The Leftovers, S1E9 – The Garveys at their Best

Don’t be fooled by the modern interior of the Garvey home: what looks like an alternate version of the pilot is really the few hours before the Departure. It’s October 13, the day before. Laurie Garvey speaks and Jill is a happy teenager. Tommy, however, confronts his biological father and is arrested. That’s news – Kevin and Tommy aren’t father and son. This episode goes some way towards understanding the Garveys and others. It also answers the question of Where were you when…?

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In a nice twist, we learn that Laurie is a psychiatrist and has Patti as her first client this morning. Patti is afraid that something terrible is about to happen. Laurie is convinced it’s all about Patti’s abusive husband Neal, and she suggests that Patti dump her troubles in a paper bag with Neal’s name on it and put it on his front porch. Both things will happen.

But, to use Patti’s words, a bag of doo-doo won’t stop the world from ending. Something’s wrong. Kevin Garvey is after a deer that has wreaked havoc in a school room. (Note that the teacher is the woman with whom Nora Durst’s husband has an affair.) Chief of Police Garvey Sr wants to put the animal down, but his son convinces him that, for the moment, tranquilizer darts are the better solution.

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Nora Durst applies for the job of campaign manager for Councilwoman Warburton, who wants to become Mayor of Mapleton. Judging from that episode alone, you would think it’s normal American TV fare, if it wasn’t for the sense of foreboding that gets heightened by Patti’s confession. There is also some suspense in the expectation about when and how some of the minor characters will turn up. Gladys is breeding dogs and will maybe sell one to Laurie. Matt’s wife is still alive and well. Other than that, an hour-long episode for a Mapleton that has its standard problems and hails the Chief of Police for Man of the Year is barely enough.

There is the moment when Kevin Sr tells Junior that he should stop worrying – this is it, and it does not get any better or different. That’s exactly the opposite what Dad will tell Junior when he hands him the National Geographic.

Some of the scenes feel rushed in. Matt, for instance, comes out of the doctor’s examination room, tells his wife he does not have cancer and that he wants to get drunk, and maybe she should drive. Kevin Jr goes on his runs, but indulges a smoke and then a breath mint. He is dissatisfied with his marriage, but we never cleary understand why.

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It’s the last few minutes that blow this mediocre episode out of the water. It’s October 14, and we get to see the major characters in the very moment when the departure takes place. Tommy and Jill’s moment is weak and badly handled. Nora Durst has her back turned on her family and swears and curses because her son has spilt juice over her cellphone, and then the room is far too quiet. Kevin Jr has a fling with the woman who runs over the wayward deer, and while they roll around in the motel bed, she disappears from right under him. No wonder Kevin is confused and damaged.

Laurie Garvey’s moment is the strongest by far. She has guessed, maybe even feared, for some time that she is pregnant, but has kept it a secret. She is at her obstetrician’s when she sees the outlines of her kid on the ultrasound screen. It’s enough that we only see Laurie’s face. We hear the heartbeat. Then nothing.

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Episode nine is something of a near miss. Those characters that were able to thrive on strong writing kept on being interesting, but two of the weaker ones, Tommy and Jill, had such a weak scene that it feels like a missed opportunity to add something interesting to their storylines. The ending takes a risk: it could have been the season’s beginning or its ending, but it takes guts to place it at the end of the penultimate episode. There is one more episode to go, and I wonder what’s in store there. I expect we get to see the GR’s big event, and maybe Wayne will meet his fate. Let’s see.

If there’s one thing that the best of the Marvel movie adaptations have in spades, it’s personality. Compare the dour cinematic worlds of Batman and Superman to that of The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, and the latter are simply much more fan to hang out with. It’s also what Guardians gets most right: almost from the start, we have a cocky, enjoyable Han Solo-alike to take us into a world of wonders and CGI, and differently than in Lucas’ bloated prequel trilogy we look past the pixels and shader effects and see characters. Rocket Raccoon, that rarest of things – a fully realised CGI character not motion-captured by Andy Serkis! -, pretty much repeats that trick; another hero from the mold of Han Solo, though arguably shorter and more furry, and one that is cynical where Peter “Star-Lord” Quill is excited for pretty much everything. Add Groot, Gamora and Drax, and you’ve got yourself the quintessential Marvel team. Batman may have his cool toys and Michael Caine, but I know who I’d rather hang out with.

