Satisfaction: …Through Psychedelics

Anika pulled wool over everybody’s eyes, but her dirty little secret’s out. Neil and Grace are busy tracking her down, Adriana takes a backseat to her usual ice queen routine and is helping as best she can, while Simon inherits an angry mob from his late father’s shady activities.

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Credit
Late father? Then why is the actor’s name right there on screen? The show underestimates its audience a little bit; we know it’s Grant Show, the Melrose Place veteran, who’s been playing Simon’s dad. Why would he get a credit? For lying in a crate, unrecognisably burnt? No. He’s not dead, so he either appears in some sort of flashback, or he must’ve staged the whole thing. Since he’s a corner cutting kind of guy, my bet is on the last option. That takes away a lot from Simon’s grieving – not to mention the danger that he’s in. If the audience expects his dad to come walking in any second, is actually waiting for that to happen, then they won’t feel much sympathy for Simon (Blair Redford, 90210, The Lying Game, Switched at Birth). And then it’s not drama, but an exercise in spotting the next plot point ahead of time.

Big Watch
We had to wait a while, though. It was only in the last moments of the episode that Simon gets a call. ‘I can explain everything’, his dad says, alive and kicking (and wearing a big watch). One piece of the puzzle solved. However, no word yet on Emma (the great Nicky Whelan, Franklin & Bash, Chosen, Scrubs).

Colorful Rocks
Simon’s troubles have always been drama on the side. The real issues are Neil (Matt Passmore, The Cut, The Glades) and Grace’s (Stephanie Szostak, Iron Man 3, We Bought a Zoo). They go looking for Anika (Michelle DeShon), Anika sneaks back into Adriana’s (Katherine LaNasa) house, Julian (Daniel Bonjour, The Walking Dead) appears and disappears, Adriana’s home, not home, home again; it’s one big farce. Ultimately, Julian gets everybody together at Adriana’s. There, he steals his psychedelic colorful rocks back from her safe, burns a few sticks that make everybody hallucinate, Anika’s decided not to go back to him, end of story.

15 Minutes
It’s been a bit of a bottle episode. All’s well that ends well, but it seems like the writers were left with too much time to get to this particular point in time – a happy ending of sorts. Anika back home, Neil and Grace back together, the only loose thread is Simon’s dad resurfacing. They had an hour to fill, with 15 minutes of material, basically. So they made Neil knock over a few things in Julian’s lab shed, made zen master Frank (Tzi Ma, 24, Hell on Wheels) show up for no apparent reason, and inserted a psychedelic experience that went on for too long.

Two Episodes Left
With most of the storylines wrapped up, the question is what the last two episodes are going to bring. It seems everything gigolo-related is pushed to the background, and the only interesting thing left is Simon’s situation. Could he persuade the Trumans to join in, rescue his dad, roll up the mob, marry Emma and live happily ever after? (Doing what exactly, with the escort business being out of the question? Well, let’s not worry about that now, shall we?) Satisfaction has always been a show about, let’s see, self-discovery and self-pleasure. I’m not too far off, I think. But now that everything’s solved, sealed with a nice bow, with only a subplot about criminals dangling, I can’t escape the feeling this season is going to be its last. They’ve worked towards an exciting, possibly action-packed finale, and that’ll be the end of it. The show’s been getting less traction than Graceland, for example, so I suppose it’s not a stretch to predict a cancellation in the near future.

4 responses to “Satisfaction: …Through Psychedelics

  1. Curious but not condemning of your assessment of this episode. And the season in general. As the show’s creator, I’m interested to hear more of your insight… Care to volley back and forth on that…?

    P.S. Thanks for watching.

  2. Mr. Jablonski,

    Thank you for your reaction. You did, however, put in two different email addresses, so I’m not quite sure you are indeed the creator of Satisfaction. You could just be a nice person, as far as I’m concerned, this is the internet after all; anything’s possible.
    I just want to say that I have no real insight, though. I’m just someone who watches, thinks and writes – not necessarily in that order.

    I do feel that the show has been carefully balancing on a tightrope of decency (if that’s poetically justified). It never really takes a position. It never tells the viewer what to do, which means it’s cleverly written, but at the same time, because of not picking a side, it doesn’t have real teeth, if you know what I mean.

    In the early episodes of this and also the first season, the teeth were there – or at least in place. Neil was only inches away from a life changing experience. But then, the show (and Neil) went back to focus on the more banal things of life.
    As I’ve mentioned before, there might be a plan for a total of 7 or so seasons. That means Neil can’t break through yet. First, his old life has to be reformed. Rearranged. Slowly. But maybe a bit too slowly. Particularly Matt Passmore and Stephanie Szostak are absolutely terrific, which is why I’m still watching, but I wish for their characters to make a stand, pick a side – basically, go for broke. They’re a little too cautious at this point. I don’t mean in their sexuality; I’m still assuming the endgame will be about a more Buddhist way of life, live in the moment, be open, honest and loving. Even though Satisfaction may look (and sound) like a show about sex, I’m guessing at the end of its run, the sex experimentations will have fallen away completely (and Adriana will be left holding the bag).

    Your serve, Mr. Jablonski,

    The Black Ox

    • Thanks for the response, and it is indeed me who is writing. Not sure how there were two email addresses though. I’m not very into social media (though I was pushed into signing up for Twitter) so I tend not to be very savvy with all of this.

