“Episode Four” S1 / E4
- B+ Community Grade
While previous episodes of Hit & Miss track Mia’s downward spiral as her new responsibilities make her dangerously vulnerable on the job, Episode 4 effectively makes the point that having a contract killer for a mom is probably going to have a bit of a negative impact on kids as well. Despite her marked tenderness, loyalty, and frank desire to be a mom Mia has unintentionally brought the violence of her outside life into the home of essentially pretty sheltered people. The first sign of the shift can be found in the opening murder; Mia’s first kill here, usually a clean shot in a glass or concrete box somewhere in the city, is noticeably less sterile than in past episodes. Her victim hangs from a meat hook like one of the pigs from the farm, blood splattered messily all over their white boots. The scene feels straight out of a country slaughterhouse, as if work is inching closer to home.
Also closing in on the little family is asshole landlord John who, between his hatred of Mia and mission to intimidate Riley into having an abortion, has taken to parking it outside of the house so that he might scowl uselessly at its inhabitants. Eventually he snaps in the face of Riley’s new-found defiance, unleashing a physical brutality not quite so useless. Meanwhile the mystery man who has been hovering about all season becomes bold enough to break into the house and take ol’ Leonie out for a frolic, freaking everybody out until he is revealed to be the kids’ “nutter” uncle. He is conveniently back from whatever facility he was locked up in to keep an eye on his sister’s kids from his nearby “house”, a random underground hovel that closely resembles a recently burgled Hobbit burrow. The trespasses of both these men results in uncharacteristic acts of revenge on the part of the wee children, a reflection on the methods of their new guardian, but only the real villain bites the dust. Liam, creepy but harmless, is absorbed into the increasingly dysfunctional family fold while John bleeds out on the rustic wood floors.
While most of the time the children on Hit & Miss are relegated to a loop of similar activities until the climax approaches, this is a bit of a breakout episode for Riley, and Karla Crome seems consistently up to the task of conveying her complex mix of strength and insecurity. For example, although she fears John’s escalating rage, Riley decides to keep her baby (Madonna would be proud), both for herself and for Mia. It is clear that Mia desires motherhood and all that it represents because after learning of Riley’s pregnancy, she insists that the girl keep it, then stands in the shower, rubbing her own belly ruefully, unable to sustain life as it is, while her penis hangs there like a gratuitous sack filled with failure. Riley doesn’t have to add that she is forgoing abortion in part so that Mia can experience motherhood from the very beginning, she simply puts her hand on Mia’s belly in a rather touching gesture of understanding.
Between the reminder of the fact that she cannot bear children and that her boyfriend is still reeling from the news that his pretty lady friend comes avec penis (which he handles, thick dolt that he is, by sitting in a bar placing newspaper cut outs of the top half of a female model over the bottom half of a male model, like a 12 year old girl working out her body image issues by making a nice magazine collage on oaktag), Mia is forced to question and defend her womanhood. However, her personal stress is no excuse for her many lapses in judgement in this episode. She is clearly losing the ability to separate work from home, because what fit of extreme, irresponsible stupidity led her to believe it would be okay to take her boys out for fish and chips and ask them to wait in the care while she strangles a man in a freaking telephone booth. The scene certainly makes for a disturbing juxtaposition of her twin lives, but at the cost of believability. Each character’s qualities are shifting and cracking as they collide with one another but the line Mia crosses has come too far too fast in the general trajectory of the show.
The subtler, more organic ways in which the kids have been affected by Mia’s way of life are far more believable. The fact that this family’s fierce protective instincts for one another has turned into easily triggered physical violence is made abundantly clear by Ryan and Levi’s immediate response to Liam’s presence. Before asking any questions, they put a serious beat down on him, which Mia is completely fine with it until she sees the way Ben responds to the scene and her approval of it (of course Ben is no fucking prince himself, following up as he does by suggesting there’s a little bit of man still left in Mia). The introduction of violence into the children’s lives is echoed much more deeply in Riley’s murder of John, an act of self defense, but one she would not have even thought to commit were it not for the readily available gun. Like the recent Greek film Dogtooth, a previously tenuous sort of innocence has been forever altered by the intrusion of a relatively trusted outsider. While the children may not know exactly what she does for a living, Mia bringing Eddie around, her gun under the pillow, simply her way of dealing with difficult situations, has thrown their former way of life out of balance.
This is the episode that sows seed of doubt into the idea that Mia is a fundamentally good person who stumbled into a morally reprehensible profession out of loneliness and desperation. What kind of person takes two boys under the age of fifteen on a murder field trip, and delights in seeing them try and beat a mentally ill man to death? There is just a whiff of sociopath in the sweet country air, and since asshole landlord John is gone, we know it ain’t him. Throughout this episode, in which we are taught to take a second look both at Mia’s character and that of the damaged, impressionable children she is now responsible for, we are repeatedly guided by Mia’s reflection in her full length mirror. In a dress and heels, she is a lady, in black hoodie and work boots, she is a professional, with Riley’s hand on her belly, she is a mother, and, finally, behind a veil of dripping red, she is a killer, with John’s blood on her hands. Sorry moral conservatives; it is never the fact that she is transsexual that makes Mia a questionable mother, but her lax stance on gun control.
- Is the fact that only Leonie “sees” their mother the way her ‘nutter’ (their words not mine) uncle does suggest that she, too, has some sort of mental illness?
- During another ritualized dressing up in her city apartment, the camera catches a vintage-style Pinocchio postcard on Mia’s dresser, a follow-up to her drunken nutso chanting scene in Episode 2. Pinocchio wanted to be a real BOY, so the symbolism seems contrived and confusing.