Dak Watches: Rise: S01E08


EPISODE 08: The Petition

Tears of a Coach

 

   Today, Coach Sam starts some fights–with his tears, but first!  Mr. M has some good news!  that comes crashing down a few seconds later.  Ticket sales have spiked!  Has this small town finally realized how deep and meaningful and relevant theatre is?

  Oh, no.  No.  Of course not.  They have realized that there is a youtube promotional video for the show that includes a whole lot of butt close ups (among other parts) from rehearsals.  Mr. M and Tracey give each other sidelong glances and wonder if they should take the video down.

 They should get the video down like responsible human adult authority figures, but–  all.  those.  tickets.

The video stays up. 

 At rehearsal, Robbie is back from his tantrum (on another day).  He’s apologizing, but not quitting.  He knows he isn’t the greatest actor like the rest of them, but he’s going to do his best!  Mr. M wants to try and fix things though, because even though QB1 is back, he’s lacking the proper mojo he supposedly had in the beginning.

  Mr. M’s solution is to go to Coach Sam and admit that it was his terrible idea for Robbie to call his bluff.  There’s a big game coming up and they both know that Robbie is the best QB.  Mr. M is totally not doing this because some high school football commentators on a presumably public access radio show have been shit talking him for all of Stanton to hear.  Coach is uninterested in this olive branch until Mr. M gives Robbie the entire week off rehearsals to prepare for the game.  Finally coach gives in.  Later on Lilette has to run lines with her mom because Robbie is footballing all week and Tracey is totally gobsmacked at this insane decision only a couple weeks from opening night.  We don’t get to see if this tactic has repaired Robbie’s broken mojo or not re: stage performance.

Let us tackle the secondary story lines.  Mr. M’s second problem with the show, right behind Robbie’s mojo, is Simon and his scene partner, whose name nobody says in this episode either, but I caved and looked it up.  It’s Jeremy.  A good solid name.  I will keep you posted when and if anybody actually says it in the final two episodes.

Anyway, their scene is just going terribly.  Jeremy sitting on stage, still mad. Simon is standing upright at least two feet away from him.  Mr. M is wondering what the heck is going on.  What happened to all the physicality etc.  Simon says they were going for something a little more subtle.  Subtle as in non-existent.  Mr. M is like: no.  Don’t be afraid of the material! (For some reason Annabelle isn’t around this week to also be mad at Simon from the chorus area of the stage.)

  We will come back to Simon in a minute, but first Principal W. arrives to yell about the video and demand that it be taken down.  Tracey and Mr. M pretend like they have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. They are very convincing /sarc.

Anyway, it turns out one of the Chorus who has never been seen before has perpetrated these video crimes.  She runs away to take the video down immediately.  After the commercial break she’s crying in Mr. M’s office, and he’s doing his best to comfort her and assure her that she’s not actually in trouble when who walks in but yet another Robert.  I have now learned Simon’s dad’s name.   He is there to inform Mr. M that even though the video is down, the internet never forgets.  He vows he is going to do everything in his power to end this play and proclaims that Mr. M is only hurting the kids.  If only Dad!Robert had a mustache to twirl.

  Back in football-land, Robbie is staying after school for extra time to throw balls at some barrels.  Gordy is there too because he’s still on probation with coach for the booze found in his locker.  Robbie asks him to run plays, because living breathing humans are better than barrels.  This seems to become their after school routine and at least one time Coach Sam catches them at these extra night practices.  This will come into play later.

 This week Gordy also attempts to talk to Gwen, but she appears to be over it already.  Or at least she definitely doesn’t want to be his girlfriend.  It was fun, and maybe they’ll do it again, but she was going through a thing and is not in that place right now.  Gordy is a bit put out by this, but doesn’t run straight back into the arms of Jack Daniels for the time being. 

  Back to Coach and Lilette’s mom (Vanessa!)  Gwen has been upset all week and when Lilette asks her what’s wrong she says Why don’t you ask your mom??  So she does.  After a short interrogation, Vanessa admits that she’s back with Coach Sam.

  Lilette is 1,000% not here for this irresponsibility.  (Hooking up while at work.)  She’s also not here for coach, but Vanessa seems to think they’re going to make an actual go of it now that the divorce is still on after breakup #1. 

Later on Vanessa goes to visit Coach at school, and we can tell he’s not going to make an actual go of it by how quickly he closes the blinds of his office.  Vanessa tells him that the kids know, and he tells her that maybe they should cool it after all.  He’s trying to keep his family together and only just moved out a week ago, so he’s not ready to be publicly dating anybody else right now.  The divorce IS still on isn’t it?  Maybe he’s just worried about Gwen hating him for the rest of time?  Whatever it is, Vanessa storms out on him, broken hearted, and he’s trying to punch back his own tears.  He basically spends the rest of the episode with red rimmed eyes since his entire family life and extra curricular love life is falling apart around him.  (But whose fault is that?)

  Back at home Vanessa is sad about breakup #2 and wants to hang with her best girlfriend, Lilette.  Lilette just gives it to her with both barrels instead.  She’s tired of taking care of mom.  Mom should be the adult doing the adulting.  Basically, Lilette is tired of picking up the pieces and doesn’t want to be a best girlfriend.  They have a huge fight, say some regrettably mean things with a surprising amount of cursing at each other, and Lilette’s mom gets in the car and runs away.  The only thing anybody sees of Vanessa for the rest of the episode is her driving alone down a dark highway, which I thought was going to end in a devastating car wreck as it was juxtaposed with Sad Coach Sam being weepy amongst his piles of lonely fast food bags at the hotel, and Mr. M meeting Robbie’s mother, who is sick, but no.  My instincts were wrong about one piece of drama. (So far!)

  Back on the football field, it is the last game of the season.  Stanton has one chance to make the playoffs, and they’re losing with very little time left on the clock.  One of the receivers goes down and Coach Sam sends in a surprise substitution.   It’s Gordy! who has apparently been riding the pine for this entire season.  Initial thought:  He’s going to catch a hail mary and win the game, triumphantly propelling our guys into the post-season!

  Almost.  Gordy does get the pass, but instead of all the glory, he manages a bit of footballery and gets out of bounds in time to stop the clock so we can have one more play.  Robbie runs the ball in for a touchdown as the clock winds down to the last second.  Playoffs here we go.  Taking bets now on whether or not Robbie’s going to have to choose between a game or the show.

  Of course, Mr. M and family are beside themselves with excitement.  For some reason Robbie decides that Mr. M needs to come with him to visit his mom in the skilled nursing facility where she is located.  I forget why she is there, but I kind of remember that it seemed like the dad abandoned her in her illness.  Maybe we will learn about Mr. Robbie’s dad’s motivations in the future, or maybe we learned about them in the past when I wasn’t paying attention.

  Also, after the football game, Coach tries to patch things up with Gwen, but she’s done with him too.  She does not accept his explanation that adult relationships are complicated.  So, he’s broken up with Vanessa, broken up with his wife, and Gwen still totally hates him and doesn’t want to get rides to school, or ever speak to him again for that matter.  He tries to fight away the tears again.

 Speaking of complicated, in other non-sports related drama, Michael has gone to a doctor’s appointment with Sasha since the boyfriend is the worst.  It appears that they have indeed made up!  Sasha still doesn’t know what she’s going to do.  Later on, back at Sasha’s place she reveals to her friend that she’s leaning towards keeping the baby.  She wants to make her own family and have someone that will love her all her own.  Michael doesn’t think this is the best idea and we find out later that he goes to Tracey with his misgivings.

  Tracey has a talk with Sasha and reveals that she too was pregnant as a teenager and she gave the baby up for adoption.  She has decided that she’s going to be there for Sasha and help her no matter what she decides despite the teacher/student boundaries she insisted on earlier.

 As for Maashous, nothing too big happens with him.  He’s still unsure about the whole mom thing, but he tells Mr. and Mrs. M about it because he needs a ride.  Later he has a heart to heart with Mr. M about all the nice things they’ve done for him.  It’s unsaid, but basically staying with them was more like a family than any of his other foster homes.  He does end up meeting with his mom, but we don’t really find out how that goes in this episode.  All we see is them hugging while Mr. and Mrs. M watch on and Mrs. M cries.

  In the most dramatic part of the show, let us circle back to the sexy video, fallout and Dad!Robert.

  Simon gets eyes on this petition at some point and confronts his mother about it, because her name is on the thing, and he feels betrayed. She’s his only support at home after all.   (He’s the only drama kid whose parents have signed this, by the way, which just makes it all worse.)   Mom tells him that she’ll take care of it and we get a glance at the petition too. 

She did not sign it.  Seems Dad!Robert has taken it upon himself to include her without her permission. 

  She confronts him on this when he gets home and this does not go well at all.  He thinks she would have been glad to have her agency taken away, because clearly she should be on his side.  He is only protecting his family, and it is the Christianly thing to do.  She stands up to him.  He thinks he’s helping Simon, Mom says he’s only hurting him by not letting him be himself.  Dad wonders what she means by this and…basically does the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going “lalalalala”  Supportive Mom (Patricia!) doesn’t let him get away with it though and she follows him for more confrontation.

Turns out they are in some kind of loveless marriage where he never looks at her or touches her or anything like that.  She wonders if this isn’t about Simon could it be about him?  She more or less just asks him if it’s because he’s gay and hiding behind religion that he’s doing this.  He nopes right on out of the conversation again and storms out of the room while telling her he will never stop protecting his family.  He totally does not answer her question. (I was right!) 

PS. Simon is upstairs with his sister while this yelling conversation is happening.  He hears the entire thing.

Back at school the next week, Mr. M finds out that the whole entire PTA have now joined Simon’s dad’s crusade.  The woman he is speaking to about it wonders what he was thinking.  It looks like Mr. M is wondering the same thing.

  Meanwhile, in the office, Tracey is meeting with Principal Whatever, who has now become Principal Action Man, because the school board, the pta, the community, everybody is basically on his ass about the content of the show.

(Tracey and Mr. M basically keep trying  and trying to explain that the video isn’t representative of the show for this entire episode, but nobody is believing them.)

 Anyway, Principal wants her to rework the show so it is PG.  If she does, he will take the drama program away from Mr. M and give it back to her.  He knows she wants the job after all!  And that is the end of the episode!

 

via GIPHY

Next Time: Will Tracey sacrifice the art for the job?  Will Simon’s dad succeed?  Will something tragic happen to either Vanessa or Coach Sam?  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Dak Watches: Rise: S01E07


Episode 7 (for real): This Will God Willing Get Better

 I feel like this title is missing some commas

 

PS: In case this is something I need to say for something that’s been kicking around in some form since the 19th century: Spoilers for Spring Awakening ahead, FYI

 We start off with Mr. M and Tracey placing the poster for the show up on an easel in what I presume is the main lobby of the school, but doesn’t look like the main lobby for a school.  I feel like this may be because there was a carpet and potted plants in the background.  These are things that just do not mix with hundreds of teenagers trampling through so I don’t know where they are.  There may be some schools out there with fancy pants auditoriums separate from the main building, but–  I dunno, speaking from experience, small industrial towns in this area of the country don’t tend to pass a lot of levies for extra $$$s.  (I’m not bitter).  Also, there’s a lot of traffic behind them for a separate auditorium, and this is a lot of paragraph for some small detail, but I just want to know where the hell they are!

 Anyway, Mr. M and Tracey are uncharacteristically delighted and taking selfies with the poster when Principal Whatever comes up to them.  (I will call him that because not only did he just wave his hand and give Mr. M Tracey’s job, but also did not fire anybody or suspend any students for starting a huge bonfire out of the Pirates of Penzance costumes in the school parking lot.)

 Seems as if Spring Awakening isn’t getting much interest in the way of tickets.  Mr. M is sure it will all work out since they have a poster now.  The title of this episode says otherwise.   Later on we will learn that Principal W. has decided that the ticket sales for this show will determine the theatre budget for next year.  This isn’t an established thing, it’s just something Principal W. decided just now.  He says that Pirates of Penzance sold out the last time, so there should be no problem.

  I just think this guy really wanted to see Pirates of Penzance.  Perhaps, as principal, he fancies himself the very model of a modern major-general?

(Later Mr. M is shown doing his actual job of teaching English where he then tries to convince the class to buy tix, but it’s as awkward and unsuccessful as you imagine.)

 In other Mr. M storylines, it is tech rehearsal week.  Tracey gives us the run down of how this is some sort of nightmare portion of putting on a show.  I guess where they figure out whatever will go wrong and try to get everything working smoothly.

  Mr. M jumps right over her and is all: Let’s do it!  The whole show!  Go!

Tracey informs him that this is not how it works.  They take it a portion at a time–  But you know Mr. M.  Go big or go home I guess.  Murphy’s law quickly descends upon him.  The band drowns out the singers, the prop master forgets his props, a lift is super noisy, and QB (Name Robbie!) has forgotten everything he ever learned about acting in this short time.  Mr. M tells him he’s doing great anyway, I suppose so he doesn’t flee back to football.  It’s basically a disaster.  They go back to Tracey’s idea of working a bit at a time.

We will meet back up with Mr. M and his impending breakdown when we get to his son

Now for the kiddos

Lilette / QB / Star (Gwen!!): Well, Lilette herself doesn’t get a lot to do in this ep except trying to convince Robbie that he isn’t a terrible actor.  I think deep down he knows that he isn’t at his best.  He’s got a lot of football feels right now though.  He’s still benched.  Thanks, Mr. M for the amazing advice.

