Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When You're At Home: Sean Renard

At long last, it's time for the post that was the genesis of this little series. Renard started out as enough of a mystery (and still is, in so many ways) that we spent an age picking apart the set details in his condo when we first saw it. Then we started drawing diagrams of the layout. Now we bring all that information and stick it in one place, and see what we might be missing! (If anything.) Plus, going over the newly cleaned up condo scenes to see if there are any (in)significant and telling changes.

Originally from Three Coins recapalypse:
When we get into frame-by-frame analysis of Renard's condo in a bit I'll point out exactly where he must be standing. For now, I'll just note that we've got the balcony doors off to his right and behind him, the top of a fireplace, a probably-Renaissance era painting of a noble in red (sadly, the gender cues are lacking from the part we can see). Another painting, this one more abstract, several lamps/wall sconces which all match. (I swear that looks like Pier One. Renard, do you shop at Pier One? Really? Isn't that a little gauche?) Some kind of table or mantel, and the bigass mirror our Captain is staring at his naked self in. For all that this is the scene for fangirl drooling, there's not actually a lot of content.

So. Renard's condo, the bedroom. The sheets are high quality... either cotton or silk, I'm guessing cotton. Again, it looks like that kind of expensive, all matching pillows-shams-comforter-sheets set. He sleeps sprawled in the center of the bed, telling us for certain that the wedding ring is for a wife he doesn't see regularly (assuming she's still alive) - anyone who sleeps next to another person on a regular basis will migrate to their preferred side of the bed. Despite that, he has two bedside tables and lamps, again with the matchy-matching. Silk pajamas, at a guess, or so we're supposed to believe. Books on both the bedside tables, one of them open, all of them the kind of old books that are designed to show off the owner's wealth and erudition. Now, I absolutely believe that Renard reads these books as well as showing them off, because there's no reason for one of them to be open in his bedroom if he's showing off. In the living room, yes, that would make sense. Still, there aren't any dog-eared paperbacks or anything else less high-brow, which goes to show how attached he is to things of the past and things which demonstrate his wealth and power. On anyone with less gravitas, it would be an atrocious display of nouveau riche behavior. Kitty suggests that those are books from his childhood, and I can't disagree.

We move from there to a shot of the main living area. He's got a layout I would kill for, but a kitchen that's more showroom than workplace. Which isn't to say it couldn't be used, but I'd have to break it in. Look, it offends me, okay? He has humongous ceilings, appropriate to the penthouse condo, which also serve to make him look almost normal-person sized. The sectional couch is just as huge, and frankly looks like it would be uncomfortable for sitting or sleeping on. Bigass leather armchair. None of this furniture looks broken in much, though admittedly Renard is only one person and I would be surprised if he entertained guests of his own volition on a regular basis. More abstract art, a sideboard table with a lamp and a variety of vases and knick-nacks which I think is the most personal touches we've seen so far in his place. The kitchen light above the island is on, and it is again in Cat and Mouse before he's ever in the condo, so I would guess Renard leaves that on to see where he's going. The entry hallway is, as we later see, long and dimly lit, so that would make sense both from a Watsonian level and the Doylist needs of the film crew. The coffee table is glass, fairly modern design, with more books on it, and as we pan around we can see that one of the photos of his daughter and/or wife is lurking on that sideboard.

Panning around further, we see that there are actually two leather armchairs flanking a lamp - an interesting choice for a solitary man. More art, the one off in that corner looks like maybe a landscape of some kind but it's too dark to be sure. We're coming at this whole shot from roughly the same area Renard was standing in earlier, which... actually gives us a mirror's eye view of him, now that I think about it. Oh you clever bastards. Bigass area rug covering the hardwood floors (drool) from I would guess about couch to shortly in front of the mirror, and that's a more subtle sign of wealth, because even if it isn't a super-expensive one (it probably is), those things ain't cheap. Another table, another lamp, and the place STILL doesn't look crowded with all this stuff, do you notice? (Though I would also note in comparison to my own place that there aren't bookshelves lining the walls quite so thoroughly, which would make the rooms feel smaller.)

