Strange Angel : The Sage begins with a car bombing of Police Inspector Raymond’s car. Jack (Jack Reynor) was asked to testify about the pipe bombing. Through “meticulous experimentation” he identifies the fuel used as belonging to the defendant.
Cut to the lab. Professor Mesulam (Rade Serbedzija) is reviewing their proposal while Jack is at the trial. Mesulam says the fuel is too expensive. Rich (Peter Mark Kendall) says Jack just wanted to be the “expert” witness. Back the courthouse, Jack is playing to the reporters, posing for pictures and getting the rocketry project in the news.
At home, Susan (Bella Heathcote) is playing the piano when Virgil (Michael Gaston) drops off her sister, Patty (Laine Neal), who can’t be trusted alone while her parents are out of town at a Church retreat. Patty is a pouty little minx. Susan meets Maggie Donovan (Elena Satine), Ernest’s wife. Maggie’s a costumer at RKO (the movie studio). Maggie wants to know how Ernest (Rupert Friend) is settling in but Susan doesn’t want to answer so she makes her excuses.
Later that night, Jack was really jazzed up about the reporters and meeting interesting people at the courthouse. Susan says Maggie was welcoming, charming, and dressed just like Katherine Hepburn. Not what you’d expect. Susan says it doesn’t fit – why would a woman like that be married to a man like Ernest? Jack wants to talk about the implications of the trial on Caltech paying him. Susan doesn’t want to sleep with Jack, because they shouldn’t use protection when they have sex. It’s a sin. But they shouldn’t have a baby right now, as it would be too much on top of everything else.
The next morning, Jack meets Ernest in the driveway. Ernest is acting normally. The rocket lab is mad about him not being there for the Mesulam’s review and also, they are mad they didn’t get a mention in the article. The yelling is interrupted by a secretary who brings them invitations to the Athenaeum Club. It’s black tie – dress to impress. The publicity and the proposal have paid off.
Jack gets a tuxedo from his mother, Ruth (Hope Davis). It was his father’s. Susan and his mother do some tailoring and Susan tells him just to soak it all in. It’s Halloween and Jack picks up. It’s the night of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds. They see through it because they recognize it. Jack and Rich meet Chung and Samson at the Club, and they go inside. Mesulam says Herr Josef Breitner (Endre Hules), the German scientist, is there, having fled from the Nazi regime. They’ve trotted out the rocketry team as show ponies to try to convince Breitner to come to Caltech. Every University in the country would like him to come there.
Jack’s credentials are questioned after some of Mesulam’s superiors complain. Jack tells the other guys to go ahead. Mesulam tries to intercede but Jack leaves on his own, because he doesn’t want to make any waves, like Susan said before he left. Rich says that’s best for the project, and Rich should stay. Jack agrees but he’s hurt. Jack imagines HG Wells’ martians attacking the Athenaeum. Jack heads to a bar for a drink.
Ernest and Maggie are arranging their house. They have a photo of Alastair Crowley in their living room and Maggie doesn’t want it there. Jack rings. Ernest says he can’t tonight (we don’t know what Jack asked). Jack taunts him that the man of will breaks all boundaries except the ones his wife imposes. Maggie tells Ernest he doesn’t have to get her permission to go. Jack’s complaining about being called an interloper. He can’t go home to Susan with his tail tucked between his legs. Jack taunts Ernest because he promised magic and he won’t go out because his wife wears the pants.
So they go out.
Back at the Athenaeum Club, Herr Breitner meets the rest of the team. Rich isn’t very impressive as a speaker. The professors tell Breitner that the team’s proposal is approved, as Mesulam says, to “save face” , since Breitner was told that the team was much further along. Should have kept Jack there to talk to him!
Back at home Susan and Patty are playing cards. Patty keeps looking at the clock, all while the trick or treaters are coming by the house. Some of the teenagers egg her house and Maggie comes to the rescue with the hose, running them off. Maggie tells Susan that Ernest went to meet Jack and Susan says that’s impossible. Maggie says Ernest is probably lying. Susan is devastated. She goes back in to find that Patty has sneaked into the backyard to make out with one of the egging teenagers. Patty sees Susan looking and grins.
Jack and Ernest go to a Gentleman’s club. Rich stops by Jack and Susan’s to tell him the prototype is approved, and tells Susan that Jack left the event. Susan says he never came home. Susan finds out they invited him to the event just to turn him away. That’s an awful thing to do to someone. Rich says it’s politics. He had to stay for the project. Rich doesn’t know where he meant. Rich hopes he hasn’t caused any problems. Jack’s had a really tough time. But it’s all happening just like Jack said.
Jack has no money for the dancers. They aren’t here “just to watch”, Ernest says. He’ll loan Jack the money. Ernest says Jack got a taste of something at the lodge and wants more. He should step up and cheat on Susan. Is he going to run away, or show himself out? Jack can’t back down so he and Ernest go in the back room with the sex workers. Ernest likes to watch – he catches a glimpse off Jack and the lady he’s with. He gets really angry with the lady he is with when she implies he might be getting excited over his friend. She hits the alarm and then Ernest gets in a fight with the bouncer. Jack tucks it in and goes to see what’s going on.
Patty thinks Susan is going to tell on her, the same way she did when she lived at home. Susan says it’s not appropriate and Patty says it’s no wonder Jack stayed out late since he wouldn’t have any fun at home. Susan gets mad. Susan sounds too much like Virgil.
Ernest and Jack arrive home. Jack regrets drinking so much. Ernest says no one else has to know about that night. Ernest drives away, heading to his temple. Jack has another War of the Worlds fantasy in his driveway.
He showers and goes to bed. Susan is awake. She tells him Rich stopped by to say the proposal was approved. Susan doesn’t tell him all the rest, and Jack doesn’t say where he was. Susan wishes he’d been there to hear it, and Jack wishes that too.
Ernest is at the temple talking to his priest, Alfred Miller (Greg Wise) while the priest takes photos. He’s upset about the failed recruitment but also, he’s angry at himself for losing control and doesn’t know what he is. But Jack makes him very angry as the photos show. It’s not about Maggie, Ernest says, but Jack makes him feel like a freak. The priest says that how we see ourselves determines how we react. Does Ernest think he’s a freak? Because the priest doesn’t believe he is, and he doesn’t believe that he should put labels on his desire. Thelema teaches that they should go beyond such restrictive categorization. Each person we love is a different key that unlocks a different part of is. Only one sets us free. Ernst is like water, changing and seeking definition. Therefore, he’s drawn to Jack, who plays with fire. Two primary forces are at play, like male/female, dark/light. The union of opposites is the only thing that frees us from pain. Jack’s not an acolyte, he’s Ernest’s liberation from pain.
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