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The Call To Adventure: On the Pilot of Red Oaks

 Introduction

I think the Red Oaks Pilot episode of the Amazon Studios show is one of the finest first episodes of any show ever made. I would certainly put it in my top five. As co-creator of the Red Room Podcast, now nearly ten years old and with over 160 episodes, Scott Ryan and I have made a lot of lists. Like Jack Black’s character Barry Judd in High Fidelity, we believe the list of defined values in Television is critical to anyone who wants others in the TV Analysis gig to take them seriously. So I want you to understand what it means when I say I think this show is one of the best of the best and I’m using this article to kick off the long, episode by episode, argument I’m going to make for you to watch it over and over again and hopefully love it as much as I do. I’m even pulling in one of my biggest influences in life to help me out with this.

If you’ll indulge me one biographical paragraph, when I was 19 years old I was very much like David Meyers as we find him in the Pilot episode, rudderless, underwhelmed with my college classes and looking for some sign of where to apply my talents and passion. It was an Ohio Spring day in 1995 and I was standing in the newly constructed VHS Loan section public library of the same suburban community where I graduated High School, still living in my parents home while commuting 30 minutes a day to my college classes. My hand stopped cold and hovered over a series of videos titled, “Transformations of Myth Through Time,” with an author I’d never heard of—Joseph Campbell. Since that day, I have read everything he ever wrote twice and some more than five times. I watched and listened to all the lectures I could find, racking up hundreds of dollars in credit card debt it would take me years to pay off. Also, did I mention that I was in Pre-Med at the time? This stuff had less than zero to do with my major, but it all set a fire in my mind and became an investment in my future as an artist and author that I am grateful to this day that I was wise enough to make back then. I followed a call, similar to the one David Meyers is about to follow.

During this series on Red Oaks, I am going to use Joseph Campbell’s masterpiece The Hero With A Thousand Faces and his description of the Hero’s Journey throughout time as the same story to explore David Meyers Hero’s Journey. But I want to state upfront that David’s story is universal to all artists of this modern age. It’s my story and I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, it is your story too. So, let us begin, shall we?

Meet David Meyers

David Meyers is living the moments that will define his entire life. On most levels, he has a perfect life. But at the deepest level, he is struggling to find his purpose. He is about to jump into the greatest adventure in his life and everyone we will meet in Red Oaks is going along with him on their own journeys, which are connected deeply to his like bodies in space bounce and move in relation to the gravitational ripples that pull and push everything together to move time forward.

David wants to be a filmmaker, like the artists he’s learned about in his elective Art History classes that distract him from his Accounting major. See, his Dad is a good guy. He fought in Korea. He loves David and wants him to be safe and secure because, from the trenches of the 48th Parallel, his Dad saw what happens when safety and security go away. His Dad’s name is Sam, Sam Meyers and he’s a really good guy. But David doesn’t want to be an Accountant. He wants to pick up his camera and create something that will break other people open, give them a few moments to see what lies beyond their petty lives, the same petty life that David is desperately seeking escape from the moment we meet him in The Pilot.

The Pilot episode of a television show is a sales pitch. For Amazon Studios, Pilots are made and tested with millions of Amazon Prime subscribers who vote with their eyeballs. Every Pilot episode must tell a complete arc which sets up a much larger and more interesting arc. Typically, television writers approach this task by focusing on either a critical situation or deeply emotional drama, but sometimes it’s both and when both of those elements collide with characters that the viewer immediately loves and cares for, well then we have a smashing television drama that has the potential to create true Proper Artistic moments of aesthetic arrest for the viewer.

But let’s come back down to Earth and jump into David’s world. He has talent and passion but he is desperately unsure of where to focus that talent and his time. Does he go to the NYU Film School to learn the craft and pay his dues? That’s Plan A right now. Plan B is taking the job he was just offered as Assistant Tennis Pro at the local New Jersey Country Club Red Oaks. Plan C is working for his father’s Accounting firm but this last plan is very grim to David.