But he's upset, he looks around, we see that there are more windows off to his left so presumably his bedroom is on the same side of the condo as the kitchen/living room. Or, y'know, penthouse, there are windows like that on all exterior rooms. And then he looks, checks, for the coins, and in this shot (remember it from the opening?) we see clearly that there are three coins. So I don't know why I could only see two in the naked mirror scene before. We also see, and this is incredibly interesting, that he takes his rings off to sleep. BOTH his rings, the royal and the wedding. Now, I will grant that sometimes I go to bed not wearing my rings, but I also know that I am in an extreme minority because I use my hands all the damn time when I'm in the apartment, so I leave them on my desk rather than deal with wear and tear. So this is quite unusual. The badge on his bedside table, nah, that's normal. And I assume he puts his gun in a gun safe when he's at home and has reason to believe he's safe there. So that's THAT scene.

Additional data/speculation:
From the naked scene, there's a box and a vase or decanter or something on the table/mantel thing. Also note the ceilings and their height in this and other s1 eps. This Will Be Important Later.

More books and also a couple magazines on the coffee table, and maybe a coaster or two. This is where Renard spends his time reading and relaxing at the end of the day. Also of note, you know how everything in his condo is matchy-match? Well, having gone through a number of other people's homes, I think we can safely say he's the exception here. Catherine had a bit of it (and I would bet that's one of the places he picked up the tendency), but this seems to be one of the clearest delineations of class the set designers had in mind. Matching furniture means you're rich enough to buy 2+ of whatever you need. Non-matching (though in all cases so far quite tasteful) means you're picking up odds and ends as you have the discretionary budget to do so. As a general rule of thumb, and a general visual code, I mean - not as a truism for how the world actually works. And on the subject of Renard having no visible bookshelves in the public areas of this condo, I wonder where the fuck he keeps all his books, in that case.

Not much else new out of this ep, except to reaffirm that this is a huge place for a single resident, and one set up to entertain guests in a party atmosphere. Which I severely doubt Renard does. No, this is most emphatically a status symbol, and given the later photos may also serve as a reminder of what he's lost. It'd still be a big place with three people, but it wouldn't be as egregious, so I wonder if this was his family home before they died/became estranged/whatever the fuck they're doing with that.

Originally from Woman in Black recapalypse:
We get a good couple seconds as he creeps down the front hall, which means a good look at four out of five of the pictures hanging on the wall over to his right. Going from closest to the door top to bottom, we have the picture of Renard airplaning his little girl looking up at her; although we can only see his face we can still recognize both the expression and tilt and the background from a couple seconds later on. Below that we have a woman in a blue shirt and a white sweater, arms crossed in front of her. Next we have the little girl herself, in what looks like a white blouse or dress with a Peter Pan collar and a pink sweater. Could someone with a more Christian background tell me if that might be a First Communion dress under there? Just for shits and giggles. (A: I'm voting no, that looks more like a first day of school dress. Insufficient white.) Then on the far side we have a landscape/building type picture of the sort he has in his office. The glare is too acute for me to see the top far picture. There's a few things this tells us, the first one being that there are two women in his life whom he is or was close to. Their pictures are all over his condo where there is very little else in the way of personal touches that aren't also status symbols. None of these pictures are the kind that evokes 'look how rich and powerful I am', they're family portraits, focused on the people in them and little else. The second one, sadly, given the kind of threats he seems to be expecting, is that these two ladies are most likely out of his life and beyond reach. Whether that means dead or whether he has cut himself off from them so completely that they can no longer be used against him, sent away, publically alienated either by pretense or accurately, it's hard to say. But the fact that these pictures are out where any number of the people breaking into his apartment could see them (and that's another reason for these repeated break-ins to gall, they are breaking into his sanctuary and touching his connection to his old life, tainting it) means that he no longer fears someone finding out about them and using them as leverage. Which is incredibly sad. Three, it gives us a glimpse of a whole other Renard. Note that in these pictures, what you can see of them at least, he doesn't look like he's wearing anything formal. The girl's all sprawled on the couch. These are, again, not posed photos. At one time Renard was a family man who loved his wife and daughter deeply, and was able to laugh and have fun spending time with them. And now all he has, clings to, in fact, are a few photos and his wedding ring.

