blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Staircase (2022) s01e07 – Seek and Ye Shall

Okay, so Toni Collette’s work subplot and the bat infestation in the attic have gone unaddressed to this point because they figure into the eventual motive. One of the reasons I didn’t have any interest in “The Staircase” was Collette playing the victim; it meant all her acting would be for naught. Almost to the end of the series, watching her go through the entire arc—I’m sure the final episode will have a “but what really happened was” sequence with Tim Curry narrating (or at least it should)—I was right. It’s a shitty, exploited part. Might get her an Emmy, hope it gets her an Emmy, but it’s a bad part.

Speaking of bad parts, the show does a last-minute reprieve on Parker Posey. There’s a red herring investigation from an innocence project, led by a good Deja Dee, but it’s clear it’s a red herring, so there’s only so much. She interviews Posey about corruption in the DA’s office and the “independent” investigation agency. We find out Posey only got into the prosecution racket after defending too many abusive men. It doesn’t address Posey being a bigot, but it does give her character more depth than… well, almost any other character on the show.

This episode’s main plot involves Juliette Binoche’s latest attempt to clear Firth’s name. The owl thing went nowhere and was just a fun way to burn an episode. She accidentally (or mysteriously) gets emailed an autopsy where the victim has the same wounds as Collette had ten years earlier and does a fake interview with cop Cory Scott Allen. It’s a good episode for Allen, who was barely in the first one but is one of the better performances. It leads to Binoche discovering Firth had affairs with lots of dudes while married to Collette, which somehow escaped her notice from the documentary she edited, including when she rewatches the raw footage of it.

It’s never been addressed before, so it seems late, and it makes Binoche’s character weaker, but then there’s no actual dramatic weight to it because the 2017 scenes—six years later—establish she’s still with Firth, so it wasn’t a big deal, after all. The show’s subtitle could be: “It Wasn’t a Big Deal, After All.”

There’s not much with the kids. In the 2017 scenes, Michael Stuhlbarg low-key gives Firth shit about his kids abandoning him. In 2011, Sophie Turner is now divorced and sad. Odessa Young is content, but Turner doesn’t believe it. There’s the strong implication Young’s never come out to any of her family. She goes to Germany to see her real mom’s place of death, visiting an again excellent Trini Alvarado, then hearing the whole story about Firth beating her as a kid from former babysitter Monika Gossmann. The last time Gossmann was on “Staircase,” it characterized her as an opportunistic liar. This time she’s a truth sayer. Whatever.

The real kick of the scene is it means Turner never told Young all the shit she found out about Firth before Collette died.

Boys Dale DeHaan and Patrick Schwarzenegger only come back for the finale montage, which is hilariously bad and made me feel better about crap-mouthing Antonio Campos’s direction. Campos is real, real bad.

I feel like “Staircase” can’t do only one more “did he or didn’t he” sequence for its final episode next time, and two would be underselling it, so maybe three?

Hopefully, it’ll get Collette (and Firth, though he’s not particularly good this episode due to material) better parts.

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