The Red Oaks Pilot begins with a lecture followed by a heart attack. Sam Meyers is playing night tennis with his son David. They are playing on a public court and Sam wants David to pursue his degree in Accounting & Finance but David’s heart isn’t in this at all. In fact, we learn that David got an A in his French Cinema elective but a C in his Accounting major class.

“A C is a Jewish F!” —Sam Meyers to David—

David understands what his father does for a living and he also sees that his father isn’t happy with his work, or his marriage to David’s mother Judy. Sam isn’t in good shape physically or emotionally and at the end of the lecture, he has a heart attack in front of David. Thinking he is dying right in his son’s arms, Sam pleads with David to follow his dreams and find the loves of his life, Sam then confesses to being unhappy in his marriage to Judy, and that she might be a lesbian, and that the only woman Sam ever loved was a Korean woman he met during the war. So, long story short, Plan C is not an option for David so Red Oaks it is. David doesn’t want another argument like that to happen with his father again but he is going to heed his father’s advice. At least he knows what he doesn’t want.

The Red Oaks title reveal happens in a pan up shot above the tennis courts.

We Meet Red Oaks, The Crucible Of David Meyers Transformation

Next, we meet the arena of David’s Hero’s Journey. Welcome to the Red Oaks Country Club at the dawn of a beautiful 1985 New Jersey Summer, where beautiful people gather under perfect East Coast skies along with those who serve them, every one of them carrying their own version of beauty as they navigate the stations of their lives together.

We see Wheeler puffing a J in the parking lot with another valet, who looks down on Wheeler, waiting for the joint to be passed to him. We see Karen, David’s beautiful and devoted girlfriend, getting ready to teach her morning aerobics class. There is a hierarchy of joy and suffering at Red Oaks and, in the end, that commonality will force all of our major characters towards their Bliss. We see Misty the lifeguard that Wheeler is desperately still in love with after meeting briefly during Driver’s Ed training a couple of years ago; she’s rubbing oil on the back of her hunky musician lifeguard boyfriend, Steve Lefevre.

We Meet Nash, Red Oaks Club Tennis Pro & David Meyers New Second Father

Nash is the Club Tennis Pro, a Turkish man who enjoys the most from his status as a self-perceived equal to the members of the club. Nash is on his way up but, like David, he is unsure of the path to move forward and he just passed the road sign to 40 years old. Nash is married but he doesn’t let that get in his way of finding joy. He is a hefty man; his body rolls around gloriously in his tight tennis shirt and short shorts, barely covering powerful legs which, in his youth, drove him to achievements on the court that he will psychically feed on forever. He grants David the honorary title of “Boychick,” an American Yiddish term of endearment for a young man, a name that will quickly come to mean both Son and Friend.

David is guaranteed $300 a week, plus the revenue he generates from private lessons charged at $60 an hour and which he will split with Nash 60/40. It would be a completely shitty deal to any other Assistant Country Club Pro, but to David, it’s the payday for which he was hoping. Pros eat at the Clubhouse Restaurant for free and David learns from Nash that he is better than the other employees, in fact, equal to the members, a terrible lie that will spur David into taking some dangerous, foolish, and critically important actions that drive him forward on his Hero’s Journey. Less than five minutes into the pilot and David has already been told by two of his three fathers to find his own happiness and that he’s equal to everyone else, the entire theme of David Meyer’s Hero’s Journey laid out in less time than a standard film trailer plays for these days.

We Meet Karen, David’s Beautiful Aerobics Instructor Pre-Wife Girlfriend

We find out here that Karen is David’s girlfriend and she must be beautiful because Nash’s eyebrows always tell the truth. We see Karen and yes, she’s beautiful and looks like a very nice person based on her smile and the energy she is putting into teaching her aerobics class. Karen and David are a very cute couple; she is clearly dedicated to his happiness and their future together. Karen tells David that Nash is full of shit when he tries the “Pros are Equal to the Members Theory,” on her.

David and Wheeler Greet Each Other As Old Friends

The friendship between David and Wheeler is an enterprise that all will profit from, a relationship extremely important to the overall Hero’s Journey for the entire base of the main characters. David and Wheeler are about to embark on a sojourn of finding their Bliss, Warriors of happiness on the Road of Life together.

