Sunday, April 7, 2024

Gemstones Episode 3.4 Continued: Mistaking dependency for love, two breakups, Kelton's butt, and some Cantonese guys

Previous: Episode 3.4: Wieners, betrayals, a burning a-hole, and Kelvin at his jerkiest. With a nude Steve Zahn bonus

Earlier in this episode, Stephen stepped up his harassment of Judy and BJ, Jesse sparred with Pontius, and Kelvin refused to accept responsibility for the Smut Busters Scandal.  Now things are getting worse.

The fag: Stephen plays pickleball with BJ, who doesn't know about the affair.  He describes sex with the girl he's seeing in disgustingly graphic detail, including something that I have never heard anyone but Judy mention.  But BJ doesn't get it, merely objecting to the disrespectful talk. 

Stephen counters: "You're a weak little fag."  No, BJ protests, he is a straight cis male, "but I don't believe that queer people should be referenced in that way." 

BJ here displays an up-to-date knowledge of gender/sexual identity, even identifying as cis instead of cisgender.  So why does he inaccurately balance fag (gay men only) with queer (all LGBTQ people)? Do the MAX censors object to the word gay? 

 Stephen's fag and the earlier "trash talk" are the only homophobic references since the first episode of Season 2.  While neither refers specifically to Kelvin, they are structurally placed to draw attention to the "rumors swirling around" him, and the effect that coming out may have on his career. 

We cut to Eli and May-May in the garden, joking and bonding.  She tells him: "I was never jealous of your riches, but I'm jealous that your kids still love you."  Eli: "Don't mistake love for dependency."  Remember that Kelvin and Judy have never been in romantic relationships before, and aren't sure how to go about it.  Are they really in love with their partners, or using them for power, control, social status, and sex?  It's time for Kelvin's descent into the darkness.

Church leaders got to think about the optics:
This scene is very difficult to read.  It seems to go in three directions at once. We begin with the Siblings and Martin in the executive board room.  Kelvin is still wearing his virginal-white sweater: this is shortly after the food-court parents meeting. Jesse states that they are here to discuss  "When people think people are molesting people." 

Wait -- Jesse, Judy, and Martin know all about the Smut Busters.  They discussed it at a family dinner.  They know it was Kelvin's idea.  

And no parent has accused Keefe of child molestation.  This is a kangaroo court.

They announce that they are moving Keefe into Immigrant Outreach.  It sounds like a great job -- doubtless with more money, more responsibility, and duties more closely aligned with Keefe's interests.  And it seems quite benevolent. They could have hidden him away in a file room somewhere, or just fired him.  

But are they responding to a pedophilia accusation?  Martin tells Kelvin that "this is not the hill to die on": it is trivial, purely cosmetic. Keefe will still play a valuable role in the church. That sounds more like a response to him being outed as gay.

Judy agrees: "Church leaders have to think about the optics." Kelvin cannot stay closeted with an assistant youth minister who is "openly gay."  So what if they're separated during work hours?:  "You need to suck it up."  A gay joke, har-har.  Kelvin replies: "Like you sucked it up on tour?"  

After that dig at Judy betraying BJ, Kelvin run away, proclaiming that he's voting "no" on everything else on the agenda.  Next up: funding a battered women's shelter.  "I vote no!"  Wait -- I thought they were meeting specifically to discuss the rumors.  Was this a regular church board meeting?

We switch to BJ and Judy having sushi, perhaps later on the same day.  BJ notes that he ran into her guitarist Stephen at the pickeball court, but got turned off by the explicit descriptions of his girlfriend' know. But he still doesn't catch on that Stephen was talking about Judy.

Meanwhile, Jesse is at the Zion's Landing resort, discussing Baby Billy's idea for turning the church around: performances by a hologram of his dead mother, Aimee-Leigh!  Sounds morbid. 

Geography problem: Zion's Landing is in Florida.  Did Jesse take one of the Gemstone airplanes, or did it move? 

The Dining Room Tomb:
At home, Kelvin is looking for Keefe.  He tries the bedroom, then comes downstairs. Notice that one of the pictures on the wall depicts a stylized naked man.

 Keefe is sitting at the dining room table, wearing a BDSM sub outfit, cutting out crosses for the youth group bulletin board, but they all turn into daggers.  I get it - - the church has betrayed you.

