Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When You're At Home: Catherine Schade

All right then! Last week we covered Adalind's house; this week we'll do her mother's. Not because I expect Catherine Schade to come back from the dead anytime soon, but her influence was obviously formative to Adalind and almost certainly to Renard as well. So we'll go over this in some detail, in the interests of teasing out what this tells us about the woman who made Adalind who she is today. Spoiler alert: nothing nice.

Because I'm lazy at heart, and because Kitty's already gone through the opening scenes of Love Sick for house profiling, I'm just going to start by copying these paragraphs in. Then we'll do some extra detail work, and then we'll start hammering on the s2 eps.

K: Renard's battlewagon pulls up to a Victorian? style townhouse, three stories and likely a basement behind the shrubbery. Two of the stories are lit with the curtains drawn, so someone's home but not inclined to visitors, so either he's expected or he's gate-crashing. Now, later in the beginning of season two we learn she paid cash for this place, so she, too, has some wealth available to her; I'd put this townhouse at up nearing half a mil easy. Two moss-covered trees frame the front of the house in this shot, giving it an in-the-woods appearance. Like the witches in the old stories. And like the witches in the old stories, we cut to an interior shot where a woman whose name we don't yet know is grinding some dried herbs and other things into a mortar, with a kettle on one side and a small cauldron on the other. She has a couple of spices and an herb jar in front of her, but given what we saw earlier in organ grinder I'm hesitant to say that's cumin and parsley or anything of the sort. She looks up and smiles at something we don't hear (A: probably the car door closing), either because of the background music or because her senses are greater than normal.

K: The camera switches to a further out view, putting them in the center of the shot so we see her at sinister and him at dexter, and yes, I'm using those terms to highlight the fact that she's about as sinister as they come on this show, which is very. We also have a few interesting contrasts in the setting of this house, since each of them occupies half the shot. For the house overall, it's very tasteful, magazine photo layout with a touch of old-world pretension, or she wants it to look that way at least. Wood furniture, ornate lamps, everything very detailed and fitting well together, none of the modern aesthetic of minimalism for her. It also serves to fill the shot with contrasts. On her side, a small black-shaded lamp with a bulb that looks golded through the fabric of the shade; on his side a more modern looking white shaded lamp that's bright and lights most of that corner of the room. On her side and in front of her, a sleek narrow-armed black chair, on
his side a large, more ornate cream-colored upholstered wingback style chair. She has a red blanket draped close by over the arm of the couch on her side, his coat is draped over the chair more at a distance. Their body language in this shot is also fairly interesting; he's sitting slightly awkwardly and facing out, she sits sideways with her body at three quarters and her face turned the rest of the way towards him, giving him a great deal of her attention.

Moving on, then, to the details not covered out of this scene because that wasn't the main goal of the recaplysis! The big bay windows of the house as they're framed by the trees not only give an impression of the witch's house, they also give an impression, sort of, of a tower. I don't know about you guys, but when I was a kid wandering around my neighborhood, there was a house with bay windows plus a cupola and it was absolutely the witch's house that you ran past. The lace curtains in the upstairs are clearly meant to tantalize without giving any clear knowledge of what's going on. Sex and death aren't supposed to go together literally, Catherine, to borrow a phrase from Kitty. Inside, we have a scene reminiscent of Adalind's kitchen but far more old world. Cast iron. glass stoppers in the vials, I'd wager that mortar and pestle is supposed to be marble. A small silver tray for the ingredients, which may or may not be intentionally magical. Though with all the cool colors - blues, whites, silvers - I would guess it's at least a semi-deliberate moon reference. As she goes to answer the door we have our first shots of mirrors, which are all over her house. Two in the stairwell that we can see, some kind of a ficusy thing next to the front door. Which is red, of course, and now I'll be humming the Stones for the rest of the evening. 2939 is the address, because I can read backwards, not that I really expect it to be meaningful later on. Expensive woodwork not just in the flooring but on the banisters, expensive rug even in the foyer, and that damn well is a foyer rather than an entrance hall, or it's shot to look that way. And black curtains separating off whatever room is off to the right from the living room. I can't quite tell what the decoration in the front hallway is from this shot, other than some kind of brass/copper cast to look like reeds or hay or some such. The appearance of fertility and harvest without the realization of it.