We Meet Douglas Getty, Wall Street Wolf, Red Oaks Club President & David Meyers Third Father

We know immediately that Douglas Getty is clearly happy with being the King. He has very strict instructions for Wheeler about parking his car, and he calls Wheeler by his actual name here, something that will never happen again in Red Oaks, and it will be a different wrong name every time they greet each other as Master and Servant. In one of the most subtle jokes of the Pilot, Wheeler asks Getty if this beautiful red car is a Countach and Getty hums the affirmative, clearly not listening to anything Wheeler is saying. When the car pulls away, we see it’s a Corvette. There is a lot to learn from this interaction and the fact that Getty is not actually driving a Countach.

David’s Tour of the Club with Nash Continues

Nash is holding court with David as they tour the Club, smiling and schmoozing with the members at the same time that he graces David with his wisdom. We meet Skip, the Club Golf Pro, therefore naturally he is Nash’s mortal enemy, both competing for the next phase in their own journeys towards success, seeking to jump into the deep pockets of the wealthy and successful members of the Red Oaks Country Club to fund their futures.

Nash and David pause on a terrace of the Club Dining Patio to enjoy iced teas. As Nash orders, David looks across the immaculately manicured lawn leading from the Clubhouse to the pool. He is watching a young woman put on a kimono swimsuit coverup. We see a short glance of her as if the photographer became distracted along with David. That young woman was Skye Getty and she and David are going to emotionally dive into one another and both become reborn in the explosion that follows. For now, though, she only exists in the abstract, a place Nash shrugs off as, “Ah yes, a piece of ass.”

Nash tells David, “I’d hate to see you throwing away your future for an education. And for what? A desk job and a fax machine? Two weeks paid vacation in Florida?”

David is listening to Nash but watching Skye Getty walk towards him. Nine minutes into the Pilot episode, Skye Getty has already begun disrupting the known disorder of David’s life. Joseph Campbell called this moment of the Hero’s Journey The Mystical Marriage.

The mystical marriage with the queen goddess of the world represents the hero’s total mastery of life; for the woman is life, the hero its knower and master. And the testings of the hero, which were preliminary to his ultimate experience and deed, were symbolical of those crises of realization by means of which his consciousness came to be amplified and made capable of enduring the full possession of the mother-destroyer, his inevitable bride. With that he knows that he and his father are one: he is in the father’s place — “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell – Pages 120-121 Bollingen Foundation 1973 Third Printing—

The first time David locks eyes with Skye, his inward crucifixion begins, the trial in which he will submit to the selfishness of his own desires and start to live for another person, live in a way that he hasn’t yet with Karen. For a brief moment, their gazes melt and an invisible spark of Courtly Love begins to burn. We have no idea who this young woman is now, or whether it’s just lust fueling a distracted moment of flirtation, but a spark is a spark. Nash’s lecture fades into the background as the music swells. She lowers her sunglasses, an action that becomes a prime mover of the entire show. Everything that happens henceforth follows this one action. I shudder to imagine a narrative where Skye completely ignores David and doesn’t acknowledge his existence at this moment, one critically important to the future of all these characters.

David Meets Getty

“Wanna hit? It’ll be fun for ya!” —Getty To David Upon Meeting—

Getty is extremely condescending to David during their first interaction, telling him he looks like he’s twelve. Though Getty is superior to David in every other facet of life, David has him beat in tennis skills. He pushes Getty to a place of competition and loss that Getty likely hasn’t experienced from an inferior in years. Getty quickly realizes that he underestimated David’s ability on the tennis courts and David underestimates Getty’s perceptiveness and cruelty, making the critical mistake of letting Getty win three games out of pity. This is so offensive to Getty that he immediately goes to Nash, as we find out later, and demands that he fire David for lack of respect. It is telling that only during his leisure time would Getty have let his guard down to experience a defeat and we see this struggle when Getty refuses to hear out any of David’s suggestions, in spite of the money he’s paying him for a “lesson.”