  Anyway, it’s her mom that gets more focus this time.  She does have an awkward encounter with Coach (Sam!) in the Motel walkway, where he offers to move to a different location if being there is too much.  She says that’s not necessary, and the next thing you know the affair is back on!  I’m not sure where we’re going here, because it seems like he does actually like her, he is still getting divorced, and yet doesn’t take the ring off.  Maybe it’s the guilt trips that Gwen is throwing at him in a steady stream that’s keeping it on his finger, probably he’s just a cheating douche.  In any case, these two seem to spend almost the entire episode holed up in  his room, and Lilette only appears to ask where her mom has been all night one morning when she finally does return home. 

  Mom doesn’t tell her that she’s gotten back with El Cheatoh and just pretends that she popped out early to get Lilette’s favorite breakfast sandwich and coffee.  Lilette is not suspicious at all, she’s just grateful beams proudly at her and thanks her for taking a job she didn’t want to help a daughter out.  Oh, Lilette.

  Later on, Gwen feels like she’s been too hard on her dad this whole time, not getting rides with him to and from school and giving him the cold shoulder for the divorce.  She decides to bring him a piece of pizza and happens to see Lilette’s mom there.  I presume he doesn’t get the pizza and the cold shoulder is back on.  She hasn’t started taking it out on Lilette again yet.  We shall see.

 Meanwhile, Pregnant girl (Sasha!) is standing at her locker and her boyfriend is giving her money and telling her to take care of it.  She hasn’t yet decided whether or not she’s keeping the baby.  Michael (who wasn’t really in the last ep.) is watching this all go down and he tries to get her to open up, she’s not having it and doesn’t want to discus it with him, but he twigs on to her pregnancy pretty quickly.  He wants to talk/help/be there for her, but she just brushes him off.

  Later on at the pizza place — I forgot why they were all even there, but a bunch of them end up there at some point — Sasha’s boyfriend shows up and basically blabs her entire business to everybody because she’d sent him a text about how she wasn’t ready to decide quite yet. (He decided so that’s all that matters to him)  Michael decides to stand up to him for her, boyfriend  decides to get transphobic at Michael, and then Michael slams him up against a decorative glass window that is for some reason right in the middle of the restaurant.  Everybody jumps up to prevent this huge fight.  It manages not to escalate further than that, but Sasha is mad at Michael.  He says he just wanted to help her, but she thinks he was just getting in a fight because it seemed like the guy thing to do and she doesn’t even know who he is anymore. 

  We find out through the course of this that Sasha and Michael used to be BFFs when they have a heart to heart in a stairwell later on.  Sasha’s upset that Michael put distance between them.  He was going through a lot of things too at the time realizing he is trans.  She was just hurt that he didn’t tell her/give her a chance to understand.  I think they made up.

  Meanwhile again, we learn that there is a backstage lounge area with a toaster, because Simon is eating burnt toast and Barb (Annabelle!) is making plans to pick up where they left off at the steel mill.  Her parents will be out of the house and they will be able to “Rock it” all night.  (Her words.  Who taught you this euphemism, Annabelle???)  Simon agrees to this without melting away from second hand embarrassment, though I do.  Rock it????

  Over in the lounge area, his scene partner — Nobody has said his name in this episode or the last one that I can recall!  Who is he?  Is he too just coming to realizations of sexuality?  Was he already out?  What is up? — Anyway, he is getting the gossip about how Annabelle and Simon totally did it in the foreman’s office at the steel mill.  He naturally wants to confront Simon about this once they are alone.

    They get in an argument about who kissed whom and Simon basically confirms the rumors.  Why not; she is his girlfriend after all.  But what about the scene / flirting during rehearsal???

Acting!

  Guy is all hurt and upset and tells Simon not to touch him or anything during the scene anymore.  Simon pretends like he doesn’t know why this person with a major crush on him who thought they were having flirtations doesn’t want to act in a romantic scene with him anymore.

  Later, at Annabelle’s, they are in the midst of attempting to ‘Rock it’ but it’s just not happening.  Simon at the last second of seconds just cannot go through with it.  He tries the ‘it’s not you, it’s me line’ and she just yells at him to get the hell away from her.  He leaves with a single tear rolling down his cheek.

Back at Mr. M’s home for wayward teens, Maashous has broken a dryer in an attempt to dry his shoe (He stepped in paint during the disaster rehearsal at the beginning of the ep.)  He catches Mrs. M. yelling about the $400 estimate to fix the thing and later is attempting to fix it in the middle of the night for her.  She catches him, he admits he’s the one who broke it, and she gets stern and tells him that they don’t lie in this house.

  Maashous gets sassy and says he missed the no lying sign.  It’s a tense situation. 

  He also gets a call from his actual foster mom.  Y’know the one who’s committing fraud by getting $$ for a kid she’s not watching?  Anyway, they have to meet with social services!  It’s not terrible news– or maybe it is.  Turns out his mom, who has been in jail since he was a wee lad, is out now.  She’s doing well and has a place and they are going to be reunited!  In another town.  Maashous seems reluctant about this of course.  He’s in a good place right now.

   After getting yelled at for the dryer, Mrs. M catches him packing.  She gives him a hug, tells him to put his stuff away, and that they are family now even if they sometimes get mad at each other, that doesn’t mean they get kicked out.  Clearly this is a new definition of family for Maashous.

  He doesn’t tell anybody about his mom.

And Finally, Mr. M’s alcoholic son, Gordy.  He’s in rehab and seems to be in a good place too.  Everything is going great!  He makes eyes at Gwen.  She confronts him and he says she ‘calms him down’.  When she catches him doing laundry at school they run away to a have sex somewhere on a lovely Pennsylvanian beach. (Please let there be only one teen pregnancy storyline, please.)

  Later we learn that Gordy hasn’t actually been doing great in rehab.  The team leader there says that though he gets along with everybody, he’s just going through the motions.  His heart isn’t in it.

 Mr. M is mad and takes that misplaced anger out on the kids during rehearsal.  Especially Robbie.  To start things off on the wrong foot, Simon and that Guy’s scene is basically in shambles now.  Apparently it was the only scene that was working thus far.  The icing on this terrible cake is Robbie still having trouble with the cemetery scene.  Tracey doesn’t even want to work on this scene to end rehearsal, but you know Mr. M.  He gets what he wants.  Anyway, Robbie is acting the death of his best friend and the love of his life with all the emotion of sturdy plank of wood.  Mr. M just goes off on him and dumb football (his heart isn’t in the show! just like Gordy’s heart isn’t in rehab.  Get it?).

  Football is something Robbie cares about a lot though, so he storms off yelling about how he gave up everything for the dumb play.  Mr. M storms off because the whole thing has become a shit show and starts scattering props all over the prop room.  Tracey catches him and tells him to stop it, and like a giant man baby he dumps more props out right in front of her.  The play sucks, they aren’t selling tickets, everything is doomed and they should have just done Grease.

Probably. 

Tracey attempts to inject a little optimism into the proceedings and tells him they just sold 30 tickets!  Yay!   hahah, turns out Mr. M bought those tickets.  It’s all a disaster.  Tracey thinks they should just go back down and finish rehearsal because Robbie isn’t the only kid counting on him.  Mr. M says no and walks away.   Duuude.  I. Can’t. Even. 

Now’s your chance, Tracey!  Take back the drama program!

She kind of does.  As Mr. M is leaving the school he hears the strains of music.  He returns the rehearsal where the kids are doing a great job at one of the songs.  He stands there, very touched by their performance, with one tear rolling down his cheek.

Next time:  Will Gordy get a lecture?  Will Maashous go home?  Who’s going to be mad at Simon this time?  I have but one more name to learn; will I learn it??

WILL things get better????

 

Dak Watches: Rise: S01E???


RISE: Episode 5 Something; Bring me Stanton

I’m starting in the middle, or Whose turn is it for Mr. M to undermine this week?

The shop teacher. It’s the shop teacher.

Let’s start with Mr. M’s storyline. He, with the help of Maashous, his not really his foster kid foster kid. (Mr. M gets all of the child raising, none of the government subsidies. This cannot be legal. I look forward to the episode where child services comes and Maashous runs away to live in an abandoned factory or something.)

There was a thought here, what was it? Oh, yes, Maashous and Mr. M have created a mockup of the set. Admittedly this looks pretty cool and even has a working smokestack. It is a mashup of the actual setting of Spring Awakening I guess, I’ll take his word for it, and this old broken Pennsylvania steeltown in which they live in now. (Full disclosure, Spring Awakening is a show I have not seen) Mr. M, as with everything else to do with the show, is determined to make this set work despite costs and labor. Tracy (rightful drama teacher) is just over here in the corner not even bothering to really argue anymore, probably because she’ll just get another lecture about how Mr. M wants to bring something deep and meaningful to the town. She’s not the one who will be getting that speech in this episode.

Don’t get me wrong, the speech is happening. For sure.

Meanwhile, Lillette (Newbie usurper whose mom had an affair with the football coach, who by the way is also the usual star’s dad.) She has to pull double shifts at the diner where she works because her mom totally, justifiably, and literally kicked the ass of the boss who has apparently been groping her for years. Mr. M rearranges the entire rehearsal schedule to accommodate this because none of the other children have lives to attend to. I think they are starting at 9p.m. This is ridiculous of course, which the kids point out after one of the NPC’s moms storms in and yells at Mr. M. Like, they have jobs and midterms and homework and family too, Mr. M. Geez. Everybody starts arguing and blaming football guy, but this time his schedule isn’t to blame. Lilette speaks up for him, takes the blame… more arguing. Mr. M finally sends everybody home

You too have lots of family, teach. Somehow THIS late rehearsal wasn’t supposed to even run late and he has missed date night with his long suffering wife. She is already in bed by the time he comes home bearing chinese food that he begged the restaurant for because they had already shut the grills off for the night. She is the one who gets the lecture about how he wants to create something amazing and beautiful or whatever, and he somehow doesn’t have to sleep on the couch.

Meanwhile, Tracy is being a good and supportive teacher. One of the students is pregnant. She’s really upset and T is there to be a shoulder to cry on. Later she shows up at the students house to hold her hand and be there as she tells her dad. I don’t remember what this student’s name is yet because she’s been in the background thus far, but we shall see what the future holds.

As for football guy, who is a main character, but I don’t remember his name either. He’s over at practice forgetting is football lines (aka The Playbook) Coach has had it up to the ears with him since he blew the last game. When a scout was there no less! Les gasp! Coach benches him in favor of the second string QB who can at least call the correct plays and throw a pass. Our QB is upset at this of course. Nobody likes to be benched, so he goes and memorizes the playbook and begs coach to give him another chance. (We won’t mention how that would be totally unfair to backup QB, who is probably really excited about getting a start. Could you imagine Coach going up to that guy all “I know you probably invited your entire extended family out to watch you get some play time, but, Psych!”) Coach isn’t having it anyway and gives him an ultimatum basically. Football or Theatre. Ahh, a timeless choice. He is torn, and goes to the best man for advice… Mr. M.

The advice? Call coaches bluff. So that is what QB does. It remains to be seen if this works, because he is still benched come gametime. We don’t really see how backup QB does in this game, because we are focused on our QB’s sadness as he sits all alone on the sidelines. (How a single tear is not rolling down his cheek in this moment, I don’t know.) At least we are spared his dad’s surely OTT reaction at this development.

Quick update on Lilette: She has given her mother a list of jobs she can apply for, the responsible thing to do. Mom doesn’t want to be a Latina stereotype and take a job as a maid, so she has made other plans. She sees a lawyer about suing the diner boss for sexual harassment. This could set them up for life! Lilette is just done with her at this point, since she’s doing the work of two and Mom wants to sue the man who signs her checks on top of it. The rents due, the utilities are past due, and the kid is at the end of her rope with all of this and the show. Mom is all, god forbid, the show, and Lilette is like, yeah, far be it from me to have a little joy or whatever.

Now for Simon. Dear, dear, simon. ~sigh~ He is now back at drama high. He was at that fancy private school for like .2 seconds before telling mom and dad that he wants to go back to public school. It was a surprisingly easy convincing after all of dad’s ragey disapproval. But, yeah, I feel like they’re angling for an ex-gay/conversion therapy storyline with dad, because the reason he gave in so easily is because sympathetic mom asked him to give one reason why this particular show and his son’s part in it are the straw that broke the camel’s back. And dad was just like, okay fine, go back to that devil school, we are not talking about this anymore. I maybe be wrong, but I’m just throwing out guesses on how everybody could be more miserable with more added dramaz and secretz.

So, Simon is back, and like, super desperate to keep the closet door shut tight. His scene partner has other ideas. I don’t know this guys name either, but he seems determined to have a talk bout the ~feelings~ that he is ~feeling~ toward Simon. It all seems a bit abrupt, because this dude hasn’t said a whole lot so far, mostly sidelong glances and whatnot. I think they maybe had one or two conversations on screen. I could have just dozed off during of Mr. M’s speeches though.

Anyways, Simon, basically trying to get as far away from this feelings talk as he can without breaking into a literal run, is all, Plz get away, you’re being creepy, wanting to hang out and run lines all the time, we are in the zone of friendship only!!

Dude doesn’t back down and ends up kissing Simon in the parking lot. Simon immediately jumps into his car and flees. Later on he is determined to take it to the next level with the girl he is dating whose name I also don’t remember, but she was Barb on stranger things. She’s all, cool lets do it, so Simon goes out shopping with BFF Lilette for condoms and sundries like he knows what he’s doing. Of course Lilette does her best to steer him away from this giant mistake in the making, but he has made up his mind.

Back in coachland, his daughter, former theatre company Star, whose name… Okay, I only remember a handful of names, I am sorry! I should make a cheat sheet! Anyway, she is still bitter at dad for continuing to divorce her mom. He’s not seeing Lilette’s mom anymore, but still the divorce, because it just wasn’t working either way. This is where we meet back up with Mr. M’s dream set storyline.

