Tag Archives: Autism/Asperger’s on TV

Jogi Week without the Jogi/TV Shows you expect to hate but don’t

Well as far as ways go to start the weekend this officially sucks, Jogi week hasn’t even started and it’s already ruined because he is not going to be there. I always hate the season ending but this time I didn’t mind so much, not because I had a tournament to look forward to (and thus plenty of Jogi watching guaranteed) but training camp in Venlo is good second best. At least it would have been. And for once I was the last to know, which is just typical. Yesterday just had to be the day I was behind the curve news wise.  I can’t believe that my mother decided this was something I didn’t need to be woken for, that she waited seven hours to tell me. Still at least she did risk my wrath and tell me, and not let me find out from the news.

It doesn’t completely ruin my plans for next week, I can still do almost everything that I planned. And Matze will be there, so that’s something. It doesn’t however solve the dilemma I have, namely what to title the posts and videos from the match itself. For the game Jogi was banished (because of his sending off and behaviour during the Austria game) in Euro 2008 Hansi took the helm, and I put both their names in the video title, but only Jogi’s name in the post. But that was different, Jogi was at the game and there are pictures of him, hence keeping the title the same. Now it’s different, if Hansi were there it would be much simpler. I would happily put his name in the title. With Marcus it’s different, I like him but he’s not Hansi. Still it could be worse, at least it’s Marcus taking the helm and not Schneider.

In the post-season lull whilst I’ve been waiting for the international break I’ve been watching a lot of TV, and I’ve started watching a show I said I’d never watch, The Good Doctor. I’ve seen one episode of it previously, the one where the patient is autistic (and he’s played by an autistic actor) and the parents don’t want Shaun operating on their son. That was enough for me, or so I thought. I don’t know why I started watching it, curiosity and a lot of free time I guess. Either way I don’t hate it quite as much as I expected. I like Richard Schiff in it, but I knew that would happen. I don’t love Dr Glassmann as much as I loved Toby in the West Wing of course, but I like him.

There are plenty of things I hate about the show, plenty of things I hated in the first episode actually, not least the constant description of autism as a “mental disorder.” For fuck’s sake they work in a hospital and they don’t know autism is a DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER. And they way they debated over whether or not hiring an autistic doctor or not is acceptable was simply disgusting. In that later episode with the parents of the autistic child who don’t like Shaun, all I could think was would you let a patient refuse a perfectly qualified surgeon because they were uncomfortable with them being a woman, black, Jewish or a wheelchair user?

Even so I like Shaun, and whilst I do hate the fact the show reinforces lots of stereotypes I can’t deny I can relate to him, so they must be doing something right. The scene where Shaun flips out over losing his screwdriver and calls Dr Glassmann is just so typically autistic it’s funny. Funny because I knew how Shaun was going to react when Dr Glassmann said he could just buy a new one. He flipped out, and I would have too, Because you don’t want a replacement, only the original is good enough and you can’t accept anything less. It’s also funny because that’s happened to me many a time, both losing something and flipping out because I can’t find it and finding it in a real stupid place.

Some of it however is painful to watch, not because it’s bad, rather because it hits too close to home. Like when Shaun doesn’t want to accept any help from a stranger and refuses to meet the therapist. I understand how he feels about that, deep down he knows he needs help but doesn’t want it from someone new, that he doesn’t know or trust. It’s so frustrating when someone tells you that you can say no, yet when you do they don’t listen, been there too. Dr Glassmann didn’t know it then but he had overstepped his mark. He should have realised that at the point he said he had tried and failed to talk to Shaun and to bribe him. You can’t and don’t bribe a fully competent adult to do anything, and despite his difficulties and vulnerabilties that’s what Shaun is. You can’t tell an autistic (or otherwise disabled adult) that they have the right to make their own decisions, and then go and override any decision they try to make.

Despite all the things I find frustrating about the show I can’t stop watching, Yet every episode I watch I can’t stop thinking about the fact it perpuates a very annoying stereotype, namely the fact that every so called high functioning autistic person has a super high IQ and is an excellent visual thinker. Now those are some myths that need to die a long overdue death, but I don’t think they’re going anywhere if the ignorance I’ve encountered on the internet is anything to go by. That said I do like the fact that the show makes it clear Shaun is both able and disabled, I like the fact he’s for lack of a better way to put it “visibly autistic.” That’s important because in real life people make the assumption that if a person is visibly autistic in the way Shaun is that they are learning disabled, usually non-verbal and can’t live independently, let alone be a doctor. Same as I like the fact Shaun visibly struggles to answer questions and communicate verbally, but can express himself just fine once he’s started speaking. I’m sick of autistic characters who are hyper verbal, have perfect speech and use that voice to lecture other characters at length – like Sherlock for example. I know some autistic people do sound that way, but the way the media portrays autism it’s like autistic people are either hyper verbal or non-verbal. And they don’t seem to understand that a lack of speech doesn’t mean a lack of intelligence, which unfortunately is something that society can’t quite grasp either.

Advent Calendar Day 5: German Night in Paris

I guess today isn’t that bad a day seeing as how I came up with a title without even trying, though that isn’t the title I originally came up with. I got Sami Khedira’s sticker today and the phrase that immediately popped into my head was “Italian night in Paris” because Khedira plays for Juventus and Bayern played PSG tonight. It’s a variation of a phrase from Inglorious Basterds, the name of the third chapter in the film. I don’t want to say it’s a good day because I don’t want to be that arrogant, not before Friday is over and done with. But as much as I liked the phrase I couldn’t misquote one of my favourite films and then I realised that actually the original correct version fit better anyway in an ironic sort of way, seeing as how Bayern were playing host to PSG. They may have been playing in Munich but it was for Bayern most definitely German night in Paris tonight. Because they only scored three goals and conceded one they didn’t win the group (but then only a real optimist could have expected them to) but they did at least retain their honor after the humiliating defeat in Paris which saw Carlo Ancoletti sacked as a result. I feel bad for Julian Draxler but rooting for his team was not an option, not tonight.

