Episode 228: That’s Some Kings Quest 2 Level Detective Work

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, John Perich, Jordan Stokes and Matthew Wrather overthink Skyfall, the latest entry in the James Bond francise, focusing on the place of bond—and the British empire—in the modern world, on the latent homoeroticism of all Bond villains, and on Javier Bardem’s luminescent dye job glowing in the loamy Scottish dusk.

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20 Comments on “Episode 228: That’s Some Kings Quest 2 Level Detective Work”

  1. Gazs #

    I can’t believe you guys didn’t think about the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge interpretation of the story: The reason it’s so different (and, I think, a lot worse) than previous Bond movies is that everything after the main title happens in Bond’s head as he’s dying underwater. I’m not sure yet what it says about Bond’s subconscious that it’s half an Archer story and half a Home Alone in Wayne manor story…

    My favorite deconstruction of what it means to be Bond comes from the in-canon Everything or Nothing game, where You Are (Brosnan-era) James Bond, with everything that that entails: you are given the guns, the gadgets, the cars, dropped in an exotic locale and given some objectives that you should do as quickly and with as little killing as possible. Of course, you, the player — as would Brosnan’s Bond quickly get jaded of sneaking around stealthily and soon begin to hunt for special 007-moments hidden around each level: things you can spectacularly blow up, try to pick up chicks, etc. You pay just as much attention to the storyline that unfolds between the levels as would Bond: ie not at all, wanting to hurry back into the field as fast as possible to find new stuff to check off from your bucket list…

     
  2. yellojkt #

    I cannot wait for the OTI inspired trailer recut of the Home Alone/Skyfall movies set to the Adele song.

    I haven’t listened to the entire podcast yet but I wonder if you touch upon the cringing stereotype of the lisping homosexual supervillain. At least we get Bond to admit to some heteroflexibility, if only to put off his anal rape for a few minutes.

     
  3. John Perich #

    One thing I didn’t address on the podcast is that Skyfall does a better job of bringing back plot elements later in the film. There’s a resonance of “the old ways are the best” that involves knives in Act One, at the beginning of Act Three, and of course in the climax. This even permeates down to micro-callbacks within an Act (“so that’s why Double-0s have to be able to do pull-ups!”).

    In a typical Bond film we see this with gadgets – if Q hands Bond an exploding pen in the first act, we know it will go off by the third – but not much else.

     
    • LeighH #

      Chekov’s upper body strength?

       
  4. yellojkt #

    The Rule of Chekhov’s Gun is lavishly adhered to in all Bond films, literally in this case. Once the pistol with the palmprinted grip is used it is discard as it no longer has any plot value.

    This feature was once envisioned as a mandatory requirement for firearms by some anti-gun advocates (the semantics of nomenclature when discussing positions concerning 2nd Amendment rights are just as disingenuous and confusing as those for reproductive rights) as a way of allowing gun sales to proceed but to maintain trackability of arms used in crimes. The concept was totally unworkable at any level. But nice to see it used as a semi-plausible technology in the near-realistic world of the Craig Daniels’s Bondiverse.

     
  5. Lee #

    Kudos to James Bond for joining the elite pantheon of movie characters who manage to rhyme the word “Beretta” with a word that ends in “-er.”

    The other is, of course, R. Kelly’s Sylvester in Trapped in the Closet.

     
  6. Pasteur #

    One of the most interesting things in Skyfall to me is how the movie shows the weight of human lives. The two best examples are the security guards the sniper kills before he gets in the elevator, and his actual target. James is completely able to stop any of those three deaths, at the price of losing some information (who the target would be, what methods would be used, that there was a sniping going on at all, how the people in the room react to the shooting, and more). And he doesn’t. For the guard on the ground floor, the sound effect of the silencer is heightened over the background score as Bond watches. For the second guard, the camera pans over the still-bleeding body, and Bond deliberates for not even a moment before moving on, using the corpse as a confirmation that he’s on the right trail.

    This may be what separates a detective from a spy from a superhero. A detective might follow the sniper, unable to apprehend him during his ascent or prevent any of these deaths. A superhero would attempt to stop him on the ground floor, before any of the other deaths could occur. But a spy, while able, is not willing (though not without reason.)