Mr. M has basically promised to buy all the materials needed for the set on his own dime, which he revealed to his wife in the speech that he’s spent 400 dollars on for plywood and such so far. He’s annoyed that the shop class has not made the smokestack round. It has to be round! Shop teach is like, this is a square smokestack, sorry about your luck, my students aren’t your personal form of slave labor, dude. Mr. M is put out about it of course. His wife later convinces him that he can build an amazing set on a dime. Next rehearsal, he and Maashous smash the set mockup with 2x4s and give the students the new plan. Their after school activity homework is to bring him deep and meaningful junk from around town!

(We get an old church window, a rusty railway crossing, and a jukebox that Lilette found in the back of the diner and made out with football guy on top of)

And for the crowning set piece, we will now revisit Star. She’s looking through an old trunk and finds a hard hat from the old steel mill that Coach used to foreman at. She gets a great idea and texts all her theatre buds + non theatre pal, Mr. M’s alcoholic son, Gordy. They break into the old mill to find that the Stanton Steel Sign and quintessential piece of town history she remembered from childhood is way, way huger than she remembered, and they can’t steal it for the show, for they are but teenageres and lack the power tools and trucks to remove it. Alas. At least they have booze and can hang, so it’s not a total loss. Star and Gord chill on a catwalk and chat about the glory days of milling and Gord gives his beer a meaningful look.

Meanwhile Simon and Barb sneak away for a cringey and awkward makeout sesh, but thankfully the cops arrive to bust up the party before they get too far. Star tells Gord to go, and she will take the blame, and later we find out that dad was able to get her out of an arrest for breaking and entering. She’s still mad at him though and tells him she just wanted the stupid sign for the stupid play. We can see where this is going, right?

Later, we are at rehearsal and everything looks pretty good for a cobbled together junk set, and who walks in, but guilty dad Coach and the pièce de résistance, the steel mill sign. Yay! One thing went right in this ep!

Wrapping up:

Gord arrives home from the B&E to finally tell his mom that he thinks he needs help for his alcoholism. So, I guess coach’s tough love approach wasn’t working out after all.

And finally, Lillette’s mom comes to a rehearsal, catches her daughter performing that “Mother” song from the show (I don’t know the actual title of the song), and decides to take a job as a maid after all. As it turns out her new job just happens to be at the motel where Coach is living now.

Because, of course it is!

Next time: Will someone new get the speech about how deep and meaningful theatre is? Will Gordy stick with rehab? Will QB get a chance to redeem himself footballwize? Will Coach and Lilette’s mom have an awkward encounter in the motel walkway? Will I learn anybody’s name? Stay tuned!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 3


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 3;  Beauty and the Boob

What is this?  A recap? I have not abandoned this brick, no.  I took some time off to read many other things. So, since it’s been 84 years, let’s  recap!

Last time:

Valjean was hiding in a convent, eating cheese with Fauchelevent, getting buried alive, raising Cosette, and escaping would be murderer/extortionists as well as Javert.

Marius was disowned and had no friends but  then fell in with a bunch of radicals via bald eagle. He lost his mind over Napoleon then lost his mind over a girl then foiled a dastardly murder plot and lost all hope and his home (again), so he moved in with Courfeyrac, because…

Courfeyrac was everywhere, Bossuet got kicked out of lawyer school and waxed poetic about butterflies. Jehan knew about love and flowers, Bahorel gave Jolllly good advice about trousers. Enjolras was busy planning revolution; blond hair flowing in the wind whilst Grantaire succeeded at witty banter and dressing the part but failed at inspiring the people and also at dominoes.

The Thenardiers were exposed and Patron Minette was arrested except for mysterious Claquesous and murdery Montparnasse, the evil anti-Enjolras. Javert terrified Paris to the point of thieves and murderers not bothering to resist arrest.  He was generally annoyed at all the baddies that have escaped him and one Marius Pontmercy whose name he does not remember. Mabeuf is still trying to grow indigo plants in France, and Grandpa G. was being a dick to every single one of his living relatives.

And finally, Èponine clearly has the hots for Marius, who remains totally clueless about it despite her promises of future domestic bliss, sock mending , and declarations of his attractiveness as spoken from her lips directly into his own ears on more than one occasion.  She is currently on her way to deliver our bambi to his one true lady love that he’s never uttered a word to.

But, before we get to this epic clash of true love… I assume it’s going to be epic since we’ve been waiting three or five or whatever years for Marius to finally speak to this girl.  First we must discuss in great detail what Jean Valjean has been up to all these years. I swear, after my prolonged hiatus, if we go through this entire chapter without Marius and Cosette meeting, I’m going to be very disappointed. <strike> (I have a feeling I’m going to be very disappointed.)</strike>  It has now become clear to me upon completion of this chapter that we are now going to engage in the story that we have already read, but from some different POVs. Maybe I didn’t need a recap after all? Oh, well–onward!

The first thing you might be asking yourself is why, oh why did Valjean leave the safe haven of the convent at Petit Picpus?  It was the perfect hiding spot after all. You know, if you’re going to insist on parking it in the same city that Javert is patrolling anyway.  I know, Paris is a large city, what are the chances? France is a pretty spacious country too, yet they still keep running into each other. The odds are not in your favor, Valjean.

As for his reasoning for leaving the convent, he is Cosette’s father for all intents and purposes and he didn’t want her to grow to resent him for basically roping her into nunhood before she got a chance to go out and experience the world for herself. This is something Valjean will come to regret.  His opening to leave comes when old Fauchelevent passes away.

Let’s have a moment for good old Fauchelevent, shall we…

Valjean tells the nuns that he has come into some money and he shall be leaving them. I kind of feel bad for the nuns.  Now they’re out two gardeners in one swoop. Anyway, he sets up three places around Paris a safe distance apart: Rue de l’Ouest, Rue de l’Homme-Armé, and the place at Rue Plumet.

A little history about this secluded piece of the city, because of course, we must have backstory on anything and everything, including Valjean’s house:

The place on Rue Plumet is the place that an old Judge used to keep his mistresses.  Back in those days the bourgeois would hide their mistresses while the lords would parade them around.  The judge had another little building out in the back of the garden where secret doctors or nurses could come and take care of the secret mistresses and secret babies without anybody knowing about it.  There was a secret path hidden by secret gardens that led out the back and emerged a ¼ mile away on a different street. This is the way the Judge would come and go to the house.

The point:  Shhh, it’s a secret, and that’s exactly the way Valjean likes it!  His days of parading around town doing philanthropic works all willy-nilly as a mayor are over!

Though he would spend time here and there at the other places, Rue Plumet is is where Jean Valjean’s HQ was.   He lived there with one old housekeeper named Toussaint, that he chose because she was an old country lady, and Cosette.  Cosette lives in a fabulous decked out bedroom in the house and wants for nothing while Valjean makes his home in the secret shack out back.  There is also a huge detailed passage at this point in this chapter about the secret garden, because, as we know by now, gardens are super important and very symbolic. (In short: The garden is a microcosm of the galaxy, Cosette is the naive and innocent heart, she has returned purity to this place after all that judge’s shenanigans. etc etc…)  This very symbolic garden Valjean has let grow wild so that the neighbors in their fancy houses won’t suspect anything, and nary a soul would even know about the secret path was there. I should hope so. It would be a terrible secret path if everybody knew about it. Oh! But if the birdies could gossip!

As for Valjean himself, he is hiding in plain sight by being in the National Guard.  He has no problems joining up and doing his duty as a taxpaying citizen, even despite his passing retirement age.  He is sixty now. Officially. And he doesn’t even look a day over fifty. Apparently Valjean is aging backwards, because ten years ago when he picked up Cosette at the Sergeant of Waterloo, he was in his fifties and I thought he was already in his sixties.

He no longer talks of Fantine as Cosette grows older.  He doesn’t know exactly why, but that perhaps she her modesty has been returned to her in death and he shouldn’t speak of her so as not to disturb her final peace.  Meanwhile Cosette dreams of her as an angel.

Valjean also goes on walks with Cosette at the Luxembourg Gardens choosing the most secluded area to frequent, of course.  Just to be on the safe side. He is proud of her and ultimately happy in his life at this point for having Cosette’s love. Unfortunately for him this area of the garden was not safe from wandering students.

As for Cosette, she grows up with the impression that she is just the plainest most homely creature that has ever existed, and maybe she was for a time.  She is actually a very sweet child. Even though Valjean seems to be perfectly willing to give her whatever she wants and the front garden for her do as she pleases,  she would just rather hang out with him in his out back shack instead of the big house and she insists on eating what he eats etc. But, as life goes on, people grow up, and one day Cosette wakes up,  looks in the mirror, and realizes that she is beautiful and that the dudes whispering about pretty girls out on the street are actually really talking about her. She can hardly believe it at first, but it’s true.  Thusly, Cosette becomes more interested in going out and being around the front garden where the gate is and the passersby roam rather than hanging with Dad all the time. She likes all the pretty frilly girly things in life now.  She’s greatly interested in the fashions of the day and the boys of the day. It’s kind of like the exact opposite reaction that Marius had to people whispering in the street about his hottie status. Basically, Cosette is just a typical teenager doing her teenage thing.  Valjean reacts in the dadly way by freaking out about it. He is wholly unprepared for his daughter’s entrance into young adulthood.  He has no idea how to react.  When Cosette first dons her fashionable ‘LaNoir’ gear and asks what Valjean thinks about it, he wonders why she doesn’t wear her old clothes.

“That getup!”  she said.  “Father, what would you have me do with it?  Oh, I’ll never wear those awful things again.  With that object on my head, I look like Madame Mad-Poodle.”

– I think Weird Al made an album about this hat–

 

Cosette in the meanwhile is greatly interested in that specific student that’s always loitering around that secluded area of the Luxembourg.  So, Marius wasn’t totally imagining her interest in some sort of lovesick fever dream after all. Good to know! It’s a requited love story despite the fact that they never speak to each other.  In fact, it was Cosette herself that suggested she and Valjean take a walk past Marius that fateful day when they made the eye contact that officially launched Marius into lovefoolish stalker territory.  She was completely fed up with his inability to make a move. We heard all about this from Marius’s point of view already, but now we know that Cosette orchestrated it.

Meanwhile, Valjean is over here hating all of this.  His daughter is the only love in his life and he’s just in fits thinking about her leaving him.  He’s teetering back on the edge of angry convict Valjean again because of this. This of course, makes him really hate poor Marius, whom he constantly thinks of as an awkward boob this entire chapter.  Clearly he is no good for Cosette, and Valjean is under the impression that she doesn’t particularly care about Marius one way or the other when he asks her about him.

This is not true.  She is 100% into Marius and his passionate nostrils.  She just a bit more subtle about it than Monsieur Pontmercy.   As for Marius, boy does Valjean have him figured out right from the start.  He knows Marius is pretend reading just to be near them and sprucing up his wardrobe to catch Cosette’s eye, and all of that we read from Marius’s point of view earlier.

Well, instead of bringing out intimidating former convict Valjean to just tell Marius to go back to wherever he came from and stop making eyes at Cosette, (I mean, I’m assuming strangers  in a public garden in the 19th century were allowed to speak words to each other without kingly intervention. Right? Maybe not.) We heard all about how Valjean tricked Marius into following them around just to make sure that the kid was indeed being a creeper and Marius falls for it completely, even following them all the way to their damn house. Again, C’mon, Marius. Dude.

This is when Valjean moves and stops with the garden strolls.  This not only upsets Marius, but also Cosette. It really does nothing to push her back into the old days of her childhood, hanging out in the outback shack with dad.  In fact, the next time Valjean suggests a trip to garden, she is overjoyed. Her joy is quickly shadowed by the fact that Marius no longer loiters around there anymore.  What would be the point? Cosette no longer gives a toss about garden strolls.

Later, Valjean has found alternate and isolated walking areas at the edge of  the city in some nice fields. Cosette likes them so she can run around and play, making daisy chains and the like.  Valjean likes them because they are out of the way. Just so happens one day as they are near the Barrière du Maine at dawn when a parade of convicts chained up in carts comes down the road.  It is explained that this convoy is going down this particular road to avoid the King’s kingly carriage path. This path was earlier detailed in the chapter in which Valjean first arrived in Paris.

Anyhow, the point of this is not really the King’s comings and goings, it’s Valjean’s chagrin.  This is not a thing he wants Cosette to be exposed to, and he for sure doesn’t want her to know about his past life of crime. Unfortunately she’s the one that points out these approaching wagons while Valjean is gazing around at the sky having some cosmic musings while Venus is on the rise.   Meanwhile, she is naturally curious about this foul mouthed chain gang now before her with a gathering crowd and a pack of gamin. We learn about each cart having a distinct personality including the final one which is piled up with maybe actually dead people. The guards have no qualms about beating any of the men.

Cosette is the most curious of cats and asks what’s up.  Who are they? Where are they going? Are they men? (are they Devo?)  Valjean tells her that they are convicts, heading to jail, and sometimes they are men.  Any further questions Cosette has throughout the night he doesn’t even answer, because he does not want to discuss this anymore.  Later, near bedtime she’s still got them on her mind and is talking under her breath later like a valley girl: “O my God, I would just die from seeing [A convict] near me”   Which has got to hurt Valjean right in the heart. Ouch!

Valjean manages to distract her with a conveniently timed festival over the coming week!  It works for a short while, but sometime later while he is observing her posing questions of love by plucking the petals of a Daisy  (Do I love thee: A little? A lot? Passionately? Not?) and wondering where the hell she learned this game, she asks one more time. What are convicts?

