there is between Old Milt and New Milt. I can't picture Old Milt making jam while suspended, but was he a guy who went to all the barbeques? Did he get to golf with the president and hang with judges back then? Or was that all New Milt? What was the guy who was good at everything and sometimes a bit of an asshole really like? (But not a complete asshole--his last words to Casey remind me of his visit to Tori after her uncle was arrested, trying to bring comfort after the fact.)

Of course, some of that probably depends on just how accurate Milt's depiction of his old self was. Was there really that much distance between them, or was he exaggerating for effect? Or perhaps genuinely misremembering what he was like? The show dropped definite hints that Milt wasn't a completely reliable narrator in this instance--the shifting between it having taken place five years ago versus six, and Roger's age changing between sixteen and seventeen, for example. Were those indicators that we should question some of the other details?

One thing that apparently hasn't changed is Milt's ability to read people, which was evident in both Old Milt and New Milt. They both know exactly how to read and manipulate people, whether it's the Acevados or Russ. And of course, that's one of the reasons Milt was the one who shot Roger Acevado--he was absolutely sure that Roger meant his threats, that he really was going to kill Casey, and so Milt was the one with the responsibility to stop him. (I liked how Milt was the only one in that scene who didn't have his gun raised--how he was so clearly focused on studying Roger, figuring out where he was going, right up until the moment when he's sure Roger is going to shoot, and then Milt shoots first. Because Milt knows he's right and so it's his responsibility. Milt, like Russ, knows something about arrogance. Of course, he has the advantage of usually being right.) (It was Milt's operation; he recruited Casey. Of course he had to be the one to kill Roger. Another reason it's his responsibility.) (It's also possible that Milt was the only one there who could have made that shot, and that he and everyone else knew it. There really are responsibilities that go with being good at everything.)

The whole episode was heartbreaking. Despite my love of New Milt, I feel oddly sad for the disappearance of Old Milt--more so than say, for amnesic Fraser in due South. Possibly because New Milt has to struggle to hard to be who he is. He's made himself over completely and I understand why, but I'm sad he couldn't find some middle ground in there. And oh, his expression when Russ calls him his partner and refuses to leave. How long has it been since anyone talked about him that way? And all it took was revealing his deepest, darkest secret. (And even after that, he's still prepared to let himself die because he thinks that's what he deserves. He tries picking the locks on the handcuffs when he thinks he might need to save Russ, and finishes it in order to save Casey's father, but he does nothing at all to save himself.)

Other random thoughts:

- Who Milt used to be explains a lot about why he picked Russ as his partner.

- Milt has an apartment! He didn't just decide to keep living out of the safe house! (Of course he didn't; that wouldn't be appropriate.)

- Milt has been so lucky so often that Russ (and probably Font) just assumed there was no way Casey's father would shoot him. Not after that speech. Milt, I suspect, knew differently. Or more likely, he wasn't sure what the outcome would be.

- Some aspects of Milt's persona--the French cuffs and so forth--seem more extreme than the situation calls for. He could be by the book without slicking down his hair quite that much, and there's no reason that by-the-book requires him to read 18th century monks. When he remakes himself, he really goes all out. A return to childhood? Or bringing forth the parts of himself that he suppressed for his previous persona? Or maybe he really did go out and do a whole lot of philosophical reading to try and make sense of things.

- We got an explanation for Milt's speech in the pilot, but not his speech to the mayor's brother about knowing how thankless it is to keep trying to save someone who doesn't want to be saved, nor why his mother won't speak to him. (I guess I can stick to my theory about a wayward brother with a drug or gambling problem who Milt kept trying to save until he couldn't. Or maybe his new by-the-book persona wouldn't let him cover for his brother any longer. Or maybe the person he was referring to was a friend, and there's some other reason his mother won't talk to him. Or maybe it's not his mother who won't speak to him; maybe it's someone else. After all, the call is set up to imply it's his mother he asks for first, but it doesn't actually say that. Maybe there's someone else? An ex? A sister? A daughter?) (Yes, I know he says he doesn't have children, but he hesitates first, like he's evaluating the possible effects of different answers. Reflexive manipulation? Was he thinking about answers that might spare him, or answers that might spare Casey's father pain? Was it just dramatic timing and he was telling the truth?)

- We also didn't get an explanation for why Milt spent his childhood in Monaco and Iran--what did his parents do?--nor why he decided to move to the US and join the FBI.

- Why has Milt gone through twelve assistants?

- What was on the chain around Milt's neck in the flashbacks, and does he still wear it?

- "You don't need to know" is Milt's equivalent of Fraser's "That's not important"

- Milt was carrying a gun while off-duty at the start of 1.06; was this because he was expecting an attempt on his life? Has he spent the past six years being constantly ready for an attack?

- Randomly, I love that Russ is a hockey fan. I kind of want fic where Milt and Russ go to a hockey game together because Milt gets tickets and Russ likes the game enough that he's willing to go along. (I have no idea whether Milt would care for hockey, but based on his Twitter feed, Josh Duhamel certainly does.)

I'm going to miss this show.

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Tags: fandom: battle creek, there's no such thing as too much tv

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