The Meyers Marriage is Falling Apart & David is Being Pushed Somewhere He Doesn’t Want To Be

Sam is arguing with Judy about his diet, a conflict that will play itself over again and again until the ironic ending of their arcs. And when the beautiful Asian nurse comes in to check Sam’s vitals, both he and his wife are smitten with her, Judy going so far as to actually hit on her. David watches this scene play out in silent horror.

“Half a dozen White Castles never hurt anybody.” – Sam Meyers to No One and Everyone –

David walks out of the hospital in a daze, sauntering over to Karen’s car. He tells her that things are weird with his parents, but can’t explain anymore. She responds by suggesting they go look for apartments this weekend. This scares David. Given what he’s just witnessed between his parents, likely thinking back to what his father said about living his life when he lay thinking he was dying in David’s arms, this has all unnerved David to the point of constant anxiety when he thinks about his future with Karen and it’s evident here by the look on his face. Karen quickly backs off and makes the conversation casual again, suggesting instead they just have, “The best night never, just you and me,” to which David replies, “Interesting…”

The Employee Summer Kick Off Party

This scene will be the crucible that kicks the journey off for most of these characters who will retain narrative focus throughout the show. Upon entering the party, which seems to be taking place all over the Red Oaks Club, David and Karen immediately split off from one another and David heads over to Wheeler who walks up just as Misty’s boyfriend Steve Lefevre gets to Wheeler to ask about buying some weed. Steve doesn’t remember Wheeler even though they’ve known each other since Third Grade when Wheeler pissed all over Steve’s couch during a Spiderman sleepover. Wheeler discovers from Steve that he and Misty broke up, which sends Wheeler into spontaneous action to find her and check on her welfare.

Steve says, “Shit better not be all stems and seeds.” Wheeler replies, “No guarantees.” —Steve Lefevre Buying Weed From Wheeler —

David approaches Nash who is playing strip golf with a Club masseuse and waitress. David asks Nash about his wife, a severe breach of decorum, to which Nash seriously responds, “She died. Earlier today, very sudden. Very tragic. I’m still picking up the pieces.” David gets it and eventually, he tries to break away, but not before Nash calls him back to talk a little business. He starts to tell David that he caused a bit of a problem today during his game with Getty but gets distracted when the masseuse loses her bra.

“So, who wants to be the bedroom wife?” —Nash To The Girls He’s Playing Strip Golf With At The Club Employee Party—

David gets out in what he probably imagines is just in time. As he approaches Karen, he sees she is talking to an older man with a cheesy cop mustache, drinking a bottle of beer, splayed out on the lawn with his legs spread like a young Hugh Hefner. The man is talking about how he’s into putting crystals on his body to channel his energy. Meet Barry, the Club Photographer. He is going to be pivotal in the lives of both David and Karen but for now, he’s just the guy half-hitting on David’s girlfriend, so we hate him at first like we’re supposed to. David and Barry immediately dig at each other and trade insults, the final one being where Barry calls David by the wrong name and guess what he calls him? Doug. That’s not an accident; it’s good writing.

Wheeler approaches Misty with compassion but through his Party Animal mask. He promises to come up and sit on the other branch of the tree she’s sitting in but struggles to get up there. He tells her, “Fuck it. I’m physically not able to be with you.” We find they had history from Driver’s Education in High School and we learn that Misty is not a natural blonde, which could reveal that she too has struggled to find an identity. Wheeler jokes about still being fat and this makes her laugh and start to heal in her heart.

Karen and David just got done making love on the Club lawn and they are having what passes for pillow talk in the grass. David remarks that his mind is completely blank and he’s worked hard to get it to this place. Karen immediately ruins this by painting images of their future together, ending with the crescendo of how perfect it will be when they are members of Red Oaks Club too one day. David sees this is his head and is freaked out all over again. All signs point to danger! Also, note here that Karen foresees a cat in their future. She actually already has one, but this will become a minor topic of importance as the show progresses so put a pin in this if you will.

After making love on the golf course during the Employee Party, Karen asks David, “What are you thinking?” He says, “I hope nothing crawls up my ass.”

