A Rapid Refresh On The Hero’s Journey
It’s pretty simple really, both simple and powerful because it’s the structure of nearly every great story ever told. If you can put aside the heavily dominated male hero population, the Hero’s Journey can be applied to men and women, girls and boys equally. Anyone can be a hero. In this case, Red Oaks focuses mainly on David Meyers as the primary hero but he is surrounded and influenced by Heroes all around him, each pushing forward on their own hero paths together and individually. Yes, even Douglas Getty.
Here’s how it works, according to Joseph Campbell:
“The standard path of…the hero is…represented in the rites of passage: separation—initiation—return…A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” —Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces Page 30—
Red Oaks Reveal
The reveal happens at the beginning of the episode.
Arguing About Barry’s Offer
$75 for three hours of work, filming events at the Club. Working under Barry, gophering for him and catering to his ego and whim. It’s like three times what Karen makes in a day, but David will need to swallow his pride to make it work.
We find out that the previous year, instead of saving up to buy a car like every other male in New Jersey his age, David saved up and bought a video camera. Karen loves this about him, but David needs focus. He needs to apply himself at something in line with his talents and his passions. She is being an amazing partner here, securing the peace and future between her and David with Barry.
See, David is talented. We haven’t seen it yet but he has a real gift for creating and shaping the moving image and he is a man of his times. Consider what Joseph Campbell has to say about the talents of the hero and why they are so important when called to Adventure:
“The hero…is a personage of exceptional gifts. Frequently he is honored by his society, frequently unrecognized or disdained. He and/or the world in which he finds himself suffers from a symbolic deficiency.—Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces Page 30—
Red Oaks, New Jersey, and the entire world was starting to suffer from a symbolic deficiency in 1985. In this author’s opinion, we are dying from its absence today as of the writing of this article. We need artists to break us through, now more than ever. Is David going to be one of those artists? He still doesn’t know.
David is right now still standing firmly inside the Call to Adventure. He just fought and won the biggest battle of his life when he defeated Getty 6 games to nil in tennis, and don’t forget he was wasted just a few hours before these matches happened. And at the end of that terrible ordeal, he stood supplicated in front of Skye Getty, begging for her name, the smallest and least costly thing he could ask from her. And she refused to give it to him. He was still not worthy to know it. Even amidst this first victory on his Hero’s Path, this silly series of morning tennis matches that tested him at his limits, he was defeated. He was overcome by both her beauty and the fierce and merciless intelligence, the one that Alexandra Socha infuses both Skye Getty and the character of Philoclea that she plays in the Broadway Smash Hit Head Over Heels, infusing something more into every frame of every scene she works inside and the stages she steps onto.
But David’s growing fascination with Skye Getty isn’t the only wandering eye in Red Oaks as we drop into the second 30 minutes of our narrative. Isn’t there something more there with Barry and Karen? We saw it in the Pilot but David doesn’t know it yet and Karen hasn’t admitted it to herself yet. They are floating into dangerous territory that will test the tensility of their long-term relationship.
David wants to be a director and Karen points a very clear path to what that means if he were to pursue this passion through corporate channels. Someday if he really applies himself, David could be doing corporate events. Now, I currently work in technology and no one does corporate events like my industry. Professionals who run corporate events like the size I think Karen sees in her head right now, make great money. By all measures, they are very successful doing what many of them love and see as enough artistic expression to scratch that itch.
For many this works, but will it work for David?
He’s willing to try and commits to talking to Barry about it.
Sam and Judy Meyers Live In Anger, Grown & Aged Over Love
They can now only express their love for one another by fighting. If they put this same passion of bickering into their early physical union, there must have been some explosive moments that drew them very close together. It’s a shame that too often our youthful lust is born to die fast while true happiness runs ahead laughing, still guiding us towards a maturity that never seems to come. Sam and Judy are in a miserable state when they pull into the driveway. They are arguing about the cost of care in Aruba compared to the $2,200 hospital bill that Sam just dropped on staying alive one more miserable day. He and his son had their moment of perfect love expressed in the RIGHT NOW. David told his father that he loved him and his father said it back. Now, it’s just a big hospital bill followed by a terrible diet for the rest of his life.