 This must be the same day as the parents' meeting and the board meeting, but Kelvin has changed from his virginal-white sweater into a ridiculous plaid poncho with a super-exaggerated top wave.  He has never looked more unattractive. Will being unattractive make things easier?

Check out the room decor: dark, oppressive, tomb-like.  Does it even have windows?  In this depressing, troubling space, Kelvin says: "I have to talk to you about something, and it's not easy to talk about." "Sexual stuff?" Keefe asks, thinking that he wants to discuss their less-than-satisfactory sex life.

No, it's about the job offer.  Kelvin tries to get him excited about it - "you can use your Cantonese!" -- but he can't put a positive spin on something that he introduced with "it's not easy to talk about" rather than "I have fantastic news!"  Keefe thinks that the job offer is a slap in the face, caused entirely by Kelvin refusing to take responsibility for the Smut Busters scandal.

The breakup after the break

Before we move on to the next section, let's take a look at the Gemstone Immigrant Outreach Program. 9% of the population of South Carolina is foreign-born or has foreign-born parents.  The top countries of origin are Mexico, India, Germany, Honduras, and the Philippines. There are 12,000 Chinese speakers, but that includes both Mandarin and Cantonese, two distinct languages -- note the difference in how you say "happy."  There's a Chinese Christian Church in Charleston already, so I doubt that Keefe will be able to use his Cantonese for immigrant outreach. Does he speak Spanish?

No, I am not stalling.  I just want to look at some naked Cantonese guys.  

Ok, I'm stalling a little.

On to the breakup: Keefe is going to move out "so the air can be cleared," to alleviate the gay rumors that could cost Kelvin his career (Dude, they just cost you your career).As he speaks, he deliberately hides his "wedding ring," to signal that the relationship is over.  In his next scene, it will be gone altogether.

He continues "You Gemstones are stars, destined to burn bright. Best that I step aside."  

Although he acts like he's being benevolent, thinking of Kelvin's career, it's obvious that Keefe has had enough. Kelvin treats him as a boyfriend, buddy, assistant, and valet from moment to moment, ignoring his needs and desires (how many times has he puckered up for a kiss that never came?), yelling at him when he tries to help, standing by while he is ignored by the family, tortured by the God Squad, accused of child molestation. Don't mistake dependency for love: it's time to move on.

Another Breakup: Shortly after the sushi, I guess -- the chronology is confused here -- Judy is meeting Stephen at some sort of arcade.  She orders him to stop stalking her husband, but he resists: "You want me!" 

Nope, "I'm BJ Barnes' bitch and no one else's!" 

Uh-oh, Stephen invited BJ, too!  He forces Judy to come clean about their affair.

And a threat: Cut to Eli convincing the Montgomery Boys to sing for their mother -- they've refused for several years.  The song they choose is "Sinner, You'd Better Get Ready."   Not exactly spreading the love, are you, boys?  But it's apropos to several of the relationships crumbling before our eyes.

Well, I thought I heard the angels say
"The time's a-comin' when the sinner must die
So you better get down on your knees and pray"
The time's a-comin' when the sinner must die

Love is lost: 
 Late at night, Jesse catches his son Pontius having sex with his girlfriend (beefcake alert: we see Kelton Dumont's actual butt, not a stunt double).  This is a direct violation of his agreement to not have sex in the house.  

Jesse lectures: "When you allow yourself to trust another person, it stings extra when that trust is betrayed. Love can be lost. Relationships can be damaged forever." His speech is interspliced with Judy crying as BJ prepares to leave, and Kelvin crying as Keefe drives away.

In the last shot, the Montgomery Boys are stockpiling ammonium nitrate, a powerful explosive. They returned to their father after all. They're going to betray the Gemstones! We never find out what Uncle Peter wants the explosives for.  He starts on a scheme that doesn't require them, and when that falls through, decides to use the explosives for a new scheme.

Shortly after this episode aired, someone -- I don't know if it was a showrunner or a fan -- posted on Tumblr that "everything is going according to plan."  But for now, and through the next three episodes, the Gemstones are in ruins. The end.

See: Season 3 Episodes 4-6 Memes: The guys date Taryn, Karl, Levi, Gideon, and Elmo the Muppet

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