As for the rest of the day I can’t really say it went well because I don’t really remember most of it, and that includes the appointment. I have a feeling I ranted quite a lot but then that isn’t really news. I only got two hours sleep last night which was rather stupid of me and is no doubt why I felt the need to take a nap before watching Bayern’s game tonight. Not something I usually do but I’m glad I did, I felt surprisingly rested afterwards which isn’t something I’m used to. I’m sure I could find something to rant about but I don’t particularly want to. Not least because today I got a Jogi video, so I’d kind of like to leave that untainted.

Joachim Löw – Bild video 05/12/17

One subject I could rant about is the second series of that stupid TV show The A Word but I won’t do so here for two reasons. First because I think it’s going to need a post of it’s own and secondly for the aforementioned reason. All I will say is this, I am very glad that child is fictional and doesn’t have to grow up with parents and a family like that in real life. Ok I lied, two things. I read the description for next week’s episode. There’s some kind of play at the boy’s old school and it brings his family all together and they all get to see what they mean to him. I am so sick of TV shows and films using autistic characters to “bring the normal people together and make them realise what they have in life.” I’m even more sick of parents of autistic children needing to be shown “just how much we mean to him.” It’s infuriating, the constant implication that we don’t love people or don’t care about them, just because  maybe we don’t show it in the way they expect. I used to be so against the idea of a community comprised entirely of autistic people, these days I’m not so sure. It kind of sounds like a good idea. Maybe then I would have listen to a bunch of normal people who know nothing about autism tell me all about it and what it means. And I just broke my promise, that’s a rant. I guess I’ll have to stop writing there before I taint Jogi’s video even more.

The A Word: The Autism is Silent

The original title I had was “The A is Silent” which was a fun reference to Django but I wasn’t sure if it was clear enough. So I went with the above instead. Either way the point is the same. The A Word claims to be about autism but it’s not really. It’s not informative as it claims to be either. I didn’t expect the last few episodes to be a significant improvement on the first few. In retrospect I should have expected it’s cringe worthy ending. There were plenty of enraging moments in the first few episodes, so many in fact I was starting to think the A should stand for anger rather than autism. But with the last episode they really outdid themselves and not in a good way. I should have seen they were gearing up to some kind of big cheesy reveal which is what they did.

The whole thing makes no sense whatsoever, they’re content to let Joe wander off each morning walking on the road but they freak out when he actually wanders off. Why in the hell would they let him wander like that in the morning anyway, you wouldn’t let a NT child wander off let alone one who probably has little sense of stranger danger and road safety. It just makes no sense whatsoever but then little about the show does. Like the fact we’re supposed to believe all this happened in just over a month. The final diagnostic appointment, the speech therapy assessment, the school fiasco and all the rest of it. For one thing it’s unbelievable they’d get seen that soon.

There was nothing good about it, the scenes where they were talking about what to tell the police made me want to throw up and to punch all of them. Even his sister who seemed to be the most level headed of them in regards to the diagnosis was being an idiot. Talking about how if you tell everyone then he’ll be the village freak forever. They don’t seem to get it, people will know he’s different whether you tell them he’s autistic or not. As for being the village freak I think you’ll find you don’t need to have a disability for that to be true. It’s ironic really because I think the sister has more chance of being the resident freak than her brother. As do the whole family. The idea they’re talking about what’s normal and what isn’t when they’re all so screwed up is quite insulting really.

The fact they even had that conversation is disgusting, if had something like asthma, diabetes or epilepsy would they be debating whether or not to tell the police? His safety was at risk and all they could think about was how it would look to other people. When all is said and done none of them are sympathetic characters. But then I lost any sense of sympathy I might have been able to have for the mother after the third episode. In that episode Joe was sick and because of it he was acting differently. Or as his mother likes to think she got to see the real him. She just doesn’t get it, there is no real Joe. There isn’t a normal little boy there being hidden by the big bad autism, there’s just Joe. And if she just spent five minutes trying to understand him rather than obsessing over whether he looks normal or not and how fix him then she might get to know him a little better. Part of the reason she’s so distant from him is because she can’t accept him the way he is.

In the final episode the show raises the issue of acceptance and awareness of disability in general. One point it makes clear is that Joe’s family aren’t alone in their ignorance. The attitude of the local police officer is nothing short of appalling and his comments about Ralph even more so. Even worse is the way Joe’s grandfather and mother responded to it, the latter in particular. After having a go at her father she then proceeds to go and interrogate Ralph. She’s such a hypocrite and she can’t even see it. She wants people to accept her son yet it’s ok for her to treat someone else’s son that way. In a few years it could be her son faced with such a situation yet that doesn’t seem to occur to her.

The idea didn’t bug me, him acting differently because he was sick. I’m familiar with the such a thing happening. At least it’s not complete fantasy like the rest of the show. What bothered me is his mother’s reaction. They were looking at photos and Joe actually engaged with them, he asked questions and shared some of his own thoughts. Commenting on his empathy and the way he engaged with the photos his mother said “He’s not meant to be able to do that.” And there it is, just in case I didn’t hate her enough already there’s the line which completely killed dead any sympathy I could have for her. Whoever said that, that he’s not meant to be able to do that. Hasn’t that myth been debunked already. Besides how would you know what’s capable of, you have no idea what’s going on his head.

