Shining Vale 1×07 “Chapter Seven – Impertinent Questions” offered a masterclass in performance and pure…messiness, for lack of a better word. Now that Pat Phelps has given herself over to Rosemary, the ghost — or entity, or demon, or, hallucination, or…whatever — her situation has become stranger than ever. Her choices aren’t her own; her moments of self-agency are fleeting, at best, and never exactly complete.
And what all that possession lends itself to is just pure, unfiltered entertainment. Pat’s problems shouldn’t at all be entertaining, and yet…How could they not, with music set up to be ominous at just the right moments (“Patricia. The wife.”) and actors making sure every tiny detail is deliberate?
Rosemary is taking Pat Phelps’ body for a ride, and all we can do is experience all the thrills right along with them.
“I got eye contact from Jacob. I even got a hug from the girl. I’m making you into your best self.”
“Touching” mother-daughter moments quickly become tinged with the series’ horror element, as a completely out-of-character hug between Pat and Gaynor is revealed, by a ghastly glimpse through the looking glass, as one actually initiated by Rosemary. And then there’s her not-great advice, about none of this being the end of the world, blows up in Gaynor’s face in the middle of whatever stilted teen relationship talk she’s trying to have with Ryan. Even as Pat seems to be settling in as the perfect housewife and mom, courtesy of the demon possession that — still — nobody in the Phelps household has fully noticed, everything’s falling apart, courtesy of the muse’s “help.”
This is in no way more obvious in Shining Vale 1×07 than during the housewarming party gone wrong. In the absence of Pat and Terry having actual friends to invite, Rosemary takes care of the guest list for them. Or, really, she takes care of the invites purely for her own entertainment. Kathryn (Kathéryn, if you will) came so the demon could size up the competition, and the YA author replacing Pat as her publisher’s darling was there just for funsies.
And how did it all end? Certainly not well.
The specifics of the party, from the drugs and drunkenness to Rosemary’s hookup with Blake (even, it must be noted, after Pat specifically said no to that), aren’t really what’s important. Sure, it’s all fun to watch unravel and provides more than a few laughs, plus a side of “ok but what the fuck just happened.”
But the key, from a plot standpoint is this: Rosemary has taken over, to the point well beyond her host’s consent. And Pat’s quite literally on the edge of being eliminated.
From a reviewer’s standpoint, though, really all we can say is just…”Wow. Look at them. How do these women do this?” Which, even outside of this series, we’re always asking ourselves how women manage everything, from the pay gap to a world that gives us even less control over ourselves than Rosemary is allowing Pat to have here.
So, message received loud and clear — even if it’s preaching to the choir.
Anyway. Back to the acting: 10/10, A+, doing amazing sweetie, would watch again
Courteney Cox spends the entirety of Shining Vale 1×07 portraying a character who is herself, yet not. We’ve seen glimpses of this throughout the season, but it’s at a whole new level in “Chapter Seven – Impertinent Questions.” She’s simultaneously obvious when Pat is fully out of the picture and still, somehow, believable as “just” Pat in the exact same moments. On the other hand, the contrast when Pat, somehow, manages to gain some temporary semblance of control is stark.
Basically, what we’re saying here, in far shorter form, is: We continue to stan.
Then, there’s Mira Sorvino, so cool, calm, and collected whenever Pat confronts Rosemary. And so utterly devilish in those moments when she reveals her true face — either in the aforementioned mirror shot or elsewhere. She continues to make such a sinister character seem inviting, even now that we’ve seen all the havoc she can wreak. We should be terrified of Rosemary at this point, should want absolutely nothing to do with her…But we just can’t help ourselves.
And it all, somehow, remains funny? Even as we’re worried about what might come next for Pat, even as we’re watching Jake uncover yet another presence in the house, and even as we get frequent visitations from the newly-dead Valerie He…The horror elements of Shining Vale still invite the laughs. Because it’s all right there, in the delivery. In the talent.
…maybe we’re all a little possessed by both Rosemary and Pat at this point. And with good reason.
Impertinent thoughts on Shining Vale 1×07
- “How would you feel if your mother jumped out a window onto a fence?” The pause before “it’s complicated.” Timing is everything, and that was timing.
- “When a woman wants to die, she’ll find a way.” I mean…
- “A woman just died. Maybe you wait until her body’s in the ground before talking about fucking her.” Speaking of timing: I felt that “amen” in my very cellular structure after this.
- I just think that Courteney Cox in this funeral attire…Who gave her the right?
- Mira Sorvino dancing, especially with the shape of those arms and the spot on those chaîné turns. Iconic.
- Actually. In order of my seal of approval on the dancing: Sorvino, then Cox (bonus points for purposely being a little stilted as Pat-controlled-by-Rosemary, though), then Greg Kinnear.
- “Sorry. I have terrible instincts. I got that from my mother, along with my flass and cursing. Fuck.” We get all the terrible things from our parents, huh?
- “I can’t wait to see how it ends.” Our take on Shining Vale, a summary.
- “It’s one thing to fuck my husband. It’s another to fuck my career.” So, basically, in order of importance: Career > man. AS IT SHOULD BE.
- “Life is way too short to spend so much energy hating your mother.” “I don’t hate you — I just don’t want to be you.” “Oh. Well, congratulations. That makes you a normal daughter.” I just…can relate.
- “I feel like I can’t fucking win.” “Well, that is called being a woman.” Ok. Maybe that part about Rosemary making a mess of everything and giving all the terrible advice…was not entirely accurate. Because this.
- “Take the pill, stop resisting, and let someone else do the work for once.” Hm. Nope. Doesn’t sound any better coming from a female demon than from a living male.
- “Every time you get annoyed, your horrible personality pokes out.” Y’all could stop calling me out any. time. now…
- You know…house party…horror genre…I’m back there.
- The smug smirk when Pat/Rosemary reads Blake in on the almost-cheating between his wife and Pat’s husband…
- “Just…playing the game.” No, really. Scream. I’m back there.
- That reaction in the car near the end. The “WHAT DID YOU DO.” It is. Everything.
- “What just happened? Nobody fucking knows!” Exactly.