Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

“Now You Must Be Still” brings plenty of laughs to Lisey’s Story

Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Joan Allen get the chance to show what a great trio they are in the latest episode of Lisey’s Story

Joan Allen, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Joan Allen, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Screenshot: Lisey’s Story

Following an episode as heavy as “The Good Brother” isn’t an easy feat. Does one continue with the same tone or strike a completely different one? With “Now You Must Be Still”, King and Larraín do a little of both, maintaining and even heightening the melodrama while trading in the horror for humor.

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The episode splits itself rather neatly into two halves: before and after Lisey’s attempt to rescue Amanda. For Lisey and the audience, this journey into the Boo’ya Moon is completely different than her last. She’s a new woman, confident in her decisions despite not fully understanding the space she is entering. The way she navigates this other realm in the present is such a stark difference to the woman she was, not just years ago but only days earlier, hesitant to even acknowledge the existence of something this fantastical.

By the time she walks into the healing waters of Boo’ya Moon, they feel more like a baptism than anything else. Her wounds are fading, yes, but it’s about the growth she’s had since the start of the series. And it’s rewarding to watch Lisey move from being a relatively passive figure to a fairly active one, as we’ve done throughout the series in small increments. The way she confidently turns to her sister and begins to write on paper to avoid speaking within this silent space and incurring the wrath of the others within it is such a stark contrast from the aimless woman she once was.

If there’s anything off about a scene meant to be an emotionally powerful moment reuniting two sisters in an otherworldly space, it’s the introduction of the show’s opening credits music. It undercuts what should be an intimate moment, but it does prompt a connection between the credits imagery and this. For Lisey, this episode is all about standing up and developing her own narrative after being attached to Scott’s for so long; her world still involves his stories, but now that’s been cut loose and had time to figure things out, she’s able to walk on her own.

A final splash of horror comes in the form of blank stares from children and a cacophony of moody chanting before the episode decides to go all in on humor. The moment Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Darla is brought back into the mix, the series becomes playful again. She digs through her purse to reveal mace, mace, mace, more mace, a gun of pepper spray, and a taser and then lets out the silliest gasp when Lisey disappears right in front of her eyes. Her denial of Boo’ya Moon and the situation surrounding it is just delightful, even with the compelling undercurrent of sincerity present in one sister trying to convince the other to help her.

“If we decide to assfuck you, you’re going to be bleeding for a long time,” is the line that finally broke me down in laughs. Every previous instance of Lisey and Darla’s frustration with each other and with their respective situations climaxes in this episode and that line is the true pivot to outright laughs. They keep coming throughout the back half, the passive aggression between the duo being played up plenty and Leigh going hard on her bafflement of everything happening with her sisters. Yes, there’s beauty in the reunion between the sisters, with Leigh, Moore, and now Allen getting the chance to engage with each other meaningfully, but it’s almost secondary to maintaining the sense of humor. Hell, when recalling the moment of salvation, Darla just exasperatedly says, “I saw you regurgitate water in her mouth!”

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There is such a playfulness to the way the trio of actresses bounce off each other. Their interaction with Amanda’s doctor is great comedy; Moore plays the straight woman while Allen delivers nonsensical excuses and Leigh constantly interrupts any reasonable conversation by pointing out all of the doctor’s photos with celebrities with total condescension. This bit and the scenes that follow are such an ideal showcase of how all three of them have differing personalities while still feeling like actual siblings. Even beyond creating that sense of connection, it’s refreshing to finally get to see Allen doing more than the catatonic stare we’ve seen all series. It feels like King realized how important and well-drawn the relationship between sisters could be compared to what he had in his novel and all three actresses are committed to bringing the most out of the material.

As they plan to trap Dooley (and Darla deviously whispers “we have to kill him” after discovering he was in her house), the fun only increases. The biggest treat the episode offers is the trio standing in the rain, atop a random picnic table, screaming at the top of their lungs, LET’S FUCKING KILL HIM.” And, well, I can’t fucking wait to see how that plays out.

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Stray observations

  • Today’s stray observations will just be quotes that made me laugh (and that were not already mentioned above:
  • “Woah, Bruce Springsteen. That’s the boss. I mean, you actually met him?
  • Ooh, Al Gore! I love him! I voted for him!”
  • “Is he a prick or is it just me?”
  • “I think we’d be in less danger if Darla hadn’t thrown my gun in the river.”
  • And a favorite, when a concerned Darla brings up the fact that a specific path in Lisey’s area has poison ivy on both sides, and Lisey just shouts, OH MY GOD THEN DON’T TOUCH IT!”
  • Oh, actually one last note: the solo Dooley scenes are somehow still the most unnecessary of the show. I really, truly, do not need to see any asides with him that don’t involve Lisey (or her sisters). It’s flat out annoying and repetitive to just get the same exact bit of characterization over and over again. If anything, the only scene we really needed of him in this was the final shot.
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