I’m back again with another long recap for Strange Angel . This show is full of symbolism and dream sequences and I never know what’s going to be important later so bear with me – I’m just putting it all in!
This week’s offering opens with Jack Parson’s dream. Jack (Jack Reynor) appears to awaken and enter a hallway that doesn’t appear to be his own. He hears mutterings, and, peering through a doorway, sees a child saying, over and over again, while drawing a on the floor in chalk:
How many miles to Babylon?
Three-score and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.
It’s creepy, y’all.
Suddenly Susan Parsons (Bella Heathcote) awakens and finds Jack looking into a clothes closet. They try go back to sleep, because it’s going to be a big day tomorrow. But they don’t seem to be very successful.
Next day (we assume), Susan’s making Jack’s lunch while he gets ready. It’s a meager lunch and Jack promises things are about to get better financially. The truck won’t start.
Jack gets to CalTech late for his meeting with Professor Mesulam (Rade Serbedzija) and Rich Onsted (Peter Mark Kendall) to see the new lab. They’ve been funded! The lab will be under Mesluam’s guidance. Mesulam wants them to figure out the basic science. He wants theoretical rigor. The lab for the first rocketry team looks like a storage closet. They won’t get any resources until they proof it’s not a fluke. They need to prove they can repeat their results theoretically. Rich says, “Welcome to CalTech.”
After clearing out the space, they talk about the test explosion, and they talk about the difference between building rockets and building rocket science. Rich wants to add experts to the team and Jack goes along because he has to go back to work at the chemical plant.
He’s going home that night and runs into crazy neighbor Ernest (Rupert Friend) who is fixing his truck. It starts right up. He did some stock car mods on it (opened up air flow) to give it more power. Because that’s what neighbors do – keeping an eye on each other. Jack confronts Ernest about what he saw – the woman who almost got sacrificed. Susan’s been watching him. Ernest says he doesn’t bite.
Over dinner Susan wants to call the cops. Susan is scared. Jack says Ernest isn’t just trying to scare them. Jack’s estranged father Marvel told him something about the occult symbol from the note in the last episode. Jack was 7 or 8. Marvel wasn’t like most parents apparently. They aren’t all hexes – some are gateways. Jack says he won’t let anything happen to her. They should forget about this and celebrate all their dreams coming true.
Cut to Susan in confession at Church. She wants to know how to recognize evil. The priest wants to know what’s going on. She tells him about the neighbor and she wants to figure out what the threat is. The priest asks her to confess. She confesses that Jack wants to take precautions – presumably in the bedroom. He tells her that’s a sin basically and she should withhold sex unless they skip the precaution.
Jack and Rich are at CalTech recruiting people. Jack tryes to get into the Athenaeum, the most exclusive intellectual club at CalTach. The doorman isn’t having it. Rich and Jack go to their lecture by Professor Tillman on air friction boundary layers. Jack asks about aircraft which are designed to leave the atmosphere. Tillman thanks Jack’s been put up to it. Rich is embarrassed, and Jack says propellers are a dying tech and the professor and audience should be innovators. He gets into a verbal sparing match with Tillman, who doesn’t believe in rockets. He’s an aeronautics engineer and he’s frakking condescending. Jack says just because the math doesn’t exist yet doesn’t mean it can’t, but Tillman says maybe Santa Clause is real, and Caltech doesn’t deal in fantasy, only facts.
Back at home, Ernest breaks into Jack and Susan’s house while Susan is hanging laundry outside. He leaves oranges in the kitchen and goes through their records, their chests of drawers, and sits on their bed. He looks through a chest in the closet and finds Jack’s notebooks, and reads through some of them. Ernest scares Susan out when she comes back in, and he offers to make her juice. But she doesn’t seem to know what to do. She’s clearly really nervous. Ernest asks her if they’re happy. She says of course. He insinuates that since Jack is out of the house a lot they could both be “up to anything” and they wouldn’t know. Susan says they tell each other everything. Ernest says that’s the lie of marriage – you think you know someone but you don’t. Susan says why are you doing this and Ernest says he’s just curious.
Jack arrives home a little later, and Ernest is still there. Jack kicks him out. Ernest just wants to share his bounty, he says, and then asks Jack about trying to summon the devil as a kid. What would Jack had done if the devil has shown up? And then they call the cops. But they can’t really do anything. Being a kook is not a crime. Ernest didn’t take anything. The cops advise Jack to bully the bully.