Cliffhanger!

Will Valjean have an answer?  A confession?

Will we rehash an entirely different part of the story we already read?

Will we return to Eponine leading Marius to his one true love?

Something else entirely?

Until next time, stay tuned!

Search Query Roundup!


I’m am still here!  I’ve been taking a break reading other things and haven’t blogged at you in a while. Mostly because, even though I still have half a book to go, it feels like everybody is about to perish so I’ve been avoiding it and catching up on my reading list.  ( I hope you already knew that and it’s not a spoiler!  If not, can I join you beneath that rock?)

So, to refresh my memory, and because I feel bad for not having all the answers, I’ve trawled through my search query webstats to see what’s bringing people around here and concocted a sort of Q&A.

The rules are: I won’t search anything myself or answer queries for just a character’s name because A. It’s more fun when I have no idea what I’m talking about and B. Most of them are Les Miserables / Dr. Who related searches, and, really, if you don’t know who Courfeyrac is by now, you’re not paying attention. (Because Courfeyrac is everywhere!)

Though, I will give a shout-out for whomever is checking for Royol! (This is Mabeuf’s non-Marius, non-Housekeeping, non-Sultan the Cat friend, aka the bookseller for the record)

Without further ado, the 29 most answerable queries in my webstats!

1. Official TARDIS blue:

I feel like there is probably an official colour, but it hasn’t always been the same one through the years. This unhelpful answer has been brought to you by the colour blue and the letter T.

2. Les Miserables Nun Sleep Coffin:

I share your confusion, searcher. I suspect something is lost in translation, like the melon jackets, the fierce mustaches, and the rash waistcoats, but there’s no way I can be sure unless I wake up tomorrow French and read the original manuscript then research the sleeping habits of nuns in 19th century France. Maybe their beds are called coffins? Their bedrooms are called cells after all. As it stands this particular nun was buried in the coffin she slept in, and I think I’m just going to have to take that at face value.

3. Was Baron Pontmercy right to give up Marius so he could have a bigger inheritance.

Wow, going for the big questions here, I see. I’m afraid there is no definitive answer to that one, my friend. It is pretty much up to you whether or not you think it was right or not. Everybody involved loves Marius and thinks they were doing what was best for him either way. It’s not like Georges kicked the child to the curb and went along his merry bachelor way.

Personally, because I know you searched all of the internet to find out about my personal opinions, I feel that someone is wrong at least, despite intentions. His name begins with “G” and ends with “illenormand” (and his first name is not Théodule) for the record. Not for giving Marius a chance at an upbringing with more opportunity, but did he really have to cut Georges out and badmouth him in front of the kid?

As for Georges, well, he is the one with the fab garden. Take from that what you will.

I have to wonder though, what would Marius have turned out like had he grown up with his dad instead of Grandpa G.? He probably would never have crossed paths with the Eagle of Meaux or been in law school at all or spotted Cosette at the Luxembourg Garden. Just something to ponder for your next search query.

4. Weeping Angel background trick.

Is it sawing a lady in half? Escaping from a straightjacket while submerged in a tank of water? I’m afraid I’m not really up to par on my weeping angles lore. They aren’t my favourite Dr. Who baddies. In fact, they kind of bore me these days. Sorry! Wake me up when the Cheetah People make a comeback.

5. Who is Mother Plutarch in Les Misérables

I know this one! She is Church Warden Mabeuf’s houskeeper! Her cat’s name is Sultan, and they have matching whiskers! (These are the things I remember when I write things down…which is my entire purpose for blogging about this book!)

Also, I think this is the perfect place for me to express my desire for someone to write a fic from the POV of Sultan the cat. It could be like Blitzcat for the July Revolution. (If someone writes this, they better tell me!)
6. For all Paris of America questions, please see the about section!

7. doctor who protest button

*spoilers* This is the from a glorious space whale episode. (Space whales are always glorious and majestic, not the episode necessarily.)

You see after the Earth has become uninhabitable, the human race has taken to the stars upon the backs of space whales. The humans believe these creatures must be controlled by cracking open their whale skulls and zapping them directly in the brain with electricity.

Every year the population views a video about the torture this poor creature must endure and either votes to protest or forget. The protesters get flushed and become space whale food. How humans know that Space Whales will eat people is beyond me. It’s not like they have a ready food supply of them out in space where they lived before they came to Earth.

Anyway, turns out the whales just wanted to help, and we totally didn’t have to brain zap them.

In short, the human race is the worst, and we never ever learn. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout all of history, fictional and non-fictional. (But we will never learn, because we are the worst.)

P.S. Hopefully you found the actual answer to this really vague search in the recap.
8. mademoiselle gillenormand pronunciation of the name

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you already know how to pronounce Mademoiselle. Without looking it up, I’m going to guess Gillenormand probably sounds a lot like it looks, except the D is maybe silent? Am I right? I don’t know. I took German in high school and Double LLs can be tricky. Sometimes they make L sounds, sometimes they make Y sounds, sometimes they sound like whatever that sound is that they’re supposed to sound like at the beginning of a word in Welsh.

Sorry for the lack of help here. On to the next resource where you find an audio clip of someone actually saying Gillenormand!

9. policelady

A female law enforcement officer.
10. what is the relationship between colonel baron pontmercy and m. gillenormand

Hostile.

Just kidding. never got to see them meet in the book, though that might be something interesting to explore. Get on it fic writers of the world! 😉 I imagine there would possibly be a lot of sarcasm and angry cane waving involved. As for the real answer instead of the smartarse one:

Georges married M. Gillenormand’s youngest daughter, who is no longer living and is an entirely different person than the Eldest daughter who lives with him.

Short answer: M. Gillenormand is Colonel Baron Pontmercy’s father-in-law and Marius’s maternal grandfather.
11. les pieds en l’air

Why?

I broke the rule and looked this up because I wanted see if this actually meant shoes in the air like I thought it did. It means feet in the air apparently. I was surprisingly close for someone who doesn’t know a damn lick of French.

Also, after going back and re-reading the last few entries, I now realize that this is also a dude that is in Patron Minette. I am sorry, Bizarro, but your “best nickname” status has now been revoked! I’ll just leave it up to your imagination why this guy has such a name though.

12. She Bit Him

I don’t know what you’re looking for!

13. Guns and Butterflies

Rejected names for that band Slash was in?

14. leaf occasion meaux

I have no idea, but it sounds like some kind of really formal Autumn festival that takes place in Meaux.

15. another word for waistcoat

I think the word you’re looking for is probably vest.
16. judd nelson nostrils

This isn’t really a question. It’s more of a statement of fact. I think I may have unlocked some sort of 80’s nostalgia achievement if this one brought somebody to my website.

17. clear drinks

Water, Sprite, Vodka… Crystal Pepsi?

18. dak dak altar

This is the version of Duck Duck Goose that I play in church.

And a Question from the old archives that I thought I deleted, but apparently didn’t and comments are still open:

19. Which of these happened at the trial Madeleine’s hair turns white he lost the tip of his finger he was unable to speak or his hands become numb and useless.

You guys are just looking for an answers to your homework / take home exams aren’t you? Okay, sure. It’s the first one. Or is it??? 😉

20. Why did Marius keep two suits

I had no idea this was in any way some sort of interesting plot point, because there were a few different searches for this last month. Perhaps I’m missing something deeply symbolic, or this was a question on someone’s homework to make sure they’re actually reading the book, but I just thought he had two suits so he has something to wear if the other one is out of commission for some reason.

He does have a dark green one that he wears for mourning his dad, and I know he’s not happy with that because it’s not appropriately black enough for mourning, so he only goes out at night for some period of time. And there is his best suit he wears to impress Cosette. I’m not sure if this is the same suit though. Other than that, I don’t know.

22. I’ll Black Your Boots

What are things that Grantaire will do for Enjolras?

This category also includes “Anything”.

And I’m pretty sure this has no greater meaning that a literal shoe shine, like he will literally get down on the ground and do whatever menial task this guy will ask him to do which is how I read it. It feels like a some of these things Grantaire says are straddling a line between sarcasm and sincerity. They really could go either way, so read it as you will. I could totally be wrong though, I admit it. I’m going with sincerity, but I’m no scholar so I shall leave it up to you!

23. great napoleon. his life, teenage days how he grew up etc.

Dude, just look this up on Wikipedia, or you know, that building where you can check out books. For free. Like, biographies and stuff. What’s it called? A library?

24. how does marius know the young lady name isn ursula after all

I’m guessing it’s just his conjecture once Valejean gives his name to Thenardier as “Urbaine Fabre” Marius isn’t dumb, and it’s a pretty reasonable assumption, I think.

26. people are crazy love reading lol go fetch gee omg turkey dinner ogre donkey

This feels like a search for some very specific Shrek Thanksgiving Fanfiction or something. Which you will not find here, sorry!

27. what did gillenormand find in a small black box

Georges’s note passing on his title of Baron to Marius.

28. what went wrong with the plan to get jean valjean out of the coffin

Murphy’s Law, man.

29. why was marius shocked when jondrette revealed his identity to m. leblanc

If you will remember, Georges left instruction for him to find and aid in any way possible the man who saved his life at Waterloo. This is Thenardier. Marius had been spending two or five or however many years searching for this man, and it turns out he’d been living next door to the guy the entire time.

That is pretty shocking, I’d have to say.

Also shocking, this supposedly amazing guy that saved his dad, is now attempting to extort and/or murder Cosette’s dad. All in all, this was a particularly rough day for our good friend Marius, probably ranking up there with the time he got kicked out of Grandpa G.’s home and the time Mabeuf told him that his dad wasn’t actually a horrible child abandoning beast monster, or the time he accidentally got Bossuet kicked out of law school, or the other time he got kicked out of his home for not paying rent, or the time he totally embarrassed himself about Napoleon in front of all his new friends…

Wait, has Marius had an actual good days so far?

And that is all!

Hopefully I will be able to get back to reading soon!  I think Marius is finally going to meet Cosette in my next chapter to read, so that should be interesting.

Until next time!

-M

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 2


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 2;  Larking About

Wow. You guys are never going to believe who’s homeless again. Just kidding. You’re totally going to guess, because it is Marius. As soon as the whole business with his neighbors getting arrested went down, Marius fled into the night, leaving his neighbors to speculate and assume that he was in on the whole thing.

And you’ll never–nevermind. I’ll stop trying to create any sort of suspense here. I mean, if Marius had ended up on Grandpa G.’s doorstep that might be a surprise, but no. He’s gone to trusty bff, Courfeyrac’s place. It’s a new place, because he’s moved in order to be closer to the action. The action being the forthcoming revolution that is sure to be happening. I would tell you all the names of the streets and everything, because I assure you that information is contained in the text, but I don’t think it would do much good. You know, unless you are extremely familiar with Paris or are planning your Les Misérables walking tour of France. (In which case I’d have to warn you that it’s a pretty long trek from Toulon to Montrieul Sur Mer to Paris.)

Anyway, Courfeyrac isn’t going to turn his friend out on the street and he happens to sleep on double mattresses, so there’s even an extra one for Marius. This is where he stays until… Nope.  Until nothing. This is just where he stays: on the mattress on the floor at Courfeyrac’s place.

He’s also not going to work. If he was sad before, he’s even lower now. He doesn’t even have a name to pin his hopes on anymore, because he knows his love isn’t an Ursula after all. So, now he’s extra poor, moping around, and mooching Francs off Courfeyrac to give to Thénardier in prison. Yes, you read that correctly. Even after everything, he’s still trying to help this guy out.

Marius is now in debt for the first time ever and showing no signs of coming out of it. Courfeyrac has got to be the most patient bro ever. He’s not even mad as far as I can tell.  He’s just curious about what these francs are for, and Thénardier is equally as curious about where they’re coming from.

Meanwhile, Marius tries to translate, but he can’t even concentrate on that and keeps procrastinating and going for walks instead. He’s become a master at it. That isn’t to say he’s wandering around in a fog; in fact, he’s quite aware of the goings on around him.  Everything just sucks with the thought that he might never see Cosette again hovering over him wherever he goes. He eventually finds a solitary place with a  view of Notre Dame that a passerby informs him is called the “Meadow of the Lark.” The guy attempts to give a little background info on this name, but Marius stopped listening at the word “Lark”.

He had learned from listening to the Thénardier’s that this was Cosette’s nickname, and that’s all he needs to hear to decide that this is where he is going to park himself until she comes to him. I’m sure that this foolproof plan is totally going to work, Marius.

Now let’s catch up with Javert. Javert is doing some spectacular law enforcement failing to go along with the criminal failing that happened a couple chapters ago. He did indeed suspect that the white haired man was Valjean, but he escaped again. On top of that Javert has completely forgotten Marius’s name and now cannot find him anywhere for questioning or to testify about the happenings that went down that fateful night. This is what pen and paper are for, Javert. Geez. I know these things existed in the 1830’s, even Jondrette owned them. You would think somebody at this big city police station would take down Pontmercy’s details when he went in to report a possible crime. It probably wouldn’t take much sleuthing to figure it out from there.  Though, if Javert thinks Marius would have gone home (he does), that is wrong too. I’m sure Grandpa G. would deny the boy’s existence. Who knows what Auntie the Elder would have to say.

He’s not only miffed at missing Valjean and blanking on the kid’s name, but also for not getting Montparnasse. Like pokémon, he wanted to catch them all. It says here that Montparnasse would have rather been, “Némorin with the daughter than Schinderhannes with the father.” Shinderhannes was a famous German thief, and Némorin…well, Google translate and This Text lead me to believe that they’d be friends from childhood eventually turned lovers. So, if you hadn’t already surmised what could possibly be more interesting than a good murder party, there you go.