“Who else is hungry for waffles, WAFFLES! NOT PANCAKES WAFFLES!” Sam Meyers to David and Karen After Arriving Home From the Hospital Following His Recovery From A Heart Attack
I love that he plants the flag of his liberty on waffles; this is just ridiculously funny and as comedy, it slips into this moment like atmosphere into a vacuum. He begs Karen to not become a nag when they get married.
Red Oaks Comes Alive
Skip and Nash stand naked before each other every day, ready to do battle to the death.
Nash sees Getty in the locker room and Getty derides Nash’s gambling on horses and tells him he needs to be in the stock market. Getty tells him the stock market is going to hit 1,500 by year’s end. Nash looks like a moron when he interrupts Getty and asks if they have any “Hot Stock Tips.” Watch the devil work, my friends. Getty has made his money on Insider Trading but Nash isn’t part of the Club yet, despite his nonsense about equality inferred based on equal eating privileges in the Club Restaurant.
Barry Interviews David
Barry asks David for his reel. He wants to see his work. David doesn’t have a reel. He has never moved beyond dreaming about directing and messing around with a few amateur films last year. David suggests he could make a rock video for Steve Lefevre’s band and their song ‘Sex Flu’, which is just gloriously awful, so terrible that it’s amazing. Barry demands he does this and then bring it to him.
“Well get around to it and then you and I can parlay. Capeece?” —Barry to David During His Interview To Be Barry’s Assistant Videographer—
The Next Battle Between Getty and David Begins
Nash is educating David on the value of investing in the stock market.
“Mark my words, boychick. By the end of the year, the Dow will have hit 1500 points. And when that happens…I don’t know. But you can bet that whatever it is, it’ll be glorious.” –Nash to David After Learning Enough About The Stock Market To Be Dangerous–
Getty comes up to order a white wine spritzer. He looks over, sees David and surprises him by telling him he needs to book a few hours with him later that evening at his home. Getty insults him with almost every word. He makes an obscene joke that I’ll save for you because it’s hilarious and this makes David crack a smile. They’ll be playing tennis as a team against two of Getty’s associates from the city.
A brief scene reveals Nash does have moral limits. We know because he refuses a bump of cocaine from two of the Club Members in the bathroom. Nash struggles but ultimately comes down on the positive moral phrasing of, “I have to teach a children’s clinic.” It should be noted that he tries both phrasings on for equal measure before choosing.
In the Pilot episode article, I named Douglas Getty as David’s third father figure in this narrative. Getty is also the one who announces David’s Call To Adventure (“Wanna hit? It’ll be fun for ya!”) Consider what Joseph Campbell says about this sometimes frightening character of mythology operating without restraint in this domain of the Call To Adventure:
“The herald or announcer of the adventure, therefore, is often dark, loathly, or terrifying, judged evil by the world; yet if one could follow, the way would be opened through the walls of day into the dark, where the jewels glow.”—Joseph Campbell, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces.” Page 53
As Getty walks away, you now have the privilege and honor of meeting Herb. Herb is one of the great characters of television. He’s Don Rickles and Sinatra and Johnny Carson and Dean Martin and on and on and on about the Greatest Generation. I have adopted Herb as my spirit animal; I think you will too. Freddie Roman could sit in a chair and insult me for an hour any day of the week—it would be a great honor. He does no wrong creating Herb for us.
Herb starts asking David about his professional ambitions while he drinks his martini. David gives us details here about his current situation that were only hinted at or that we assumed up until now. Note the old school question that Herb asks David here. He asks, “So what do you do when you’re not teaching tennis?” Start at the common and dig into the more, something straight out of How To Win Friends And Influence People.
