Author Topic: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis  (Read 31298 times)

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markfilipak

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #120 on: January 07, 2016, 01:33:28 AM »
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Hello,

Thanks for having me over. The IE board at IMDB has been taken over by trolls, so I came here. I trust that, as a moderated board, this will be a welcoming and productive place.

I think I've pretty much figured out IE, but I have a few questions.

What's the cylindrical thingy on Mr. K's desk?

How is it that Sue can go through the door into the beige hall that connects Smithy's house & the old hotel, yet almost immediately reappear at the door into the Neuron -- my name -- from the blue landing above the cinema?

What do you make of the very short time distortions:
1, when Sue, on her way to the Smithy's house prop wall (soon to become her home), and passes the 6-light window -- it is empty -- on Stage 4, then a few seconds later passes it again -- this time Smithy wearing a green jacket is standing in it; and
2, Doris sneaks up on Sue while on Hollywood Blvd. and passes her, then jumps back 1 second and reaches Sue again, but this time grabs the screwdriver.

Thanks,

Mark.
(I hope this posts okay... It's my first.)
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polkablues

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #121 on: January 07, 2016, 04:56:46 PM »
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Hi! I'm not going to be of any help to you, as I'm not one of the hardcore Lynchophiles around these parts, but welcome!
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #122 on: January 11, 2016, 06:11:35 PM »
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Markfilipak are you still here? If so I may take a crack at this.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

Matt_Muerte

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #123 on: January 17, 2016, 01:06:31 AM »
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I watched Inland Empire last night for the first time and regret the fact that I haven't seen it sooner. I've been a David Lynch fan for over twenty years, but for some reason never got around to watching IE. Your analysis was very thorough and thought-provoking; while I haven't devoted a fraction of the time you've spent with your structured analysis, I did come away with a few impressions that I didn't see mentioned in the forum. The mention and use of back alleys seems to suggest that they are a more direct path to enlightenment; they are far less glamorous as opposed to the storefronts and facades that are in the front, but there is "always a place to park" there. This suggests to me that few people choose that route despite its effectiveness because it does not have attractive illusions.

The second thing that really struck me about IE was the fact that one cannot view it passively. Often, it felt like the actors were looking out of the screen, involving the viewer. The motif of life being a recorded/observed event is emphasized by the fact that we are viewing it as well. There was at least one scene of infinite regression in which the Lost Girl was watched by us, while she watched a television, and so on ad infinitum.

The idea of purgatory makes great sense. I also believe that it has a connection to Akashic records, or recordings of all of our deeds in a lifetime.

A strange theory that I have concerns the incidental mention and end scene with the woman who had two prosthetic legs. This seems to run parallel to the little man in the Lodge (Twin Peaks, FWWM). He was actually the arm of Mike; since there were a few scenes that involved the number 2 (the two floating lights), might this indicate in some way that they are the legs of the woman? The little man feeds off of Garmonbozia (cream corn), which I believe is pain/suffering. The lights might be entities feeding off of negative energy. It was mentioned that the legless woman killed children; this theory might make sense of that incidental story.

Another thing that caught my attention was the group dancing of the whores. This seemed to objectify them and make them seem almost soulless, a cog in the machinery. Their group dancing was a display of acting in accordance with society's expectations; if we view this in light of the woman being treated like a whore, this might make more sense.

Sorry for the random nature of my observations, but I felt compelled to share them with other Lynch enthusiasts.

Aponys21

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #124 on: March 27, 2016, 05:23:15 PM »
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Hello everyone and thank you all for the mind-blowing interpretations of this mind-blowing movie. But I have some questions whose answers I didn't seem to find on this thread:

Why did Sue enter Room 47 walking backwards and why did the rabbits disappear? I have watched that scene many times and it seems to me that Sue doesn't stand in front of the entrance when the door is finally opened. It seems to me that she comes somewhere from the left with her back towards the room initially, as though she didn't see the rabbits at all.

When Lost Girl is finally freed, she walks out of the room (which is not room 47, it's room 202 or 205, I fail to remember at this point, sorry), and then meets her husband/lover and his son. First of all, I have to ask: is Lost Girl trapped in the hotel room or somewhere behind room 47?  And how come Smithy knows her and rejoices when he sees her?

Thank you very much and I truly apologize if these questions have already been answered here.


Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #125 on: April 23, 2017, 02:55:30 PM »
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Hi Jeremy,

I just skimped through your analysis and found it interesting. I will read it thoroughly next weekend. What I gathered now is that you approach the movie as depicting "real" events. By this I mean things that we see are actually happening though depicted in an abstract way. My question is: what do you think is the crux of IE? What story does it tell and what is it conclusion?

I'd like an in-depth discussion of this masterpiece. IMDB board is gone so I'm looking for another forum to discuss this and other movies by Lynch. My experience is that you can learn alot from a wide variety of views.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #126 on: April 23, 2017, 03:52:45 PM »
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What I gathered now is that you approach the movie as depicting "real" events. By this I mean things that we see are actually happening though depicted in an abstract way.

I think with this movie Lynch does his best to show us the mechanics of the spiritual world he's dreamed up. That's mostly why I did that analysis; when you begin sorting through all the insanity, a logic emerges.

Lynch has to make the spiritual mechanics at least somewhat abstract and confusing — otherwise it would all just lose its magic. In fact, I think you need to use heavy doses of mystery and confusion to describe spirituality in a way that makes sense. Inland Empire's spirit world operates with its own set of rules that we only somewhat understand. That feels right to me — if there is a spirit world, why should it be immediately understandable by the human mind?


My question is: what do you think is the crux of IE? What story does it tell and what is it conclusion?

This is definitely something I didn't really get to in my analysis. I think the film's crux can be summed up by the joyous climax, when Lost Girl and Sue merge. It's the perfect culmination of both their experiences. Throughout the film we see how dark and difficult life can be, but much is gained, and it's all for a purpose when that journey ends. This is a literal spiritual unification that we're actually being shown. You can take from that whatever you want — love, compassion, ultimate understanding.

Just think about what Lost Girl actually does when she watches Sue's experiences. From the start, she is bursting with empathy, and that only accelerates, until she achieves a profound understanding of both Sue and (I argue) herself, until she is finally ready for that unification.


"Hunger is the purest sin"

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #127 on: April 27, 2017, 04:57:04 PM »
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Hi Jeremy,

I've read your analysis and I found it interesting. Certainly an approach I've never encountered before. I'm not into spiritual stuff, but I know Lynch is to some extent. It may well be that you hint in the right direction where Lynch's intent is concerned. I will have more detailed questions for you later on for your analysis is pretty well argumented. As of now I have some general questions like:

1. Why do the same actors play different characters?
2. Why is Lost Girl at the end ecstatic while the Dern character is not?
3. Why is everybody so happy in the last scene while the Dern character is mildly happy? What does the sawing of the log represent?
4. Why does Sue get murdered and Lost Girl not?
5. What is the significance of the boy?

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #128 on: April 27, 2017, 06:49:20 PM »
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Why do the same actors play different characters?

I believe it's a cinematic illustration of reincarnation. As they go from one life to the next, seeing the same actor lets us know that it's the same "soul."

Why is Lost Girl at the end ecstatic while the Dern character is not?

For Lost Girl, this is the climax she's been building to. And she's been aware of it. Sue, on the other hand, is still absorbing the insane reality of the situation, being in a spirit world now. She's not confused, per se — just acclimating and slowly gaining an understanding. That is definitely how Dern's performance reads to me, and it's consistent with everything else.

Why is everybody so happy in the last scene

This is a reunion and the end of a period of suffering, so I think it's a happy occasion for everyone. The prostitutes are especially happy because they've been trying to guide Sue here, and now she's arrived.

Why does Sue get murdered and Lost Girl not?

First I should mention that apparently I still need to make this correction to my analysis. I confirmed earlier in this thread, here, that Lost Girl did in fact kill her lover's wife. That is why she's in her little viewing purgatory.

Lost Girl's experience via Sue allows/forces her to see the flip side — being the actual victim of a jealous lover. This goes to the whole point of the movie — the "ultimate understanding" I talked about.

What is the significance of the boy?

