Maintaining a healthy and happy relationship with your spouse and children is hard. Just like marriage, raising a child depends on compromise, defying expectation and sometimes what you thought was normal, and constant adaptation. For love is precious yet can be fleeting. Especially when abuse, miscommunication, or irreconcilable beliefs are put into the equation.
With all that said, let’s talking about “Burning Love.”
Trigger Warning(s): Projectile Vomit
The Essence of a Happy Marriage Is The Ability To Pretend (Ed, Nathan, Celeste, Madeline, Perry, and Bonnie)
Celeste’s doctor wants an exit strategy put in place. She recognizes this need for power in Celeste’s relationship isn’t healthy and neither are Perry’s insecurities. For, so it seems, she only has her power when he does something wrong. Yet, when he begins to feel powerless, when she tries to exert her power or make him feel he has none, then the abuse comes in. No one can live like that forever. Eventually, so the doctor fears, she is going to get seriously injured and his temper may spill into the boy’s life. So, despite all her protest and thinking the doctor is crossing the line, [note]To which her reply is she’ll give Celeste the number the Better Business Bureau to report her if she wishes. Which I thought was hilarious.[/note]she looks for an apartment. She finds a place for when, and if, she decides to leave. But, she keeps this a secret. All of it. The abuse, the place, and even when she breaks Perry’s urethra in two, she keeps the secret close. Something the doctor warns will make any pending custody battle hard.
However, things aren’t just difficult for Celeste. The dinner between Nathan and Madeline, along with their spouses, has come upon us. Nathan is ready to prove himself, be competitive, but that is the least of Ed and Madeline’s problems. For Madeline, she is still going through what happened with Joseph and his wife confronting her, wondering if she is the one he cheated on her with. [note]The Avenue Q play seemed to be a hit, though[/note] Then with Ed, despite winning Madeline, he still feels like a loser. His old insecurities still bug him and while it isn’t because of Nathan now, there are still these ideals and comparisons going off in his head. All of which make him wonder why his marriage isn’t like everyone else’s.
Yet, despite these issues, the problem that destroys the dinner is Abigail wanting to auction off her virginity for Amnesty International. Well, that and Madeline vomiting multiple times, once on Bonnie in fact. Leading to, while Madeline tries to talk Abigail out of it, revealing to her she cheated on Ed.
You know, sometimes I wonder why did Perry want Celeste? Because, sometimes, I wonder if it is the case of him seeing this wild mare who he felt he just had to tame. A challenge. For as affectionate as he is with her, there is less and less this idea that he loves her. In fact, at times I almost want to say she is part of proving his manhood but they hardly go anywhere together. So I’m honestly of the opinion he used her to have attractive and intelligent children and to have someone to come home to. And while a part of me wants to know how and why he became like this, at the same time I question if the humanization of this sort of monster would do anything? Much less, if that is always needed. For really, what does that change? His father being abusive or absent may lead you to understand why he acts the way he does, but it doesn’t excuse it. I mean, at one time my feelings were complicated but now I see so clear and am ready for Celeste to move on. Though, all things considered, with that murder investigation always in the background, who knows if maybe she tried and got killed for her efforts.
As for the whole family dinner thing, that I don’t think was very noteworthy since it was relatively peaceful before the Abigail topic. However, I do feel there is a need to note Ed’s insecurities and the sort of odd makeup of both Madeline and Nathan’s current marriages. With Ed, you have to wonder why Madeline fell in love with him? Was it just because he was the polar opposite of Nathan and, going with the episode’s power theme, perhaps she knew she would have the leverage? That if, if anyone was to leave the other person, it would be her? Because, at this point, I can’t see anything but stability and predictability being the reason for their marriage. Love, to me, has yet to come into the equation.
Then with Nathan and Bonnie, again there is this vibe that Nathan sought out the complete opposite of his ex. Yet, with Bonnie barely being in this show at all, you have to wonder what is the reason behind his love? Is it her youth, flexibility, and alternative look? Did he want to experience being with a Black girl? Nathan’s relationship with Bonnie is so underdeveloped that at times it seems written for the sole purpose of pissing Madeline off or giving her something to be mad about, rather than him being his own character with his own life and new family.