And the man continues to remind me of my childhood with his tapestries, fine art, and hardback books everywhere. Just off a quick count there are about twenty books on the table against the tapestry, or that were on the table before they got knocked everywhere, five or six on the living room floor at first glance and more than that as he comes around into the living room, I stopped counting by now. This tells me that if he came home and somehow didn't have to do any paperwork, he would probably spend his leisure time quietly reading on the couch or in one of the chairs. Lamps overturned, chair stuffing pulled out, this is a really shitty job of looking for something as small as a set of coins. The drawers should be out of that sideboard and not just dangling, the pictures should be off the wall and so should that tapestry, and, okay, I'll stop mentally destroying Renard's apartment now.  

... No I won't. Okay, all that kitchen equipment tossed, but Kimura leaves the bowls and what appear to be an excessive collection of stainless steel travel mugs up on the top shelves untouched? Come on! At least grab one of those de-stuffinged chairs to stand on so you can look in there? If I were Renard I'd totally hide something in a tall place where probably no one else can reach. Renard comes into his destroyed kitchen, about which he probably gives no fucks because he clearly doesn't use it, and finds his housekeeper, about whom he gives several fucks.

Speculative digression over! Kimura is getting tired of not getting the answers he wants, and goes over to Renard's kitchen and pulls out a giant boning knife? I have no idea what that is and even less idea what it's doing in Renard's kitchen, considering the man seems to use that kitchen less than I use my Facebook account. The one I don't have.

Additional data/speculation:
I don't think we've mentioned before that he lives on the 16th floor, have we? He does. At least it's not a multiple of 7, because then I'd have to consider smacking people with dead fish. Also, that's not the same elevator we see in Season of the Hexenbiest - or if it is, it's been redecorated. I mostly note this because of the fucking crosshairs on his head in SotH. Sigh. Anyway, there's at least two elevators in that bank of them, and possibly another bank of elevators at the other end of the hall, so it's not a major discontinuity. Moving inside his apartment and noting Kitty's talk about reading on the couch/in a chair, I'm going to continue voting for couch. If for no other reason than the image of Renard sprawling all over that couch amuses me, since he's practically big enough to be a couch for small people like me and Kitty. I spend awhile going oh Renard over the pictures again, and then pop my head back up. You know, that kitchen trash can looks awfully small for as much takeout as I'd expect him to eat. Just saying. Also, for as much as I complained about the Schades' houses feeling cold and/or superficial, and as much as I can see that influence here? I can also see hints of someone who genuinely likes all the books and tapestries and things that are status symbols. Whose public persona is colder than the private one - look at the color differences in the cool neutrals and darker colors in the public spaces as compared to the warmer neutrals in his bedroom. (Either of the bedrooms we see, for that matter.) It's a very modern aesthetic, too, which doesn't mean as much to us until we see Eric's very traditional, old school castle in season 2. Renard is deliberately trying to distance himself from that kind of an aesthetic, and coming up with something that retains only the elements that are meaningful to him from his past. Oh honey.