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There’s an element of laziness in the film, though. It is entertaining, it’s charming, but there’s a generic quality to Guardians‘ setup, which is the main reason why in spite of dancing baby Groot and “Hooked on a Feeling” The Avengers still works better for me. In Whedon’s movie, the characters don’t get along at the beginning but realise they need to form a messy, dysfunctional surrogate family to have a chance against the Big Bad; Guardians pretty much repeats this blow-by-blow. What it lacks, though, is strong motivations why Star-Lord’s motley crew are antagonistic to each other at the beginning. There are reasons, but they’re all underwritten and don’t really come from the characters: sure, Drax blames Gamora because she was working with the main villain when he killed Drax’ family, and Quill is seen simply as a paycheck by bounty hunters Rocket and Groot, but essentially the characters don’t get along at first because that’s what the plot structure needs. In comparison, the conflicts between the Avengers come from who the characters have been established to be: Tony Stark, arrogant millionaire playboy with a house full of toys won’t take orders from stick-in-the-mud WW2 relic Captain America, Thor is a god-of-sorts who isn’t all that into those teensy humans anyway, unless they look like Natalie Portman, and he’s mostly in it to get back at his brother Loki, and Bruce Banner thinks his life could be a hell of a lot better if people didn’t keep wanting the big green guy to come out and play. Oh, and that’s before we get to Nick Fury, who puts all of these in a room, barely united by their knowledge that Fury is not a man to trust.

The Avengers had charm too, but it did more heavy lifting to make sure that personality wasn’t the only thing it had going. Guardians has more, too, but it’s mostly of the “Ooh, look at that… shiny!” sort – arguably it takes us to visually more interesting places than Whedon’s first Marvel outing. But it’s a bit like the Cantina scene from Star Wars, two hours of weird creatures, exotic planets. It’s colourful and fun, and it works in a way that Batman’s Gotham hasn’t worked since the days of Tim Burton, when it really just worked intermittently.

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However, there’s definitely one thing that Gotham City has that Marvel’s stable of superheroes is still missing, and that’s strong villains. The Avengers works well enough because Tom Hiddleston brings tons of personality to the table, and it helps that he’s connected (semi-literally) to the quasi-family at the story’s centre. Otherwise, though? Thor 2‘s evil space elf, any of the Iron Man villains, or Red Skull from Captain America? Good actors wasted on boring, perfunctory character conflicts. The interesting conflicts in the Marvel films are those between the good guys, but as soon as they unite to beat up the Big Bad, the films turn into CGI setpieces to fill the remaining fifteen minutes, with little to differentiate between them other than the make-up on the villain. Lee Pace’s Ronan is no different; there may be potential in the character, but in the film we mainly see a replaceable bad guy. Similarly, his henchwoman Nebula looks otherworldly and cool and is played competently by Karen Gillan, but she’s not what people will remember. Guardians is all about “I am Groot!” and awesome mixtapes, about cocky outlaws and cynical raccoons, but practically all of the Marvel films could have done with a Penguin, a Lex Luthor or a Joker. Captain America 2 came the closest to introducing an interesting conflict into the proceedings – and one of the reasons why its villains worked better than Red Skull or Malekith, and why Loki is probably the best bad guy of the whole bunch, is that these are closely connected to our heroes.

With Joss Whedon’s influence hanging over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the writers may want to look at Whedon’s TV series and his Big Bads – both the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t. Usually it’s the ones that are, or were, or could be part of the family that worked best, as characters and as villains. Marvel has yet to do justice to their antagonists; they’ve got the actors, from Jeff Bridges to Christopher Eccleston, but they haven’t yet cracked the nut of conflict outside their bands of heroes. When they do, when their films have both personality and interesting conflicts that drive the stories? Then they might truly ring in an Age of Marvels. Hopefully one that still has a place for dancing baby tree creatures.

The Leftovers, S1E8 – Cairo

This episode is all about Patti. The screen lights up when Ann Dowd is in the frame, and everything else in Cairo takes a backseat. It starts with intercutting scenes of Kevin setting the table for a nice dinner, and Patti placing clothes on the floor of the otherwise empty church floor. We’re not told what her ritual means, but nothing good or simple can come from it. I thought that these were clothes from the raid, but let’s see.