      I was struck by your review and comments of the show when I did check my Twitter account which is why (for the first time ever) I reached out and outed myself. Since the show was not previewed for any of the more mainstream critics this year I have been curious as to any critical reaction to the show. Admittedly, it has been less than favorable in many respects. A disappointment for sure, but a lesson as well. Mainly I’ve heard how off-the-rails it’s gone with respect to story and outrageousness. This was a conscious decision… although not one that I would have made.

      Despite what felt like a great first season, the powers that be felt the show lacked any “water cooler” moments and needed to push the envelope and “shock” people in the way that Scandal for instance does. Having been on Nip/Tuck for 7 years, I was very familiar with how to do that. Unfortunately a show about a more intimate examination of a marriage and what it meant to be happy became more about sex and heightened reality. We did our best to find the grounding in real emotion, but it was a tricky balance… then again, any show is a tricky balance. But this one was somewhat reinvented so we had to find out where the center point was again.

      Honestly, I’ve been somewhat shocked by the universal distaste for the new direction but still feel that despite the outrageousness of the plot lines, there is some good stuff in there that touches on deeper emotions. In the end it is still about Neil and Grace trying to experiment in their own lives after the nasty secret came out and then find a way back to each other. It’s about learning how to find happiness individually so that they can find a way back to applying it in a relationship — and is that even possible? As a married man with two kids I know well those challenges.

      Anika was all but pushed out of the story lines this year in favor of focusing more on the adults and their (mis)adventures. After all, it’s hard to have a kid in the house when mommy and daddy want to play (this is know first hand). It was also conscious to up Adriana’s and Simon’s storylines this year and that meant changing perspective and giving them more screen time — taking away from the central plot of Neil and Grace. I think that was an almost necessary decision since finding storylines that only revolved around Neil and Grace every week would be too challenging to really hold people’s interest.

      When you say you wish Neil and Grace would pick a side and go for broke, I’m not entirely sure what that means. For me I thought it was stated early on for both characters this year when Neil said in Ep 201 that, “my new life won’t be conventional anymore.” Grace also said she was tired of not taking chances and wanted to experiment in her life as well. Then they both stay true to their word (Neil diving back into escorting with Simon, Grace moving in with Adriana and opening up sexually…). Then once they do get back together they decide that if they’re going to make their marriage work, it has to be unconventional as well… even thought they can’t define what that means yet. An open marriage? Opening an escort business together? That journey of figuring out those rules and those boundaries is a story worth telling, I think. After all, all marriages must reinvent themselves to survive. Again, this I know first hand.

      We have not heard about a third season yet, though I hope to hear something soon. Ratings are down, but since all the shows are available on VOD that counts for a lot of our audience now. I do hope we have a chance to continue since I feel that, by the end of season 2, there is still one more act to write (looking at the show as more of a three act play or movie structure).

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond and did find your comments fair, accurate and insightful. Keep up the good work and thanks for the opportunity to air some of this out.

      All the best

      Sean

  3. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for sharing some inside information about the show and what your (and that of the ‘powers that be’) intentions are. If there won’t be a third season, I’d be very interested to know how you would’ve liked to finish the story.

    But first, let me explain my ‘go for broke’ comment: Neil and Grace do say that they’re going to try to be unconventional, but action speaks louder than words. Or maybe I just have a different idea about unconventionality. The only real change that they’ve made, is sexually and escort business related. Neil still works as a financial advisor, which to me is the most surprising thing of all, actually. A job like that would be the first to aboard.
    I suppose he doesn’t want to throw his income away, especially with his and Simon’s escort adventures still quite uncertain, but that’s what I meant: as a viewer you want to see the main character take big risks. A careful transition from a job in an office to another (sexier) job in an office-at-home with the occasional ‘date’, isn’t quite the new unconventional lifestyle for Neil (and Grace) I was expecting – or hoping.

    I do have to say that there’s often a difference between the creator’s intentions and the way the show in question is being perceived by the public. Sometimes you just have to see it for what it is, not for what you want it to be (and how it doesn’t meet your expectations).
    So, having said that, I don’t understand the criticism that the show’s gone ‘off-the-rails’. People might’ve been hoping for something else to happen, but this is what it is – and if I read you correctly, Satisfaction is most of all a show about marriage. So even though I wish Neil the most risky journey to self-discovery, I have to take your intentions into account. If the story is not just about him, but mainly about the concept of marriage and how to maintain and reinvent it, then that should be my focus point.
    This may have caused the ‘universal distaste’; people not realizing what the show is actually about.

    I’m guessing a lot of the critiques were about the S&M thing, which for me also came as a bit of a surprise. If anything, Satisfaction is a very easy going, soft, nuanced, thoughtful show – I mean that as a compliment. The cage in Adriana’s wall, but also the ‘heist’ of Julian/Anika, and the dubious affairs of Simon’s father (which felt much more like a Suits storyline, actually), certainly spiced things up, but kind of felt out of place. The show’s always had a nice, positive tone. With characters who were a little naive, maybe, but good at heart. Over the course of the second season, nastiness has mudded the waters a little bit. So I do understand if people (without water coolers) were disappointed by that, this year.

    I do hope there will be a third season, though. I suppose you’d have more creative control, if that’s the final season?
    Here’s too less cage and more lace.

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