    This all fits very internally-consistently, reinforcing the plot and character of Bond and MI6. But it also points potentially to a larger theme, that just like information, not all lives are equally valuable. A train full of passengers crashes through the tunnel, and rather than help evacuate or aid the potentially wounded, Bond rushes to go save (or protect) M. This again is well-wrought characterization, but should we question whether it is the right thing to do? In this new age of warfare, are some individuals (or some pieces of information) worth any number of other lives?

    To cap that question off is the tradeoff that M made to set up the events of the film to begin with. She was given the opportunity to get six (eight?) other agents back in exchange for abandoning Bardem, and she took it. This is an obvious mirror of her calling the shot on top of the train to save the identities (lives) of the undercover agents… so what should we take from this? Is anyone sacred, worth more than the lives of others, or are we all expendable, not just for lives but even just for information, when the right time comes along?

     
  7. yellojkt #

    Pasteur makes interesting points. The opening sequence has Bond trying to save a life but being over-ruled by M. She is one cruel and calculating ruthless bastard/bitch. However, the value of supervillain minions is still zero. It’s the movie job with less long-term longevity than being the black guy investigating a mysterious sound.

     
  8. Howard #

    *hasn’t seen the movie, or listened to the podcast*

    Spoilers for Skyfall? Or are you doing it Filmspotting-style?

     
    • babybiceps #

      blanket spoiler alert for Skyyfall. Listener beware.
      And I suppose this will count for the comments as well.

       
  9. babybiceps #

    Interesting discussion, as always.

    Just pitching in on the make-shift booby trapping of the Scottish estate: The shotgun shells under the floorboard gave me an echo of the traps Jigsaw placed to keep those nosey SWAT officers out of his lair.

    Also, getting yourself captured by your enemies in order to escape and then wreak havoc from within is something I’ve seen too many times in a short period now. They should make a rule.

    Last tidbit: I understood Julian Assange as Julian Sands (a real blonde!), who once did a villain arc on 24.

     
    • Lee #

      “Also, getting yourself captured by your enemies in order to escape and then wreak havoc from within is something I’ve seen too many times in a short period now.”

      I had the same thought. “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight” are two obvious recent high-profile examples, and I’m sure there are more. Can we catalog some of them?

       
      • babybiceps #

        Moriarty does it in the Cumberbatch Sherlock series.

         
        • Timothy J Swann #

          Rorschach does it in Watchmen – ‘you’re locked in here with ME.’

           
          • Lee #

            Well, he says that once he’s in prison, but I don’t think he went there intentionally. He was arrested after a legit attempt to avoid the police, IIRC.

             
          • Timothy J Swann #

            Hmm, clearly I’ve forgotten some of the key details. What he does to the prisoners sticks in the mind somewhat more clearly, I suppose.

             
          • fenzel #

            Rorschach definitely doesn’t get caught intentionally in Watchmen. He repeatedly chastizes himself for being stupid during the Fearful Symmetry chapter where he fights the cops in the burning apartment building.

            And his “you’re locked in here with ME” line seems to me to be psychological — that people who become violent because of emotional scarring and trauma (which is in turn caused by a rotten society that doesn’t care about helping people in trouble) repeat their abuse, either by constantly being abused or constantly abusing someone else. And the people who come after Rorschach see themselves as the abusive parent and him as the abused child, when really they are the terrorized victims of abuse themselves, and Rorschach is the face of their trauma come to finish the job.

             
      • babybiceps #

        Law Abiding Citizen might apply.

         
    • yellojkt #

      You would think MI6 would be more careful with their captured villains after what Loki did to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying aircraft carrier.

       
  10. Matthew Belinkie #

    I’m actually watching Die Another Day right now, and there are some interesting parallels to Skyfall. At one point M relieves Bond of duty. When she invites him back later, he sulks a little, and she snaps, “Did you expect an apology?” It’s almost the same exchange as Skyfall. Special bonus: MI6 has a secret base in an abandoned subway station.