Back to The One Game. Click here, or just scroll down a bit, for the previous recap.
Admin: The episode opens with Nick Thorne having bad dreams about Jenny who then morphs entering Magnus’ car. She morphs into Fay. Could this be symbolic of Nick wondering who he can trust?
RF: Nick flashes back to Jenny’s kidnapping, then imagines her getting into Magnus’ car quite willingly while Magnus courteously holds the door for her. As you say, it does seem to suggest he has trust issues, perhaps thinking Jenny is in cahoots with Magnus, or suspecting she doesn’t dislike Magnus as much as Nick thinks she should. However, dream Magnus looks quite amused and pleased with himself as he drives off, doing some hard-earned gloating.
Admin: Meanwhile Jenny is quite comfy in a large four poster bed in Magnus’ mansion. Magnus, who is a shockingly gallant kidnapper, brings her breakfast up on a silver (you know it is, silver marks and all) tray. Jenny tells him to “give it to the bloody dogs.” He has no reaction and just casually whistles to them. The dogs leap on the bed (Jenny doesn’t like that) and wolf it all down. “Whatever you say,” says Magnus drolly.
RF: I like the way Magnus takes Jenny’s words at face value. 😀 I bet she wasn’t really expecting him to feed her breakfast to the dogs. And while he’s prepared to keep her in relatively comfortable surroundings, he’s not going to be overly patient about dealing with her. They do definitely have a prior relationship, though.
Admin: Magnus never misses an opportunity to show that he is in charge, it seems.
Admin: Thorne is watching the video Magnus sent again. “It is the same no matter how many times you watch it,” points out Fay over her toast. Oh, I don’t know. I find there is always something new to be seen when watching a Malahide performance multiple times, so I don’t see why Nick should feel any different. 🙂
RF: And in contrast to Magnus’ neat-as-a-pin appearance, Nick has just about the worst case of bed head ever. 😀 In another nice bit of foreshadowing, Fay asks Nick how Magnus could’ve possibly gotten into his office. “Same way he got past those code barriers on the computer,” answers Nick. “Magic.” (Note: Nick has a lot of misplaced confidence in his ability to generate effective passwords.) “He’s gone to a hell of a lot of trouble, hasn’t he?” notes Fay. “Mm hmm. Always did,” replies Nick. Oh Nick, you have no idea.
RF: It’s also worth noting that Fay has some archery equipment – not on display, but used-looking – leaning up against the wall in her flat. It could mean nothing, but… given the other medieval imagery at work, I think it’s a giant hint that Fay is not as she seems.
Admin: Yep. And we know who else seems to like medieval things. 😉
Admin: Anyway, we get to see a bit more than last time since Magnus gets out of the chair and takes a little stroll around Nick’s office. “Remember the reality game theory, Nicholas: Anything can happen; anyone can play. No object except to continue being a player. The ultimate game, and it’s here, in practice, not theory. I wondered how to entice you, and then I remembered that what you hate most of all is the feeling that deep down, you’re just a helpless little boy. Coming out to play, Nicholas?” He says that last bit mockingly.
RF: And what better way to make Nick feel helpless than to strut around his office, sit in his chair, touch all his stuff, and kidnap his ex-wife in front of his very eyes?
Admin: Magnus can be pretty cutting when he wants to be. He is certainly poking Nick where it hurts most and appears to be taking great delight in doing so. And I have to say that Magnus is peddling his reality game theory rather nicely. Maybe he makes a pretty good Steve Jobs, afterall. 😉
RF: By now, we’re all thinking that whatever Nick did to Magnus, it had to have been something really juicy and/or bad to provoke this sort of retaliation. Or… Magnus is a bit mad and overdoes all of his reactions, no matter what the slight. We’ll have to see which it is.
Don’t Touch that Doorknob
Admin: Back to Magnus’ mansion: Jenny is now chiding Magnus (in a rather kindly primary school teacher or elder sister fashion ) for scaring the bejeezus out of her with the whole kidnapping thing. Seriously, she’s being a tad patronizing…seems Nick isn’t the only one who gets treated like a little boy. Magnus remains intractable, “I apologize. I had no other way to begin the game.”
RF: She does sound rather school teacher-ish. Could that tone possibly have worked on Magnus before? But while she’s annoyed, she doesn’t sound especially surprised or shocked to find she’s been made part of Magnus’ game. And while he apologizes for involving her (not all that sincerely, in my opinion), he’s still not going to change his plans.