Which is the main problem with the show, not once does it attempt to show or consider what’s going on in his head. The audience is left completely uninformed about his point of view. Save for that final shot where he seems to be talking directly to the camera. And that I really hated, the line is obviously supposed to be meaningful, about loneliness being too much to bear. It’s just perpetuating the stereotype of autistic people being locked in their own world and how they need the nice NTs to help them out of it. I’m just glad Joe’s fictional and he doesn’t really have to grow up with that family. The one attempt at giving some insight into his perspective comes from the sister in law, the GP who picked up straight away there was something different about him. When they’ve got him back home she points out they’ve all been talking about Joe running away when they have no idea what he’s thinking, they’re imposing their narrative upon him. Which is just about the only good point the show made over the six episodes. Because it’s what gets done to autistic people all the time. People assuming because you’re by yourself that you’re lonely, that you don’t join in because you can’t. To be fair they aren’t exactly wrong, I really didn’t have the social skills to but that’s beside the point, I really didn’t want to. Time and time again you see autistic people being cajoled into social groups and other such things, without anyone ever stopping to ask do you actually want to socialise. They just assume you’re lonely because you’re alone, because they would be.

The most bothersome aspect of all this is that people who know nothing of autism are watching this and now thinking they know what it’s all about. Wrongly thinking that it’s not so difficult to deal with, that the diagnosis process is easy,  that help such as speech therapy is easily accessible and worst of all is the impression the show gives that autism is something which occurs in dysfunctional families. It’s not something they state outright but the implication is there. Just in case autistic people and their families don’t have enough ignorance to combat and deal with.

Faraway

Reality is very faraway right now, I would say I’m back to living in my own little world but I’m not sure I ever really left. I know what I’ll get told, that you can’t run away from your problems forever. Well I’m not running away, consider this a tactical retreat. I’m not running away, just admitting that I don’t have the resources to deal with anything right now. For the past week I’ve been obsessing over one simple e-mail. I still have no idea what to say. I don’t have any words that aren’t special interest related at the moment. Maybe I should just tell them the truth. That I have no clue what to say and I’m having trouble dealing with anything right now. At the same time I don’t want to reply, because if I do that then there’ll be another e-mail to obsess over. Football is much easier to deal with that’s for sure. Numbers, points, goal difference and all the rest of it. Not that everything can be explained in football, there’s always room for the unexpected. It’s what makes it fun after all. But then I don’t have to explain any of it.

At least football wise everything is going fine, well more or less anyway. Freiburg did beat Greuther Fürth on Monday night and as promised it was a very entertaining game, though the result was not one Christian Streich is happy with. He knows that they were lucky to win and they can’t afford to play that way against St Pauli on Sunday. On a similar note Bayern will be similarly unhappy with their performance against Benfica last night. They take a 1-0 lead to Portugal and they are lucky to have that.

It’s somewhat ironic that today’s word is faraway, it’s very fitting because last night’s episode of The A Word was very faraway from reality indeed. Raising awareness of autism indeed, more like spreading misinformation and traveling back in time. They’re not too subtly hinting at the boy’s autism being his mother’s fault and the family’s in general. That the only reason he doesn’t talk is because his family talks too much. It’s funny, in real life parents of autistic children sometimes get told it’s because they don’t interact with their children enough and now they’re saying the opposite. Either way they seem to enjoy twisting things round to make it the parents fault. It’s realistic in one way, but not the way they intended. It’s realistic in the sense that professionals really are that useless and yes they do spend more time blaming parents than actually doing anything to help the child in question. His mother is completely unsympathetic as a character and a human being. The show fails on all counts to me, not just in regards to the autism aspects but as a drama too. They should have just showed the original Israeli show rather than wasting time remaking it. I’d love to see the original but I don’t speak Hebrew, shame because I liked the clips I saw online. There’s only three episodes left and I’m grateful for that. It makes me angrier with each passing week. And yes I know I don’t have to watch it but I feel compelled to. A kind of know what your enemy is thinking kind of logic. You can’t combat misinformation if you don’t know what it is after all.

But I’m not angry about it right now. I’ve spent the better part of the day getting acquainted with my new tablet and wrestling with the stupid little MicroSD card. All that money spent and I almost get stymied by an inexpensive little storage device. I got it in there in the end and now I have 28 whole gigabytes to fill with football related videos. On the subject of numbers and accomplishments there is one thing I’m very pleased with this week, as of today I now have 507 YouTube subscribers. Reaching 500 was my goal, my next one is reaching one million views. I’m not faraway, I have almost 900,000. As terrific as that is it doesn’t beat last night’s discovery. I found out that they made a film of one of my favourite ever books, Look Who’s Back. It’s in German of course and there aren’t any subtitles but I’m going to watch it anyway. It’s not going to be easy, understanding an angry ranting Hitler is not the easiest of tasks but nevertheless I can’t wait.

The A Word

I was going to write about the show the night after it aired, I decided against doing so because I thought the post would be nothing but an angry rant. I really didn’t like the first episode and the ending in particular infuriated me beyond words. The other reason for waiting was to give it more of a chance, the hope it may redeem itself somewhat with the second episode. That didn’t happen which was to be expected really but I hope at least the fact I’ve waited a few days to write it will make this post a little more coherent. I’m probably being a little hopeful on that count I have to admit.

I have to say I didn’t have any great hopes for this show for a few reasons, first of all autism is a complex issue, not something I was sure could be adequately dealt with in just six episodes. Secondly and more importantly the makers of the show were advised by the National Autistic Society. Upon finding that piece of information out I had a feeling it would turn out to be a propaganda piece essentially. The writers claim their purpose was to inform people about autism, to dispel myths and stereotypes and to show the reality of living with autism. If they wanted to do that they should have got their advice from somewhere else. You can’t help but see the digs at people who don’t see things as they do, the none too subtle remarks about needing to trust professionals, the negative comments about home education and the ridiculous depiction of ABA. I know the latter is a very divisive topic, it’s not something I have any vested interested in defending. I don’t have any views on it one way or the other. But if a show chooses to depict it (especially one mainly about autism) then they should do it right. I can’t help but wonder if they decided to show it in such a poor way because of the advice they got from the NAS.

