I am confused. I am baffled. I am enthralled. I am still confused.
What. The hell. Was that? And why did I love it so much?
Okay, so the first two-thirds of the episode were fairly conventional -- by "John From Cincinnati" standards, anyhow. John brings together Bill with Vietnam Joe, and channels the ghost of Bill's late wife Lois. (Bill also draws the line between John and his parrots, not only in how John's speech just mimics others, but in how both John and Zippy have healing powers.) Dr. Smith takes Palaka to get his hand fixed. Cissy arranges for Shaun and Tina to have a proper meeting, and while contemplating suicide is greeted by an apparition of John, who talks her out of it while revealing The Big Secret that explains so much of the Butchie/Cissy dynamic (while high on acid, she sexually abused him at age 13). Attorney Dickstein helps Ramon clean up the motel, then takes his fiancee out for lunch (where he's waited on by Trixie The Whore!). All in all, a mix of the powerful (with Rebecca DeMornay vastly improved from a week ago), the silly and the slightly confusing.
But then... I'm not even sure where to begin. I have rarely been as riveted to my television as I was for the nearly seven minutes that comprised John's sermon at the Snug Harbor -- and yet I'll be damned if I can understand half of it. It just shows you the power of words, how when used correctly they can move you without having to make some kind of linear sense. (Images, too, as I'm not sure I'll be able to get the shot of John walking out of Room 24 -- the scene of Cunningham's greatest nightmare -- with the greying body.)
So let me start by reproducing, courtesy of "John" writer Steve Hawk, the full text of John's sermon, and then I'll attempt to make some very small sense of it before opening up the field to you:
"If my words are yours, can you hear my Father? Can Bill know my Father, keeping his eye on me? Can I bone Kai and Butchie know my Father instead?So, some very preliminary, very obvious thoughts:
"My Father's shy doing his business. Kai helps my Father dump out. Bill takes a shot. Shaunie is much improved.
"Joe is a Doubting Thomas. Joe will save Not-Aleman. Joe will bring his buddies home. This is how Freddy relaxes. Cup-o'joe, and Winchell's variety dozen.
"Mitch catches a good wave. Mitch wipes out. Mitch wipes out Cissy. Cissy shows Butchie how to do that. Cissy wipes Butchie out. Butchie hurts Barry's head. Mister Rollins comes in Barry's face. My Father runs the Mega-Millions.
"Fur is big. Mud is big. The stick is big. The word is big. Fire is huge. The wheel is huge. The line and circle are big. On the wall, the line and circle are huge. On the wall, the man at the wall makes a man from the circle and line. The man at the wall makes a Word on the wall from the circle and line. The Word on the wall hears my Father.
"The zeroes and ones make the Word in Cass's camera. In the Word on the wall that hears my-Father-in-Cass's-camera, the good one Mitch catches doesn't wipe Cissy out. In the-Word-that-hears-my-Father, Cissy shows Butchie something else. In-my-Father's-Word, Cissy shows Butchie in Shaun. In-my-Father's-Word, Tina raises Shaun at lunch. In Cass's-camera, Butchie lays the court out for Barry, and Mister Rollins watches, and he doesn't come on Barry's face. In Cass's-camera, Butchie knows Kai kept the faith. In-my-Father's-Word, the Wave lifts them up.
"In Cass's camera, Bill doesn't bump his head on the stairs. In Cass's-camera, as long as he's being stupid, Bill gives Lois a kiss.
"In His-Word-in-Cass's-camera, the Internet is big. Nine-Eleven is big, but not every towel-head is eradicated. In His-Word, We are coming Nine-Eleven-Fourteen.
"In my-Father's-Word, Bill sees how Freddy relaxes. In Cass's-camera, Ramon wants to know who's hungry, in the courtyard and Room Forty-Five.
"In my-Father's-Word-to-come-in-Cass's-camera, Doctor Smith calls Ocean Properties. In Cass's-camera-to-come, my Father stares Not Aleman down, and Freddy sees Bill much-improved.
"You will not note my-Father's-Word, nor remember Cass's-camera, but you will not forget what we did here."
- If there was any doubt that John was Jesus, all the references to "my Father" (not to mention the separate "My Father's birthday is the same as mine") should lay them to rest.
- If his Father's Word is theological power, then what is Cass's camera? Science? If the 0's and 1's translate the Father's Word, does that mean that science is just another extension of God? And what does that mean for the different versions of events as seen through the Word versus the camera?
- There were several 9/11-related signs during John and Cass's field trip last week, and here he talks of a future 9/11, seven years from now.
- The Father runs the Mega-Millions, and therefore sent the lottery-winning vision to Cunningham, who used it to buy the motel, which in turn is being transformed into the meeting place for all of John's acolytes.
- Is Mister Rollins the dead of Room 24, or a man Cunningham will encounter in the future?
Faith is about belief without tangible proof, and this series is one giant leap of faith. It won't give up its secrets to me any speedier than Room 24 will give up its dead, it's so baffling that I can barely believe that it's allowed to exist, and yet now I'm filled with fervor and the need to see it to its conclusion. Wow. I wish I could explain this better, but that was something.
What did everybody else think? Do you take Vietnam Joe's last line -- "Well, this was time well spent." -- straight or ironically?