After the cops leave Jack flips, and figures out that Ernest read his notebooks. That’s how he knew about Jack trying to summon the devil when he was a kid. Jack busts into Ernest’s house with a knife and confronts him. Jack flips through a bunch of stuff, looking for his notebook. Ernest still has it. He says Jack’s nothing like the man who penned it, because the one who wrote it knew how he was and what he wanted – to perform magic, summon the devil, and ride a comet, but Jack wears a three piece suit and is a conventional person who leaves in the morning and comes back at night wearing a uniform with his name stitched on. He wears costumes but had no idea who he is.
Jack says Ernest doesn’t know what the fudge he’s talking about. Ernest says Jack is just working at an illusion that he matters and that if he died tomorrow the word wouldn’t notice. Ernest says he recognizes it because he used to be the same, but he found a different way. The note wasn’t a threat; it was an invitation to a place where Jack can be the man he always dreamed of being. Jack says he doesn’t need it because he just got his foot in the door at Caltech. But Ernest says, maybe rightly, that Caltech is too stodgy to appreciate Jack. They will make him feel like an outsider. Jack says he’s not interested but Ernest calls him a chicken.
The next morning Jack’s getting ready for work. He tells Susan he’s going to keep working at the plant until they can find a replacement. He didn’t tell her that the Caltech position doesn’t come with any money. Susan thought she’d get to see more of Jack, not less, and tells him to keep Sunday free for dinner with her family. Jack clearly doesn’t want to go. Susan says they need to stay on her Dad’s good side because he’s holding the bank at bay on their mortgage. Jack agrees to go, and bring his Mother.
Jack goes to work at the plant then to the lab at Caltech. Rich has a mailbox full of people who want to work on the team. But most of them are pranks, from Flash Gordon and other fictional characters like Buck Rogers. But then they get to the actual lab. There’s a bearded man and an Asian man there. Rich asks what they’re doing there and they say they’re there for the rockets. Samson Hunt (Zack Pearlman) is in fluid dynamics, and Chang (Keye Chen), who’s Chinese and who is working out mathematics in chalk on the floor. Jack is pissed when they speak Chinese to each other and then he tries to erase the mathematics that Chung has been working out on the floor. Rich takes a look and he’s super impressed. He makes a couple of changes. We, like Jack, still don’t know what it is but it’s clear it’s important.
Cut scene to the Catholic church during services. Susan’s in the choir. Jack’s not there. Instead he’s gone to get his Mother (Hope Davis) at her house, where she gives him a very nice watch. It seems she’s living in the guest house of a much larger property. Her little house is full of things. She says not to worry about the cost, because she doesn’t need 8 place settings of china. They can buy a new set “when they move back to the big house”. She wants to keep up appearances in front of Jack’s in laws. She’s taking a huge armload of flowers even though she knows Jack’s father in law, Virgil (Michael Gaston), is allergic.
At dinner, Virgil is being really cranky and sniffling while Jack is telling whoppers about his Caltech lab and position, exaggerating it all out of proportion. Virgil tells his younger daughter to get her elbows off the table, so Jack’s Mother puts her on the table. She’s my hero right now tbh, hahah. Virgil brings up a New York Times article about Goddard – who beat Jack’s liquid fuel test by 10 years. the NYC basically said the Goddard’s aspirations were crazy, and Jack argues that the NYT doesn’t understand Newton’s law. He’s more an expert than the NYT on rocket science. Virgil wants to know where he gets his faith in himself. Jack asks here Virgil gets his faith in God. Virgil says other people share his faith, and that Lucifer’s original sin was pride. Jack should swallow his and pay his mortgage. If Jack can’t assure Susan’s well being then Virgil will. He sends Susan for his checkbook. Jack’s Mother says women can take care of themselves. Virgil makes a crack about Jack’s grandfather’s money taking care of her until it ran out. Virgil writes a check to the bank, and tells Susan and Jack they have to face reality. He’s humiliated Jack and his mother, and Susan. Everyone is really uncomfortable.
Later, Jack drops off his Mother and Susan says that Virgil’s problem is he’s jealous of Jack’s actual genius because he likes being the smartest person around. Jack shouldn’t let it get to him.
Jack wants to know if Susan knew what Virgil was going to do. She said, Virgil only told her he wanted to talk.
Jack and Susan head home, and find that Charlie Sheen wacko Ernest has been in their house again, and left a chicken in their bedroom. Jack storms across to confront Ernest. Ernst is right – he’s not the man he thought he’d be when he was 8. No one is! You marry and get responsibilities. Not everyone can be like him. But Ernest says Jack just needs an open mind and he can be exactly like Ernest.
“How many miles to Babylon”, Ernest says. “I heard it’s three score and ten.” Jack wants to know how he knew about that, since it wasn’t written down. He tells Jack he knew by magic.
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