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Kevin’s dinner is for Jill and Aimee, and with Nora as their guest. What should be a nice evening quickly turns into Jill’s inquisition about why Nora would carry a gun, but, oh surprise, Nora’s handbag is devoid of all firearms. There is also the plotline about Megan beating up Father Matt, then apologizing to him. He knows that Megan’s Mom died the day before the departure, so “her grief was hijacked.” Jill falls out with Aimee and breaks into Nora’s home and finds the gun, realizing that life probably won’t get any better, and Kevin finds his missing shirts hanging from the trees near a hut in the woods, but the real center this time is Patti.

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The evening ends with Garvey’s dream that turns out to be real. It’s morning, he is in the woods near Cairo, NY, with Dean awaiting his Kevin’s orders. Turns out that the dog in Kevin’s backyard is from a bet he made with Dean: if Kevin can civilize the dog, Dean gets a dollar, if not, Dean gets to shoot the animal. If you think this is bad, think about this: Patti is in a nearby hut, tied to a chair. This is real. This has happened, and it’s still happening. Kevin, as his evil alter ego, has beaten and abducted her, much to Dean’s delight, and to his own horror. The chief of police hides the leader of the Guilty Remnant in a cabin, against her will, and against his own will, too, if you can believe it.

It’s spellbinding how Patti seems to have a few tricks up her sleeve. Somehow, she’s still in charge because if he sets her free, she will report him to the real authorities: “You will have to finish what you started here, my friend.” She drives a wedge between Kevin and Dean and is so successful that Dean tries to suffocate her, but paradoxically, Kevin saves her life. Which makes Dean leave, disappointed in Kevin’s lack of decisive leadership.

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So now it’s only the abductor, Mapleton Chief of Police and undiagnosed schizophrenic Kevin Garvey Jr, and the abductee, Patti, leader of the Guilty Remnant, who is holding the upper hand, in a cabin in the woods. What a set-up. Patti has the right words for it: “It’s a pickle. Can’t let me go, won’t let me die.” Then she explains the philosophy of the GR: shed everything that’s unnecessary and focus on the vanishing, pure and simple. It’s beautiful and sickening at the same time, not least because it makes Garvey realize that the GR have killed Gladys. Which means that Laurie might have been part of the lynch mob as well. When Patti starts quoting from a W. B. Yeats poem, you know that things won’t end well. Kevin’s decision to cut Patti loose is somehow inevitable – there isn’t anything else he could have done.

But it’s Patti’s suicide that got to me. I never liked her – who would? But there was something to her that made me look and listen. Ann Down has a commanding presence. While watching, I was surprised, even somewhat overwhelmed by her death. Afterwards, I found it confusing: what does her death prove? How does it help the GR and their cause? Is everything prepared to an extent that even Patti doesn’t have to be there? What the frack have the GR planned?

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Megan and Laurie receive a trailer-load of something wrapped in plastic that the GR place in the church among the empty clothes. Those packets look too light to be bodies, but what the hell are they, and what are they for?

This episode had me glued to the screen as long as Patti was there. The rest was unspectacular, and Tommy and Christine were not greatly missed. Jill joining the GR did not have a great impact because Jill is simply underwritten and badly cast. I am eager to learn what Kevin will do in his large, empty house now that Jill and Aimee have gone and even the dog has been cut loose and vanished in the night. Maybe his episodes will increase. But most of all, the series will have to make up for losing Ann Down. We’ll see.

 

Serial captivity

One of my favourite films, and most definitely one of my favourite cinematic comfort foods, is John Sturges’ 1963 POW classic, The Great Escape. It’s one of the films I remember watching with the rest of my family at an early age, and one of the few that (at least in my increasingly unreliable memory) we all enjoyed. There’s something about the methodical heroics of the prisoners working on an escape plan, in a situation where passivity means safety but also surrender, that still very much appeals to me.

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Could such a story work in a weekly format? That was my main question when a while ago I got the ’70s BBC series Colditz as a present. Wouldn’t it get boring to watch the same characters trying to escape in more or less ingenious ways, knowing that most of them would have to end up where they started off, prisoners of the Wehrmacht or the Luftwaffe?

Colditz is dated in a number of ways: much of it has that flat, badly lit look that BBC drama of the time had. The acting, while generally good, is also very much recognisable as the sort of acting TV drama had at the time. There are none of the action setpieces that The Great Escape had. In short, I didn’t get started on the series with particularly high expectations, in part exactly because of my liking for Sturges’ film.

