This entry is a bit late due to how busy my weekend was, so apologies to anyone who was kept waiting to share thoughts on the show.
Act 5: Do You Love Your Fianc�e?
Albert and his companions enjoy the Count of Monte Cristo's hospitality, and admire the opulence of his his home while taking a boat ride in his basement. They meet Haidee, a mysterious woman who would do anything for the Count. The group begins to discuss relationships, specifically how most relationships among the nobility are initiated out of convenience and financial gain rather than love. This rubs Maximilian the wrong way and he and Albert enter into a duel. Albert falls into the water, only to be rescued by the Count, who seems to have a greater purpose in store for him. Albert leaves the Count's abode, only to begin wondering about the state of his parents' relationship and why his mother has been acting unusual lately.
Act 6: Her Melancholy, My Melancholy
Eugenie laments her parents' loveless marriage and her mother's affair just as the Count makes preparations to open up an account with her father's bank. Jullian Danglars seems hesitant to accept the Count's credentials at first, until the Count shows some financial force that's difficult for him to ignore. He quickly impresses the money-focused Victoria Danglars, but his motivations seem unclear at the very least. He offers opera tickets to Albert for the purpose of impressing Eugenie, but Albert is unsure of how to proceed with the invitations. Eugenie, for her part, appears exhausted by her obligations and the weight of her family issues. At the opera, Haidee's reaction to General Morcerf seems to indicate wrongdoing on his part.
Discussion: As if somehow being aware of the direction in which the discussion has gone previously, this batch of episodes features some well-needed insight into Eugenie's character and why she and Albert are at odds a lot of the time. One of the primary similarities between these early episodes is the way in which Albert's lack of awareness of the world contrasts even with that of the other sheltered nobles with whom he keeps company. He seems especially obtuse about Eugenie and her feelings.
One might say that the most valuable relationships we have are those which ask us to challenge our own perceptions so that we may learn and grow. While the Count may not be that good of a friend in the sense that he most certainly, even at this point, has a whole heap of ulterior motives for being nice to Albert, his subtle (and occasionally not-so-subtle) machinations and manipulations do Albert the sometimes distasteful (but valuable) service of forcing him to look at the truth of his relationships. He's forced to look at the "why" of his convictions when Maximilian confronts him (and by extension, the other nobles present) about the lack of love in their relationships. While this might seem like, for lack of a better word, trolling on the Count's part, this focus on romance and the lack thereof lays the groundwork for later events.
One of the more immediate, and most obvious, reflections of this is with Mercedes, who seems distracted while General Morcerf insists upon the romantic basis of their marriage when Albert prods him. As usual, the subtlety of the character acting helps to paint the picture of a woman being forced to remember events that don't fit within the image of a "proper" noblewoman. This theme has been introduced already - the portrait of Mercedes overlooking Marseilles is seen as a bit grotesque considering that the city is looked upon as being for the lower-class citizens of France (at least in this series, I'm not sure about real-life). In any case, her love for her husband seems less sound than Albert would like to think, especially considering the old photograph of another man she keeps locked away in her bedroom.
The entirety of these two episodes, in fact, seems to be so focused on examining the loveless relationships that surround Albert that one of them almost falls beneath the radar. It's easy to see the human faults that strain the relationship between the Danglars family members, or the awkwardness of Albert and Eugenie's betrothal, but what of Haidee? The Count describes her as a living doll, one who exists soullessly to do as he wishes. While the full extent of their relationship isn't entirely clear at this point, I personally find the character to be interesting in the way that she's characterized because, in a lesser series, she'd almost certainly be the fulfillment of someone's mo� fantasy. Her lack of distinctive personality and her devotion to the titular male character is somehow not detrimental to how intriguing she is, though; her reaction towards Morcerf at the opera house is just one instance where her importance seems greater than her personality may at first suggest. And oh, that dress!
I believe it's Albert who states that "everyone is changing" in one of these episodes as a reaction to all the things he's finding out about the people he knows, and I found that in particular to be very telling about his character - I think that is a good reflection of how na�ve he's been throughout his life. He's only now realizing that the lives of his friends and family aren't quite as ideal as he'd have liked to think, and yet he perceives the situation as everyone having suddenly "changed" in front of him rather than his perception having been altered. I'm wondering if anyone has any further thoughts on this?
I also enjoyed the scene that opened episode six where Albert and his father were shooting targets, and Albert was having trouble making the shots. Albert tends to "miss the mark" quite a bit in his assumptions, so to reflect that visually was clever. Episode six in general also features some excellent character animation, which is a bit uncharacteristic for this series.
Some points of discussion:
- How do you view Albert and Eugenie's relationship now considering the new information we've been shown about her and her family situation?
- Do you have any thoughts on Albert's character development over these couple of episodes?
- Do you have any personal theories on Haidee's near-fall at the opera house and why she'd have such a strong reaction to Morcerf?