Friday, August 23, 2013

TV Analysis: Siberia Episode 7

Well, folks, I’ve heard that there are thirteen episodes in this season, and we’re at the halfway point.
If episodes 1-3 set things up, episodes 4 and 5 kicked the plot into gear, and episode 6 provided some exposition, then episode 7 was an emotionally hard-hitting episode. Nearly all the conflict in this episode was from internal elements instead of mysterious external sources, which made a bit of a nice change of pace.

I’m going to be restructuring these posts a bit this week, since I don’t think that the show will be introducing plot points at a mile a minute anymore. Things are pretty set now, and the proportion of elements introduced to elements wrapped up is probably going to shift in the other direction in a few episodes.

So before going into this episode, here’s….

Where We Stand

I’m going to provide a brief summary of what we can be probably at least 70% certain of what’s happened in the first five episodes, for the sake of clarity (for readers and myself both).
There are currently ten (or eleven—I’m still not convinced Natalie is really gone) characters hanging around. The others are probably safe and sound (save Tommy), having successfully left the show. However, Irene has been injured, and the entire production team has mysteriously vanished. Currently, about half of the remaining contestants are taking care of her, and half are hiking towards the light of a radio tower in the distance.

There have been some really weird and creepy things going on in the Siberian wilderness that border on the supernatural or extraterrestrial. The sky lit up one night, and two contestants stumbled out of the forest in states of disrepair, unaware of what exactly had happened. There’s some sort of face carved into a tree, which one contestant has taken to conversing with. He calls the tree “Ogdy,” a name he seems to have pulled from thin air, but is in reality the name of a sky god whose face is, in fact, frequently carved into trees. And on top of that, there seems to be some creature out in the woods—something unlike anything we know.

In addition, the contestants have to deal with the more mundane Evenki (and/or the Valleymen). They know about the Evenki after a few potential encounters and after finding the diary of Leonid Kulik, explorer of something called the Tunguska Event, a mysterious event in the Tunguska region of Siberia that lines up chronologically with the disappearance of the former settlers of the area in 1908. These Evenki are hostile, and appear to be able to spirit their victims away, leaving few traces (though this may be some other force). The Evenki also appear to hostile towards whatever creature is out in the woods.

Finally, the mundane is tied to the supernatural with a symbol: the cuneiform sign for “dingir,” used to denote a deity and having relations to the sky or heavens. The symbol appears to be made of four lines that make a sort of asterisk or compass rose, though the four tips from “southwest” to “north” have inward-pointing arrows. This symbol is found carved into trees leading to Kulik’s diary, in the diary itself, and most recently, carved into one of the contestant’s arms. It seems to be a key force in driving the contestant insane, and probably has some sort of link to Ogdy.

The production team seems to have had some sort of ulterior motive. Clearly they knew about the location’s history. How could they not have? What’s more, the “Revealer” seems to imply that they were conducting some sort of psychological experiment, and that they had run this experiment before. However, things seem to have gone south, as most of the production team is dead and/or missing after an attack on their base camp.

That’s about where we stand in how everything relates to each other, best I can tell. We can’t be sure of the specifics at this point, and I’m not sure how the jammed signal or the radio tower tie into things at this point….

“I’ve been trying to get out of the Siberian wilderness for sixteen years….”
No! No, dammit! I don’t want to keep making these LOST references! Quit making them so easy!

The Story

Okay, let’s move on. What happened this episode?

1. Crash and Burn

The Hikers (thanks to official Siberia social media for giving us the handy “Hikers/Settlers” terms to refer to the two groups by) find the door to the helicopter that took people off the show. They try to get to da find the rest of the chopper, discovering that it appears to have exploded out of the sky.
Also of note is Carolina cradling some sort of binder with Jonathan Buckley (the host’s name) written on it. Did they have some sort of connection? Is he dead (probably)?

2. Let it Snow

Snow hit suddenly and hard! This is fairly low on the whole “supernatural whatevers” scale, but it’s a great way to produce all sorts of conflict! Now the contestants have to find ways to stay warm and to keep those who can’t really help themselves (i.e., Irene) stay warm. The Hikers also faces huge challenges, since they don’t have access to what the first group has access to. Also, it sets up pretty much everything that happens in this episode.