Admin: Jenny keeps up the prim routine saying that she doesn’t want to play his game. Magnus, with a frighteningly flat voice (it is also kind of fetching in a weirdly attractive way) just says, “I need you.” Lucky, Jenny….I think. 😉 Anyway, he’s very stubborn and patient, and it all adds up to creepy. “I’m not arguing, Jenny. I’m explaining.” Then he takes the tea service, which is rather tidy despite the dogs’ best efforts, and leaves with his furry buddies leaving Jenny on her own.
RF: Yes, when Magnus says, “I need you,” he appears to block out the rest of her objections. Everything must be part of the game, so he doesn’t – or can’t – understand that Jenny doesn’t want to be an obedient (or at least cooperative) game piece. It is just a wee bit creepy, and it makes us wonder what he intends for her.
Admin: Back with Nick and Fay, we learn that Magnus: A. used to work with Nick and B. has been in an asylum for the past seven years. Magnus’ video continues, it is a lot longer than originally thought, only this time Magnus is in Jenny’s apartment. Magnus: “Where else to begin, but at the beginning.” Then he gets up and calls to an unseen Jenny. “Jenny, aren’t you ready yet. We have a game to play, remember?”
RF: Aaaaahhh, so that explains why Magnus was in a place where you wear jammies all day! Although not yet why (or how) he ended up in the river. It’s also interesting to note that Nick believes Magnus is capable of murdering Jenny. At this point, we’re not sure ourselves if that might be true… though we’re pretty sure he wouldn’t mind murdering Nick, for a start. Magnus also appears to like casually displaying his power, showing off a seemingly effortless ability to get into Nick and Jenny’s private, most important locations. He’s gradually turning up the pressure, making Nick more and more apprehensive as the game goes on.
Admin: So what is the beginning? We get a little hint when Nick goes to his office and uncovers a ground safe. Inside is a photograph of him and Magnus in front of a place called Wizards. Also, there is a photo of Nick on a motorbike. There is a flashback of him and Magnus on motorbikes with a young blonde woman who looks like Jenny…but is she?
RF: It’s sort of interesting that Nick would keep a couple of old photos in his safe – though very convenient for flashback purposes. 😉 You’re right, the blonde woman does look a lot like Jenny but isn’t her. She also rides off on the back of Nick’s motorbike, leaving Magnus alone and looking pensive. Hmmm, more foreshadowing? Also, Nick mentions to Tom Darke (who also happens to be at Sorceror’s offices when he collects the photos) that the clever idea of concealing a ground safe underneath a regular-looking safe was not his; I think we can presume it was Magnus’. Yet more evidence of how much Nick used to rely on him.
Admin: Poor Jenny is trying to escape, only a rigged doorknob shocks and stops her. Magnus enters the room, “Jenny, please.” Yikes!
RF: Now it’s Magnus’ turn to sound like a gently chiding schoolteacher, although the softness of his tone is at odds with the harshness of the punishment. He sounds genuinely regretful for her foolishness at even attempting to escape; there are consequences for trying to avoid playing the game. Oh, well… having learned her lesson once, Jenny surely won’t try it again, will she?
Admin: Oh, she probably will 😉
Then It All Gets a Bit Avengers Like
Admin: Nick goes to the old Wizards shop, which is suitably distressed now, but was once a very colorful place. He is eventually lead to one of the deserted areas Magnus was seen dealing with his ne’er-do-wells where he finds “game no. 2”, before being chased off by some bikers.
RF: Also note that Nick is followed to the Wizards shop (love the “suitably distressed” description 😀 ) by a Mysterious Motorcyclist in black, with a skull and crossbones on the back of his jacket. Wizards looks rather grotty now, but it was probably once the sort of place tons of gamers would hang out at on a weekend. Nick also finds a very dust-covered copy of The Lord of the Rings on a shelf. (No author credited or they’d have the Tolkien estate after them, but it’s just as well since there was no one novel by that name. It would be a compilation of three novels instead.) In a flashback to their first meeting, Nick tells Fay he worked as a “shopkeeper” in a place “dedicated to peace and love… and hobbits” with that book as their “sacred text”. Well, that explains some of the neo-pagan/medieval imagery Magnus is so fond of.