What I didn’t expect was that these apparent limitations of the series were also some of its greatest strengths. The Great Escape is an exciting movie, but it’s very much an action movie. There is drama in the film, and it’s effective too, but it’s designed as escapism (no pun intended). The grind of being behind bars day in, day out is depicted, but a series is better at doing justice to the repetition, the routine and even monotony that comes with the situation.

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Colditz‘ strengths go beyond this, though. It forgoes many of the clichés; its Germans aren’t Nazi bogeymen, they’re permitted to be three-dimensional characters with actual personalities. The English characters, too, grow beyond their first impression – and as much as I like The Great Escape, the film works with archetypes and charming performances rather than with nuanced characterisation. The writers draw interesting ideas and situations out of a very limited premise. Could Colditz have remained interesting for more than two seasons and two dozen episodes? Perhaps not, but for its run it remained engaging, and it definitely left me wanting more. About ten years ago there was a remake, reboot or whatever re- is the rage these days, but I don’t see what could be substantially improved about the series. For all its ’70s BBC lighting and what may seem like slightly wooden acting these days, Colditz has stood the test of time and stands up well – as well as Dickie Attenborough, Gordon Jackson and Steve McQueen digging their way out of Stalag Luft III.

P.S.: It seems that this YouTube channel has all the episodes available. I don’t know about the legality of this, but they’ve been online for a year, so it seems the BBC is okay with this. The individual episodes are mostly stand-alones, and I can very much recommend “Tweedledum”, one of the strongest in the first season.

Hooray for Whatshisface!

There are the stars, the big names, the recognisable faces, the Brads and Georges and Scarletts. Then there are those actors who may not be gorgeous and glamorous but who are great actors and win awards. And then there are those actors whose faces you recognise, whose names you may not remember immediately but seeing them always makes you like a film that little bit more, because it’s got Whatshisface and Whatshername in it. Unless, of course, you are a film geek and sigh contentedly whenever you see good old Whatshisface, mouthing the man’s IMDB link to yourself.

One of the actors that I always enjoy seeing, even in middling and even decidedly dodgy films, is Richard Jenkins. He is probably what is called a “character actor”, which more often than not seems to translate into “We want to say something nice about this guy but he’s not a hunk nor is he a tortured genius.” He can be utterly amazing, as in The Visitor, a film that could have been unbearable Oscar bait but ended up subtle, poignant and quietly devastating, an achievement that was in no small part due to Jenkins’ performance.

However, as good as the actor was in The Visitor, it’s Six Feet Under that best encapsulates why I love Jenkins. He’s good at playing dignified, often melancholy and sometimes stodgy everymen, but when given the chance to let loose he has a goofy, subversive energy, a Coenesque quality that is unmatched. (He’s been in three of the Coen brothers’ films, but what I best remember him for is his turn in The Man Who Wasn’t There: “Riedenschneider!”)

Jenkins has the face of a slightly disappointed man exhausted by life, but he has that gift of pulling off quirkiness without that precocious, grating quality that indie quirk often takes on. There’s a scene in the first season of Six Feet Under, where main character Nate finds out that his deceased father Nathanael Fisher Sr., undertaker and proprietor of Fisher & Sons, had a secret room above an Indian restaurant that no one in his family knew about. As Nate imagines what his father may have got up to in this room, we see several scenarios: Nate Senior playing solitaire, Nate Senior shaking his booty to a groovy record, Nate Senior having it off with a hooker, Nate Senior shooting at passers-by with a sniper rifle. It’s a tricky scene, and I can’t imagine anyone other than Jenkins pulling it off as he does, deadpan and perfect.

The AV Club, as so often, has a fun and informative interview with Jenkins in their “Random Roles” series – well worth checking out for anyone who finds themselves to be quite a fan of Late Nate.

The Leftovers, S1E7 – Solace for tired Feet

The US has shown the last episode of S1 a few days ago, while the UK has just aired the pilot. While it’s not the hottest thing on TV, this series gets decent ratings. That is as it should be. To dislike it because Lost had its serious flaws is just moronic – Leftovers is its own thing. With only one true stinker (episode 4), things seem to look up now.

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This is a complex and mostly worthwhile ensemble episode. It’s heavy on plot, but doesn’t fall apart. The editing is a maze, but the people in the cutting room knew what they were doing. It took me a second to understand the beginning: Someone is plastering the walls of Mapleton with Gladys posters featuring the slogan “Save Them.” Which seems to mean “kill them”. Disgusting. Are those the same guys who killed Gladys?