As for the home education comments, now that did make me angry. Because professionals always know best don’t they, they know better what a child needs better than their parents. You mean the same professionals who usually deny there is a problem to begin with, who try to deny your child access to services they need and who are obsessed with a child learning to act “normal.” Not to mention their insistence that keeping them in mainstream school is the most important thing. In the doctor’s words “Social isolation is not a cure for social isolation.” Home education doesn’t mean social isolation, for some people leaving mainstream school or school all together can mean getting to have friends for the first time ever. Eleven years of mainstream school for my brother yielded precisely one friend and even then it was more a case of misfits sticking together rather than a true friendship. It was only going to a school with autism provision that enabled him to be part of a friendship group for the first time in his life. He doesn’t seem to get it, being at a mainstream school can and often is more socially isolating than not going to school at all.

Their digs at parents who choose to home school their autistic children is not acceptable at all, neither is implying they do so as a way of not engaging with professionals. But then what else would you expect? I think if the show had asked parents of an autistic child who had no ties to such an organization the show would be very different. It’s not as if they can show the reality of the situation, because doing so would make the government and certain charities look very bad indeed. If they showed how schools discriminate against autistic children, how they brush off parents concerns and not only refuse to engage with the diagnostic process but sometimes actively try to sabotage it and even worse is the behaviour of the education authorities. And that’s before you even get to how hard it can be to get such referrals, it’s certainly nothing like the speedy process it’s made out to be in the show.

As for showing the reality of autism I don’t think the show does a great job of that either. I understand that the portrayal of autism won’t be one familiar to everyone, I get that everyone has different experiences. In one way I see what they’re trying to do, showing that autistic children don’t always have violent meltdowns and they don’t all display extreme challenging behaviour. If that was done right I wouldn’t have an objections. On a similar note I’m happy they haven’t gone with a stereotypical special interest either like trains. The problem with Joe’s behaviour is they’re passing that off as a meltdown. The show’s creators claimed they wanted to raise awareness of autism yet all they’re doing is spreading more misinformation. People who know nothing about autism are going to be watching this thinking that doesn’t look so difficult, what are you all complaining about. Truth is it was more of a tantrum than a meltdown. What’s wrong with it is that Joe was fine when he got his music back. For one thing I’m surprised he didn’t resist when they took if off him. Also it’s too neat and perfect, and resolved far too easily. A meltdown won’t stop because you gave them what they want. It just doesn’t work that way. So congratulations to the writers, you just made a kid with autism look like a spoiled and over-indulged brat. What was that about challenging misconceptions again? If they had somehow explained it better maybe, that some kids have shutdowns as opposed to meltdowns then it might have worked a little better.

I think the writers are a little confused to be honest, they want to show the realities of living with autism yet at the same time they seem to be attempting to make it palatable for a mainstream audience. You can’t show the reality of it whilst at the same time softening it somewhat in case the “normals” get too uncomfortable.

One of biggest problems with the show is his parents reactions, in particular his mother. In the second episode she was accused of being ashamed of Joe and of course she denied it. I think she is though and whilst I’ve been trying not to judge too harshly any sympathy I had evaporated in the second episode when she lied about the reasons for taking Joe out of school. She came up with some story about him being gifted and talented and being part of a pilot program. Now I didn’t expect her to talk about his diagnosis or anything relating to that. But the particular lie she told really bothered me. Partly because some people don’t seem to understand that a person can be autistic (or have other disabilities) and still be gifted. The presence of one doesn’t preclude the other.

Another scene which made me really not like her was when her husband tried to make a point about how Joe feels when you take his music away. He tried to stop her from drinking wine to make his point. She responded angrily and said that she’s not the one who’s locked in her own world and she’s not the one who has to change her behaviour. All the time their teenage daughter is in the background yet again going ignored and unnoticed. That line was very ironic to me because she absolutely does need to change her behaviour.

For one thing the way she went about deciding to home school Joe was ridiculous. She hadn’t even considered any other options, refused to even think about special schools and for all the reading she’s doing online you think by now she would have realised he can get help in mainstream school if that’s the way they decide to go. The way it was written feels like a none too subtle attempt to criticize people who do home educate their kids. It’s absurd to suggest that someone would just pull their kid out of school like that, let alone one with special needs. That they wouldn’t have a plan and have thought all the options through. Whilst I’m on the subject her line about what’s Joe going to learn from the kids in a special school because they’re autistic, that was really out of line. Like she’s worried he’ll learn how to be more autistic by being around other autistic kids. If that were true then he’d learn how to be NT by being around them. I don’t know what kind of school is right for him, I don’t think you can answer that question with what little information we have about him, not to mention the fact he’s fictional. But being around other kids who have special needs may not be the worst thing in the world for him. He may find an acceptance he’s never found before. He won’t be the odd one out that’s for sure. Like the situation in the first episode where he wasn’t invited to a birthday party, that won’t happen anymore, he’d have a peer group.