I suppose he's the son that Lost Girl never got to have. She clearly wanted a life and family with Old Poland Smithy, so this a fulfillment of that dream.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #129 on: April 28, 2017, 03:36:29 PM »
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Hi Jeremy,

I'm responding now quite spontaneous without having written some notes on paper beforehand which I usually do. Like other users here I come from the IMDB board which is closed now. There I had some extensive and in depth discussions about some movies I love and this one in particular. Yes, IMDB could be a board with an unusual amount of trolling and egos, but now and then one could have interesting talks. I was looking for another film forum to discuss movies in depth and so I came upon this site. At first glance it seems pretty good to me with thoughtful and polite discussion and feedback. My experience is that while discussing a movie on an open thread it tends to result in people trying to explain their particular view and convince others. Perhaps that's only human when one is really invested in their approach, but it does stifle the conversation fairly quick. I try to keep an open mind, but I sometimes catch myself doing just that also. But...what do you learn from spouting thing one already knows?

I had seen Eraserhead  on tv in the eighties when I was quite young. Well, needless to say I couldn't watch it all the way through; I didn't understand it and I found it incredibly dull. I had seen Blue Velvet in the late eighties and this too was not my cup of tea back then. I did follow Twin Peaks when it aired in the early nineties; I didn't understand it, but I found it pretty entertaining. Still later on I watched Lost HIghway and I simply hated it: this frustrating feeling that I did not understand it and could not figure it out bugged me, so I decided Lynch was not for me. Still, I found the photography of his movies stunning, the music quite good and the imgaery interesting; if only I could make SOME sense of his work. Than came Mulholland Dr. I was flabbergasted by what I had just seen in the theater. I could make SOME sense out of it, but alot of things I couldn't place nor figure out. So...I talked about the movie with friends and family, searched online for interpretations and took part in discussions about the movie just to get a grip on it. Through this process I came to look at Lost Highway also through a different lens and it finally clicked with me. A large part of the interpretation is subjective, of course, but I'm convinced that Lynch does leave tangible clues in all his work that leads the viewer in a certain direction. Still, when one takes one sidestreet before another one can end up in vastly different places.

I was very, very excited to watch Inland Empire for the first time (somewhere in 2012 I believe it was). Wow, what was I disappointed! The digital camera, absense of a "classical" soundtrack and a story....well, I couldn't mak heads of tails out of it. I couldn't watch it all the way through and the time I watched it completely was about a month later! Well, the same process as with MD started, but very, very slowly. Again many discussions and searches for meaning online etc. I finally came to some interpretation with which I feel pretty comfortable. What's more: it enhances the actual viewing experience immensely. I still have questions though and some parts I struggle with to place in the whole. I don't know how it is with others on this board, but the way I go about is to first have a general overview of what I sense the movie is about and than see if individual scenes can  be placed in it. I have revised this overall view many times over the years sometimes due to very minute details. I came to the conlusion that Lynch's LA trilogy (LH. MD and IE) are very similar in themes, but that the structures are different. Moreover, it seems to me that Lynch gets more mild and nuanced in his work when I notice that the endings of all three movies go from violent, to mournful and melancholic to upbeat and positive.

I find it pretty difficult to get some coherence and structure in the discussion about IE because I find that pretty much all in IE is connected to each other: when one discusses one scene it's very difficult to isolate this from one's overall view for this pretty much determines WHY one interpret this scene a particular way. Like you state in your analysis Jeremy, one objective could be to be at least consistent in one's interpretations: if it does not contradict any other interpretation it's a possibillity and therefor legit. I think logic should be the driving force behind...well, any discussion really, though in the case of the work of Lynch I guess logic doesn't always cut it and one must leave some room for cinematic poetry.

I will read your analysis more thoroughly tomorrow and see if we can start a fruitful discussion with that as starting point.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #130 on: April 28, 2017, 06:47:31 PM »
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Sounds good! I look forward to it.

I just overhauled the "Murder" section (here). Also edited some other things in Part 2.

The rest didn't seem to need much editing, although I think the "moral of the story" section is somewhat of a lame copout... I should rewrite that at some point. Using what I've written on this page if nothing else.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #131 on: April 29, 2017, 09:35:40 AM »
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Jeremy,

The most obvious way to start this discussion would be to folow your analysis a chapter at the time. Before I do that I want to mention that we have different….I would say radically different views and that makes it all the more interesting. Like I said I never encountered such a view as yours (with supernatural elements) and perhaps I get to see things differently (and for the better) during this discussion.