Those are a lot of kitchen gadgets. I don't have the faintest why he has them except maybe on the grounds of "normal rich people have these, right?" I really have to wonder, between the big Renaissance looking portrait over the fireplace and the one on the wall dividing the kitchen from the hallway? If those are supposed to be ancestors of his, perhaps ones he chose to display either to emulate or to remind himself what not to be. Hard to say without more data. Wine glasses, box of some kind?, cheese grater, bowls, mugs, I'm going to crack up at how the mugs are on the top shelf and I expect they're one of the things he uses frequently. And AGAIN with the playing cards. Renard, who the fuck do you invite over to your place for a game of cards? Really? Or is that just for some kind of poker symbolism I'm not getting because I don't play the game. Nothing else much of note from this ep, it's hard to get many details when there's a bunch of furniture stuffing scattered over the living areas. I will say that the set designers LOVE lighting everyone's homes with lamps; I think the island light in Renard's kitchen is the most overhead lighting we've had out of everywhere I've analyzed so far.

Originally from The Kiss recapalypse:
We get a good look at his bathroom counter here: a container of q-tips, a toothbrush holder with THREE toothbrushes, for which I have no explanation unless his wife and daughter are somehow still in his life. (That, or he’s Patrick Jane style crazy and keeps the signs of multiple prior inhabitants in his more private living quarters. Or I suppose it could be a mis-set from the crew? But given the care they’ve taken with all other aspects of decoration, I’m not betting that way. Or it could be Adelind, only, again, three? Or he travels, but they don’t look like travel toothbrushes. This is especially confusing because there aren’t any other toiletries out, though it appears that the mirror doubles as a medicine cabinet and there’s under-counter storage. That is an EVIL detail to give us, writers.) A man’s razor, which is no surprise given how clean-shaven our dear Prince always is, a hand towel, what looks to be a bottle of aspirin, and what I’m guessing is a bottle of shaving cream. Another hand towel, matching, a box of kleenex, a bar of soap in a soap dish, and a hand soap dispenser visible on his left side. Clean, sparse, utilitarian, but also with an overall eye to aesthetics in the base decor of the bathroom - exactly what we’ve come to expect from Renard.

We get a shot of his bedroom and that’s about the point at which we realized that this can’t possibly be the same condo we saw last season. The ceilings are much lower than the original and the architecture, the layout of rooms and halls, is far different. Timeline-wise, that’s probably still an active crime scene, or only just been released, best case scenario. Even if Renard’s been able to get it cleaned up, I wouldn’t blame him for wanting a new condo, given that every obnoxious Wesen associated with various deadly societies seems to know how to find him now. Still, some of those paintings look familiar, so I’m betting he managed to liberate some of his paintings, books, etc. from his old place. The bedroom looks similar in layout to his bedroom from Three Coins, but warmer. I think there are more paintings overall, and the walls are that warm terracotta color. The bookshelf is small and ill-suited to holding books instead of nick-knacks, but he’s making it work and stacking it full of old-looking tomes. This place almost feels like a hotel suite, in some respects - I think the way Renard moves around it is less confident, less habitual, simply because he’s been here less than two days, a large portion of which he’s spent at work.

We interrupt this purification spell to note that Renard is somehow incredibly rich, or arm-twisted the families into paying/helping to pay for his original condo. The architecture of the windows and doors suggests that his new place is in the same building; Roiz has stated on Twitter that Renard has a penthouse in the Pearl, which goes for somewhere in the 2-2.5 mil range. A second, smaller condo would still run him a good 2-4K a month. As an estranged bastard son, his access to that kind of wealth is highly intriguing, and indicates a number of possibilities for how he acquired it. Unfortunately, anything we can speculate would only be speculation, since we don’t know when exactly Renard showed up in Portland. Still, it’s worth mentioning here, so we can see what future data might tell us.

