Monday, April 22, 2024

Gemstones Episode 3.7: The handsome man, queerbaiting, misdirection, and me yelling "What the f*k!" a lot

Previous: Episode 3.6 Continued: Kelvin and Keefe fight, BJ and Stephen fight, and nobody likes hologram Aimee-Leigh

In Episode 3.6, we saw the aftermath of the Judy/BJ and Kelvin/Keefe breakups, with failed reconciliation attempts, a fist fight, and both Kelvin and Judy quitting their jobs at the church.  In this episode, things get even worse.

When I watched the first time, I kept yelling "What the f*k!", being annoyed and then outraged by the constant misdirections, chronological flubs, and queerbaiting. It looked very much like Danny McBride was telling us: "Kelvin and Keefe are straight buddies.  Fooled you!"

But that's impossible.  There were not only 200-plus queer codes, Season 1 and 2 both ended with affirmations of their love.  McBride didn't know if the series would be renewed, so each season finale might be the last we see of the characters.  And what we see is "They are in love," not "Keefe, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend."

Knowing what comes after,  I am going to re-watch this episode, looking for any evidence that suggests that saying "Kelvin and Keefe are just friends" does not mean that "Kelvin and Keefe are just friends."

Title: "Burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."  Exodus 21:25. Fans argued like mad about trying to connect the burn/wound/stripe to the personalities or kidnapping strategies of the Gemstone siblings, but it's a misdirection. The previous verse has the more familiar "eye for eye, tooth for tooth." It just means that the punishment should fit the crime.

Burn for burn and all that
:  During the evening of the day of the Aimee-Leigh Hologram debacle, the BJ-Stephen penis fight, and probably the Kelvin-Keefe rocking chair fight, Judy goes to a drug store to buy pain medication for BJ.  On her way home, goons from Peter's militia crunch her car with the Redeemer and grab her. 

Misdirection alert: the trailer makes it look like she is the one crunching. 

Chuck Montgomery tries to trick Jesse, and when that doesn't work, the goons shoot him with a tranquilizer dart.  

Kelvin bangs on the door at Woodpecker's Carpentry, yelling: "Are there any woodworkers in there? I'm looking for Keefe Chambers!"  Now that he's no longer worried about his job at the church, he's free to reconcile with Keefe.    But it's long after hours; the building is dark and deserted. Why would anyone be inside?  Besides, Keefe told Kelvin where he was working; wouldn't he give him his new address and phone number, too?

Imagine if someone were inside: "See, my ex-boyfriend and I had this big fight, and he doesn't want me to have his new number, and I don't know where he's staying...I need to see, I am not a stalker!"

Six militia men wearing scary masks surround Kelvin.  The trailer makes him look paralyzed with fear, but actually he is quite brave, trying to intimidate them and then defend himself.  They punch and hit him, and squirt a toxic liquid into his eyes -- which stings but has no long term effects.  Why does Kelvin need six guys to take him down?  Why does he get a more brutal kidnapping?  I don't know.

Screaming like a woman:  
The three siblings are put in what everyone calls a chicken silo, although chickens are housed in coops.  They are tied to chairs, with pillowcases over their heads.  What for?  You don't need to be imprisoned and tied up both.

Fans uncomfortable with the idea of gay relationships noticed that Kelvin's pillowcase resembles the trans pride flag, thereby signaling that he is actually a transgender woman.  Doubtful: Jesse's depicts the cartoon character Maisie Mouse. 

Kelvin yells for help. Uncle Peter enters and asks if he is "screaming like a woman," maybe a dig at his gayness, but more likely because he considers any emotion "like a woman."   He explains that the militia is holding them for ransom.

The handsome man: When Keefe arrives for work the next morning, he sees Kelvin's car with the doors still open, checks the ground for signs of a struggle, and asks his coworkers, "Have you seen The Handsome Man?"  This makes no sense, as Kelvin only visited once, for a few minutes, and most of the carpenters weren't paying attention.

Cut to Amber and BJ noticing that their partners didn't come home last night. Next, Eli, at the office even though he's retired and should be fishing, receives a scary video of Kelvin crying and Judy and Jesse screaming in rage.  The gay one has a "sensitive" reaction. Peter gives the ransom demand.  

Eli goes home and confronts May-May: "Your sons have fucked me over."  She denies that she has anything to do with the kidnapping.

Back at the chicken silo, the siblings complain about the heat and the food, and bicker.  Shouldn't they be praying?  They're religious, right?

Cut to BJ, Amber, Gideon, and Eli discussing the kidnapping with Sheriff Brenda. They were kidnapped in town, so it should be the Rogers Police. Notice that Keefe is not there.  Why didn't Eli call him?  Because his number has changed, because they have broken up, or because he is just a friend, not a partner?

The Freemans arrive.  Tiffany has made dolls of the siblings --very quickly -- "for you to hug and kiss until they come home safe."  She gives the Kelvin doll to Eli.  Same question: Why doesn't she save it for Keefe? Because  they have broken up, or because they were never partners to begin with?

Geography problem: How did they get to Eli's house so fast?  Don't they live in Florida?  

The trailer made it seem like the militia sent the dolls, adding a hint of the paranormal that turned out to be a misdirection.  Still, they look like Gullah Island voodoo dolls: "You can hug and kiss them until your loved ones come home safe.  And if they ever stray, you can make their privates fall off." 

More queerbaiting after the break

It's Kelvin's casual acquaintance: 
BJ, Amber, and Gideon walk out into the garden. Keefe finally arrives.  Why does it take him longer to get to the compound than the Freemans?  There's no evidence that he called the family to see if they knew what happened before driving over.