Wheeler tells Misty that he thinks she’s better off because Steve is a dick and always has been. He tells her she deserves better. She thanks him, but it’s clear she doesn’t believe him. How can someone so beautiful have such a low self-esteem that she would debase herself by being with Steve, who doesn’t see her at all as she calls out, but yet such an ego that she doesn’t see the value of the soul that sits next her and professes his undying love and devotion to her with every breath? It’s such a wonderful beginning to a great story of romantic love between two young people who are utterly lost. The important thing is that they are lost together in this moment right now. And Wheeler seizes this moment and attacks Steve with a golf cart, giving Misty the chance to scream at Steve. There will be consequences for Wheeler taking this action.

The next scene is one of the most important for understanding what is happening in Season 1 of Red Oaks. Wheeler gives a lecture about Buddha and the illusion of the common human Wheel of Suffering that Wheeler interprets in the image of a Merry Go Round everyone is stuck on.

David is opening up to Karen about where he is emotionally, in regards to what’s happening with his parents and the dying truths that his father revealed to him on that tennis court. He desperately asks Karen, “[My parents] had to be happy once, right?” The scene cuts here to Wheeler implying that he is living the very moment that answers David’s question to Karen about how his parents fell in love, where two people rise above themselves in the living moment to become something more than they were as individuals. This elevation is marked by joy, which we see on both Misty and Wheeler’s faces.

Wheeler continues the epiphany, “The only thing is, we’re not really stuck on the Merry Go Round. It’s just an illusion. We stay on it by choice. Cause most people are just too scared to get off.”

[Cut to Nash, smoking a cigar and preening as he further seduces the masseuse with a lecture on the benefits of being a second wife in his culture]

[Cut to Karen telling David that’s not going to be them because they are so alike and want the same exact things. They are made for each other.]

Wheeler pleads with Misty that she can choose right now to get off the Merry Go Round. We know he means that she should run to him and embrace the best of what he has to give and, “Do something totally spontaneous.” Instead of running into his arms though, she takes off her top and stands half-naked before him, an act of intimacy that would have seemed unthinkable minutes ago. But instead of keeping her nudity for him alone, Misty runs into the crowd and jumps into the water hazard pond, causing disruption throughout the party, nearly everyone but Wheeler stripping naked and jumping into the water. For a moment, they all jump off the Merry Go Round. The question is how many will stay off of it? We have just seen a microcosm of what is going to happen to our main characters during season 1. One by one, they will jump off the Merry Go Round they are currently on. Some will be driven off it and some will choose to jump willingly.

David jumps out of the water and saunters over to Nash, another person who did not jump in the water, sitting on a bench drinking vodka from a bottle. He warns David to take it easy with the vodka because of the six tennis matches he is going to be playing in four hours against Doug Getty, the Red Oaks Club President. Oh also, he’ll be playing for his job and he needs to beat him in all six games.

Getty wants David fired because “His game isn’t strong enough to be employed here.” David assumes Getty is talking about his tennis game. He’s not. David admits that he let Getty win three games because “He was such a sore fucking loser that I felt sorry for him.” What David doesn’t realize here is that Getty knows this and received it as a primal insult to the core of his being. Getty lives by a Working Class Code of Honor that states if any man insults you this deeply, that person must be destroyed. Getty is not a murderer but there are penalties far worse than death in New Jersey. David is to be publicly humiliated and then fired in front of the entire Club. He may never be able to work in this community again, except as an Accountant for his Father. Getty is threatening to sentence David into the very worst image of a living Hell that he has been running away from this entire episode.

David will literally be playing tennis for his future, using the one skill that he has mastered to battle the biggest monster in his world for control of his future and he’s drunk as shit four hours before the match, putting a serious handicap on his game. Everything is on the line for David and it’s only twenty-three minutes into the Pilot episode. This is that first justification I’m going to use in putting Red Oaks in the top twenty television shows of all time on my list. I could debate all day on the priority of its placement in that list but I know that it belongs there.

David must do as Nash tells him, “Shake it off or you’re fucked.”

