Shining Vale 1×03 “Chapter Three – The Yellow Wallpaper” finally gave a name to Pat Phelps’ ghost-slash-muse: Rosemary. But even with a name for the thing that goes bump in the night, Pat’s still about as alone in this thing as it can get. Sure, Pat discovered the basement—and with it, the source of the music she was “imagining”—but all Terry wanted to talk about was finding a way to be normal. There was, of course, also no apology for refusing to believe that there was something behind that closet door (besides a teenage boy looking for some quiet).
Terry’s complete lack of…anything, really, for his wife made it almost impossible to feel bad for him when he got suspended. Honestly, between the getting super close to “Kathéryn” and repeatedly implying his work was more legitimate than Pat’s, it’s what he deserved. Add in the over-the-top reactions to the priests being told to suck a hot dick, and you’ve got one of this third chapter’s highlights.
Basically, no offense to Greg Kinnear, but Terry continues to be just about the absolute worst. The only character on this show to inspire more instant rage is Dr. Berg. That so-called “therapist” really needs to just…not.
Shining Vale 1×03 saw Pat being given…more medication, even after she said the pills Dr. Berg had previously prescribed actually made her feel worse, not better. And while this series is supposed to be funny and mostly is, the therapy scene was just…yet again, a whole commentary on doctors who don’t listen and just want to rationalize and drug everything away, without ever actually getting to the bottom of anything.
“You think I’m schizophrenic. I swear, if I get one more crazy diagnosis, I’m going to go nuts.”
If there’s actual mental illness here, we could see Pat’s outburst as denial and lashing out. But viewers can see the actual ghost, and even when the doctor admitted that Rosemary could be some kind of alter-ego or muse, he still wanted to pump Pat full of a bunch of medications with side effects that…could actually give her the very symptoms—hallucinations and blackouts, for starters—she was trying to overcome. Under the most “normal” of circumstances, a haunting would…not be believable, sure. But if you look at the grander scope of things, of times when women’s very real illnesses, for example, just get gaslit away as “it’s all in your head,” there’s…something there. And not a good something.
To be clear: Mental illness is a real thing. These medications can be—and often are—helpful. But…sometimes, not so much. And we’re looking, in this series, at a “not so much” kind of situation because, again, viewers can witness the haunting with our very own eyes, just as our main character can.
While we’re at it with the whole “muse” of it all…Not sure how healthy of a statement this is, but: As a writer, it’s easy to wish for a Rosemary of my own. Not only is Mira Sorvino just phenomenal in this role, but Shining Vale 1×03, once again, did an excellent job of showing just how hard it is to get started when you’re trying to write something. Courteney Cox, not surprisingly, just nailed all the little fidgets and procrastination techniques. Then, there’s that moment where Pat’s surprised to suddenly have written pages and pages, all after having had so much trouble in the beginning. That’s just how it works: You can’t do shit, and then lots of words, some of which don’t even make sense when you read them back, just suddenly appear. See also: Pat second guesses the “languorous” word choice that had initially seemed so perfect…
We’re led to believe that, when Rosemary took over, the confidence and the productivity were both there. (And so, too, was the pettiness that messed with Terry’s presentation—which, again, deserved.) Or maybe Pat had it in her all along and just needed a push in the right direction. Whether that push came from haunting and possession, or from some kind of subconscious, the viewer gets to decide. It’s just way more comfortable to see this series as a comedy when there’s the supernatural aspect than by allowing the possibility that something is very, very wrong with Pat.
Maybe, as writers, we’re all a little bit on edge. And we all need, to be a bit too on-the-nose: a ghost writer. That would certainly make reviewing a unique series like Shining Vale a hell of a lot easier.
Shining Vale 1×03 quick thoughts:
- “I’ve been with you 15 minutes. Even my plants are nervous.” Trash doctor is trash.
- “Is the house fucking haunted or not?” Either that, or this is a really depressing and problematic story about a mentally ill person instead of just delightful fun. I’m going with “fucking haunted” for that reason alone.
- Ok but that red lipstick.
- The nonchalant “what’s up” when Pat’s lugging that armoire around…Gold.
- “Pat, she’s not some tasty piece of ass. She’s your age.” Leave your man, Pat. I’m begging.
- “Take the compliment. You’re the smartest woman I know who looks like you.” Throw out every man on this series except Jake, to be honest.
- Speaking of. When that kid totally took the tone back from horror jump scare to…average AF lonely boy…Iconic.
- “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” This is the moment. You can’t write, you finally have a sentence, you can’t finish the sentence…and…fuck, fuck, fuck. Exactly.
- “It’s sexist and misogynist, and it’s going to destroy you as a man, not to mention the coats in our closet.”
- “I believe there are dark forces in that house that have attached themselves to vulnerable women over the years.” Just leaving this here. Someone listen to Ryan’s mom already.
- …just maybe tone down all the Jesus stuff. Yikes.
- “I can’t tell you how happy I was just to feel productive. I thought it was worth putting up with a few side effects.” Me at the amount of caffeine I consume, knowing there are drawbacks.
- Courteney Cox, clutching and waving around an axe, while talking about how “good” she is. The brilliance of this moment.
- 16 years of sobriety down the drain…literally the most difficult part of Shining Vale 1×03 for me to watch. It’s all fun and games until we hit a nerve.