David is commuting to NYU from Jersey and he hasn’t declared a major yet but he’s focusing on Accounting because his Dad told him the only two certain things are death and taxes. So become a CPA or a Mortician and he will always be employed and able to support his family. Herb agrees but advises David that he listened to his father and became a proctologist. Worst mistake of his life, he tells David.
“I hated every day of it. I couldn’t wait to retire. I longed for the day when I could stop staring up assholes!” —Herb To David About Becoming A Proctologist Because His Father Wanted Him To
Misty And Wheeler Have A Moment
Wheeler has something planned for Misty and she’s willing to play along and meet him at the golf cart parking garage after their shifts end. Stop and think of how creepy this could be if the lovesick soul standing before her in supplication did not possess such a gentle heart. Her alarm bells aren’t appearing to be going off at all. She trusts Wheeler or at the very least sees him as a harmless distraction at this point.
David Enters The Throne Room Of The Angry Princess
Upon arrival, Getty’s revulsion at having this poor kid pull up to his home on a bicycle, wearing his tennis pro uniform from the club, is too much and he directs him to the pool house to change into more sensible clothing for the situation. When David enters the Clubhouse, he is in the Lionesses den. We now meet Skye Getty as she is in her heart, a beautifully plain girl in her rolled up overalls with her bare feet planted firmly on the ground of what has quickly become her art studio, a cruel crucible where any man who dares enter must stand amongst images of naked men with shriveled genitals, men as they are when they take off their clothes, Skye Getty’s current phase of artistic expression. Her overalls are made of dragon’s scale. She fearlessly faces down this simple male specimen who has dared to enter her most private of physical spaces.
David begs for his privacy. She denies it. She is all-powerful here, her beauty and her fierceness are terrifying to David, but isn’t he more affected by her beauty? Beneath all that plainness is the nuclear heart of a star that will set fire to the world of Red Oaks when she ignites David into action. David and Skye have a moment when he says Skye’s work reminds him of Alice Neel. Flippant at first, exposing her deflector shield of sarcasm, Skye yields and reveals that Alice Neel is indeed an inspiration. Before, she was just toying with David because it was fun. Now she is starting to pay attention to him in the RIGHT NOW. This could be combustible but the tennis match calls him from the momentary distraction of Skye Getty and her naked flaccid penis paintings.
Barry Makes His Move
Never before in the history of our species has a man seduced a woman with a large Orange Julius saying, “Full day supply of Vitamin C.” But Barry just did it. He prompts Karen into an impromptu photo shoot that has her smiling.
“Yeah, yummy yummy in that tummy!” — Barry to Karen After His Seductive Orange Julius Gesture
Wheeler Gives A Driving Lesson
Wheeler starts to give of himself openly and freely to Misty. He creates this obstacle training course for her to learn how to parallel park (remember they met in high school during Driver’s Ed training). It’s no stretch to imagine a 15-year-old Wheeler totally knocked out by this beautiful girl when he’s supposed to be focused on learning to drive. The scene pretty much writes itself in our heads when we start to consider it. And Misty engages him. She goes along with it and actually experiences joy when she finally learns to parallel park. Wheeler has given her a sense of accomplishment, something that Steve never does because he doesn’t see her as a person, more as a prop in a rock video (which she will become in the next episode).
“Don’t be afraid. Fear is just the greatest illusion, according to Lao Tzu of the Tao Te Ching.” —Wheeler To Misty After Offering To Teach Her To Parallel Park
The Rematch, Three Wins And Then…
“Listen to me, you little pisher [This means an insignificant or contemptible person]. I made seven figures last year. I don’t have to hustle anybody. We play for a case of bordeaux and bragging rights. That’s it.” —Getty to David When He Accuses Him Of Hustling Getty’s Associates In Tennis
This time, David will be challenged to work with Getty and David plays the tennis match, living Getty’s lie for a couple of hours. Getty has no respect for these men and they have no respect for him either. They respect each others’ money though and this tennis match ritual is one way they come together to express this financial adoration.