Additional data/speculation:
Not much else on the bathroom, except to note that the ceilings are lower than in the rest of the place. And I sort of wonder about the matching hand towels, except in a bathroom that size it does kind of make sense to have two, at least if there are two exits to the bathroom. Which there seem to be. Stupid layout. Also, if this is a very upscale hotel room or a guest condo under the same management as his current place, as Kitty and I suspect, it would make sense for it to be laid out for multiple guests. That could explain the extra toothbrushes, in retrospect - two laid out by the staff, plus the one Renard brought with him. Honestly, the more I look at this place, the more it feels like somewhere the condo management stuffs guests or tenants whose places have to undergo renovation for whatever reason. The ceilings are fairly high but not as high as the ones in Renard's penthouse, the decor is warm but impersonal, and the abstract paintings aren't quite what I'd expect out of him. Not for his bedroom, since he seems to lean toward blank walls there from what little we saw. Though I doubt he'd put any of those portraits in the bedroom, either, because creepy. Anyway, the layout's all wrong, too, based on the placement of windows as established in s1 shots. Based on this and, as we'll see, later eps, I'm not as sure as I started out that this is a second condo that's all Renard's. But, and this is a large qualifier, without someone saying one way or the other, I'm not ruling out any possibilities, either. Except for the one where it's a part of his original condo, because unless the set designer really screwed up, the layout just doesn't work.

I'm fairly sure, having spent some time staring at the portrait by the kitchen in Woman in Black, that the portrait on the wall outside the bathroom is the same or at least a close cousin to it. And I use that word advisedly. This hallway also looks quite a bit like a warmer version of Adalind's, actually. I suspect that's because the visual markers they're using for wealth are similar throughout, and all the wealthy people are tied together in some way. (Except for Juliette, who has no business owning a house that big with veterinary school loans to clear, but we don't know much about her family and we'll get to that later.) This is also a very open layout; not that the penthouse wasn't but I can't actually see a door between the hallway and the bedroom, which is a bit odd.

When next we see Renard in this bedroom, it's about two and a half months later (at least, going by one ep = one week) and we're too distracted by the fact that he's passed out drunk and he's drinking fucking Lomharach scotch to take much note of the room. (Plus Kitty was letting me do my essay series; that's our story and we're sticking to it.) I would like to reiterate the part where putting a portrait in your room of someone you never personally knew (I'm assuming here, but that painting looks Renaissance era again) where it's watching you sleep is fucking creepy. Renard, why would you do that. There's the abstract painting over his bed that reminds me of something out of Adalind's house still, and a couple smaller pictures that look like the sort of landscapes he commonly has around. Also, Dutch angle! Running purely off memory, I believe this is the first high Dutch angle we have of Renard's living quarters, just in case we'd forgotten how much they'd fallen in love with this camera angle this season. There's a medium height bookcase (it looks taller than it is due to the angle) with a box in brass or bronze on top, along with a small pile of mail. The angle making the bookcase look taller also serves to remind us of how tall Renard is, if he's using the top of a bookcase for a place to dump stuff when he comes in. The warm terracotta walls look somewhat less cozy in the cooler light of day as opposed to the warm lamplight we saw in The Kiss, particularly when the blue curtains are taken into account. There's a ficusy thing off in the corner between the bed and the French doors which lead out to a patio; though we can only see a chair out there from this angle I'd bet there's a table as well. There are three lamps we can see at the moment, two bedside and one in the corner behind the armchair. Said chair doesn't actually look suited to Renard's size, furthering my belief that this is a more temporary set of quarters, possibly a hotel room. The bedding is similar in color and texture to the set from Three Coins, though we have white sheets instead of tan/gold, and a bolster has been added at the foot of the bed, which is a bit odd. Gorgeous hardwood floors, as per usual in pretty much every home we've seen; if they're that common and/or cheap I'm totally moving to Portland. Bigass area rug that has a large and striking pattern on it, which is not what I would expect of Renard either. Beyond the foot of the bed, under the creepy portrait that is not, in fact, the same as the one at the beginning of Island of Dreams though the woman in it looks like she could be related, dammit you guys. Ahem. Under that is a small bureau with some books in the center, a vase off to the left, a round wooden box and some paperwork including some kind of a Moleskin/notebook or something, and then I think the smaller objects are phone and wallet but I wouldn't swear to it. When we zoom in on Renard we see the fucking Lomharach bottle and dammit I wish that scotch really existed so I could try it. A blurry clock radio on the far bedside table, also not really Renard's style; it's too big and blocky, I would guess. Plus we saw nothing of the sort in his old bedroom. As he fumbles for his phone we get the high Dutch angle again, coming around enough to show us an open book and an empty glass (of I hope water to fight the hangover but I doubt it), and then as we zoom again I believe those are his cufflinks. Excuse me, drooling over men who can wear French-cuffed shirts. Or possibly a tie-pin; a man as tall as that would need one because the short end of the tie doesn't actually tuck into the loop. Look, I have a tall husband, I know this shit, much to my dismay. On the shelf under the near nightstand there's a wood or leather box of some kind, which I expect holds cufflinks/tie-pins/etc. And that's all we get out of this scene!

