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fragrantwoods in deadwoodtv

She can't help it, the girl can't help it...

 I was seven years late to the Deadwood party (boo!)
But I did discover it shortly after I stopped working and thus had time to dive into the DVDs head-first with no pesky waiting between episodes (Yay!)  I've been leaving responses for every poor lj-er who popped up on a "Deadwood" search and feel terribly annoying over it, but if you've never been slapped with the "OMG I have got to thoroughly discuss this subtle nuance with somebody  or I'll explode" fish, count your blessings.

I'm hoping the reshowing by HBO,  plus Ian McShane's Blackbeard,  plus on-going Titus Welliver  love, etc.  will get some discussion going...and, of course, if I'm stepping on any toes by being here or rehashing DW again, I can be shoo'd away easily, just say the word.

The Deadwood mull today is over Trixie, primarily from the first couple of episodes in Season 1. Speculations from TWOP's DW forum may be addressed now and in the future.

Trixie and Al, Trixie and Al...what's up with those crazy kids? 

As I remember, there was a lot of TWOP assumption that Trixie was suffering from battered wife syndrome, low self-esteem, and Al was the worst abusive asshole ever. I am trying to hold my Ian McShane squee out of this (acknowledging that he himself would say he had been an abusive asshole, had he not been too drunk and high to remember a decade or two of his younger years).  Still, when I deconstruct the first epi, here's what I get:

Al is out for himself and wants to be successful, come what may. Obstacles are ruthlessly, if dispassionately, removed, the most expeditiously way possible. And he runs whores, which is inherently bad. Plus, he looks most Satanic at the start.

Given those fuckin' givens, though, what about Trixie and her place in Al's world?

He knows her well enough to hear a gunshot from a small caliber gun and knows it's her, AGAIN. So, I assume she's shot a john at some point and lived to tell about it. 
Al takes charge and seems to at least briefly check her out for injury before sending for Doc Cochran. 
Now, the beating.
 I'm not trying to be an apologist for abuse--that would go against 30+ years of personal and professional experience. 
But he picks her up and throws her into a wall. There's no punching (I'm thinking of Tony Soprano punching the wall next to Carmella's face right now, and other TV violence against women) or back-handing. Trixie could have been shot by her trick, or beaten worse than she was, and I'm getting that Al and she had had conflict about her, tricks, and violence before. Again, trying to pull back on the ship, but could Al have been scared that he came close to losing her, and part of his reaction was from that fear?
Along with the disruption of the night's business, of course, and the aggravation of dealing with the dead guy.
Now, the boot to the neck was bad. And Trixie's little girl "I'll be good" was so hopeless and pitiful, I could have gone to "poor abused trapped pathetic whore" right then. But I've heard a lot about what pimps do to disobedient  whores, on TV and RL, and again, it could have been a lot worse. I mean, it was awful, but a whore defying her pimp's orders for the second time, in that environment? That could have turned into a cutting easy.
And then we see "battered woman, poor self esteem girl" get up from being neck-stomped, and she arranges to get another gun within minutes???  To me, that takes a hella nerve. Shit, I'd have laid low and played good for a couple days at least, out of fear and self-preservation.
I  thought at the time that showed some moxie.  After reading David Milch's "Deadwood" book, though, I'm less certain. There's one statement he makes, about when Trixie goes back to Al's room "with the intention of killing him" that shocked me, because that's not how I saw that scene at ALL.  So now I'm wondering if it was a fatalistic, "by the time he knows I've got another gun, he or I'll be dead, so fuck it" act. 
I don't get that she was going to shoot Al (with a little gun, and all his minions downstairs) but maybe I'm projecting?

I see it this way: Trixie's thinking she knows he's only go so far with punishing her, based on several years of history with him, so she feels she knows what will and won't set him off.  She wants him to know she's under his thumb at least partially of her own choosing (having weighed her available options).  He can't keep her from getting another gun; he'll never get that kind of obedience from her. 
But she will put it on his nightstand, partially as a "fuck you and your orders" and partially to show that she will abide by his order not to have a gun on her person. "I'll agree to not "have" a gun, but it's by my choice, not because I can't get my hands on another one."
Al could have done a Tony rant re: I told you no more guns, bitch, and started knocking her around. I think in Soprano-land, the female characters wouldn't have come out of that situation without real harm--disobedience AND defiance. 
But he lets her get in bed and lay her head on his chest?  TWOP's general consensus was this was the aforementioned fucked-up outlook on Trixie's part, plus co-dependency, and maybe Stockholm Syndrome. I think it's a relationship that is unhealthy, certainly, but is in a strange kind of balance, with a lot of unspoken but agreed-upon roles. 
I admit some of what we later learn about Trixie is probably bleeding into this, but I just did not get stereotypical "battered wife syndrome" from her. There just seemed more free will and choice there, admitting that free will in a constraining, dangerous environment can lead to some fucked-up behavior. 

Thoughts, contradictions, eye-rolling all welcome.




Very interesting, thanks for posting! Connects with some of the conversations I've been having with friends about their relationship (I have not abandoned my mission of getting more people hooked on this series) where they cringe at the "abusiveness" of it and don't believe me that looks different in hindsight once you know where it goes. You make an interesting point in referencing Milch's statement about her intending to kill him; I'd heard on the DVD commentaries and elsewhere that the scene took a turn in rehearsal that veered away from the original script (and ultimately changed the flavour and direction of the entire series) and wonder if Milch didn't notice how different the scene was in the mind/eyes of the performers and camera?
Well, Milch seems to have been a stream-of-consciousness writer, and veering from the script seems to be his thing. And personally, I think it would have been tacky to bring in an actress from Ireland for one show. I can't imagine Deadwood without Trixie-she was the voice of unpleasant truth so often.

One thing surprised me after watching the "Bloody Mother" fanvid: I had been thinking all this time that the deep marks on the right side of her neck was from Al stomping on her neck and was an ongoing witness to his brutality. When I looked at the scene over and over in the clip, those marks were there before Al did anything to her, from her beating from the john.

I'm recruiting new watchers as best I can, too, and refreshing some viewers who saw it back in the day.

And for being my first commenter...thank you, thank you!!! :-)
Al Swearengen - WTF?

December 2012

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