I Thought You Were a Lady
Well the emotional and psychological peril of a strong commitment to work continues to play itself out in Mildred Pierce’s gumption. After the death of her youngest daughter, Mildred performs one of the most complete acts of repression I’ve ever seen, walking from the graveside of her child to the new restaurant she opens less than two weeks after the funeral. Abandoning herself to her own labor also completes the transfer that you talked about after Part II of all her maternal affections to her remaining child. And if any child were being ruined by misplaced love it is the insipid, arrogant brat, Veda Pierce. I know we are all supposed to be waiting with bated breath for Rachel Evan Wood to arrive as the grown up Veda, but I have to give it to Morgan Turner. That little girl has mastered a disdainful sneer. And as Monty says to Mildred, Veda isn’t much of a little girl. I loved the way she played dress up near the end of this episode, trying on makeup and curls that made her look like a stage doll or a clown, but that are clearly part of her effort to keep affecting her grown up snobbery and pretension.
As Veda becomes more and more explicit in her pettiness and nastiness it is harder to understand Mildred’s love for her and connection to her. I continue to think the real clue is in her relationship to Monty. Monty is not wrong when he accuses Mildred of working class sentiments, he is just unbelievably boorish to think that there is something wrong with them. Mildred works exceedingly hard (digression: my single greatest moment of envy for a material object in the show was the cleaving knife Mildred used to chop chickens in the opening restaurant scene – a sharp knife is such a beautiful thing!) and is just getting used to the idea of having money to spend. Like many newly wealthy people money is still a source of confusion and embarrassment for her and there is probably nothing more confusing than the attitude of disdain people with a lot of money take toward the subject. She both seems to admire Monty’s cavalier attitude and she clearly likes the sex that appears to be a good bit more satisfying that what we’ve witnessed or can imagine she might have experienced before. When it comes down to it, though, Monty is no better a companion than Burt or Wally, when it comes to real partnership, and in many ways he is a good deal worse, using Mildred and secretly belittling her to her daughter. Whatever it is Mildred admires in Monty it is the same spark of pride she sees in Veda. Only when Veda’s nastiest side comes flaring to the surface, Mildred doesn’t seem to be able to see it for what it is. So she turns on that same attitude, less pronounced and therefore more genteel, in Monty.
I am going to save my musings on the trajectory of this threesome since I’ve read the book, but I will say I am excited to see how they will pack all that is coming into the next two parts. And I’d really like a plate of those chicken and waffles.