On top of that, mysterious man of mystery, Claquesous had escaped. There is definitely talk about how this could have happened because Claquesous’s so bad that he’s on the side of good and is actually deep, deep undercover, but Javert isn’t having any of it. He’s annoyed with the whole situation.

As for Patron-Minette, the rest of the captured gang have all been put into solitary save Brujon. They leave him out in the yard so that maybe he might turn informant or something. Instead he passes along notes to the outside. The police catch wind of this and arrest some bad guys around the places that the notes were sent and think that’s the end of it.

About a week later a guard sees Brujon writing a letter. I’m not even going to explain the “chestnut” system, which is apparently some way the guard’s operate to make sure they’re checking up on the prisoners every hour, by dropping chestnut into a box, because… I cannot even envision how this would work. Chestnuts are for roasting on an open fire, guys.

Anyway, the guards do not find the letter, but they send Brujon to the dungeon anyway. The letter is about a possible crime that may go down on Rue Plumet, and it finds its way from Brujon, to Babet, who sends it to a friend on the outside, Magnon. You remember Magnon, right? She’s the mother of Grandpa G’s illegitimate non-children and friend to Thénardiers apparently. We’ll hear more on her later, I’m reading. From there she sends this note along to Èponine who, along with Azelma, have been released from whatever juvenile facility they’ve been in.

Èponine goes to case the joint on Rue Plumet and returns a biscuit. Biscuits are prison code for canceling whatever plots are afoot. So much for that.

Moving swiftly along to Father Mabeuf. He’s in as much a sad state as Marius these days. Nobody comes to visit him anymore, since Marius no longer does anything but hang out at the meadow waiting for Cosette to materialize out of thin air. Mother Plutarch is ailing, and Gui de Books is dead. Turns out the bookseller does have a name after all! His name is Royol. Mabeuf is left with his books and his indigo plants and that’s it. He doesn’t laugh anymore, but he still has hope that one day his flowers will grow.

One night Mabeuf is out in his garden trying to water his indigo. He’s having a rough time getting the water out of his well when a girl appears and helps him out. She not only gets the water but waters all the plants as well! When she is finished, she asks him where she can find Marius.

He provides the information about the Meadow of the Lark; since he still passes by Marius, but they only just nod acknowledgement at each other anymore. Then the girl is gone, and Mabeuf might have thought he had imagined the entire thing if not for his freshly watered plants.

Later on, Èponine finds Marius exactly where Mabeuf said he would be. She tells him how she’s been looking all over for him, and talks at him about his moving and the probable reasons for doing so, and that he’s way too young and attractive to be a Baron. She comments on the disrepair of his clothes and how she’s going to fix them up for him.

Nothing seems to be getting through to him, I guess, since he’s pretty unresponsive. ‘Èponine doesn’t really want to tell him her news, but she really hates seeing him so despondent, so she dispenses with the small talk and tells him she has the address.

Marius asks what address as if he doesn’t know exactly what she’s talking about. I guess he doesn’t want to get his hopes up.

Èponine tells him, and once again it’s very clear that she’s not very happy about it.  She’s going to show him how to get there anyway. Marius, as you can probably guess, is now completely overjoyed and excited.  Èponine on the other hand is really sad that locating Cosette has cheered him up when she couldn’t even make a dent in his melancholy.

There is one last concern that Marius has. He grabs Èponine’s arm and makes her promise that she will never tell her father where Cosette is. She doesn’t at first, because she so happy that he actually knows her by name. She eventually promises, and that she won’t tell anybody else either.

Then they are off. Èponine is concerned that Marius is following too closely, because she doesn’t think a guy like him should be seen in the company of a girl like her. They start off again only to have her stop for Marius to catch up. She reminds him that he promised her something if she found Cosette.

Marius, still totally clueless, automatically attempts to hand her five francs. She just drops it on the ground. She doesn’t want his money. (Well, technically, it’s probably Courfeyrac’s money.)

That’s it! Maybe Cosette and Marius will actually speak to each other in the next chapter? Cross your fingers!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 1


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 1;  Kings and Revolution and more Kings and more Revolution

Just kidding, no Brujons in this chapter. I know you’re disappointed. Also, sorry that this one took so long. You see, I’m doing that thing where I start stalling when it feels like things I am enjoying are nearing an end and I don’t want them to end! (This is why I constantly skip finales for even shows that I love and don’t watch them until months later.) It’s only because Marius’s section is over, there is still massive amounts of book to go actually.

But enough about me. It’s time for some history! Even though the last part of this chapter kind of wiped all thoughts about the very important historical contexty first part right out of my brain, I will try to give it a go.

First off, the July Revolution. Yep, there was an entire revolution that happened whilst we were hanging out with Marius for two or five or whatever years, and it’s still not the thing at the climax of this story. (clearly) This particular revolution took place in 1830. It was kind of vaguely mentioned in relation to the dwindling sales of Mabeuf’s flower book. It seems like kind of a strange thing to only be vaguely mentioned. The (very) short oversimplification of it is, Charles X passed some ordinances because things weren’t going his way, and he was ousted from the throne subsequently.

Now Louis Phillipe is the king after Charles X was forced to abdicate. Like many things, it started out alright then went all to hell later on. We won’t get much later on here though. His rule doesn’t end until 1848. Back to the now, though. He’s a king that enjoys his gardens, so I’m getting the impression that we aren’t actually supposed to think this guy is the worst person in the universe. This is only confirmed a few paragraphs later. He was a good guy, and he might have remained a good guy if he hadn’t taken that throne.

This new guy doesn’t greatly improve matters really though. He’s still a king. There is still talk of revolution. It gets to the point where the conversation is pretty out in the open, with people asking how things are going with the whole revolution planning like they’re talking about the weather. Granted, it’s not all out there for the world to see. There are still secret communiqué that we learn all about here in great detail.

To sum up: King 🙁 — Revolution — Another King 🙁

Go forth and read more about it, because history, as always, is far more interesting and terrible and awesome than anything you probably learned in a classroom. Like for instance I just learned that LP up there, escaped France to England under the oh so clever, not at all a cover name: Mr. Smith. Also, Abraham Lincoln used to hunt Vampires. I learned that from the movies.

Anyway, this is where we find the fearless leader of our favourite Amis, griping about how he has absolutely nobody left that could possibly go on this last very important errand of the day. Nobody. Not a single soul.

Enjolras has sent all his men off to various corners of the city to meet with certain groups. You know, to keep everybody on their toes and make sure their passion for revolution does not flare out. He has but one more group to inspire; the Artisans that hang out at Richefeu’s at the Barrière du Maine, playing dominoes.

He’s talking out loud now about his lack of a lieutenant to attend to this group. Woe. Woe. Woe. He was hoping to leave it to that absent minded kid, Marius, but he hasn’t been around… Like, now I’m really fuzzy on the timeline here, because we’ve spent the last two or five or whatever years discussing Marius and his passionate nostrils, garden strolls, man-dates with Courfeyrac, stalking Cosette, and teaming up with Javert to take down Thénardier and almost Valjean, if Valjean wasn’t the Houdini of 19th century France. I’m pretty sure some of these events are happening concurrently somehow, but don’t quote me on that.

It’s still confusing though, and it feels like Marius hasn’t attended any ABC meetings in quite a long while, but Enjolras was counting on him?

Well, that’s not the point. The point is that Grantaire is sitting right there, and he hasn’t been given any task like the rest of them. It’s kind of like he’s the last to be picked for gym class, and the team captain still doesn’t want him and is pretending not to even see him there. He’d rather bench Grantaire and complain about being a man down right in front of his face, or have the kid that picks dandelions and chases butterflies in the outfield, and that kid hasn’t even been to class in two or five or whatever years. Like, ouch. I’m indignant on Grantaire’s behalf, regardless of his less than dependable qualities re: inciting revolution.

Grantaire isn’t going to take that without saying anything though. He’s all; What about me, yo?

Enjolras has absolutely no faith that Grantaire is going to be able to convince these guys to stick with the cause, and he’s totally not shy about saying so. His instructions for Grantaire are to just go sleep off his drink and stay the eff out of the way.

Here, have some block quotes:

“What about me?” said Grantaire. “Here am I.”

“You?”

“I.”

“You indoctrinate republicans! You warm up hearts that have grown cold in the name of principle!”

“Why not?”

“Are you good for anything?”

“I have a vague ambition in that direction,” said Grantaire.

“You do not believe in everything.”

“I believe in you.”

“Grantaire, will you do me a service?”

“Anything. I’ll black your boots.”

“Well, don’t meddle with our affairs. Sleep yourself sober from your absinthe.”

“You are an ingrate, Enjolras.”

-Bolded: my favourite type of ambitions.

Enjolras is definitely skeptical and disbelieves greatly that Grantaire is the man to go to the Barriére du Maine. Yes, Grantaire tells him. He can go. He has legs. He can get from here to there, and then he proceeds to detail the exact route his legs are going to take. I think we should all be taking sass lessons from professor Grantaire here.

Enjolras continues to be unsure about this whole thing and what the hell exactly Grantaire is actually going to say to these dudes once he does get from from here to there. Grantaire tells him he knows all the right things about principles and Robespierre, and Danton, and is fully capable talking them up so should he have the mind to.

Enjolras tells Grantaire to “Be serious.” Grantaire says, “I am wild.” I am just quoting most of their dialogue in this scene, because I think you will agree that it is priceless.

Finally Enjolras decides that he should give this guy a chance, since he’s saying everything he can say to convince him that he actually does know his stuff, can be totally convincing and inspiring, and is indeed the man for the job.

Well, now to put the icing on this ten layer attempt to impress Enjolras cake, he leaves the Musain, goes to his place which isn’t too far away and returns wearing a Robespierre waistcoat . Which begs the question: Why does he even own this article of clothing? Was it just sitting around in his closet waiting for this very moment of opportunity? Is this a turning point, or was he maybe not always this cynical? The only background we have on R is that he might have once studied painting, and he stole some apples. Are we supposed to draw some parallel with Robespierre here? I know neither enough about symbolism or French history to answer that.

He has one thing to say upon reentry and that is “Red.” Which I’m sure is also totally symbolic. *Runs away from symbolism*

Apparently, Enjolras has nothing at all to say about this intriguing turn of events. Grantaire isn’t quite finished yet. He steps right on up and whispers “Be Easy” in Enjolras’s ear before jamming his cap down on his head and setting off on his way to “indoctrinate Republicans” as it were. I feel like Grantaire is being mostly sincere with his intentions here. It seems a bit much to be just a put on.

Enjolras is the last man out of the Musain that night. He’s on his way to his very own super important meeting with Courgourde of Aix, which explains why he didn’t just go to Richefeu’s his own damn self if he was so worried about it. As he walks, he is excited to think about the impending revolution and then about all his friends and all their qualities.

Combeferre’s “penetrating eloquence”, Feuilly’s “Cosmopolitan Enthusiasm”, Courfeyrac’s animation, Bahorel’s laughter, Joly’s Science, Jehan’s melancholy, and Bossuet’s sarcasms.

Since he’s already thinking about his fellows, he decides he’s going to check up on the one with the powers of cynicism and inebriation, since it’s on the way. So, he shows up at Richefeu’s and what does he see? No, Grantaire is not giving great, moving speeches or anything remotely related to stirring the hearts and minds of the people as far as we can tell, since we’re seeing this entirely from Enjolras’s point of view. And what is this point of view?

Grantaire is sitting there playing some kind of rousing game of dominoes.

THE END.

So, we aren’t going to get any reaction/fallout regarding Grantaire’s apparent failure here after all that? For real? Damn you, abrupt ending!

Next time:Èponine, or so I gather from the title of book two.

Dak Reads Les Misérables / MARIUS: Book 8


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Marius: Book 8; Courfeyrac Needs Boats and the Jondrette Caper

Now that introductions to the baddies are complete, let’s see how our friend Marius is doing.

Terribly is how he’s doing. He’s fallen into this deep depression over losing this girl that he’s observed but never spoken to for three or five or — I lost count of how many years it’s been. His favorite things just don’t interest him anymore. Work doesn’t interest him. Walking around looking at plants doesn’t interest him. Thinking about stuff doesn’t interest him. He spends all his remaining energies trying to find Mlle. Lanoir to no avail.

He keeps a cork in all his sad emotions though. He doesn’t even confide in his bestie, Courfeyrac, which is probably the least surprising news of all time. Marius doesn’t seem like the type to really open up to anybody in the first place, and in the second place–Courfeyrac? He’s a good friend, but from what we’ve seen so far, he probably isn’t the one I’d go around sharing all my deep emotional manpain with.

In any case, Courfeyrac is still an observant BFF. He knows something is drastically wrong with his pal. In an attempt to cheer up the kid, he enlists Bossuet and Grantaire and they all go to a ball. Specifically Le Bal de Sceaux. Sceaux is a suburb of Paris. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing since they live in Paris, but it can’t not be an allusion to the story of the same name that is part of Balzac’s la Comédie Humaine series about the goings on of the people during the Restoration. Right?

This particular story, published around the time all this stuff in Les Misérables is taking place–1830, is about a girl name Émile who goes to a ball at Sceaux in search of a Pair de France husband. She finds instead a mystery guy named Maximilian who is mostly concerned about caring for his sick sister. He and Émile do eventually fall in love only for her to find out that he’s actually a lowly merchant. Scandal! She dumps him immediately and marries an old guy instead. Later, it turns out Maximilian is a Pair de France after all. He was only keeping shop to take care of his family. Oops.

