A simple-minded woman, totally dominated by her husband, Hattie Raines emerges in Relentless as a central, albeit flawed character. She is pivotal to the plot. Were she not exactly who she is the story could not have proceeded as it did. Although she appears to be a rather dull, unimportant character she is exactly the opposite. Because of her conflict-avoidant nature she fails to protect her child which is central to our heroine’s decisions; and because of her naiveté, Hattie is manipulated into the dangerous role of killer’s secret-keeper. Hattie is first and foremost Earl’s wife and he rules his family with an iron fist. Accommodating to him is her life-long pattern and to maintain that pattern she is determinedly narrow in her focus. Uneducated and removed from the world around her, Hattie persists in maintaining fixed, rigid ideas about herself and the people in her life only questioning her perceptions at the very end.
In some ways, Hattie Raines represents ‘every-woman.’ She embodies the plight facing many women in the world today, those who are bound by culture, religion, economics or tradition, who are dominated and controlled by their husbands or fathers, who are rigidly role-bound and unable to see beyond the constraints of everyday life. As I wrote about her, I saw a woman caught up in moral dilemmas she didn’t even notice. And I think had she but seen one of these issues, had she but recognized one place where she could change, she could have turned the whole situation around. Earl knew that, most dominators/abusers do. They keep their women hidden away from other people, away from institutions of learning, away from books, newspapers, TV. Anything other than ‘their way’ is regarded as a threat to the status quo and the status quo is what preserves their power so it must be maintained at all cost.
If we look at Relentless from this angle, Hattie and Earl Raines represent flaws inherent in the human condition but they also highlight the importance continuing growth, learning and expanding beyond the boundaries of yesterday.
If the press and TV media are called the 4th estate, would Jon Stewart, John Oliver and Steven Colbert be the 5th estate? Late night political commentator/comedians spin the serious stories of today with sprinklings or globs of outrageous humor that help their audience view the world and its leaders from different angles. Where would we be without humorists, cartoonists and satirists? These smart and talented people enable us to see the humor in serious issues; encourage us to become critical, analytical thinkers while maintaining some emotional distance through humor, sarcasm and sharp wit. Taking on some of the most sobering, complex issues in the world today they guide and shape our thinking, encourage us to ask questions, to look behind the staged photos and film clips, to perceive the flaws in news stories and see the contradictions, hypocrisies and deceptions in leaders across the world. They give us a glimpse of ‘behind-the-scene action so the bright lights and stagecraft fail to blind us to the reality of world-wide political events have become.
Jon Stewart has been called ‘the funniest smart man’ or ‘the smartest funny man’ and both attributions are true. He is the leader if not creator of the 5th estate; he is unique in the world of humorous political commentators. He has made an enormous contribution to the field of news/commentary, he is greatly appreciated and will be greatly missed when he retires from The Daily Show to move on and express his keen insights in other arenas.
When Viola Davis’s character (Annalise Keating) called and asked her Mama (Cicely Tyson) to come help her, none of us were prepared for the powerfully explosive exchanges that produced major revelations in this edgy courtroom drama. How to Get Away with Murder has hammered out some hard hitting scenes since it was launched in September 2014. In this episode, “Mama’s Here Now,” ‘Mama’ is a small, seemingly fragile, black woman from a poor rural southern background who packs a surprising punch that has her tyrant-in-the-courtroom daughter reeling and punching back. In an intimate mother-daughter moment ‘Mama’ reveals how, years before, she dealt with her child’s tormentor saying, “….sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Even if all you have is a long match and some very flammable hooch.” With that line, ‘Mama’ shows Annalise/Anna Mae that she was a protective mother and just how alike they are. With emotions spilling out, Mama reveals how she exacted her own brand of justice for her violated child and, unbeknownst to Annalise, became the unconsciously embedded role model for how to get away with murder.
In one fell swoop, the pair demonstrates the impact of addiction, child-abuse, poverty and family ties, creating dynamic shifts in perception and relationships. There is just no going back. From the shattered vodka glass in the kitchen, to the traditional hair combing in the bedroom, we are stunned by the stark reality of their experiences. Life, now different in retrospect, can be embraced as it never had been and the future sees Annalise summoning up the courage to leave her self-imposed prison and begin to de-construct the entanglements she created.
Look for Seeing Double to be available soon. When the Elisabeth Reinhardt series moves to the Middle East, more exciting characters are brought to life so vibrantly that they will soon be starring in their own ‘spin off’ series The Olive Branch, which will weave tales of love, espionage and terrorism that parallel world events in eerie, unpredictable ways.
Both the Elisabeth Reinhardt, PhD series and The Olive Branch series will continue side by side, independent of each other (mostly), they spin complex plots as their characters face challenges and follow their passions. The third book in the Elisabeth Reinhardt, PhD series, Twisted Realms, provides a more in-depth look at Elisabeth the person, as her personal and professional worlds collide in frightening and unpredictable ways. Twisted Realms features a charismatic, religious cult leader with a compelling childhood history, a number of captive youngsters, members of Mexican cartel that’s smuggling drugs and guns and a psychotherapy patient who cannot contain his impulses. Twisted Realms leads our characters into isolated Northern mountain ranges that stretch into Canada, where they engage a Chippewa tracker and run into our old FBI friends from Relentless.
Be ready to get your copy of Twisted Realms toward the end of 2015 – beginning of 2016, available in hardcover, kindle and audiobook.