Admin: It looks like Nick had the abridged version. I hear it is good because they cut Tom Bombadil. 😉
RF: Everything is improved by cutting out Tom Bombadil! 😀
Admin: Back to puzzles: Inside the game 2 package is a jigsaw puzzle. There is a flashback to Magnus indulgently showing Nick a new board game he’s made. Nick confesses he can only manage jigsaw puzzles. Looks like Magnus remembers some of Nick’s limitations.RF: The puzzle only has about twenty-five big pieces, so Magnus is being especially nice to Nick. It’s so easy, even a Queen of England could solve it! 😉 The jigsaw turns out to be of a map, which leads Nick to the next part of the game.
Admin: Nick goes on an Avengers like adventure, running into a magician out hunting for rabbits and a bus driver (who leaves a strange parcel) with a bad wig. Then he goes to a weird abandoned village where there is gun fire coming from somewhere. He briefly sees someone who looks like Jenny…or maybe it is Jenny. He stumbles onto the magician again, who has been shot in the arm. They escape, but the magician reveals that he was never shot by removing his bloodied sleeve and leaves “game no. 3” and a live dove. It is so weird.
RF: It all does start to get a bit surreal (and very Avengers-like) when Nick meets the magician – but I think the guy being a magician was a massive clue and/or in-joke of Magnus’ that Nick completely missed. And that bus driver’s wig looks like something Hagrid would sell. 😉 Magnus is dropping anvil-size hints, but Nick keeps missing them! The main purpose of the village scenario (perhaps an army training facility?) just seems to be a chance to herd Nick around, terrifying him with gunfire while reinforcing Magnus’ complete control over his situation. Reality is what Magnus says it is. After being shot at for a bit and frightened with some near misses, Nick is allowed to go on to Game No. 3. But at least we know those target cut-outs of him that Magnus’ henchmen practiced with in episode 1 came in handy. 😉
The Flying Bohemian
Admin: Nick , now back with Fay, reminisces about how he met Jenny (who he now suspects of being in cahoots with Magnus). Magnus was the one who found her. She had her own printing company and printed 200 copies of their first game. They sold them all within a month.
Admin: Fay asks how he met Magnus in the first place. He turned up out of the blue one day like a 1970s version Flying Dutchman…a peddler selling magic tricks. There is some nice footage of Magnus wandering around with his backpack which kind of reminds me of the sad ending scenes of the Incredible Hulk where
Bruce David Banner had to keep moving on to the Lonely Man theme.
RF: That’s right, Magnus’ entry into the story is just as mysterious as everything else about him. I like the “Incredible Hulk” comparison. 😀 Fay asks the question we’re all dying to know: “What did you do to him? To cause all this?” Nick replies somewhat bitterly that Magnus “did it to himself”, so we’re still none the wiser about why they fell out. But whatever it was, Magnus is willing to go to a lot of trouble over it.
Admin: Meanwhile, Magnus is at a huge dinner table in his mansion, and there is nothing peddlerish about him now. He has a swank evening jacket on and looks utterly gorgeous. The “magician” from earlier is now dressed as a butler and leads Jenny to the table. Jenny asks Magnus if he’s been playing his “silly games” all day.
RF: Yeah, Magnus is much better-dressed now than he was in his “Flying Dutchman” days. 😉 He also knows how to lay out a very classy-looking dinner party for two. But he’s still asserting his complete control. When Jenny asks him when he’s going to let her go, he says, “When the game is over.” “When is that?” she asks, and he replies “When I choose.”
Admin: Magnus: “Jenny, in all the years you’ve known me, have you ever seen me lose my temper.” Turns out she has. “Well, don’t you think it might be better not to provoke me again.” That is a good hint that he can be scary when angry. “Please, sit down. If you don’t want to eat, you can watch me.” He’s being nice enough now.RF: Jenny can’t meet Magnus’ gaze when she admits she’s seen him lose his temper; in fact, she looks quite visibly uncomfortable at whatever she’s remembering. It makes us think that while Magnus can appear perfectly benign at times, Nick might have a point about how dangerous he can be. He’s very mercurial and unpredictable; after his quiet, yet very serious warning to Jenny about his temper (a nice bit of understated menace by Mr. Malahide), he immediately goes back to being quite cheery as he discusses how good the food is.