I’m not sure what, if anything, that has to do with anything, but I didn’t want to pass up a good allusion that I actually managed to notice. Maybe it would help if I read the whole story of Émile and Max instead of just the summary, but…It’s taking me long enough to read this chapter; there is no time for a Balzac intermission!

As for Marius, he only agrees to go with them to this bash because he thinks he might find his “Ursula” there. It doesn’t cheer him up when she is nowhere to be found. Grantaire makes a comment about all lost girls being found there. I’m not sure if it’s a commentary on the women that attend this type of function, or if he’s just being really sarcastic about Marius’s optimism. Maybe both.

Oh, well, if a night out on the town with this particular trio of Amis isn’t going to cheer you up, I don’t know what to tell you, son. At least they tried.

Now, a couple of incidents:

First, Marius thinks he sees M. Leblanc on the street one day. This man he spotted has the hat and the white hair of the old man, and Marius thinks that maybe he should follow the guy. He know’s where that got him last time though. He thinks he could have been happy just sitting on his bench in varying proximity to the girl of his dreams for the rest of time. If only he had never followed then maybe he could still be happy there. I don’t know…what about option #3: speaking words to these people like a human person and not coming off like a shady creepster that is up to no good?

Oh, well, Marius is a man of few words, unless they are about Napoleon, so it is how it is. At least he learned something from the incident, and decides that he’s imagining things, and it’s probably not a good idea to go around stalking people in the shadows anymore. The way things are in this book, it probably was Valjean, but spotting him on the street one day is not nearly coincidental enough of a chance meeting. Try again, Marius.

Incident #2: A couple of girls on the run knock into him as he’s walking in the street one day. It can be gleaned that they are running away from the authorities by what they are shouting at each other. Once they are gone, Marius finds a packet of letters that he figures they must have dropped. He goes shouting after them, but can’t find them, and concludes that they’re out of earshot. You know, because shouting after a couple of kids on the run from authorities is sure to bring them right out of hiding.

Later, we are told again how much Marius doesn’t pay a lick of attention to his neighbors. This is relevant, because he’s totally about to meet them.

One day he’s sitting in his barren room after getting ready for bedtime and opens up the packet of mystery letters to see if he can figure out who they belong to, or where they need to be delivered. What he discovers as he reads them is that they are all written on the same tobacco scented paper and they are all written to different people, begging them for money. They are all signed with different names, but they are all clearly written by the same person.

He’s just way too depressed and sleepy to give any craps about these letters right now, though, so he puts them away and throws the packet into a corner.

The next morning, after Marius has had his toast, he’s ready to get on his way to work when he hears a knock on his door.

This is weird to him, because he leaves his key in the lock all the time basically just inviting all comers into his apartment. The landlady had told him that this was a sure recipe to being robbed blind, but Marius don’t care. He doesn’t think he has anything to steal. Naturally, he is wrong about this. Marius has plenty of stuff to steal. He has two whole suits and toast! The landlady is vindicated when this open door policy got his boots stolen one day.

Still, he leaves the key in the door after that happened. Marius. Learn from your mistakes, bro. He hears the knock again and, without looking up from what he’s doing, asks the landlady what she wants.

It isn’t the landlady.

So, in comes a young girl in this outfit that is basically crumbling right off her because it’s so worn out and threadbare. She’s dirty and barefoot, all bones, and is missing a few teeth. She might have been pretty once upon a time, but life has kicked her down into the state she is now. She is there to deliver a letter to Monsieur Marius, whom she knows by name. He’s sitting there pondering this new and exciting development, because she must have actual business with him if she knows his name. Meanwhile the girl just makes herself right at home there in his room. She basically just barges in without an invitation and pokes and prods at all his stuff from his toiletries down to his ink pens.

He says nothing about her rummaging through his belongings like it ain’t no thing, because he’s too busy feeling pity for her and reading the letter. It is a missive from Jondrette himself, the girl is his daughter, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s written in the exact same way and on the same paper in the exact same handwriting as all the mystery letters! Marius has a moment of clarity where he realizes that Jondrette is actually a big old crook/con-man, so he just checks out of real life for a moment into Marius-land, ruminating on the state of society that would force people into such dire straits.

As for the letter contents, it seems Daddy Jondrette has found out that Marius paid their rent. Now he’s asking for more.

Speaking of Marius, I’m kind of surprised that he hasn’t crumbled to dust and blown away at this point with this girl in his room, touching his things, spilling out of her dress, talking and talking and talking at him. He is pretty distracted with the letter and thinking about stuff though, until she sees his books and is really excited to show him that she can read. She reads a bit from one that happens to be about Waterloo, because of course it is. I imagine that all the books Marius owns that aren’t about lawyering, are probably about Napoleon, and maybe Mabeuf’s flower book. She tells him about her dad, who was at Waterloo.

She also wants to prove to him that she can write too, so she just grabs a pen and a piece of paper and writes down on it:

The Cops Are Here.

So, yeah…if there was any doubt about Jondrette’s occupation, this probably dispels it.

Now that she’s shown him her writing skillz, she’s now going to confess that she’s watched him come and go. She’s even spotted him visiting Mabeuf on occasion. This is why she knows his name. She probably is familiar with his toast habits too, and also, she’ll just go ahead and let Marius know that she thinks he’s “a very pretty boy”.

Marius is retreating into brusque hermit mode now, which feels more like him. He changes the subject quickly and hands over the packet of letters. The girl doesn’t seem to notice he’s gotten frosty, she’s distracted now.

She’s is really excited about finding the missing letters, because she and her sister had been looking all over for them. They had searched and searched and searched, and in the end had lied to their father and told him that all their prospective benefactors had refused to give them money instead of admitting that they’d lost the letters. She takes the packet from Marius with the intent to head straight off and deliver the one for the church-going philanthropist. It’s just about the time he’s getting out of church, so perfect timing!!

Marius hasn’t forgotten his very own letter from Jondrette though. He’s going to give them money anyway, even though he knows Jondrette is a scam artist. People got to do what they got to do to eat, and there’s no question that his neighbors don’t have much. He fishes around in his pockets for the cash, reserving only enough for his own meals and giving her the rest; a grand total of five francs. She’s grateful for this and grabs a moldy dried out crust of bread that she spots to eat on her way out.

And that is that! Or is it?

No, it’s not, because Marius is thinking some more about the state of things and his poor neighbors. He feels really badly about it, because he’s spent all his time there not noticing their hardships. He really wishes he could have done more to help them out and is totally awash with guilt about it. He then decides he really needs to learn more about these people. There is a word for people like the Jondrettes. Everybody say it with me now: Les Misérables. There’s supposed to be some kind of fanfare and confetti falling from the sky when a work references its own title, right?

It just so happens that despite the Gorbeau house being empty of all tenants aside from Marius and the Jondrettes, they are living in adjacent rooms. Also, there is a hole in the wall just big enough for Marius to peep through, because of course there is and of course he would. I think Marius’s entire book should be subtitled again. Les Misérables: Vol. III: Marius: What are you doing?

Marius maybe hasn’t actually learned anything from the last time he was a giant creeper, so he goes on ahead and climbs up on his dresser to peephole height, so he can peep the Jondrette’s living quarters.

What he sees certainly shocks him, because these people are living in filth pretty much. Like, he thought he was poor? By comparison, Marius is living the high life. These people have nothing. On the other hand Marius has a job, he’s got skills, and an education, he has good friends who help help out no questions asked, he can buy new boots after his get stolen and still leave his door unlocked, and he can afford to let his crusts of bread sit around long enough for them to turn into moldy rocks for goodness sake!

Jondrette is a thin weasly looking guy, skinny in his woman’s blouse, with a long scraggly grey beard. The wife is there, she’s a hulking woman with red hair cooking by the fire, and there is a younger girl who’s practically naked. He’s standing there observing the dire conditions of his neighbor’s lodgings when the older girl bursts into the place and she’s got news. One of the letter addressees, an old philanthropist, is coming to visit them. He’s right on her tail.

And so begins the preparations for their benefactor’s arrival. Marius is about to witness the execution of a con. Not that they aren’t super poor to begin with, but Jondrette is making it his mission to make them appear even more destitute.

Jondrette gives his family instructions. He tells the younger girl to break the window. She doesn’t want to, but eventually gives in and just punches out a pane of glass with her bare hand. She cuts herself as she does it. I’ll let you ponder how intimidating and abusive Daddy Jondrette is to be able to compel a child to do that. He’s even pleased at his daughter’s misfortune, because now she can cry real tears in her mother’s arms and look even more pitiful with that injury. Mom is none too pleased about this, but she goes along with her husband anyway. On top of this, it is winter and freezing outside.

He tries to get the older girl to break out the bottom of the only chair, but she doesn’t do it. He breaks the chair by sticking his foot through it. They are now ready to receive company.

Marius sticks to his peephole like glue and what he sees next shocks him to the core, because who walks in the door but M. Leblanc and Mlle. Lanoir! (I did not intend for that sentence to be so Seusstastic!) There they are, in the flesh, right in the very same building that he lives in! And that is how you do a proper chance meeting!

They come bearing gifts of clothing and blankets. Jondrette is not pleased with material goods though. He’s after the cash, so now he has to put on a show. Jondrette gives Leblanc the entire spiel he had prepared for his playwright character. This is his cover for this particular letter. I assume he’s crafted each identity to appeal most to each letter recipient. In any case, Jondrette bemoans the lack of funding in the arts these days. What’s a poor author to do with a family to feed? Leblanc is sympathetic of course, because if there’s one thing this guy loves to do it’s help the less fortunate whether they need a job at a bead factory or need rescuing from a ship’s rigging, or rescuing from Javert, or just giving his money away in general.

Jondrette pleads for an amount of rent money which is much more than is due. Marius knows because it couldn’t have accumulated that much since the time he paid it. Leblanc hands over five francs. Jondrette isn’t exactly pleased over only five francs though.

Leblanc promises to return later in the evening with some more though, and he also leaves his coat for Jondrette.

Marius quickly comes to the decision that he must follow them. Always a good idea. He overestimates the amount of time it’s going to take them to get back down to the fiacre though (He’s afraid Valjean will spot him, recognize him, and move again) By the time he’s made it outside, they’re already turning the corner. Marius decides that he can’t run after it to follow, because that would just be crazy. Luckily an empty cab is right there for him to jump into. This is kind of surprising, because isn’t Gorbeau house supposed to be in some shady hidden side-street off the beaten path somewhere? I’m pretty sure that’s a specific reason why Marius, Jondrette and Valjean picked it for their lodgings. I wouldn’t imagine a lot of cab traffic would be going through there. I guess Marius is just that fortunate. Alright! Mad fiacre chase through the streets of Paris to find the love of his life that he’s never spoken to? Let’s go!

Wait, not so fast, Marius. The driver wants him to pay up front. He’s a pretty savvy cabbie, I have to say. Because of Marius’s old beat up clothings, the man doesn’t think he can pay for this ride. I don’t really blame him. If he’s driving around places like Gorbeau house looking for fares, he’s probably been burned before. Marius says he’ll pay when they get back, but the driver is not having it, and just like that Marius’s 19th century version of a Rom-Com cliche has been foiled.

He heads back into the house but not before noticing and also not noticing that Jondrette is outside talking to famous night-stalker Panchaud aka Printanier, aka Bigrenaille, and in a great feat of word-padding, the likes of which are usually only seen in November, almost every time this guy is referred to in this chapter it’s by at least two of these names. Even Marius knows who he is, because Courfeyrac told him. (Courfeyrac knows because he is everywhere, of course).

I guess this Panchaud character is important because we start going into detail about what a legend … He will become. He’s not quite so notorious as to inspire awe among his future convict fellows yet, so I’m not even sure why we’re talking about him in such great detail.

Back inside the eldest Jondrette girl is following after him, and now Marius is bursting with resentment for her, because she has the five francs that were jangling around in his pockets that very morning and could have paid for his cab fare just now. He knows he can’t even ask her where Lanoir lives, because the letter was addressed to the church.

The girl isn’t going to leave him alone and just watch him this time. She actually holds the door to his room open when he tries to shut it. He’s really impatient and huffy and downright snippy with her this time when she asks what’s wrong with him. She doesn’t understand why he was so nice and generous to her this morning and now he’s being such a dick all of a sudden. She’s much more timid than she was this morning and stays in the doorway as she offers to help him resolve whatever issues he’s having, because she doesn’t want him to feel bad anymore. This sparks an idea in him. He’s suddenly more happy and optimistic, and she’s a little more brighter because he is. He asks if she can find out where their benefactors live. And just like that she’s back to gloomy. She rightly guesses that it isn’t LeBlanc that he cares about, but the girl.

She can find them but is giving off serious vibes that this is a task she really doesn’t actually want to do. For reasons. She agrees to do it though, because Marius asked. Her bitter tone of voice whenever she mentions the girl makes him uneasy, but he just fails to make the connection that she might be upset because he’s so into this Lanoir character especially after she flat out just told him to his face that very morning that she watches him and thinks he’s totally hot.

Back in his own abode, Marius was about to sit down and do whatever it is that Marius does during the day while he’s… I guess he’s just going to be skipping work today. He can hear Jondrette ranting and raving in the other room again. How can he resist? He climbs back up to his peephole to peep some more. There he finds Jondrette having a fit about the M. Leblanc being the man who took Mlle. Lanoir away from them so many years ago, depriving them of sorely needed income. Okay, I’m dropping Courfeyrac’s nicknames for good now. They’re going to be Valjean and Cosette again.

Anyway, the Jondrette woman is totally skeptical about her husband’s assertion at first, because no way the lark could have grown up into the lovely young lady Cosette is today.