There’s other aspects of her behaviour which are problematic too, she’s only thinking of herself, rarely does she seem to consider how her son feels. The end of the first episode angered me in this regard, her refusal to say that he’s autistic. But yet she says it when it suits her. Their confusion about how to refer to his diagnosis isn’t entirely their fault though. Part of it lies at the door of the doctor they saw. I really did not like them. All their woolly talk about being “on the spectrum” and how we don’t say autism anymore. Really, says who? Who the hell are you to decide that? Do you have autism or have an autistic child, if you don’t then you’re not part of making such a decision. You don’t have to live with it then you don’t get to decide what to call it. I have to say I don’t understand this fixation with not calling it autism. I didn’t see the need to say ASD instead of autism and I really don’t like the term ASC which I’ve seen used online, never in real life though, only online. I liked it even less when I came across a so called professional online saying that in their opinion young people prefer ASC. Two points, even if that was true, that’s just the opinion of those people in question. Secondly it’s never been the view of anyone I’ve ever encountered. And I’m talking about autistic people, parents and professionals. I don’t like the way ASC sounds and whilst I’m not keen on ASD either it’s the lesser of the two evils. I don’t mind the term disorder, after all an autistic person’s development is by nature “disordered.” That is they develop in a way different to the norm, so the term disorder actually makes a lot of sense to me and I don’t find it bothersome or offensive. My only problem with the term is a tendency for other people to see it as “not real autism” or for it to mean that a person is mildly autistic. Look at that, I said I wasn’t going to rant, I didn’t keep that promise for long. I was always being overly hopeful in that regard.

Back to the point, the other main criticism I have of the show is that it’s about autism but not about Joe as a character and as a person. It’s almost as if he doesn’t matter, he’s certainly not given the same attention as the other characters which is odd considering he’s at the center of the drama unfolding. You never see his parents interacting with him, only them reacting to his behaviour. They’re showing him as a problem to contend with, not a person in his own right. He’s just there in the background. No thought seems to have been given to how he feels about anything, it’s all very autism specific. That is they use him to display a particular trait of autism and then just forget about him. The writers either seem to have forgotten or just not realised that whilst he is autistic he’s also a five year old boy. Just like everyone else he has a personality and likes and dislikes. It’s all about how him being autistic affects his parents and everyone else, not much thought has been shown as to how it affects him. I don’t even feel like we know that much about him. There’s so much they’ve just left uncovered. A fact which may have something to do with their many needless sub plots. I read some comments online to the effect that the sub plots are required because a show all about autism would be boring to most people. If people want to watch a soap opera then they can watch one, this wasn’t meant to be like that. We know nothing about Joe at school, only that he doesn’t play with the other kids. We found that out when his mother went there to spy on him. What about the rest of the day? At home he’s always listening to music, yet he survives a whole day at school without it. How do they get him out of the house without his iPod or tablet, seeing as how he’s so obsessed with them? And how much can he talk, because at the assessment his mother said he was chatty and he has a great sense of humor. We certainly haven’t seen any evidence of that, maybe because of course it’s not there. It may be a lie she told to make herself feel better. Or maybe it’s because they don’t show any normal everyday things with Joe, they don’t show his parents interacting with him that much, just the difficult stuff.

Despite how angry it makes me I have to keep watching it, not least because I have to finish what I’ve started. When I mentioned to my mother about the show she pleaded with me not to watch it, without reading a single thing about it she knew it would infuriate me. At least writing about it on here means she’s spared yet another angry rant.

The Bridge III: Episodes 9 & 10

I’ve been putting off writing this post but I can’t put it off any longer. I suspect the experience of writing it will be as unsatisfactory as the end itself but it has to be done. I think it’s partly less fun because of course this time there’s nothing to solve, it’s just a case of summarizing the main events. The killer is revealed, we get some answers in relation to Saga and Henrik. Not to mention a hint at the possibility of a fourth series and yet it all feels so unsatisfying. Not so much the case, that for me makes sense. Well as much sense as an emotionally disturbed madman can make anyway. It’s the resolution of Saga’s story which I am most unhappy with, but I’ll get to that later.

First the events of episode nine. Jeanette having been kidnapped by the killer gives birth and the baby is taken by the killer. She’s quickly found by Freddie who has a tracker implanted in her phone. Getting the baby back however is not so easy. Meanwhile Saga having been suspended from the case is replaced by Rasmus who wastes no time in rubbing Henrik up the wrong way and later jeopardizing the case.

At this point in time the police were focusing their attention on Annika and considering the possibility that Claes is involved. Not only that but the theory that they may be working together. A theory which could have been correct, it would have explained a lot of things. Like why Claes had a connection to only one of the victims and an alibi for several of the murders. The gun they find in his flat supports their theory. At this point it wasn’t clear if Annika was still alive or not and we were given good reason to suspect she wasn’t when Claes is seen in the middle of nowhere. As it turns out he was burying his fathers ashes which is a strange thing to do in the middle of all this but then he is rather strange.

Looking more closely into Annika’s background they find out that her father renounced his parental rights when she was five because he discovered she wasn’t his biological daughter. To make it worse when her mother died they’d already been divorced for a few years and he refused to take Annika in when she asked. His reason was that he saw no reason to take care of a child which wasn’t his. Apparently it didn’t matter to him that she would end up in foster care or that up until she was five he treated her and loved her like she was his own. The look Henrik gives him says it all. It must have been extra painful for Henrik. For him to be missing his daughters and be willing to do anything to get them back, and sat in front of him is a man who was lucky enough to have not one family but two. A man who was so lucky he had the opportunity to turn a child away. It’s one of the themes of this series, parents abandoning their children in one way or another. Of course it’s a theme which cropped up in series 1 and 2 as well. Point is Annika certainly has plenty of reasons to hold a grudge against him and against the world in general.

When Claes is caught in Malmö however he denies working with Annika of course but he does admit he’s afraid of her. Though obviously he can’t tell them the real reason. He insists that he doesn’t know where she is, saying that she went to Gothenburg and he hasn’t seen here since.