As with Adalind's house, Catherine has red on her couch. Hers comes in the form of a blanket rather than a pillow, but it's a clear callback. Kitty's covered most of the contrasts in this scene, but I would note a couple other things. On Catherine's side we have a tall in-wall bookcase with lots of books. All of them look old, all of them are probably intended to resemble grimoires/spell books, research books and the like. I wouldn't actually be surprised if they'd used similar props to Aunt Marie's trailer/Renard's condo here. They're framed by one of the big old trees outside, and this is clearly the lower level room with the bay windows. Also on Catherine's side, we have a sideboard with at least three, maybe four pictures and what looks to be a decanter in back. Above, a picture of, wait for it - a tree. Evergreen, I think, or at least something with the leaves still on, in contrast to Adalind's dead/wintry trees. We can argue about whether that means that Catherine has more power or whether she's pretending to fertility and youth whereas Adalind is embracing being a young Crone figure, but I think the answer is both, at least at this point in the story. The photographs look like they're probably of Catherine and some female relatives - at least one of the women is a brunette, but they're all women. Notably, I can't see a picture of Adalind; at a guess she's either out of frame or hasn't earned a place in the gallery of women Catherine respects/emulates enough to have her picture there. The sideboard by Renard has a mirror above it, bringing our total so far to three, with a variety of decanters and some kind of giant... is that a terrarium? I feel sorry for any animals Catherine keeps, since I expect them to end up in some zaubertrank or another.

We get a look at those end tables by the couch, albeit it brief and slightly out of focus. Catherine sits by one with a small porcelain Siamese cat figurine, along with a generic-Asian looking box of some kind. The one Renard was sitting by has another mirror (four! four mirrors, a ha ha!) and a couple other doohickeys I can't make out. As Catherine stands, we can see that the bookcase isn't as full of books as other people's (hi Renard) but they do all look like reference/research books. No pleasure reading here, unless she's the kind of person to read cookbooks/spellbooks for fun. Well, some people juggle geese. That fourth picture I thought might exist on the sideboard appears to be of a younger Catherine; I thought it might be Adalind for a second but no, the facial structure is wrong. One black and white, probably her mother or her grandmother, one brunette who might be the same woman or might be another relative, and one that looks like Catherine or maybe a sister. Two photos we couldn't see in the previous frame, one of which looks like a woman in uniform, or in clothes intended to resemble a uniform and might be another young Catherine, and another with some red in it that's blocked by one of the hand mirrors. There are, of course, not one but TWO small hand/vanity mirrors on this sideboard, one of which we can see Catherine's reflection in. Still another wall mirror; this one faces the one over the other sideboard, which if we caught it at the right angle would lead to infinite reflections. I'm sure there's no symbolism at ALL intended here. To the left of it, more blue flower/tree imagery. And a couple of books on the edge of the sideboard that I neglected to mention right off, these slimmer volumes that, if they're grimoires, likely contain little in the way of explanation for the beginner.

And that's all we get of Catherine Schade's house this season. But just from that, we can tell that it's the kind of place meant for show rather than comfort, as with Adalind's. Catherine, though, feels a little more at home in a place like this, probably because she's had long enough to grow into it so that the surface has become reality and the substance has faded away. A child growing up here would be hushed and told not to run and play and to be a lady. For Catherine's very narrow, precise definitions of what a lady is. Right about now is when I started feeling sorry for Adalind, though she's lately lost all that goodwill.

Moving along to Bad Teeth! We get a near-identical establishing shot of the house, this one at a bit more of a Dutch angle both because the directors this season appear to love the damn things and because it gives us a nice view of Renard's long legs. I'm not complaining. Okay, the curtains behind the front door as it opens are to a window, not a room. Aww. I was hoping for more obvious witchery. Tall windows, though. And a stool with another ficusy thing on top, and I really wonder at this point if any of the plants in her place are real. I'd guess probably real and probably useful in zaubertranks; Catherine doesn't strike me as the kind of person to keep houseplants for the pretty. And then Renard walks into that front parlor/living room and I have to stop and swear copiously at the set designers. In all the languages. And then circle back around to English because FUCK EVERYTHING FOREVER they changed it entirely from first to second season. Oh my god seriously? Okay, fine. Let's do this. The bay windows no longer bow out to match the exterior shape of the house; instead it appears as though they open onto a small glassed in patio. Maybe. Which we can't see from the exterior shots, but fine, whatever. Renard goes over to stand in front of the brand-new fireplace, which is sort of modern in style but far less so than Adalind's. And then the goddamn peacocks everywhere, one over the mantel in a painting and one on the mantel in a brass or copper sculpture. The lamps on either end of the fireplace mimic the candles we see all over Adalind's place, which are notably lacking here. She doesn't feel the need to beef up her reputation with New Age style candles and accoutrements, she just is the best at what she does. We have a peacock-fan style fireplace screen, because Rule of Three and also anvils dropping on my feet, thanks, guys. The sideboard to the left is different but similar, more old world pretensions in both it and the highbacked wood chairs. And much, much more red in the decorations, but since it's combined with silver and gray and black and blue, it's not exactly warming. More just bloody. Roses, I think, in the picture frame next to the big wall mirror. Which has, I think, a three-sided folding mirror below as well as either a silver tray or ANOTHER fucking mirror, and at this point I'm giving up on counting because the entire set changed. Mostly I'm assuming that, if it's a work Catherine is in frequently, there's minimum five mirrors and I get to be pleasantly surprised if there are fewer.