There is a fridge in the woods in which a certain Paul Glouski departed during a prank. Now Jill and Aimee and their gang use it as a dare: whoever can stay in there the longest wins. Jill breaks the record and almost faints, but is saved from suffocation by her grandfather, Kevin Garvey Sr, who must have escaped the psych ward. Turns out he checked in there after burning down the town library. Now he seems to be harder to find than the B.J.

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Aah, Scott Glenn. Remember him as Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs? Or as the priest in The Virgin Suicides? He makes even crap like Vertical Limit shine.

Tommy has to take care of a feverish, pregnant Christine. She mutters something about a bridge, which is either too ominous or not ominous enough, I don’t know which. That scene is greatly improved by Wayne’s phone call, but the great cult leader has no great plan, no revelation. Wayne just needs money. And he is still convinced that great things are afoot. Maybe they will involve a bridge.

Nora and Garvey are on their fourth date and are finally ready to fornicate, but find Megan and another GR in front of Nora’s house. Garvey threatens them verbally, but Nora has a better idea. I like the rapport they have with each other: “I don’t know how to talk to you yet.” Amidst all this crazyness of lost ones and wild dogs and cults, they approach each other carefully, timidly.

Back home, Garvey answers Jill’s questions about Grandpa and lets slip that she has seen him, and now his son has to catch him. First port of call is the Mayor, who has dumped the crazy old geezer. Then we see Garvey segue into a dream, and again, Dean wants Garvey to kill a dog – this time, the animal is trapped in a mailbox, and there is a dead Laurie in the back of Dean’s truck. Garvey just cannot shoot the dog this time. He wakes with a bite wound on his hand and a ferocious dog in the backyard. Aimee seems to know what has happened during the night even if Garvey doesn’t. Spooky stuff.

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Garvey has to investigate the library his dad broke into – again. He beat up a deputy, used the library computer and wanted to borrow 200 dollars to get something for his son. Pop quiz: who do you think is more sane at this point – Garvey Sr or Garvey Jr?

Tommy delivers the money to a designated mailbox, but waits to see who will pick it up. Meanwhile, Grandpa turns up at the Garveys’, but only Jill is home. Ske asks why he knew that she was trapped in a fridge in the woods. He says he didn’t know. He wants to borrow 200 dollars and asks for tranquilizers for the dog, but Garvey, alerted by Jill, comes home. The scene where he handcuffs himself with that old routine is strangely touching because it’s right and wrong at the same time.

In the police car, the Garveys run into a silent GR protest against the killing of Gladys, and Grandpa gets out of the car and escapes. Garvey knocks down some protesters during his pursuit, Patti among them, and is stared down by her and Meg and, of course, Laurie.

Meanwhile, Tommy sees a stranger take the 3’000 dollars and follows him, and he discovers another very young, very pregnant woman of Asian background called Liane and her protector. How many unique special pregnant girls does an abusive cult leader need? What is his plan?

Back at the Garveys’, Aimee wants to talk about what Kevin remembers about the night they got the dog. He refuses to discuss this and goes to the backyard to feed the dog only to find out that someone has dug up the jar with the money. Remember that jar? Father Jamison dug it up, and now we get to see that it is empty except for a leaflet about a corrupt judge and a note from Grandpa that Jamison deserves that money. Which prompts Garvey to see the holy man.

There are people at Matt’s, printing posters of Gladys. So it’s them, and their plea to save the GR has a spiritual background, not a cynical one. Matt isn’t there, but Garvey finds out that he is out there somewhere with Garvey Sr.

Liane’s minder tries to bond with Tommy over a coupla lines of coke and reminiscing about the night of the raid, when Liane charges into the room with a gun, trying to make Tommy lead her to Christine, then she breaks down and tells Tommy that Wayne is some kind of bridge.

Then there is a meeting in a diner of father and son. Senior brings him a National Gegraphic mag from May 1972 which is supposed to be crucial, some kind of message. This, Dad says, is Kevin’s invitation, his purpose, his mission. Junior dismisses it all as humbug because of his daddy issues. Well – if your dad hears voices, how would you react? And thus ends Grandpa’s day out.

