Notes from the Labyrinth
Unobtainium and Dragons' Bones
Due South: Chicago Holiday 
27th-Aug-2007 07:12 pm
ds: fraser
Due South 1.7-1.8, "Chicago Holiday"
Original airdates:
10 November, 17 November, 1994
Favorite line:
CHRISTINA: Go away! Just leave me alone!
FRASER: I can't do that, you see, because I have the itinerary.


I have to admit, my principal reaction to Christina is a desire to drown her in a bucket.

But I love this two-parter for its perfect insouciance, the swaggeringly unapologetic way it uses its MacGuffin--and comments on its use of its MacGuffin--the cleverness with which it interweaves the movements of Eddie and Janice and Fraser and Christina and the matchbook about the city. And I most particularly love the moment when it turns the meta back around on itself:

CHRISTINA: This is all about some stupid matchbook?
JANICE: No, kid, this is about power.

That's right. That matchbook is a symbol, and they work that on every level possible--including the cab driver who notices the "SMOKING KILLS" PSA and decides not to have that cigarette after all.

This episode has the quintessential performance of Fraser and Ray's friendship. The nutshell version.

FRASER: Ray.
RAY: No. We are eighteen floors up.
FRASER: [already in the garbage chute] Just hold your elbows out to the side. It'll slow your descent.
RAY: My descent? [shouting down the chute after Fraser] Fraser, you cannot go down there without backup! ... Ahhhhhhh, the most annoying man in the world.
[Ray climbs into the garbage chute]

Ray protesting to Fraser, who isn't listening--who literally can't hear him in this case--and then following him anyway: that's how it works between them. Ray can say no to Fraser, but he can't make it stick. And both Ray and Fraser know it.

RAY: You got me off the biggest case of my career to bring you a pair of gloves?
FRASER: And I can't thank you enough, Ray.
RAY: I'm supposed to be on a stakeout right now. I got a tip where I can find Eddie Beets, the guy suspected of offing his boss and trying to take over the entire West Side, and I delivered formal accessories?
FRASER: Well, if it wasn't urgently important, I wouldn't have called you. You'll never know how much this means to me, Ray.
RAY: You're right. I won't.

And Ray's parting shot, as he walks off: "I gotta find new friends." Which they both know he doesn't mean.

Fraser does trade on Ray's good nature, because he's a manipulative son of a bitch. And Ray lets him, with some occasional resentment. Because the thing about Fraser is, he always uses his powers for good. (There's an exception in "Seeing is Believing," which I will indeed talk about when we get there.) This makes him very hard to live with, as Ray says, but it also, very clearly, makes it impossible for Ray to put his foot down.

(The sub who says of Ray, "He's all talk and no action," is really not wrong.)

Since I've been tracking the Batman voice, I want to note its manifestation in the leather bar:

SUB: I've been bad, I've been very bad. Please punish me?
FRASER: There's nothing so bad it can't be forgiven, son.

I think another place the Batman voice shows up is when Fraser has decided there is no correct response he can possibly make to the situation, and therefore chooses the response most likely to derail his interlocutor/opponent's train of thought. Fraser plays conversations to win.
Comments 
28th-Aug-2007 03:19 am (UTC)
Ah, CH is probably my least favorite ep of the entire series, but as usual, you found something interesting to add -- tks!
28th-Aug-2007 04:49 am (UTC)
man, i have had a request in at the library for due south for like, two weeks, and these posts are whetting my appetite SO MUCH. i cannot wait to watch this show.
29th-Aug-2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
I guess what I like about this ep is that he treats Christina with the same respect as he treats everyone. She's not 'just a kid,' and he is letting her make her own decisions, even though he's having to rescue her from the consequences of (some of) those decisions. He's not playing the "I'm an adult" card and he's not condescending.

Plus, um, Fraser. Leather bar. Okay, look, I never said I was deep.
29th-Aug-2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
You're right. And more than that, he's trying to make her understand that the thing she's trying to get by running away and being a brat is something she already has.
24th-Oct-2007 12:39 am (UTC)
This show seems a lot smarter when I read your comments. Perhaps I should read them *before* viewing rather than after.
30th-Nov-2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Absolutely.

I read several megs of fanfic before I saw the first episode, and Due South is all about the meta.
14th-Dec-2007 03:06 am (UTC)
Watching the first half of the ep now (NETFLIX FINALLY CAME THROUGH YAY), Christina reminds me of The Girl in The Fantasticks. Dunno yet if they grow her out of it.
11th-Sep-2008 08:53 am (UTC)
crap-I so need edit. Okay, trying again.

Trying not to comment on each of these so as not to seem, stalkery and insane but I just had to say that I love this comment.

Fraser plays conversations to win

It reminds me of him complementing Ray K. on his paragraph
31st-Mar-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
There is also the point that although Fraser SAYS "There's nothing so bad it can't be forgiven... son," he doesn't believe it. Like the guy in the leather, he is punishing himself. Look at his apartment, for example, and how, when it burns down, he goes to living on the floor of his office. The guy really does have no home... and the tragedy is that NOBODY, least of all Fraser, even notices what he's doing to himself. In Mountie on the Bounty Thatcher finally acknowledges that he's living in the office, but instead of realising that a transfer, a change of scene, might be good for him, she selfishly wants him to stay, if only as her eye candy or gopher.

I went of on a ramble there... what I meant to say is that Fraser's "batman" voice says that anything can be forgiven. But his inner Fraser, the one he doesn't like to listen to, that voice is saying, "I've been very bad... punish me."
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