Finally, we have the scene with Adalind in Season of the Hexenbiest. This is back at Renard's penthouse, and while I'm not sure we're going to get anything new out of it, it's worth checking to be sure that everything really did get put to rights there. My best guess is that he did spot the second tail, and chose to go back to the home everyone already knows about and invades semi-regularly anyway. Poor Renard. The kitchen and portrait near it look like they're back, though the Verrat Henchjager is standing in front of it so I can't be sure. Adalind comes in, I check the hallway, though I can't see what's in those pictures it looks like the right number of frames, at least. It's difficult to make out a lot of detail due to the low lighting, but it looks like the tapestry and everything on the narrow table on the other side of the entranceway is also back to rights. Complete with all the old books ever. I want his library. To complement mine, not to replace it. A closer shot of the sideboard with the decanter etc. under the abstract painting than we've had before; sadly, it doesn't last long or pan to the right enough for me to get much. Except I think that's a bird figurine of some kind on one of the lower shelves, and given the long tail I wonder if it's meant to be a peacock, signifying Catherine's buried but still-present influence. The rest of this scene is shot on an upward angle, making Adalind look taller and therefore scarier, while shooting Renard from about her height. Emphasizing that they're almost equals in power at this point, but that's not why we're here. It looks like the glass table and lamp by the windows are back, along with one of the armchairs in each corner, but we're stuck on closeups for reaction shots, so I can't actually say a damn thing about the rest of the living room except that I would be very surprised if Renard were using that as a staging area when it's not fully back to rights. Additionally, the fact that all his stuff is still there makes me think that the new bedroom is very much a bolthole for him where he can feel safer. Oh honey.

Renard's living quarters back up the notion that he's a man who likes the finer things in life, both personally and professionally. He favors the new in appearance but the old for substance; we need only look between the kitchen and the library or the paintings to determine that. He finds comfort in surroundings that are similar to the court in Europe in quality without reminding him of them in actuality, and he surrounds himself also with portraits of people who are presumably his ancestors, to remind him of his goals. He at one point had a family whom he still loves very much and is of at least equal importance as his ancestors to said goals, which means there's a strong likelihood of revenge motivation alongside whatever higher ideals he holds. Overall, the living quarters only strengthen and deepen our impressions of Renard as a driven, passionate man with immense self-control and capacity for long term planning.


  1. Thank you again for such detailed analysis. I am especially happy about your obvious empathy for Renard. His life must really suck.

    On the topic of playing cards: you can play solitaire/patience with those. Although I wouldn't really see him as the type to while away time with patience when he has old books around. But more likely than poker in any case.

    1. It MUST. I will admit that my/our empathy is in many ways a reaction to a lot of very thoughtless comments about how this is all Renard's fault and he needs to stop being so creepy. Guys, he's trying.

      Mm, that's a good point, but yeah. I see them as more the sort of thing he's expected to keep around and no, self, we are not going to go back and look to see if the edges are foxed at all. I'm sure the set designer didn't put THAT much thought into it and it's a new pack of cards. Ahem. /obsessive detail-hunting