“It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” – Jeremy Bentham, A Fragment on Government, 1776
Or, for the more pop culturally inclined:
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. – Spock, The Wrath of Khan, 1982
The problem, if I may critique 18th century philosophy and/or Spock, is that often times the opening tenet can be distorted to the extent that the needs of the many end up wiping the remaining needs of the few from the face of the planet. It’s a concept that works better in a perfect world scenario than it does in reality. So much so that around the time it was originally written, our forefathers were writing up documentation that assured that our government had a way to prevent the many from wholly overpowering the few.
As flawed as the Electoral College and congressional distribution is, they serve, even today, a very marked purpose. They exist to form a manmade balance between majority and minority, specifically as it pertains to the divide between heavily populated metropolitan areas and the less populated rural areas. The forefathers understood that if American democracy centered entirely around pure number of votes, then the country would always be ruled by individuals acting in the interest of urban areas, a way of life that intensely differed from the needs and interests of farming communities in the middle of nowhere.
Now, whether or not that decision was fair or right or good is something that’s still argued on a day to day basis and often dictates what side of the political aisle you lean towards. Is fairness really fair if it’s more fair for some than for others? Do agricultural states deserve equal representation to states that have exponentially more people than they do? If we admit that citizenship doesn’t grant everyone rights that are truly equal across the board, then how much effort should be put into weighting the system to end up closer to good and is doing so unfair to those who are more than equal?
So what does this have to do with Fortitude?
A lot, actually.
One of the most frightening moments in “Episode 8” and perhaps one of the scariest moments of the entire season so far came in the most unsuspecting of places. While Hildur is on the mainland, meeting with investors, she receives word of the attack on Margaret and realizes that the situation back home is rapidly escalating to something far outside of the capabilities of one small town to handle. So she decides to ask for help, seeking out forensics experts to travel home with her and help determine what exactly is eating her community from the inside out.
The representative she speaks to, if I may be blunt, shuts that shit down pronto. He reminds Hildur that they are facing budget cutbacks and that it would be a hard sell to the rest of his committee to spare the resources to investigate a tiny remote island just because they’ve had a couple of unexplained attacks. And as he speaks, Hildur makes the slow realization that no one is coming to save Fortitude. Not ever. The needs of the many versus the needs of the few.
The most unnerving thing about the scene is that the government official isn’t even necessarily wrong. It doesn’t make sense to send a team to Fortitude to investigate what he assumes is something explicable, if odd. As monstrous as he seems to us, having witnessed the inhuman horror plaguing the town, he’s actually doing right by the majority of citizens. It’s chilling not merely because you can see both sides of the situation, but because it leaves you wondering what happens the next time you wind up on the wrong side of a majority.
But what else?
Even when not waxing philosophical, “Episode 8” was much of Fortitude at its propulsive best. While the show is always lovely, Hettie Macdonald’s direction was stunning, particularly in turning run-of-the-mill two shots into something far more visually interesting. The series is rapidly becoming not just the best psychological thriller on TV, but a strong contender for the most beautiful as well.
The episode saw a lot of pairing off, with Petra and Ingrid being tasked with dealing first with the crime scene at the Alardyce house, and then the discovery of Shirley’s body at the grocery store. It’s always nice to see the two of them banging around together, as they’re both strangely endearing, memorable presences for having such limited screen time. Carrie, finally free from the oppressive bonds of her father’s incompetence, spends the bulk of the episode in the care of Elena. It’s an odd pairing, but is one that grows each character substantially. Elena finally has the opportunity to grow beyond the mysterious murderous siren role and Carrie, the opportunity to actually be the child in a relationship.
But most importantly, the episode finally (FINALLY) gave us the true Dan/Morton dream team we’ve been yearning for since day one. It turns out all you needed to do to get the two of them on the same page is have another gruesome attack take place and an excuse to haul Creepy McStuffins (Er, Markus) in for questioning. These two are so great together I hope they get a wacky sitcom spin-off where they’re roommates and also police partners. The two don’t get a ton of information from McStuffins but thanks to Frank’s top notch felonious breaking and entering, they do discover that McStuffins is a feeder with mommy issues. That said, they do not think he’s (actively) guilty.
Frank, on the other hand, disagrees in a pretty significant fashion if the final scene, in which he has McStuffins bound and sweaty and half-dressed and demands the truth. And he’s not the only one aching for some answers, as Fortitude itself seems to be roiling on the very edge of mob rule, with Carrie and Elena breaking up a mob of angry guys trying to enact some vigilante justice on a Russian who had the misfortune of drinking in Fortitude the night before. All in all, it’s a pretty bad day for McStuffins, considering his girlfriend viciously ripped open her mother, before killing herself with food in a grocery store in the last 24 hours.
Hildur comes home to attempt to soothe her ailing community (ailing in the sense that some old guy shot himself in the foot, and also, that mammoth curse thing) and was marginally successful but things just won’t be so easily put down in Fortitude. (Except for maybe that old guy. Seems like just about anything could put him down.)
Man, I’m not even sure we need Morton’s Corner this week, given how he was smack dab in the middle of all the proceedings. He did, however, find time to talk with Henry about what happened on the beach when Pettigrew was murdered but Henry wasn’t talking this time, even if there was alcohol. Mean Gene also seems keen to run forensics on that bullet he got from Yuri last episode but who has time for ballistics when people’s guts are exposed? Not Morton, that’s for sure.
But did he smirk?
…on a completely different show. This is yet another segment that may/may not be necessary in the future. Carrie (wisely) left her dad for dead (sort of) when he passed out from his (likely) infected hand and/or mammoth curse. She returned to Fortitude for help and spent the rest of her day cozied up with Elena. Ronnie miraculously survived his nap in a snow bank and meandered into town to look for his daughter. Upon arriving home he found the home movie of his wife playing before being attacked by an unknown assailant and disappearing from the premises. So, actually, maybe we will still need this segment.
- I’m actually surprised more town meetings don’t include someone accidentally shooting themselves.
- Pierre Bezukhov, namesake of McStuffins’ dog, is the protagonist of War and Peace and definitely not something I had to look up.
- Dan and Elena both seemed like very lovely people this episode, far from the way they’ve read earlier in the show. I like these versions better.
- “Maybe God’s a voyeur.” – Morton doesn’t mince words
- Forgive me for changing Creepy’s last name. This is just so much more appropriate, considering.