Right of the bat you state that Nikki Grace is not real, that she’s a fantasy. Hmmm, it seems we share the same view on this aspect (it seems to me this aspect is rather obvious). Than you state that (“For starters”..) many things are not in chronological order. Here we already are put into a position where we have to elaborate on our overall view. It is my contention that everything we see is strictly in chronological order…except it is the order of a dream logic. It seems like a copout perhaps to state that we are following the logic of a dream, but I approach IE just like that: the inner workings of a woman’s mind (the woman in trouble). So many things ARE indeed out of chronological order in the physical reality, but following dream logic this order is essentially the only way that makes sense: the appearance of one memory triggers the appearance of another while this memory could be of something that happened before the other. I’m of the contention that the element of time is of crucial importance in IE: thematically as well as structurally.

You state that the characters are real and the actors are fake. You write that Sue Blue and Billy Side are real people. I was wondering: since you believe that Sue and Lost Girl are two halfs of the same person than how can Sue Blue be real? She represents one half so she must be metaphorical wouldn’t you agree? Maybe I’m reading your analysis wrong. But…I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s stick to the first part.

So…according to you Sue is real. Who according to you is the Dern character who talks to Mr K with a southern accent and is quite vulgar? And who is the Dern character on Hollywood Boulevard? Are these all representations of the same Sue according to you? If so than what do they represent according to you? And if you believe Sue Blue to be real than do you think that what we see happening to her is real and in real time?

Like you I see IE as the unfolding of a repressive fantasy, but it seems that half way through we come to follow radically different paths. I’m not sure I grasp your view on Sue Blue and Lost Girl being two halfs of the same person. I cannot see how you connect this with all that we see.

I believe it is helpful to stick to well defined topics at a time otherwise the discussion could be overwhelming.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #132 on: April 29, 2017, 10:53:47 AM »
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So many things ARE indeed out of chronological order in the physical reality, but following dream logic this order is essentially the only way that makes sense: the appearance of one memory triggers the appearance of another while this memory could be of something that happened before the other. I’m of the contention that the element of time is of crucial importance in IE: thematically as well as structurally.

Yeah, I like that way of putting it, and I basically agree.

Memory is definitely crucial, in that Sue is remembering her life. (Since she is very much dead.)

You state that the characters are real and the actors are fake. You write that Sue Blue and Billy Side are real people. I was wondering: since you believe that Sue and Lost Girl are two halfs of the same person than how can Sue Blue be real? She represents one half so she must be metaphorical wouldn’t you agree?

This is a movie that is showing us actual spiritual mechanics, not just crazy dream metaphors. I think that view has mountains of evidence to support it, all of which is seen in the film.

Sue and Lost Girl being spiritual halves — if not halves, very intimately linked — seems very clear to me.

That's why I titled the analysis "HALFBORN." I think it's the crux of the movie. And it's a term coined by Lynch himself within the film:

"A little girl went out to play. Lost in the marketplace as if half-born."
– Visitor #1

Lost Girl is not experiencing incarnate life. But she is "half" experiencing Sue's life as she very empathically and emotionally watches it unfold on the TV. Her connection with Sue goes even beyond that empathy link. Lynch and Dern themselves lay it out pretty well as they're shooting the scene:

Lynch: She'll see you looking at her from the TV.
Dern: Okay. Okay.
Lynch: You know, like that. You're lookin' right at the camera.
Dern: And I'm looking at the camera as though I see myself?
Lynch: You see your—yeah, yeah.

She sees Lost Girl, and Lost girl sees her. They are seeing each other but also themselves.

Just to put a cherry on top and make sure we understand, Lynch actually shows them merging at the end.

So…according to you Sue is real. Who according to you is the Dern character who talks to Mr K with a southern accent and is quite vulgar? Are these all representations of the same Sue according to you?

Yeah, when Dern is talking to Mr. K, that is probably the purest embodiment of Sue. It's the same Sue we see having the affair with Billy or slogging through that horrible relationship with Smithy... just a bit grittier. Because she is talking about the worst parts of her life.

And who is the Dern character on Hollywood Boulevard?

Sue, when she "dies" on Hollywood & Vine, is already dead. Play-acting her death (probably as it happened) triggers her realization that she is and has been dead, and that it's time to move on.

She then does just that — moves on — walking past Kingsley, ignoring the Nikki Grace fantasy, because she knows it is a fantasy. We then see her slowly travel through the layers of the spirit world until she reaches Lost Girl.