Jondrette is convinced though, and he has a plan! Marius sits there and listens to all the sinister plotting going on next door. Jondrette is going to enlist his shady underworld buddies to get all the millions of Francs he thinks he is owed, from M. Leblanc. He seems to be under the impression that this guy has all the money in the world, and if he doesn’t fork it over then Jondrette is going to kill him. He plans to use Valjean’s five francs to go buy some sort of murder tool at the hardware store.

Well, well, well–Murder! That is shocking to Marius. He waffles about what to do about what he’s overheard and eventually decides to go to the police.

On his way there he hears whisperings from behind a wall and decides that he wants to hear more. It’s a couple of rough looking dudes talking about “The Affair” and how it can’t go wrong with Patron Minette! They’re all due five or six hundred francs if everything goes according to plan, and if it goes wrong the max they could get is ten years. Marius decides “The Affair” must be Jondrette’s plot, because apparently there can only be one big crime committed at a time here.

When Marius finally gets to the Police Station, he is directed to a certain wolf-esque inspector who we all know and love. This entire meeting between Marius and the inspector goes without his name being spoken until the very end, but it’s Javert. I’m not even going to try and keep you in suspense, because it’s already totally obvious from the start.

Javert listens to Marius’s story. He’s particularly interested about whether or not the four corners of Patron Minette are going to be there, but Marius hasn’t seen them. Just Panchaud and the mention of the gang by the whispering bandits that Javert calls Brujon and Demi-Liard. Javert decides Marius is an upstanding and honest young man on the basis of their conversation here and absolutely nothing else even though Marius is peeved that Javert hasn’t called him Monsieur during the exchange and indignant that Javert thinks he might not be brave enough to handle the forthcoming shenanigans. So, Javert hands him two pistols and instructions to conceal them in his fob pockets and go back to his peephole at the appropriate time to fire off a warning shot at the exactly perfect moment for the cops catch Jondrette in the act of an actual crime and bust up his little extortion/murder party. Marius should know when, because he is a lawyer and lawyers should know such things. Sure they should, but Marius. . .

Okay, so we’re just giving out guns to randoms just in off the street? I mean, I know owning a gun was probably par for the course back in the days, but it doesn’t seem like the wisest decision of all time. What credibility does Marius Pontmercy: Lawyer, translator, and garden ponderer extraordinaire actually have aside from Javert’s intuition? For all Javert knows, Marius could be putting on a masterful show and is the secret heretofore unseen, unknown, singular mastermind behind the Patron Minette gang Javert’s so keen on capturing. It could be a trap! Of course this is all speculatory nothings to us, because we know Bambi over here isn’t the secret mastermind behind anything aside from stalking Cosette. Javert, on the other hand, should probably know better. He’s also severely underestimating Marius’s infinite capacity for being distracted and conflicted. This is a mistake that is surely going to come back and bite him in the ass.

On his way back home, Marius spots Jondrette, and decides to follow him. Of course he does. All of life’s problems can be solved by stalking people and listening in on their conversations, right?

You’ll never guess who spots Marius trailing along after Jondrette.

Here is a pause for you to guess… …

If you guessed Courfeyrac (because Courfeyrac is everywhere) and Bossuet, then you would be right. Seriously, what is with the peanut gallery over here? Courfeyrac is always cropping up at random to LOL at Marius. Not that Marius doesn’t do LOL worthy things, but still. It’s like Marius is trying to hunt ducks and Courfeyrac is the loyal hunting dog popping up out of the reeds to snicker at his efforts.

Bousset is in the midst of poetically comparing the snow to beautiful butterflies when they spot their friend. Courfeyrac decides they shouldn’t go say hi, because Marius is tailing someone and is in love, and Bossuet is confused because there are no beautiful ladies anywhere to be seen. Courfeyrac points out that he is following a guy and they have a laugh.

Bossuet wants to see what he’s really up to still. They don’t have to say hi, but they can follow him! Because as we have learned so far, creeping on people can only lead to good things! You know, like heartache, depression, and overhearing criminal murder plans. Courfeyrac thinks this is foolish and calls Bossuet “Eagle of Meaux” whilst telling him so. This still cracks me up. I think because it’s such a regal and serious sounding nickname, and Bossuet is Bossuet.

Anyway, this is probably a good thing, since I have the feeling the whole “affair” is going to descend into chaos as it is. Do we really need to add Courfeyrac and Bossuet to the equation? (The answer is actually yes! Always! Courfeyrac and Bossuet for all the lawyer adventures. Are you listening, Rob Thomas?)

Marius is too focused on following Jondrette to notice his pals. He watches the guy go into a hardware store, and then it’s time for Marius to go home and resume his post on top of his dresser before the landlady locks the door for the night since he’d given his master key to Javert. On his way up to his lodgings, he thinks he sees some people in one of the empty rooms.

Back in his room Marius can hear the conversation when Jondrette comes in without having to get up to his peephole, because now he’s listening. By what they’re saying, Marius can tell that Madame Jondrette is all dressed up and the girls are about to go out to keep watch, but not before the eldest is ordered to go check Marius’s room to make sure nobody’s in there. She’s sure there isn’t, but they make her go check anyway. There’s only one place to hide and that is under the bed.

The girl doesn’t seem really interested in conducting a thorough search of the place to see if he’s hiding somewhere. She’s more interested in making use of his mirror while she has the chance. She lies and tells her dad that she did look under the bed when she didn’t, so he’s safe for now.

Now it’s time for Marius to get up on his dresser, the girls are gone, and the stage is set. The chisel Jondrette bought is on the fire and Marius gets a gander at Madame Jondrette’s getup. She’s got a feather hat and everything. Apparently it’s a spectacle that Courfeyrac would have found hilarious, because we should definitely know what Courfeyrac’s opinion would have been had he been Marius. (It’s a good thing he’s not. Bossuet tried to be Marius once, and it didn’t work out for him at all.) Jondrette decides he needs a couple chairs for the guests. I guess that’s reasonable, since he destroyed their only one earlier in the day. If you’re going to be murdering a guy, might as well give him a place to sit. Before Marius can even move from his perch, the Jondrette woman is over at his place “borrowing” his chair. She just waltzes right in and doesn’t even notice Marius standing on top of his dresser. I know this action is getting really serious right now, but — I think you’ll have to agree that is a pretty comical image.

Soon, M. Leblanc aka. Ultimus Fauchelevent, aka Jean Valjean is back with the money for Jondrette. Before he can get out of there though, Jondrette sits him down and tries to get him to buy a painting that Marius had noticed during his earlier peeping.

Valjean is having none of this, even as Jondrette tries to talk the thing up and haggle with him. Haggling only works if the other party is interested in purchasing the item though, and Valjean can see that it is merely an old broken down wooden sign for an inn. This goes on for a while, and as it does, three people in blackface or masks have stealthily entered the room. Jondrette tries to pass them off as his neighbors. Because it’s normal for your neighbors to just pop right in without knocking and stand around with their faces masked looking sinister and intimidating.

Just as Valjean and Marius are noticing these newcomers, the door burst open and it’s none other than the top bad guys of Patron Minette themselves, Babet, Claquesous, and Guelemer; they say everything is prepared. Everything except for Montparnasse who had taken a detour to chat with Eponine. What is that all about? He’s missing a good murder party here.

Jondrette is losing patience quickly now. He starts goading Valjean about how they know each other for a while whilst Valjean feigns ignorance. Denying it, isn’t going to work though, because Jondrette is determined. And he really doesn’t like it when Valjean calls them bandits, because how dare he when he can sit in his nice house with nice shoes and never know what it’s really like to be poor and suffer.

He finally gives up the song and dance and drops the big reveal on us. Jondrette is really Thénardier!

Shocking. I know.

Well, it is to Marius at least. He was preparing to fire his gun when this happens and it’s like a ton of bricks falling on him. He doesn’t know what to do. What seemed so black and white: Catch the Murderous Bad Guys, now isn’t quite so clear. On one hand this is the man who saved his father. It must be, and Marius had dedicated himself to fulfilling his father’s wish to do service for this man. As if he was reading Marius’s mind, Thénardier confirms it by going on and on and on about that guy he saved at Waterloo, and he’s such a hero, and he’s really laying it on thick. It’s almost as if even he has forgotten that he was actually robbing the guy, wasn’t actually in the fight to begin with, and only saved Georges by pure happenstance.

Marius starts thinking that turning this dude in to Javert is going to dishonour his father’s memory and his wishes.  On the other, Cosette’s probably going to pretty upset with him if she ever finds out he let her father perish when he had the chance to save him. You know, if they ever meet and speak words to each other that is. What to do?

Whilst Marius is pondering over this, Thénardier is busy wildly threatening Valjean who is attempting to jump out the window but gets tied up to the bed instead. In the scuffle Boulatruelle gets knocked unconscious.

Thénardier is now going to dictate a letter for Valjean to write to Cosette, and Valjean reveals yet another alias: Urbain Fabre. So…is this a fake-out, or is this a new name he goes by? One that he presumably chose, so he didn’t have to buy all new monogrammed hankies? In any case, Valjean is steadfastly denying he even knows this girl Thenardier is talking about. (Marius realizes in this space that Ursula is definitely not the girl’s name and he’s been carrying the old man’s hankie over his heart this entire time.)

With the information had, Thénardier sends the wife off in a waiting carriage and proceeds to let Valjean in on his dastardly plan to make sure he pays up. If he has a mustache to go with his beard, he should probably be twirling it right about now.

The plan is to send his wife to fetch Cosette and keep her hidden away until Valjean pays up.  The note is so she will come willingly, and he can’t call the police because that will be the end of Cosette.

Eventually Thénardiess comes back only to reveal the address was fake and they’d never heard of this Urbain Fabre. Thénardier wants to know what Valjean hoped to gain by that and threatens him with the now sufficiently heated chisel he got from the hardware store earlier.

Time! Valjean says, because he is a super cool action hero with spiffy comebacks. He is now unbound! How did he manage to do that? Well, he keeps a coin with a hidden built in little saw for just such occasions, because of course he does. He is mostly free, but he can’t make a break for it just yet, because he’s still surrounded by bandits and one foot is still tied to the bed..

Meanwhile, despite death threats, bondage, and the possible kidnapping in progress of his lady love, Marius remains rooted to his spot at the peephole completely frozen and watching as Valjean’s situation gets more and more dire. To be fair, his reasoning for not firing the warning shot had shifted from the feeling of honor-bound duty to his father to concern for Cosette’s safety. Now that he knows she’s safe, he has a choice to make before someone gets killed.

He doesn’t want the old man to die, but he doesn’t want to betray his father, etc… This is when he spots the note that Eponine wrote that morning, cinematically lit up by a shaft of moonlight coming in through the window: The Cops Are Here. He wraps it up in a rock and when he thinks everybody is distracted, he pushes it through the peephole.

That is… Well, it’s a bit convenient that phrase is the one Eponine is most familiar writing, but that’s also actually a pretty clever way out of this moral dilemma. Of course it could all go terribly wrong anyway, but as it is, the bandits have come to the conclusion that they must all abscond through the window ASAP. All of them. Through the Window. They are busy wasting time deciding in which order the seven of them are going descend down the rope ladder that Thénardier had quickly attached to the sill. Thénardier thinks they’re being idiots as they try to decide whether or not to draw straws or put their names in a hat to decide who goes first. Inspector Javert, who had had enough of Marius’s dilly-dallying, makes his wolfy presence known by throwing the door open and offering his own hat.

Because he too is a super cool action hero with spiffy comebacks!

Javert only has to make his appearance and all the baddies in the room don’t even want to fuck with him. They just give right up. These guys are really failing at being murderous criminals right now. I know they’re outgunned and outnumbered by Javert’s crew, but aren’t they supposed to go out in a blaze of glory or at least attempt a halfhearted scuffle to save face or something? None of them even attempt a quick jump out the window or anything.

Javert on the other hand has apparently done a bang up job of instilling fear in the populous. He’s captured most of the leadership of Patron Minette, because all of them save Montparnasse had decided to all gather so conveniently in the same tiny room from which there is virtually no escaping for no reason.  Thénardier himself was wondering why so many of them showed up. Yes. Definitely some really spectacular villain failure happening here. Which is good for Javert, because he was getting zero help from his man on the inside. I bet this is probably the last time he entrusts crucial tactical decisions to a twenty something old dreamer with daddy issues, who is probably still frozen on top of his own dresser.

As for Valjean, he’s taken the window option himself in the confusion, because of course he did. This particular section is labeled: “The Victim’s Should Always be Arrested First”    Which definitely would have been a prudent move on Javert’s part. Can you imagine? Valjean would just be the icing on the Patron Minette cake.

Later, Gavroche–you remember Gavroche, right? He’s on his way to drop in on his family for the odd visit only to find out from the landlady that they’ve all been arrested.

And that is it for Vol. III: Marius (What Are You Doing????). Next time: It looks like we’ll learn more about historical context and Brujons!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / MARIUS: Book 7


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Marius: Book 7; A Rhombus of Villainy (and a list of other bad dudes)

Time for a break from Marius and his crazy pants for an: Actual Bad Guys Alert! This is actually all this short chapter is about. First, a long explanation comparing mines to the strata of society. Here’s a list of people from the top going down to the bottom of this mine analogy: Jan Hus > Luther > Descartes > Voltaire > Condorcet > Robespierre > Marat > Babeuf

Way down at the bottom is a black hole of evil and crime, and that is where we find the next giant list of characters that are going to be introduced to us. A quartet of bandits were ruling the night around Paris in the early 1830’s, and we are going to learn about them now!