The Hero’s Showdown

David is late to the match and Getty is not pleased. Nash is worried. Getty explains the issue very clearly to Nash, who responds by complimenting his shirt because it matches his wristband:

“It’s not skills the kid lacks, it’s maturity. It’s respect for the game. It’s respect for people. The kid’s a punk! He doesn’t belong here. He should be working a fry station at McDonald’s.” – Doug Getty About David Meyer –

David arrives but looks like death woke him up early before the job was finished. He greets Getty with possibly the most perfect line he could have chosen, first pulling his sunglasses off and saying, “Good morning, Gentlemen.” Getty sees him, shakes his head and says, “Jesus Christ!”

Nash gives David a blast of Absolute and Gatorade for some hair of the dog. David wants to give up and leave but Nash steps in and gives one of the most important speeches of David’s life. Despite all the preening and strutting, there are key moments in this show where Nash delivers wisdom to David at the exact moment he needs it. Nash tells David, “You are going to fucking do it.” Nash goes on to tell David he reminds him of himself, just whiter and less well-endowed. Plus, none of the other applicants that would accept a 60/40 split. We discover that Nash truly believes in David and we will also learn in a few minutes that he put $500 a game down on him to win. We also catch Nash’s tendency towards wonderful Jewish expressions that he has no doubt picked up after his years of service to the Red Oaks Country Club.

The challenge starts and we see players taking their places like relay racers getting ready for the baton. Nash is on David’s team like Mickey in Rocky’s corner. David has his game on, playing through his temporary handicap.

Karen arrives for her morning class and Barry is waiting for her, sitting on his Kawasaki motorcycle, sipping coffee from a paper cup, his khaki shorts riding up to the seam of his underwear. He isn’t wearing socks but does have the kicking Don Johnson Miami Vice jacket with the sleeves pulled to the highs of his forearms, his hair masterfully coiffed back. He makes love to Karen with his eyes and she is catching that vibe, all just innocent flirting to her right now.

David continues his battle with Getty. Despite his talent, he is still going to have to earn this.

Sam Meyers prepares to leave the hospital, looking out the window with the same gaze Luke Skywalker scanned the Tatooine desert on the last night of his normal teenage life as a moisture farmer in training.

Skye Getty is bored with normal. She is walking in with a book in hand and sees her father in what appears to be the battle of his life on the Tennis Court. An audience has gathered, drawn to the conflict like Roman citizens lined up to watch Christians get devoured by lions in the Coliseum. Watching her father destroy someone publicly could be amusing, probably better than the next chapter in the book she holds in her hands.

Skye now stands admiring David besting her father at tennis game after game. Has anyone ever beat her father at anything? Skye would be happy with just getting away from her father without him turning off the money faucet at the tap. Imagine what Skye Getty must feel at this moment as she stands at the precipice of her own breakout into adulthood, facing the exact same challenge that David and the rest of our heroes face.

This is a moment of burning, but the flames bring solidarity to our new friends at Red Oaks. They are all on the same Merry Go Round together. David and Skye merge their gazes together for the second time this episode. Something inside them both moves and they are pulled closer together by some mystical gravitation measured by emotional distance in this living moment.

David has conquered the dragon in their first encounter. Doug Getty lost to David Meyer six games to nothing in tennis the day after the Club’s Employee Kickoff Party while David was so drunk that he would likely still get a ticket if pulled over on his bicycle after the game. Getty is mildly impressed and gives David a compliment which he shrugs off as just being lucky. Getty perceives this as another insult and therefore a further disparagement. David sees his modest comments to Getty after their match as being respectful but Getty quickly sets him straight.

“Don’t be modest. It’s patronizing. If you beat a man, you may piss him off, but he’ll respect you. But if you patronize him, then what happens is you made an enemy. And believe me when I tell you, you do not want me as an enemy. Ask around.” —Doug Getty To David Meyer After His Defeat In Tennis—

As explained before, Getty lives by a working man’s code of honor and David clearly hasn’t yet learned the rules of this game, which Getty has mastered because he created the rules and forces the world around him to live by them. There are vitally important lessons that Getty has to teach David, lessons that are either lost on his daughter or not given at all because he sees her as just one more asset in his empire. Getty is actually very fair with David after his defeat here, quickly bouncing back to assume his throne of King of Red Oaks and Wall Street. But Nash quickly rushes in to congratulate David and build him back up. Nash, true to his word, gives David his 40%. Nash has a habit of kissing his friends on the lips and David learns this after he gets paid for his victory.