Upon seeing the partners and Gideon, Keefe walks through some hedges to reach them, while they bicker about his name.  "Look, it's Kelvin's friend, Chief.... I always heard it as Quiche."  You don't know the name of your brother-in-law's partner, when they've been together for more than two years?  And what's with the "friend"?  Do they mean a post-breakup friend, or friend as a euphemism for "lover," or are we being told that the guys are actually straight buddies?

Apprised that Kelvin was kidnapped, Keefe offers to help, but Gideon rebuffs him: "The police are handling it."  Ok -- "this is a family crisis.  I'll go."  

Amber nods. Yep, you're a stranger.  Not family.  Get lost.  This infuriated me even on a second viewing.  Friggin asshole, Keefe was admitted to the family in Season 2.  But, assuming that McBride isn't queer baiting, maybe Amber is referring to the breakup -- Keefe is an ex-lover, no longer family.  Or maybe she thinks that gay relationships don't count.  

Wait -- BJ calls out: "You're Kelvin's friend.  We're family.  We're in this together."  Amber glares at him, as if to say "He's a casual acquaintance, dude," but she doesn't resist as Keefe says "Together," kneels, and does a weird offering thing to the three of them.  Ok, maybe BJ is using "friend" as a closeted term for "lover."

Time for Church
: Meanwhile, at the compound, Peter calls the siblings to church. 

Timeline problem:  This is a weekday -- Keefe had to go to work. Has time elapsed, or does the militia have church every day?  

Peter threatens the siblings with a snake, then forces them to lead the service.  They can't do it without a well-lit stage, a sound system, a band, sermon notes, hymnals, and so on -- plus they're terrified.  Peter judges that they are incompetent -- in spite of their wealth, he is a superior preacher.  Has this all been a "whose dick is bigger" contest with Eli?

Back at the office, Jesse's crew has set up a phone-tracking system. Shouldn't the police be doing that?  When Peter calls about his ransom demand, Eli tries to keep him on the line by refusing to pay?  He hangs up.

The militia guys suggest killing one of the siblings, to let Eli know that they mean business. Timeline problem: If this is the day after the kidnapping, why are they getting so frustrated so soon?  

Peter thinks that this is a good idea, and goes to inform them.  "I'm going to kill one of you after service today."  Timeline problem: Is the church service still going on, or is this the next day?  Or the next Sunday?  The siblings don't look nearly as disheveled as they would be after a week in the chicken silo.

Kelvin's Butthole: 
Everyone goes home and puts on their Sunday clothes for a prayer circle.  Timeline problem: Why go home and change to pray?  Or is this a week later?

Keefe is wearing a BDSM outfit: a carpenter's smock and pants with breakway tabs and a slave collar.  This photo, which appeared on IMDB a few days before the episode, is a major misdirection.  The Kelvin doll looks like a genital whip, and we can't tell that Amber is sitting next to him.  It looks like Keefe is involved in a BDSM scene with an unidentified woman,

At least Eli gave him the Kelvin doll, suggesting that he knows that Keefe is his partner, not a platonic pal.

 Amber prays for the Lord to smite Peter; BJ, to return their partners unharmed; Baby Billy, for his Bible Bonkers show.  Keefe, now wearing the Kelvin doll over his heart, prays: "Help Kelvin find some sanitary wipes with aloe. He chafes real bad, and a burnt rectal from cheap TP could make him very despondent."  That sounds like he has intimate knowledge of Kelvin’s butt: “not tonight, I’m chafing," thus revealing, to the viewer anyway, that they are sex partners. 

Your One F*king Guy:  In the chicken silo, the siblings discuss their potential murder.  If Jesse goes, he wants Judy and Kelvin to take care of his kids. They refuse: "it's a big ask." But Gideon and Pontius are over 18, and Amber will still be around to take care of Abraham. This makes no sense.

Kelvin complains that no one will miss him if he goes. Not necessarily, Jesse points out: "Your one fucking guy with the dead eyes and the perm. He'll miss you." Judy agrees.  Why doesn't Jesse know Keefe's name?  Why does he use a description, as if trying to specify one out of Kelvin's dozens of friends?  And most importantly, why "friend,'" Queerbait McBride?

No, Kelvin says, "Not after the type of friend I've been to him. Should've had his back, but now I may never have the chance." I got really angry at these lines the first time, thinking that it was the Big Reveal: "Kelvin and Keefe are buddies. They've never been boyfriends.  Fooled you!" 

But after watching Episodes 3.8 and 3.9. we know that McBride was not queerbaiting. What could Kelvin possibly mean?   Is he just being closeted?  Or maybe he means that they've broken up, so technically they are post-breakup friends, not lovers.  

Are we almost done here?  During the prayer circle, Cousin Karl, unwilling to let his cousins be murdered, calls May-May and tells her where they are being held.  

Why doesn't she yell out "I know where they are!"  Instead she goes out to her car and drives away. 

Gideon, waiting in Eli's car, follows.  Why is he waiting?  Eli is at home.  He might not need a driver again until tomorrow.  And why doesn't he call the family and say "I'm following May-May to the compound.  I'll give you the directions, and you can tell the police."

Cousin Karl, May-May, and Gideon then rescue the siblings. The end.  Boo! 

Re-watching, I still hate the episode.  The chronology makes no sense, the partners should have rescued the siblings, there are constant annoying misdirections, and there is no legitimate in-universe reason for everybody to refer to Kelvin and Keefe as "friends."  I was about to give up on The Righteous Queerbaiting, but my "one f*king guy" pointed out that there were only two episodes left in the season. Might as well see it through.

In the next episode, the guys are back as boyfriends, so what the f*k was all this queerbaiting about?

Left: a naked guy to assuage my righteous indignation..

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