Then I start swearing more as the camera pans around to Catherine, because she's standing in the doorway of the original room from Love Sick but the camera angles confuse the layout so badly I have to get Kitty to make me a whiteboard layout in order to make it make sense. Okay, fine, I take it back, she's not living in the TARDIS (thank gods for that), it's a big long great room with those black faux-pillars setting the one apart from the other and a doorway that's basically right in the middle. It irks me and it makes no sense why someone would build a house that way but I'm going to move on to what I do best, which is dealing with the detail work. Our first candles at Catherine's! Blood red and in a wall sconce and where's that damn jar. Another peacock on the base of the table lamp in the lower left corner, and a bunch of knickknacks on the inset bookcase that it's too dark to really make out. Nice dangly glass chandelier in the middle of the room, and the rest of the scene is all close-ups and Renard's reflection and lots of looming, so let's move on, shall we?

The back of the room Renard was standing in evidently leads to the dining room/kitchen! We can get a few more details out of that, too. Coffee table and longer couch that looks not at all comfortable along the wall with windows, the candle sconce has a pair of pictures which, assuming the top matches the bottom from the previous scene, are more of the blue-on-white floral/arboreal abstract type thing. In this respect Catherine's tastes run more to Renard's than to Adalind's, but that's to be expected. A private entrepreneur like Catherine can be seen to have slightly eccentric and old world tastes; a modern lawyer like Adalind would be expected to have some modern abstract styles in her home. There are pots and pans hanging on the wall, all copper. A small spice rack on the wall just past the doorway, a small end table below with possibly a mortar and pestle, possibly a rock/geode, and probably another damn mirror. On the left of the doorway, another end/corner table, slightly larger to hold the lamp, another spice rack above and I think some kind of floral embroidery sampler adjacent. Along the side of the kitchen counter we can see a few jars, all glass and carefully lidded, with various zaubertrank ingredients in. And then Nick interrupts my perusal of her kitchen/potions lab!

To the left of the door is a small b&w photo of a woman in front of what looks to be a boat. I'm not sure, because this looks like a more expensive boat (maybe a yacht), but I think that's intended to be the first ancestor of Catherine's to come over to the States. The long hallway Nick stalks down leads straight back to the kitchen, as we would expect at this point, and it's done in a nice bright yellow. Aw, it's so cheery in half your potions lab for harming all and sundry, Catherine! It's a bit difficult to get much of the kitchen layout of this scene, though it does neatly confirm the layout of the first floor for us. And those weren't bay windows behind Renard, they were bigass doors. Okay then! There's another shelf on the wall above the counter with nothing that looks like anything I want to eat or drink ever, a black rose, lamp, and that mortar and pestle from Love Sick on the counter. Which is black... granite, probably, and antique blue cabinets underneath. Dining table, three or four chairs, completely empty of the usual clutter that you'd expect from someone who lives on her own and doesn't need that many chairs. We get another look at the middle parlor area, there's an armchair to the right and the candle sconces/blue-and-white pictures are symmetric. As is the inset bookcase, which again has mostly knickknacks of various vase and lamp shaped persuasions, with a lower shelf full of old leatherbound books. Hey, adjacent to that bookcase we have our first wintry tree! Yay! No, wait, the other thing.