First up is Gueulemer. He’s the big dumb lazy brawn of the group. He’s described as having “a colossus’s body and bird’s skull.” So now I’m imaging he looks like a goomba from that live-action Super Mario Brothers movie. Good luck removing that image from your head. You’re welcome! He could have used his brute power for good by capturing bad guys, but chose to become a bad guy instead.

Babet is the opposite of Gueulemer. He’s a thin shrewd man who doesn’t give away any of his secrets. He sells plaster busts of “The head of the Government,” as well as being one of those street tooth-pulling guys.

Babet had been a family man and a traveled with them once upon a time. He read the papers, which is a rare thing in the circles he runs in and bemoaned the fact that his wife never gave birth to a child with a goat face. This didn’t come out of nowhere. It wasn’t like he was yearning for a goat-faced child. He’d just read about such an event once, and that could have made them a lot of money. He left his family so he could take on Paris.

Claquesous is the most mysterious of the group. Nobody knows where he lives, nobody knows his name (Claquesous is a nickname.) Nobody knows what he looks like, he either wears a mask or lurks in the darkness. He only talks to people with his back turned.

Montparnasse is the youngest and I get the impression most deadly of the bunch. Not even twenty, he’s a fresh faced kid, bringing the pretty to the underworld party. By eighteen he had a stack of bodies in his wake already. Daaaamn, boyfriend. He is a gamin turned assassin, and his reason for being a murdering marauder is simply this: He wants to be the best dressed dude in Paris. (What? Is he disposing of the competish? Or is he stealing their finery? Or just stealing their money so he can buy new clothes? All of the above? What is your game, Montparnasse!?)

Even though his coat is a bit threadbare, Montparnasse is the fashion plate of the group. He wears his hat at a jaunty angle so he can show off a lock of hair as is the fashion. He keeps a flower in his buttonhole. He was “gentle, effeminate, graceful, robust, weak and ferocious.”

Does anybody else want to see some sort of dandy-off between Bamatabois, Bahorel, and Montparnasse? Fierce Mustache vs. Rash Waistcoat vs. Deadly Dandy. One of the events can be waistcoat layering! Bonus points for each extraneous fob watch chain!

bamatabois bahorel montparnasse Image Map

 

This band of characters was known as Patron-Minette. They were basically a pimple on the butt of society, if I had to put it into different words. If anybody needed any shady business done, then these were the guys to see.

Now this quartet weren’t single..err..eight handedly? perpetrating all the crime in all of Paris associated with Patron-Minette. Here is a big long list of the gang’s lower echelons:

Panchaud, aka Printainier, aka Bigrenaille,

Brujon. (There is a whole dynasty of Brujons that I am being informed we will be learning about later),

Boulatruelle. (See! I knew we would hear about him again! If you don’t remember and you hate links, Boulatruelle is the friendly former convict who saw Jean Valjean go into the woods with his treasure chest of money outside of Montfermeil. You know, when there was talk of Valjean belonging to some mysterious roaming pack of thieves. What are we describing now? A roaming pack of thieves? See, how it all comes together!)

Laveuve,
Finistère,
Homer Hogu (a black man),
Mardisoir,
Dépâche,
Fauntleroy, aka Bouquetière,
Glorieux (former convict),
Barrecarrosse, aka M. Dupont,
Lesplande-du-Sud,
Poussagrive,
Carmagnolet
Kruideniers aka Bizarro (aka best alias yet!)
Mangedentelle,
Les-pieds-en-l’air,
Demi-liard aka Deux-milliards,
and etc…

Hey! Why stop there, Hugo? We should learn the name of each and every bandit ever associated with Patron-Minette and their little dogs too!

There’s a few more paragraphs about how these goblins among men rule the night and the only thing that can slay them is the daylight, and that is it for this chapter!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these last few relatively short installments, because the next one is nearly 100 pages long, so I’m predicting a lot of crazy stuff is going to go down and we’ll have about a thousand new characters to learn about. Either that, or it’s one hundred pages about something only tangentially related to the story, like the history of Parisian cobblestones or something. I will leave you in suspense!

Until the next time!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / MARIUS: Book 6


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Marius: Book 6; Crazy in Love

Guess what? Now that we’ve spent five entire chapters learning everything we could ever possibly want to know about Marius and his Pontmercy ways right down to his toast eating habits, it is time to describe what he actually looks like! This might have come in handy before the mental picture already distilled in our brains, but oh well.

Our boy, Marius, has grown into a fine handsome looking fellow with jet black hair, a refined but not too chiseled jawline and passionate nostrils. Great. Now I’m imagining he looks like a young Judd Nelson. Thanks, book!

Marius is still having problems in the area of human interactions. He dares not even glance at a woman, because he think’s they’re all just having a good laugh at him when they look his way because of his old worn out poor people clothes. This isn’t really the case though, he’s just a certified hottie. Let me just take a moment to profess my love for book Marius and his introverted, socially awkward ways.

Well, being an observant BFF, Courfeyrac notices the way he acts about women (directly in opposition to the way Courfeyrac is by the by. Let’s just say he gets around.) He tries to hook Marius up, pokes fun at the kid for his lady troubles, and sometimes calls him Abbé. You know, because clergymen are supposed to be celibate and have no impure thoughts, I’m assuming is the joke here. Of course, Marius takes Courfeyrac’s words to heart instead of laughing it off as he probably should. Whenever this happens it makes him shrink even further into himself, avoiding women even more than usual and also Courfeyrac. Especially Courfeyrac.

There are only two girls in the entirety of Paris that Marius isn’t terrified of. One of them is the old bearded landlady/housekeeper who sweeps his floor. This gives Courfeyrac opportunity to poke more fun by saying she wears a beard so Marius doesn’t have to. The other is a girl of around thirteen or fourteen or so that he stumbled upon in a remote corner of the Luxembourg Gardens when he first started his garden strolling. She was there every day sitting on a bench with a man presumed to be her father.

Marius might have thought the father was a former military man by the way he carried himself. This man was around sixty, white hair, always wore a new hat and had a kind expression, but not one that would invite people to talk to them. As for the girl, she was small and homely and wore the uniform of a person who lives at a convent. Gee, I wonder who these mysterious people could be. Let us stroke our chins and ponder.

Marius always observed them on his walks even though they paid him no attention. The girl always was the one talking; the dad not so much. Marius began an unconscious routine of passing by this bench on his walks at least six times a walk, five or six times a week. Of course, he never spoke to them.  Perhaps because these two seemed to be trying to avoid attention. Marius isn’t the only one strolling around Luxembourg though. The father and daughter, by sitting there all the time, had attracted the attentions of a couple roving packs of students, Courfeyrac included.

Courfeyrac didn’t think much of the girl, but to give her the nickname of Mlle. Lanoir and the dad M. Leblanc. (Miss Black and Mr. White on account of her dress and his hair.) This nickname stuck. Marius developed a liking for M. Leblanc, but he doesn’t think much about the girl.

After two years of the same routine, every day walks at the Luxembourg passing by the father and daughter team, Marius stops going there. There’s no reason for this.  He just takes a break and doesn’t return for six entire months. When he does, this homely girl has grown up into a beautiful young lady. Brown hair with golden highlights, blushing skin, blue eyes. Marius can’t believe it’s the same girl. He wouldn’t if she wasn’t sitting there with M. Leblanc as usual.

They regard each other with complete indifference, and Marius resumes his laps around the gardens because that is his habit.

One fateful day they actually managed to make eye contact on one of these walks of his, and that’s it. It’s all over from there. He goes home that night and realizes just how worn down and unpresentable his clothes are. Really? Just now? I thought his raggedy old duds were already an ongoing contributor to his crippling insecurity. The next morning Marius puts on his good suit. He runs into Courfeyrac on his way to the Luxembourg and has the good sense to avoid him. He’s spotted anyway, and gets made fun of again behind his back. Courfeyrac thinks Marius’s new look is “Idiotic” and he must be going to some really important exam dressed like that. Why are these two friends again? They are totally an odd couple. Hah! I’d imagine that Marius would be closest in temperament to Jean Prouvaire. They could totally just hang out quietly and avoid looking at women together.

Anyway, this new wardrobe is the start of…I don’t even know what Marius is trying to accomplish here. Well, I do, but he’s going about it the most awkward and creepy way possible. He approaches the bench in slow motion on that first day, but can’t bring himself to walk past it. He walks halfway there then retreats, then tries it again over and over, fretting about how he looks in his fancy suit even though he’s too far away to be noticed, until he’s finally able to will himself into passing by the bench.

Instead of going around and around six times like he usually does, this great feat of strutting past this girl in his Sunday best has apparently taken it out of him. On the way back he just sits down in the middle of the path and starts scratching at the ground with a stick he has somehow acquired. At first I was confused as to whether or not he just plopped his ass down right in the gravel. Since he’s already worked himself into a fine bundle of nerves over this girl, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he just collapsed. But that would be totally unbecoming of a gentleman! He’s actually seated himself on a different bench. I still have no idea where Marius got a stick though. If it came from one of the garden trees, he should be careful. He could probably get arrested for that.

This is his new routine. Every day he gets dressed up in his best suit, heads out to the garden, Courfeyrac provides witty commentary, and Marius sits on his own bench rather than doing laps around Mlle. Lanoir and M. Leblanc. Sometimes he has a book that he pretends to read whilst worrying about whether or not she’s noticing him. This is probably how things would have continued until they died of old age if not for the day the father and daughter rose from their bench and walked in Marius’s direction.

As they pass by, the girl makes deliberate eye contact with him. Marius is already besotted, so this is just putting him over the moon and making him even more of a basket case. He has still never uttered a word to these people, but that doesn’t seem to matter. She definitely noticed him. He rants and raves around the Luxembourg for a minute and then follows them but loses them out on the street. He frets about whether or not she noticed his dusty old boots. Marius is fully in love with her now.

Later, Marius stumbles into Courfeyrac, because Courfeyrac is everywhere. This time Marius doesn’t even attempt to avoid his friend and the inevitable jokes at his expense. Instead he invites Courfeyrac out on a man-date to dinner and the theatre. That is how great of a mood he’s in. Well, this girl from the garden has Marius in quite a state. He doesn’t even look at a hat girl’s garter as she passes by them on their way out of the theatre, and he’s even offended at Courfeyrac making comments about adding her to his “collection”. I actually wouldn’t be all that surprised if there are already a bunch of little Courfeyracs running around Paris come to think of it.

They meet a few friends at the usual place for lunch the next day, and Marius is particularly jolly. I’m assuming this gaiety is wildly out of character for a usual somber Marius. Courfeyrac thinks Marius is being totally hilarious. Jean Prouvaire, on the other hand, being the sensitive soul that he is, is the one that realizes the gravity of the situation. Jehan knows Marius’s twitterpation is serious business.

Serious business it is too, because Marius is about to go full stalker mode on this girl. I’m not even joking. He feels like he might be attracting too much attention sitting on his bench or walking around them in a circle, so he’s taken to hiding behind statues and bushes and things. Now that he’s got it bad for the girl, he doesn’t want to attract the father’s attentions. I’m not sure why he thinks this is a better tactic, since he’s been orbiting them for almost every day for nearly three years already, and they didn’t seem to mind.

Stealth is not something Marius is very good at though, because it absolutely doesn’t go unnoticed by M. Leblanc that this once innocuous student is being a total creeper now. Leblanc hatches his own plot to move around and take up residence on a new bench just to see if Marius really is following them around or if this is all just a massive coincidence.

Marius isn’t savvy enough to catch on and falls for the trap. Now M. Leblanc knows for sure that some stranger is following them. Marius remains completely oblivious.

One day he has the good fortune to find a handkerchief left behind on the bench with the initials U.F. on it. Should we even pretend we don’t already know that this stands for “Ultimus Fauchelevent” aka Jean Valjean? The hankie belongs to the old man.

Marius assumes it belongs to the girl and immediately jumps to the conclusion that her name must be Ursula, because that is the only girl’s name he can think of that begins with “U” I guess. He carries it with him everywhere, kisses it, sleeps with it, smells the perfume on it. Please stop, Marius. I’m begging you! Also, never ever tell Courfeyrac about this. You’ll never live it down.

He makes sure the girl sees him kiss the handkerchief and place it over his heart every day they “meet”, which totally confounds her of course, because it’s not hers and she doesn’t know what this crazy man is doing. Marius just thinks she’s being modest about the token of affection she’d left for him.

One day a strong gust of wind blows the girl’s skirt up enough to glimpse a little bit of skin. This drives Marius absolutely wild with jealousy even though there isn’t even anybody around to see it. He’s jealous of his shadow. He’s jealous of an old veteran who winks conspiratorially at Marius as he passes by several minutes after it happens. This vet hadn’t been there to observe the gust of wind. He’s just Captain Winks-a-lot, I guess. Marius gives the girl angry eyes afterward because she let this happen. She gives him WTF is wrong with this dude eyes, because WTF is wrong with this dude? This is their first argument.

And the last and final thread in Marius’s unraveling  is when he decides it would be a good idea to follow this “Ursula” home. He’s not content just knowing where she lives now either. He’s bold enough to question the doorman. He learns that M. Leblanc is an old retired man who lives with his daughter. He doesn’t get much further than that because the doorman is suspicious.

M. Leblanc and his daughter only visit the Luxembourg once after that. They don’t show up again, and Marius is beside himself. He goes to their house and their light isn’t on. After a few more days of waiting for them he finally asks the doorman what happened. The couple has moved! Marius is devastated. This is what happens when you try to woo people by being a creepy stalker, Marius. Seriously, dude. You really might want to reconsider your strategy for meeting girls!