In between all of this there’s an amusing moment when Saga apologises to John about what happened to his daughter. Her apology was typical Saga, blunt and to the point. It’s the book she gave him which is the source of amusement, a book about the subject of dealing with trauma. When John points out that it may be a little heavy for her Saga points out he could always read it to her. At least she had the right idea, she knew she should do something and she made the effort, surely that counts for something?

Freddie gets lured to a meeting with the kidnapper. His wife lucky for him is a little more sensible than he is and calls the police. The kidnapper scarpers but not after tricking Freddie by setting a trap involving a pram. Later on he meets the kidnapper a second time and had Rasmus not screwed up they might have ended the whole thing there and then. But no, he had to charge in and ended up getting himself shot, though he was wearing a vest. A fact which doesn’t stop him complaining about how much it hurt.

Before that Saga and Henrik show Freddie and all his staff pictures of all the victims, a process which reveals a surprising twist. One of his security guys recognises Morten saying he was there a few months back and that he seemed to be high, he was babbling about wanting to see his real father and that the two of them were meant to be there. Put this together with him saying his brother shot him and one thing is obvious, if Annika’s involved, she’s not the only one. As it turns out part of my theory proved to be correct, Helle Anker’s former profession was important. She only conceived Morten after she started her clinic, Morten is not her husband’s son.

The mystery of just where Annika has been all this time is solved when Saga and Henrik find her at the crime scene, the place where Jeanette was held. The clue that leads them there is tire tracks and a new padlock on one of the buildings. The room is almost a replica of the basement from the foster parent’s house. What’s interesting about this is that when they ask Emil and another foster kid they both say no-one lived there and that they weren’t allowed in there. A fact which later is proved to be untrue because Emil admits he was made to live down there after he ran away, after Hans brought him back. I wonder why they still lie about it, could their foster father and their fear of that room still have some kind of a hold over them? Or is it some kind of self preservation, if they don’t admit to knowing about it then it doesn’t exist?

The end of episode nine ends with the information we’d all been waiting for, the revelation of what the code meant and just who Morten’s father is. The code however doesn’t seem to be for his file but for another one. The donor was one Freddie Holst and the mother Anna-Maria Larsson. At the same time we find out Emil is Freddie’s son he himself finds out the news, coming face to face with Emil who has a gun to the baby’s head.

Not that there was any doubt at this point but Emil’s identity as the killer is confirmed when Annika admits she met with him for coffee and that’s the last thing she remembered before waking up in that room. The interaction between her and Saga is interesting, she asks if anyone reported her missing, like Claes for example. Saga in her usual blunt fashion replies honestly that he seemed glad to be rid of her and that no-one reported her missing. No doubt some people will feel that was rather cruel and that Saga should not have answered so truthfully. I disagree, I think her answer was fine. Annika doesn’t need to be shielded from the truth. Facing the reality of the situation can’t be a bad thing for her, she needed to be put straight, for her delusional thinking to be challenged.

At the place where Jeanette was found the police discovered the model house which had one of a as yet uncompleted scene. A murder which Emil is in the process of acting out with Freddie. It’s ironic that when he tells Freddie about the painting in the basement that he can’t see the parallels between Freddie and himself. Art is important to both of them and for similar reasons. Because both of them did not have much growing up and both of them used art to deal with it. I guess the difference is that Freddie had his parents whereas Emil had no-one. Love and attention really does make the difference. One can’t help but wonder if that’s the only factor, if it’s really that simple. Is there something innate in Emil that made him commit murder and not the other foster kids?

An interesting point to note is the visit to Linn by Saga’s friend the coroner, he tells her that he needs to talk to her immediately but it’s not about the case. At first I thought he was there to talk about Saga, to somehow stand up for her. But later events show that he’s there for a very different reason.

Back to the case, Saga and Henrik visit the man who painted the picture which was in Emil’s room. The picture entitled “A Very Nice Day.” I wonder if the title was meant to be ironic. At any rate the location of the painting turns out to be on the island where he lives, meaning they are in exactly the right place. After trying and failing to escape Freddie is lead back to the warehouse at gunpoint. Turns out Emil is not content with just getting revenge on Freddie, he seems intent on killing his son too. He makes Freddie put the noose around his neck and then puts the baby in his arms. When Freddie says the baby won’t survive the fall Emil replies “No. Not everybody survives the fall.”

I’m not sure if Emil means to kill the baby or not. Maybe he’s testing some kind of warped theory, that if Freddie loves his son enough he’ll be able to hold on to him and protect him. Or going by what he says earlier maybe he wants him to drop him, maybe in his eyes dropping him and letting him die is protecting him. He wishes he never existed, maybe he thinks he’s somehow saving this kid from suffering. There is a more obvious explanation, if he can’t be Freddie’s son, if he can’t have a family and be loved then this kid can’t either. Whatever the truth is I don’t buy a word of what Emil claims, that he’s not interested in revenge, that he’s just righting wrongs. Truth Terrorist, aka Jens in series 1 said similar things. He tried to make out it wasn’t all about him but it was, it usually is. Given how Emil claims to be righting wrongs however it was completely logical for him to hang himself next to Freddie, because he thinks he never should have existed.

His wish is not granted because Henrik and Saga get there though Saga hesitates when it comes to saving Emil, at first she freezes and doesn’t take hold of him to prop him up. She’s put in a similar position to the one Martin was in. Though it’s not exactly the same and I think if she had let Emil die people would look on it differently than what Martin did. Because if she had let Emil die it would have been in the heat of the moment whereas what Martin did was planned and calculated. Though personally I would judge Saga more because in letting Emil die she would have not only been compromising the standards of her profession and maybe the law but her own personal standards. She did in the end grab hold of him and Emil along with Freddie lives. Though I have to say I’m not sure Freddie has learnt much from the whole experience. When he visits Jeanette at the hospital he tells her he’s giving her some extra money because of what happened. As if money can change what happened or really be of any help at all. I think when someone has that much money they forget that it cant’ fix everything. He probably thought that as a child. That if only he had money he could fix everything, and it doesn’t seem to be a way of thinking he’s grown out of. One thing which deserves a mention, was the baby’s name a deliberate reference to The Killing? I wonder, little baby Jan.

