Shining Vale 1×04 “Chapter Four – So Much Blood” finally answered the question of whether or not Rosemary was a figment of Pat’s imagination or a real ghost. The answer was what we’d been rooting for all along, so we could avoid Pat Phelps becoming a tragic character in the middle of a supposed comedy. But then…well. Given what we’ve learned about Rosemary…Maybe this “horror comedy” was destined to be a tragedy, regardless.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide.
From the very beginning, Shining Vale has involved content that, for some, could be a very bad mockery of mental illness. But for others, giving the series more of a benefit of the doubt (we’re in that category), it’s been a matter of being “in” on the joke. We’ve been there with doctors—whether therapists or otherwise—like Dr. Berg, who simply don’t listen, especially to women, and as Kam put it in Shining Vale 1×04 are just “pill-pusher misogynist” types.
Berg has, since we first met him, been drugging Pat up, not in a way that at all helped her…but in increasingly harmful ways. We could’ve absolutely done without him laughing at the “pulling a Pat” reference and saying he was going to use it, too.
…but that brings us to Rosemary, someone who was even more of a victim of the uncaring, manipulative men around her. As Pat tries, and fails, to wrestle with her “muse” in “Chapter Four – So Much Blood,” we learn just how bored she was with her life. We learn how her husband controlled her—publicly embarrassing her by not allowing her to buy alcohol. And yes, if we’re looking at Rosemary as a ’50s housewife, as Pat has always called her…that was a thing.
She wouldn’t have had anything to call her own. No agency, whatsoever. A bank account would’ve been illegal, as would a credit card, for something as simple as purchasing the booze in question.
That meant, for Pat, it was always going to be a losing battle in terms of trying to write Rosemary as happy, or clean, or new. The way Mira Sorvino portrayed that utter anguish, especially in the mirror scene that resulted in present-day Pat’s Macbook getting smashed, was difficult to watch—because it was just that good.
The problem, then, becomes this: All the delicious horror tropes—like seeing Rosemary’s eyeballs burned black and all melty-like in that ending projector scene—and hilarious outbursts aside, Shining Vale 1×04 went dark in a way that…is super uncomfortable to think about in terms of things that you want to see even in a dark comedy. Seeing Rosemary so quickly flip from a relaxed bubble bath, clearly headed for orgasmic territory based on Pat’s intended narrative, to…brandishing the straight razor and ending her life…was, admittedly, triggering as fuck. And then, there were two more scenes where the bathtub turned to a river of blood—one of which was preceded by what appeared to be an attempted drowning.
A tub full of blood, in horror, makes perfect sense. Watching the scene where the blood overflowed and oozed out the bathroom door into the hallway was uncomfortable in all the right ways, entertaining in all the best ones. But Rosemary’s multiple suicides…? Responding to them is going to be up to individual viewers, obviously, but in this house, they were a wee bit too much.
…but it’s not all bad
That’s not to say that Shining Vale 1×04 was a total miss, though. Not at all.
Greg Kinnear was delightfully hilarious as a drunken Terry. And while he’s been a shitty husband all along, it was great to see the character stand up for Pat when someone from the outside (Thom, in this case) started trashing her. It was entirely relatable, too: I can talk shit on my family all I want. But if someone else does? Nope.
For what it’s worth, Kinnear also utterly nailed the “embarrassing AF dad” behavior when Terry went to pick Jake up from school. I’ll be waiting for the same critics who whined about—gasp—daring to mention periods in Turning Red to start clutching their pearls over Terry waving naked Farrah Fawcett around in public, though.
Then, of course, there was the other side of Pat’s struggle with Rosemary and the aspect of Shining Vale that never ceases to be amazing: The perfect depiction of that strange combination of writer’s block and a story that just…simply gets away from the writer, no matter how much they have a plan for it.
Pat wanted to write erotic scenes; she got something much, much different. No matter how hard she tried to take control of her muse and force the issue, she just couldn’t escape the story that was begging to be let out—demanding it, even. Nobody is serving “frustrated and 100% done writer” like Courteney Cox, and we’ll keep coming back to this series for that alone. Period.
So many thoughts for Shining Vale 1×04
- “See…I’m trying to finish my work. And when you come up here? It’s distracting. And then I lose my train of thought, and…I have to start over.” I continue to identify with this character far too much for my liking.
- Not Terry getting excited about some creepy old dolls. This man has seen zero horror movies in his lifetime, and that’s that on that.
- “I can’t wait for that to chase me around in my nightmares.” Exactly.
- “Oh, good! I mean, you can’t get addicted with a prescription…” Listen to Kam, Pat. Please.
- “Hold on! It’s not like I’m an alcoholic. I didn’t go to AA or rehab. I just…I drank too much. I was using alcohol to numb my pain.” That’s a no from us. Literally alcoholism at play. Not good.
- “Look at me! I’m—I’m in an antique tub in Connecticut. I’m basically Oprah.” She’s even introduced us to a quack doctor to prove it.
- “The message is, I need to speak to him right the fuck now, you fucking fuck.” Literally all of us trying to get a human being to speak to when those shitty automated assistants won’t give us a representative.
- “I’m a fucking train wreck!” Same.
- That slow turn to the camera when Rosemary was in that bath tub, though. Sorvino nailed it.
- “Get my shit together?! Oh, motherfucker. Maybe you should get your shit together. You ever think about that, you dumb sonofabitch? Has that ever crossed your stupid ass mind?” Me at the world.
- “It’s going crap! I’m completely blocked. My muse is suicidal. I broke my laptop, and there’s blood.” Actually me, every time I sit down to write anything at all.
- Gaynor, honey…When both your super-religious crush’s mom and a sweet, little old lady go full-out horror movie warning on you about your house? Start listening.
- “It’s called a lemon drop, motherfucker.”
- “Suck a hot dick, motherfucker! I quit!” The wish fulfillment is real.
- “Holy shit! She’s real!” Pat, girl, you’re in trouble…
What did you think about Shining Vale 1×04? Drop us a comment!