Moonlighting With
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One Male's Perspective

I have always been bothered by this episode in general, and by this scene in particular. I've spent a lot of time contemplating why it doesn't sit right with me, and I have some half-baked ideas, but the bottom line is, it just doesn't.

To answer your background/history questions, first of all: I didn't discover Moonlighting until the fourth season, right around Come Back, Little Shiksa, by which time Maddie was already pregnant and Sam was history. It wasn't until the original series ended in 1989 and the show went into syndication on Lifetime in the early 1990's that I finally saw the series in chronological order and finally understood the interpersonal dynamics of the main characters.

During that chronological syndicated run, I saw this episode for the first time, and I was as unsettled by it then as I still am today. Then, as now, I loved, loved, loved the buildup. I think that the four episodes from Blonde on Blonde through I Am Curious ... Maddie are among Moonlighting's best, most insightful and thought-provoking writing, and these episodes are hands-down the most complex and three-dimensional that Maddie has ever been.

And yet the conclusion of this four-parter has always seemed the weakest part of what was otherwise a brilliant piece of work.

My most important misgiving is this: I was and am very touched by how real Maddie seems, and yet by contrast, David seems so very UNreal. Again and again, he seems to want to confess his love for Maddie (at her house at the end of Blonde on Blonde; at the restaurant in Sam & Dave; in the garage in I Am Curious ... Maddie), and yet when the opportunity actually presents itself, he won't speak, even when she confronts him directly and asks him to say the words. He'll trash his office and break his favorite hockey stick, but he won't say the words to Maddie that we and she want to hear him say. His behavior makes it clear that he both wants, and doesn't want, to make a commitment to her -- and this is all very forcefully yet subtly portrayed, and I give props to the writers for showing David to us, rather than boring us with a lot of wordy exposition. But what bothers me is that his motivations are NEVER satisfactorily explained. WHY won't he talk to her when he gets the chance? WHY is he so conflicted by his own feelings? Would it have killed the writers to add a scene or two in which he tells SOMEONE what he's feeling? The scene with Donna Dixon was a great start, but that start needs a conclusion that it never got. Maddie's feelings are laid out very clearly in these episodes, which is what serves to make her seem so real to me. But David just never gets the same depth here, and the four-parter (and this episode in particular) suffers as a result.

My other misgiving bothers me a little less, but it still bothers me. It has to do with the raw animal passion of their sexual experience. Their sexuality is not loving; it is just angry. Okay, fine: Moonlighting up to this point has been a showcase of sexual frustration and sexual tension, granted; but it has also been a romantic comedy, in which we've seen many examples of genuinely loving concern between these two. It doesn't feel fitting, in my opinion, for their sexual experiences to be so brutal. I mean, okay, I understand that when a spring is wound too tightly, when it explodes, it explodes violently, and I understand that that's the sort of metaphor that the writers were aiming for here when they went for the release of sexual tension between these two characters. But to me, the net result just feels wrong. Yes, these two are confused about their feelings for each other, and conflicted by those feelings in ways that they themselves don't fully comprehend. And yes, they're both very emotionally immature. So yes, I can see that they're behaving in character up to a point, given all of that. Still, although all the pieces seem like they ought to add up, in the end, for me anyway, they just don't. In addition to the sexual tension that has always existed between them, there has also been a great deal of kindness and mutual respect and admiration; and those qualities of their relationship should have been present in this sexual encounter too. It bothers me that that aspect of their relationship was overlooked when this four-part episode was designed.

I guess I would feel better about the brutality of this sexual encounter if, at some point in the future, their sexuality had taken on a more loving, compassionate dimension, but it never did, and that left me feeling that their sexuality was devoid of emotion, and was more selfish, even biological, than a healthy sexual relationship should be. I guess nothing says that it has to be otherwise, but this series could have been so much more than it was, if their relationship had grown over time, and if they themselves had grown along with it.

I still wish that the series had ended with them coming full circle and realizing that they were destined for each other. I wish that it had ended with them discovering in each other a healthy, mature, lovingly sexual relationship. It would have been the ultimate example of two people finding themselves in each other. But we never got that, and so there's no character development that arises later to counterbalance the immaturity and animalistic violence of this first sexual encounter. If there had been, this wouldn't have been so unsettling, because then I could look at this as the beginning of that growth process.

As it is, this is not sexually healthy nor is it emotionally mature; this sex is just biology, not lovemaking. Like their relationship, their sexuality never had a chance to grow beyond what it was at this point, and ultimately both the sexual and the emotional aspects of their relationship never got a chance to acquire the compassion and maturity that turn sex into lovemaking.

You've asked me to comment on whether I regard this as Moonlighting's "Jump the Shark" moment. I certainly do not. In fact, I don't think it ever "jumped the shark", so to speak. There are a few episodes that I don't care for very much, but with that said, I believe that Moonlighting continued to be a great show throughout its run. But at the same time, I also feel that Moonlighting never really fulfilled its own potential, as it could have been not just great, but transcendent, if it had been allowed to finish what it started. This four-part episode is a microcosmic example of the same lack of fulfillment. Like the series as a whole, this four-parter was great, but yet, at the same time, not as fulfilling as it could have been. Like the series as a whole, it would not have taken much to change this four-parter from being great to being transcendent.

Bottom line: yes, I love this, but I still long for something more, something that wasn't there, which would have made this so much better than it turned out to be.

~~Brian M. Studio City, CA

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