Emil tells them everything, he admits to having shot Morten, Aleks and Marc. Morten’s mother gave him the code, she wanted him to know where he came from. Part of her reason for doing so was the guilt she felt at what happened to Morten in Afghanistan apparently. So Helle Anker unwittingly set the whole chain of events in motion. In more way then one. Because without knowing it she created the whole situation when she opened her clinic and played a part not only in Morten’s creation but in Emil’s. How ironic that she played a part in the creation of her downfall. She can’t be blamed for Emil, not really though he doesn’t see it that way. But with Morten she most definitely can, lying about something as important as where your children come from cannot be excused. After having kept it secret for so long and bearing in mind Morten’s fragile mental state you have to question her decision to tell him. I think she did it more for her own sake than for his, there was nothing for him to gain from it. He was already messed up, she just made him even more so.

My theory was at least partly right anyway, I had the right idea but the wrong suspect. I had Rikard in mind when I came up with that idea. As for how much sense it makes, Emil righting the wrongs he thinks have been done. Of course it’s not going to make much sense, why would it? He’s an emotionally disturbed madman, one who knows the difference between right and wrong but no less a madman for it. You could drive a truck through the flaws in his thinking. Take for example the fact he places no blame on his mother in all of this. When she’s the one who created him, the one who actively created him. Freddie and Helle Anker played their part but that’s all it was. It’s his mother who chose to have him that way, who chose to lie to him about who his father was. And yet he places no blame on her, he claims she loved him but we only have his word for that. Also note the fact he said she loved him, not that she took good care of him but that she loved him. Loving him and taking good care of him are not the same thing at all. I can’t remember who asked it, I think it may have been Henrik. Whoever it was asked if his mother hadn’t died then by his logic he wouldn’t have done all this. But that’s not necessarily true. His mother is only free of blame because she died, it tends to happen that way. When a parent leaves or dies a kid tends to either hate them and blame them for everything or the opposite happens, in their eyes they can do no wrong.  I think Emil is angry at his mother, he just can’t bring himself to admit it.

But he can allow himself to blame Freddie and Helle Anker. He needs to take his anger out on someone. His mother is dead, so he needed someone to focus his anger on. I don’t believe a word of what he said, about handing out justice instead of punishing anyone. It was all about punishment whatever he says. He wants other people to feel the pain he felt. I don’t buy what he said either that all of this could have been avoided by him being born. If that’s the wrong to be righted then why not do just that? Why hurt all the other people? And why kill people when he didn’t need to? Like Marc and Aleks, he could have just shot them. But he chose to kill them. He made choices. He’s a hypocrite, he talks about the people in his life not having taken responsibility. Well neither is he. Expecting any of it to make sense is madness. People rarely do make sense, especially when they let anger and hate guide them. And especially when part of the person doing all of this is really a scared and lost little boy. Emil may not want to admit it but he is. Or at least he was anyway. He finally succeeded in his aim, committing suicide in his cell using a paperclip he took from his statement that Saga took to him in order for him to sign. Question is, did she do that deliberately? Did she look away knowing what he was going to do?

Their short conversation was most intriguing. He asks why she saved him to which she answers “because I’m police.” When she asks him if he wanted to die he says no, I never wanted to have been born. He says it’s not the same thing and that she doesn’t understand the difference because she had a friend who needed her. It really gets to her and potentially leads to her not noticing him taking the paperclip.  I wonder if what Emil said had any effect on how she acts later on, in realising that now Hans is not there no-one needs her and she has no-one.

A most important fact regarding Henrik’s family comes to light, the body of his wife was found during roadworks in Sweden. This must have been the body Saga saw when she was at the coroner’s office. But they only found his wife, not the girls. Is it possible that Henrik killed them and doesn’t remember?

Henrik gets back to work on the case, well not really work, he doesn’t really know what he was doing. In the end he overdoses on the stimulants he’s been taking and Saga finds him. He hadn’t told her about the discovery of his wife’s body. She finds out from Lillian at Hans’ funeral. Interestingly enough Saga asked Henrik if he would go with her, but she went even though he didn’t show up.  When Saga visits Henrik at the hospital she finds out about the drugs he’s been taking and the fact he’s been taking them the entire time they were working together. He seems to assume she’s going to report him in. If she really didn’t it’s most interesting. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not. In one way you could argue it signals some sort of growth, that she is realising that rules don’t have to be so rigidly applied and that they aren’t in the real world. On the other hand it’s like she’s compromising who she is and what she believes in. I’m not sure. Their conversation is enlightening anyway:

“Do you remember us talking about why I never let people get close to me? Do you remember why?”

“Because in one way or another everyone has either left you or hurt you.”

Saga doesn’t answer, just walks out. She gives no indication as to what if anything she’s going to do about Henrik. I wonder if she’s counting Hans in that, if she’s angry at him for leaving her. And if she’s angry at Martin too.

Linn no longer seems to dislike Saga so much but it makes no difference, her little agenda has it’s desired effect. The file on her mother has gone to the prosecutor’s office and they want to investigate. Whilst they do so Saga is to be suspended from active duty. So at the same time she’s dealing with the loss of her only real friend she now loses the center of her universe as well.  Henrik for his part seems intent on resigning from his job in order to search for his daughters.