A disillusioned Garvey goes and does what any man would do in order to anchor his life in the here and now: he goes and has wonderful sex with Nora. That doesn’t seem to faze Laurie too much, and for once, chief Garvey is cheerful in the morning – until he sees the National Geographic on his kitchen counter.

The Leftovers 1x07 – Solace for Tired Feet

Meanwhile and somewhere else, Tommy gets another phone call from Wayne the Bridge, but decides to smash the phone. That is very sane and very dangerous. Back at their hideout, Christine has given birth on her own. It’s a girl. But of course.

Livin’ La Vida Kickstarter

How long has it been since Kickstarter exploded onto the scene? My first pledged project was about 2 1/2 years ago, but there have been so many since. Some were successful, some weren’t; some have produced a film or a game and some are still running. Sometimes the results were mixed, but by and large I’m in the happy position of being able to say: I have contributed, in some small way, to the existence of a number of works that otherwise wouldn’t exist – and that’s a cool thing to be able to say.

I don’t want to overstate the effect my contributions have had; I didn’t tip the scales for any of the projects I pledged to, I was usually one of many thousands. Yes, a handful of the projects I supported were touch and go, but I’m still one of many. Nevertheless, for all the collectivist benefits of Kickstarter, with each of the successfully completed projects I got my hands on – whether the result was a movie or a game – I did get a frisson of “I did this!”, or perhaps rather “I was a patron to this!” In my very small way, I’ve been a mini-Pope Julius II to, say, the Veronica Mars movie or Wasteland 2.

And let me tell you: patronage is addictive. I’ve reduced but not kicked (no pun intended) my Kickstarting habit, but during the first year or so my patronage muscle was twitchy as hell. I don’t regret any of the pledges I’ve made – or, more accurately, I may not have been entirely satisfied with all of the resulting works, but I was still happy having pledged to begin with. Knowing that a group of artists with an idea that probably wouldn’t have survived the cold, hard realities of the free market were able to work on a project close to their hearts? That’s worth a lot – definitely more than putting money into the latest highly polished, much advertised but essentially generic triple-A hit. Put it this way: if you could do your bit to make Kristen Bell happier, what would that be worth to you? (As I said: Kickstarter is addictive – and most addictions aren’t necessarily altogether healthy.)

That closer emotional engagement has its flipside, though: if something I’m invested in turns out not to meet my expectations, it’s difficult not to take that personally. A couple of months ago, Divinity: Original Sin, a role-playing game I’d Kickstarted, came out to roundly enthusiastic reviews, and my endorphin levels went up with every piece of critical acclaim that I saw… until I played the game. Don’t get me wrong: Divinity: Original Sin, regardless of its silly title, is a good game and a typical case of something that simply might not exist in this form without Kickstarter. Whatever would be different if they’d made the game with the support of a traditional publisher wouldn’t address my issues with it. But I supported the project predicated on certain promises that I interpreted one way but that were meant another way. I don’t feel like the developers, Larian, lied to me – but it does feel more deflating to follow a project, read the update posts, religiously watch every behind-the-scenes video, and then check out the end result to find that my expectations were… inaccurate? Misguided? A bit naive?

Patronage doesn’t give me the right to expect a result that pleases me in every way possible. It’d be wrong to think that Larian was at fault for creating a game that meets their expectations but veers away somewhat from mine. I’m still glad I supported the project, out of principle, because more artists and craftspeople should be free to create things that risk-averse publishers wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But what I’ve learnt is this: Kickstart at your own peril, and manage your own expectations. In some ways I’m probably more disappointed with Divinity than with the handful of projects that reached their pledge goal but then failed in development, because the project lead had miscalculated or because the team consisted of one passionate person who fell ill and could no longer afford working on that particular dream. In the end, what’s more important to me: doing my small part to enable an artist to follow their vision, or wanting them to follow m*, even though the latter is vague even to me? (“I know it when I see it” doesn’t make for very stringent design or criticism.) Based on my Kickstarter experiences to date, I shall have to accept that a feeling of ownership is not the same thing as actually owning something. I support the Kickstarter projects, but they’re not mine. If I’m lucky – and that luck can be helped along by using my brains as much as my gut to decide what to back – I may like or even love the end result, but patronage doesn’t entitle you to liking the end result. Who knows, perhaps Julius the Second looked at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and thought: “If Eve ends up with cow-eyed Adam instead of that hunky David guy, the whole thing sucks. Team David all the way!” If he did, I hope he had the good sense to keep quiet about it.