“Get up there. Show some fucking balls.”—Marty to His Son Bret When They Were Losing To Getty and David in Tennis
Getty and David beat their pants off and at the same time, Barry starts seducing Karen with his long lens. And Wheeler and Misty are having a real moment in the golf cart as Misty runs into the garage wall over and over again until she almost knows how to parallel park with her eyes closed. These are moments of excellence for our new friends. Can you feel it?
Compare the previous conversation about art between Skye and David with how Doug Getty asks his friends if they’ve ever seen a Matisse. Art is an asset to Getty, something that other people put a dollar value on and which he can purchase so it may add to his greatness in the eyes of others. It is the epitome of the vanity of the wealthy in regards to Proper Art in the Joycean sense; it’s all pornography or didactic interpretations pulling one toward or pushing one away, never aesthetic arrest for these sad people who have never had a breakthrough to transcendence in the waking moment.
Wheeler Tells Misty Not To Think So Much
Friends, this is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s advice to Luke Skywalker and it’s still great counsel. And Misty engages Wheeler. She lets him in a little. The truth is that he’s the only one who seems to really care about her and this is something she desperately needs in her life right now, even if it is Wheeler. And that trust has paid off, Wheeler giving her a blast of accomplishment and self-esteem, something that Steve never does because he doesn’t see her as a person, but just a prop for his image and his band.
Wheeler is astute enough to ask about how she feels about Steve’s music, something Steve would never do, assuming that his girlfriend would automatically think his music was amazing because who wouldn’t worship what came from Steve Lefevre, right? Well, it turns out that Misty isn’t that enamored of Steve’s band or the ‘Sex Flu’ single they are working on. Wheeler suggests Roxy Music and Misty has never heard of them. Misty’s face when Wheeler walks away to get the Roxy Music tape tells us she would be embarrassed if someone walked by and saw them together. She probably doesn’t understand how this lumpy fuzz ball suddenly became the only person in the world interested in her as a real person.
…And Then A Defeat
Getty is shocked to see Skye sitting on the patio as they all walk out for a drink after the match, only one drink and then David is to get out of his house but not before he recites the details of Getty’s deceptions. David is the son of Doug’s “putz” brother who is a black sheep of the family. He worships Getty and interns at his firm, working the trading desk and sweating nervous all day. But Skye’s presence on the patio disrupts Getty’s plan and now he must tell the lie in front of his daughter. It’s not the first time, I think. Also, note how interesting that Getty is calling a made up brother the same thing that Herb called Getty earlier for ordering a white wine spritzer.
Consider with me how this series of events plays out here. Normally, David would be allowed no audience with Skye Getty while he is under Getty’s direction (as in this situation). But Getty is removed from dominion due to his flagrant deception, lying to Marvin and his son about David being his nephew. Getty is nearly stuttering and stammering in front of his daughter when his lie is exposed. So Skye learns of her father’s latest petty lie and judges David for going along with it. Before she can express her full disgust in front of Marvin and his smiling son Bret, Getty sends her on an appetizer errand and David follows to help, taking the opportunity to gain her audience once more. He acts on impulse here and while dangerous, it is supremely important to his future. And now he has to defend his choice to her. She takes pity on him and demands that he milk her father for more money, make him pay for the lie. It’s something Skye likely wishes she could have done to her father long ago, make him pay for his lies like this. And David does it. He falls right into the trap. He seized an opportunity to make an audience happen with Skye and he is sent to a form of execution because of it.
It was a trap because Skye sends him on a mission of self-destruction. She may have done it consciously out of cruelty or unconsciously out of anger towards her father, taking advantage of the opportunity to make a great chess move against her father, each playing a long-game using the tokens of each other’s emotions.
“You got him by the balls and all you got to do now is squeeze.” —Skye Getty To David About Her Father Being Caught In Deception
Why does everything have to change? Why can’t it just stay the same? This same conversation has been held between titans of power since time immemorial while standing over the battlefields of their own making.
