“Beat Shack” S2 / E7
- B+ Community Grade
Eagleheart specializes in the ability to craft a tangential B-plot that progresses parallel to the central idea of an episode. Seemingly unsatisfied with the ability to earn laughs with the marshals and their exceedingly violent exploits, each episode is like a challenge to find a jumping off point for a surreal exercise in extraneous characters. This week, it’s Susie’s neighbors (including Doc Shades, while he's wearing the shades), who attempt to record a new hit song called “Sex Rash” after misinterpreting the violent noises coming from her apartment as loud intercourse. Not only do the neighbors attempt to record the song, but they give up halfway through because something doesn’t click, until inspiration strikes right at the end and they’re able to finish the song with another tangential recording session. It’s a structure that fits somewhere between the animated comic strip sensibility of Robot Chicken and the rapid-fire genre parody shows like NTSF:SD:SUV::.
The Scat Man is exactly the kind of surreal villain that fits into the strange world of Eagleheart. It doesn’t matter that he’s a crime boss taking out rivals, the only thing that’s important is that he somehow possesses the ability to make his enemies explode simply by scatting at them. The murders are grotesque, as though the bodies have been squeezed until blood spurts out in wild bursts, across windshields and bystanders. Susie wants to go the logical police route of wiretapping and court orders, but Monsanto prefers taking random street urchins to The Beat Shack—the men’s nickname for Susie’s apartment—in order to violently beat information out of them.
A few weeks ago, Susie had to take testosterone injections, dramatically altering her appearance in order to fit in with the boys’ club that is the US Marshals. This week she’s similarly on the outside, a “Junior Lady Marshal” instead of a Junior Marshal. The boneheaded Brett and bloodthirsty Monsanto get to pal around and beat the shit out of whomever they want, and the captain always takes Monsanto’s side, even giving Brett a chance to offer his plan of attack, before Brett realizes he has no ideas. Susie doesn’t have any friends outside of the office either, though the show budget doesn’t afford any of the marshals contacts outside of work.
Eagleheart uses sexism and misogynistic humor frequently when it makes Susie the butt of jokes, but it is more layered than that. It’s not sexism for the sake of sexism, or to come off as shocking; it comments on the difficulties of women in law enforcement, if only obliquely, and more heavily comments on how female characters are depicted on cop shows and Walker, Texas Ranger.
“Beat Shack” even takes that commentary one step further. The chief witness in the case is the Scat Man’s brother, who suffers from Fetal Scat Syndrome, which inverts how he feels pleasure and pain. When Monsanto beats him, he’s giddy, but when Susie offers compassion, he’s in torturous amounts of pain, divulging every bit of information Susie needs to lead the marshals to the Scat Man. Susie doesn’t have to rely on Monsanto or anyone else in order to solve a case, she can get the job done all on her own. She’s relegated to being less than a sidekick to Monsanto when the plot revolves around him, but more than “Little Dude” from a few weeks ago—which wimped out on advancing Susie’s character in favor of dovetailing back to a woman-as-man joke—this episode gives Susie a quick plot with some meaning behind it, which is tough to do in such in such a short running time.
Any scat singing themed episode is a good excuse to link to this Jeff Goldblum video.
“Beat them Chris. Beat the stuffings out of them. And the truth will follow.”
The nickname of Susie’s apartment is “Not to be confused with the men’s tug club of the same name.”