“God, by the end, you were like a silk blouse dancing on a clothesline. Poetry in motion.” —Nash to David After His Hungover Defeat Of Getty 6-0 In Tennis—

Skye has been watching how David accepts his victory over her father, witnessing this growing love between friends that was just cemented. David is distracted by her, continually glancing back at her while talking to Nash and eventually she starts walking away. David runs after her, calling a question out as to what she’s reading. Skye keeps walking fast, sunglasses as her shield, and briskly shows him an erotica novel Delta of the Venus by Anais Nin, the woman who was the inspiration for Mara in Henry Miller’s masterpiece trilogy Sexus, Nexus and Plexus (and one hell of an author in her own right).

David asks her for her name. She lowers her sunglasses and one is reminded of Scott Summers of the X-Men, who instantly becomes Cyclops when a nuclear furnace burst forth from his unshielded eyes. Whoever did Alexandra Socha’s eye makeup for this scene is a true artist because her eyes just explode out of those sunglasses. It’s a magical moment. She refuses to give David her name, offering a challenge instead with, “It’s more fun to make you work for it.” In this, she shows a cruelty, likely learned directly from her father. She challenges David here, likely assuming that when he does find out who she is, he will be embarrassed and assume a position of groveling before her the rest of the Summer. I think she expects this fire of supplication from any man interested in her favors because at this point, none can win her heart. A selected few lucky men may have her body for a few strung together moments, but none will dare enter the secret heart of Skye Getty. This is until she meets David Meyers.

David offers Skye free tennis lessons for her name, but she tells him she hates tennis and that she only came over because she was curious if he was any good. Skye has already revealed too much to David here, exposing her emotional flank and David wildly and foolishly pounces into the danger zone of Skye Getty’s mind and heart. She also reveals her other reason for watching the match, to watch David beat his opponent, to which David gestures towards Getty who is walking away from the court towards the Club House. He asks, “You know that asshole?” She says, “Oh yeah, he’s my father.” Then she says, “See you around…David.” She calls him by name. He has now dived deeply into the Call To Adventure and his life will never be the same.

Thoughts Before The Next Episode

In 29 minutes and 59 seconds, the Red Oaks Producers, Writers, Actors, Operations and Administration Team have delivered what I arguably consider to be one of the finest Television pilots ever created, certainly the best comedy pilot. It sets up a journey of laughter, joy, and sorrow that is so bittersweet by the end that we will loathe saying goodbye to these wonderful people.

David Meyers journey to find himself will require three fathers, his own, Nash and Douglas Getty. Nash and Getty both adopt David in the moment of his shutout Tennis victory over Getty. Consider what Joseph Campbell says at the end of the chapter exploring the first phase of The Hero’s Journey, “The Call To Adventure,” which we’ve just watched David journey through.

The first stage of the mythological journey—which we have designated the “Call to Adventure”—signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger…[is where] The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure…or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent…The adventure may begin as a mere blunder…or still again, one may be only casually strolling, when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man. — “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell – Page 58 Bollingen Foundation 1973 Third Printing—

Douglas Getty is the malignant agent who sends David forth on this journey that David will return from with boons of healing, as will many of these characters, including Doug Getty, we will grow to love more than we do right now in the Pilot.

In Red Oaks, we are going to witness the Life Trials of David Meyers. He has just dived into his Call to Adventure and it’s going to get crazy from here after our Hero steps foot onto the Left-Hand path, leaving the safety of light and a paved trail of the Right-Hand Path for a dark forest of the mysterious unknown. Some say that beyond this forest lies a palace of eternal light and joy, a place far away from New Jersey, a place called New York City.


JB Minton is the author of the upcoming book A Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks. Learn more about his work here. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and check 25YL every Wednesday for the next article in this series.


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