“You make a good point. I’m going to bring it up at the next meeting. Let’s keep everything as it is. Pull up the ladder baby!” —Getty And Marvin Waxin’ and Milkin’
So David goes to Getty to demand $100 an hour. Getty is incredulous at his stupidity. And here, he drops his second lesson to David.
“You could have left here tonight with something more valuable – me owing you a favor.”—Getty To David After Skye Influenced Him To Fail Another Of Her Father’s Tests
As he wheels his bike away from the Getty Estate, defeated in victory, David sees Skye and Getty’s associate Marvin in an intimate embrace on the front lawn. Why did he listen to this monstrous young woman who encourages men to their doom and defiles her father’s friendships like this? This must seem like a total defeat to David right here. Getty was ready to see David’s value rise, maybe even help him out. But then David, lead astray by Skye Getty in a moment of pettiness, liquidated the value of the little bit of trust he had begun to build with Getty. Three hundred bucks for his future sold cheap.
David stands there on Getty’s front lawn, watching Skye’s intimate exchange with a man as old as her father, Getty’s associate Marvin, both engaging in such familiar touching of their exposed body parts that it would crush Getty were he to look out his front window. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Getty would never look out his front window because to him there is nothing interesting to see out there. David watches this scene play out, completely aware now that he has been used and played. Getty’s operate on an entirely different level and they are playing games he doesn’t understand how or why to play along with them.
“Sex flu, got me scratchin’ the itch / Sex Flu, like a son of a bitch / Sex flu, feel my temperature rise / in between your thighs” —Sex Flu by Steve Lefevre, Video Soon To Be Directed and Produced by David Meyers
After band practice, Steve is, “Ready to fu-uh-k!” But this time, Misty demands that she get to choose the music and she puts on Wheeler’s tape. Consider what happens during that session of lovemaking. She’s with Steve but listening to Roxy Music singing about emotions and real love and her mind maybe, probably unconsciously, drifts to Wheeler. There may be a moment where Wheeler’s image spins in the circle of pleasure in her mind, while electricity sparks across all those neural gaps in her most secret places. We see the seed of true love start to bloom here and it’s done in a subtle and masterful way in this episode. Also, sometimes seeds take more than a season to bloom.
The Long Ride Home
David rides his bicycle in the dark to Misty’s sex soundtrack and we imagine him running over tonight’s victory and its defeats in his mind, revolving like the wheels on his bike. Skye, Getty, Herb, Nash, Karen. Spinning right round baby.
David catches his father sneaking a cigarette.
“He doesn’t worry about [Club] dues. A guy like that, he wipes his ass with that kind of money. And not every deal is done in the boardroom. Do it on the golf course over martinis. And it’s a write off. I hope you’re saving most of [the money you’re earning]. You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball.”—Sam Meyer to His Son While Enjoying The Nice Night—
David listens to Karen sell him on the modeling opportunity she’s been presented with by Barry. He wants to go to help Karen develop a stream of income from modeling, a vocation she immediately assigns to the service of their future, moving into an apartment together and starting their adult lives.
What David doesn’t know is that Barry and Karen have already started their own journeys towards happiness together. Like Wheeler with Misty, Barry is pouring good intention into Karen’s circle of pleasure. She now has someone who believes in her and that is more than many people get.
When she tells David about Barry’s offer, he doesn’t respond with jealousy, but rather selfishly as he thinks about finally being able to get a place in the City, riding the subway and eating Indian food. But Karen wants none of that lifestyle and David seems a bit crushed but supports her to explore this opportunity with Barry.
Isn’t it interesting that Barry is right now the guardian of both of their futures in a way? Barry and Getty stand like signs at a fork in the road. So which way will David go? We’ll find out in the opening scene of Episode 3 “The Wedding.”
JB Minton is the author of the upcoming book A Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks. Learn more about his work here. Watch him work on Instagram and check 25YL every Wednesday for the next article in this series.