I did anything else but write this review after “6,741.” I joked with my M.A. graduating class on Facebook. I made summer plans. I WATCHED SE7EN. (Please take that in. I watched one of the bleakest and most violent movies in existence for recovery.) I started writing, stopped, started again, went to sleep (usually I write these in the middle of the night). I simply could not figure out how to approach this.
To be honest, I still don’t know how. That’s partly because it was simply an overwhelming episode; it’s partly because while so much happens in this episode, almost nothing happens at all. Which brings me to my conundrum.
When Root and Shaw finally had not just a moment, but whole days of not longing or flirting or what-if-ing but being together, I was overjoyed. This was always my problem with Shaw’s not-death last season: I could live with her “dying” and coming back, but I was still unhappy with the idea that the show was willing to give us all the “what if” and none of the “is.” All of the “maybe someday” and none of the “yes, now.” So, of course, I loved their reunion, their first onscreen physical union, their incredibly emotional scene at the park—it was not only everything I’d wanted, but more.
And then it turned out none of that was real.
Hear me out, okay. On the one hand, it was real, in that it was emotionally real for us as the audience watching it until the final reveal, and in that it was emotionally real for Shaw. Shaw experienced that as real life: every emotion she expressed, choice she made, or touch she felt was real for her. It was what she would have done—or at least, would have wanted to do—in the scenario. This is the point of Greer & co.’s simulations. So on the level of: is it confirmed beyond even the most stubborn of doubts that Shaw loves Root too, desires Root too, cares for Root and the rest of the team too? Yes. It was real.
On the other hand, in the literal sense, none of this was real. It never happened. It was all inside Shaw’s mind (and Samaritan’s) and on an evil doctor’s monitor. And for me, at least, there was something deflating about realizing that yet again a love story between women on television has a “but…” attached to it. This doesn’t negate the possibility that when Root and Shaw are reunited in reality, we might get something similar, or something different but also exciting and affirming. But for now, at this moment, I find my feelings still very confused.
I swear to god I’m resorting to pros and cons here. Let’s do it.