Burying The Hatchet (Renata, Jane, and Madeline)
Jane admits to Madeline she brought her gun when she went to confront the man she thought was the one who raped her. However, it wasn’t him and she doesn’t think she would do it. Yet, Madeline regrets, heavily, even looking that man up. To the point, Celeste feels the need to perhaps talk to Jane since, obviously, Madeline is out of her league when it comes to quelling Jane’s anxiety and the need for some violent closure.
Yet, while Jane is dealing with her Saxon issues, Renata, well her minion Harper, is causing more grief. Harper has come up with a petition for Ziggy to be suspended and Jane confronts Renata about it. Leading to Renata getting high and mighty and Jane decking her. Something she apologizes for but she is at the end of her rope [note]Anyone wonder what ever happened to Jane looking for a job?[/note]. Something Renata is too but with Jane finally apologizing for something, trying to speak to Renata mother to mother, as well as noting taking Ziggy to a child psychologist, it seems Renata is willing to bury the hatchet. Heck, she even talks about a play date. Something she has been doing with each kid to weed out who really is bullying her daughter.
I’m honestly at the point where I think Amabella (or however you spell that child’s name), is doing the damage to herself. Think about it. Ziggy and Chloe are noted as popular, and Skye likely by extension. However, for people to come to Amabella’s party there had to be all this grandeur stuff. It didn’t seem like people were going to celebrate her but to see what Renata was doing, what she was giving out. So with her noticing she gets more attention when bullied, maybe the is leaving marks and telling stories. I’m not saying this as fact, but just an alternative to what Renata is spewing.
As for the Saxon thing, I fully see Jane going off the deep end eventually. Mentally she is on the brink and I honestly think, if it wasn’t for Ziggy, she’d be tempted to commit suicide. I honestly believe she is living for him and he is the sole means of her coping with life right now. Just to experience his silliness and see him grow up. Hence why she is trying to make excuses about maybe Saxon having an off night or maybe not perceiving things well for she doesn’t want the one truly good thing in her life tainted.
Will The Kids Be Alright? (Chloe and Ziggy)
With the exception of Skye who, like Bonnie, is rarely seen or heard, Chloe and Ziggy are very much a part of the cast and have active roles. Ziggy is trying to fish for answers out of Jane about his dad and Chloe is his best friend. Someone who he seems to be opening up to, is his loyal friend and may have a little puppy love thing going with. Yet, as happy as they are, it seems both know there isn’t something necessarily right with their parents. It is just they can’t figure out what.
The way Armitage looks at Woodley as he fishes for answers, god you can see this kid playing off Woodley and really feeding off how she sets the scenes and vibe. It is, honestly, really amazing how these kids interact with adults, and even each other, on this show. They are able and allowed to be just kids, being silly, just as much as they are allowed to be shown as little people absorbing everything and spilling out their interpretation of things. Take Ziggy’s love of The Temptations “Poppa Was A Rolling Stone.” Though it is shown as just a kid who loves some song, it has a deeper meaning. Be it consciously, or subconsciously, he relates to part of the lyrics and it isn’t clear whether or not Jane realizes that yet. Then with Chloe, there is this emotional intelligence, at times, I don’t think many child actors are allowed to exhibit. For it seems clear she knows something is going on with her mom, but she knows she won’t be told the truth. So she tries to reassure her that she is loved and that she won’t abandon her. Especially in light of Abigail running to Nathan’s house. Really proving that just because an actor is a child, much less under 13, it doesn’t mean their sole purpose has to be the victim or proof that a couple had sex once, if not happier times. They are capable of so much more than that.
I’m amazed by [people] who can harbor such profound self-awareness underneath the hard shell of denial.
Elazar Abrahams has posted an article about the possible murderer and victim, which I commented on, which focuses on that specific part of this show’s story.