The end is troubling to me, not that Saga and Henrik are teaming up to find his daughters. I get that part, he needs help and she needs something to focus on. It’s what came before it, her visiting the spot her sister committed suicide at. It seemed like she was about to do the same, or at least that’s what Henrik thought. He talked her down from whatever that was, telling her that he needed her which seemed to be exactly what she needed to hear. It also bothers me that she let him hug her, though I like the fact she didn’t hug him back. That would have been too much out of character. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, it’s part of the reason I put off writing this post. I thought more time might help me make sense of it but not so.

Call it character progression or whatever you want but Saga no longer feels like Saga to me, and not in a good way. There’s something different in this series that I can’t quite put my finger on. From what Sofia Helin said in an interview about how much it takes out of her to play Saga, I think she may be done with the character. It wouldn’t be a bad thing were it to end here. I for one feel like I’m done with the show. It’s interesting what stands up to a rewatch, what shows endure in your affections and which ones don’t. I’ve been rewatching series 1 of The Killing and all over again I’m rediscovering the little details that made it so great the first time around. It helps that it’s been at least a year and a half since I saw it last. I’d forgotten how funny Meyer was and how good he and Lund were together. It’s strange, The Killing killed off one of my favourite characters and yet I’m realising that I like it more than The Bridge. Before I would have said The Bridge over The Killing, that I liked Saga more than Lund and Meyer more than Martin. Now I’m coming to realise I like The Killing more all round, including Lund.

365 Days of Blogging/A New Challenge

Last January I set myself the target of posting for every day of the Rückrunde, the second half of the Bundesliga season. Once I did so I thought I may as well try and go for the whole year which I did. I’m not going to make such grand plans right now. I’m not going to aim for the whole year again, I don’t want to think that far ahead. Right now it doesn’t seem like such a good idea to think that big. Plus I don’t want to curse anything. not Freiburg’s promotion chances and not Germany at the Euros in the summer. I will however make the same commitment as last January, a post for every day of the Rückrunde.

With there being no football on and not much on TV either I have plenty of free time, in theory anyway. Despite having so much free time I’m trying to take it easy. Which means attempting to be realistic about what I’m going to get done each day. Easier said than done, I always want to do everything and I never know where to start. So I’m only allowing myself to think about the next two things on the list as I work my way through it. Otherwise I’ll just end up beating myself up for not getting enough done.

This week is the first full week of the year. It didn’t get off to a great start which is entirely my own fault. I didn’t mean to stay up so late and it doesn’t matter that I think I had a good reason for doing so. The consequences are the same regardless of what my reason for doing so was. It’s definitely not a case of starting as you mean to continue. Don’t get enough sleep and pay the price. Which I certainly am, how terrible I feel right now and the argument I got into yesterday can be traced back to this. I knew I should have walked away, I could hear the little voice at the back of my mind telling me to and I still couldn’t do it. I should at least try to see the good side of the situation, at least I know I was in the wrong and understand why. It’s not one more thing for me to endlessly obsess over and try to make sense of, which is good because there is more than enough of those.

One of which is the end of the third series of The Bridge. I haven’t written my post covering the last two episodes yet because only today did I get round to watching again the last two episodes. I kept coming up with excuses and putting it off. Well today I ran out of excuses. I’m not happy with how it ended, not so much the case though that has it’s problems, it’s the resolution of Saga’s story which I’m having trouble making sense of. Problem is I’m having trouble putting it into words just why I don’t like it.

My immediate reaction is that I’m unhappy with her allowing Henrik to hug her. But beyond that I’m unsure why I’m not happy with it. The hugging thing is a bugbear of mine. It’s something I’ve seen before and I don’t like it. The way it’s used it completely misunderstands autism and the reason for why the people in question dislike hugs. Two other places it was used which bugged me was in episodes of Criminal Minds and Cold Case. In Criminal Minds the boy comforted his mother after his father was killed and his mother herself had been held hostage by the killer. My problem with it is that he’s never done it before, why would he do it then? It’s even more annoying because Joe Mantegna who plays Rossi has an autistic daughter. But not nearly as annoying as the episode of Cold Case which featured an autistic boy who witnessed his parents getting murdered. That episode has to be one of the worst representations of autism on TV ever. But I’m not going to list all the reasons it sucked here, I’ve done that before. What’s relevant here is towards the end of the episode he allowed Scotty to put a hand on his shoulder. It’s just not believable that a boy who didn’t even let his own family touch him would let some detective he just met a few days ago do so.

It’s such a neurotypical perspective of autism, making it all about feelings when it has nothing to do with it. Making it about their feelings when it has nothing to do with that either. A film I watched yesterday did this. It’s a film called After Thomas and it’s about an autistic boy whose life changes dramatically when he gets a dog. His parents through the dog have a way to connect with him, a way to reach him. Which is all well and good. He makes a lot of progress and they are able to teach him things they couldn’t before. What bothers me is how his mother is obsessed with hearing Kyle tell her that he loves her. Also what his father says, when they’re having an argument he tells her that Kyle has no concept of feelings, that he doesn’t know what love is and that he’s never going to love her. There’s a few things that make me angry about this, firstly how can he presume to know what’s going on in his son’s head. Secondly why do parents act like it’s their god given right for their children to express love for them in the way they expect, or at all. There are no guarantees, you don’t get to choose when it comes to having kids. There’s no guarantee you’ll have a kid who loves you or who chooses to express that love whether they are NT or not. I didn’t mean to rant about it but ended up doing so anyway. I guess that film really got to me, especially the part where his father says Kyle loves Thomas but not them, that all he cares about is his trains. Doesn’t he have that right? To feel about people however he wants to feel? The film ends with him telling his mother he loves her. As if that fixes everything. He’s still autistic, being able to tell someone he loves them doesn’t guarantee anything, like him being able to take of himself. I guess it’s just a topic that really gets to me at the moment, other people and their expectations.