And if you believe Sue Blue to be real than do you think that what we see happening to her is real and in real time?

This is one of the more mysterious parts of Inland Empire. I believe what we see is an ambiguous combination of living and reliving. There is certainly a lot of dream-like and surreal reliving. (Most of it is probably that.) The question is how much of which are we seeing. I'm not sure the answer is actually important, but it's kind of interesting.

If that didn't make sense, I try to explain this starting with Part 3 - Dream Origin, supported by plenty of evidence.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #133 on: April 29, 2017, 02:29:00 PM »
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Quote
Lost Girl is not experiencing incarnate life. But she is "half" experiencing Sue's life as she very empathically and emotionally watches it unfold on the TV.

Lost Girl IS indeed experiencing the Dern character’s life, but do you see something odd about it? Their experiences are each others opposites. Moreover: their experiences swap during the movie: Lost Girl begins as a prostitute and Dern ends up being a prostitute. In other words: they literally swap places.
What do you think is the significance of that (if any)?

Quote
Yeah, when Dern is talking to Mr. K, that is probably the purest embodiment of Sue. It's the same Sue we see having the affair with Billy or slogging through that horrible relationship with Smithy... just a bit grittier.

There’s something interesting about this Dern, the one on Hollywood Boulevard and indeed the one in the last scene: we never hear her name. Yes, she looks like Sue, but then again Sue does look like Nikki. In fact: we never hear Smithy calling her Sue either. Only Devon / Billy calls her that and no one else (well, except Kingsley, but he’s obviously referring to the script). My point is: why should we believe these Derns are all Sue when we have witnessed an alter ego change already? One could indeed interpret these Derns to be Sue, but there are other possibillities.

Quote
She then does just that — moves on — walking past Kingsley, ignoring the Nikki Grace fantasy, because she knows it is a fantasy.

If Sue ignores the Nikki Grace fantasy just at that particular moment, than what are we to make of all that went before? Was this all part of the script? Has Sue been playing her part al this time? And what is the function of the death scene?

You see: alot of questions. Right now I will ponder over your next chapter “Murder.”

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #134 on: April 29, 2017, 03:26:04 PM »
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Lost Girl IS indeed experiencing the Dern character’s life, but do you see something odd about it? Their experiences are each others opposites. Moreover: their experiences swap during the movie: Lost Girl begins as a prostitute and Dern ends up being a prostitute. In other words: they literally swap places. What do you think is the significance of that (if any)?

That is covered in the analysis. It's profoundly useful in a spiritual sense for Lost Girl to experience a life that is similar to her own, but from the other end — mainly, being the victim of a jealousy murder instead of the perpetrator.

If you take all the Old Poland content together, I don't think Lost Girl is a literal prostitute. She is certainly made to feel like one, by the Phantom, who she seems to have a relationship with (husband is what I go with). Just as Sue was made to feel like a prostitute.

My point is: why should we believe these Derns are all Sue when we have witnessed an alter ego change already? One could indeed interpret these Derns to be Sue, but there are other possibillities.

Sure, Sue might have alter egos or doubles, completely separate from Nikki Grace. We do see her doppelganger in the street at one point, and in another moment she looks down and sees herself. Here's what I said about that in Part 4:

What exactly is the meaning of the doppelganger on the walk of fame?

At 1:13:50, Sue looks down and sees a more desperate version of herself sitting on the floor, looking up with terrified eyes. Is this the same doppelganger? Is this a representation of the prostitute state?


Since these both occur at heights of confusion in her bizarre reliving experience, I think it would be reasonable to liken them to projected images. I'm not sure we need to believe that these are anything more. They are still meaningful.

If Sue ignores the Nikki Grace fantasy just at that particular moment, than what are we to make of all that went before? Was this all part of the script? Has Sue been playing her part al this time? And what is the function of the death scene?

There is always something off about the Nikki Grace fantasy — it's dissolving from the very beginning of the film. It falls apart completely after she walks through the first Axxon N door.

It doesn't come back until the roleplay death on Hollywood & Vine. Its reemergence there is completely hopeless, like a flickering memory that is never going to stick. It fails because Sue finally roleplaying her death makes her remember that it happened, and that she is actually dead for real.

"Was this all part of the script?" ... No. The script itself and the existence of "On High In Blue Tomorrows" are part of the fantasy.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

 

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