Admin: Jenny thinks he is doing this all for revenge. Really? Jenny comes up with some really novel angles. But, in true mad man fashion Magnus says it isn’t quite that simple, but he doesn’t want to talk about revenge during dinner. “Revenge is a dish best served cold, but this is best eaten hot.” Jenny then knocks all her food off the table. Magnus looks very angry here, but he controls himself, “Manners.” I must say, Jenny looks briefly terrified. Magnus just gets his magician butler to lead her back to her room though.
RF: Yes, Jenny says Magnus is seeking revenge for “what [Nick] did, or what you think he did”, which again suggests Magnus… might be mistaken or over-reacting…? Or possibly just plain mad. I suppose she’s meant to be bravely defiant when she sweeps her dinner onto the floor, though I thought she came across as rather petulant. But as you say, she does look briefly terrified at the glare she gets before being hauled back to her room.
Admin: Game no 3 leads Nick (and Fay) to a pub called The George and Dragon. This seems right up Magnus’ alley as he is briefly seen playing with his Arthurian type figures on a sort of crystal castle display. While Fay is inside the pub, Nick goes outdoors where he is accosted by jousting motorcyclists. Again, it is so Avengers-esque at times. There is a bike and lance for Nick, and he promptly gets knocked off his bike by a jouster. While on the ground on the ground Nick manages knock his adversary off. It is Magnus! Nick walks over to him and asks what this is all about, but it turns out Magnus isn’t too badly hurt. He bowls Nick over and straddles his chest, dealing out blows to Nick’s face. “Remembering!” That sounds revenge-y, Magnus!
RF: And of course, there’s lots of dragon-slaying imagery involved in jousting (we saw Magnus auditioning the jousters in episode 1), while Magnus’ crystal castle game reminds me a bit of Sorceror’s offices with its staircases and platforms. Coincidence? 😉 Who’s slaying who?
RF: Earlier, Nick told Fay he intended to capture one of Magnus’ assistants to find out what was going on, but I don’t think he expected to meet up with Magnus himself this early in the game. Magnus getting knocked off his motorcycle is a rare instance of his not being in complete control; however, he quickly regroups after beating up Nick, escaping with the rest of his gang. Interestingly enough, Fay doesn’t appear at all perturbed at the sound of all those motorcycles outside, not even bothering to check what’s going on even though she knows Nick might be in danger. Side note: I’m not sure how much motorcycle riding Mr. Malahide did himself for this scene, but it’s extremely tricky to ride on layers of loose leaves, so kudos to him and the stuntmen for doing it so well.
Admin: It would be interesting to see how that shot was filmed. I’ve heard that Patrick Malahide did some of his own stunt work in this production, but I’m not sure how much.
Admin: Magnus rides off, but before he leaves he and Fay make eye contact. Hmmmmm. Oh, and Tom Darke (Nick’s financial advisor) is also hanging around (unseen) spying away. Tom has basically been running about throughout this episode trying to get finances and board meetings in order and also trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
RF: Definitely a look of some significance between Fay and Magnus, although we don’t yet know what it means. As for Tom Darke, he’s using Nick’s distraction as an opportunity to do some side deals of his own with a competing games magnate (an Avengers-type loon with so much money he stages his own medieval battle recreations as a hobby), so he’s not terribly reliable, either. Everyone’s out to get Nick! (Not that I mind. 😉 )
Admin: Episode two is very fast paced and I love all the Avengers / Prisoner type elements they worked into it. And, of course, most of all I love Magnus whose moments of eerie calm do much to illustrate what a determined and frightening adversary he is.
RF: “Eerie calm” is a good way to describe it; Mr. Malahide conveys a feeling of leashed intensity behind his soft-spokenness that just emphasizes what an unknown quantity Magnus is. And whatever it is that Nick did to him, we get the sense it had to have been something BIG. I also like the surrealness of the Avengers-type elements, which adds a note of off-kilter dark humour to the whole affair.
Admin: Also, the brief flashback moments are excellent. Mr. Malahide does a wonderful job in those silent moments of conveying a genial and loving Magnus who also loves to flaunt his superior intellect. But, he doesn’t do it an arrogant show-off way. He genuinely seems to love those he is “teaching”, so it is evident that he could also wind up feeling very, very betrayed should they ever turn on him.
RF: Yeah, the flashbacks give us a sense of what Magnus used to be like; definitely more genial, if still mysterious and enigmatic. Agreed that he’s not arrogant, although he does seem to enjoy outwitting and astounding people. He’s definitely outwitting Nick so far; it’s just that the stakes are much higher.