And that's all for Bad Teeth, so just one more ep before we get no more Catherine because Kelly kills her. Rather sloppily, I might add. Hang on, kids, let's see if we get anything new and interesting. I'm betting not much, because we never see the upstairs of this house. It's all downstairs and the places intended to be seen by people, which leaves me very curious to know what Catherine does with her private spaces for decoration. Sadly, unless Adalind decides to take up residence at her mother's old house, I doubt we'll ever find out. But without further ado, more of Catherine's kitchen. Potions lab. We open onto the black granite counter with a wooden cutting board, a knife block, a number of vials, and a grimoire. Unlike at Adalind's, who still needs more window dressing to feel like a real Hexenbiest, Catherine has her book propped open against what looks like a backsplash or a box of some kind. The stove she's cooking on is tiny; though I think I can count four burners I don't think they're full-sized. Certainly there's no room between them. It's a gas stove, I will note with some approval, big white backsplash because you really, really don't want those zaubertranks to explode all over your kitchen walls. I bet that shit stains. She's got assorted odd bits of shelving all over the kitchen that hold ingredients upon ingredients, which on the one hand is a little odd to me and on the other hand she may have things that should be stored under specific circumstances. Where heat does/doesn't bother it, ditto moisture, ditto being near some of the other things in that kitchen. The mason jar for Renard's lumpy potion sits on the counter, and though we saw a number of copper pots in Bad Teeth she's using a stainless steel one for this. I'd say silver but, uh, do you know how low a temp that melts at? Not that high.

When Renard comes to get his potion, we get a slightly different angle. More close up, they're assuming we don't need the trees framing the house to get the spooky effect by now. (They're right.) A few shrubberies in front that we haven't had a clear angle on before now, but nothing else new, since she stops him in the middle of the great room. Even in the daylight, though, her house is shaded and shadowed. Not poorly lit per se, but it's all indirect lighting. Aaand back around to the kitchen where she's cleaning up as Kelly barges in. Everything neat and tidy and in its place; a good thing for making zaubertranks but also just how Catherine seems to be. Everything must always be in its place. We can see a collection of what looks like six blood vials in a cup from this angle, which, dude. Really? Ew. And did that go into Renard's potion? And also ew. Big wooden mixing bowl that she clearly mixed the ingredients for the potion in prior to heating them, some powders, a rag. Behind her is the sink and also an oven, possibly a convection oven but I'm not very familiar with this style of oven so I can't say for sure. Several houseplants and these I'm 90% sure must be for zaubertranks. Despite the yellow wall, everything else is in stainless steel and/or white, lending it a very fake-cheery, almost hospital sterile air. Coffeepot, check, more cutting boards, check. Kelly comes in the back door, where a number of lamps that look like they came off Aladdin are hanging in a knickknacks cabinet. There's a mirror and then a couple many-pointed sun/star symbols in blues and greens along the wall next to the oven; above the lamps is something that could have been a Green Man symbol but doesn't look like it's anything but a bunch of leaves. When the camera flips over to Catherine all Hexened out oh hey, another mirror off to the right! Then we get a pullback for a really nice view of the whole kitchen, though there's not much here I haven't previously noted. One mirror on top of the big tall cabinets by Catherine. Then a decent look at the dining room, big long table with some kind of a basin/bowl thing on top of it. Pottery, unless I miss my guess. Four chairs minimum, with an end table and a pair of chairs off by the windows that don't match the set but still evoke it. A sideboard off to the right. You remember the thing in the corner near the doors to the great room that I thought was embroidery? No, that's still another fucking mirror. The rest of this scene it's damn hard to get anything new off of because hello fight sequence! Hello Kelly smacking Catherine with a newspaper I will never get tired of that bit. And then Catherine gets impaled on her own mirror because there is no symbolism in Grimm. I missed it around the anvils. There's some kind of pretty stained glass thing above the couch, but I can't get a good shot of it at all. And the last scene comes when the cop crew finds her body, and the only new piece of info I can provide off the high Dutch angle is there's an adjacent inset bookshelf in the front half of the great room, with books, knickknacks, and a mirror.

This doesn't tell us much that we couldn't have guessed from the Schades' behavior and from my analysis of Adalind's place, but the confirmation is nice. Catherine values appearance over anything, is almost certainly capable of mirror magic, and made enough money doing something with her Hexenbiest self, probably involving zaubertranks, that she could afford a whole lot of expensive things. We know the house is hers, not from her family; it's possible that some of the furnishings in this place are from her forebears. I find that somewhat unlikely, given the truly poisonous mother-daughter relationship she has with Adalind, though. The Schades seem like a family where you're expected to earn every bit of your material wealth fresh, with the skills mommy taught. And, arguably, competing against one's mother for the same turf. Because that's healthy.

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