Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reviews: "Vanessa's Pain" and "Vanessa Runs"

“Vanessa’s Pain” continues the story of the spin-off series main character as she tries to figure out what to do now that she has left home. It seems obvious that she neither wants to go home nor go back to Kyle’s house, but she wanders about Toronto trying to find something else.  Like “Vanessa Alone” this episode begins with a dialogue-free segment highlighting Vanessa’s wanderings.  The creepiest event in this beginning is when Vanessa eyes some discarded food on top of a trash can, and she looks at it longingly.  This scene is excellently acted and filmed, as it told the story perfectly without the use of dialogue.  Vanessa is seriously considering taking the food, when a passerby throws a broken umbrella on top of it, and the temptation is gone.  We know now that Vanessa does not have any food, and apparently brought no money, so is hungry, alone, and desperate. Then she happens to spy Rose on her double-date with Claire, Nathan, and Angela.

This is why she goes back to Kyle’s house, though she’s obviously weary.  Unfortunately, the only conscious person at the house is Kyle himself. Kayla is there, unconscious and in a state of undress.  This leads to the second creepy scene in the episode, as Kyle tries to sweet-talk his way into Vanessa’s pants.  He tries to convince her that she has no family or friends, but he can help her.  His help includes some drugs.  When she refuses, Kyle resorts to force, but Vanessa manages to fight her way out of the house, and on to…

“Vanessa Runs”, the next episode in which a distraught Vanessa runs away from Kyle’s house and spends the night on a park bench.  She is then bothered by a really creepy looking older guy.  Boy is he creepy!  Anyway, this results in her deciding she needs to find someone she can trust to help her out.  She then ends up in the place I, and probably many others, was hoping she would go after leaving home: her brother’s place.  If you remember, back in season 2, it was mentioned that Vanessa’s older brother married a Muslim woman and was excommunicated from the family for doing so.  It’s one of the reasons Vanessa has had such a problem accepting her sexual orientation.  She had predicted how her parents would react to news that she wasn’t straight (way back in episode 2) and she was absolutely correct.  It’s a sad reality that many parents can’t accept their own children as they really are, but have a specific idea of what their children should be and that idea cannot be violated.

Which is why it is so important that the first thing Vanessa says to her brother is “I’m bisexual”. (Well, after “Big Ginge”.) She has come to her brother to get some kind of family support that she is okay despite not being what her parents want her to be. She fears that he’ll report her whereabouts to their parents, which is probably why she didn’t come here first.  However, I think he’ll keep quiet as long as Vanessa says to, for support and fear that she’ll take off again. The family dynamic also plays out in the news that Vanessa is going to be an aunt, but her parents haven’t been told yet. We leave Vanessa in some comfort, though the future is still very unsure.

Vanessa’s story will continue on the 3rd section of season 3, and it is bound to be less dark than it has been so far.  It has been a sad tale, full of darkness and fear, but a story that I think needed to be told.  As I said before, I never really thought about the demographics of runaways, and I’m very glad Jason chose to tell this story.  It reminds me, and hopefully other viewers, of hoe bad things can really get and why it’s so important for us to be supportive in our lives and active in promoting supportive behaviors from others.

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