3. Questions of God

Annie (finally) got some good character development this week, as we got to see some more of her backstory. The important bit is that she was raised Catholic, but is an atheist. Irene, meanwhile, seems to believe in some greater force. One of the more striking lines of dialogue this episode was an exchange of two equally piercing questions:

Annie: “After all that’s happened here, how could there be a God?”

Irene: “After all that’s happened here…how could there not?”

Clearly, with the info sharp-eyed fans have drudged up on Ogdy and that dingir marking, there are clearly references to deities of some sort. This exchange very clearly reinforced that, yes, these bits of information are important. Whether it’s the hand of some (likely malevolent) deity or just something supernatural that seems celestial to the contestants, religion in some form is going to play a big part in the second half of Siberia. Great foreshadowing.

Edit: Also worth noting here is that, when they get the Revealer open (see #4), Sabina mutters "Elohim." I've studied Christian long enough to know immediately that's the Herbrew word for God, and that Sabina is probably Jewish or Christian and giving thanks. Again, a strong nod to religion in this episode.

4. Do You Recall What Was Revealed?

Esther finds a key to the Revealer at the producers’ camp. This nets the Settlers some much-needed supplies, such as sleeping pills, vodka, food, matches, etc. Of course, at the end, we find out that she took something from the Revealer before she shared what she found to everyone else, that Miljan knows exactly what it was, and that it’s something important enough that he can blackmail her over it.

5. My Bad Foot is Certainly an Ice-breaker at Parties

The Hikers have to cross a stream to get to the tower, and they make it through with little incident. There’s one small problem, and that’s that one of Sam’s feet goes through the ice. No big deal, except for the fact that they still have a long walk through the snow and no way to get the foot dry. Sam’s foot ends up getting very severe frostbite, and he seems to be slipping into a pretty critical condition—hypothermia? At the end of the episode, Johnny and Joyce have managed to find him shelter and enough dry wood for a fire, but he’s still not in a very good place.

6. Miljan’s Still Crazy, BTW

Yeah, that’s not a thing that stopped being true. He’s gone from “creepy” to “downright murderous,” though, as he claims that they need to put Irene down before she suffers more, and even attempts murder, claiming “she was begging me to do it.” While unconscious. In a way that Annie couldn’t hear. Somehow.

Needless to say, Neeko is not pleased.

I will never get tired of these

The Settlers tie him up, but the end of the episode seems to imply that he’s escaped from his bonds with Esther’s help….

7. “Oh my God.”

NBC, you teases! The episode ends on this line from Neeko. The context? After Miljan tries blackmailing Esther into letting her go, Irene disappears. Neeko utters the line after looking in the cabin Miljan had been staying in. Considering that Miljan may very well be on the loose and he had previously attempted to kill Irene, this is one hell of a cliffhanger. What did he see? What did he see?

Everyone’s Prospects

Johnny and Joyce are still pretty set. Daniel and Sabina seem like they’ll be around for a while too, though Daniel’s chances are a bit lower at this point.

Neeko and Annie are interesting, as I thought they were fallen leader and red shirt archetypes. However, despite my guesses, they’re still alive. That, coupled with Annie’s much-needed character development this episode, means that, at this point, they could go either way. They’re still not as tied into the plot as most of the other characters, but they’re still relevant and have a strong presence.
Miljan is still in it for the long haul as well. Esther is also probably going to be around for a while, but I’m still pretty sure that neither is actually going to survive the series.

Right now, it’s Sam, Irene, and Natalie that we have to worry about, since the status of all three is unknown (I still say that the official site is lying by listing Natalie under “Quit”). Sam’s condition is critical, and we don’t know if he can recover. Irene has disappeared and may already be dead, as it could easily be her body that Neeko found at the end of the episode. And like I said, the jury’s still out on Natalie’s whereabouts.

And this is the part where I’d normally go into “lingering questions,” but I think I covered most all of that in the “Where We Stand” bit. I should maybe move that to the end next time.

Anyway! A few odds and ends! This post was later this week because I’ve been busy with an upcoming return to college for the school year. It shouldn’t hamper my ability to write at all (I’ll actually be spending more time in front of the computer), but since classes start Monday, my analysis might be late next week too.

Anyway, as always, check out NBC by skh and trashtalkTV for more (though the latter seems to be a few episodes behind), and let me know if you find anyone else who does cool Siberia stuff. It’s also a good idea to check the cast out on Twitter, because they interact with the fans and each other plenty!

No comments:

Post a Comment