Tv Recap: Flesh and Bone, Season 1 Episode 2 “Cannon Fodder”

Starz Flesh and Bone.

This week’s episode of Flesh and Bone sees the show sliding firmly into the adult melodrama category, so let’s get right into things.

The episode opens with our ballerina heroine Claire’s brother Bryan figuring out where his sister has run away to by literally putting two and two together; the camera pans from a New York City poster and a Degas print opposite each other on her childhood bedroom wall that Bryan is staring at. That is some good old fashioned detective work, as he didn’t need to wait for that Google Alert after all. Soon he is sitting on a bus on his way to the Big Apple next to a chatty elderly gentleman, and the audience can sense that this is going to only end badly; for Claire, and for that talkative older man. Don’t mess with Bryan when he’s got his hood up and on a mission to mess with his sister’s life.

Degas "The Dancing Class". The print that Claire has in her childhood bedroom.

Degas “The Dance Class”. The print that Claire has in her childhood bedroom.

Meanwhile Claire’s living the dream in NYC, with her reluctant roomie Mia overreacting to Claire trying on her lipstick without asking. She childishly throws it away after Claire uses it as if she feels that Claire’s not only trying to take her spot in the company but trying to steal her look too. After getting directions from Romeo (his character could not have been more blatantly ballet themed, they might as well have named him Nutcracker Prince or Albrecht, but this a clearly a tragedy so Romeo fits nicely) Claire meekly sets off to Canal Street to buy a cheap white tie, and replace her phone she smashed after speaking with her brother. Things don’t get better for Claire, as once she gets to morning class she even gets shut down when attempting casual conversation about the little nest of baby birds in the studio window with her fellow ballerinas.
A small aside here, but watching company class is one of the best parts of the show, not just because the routine is so reflective of real ballet company life, but it allows the show to breathe a bit, and ease up a bit on the darkness and drama. More dancing, please!

In the ballerina changing room, a company administrator comes in, looking for Claire and mumbling that all the ballerinas look the same to her and that “they all need a ham sandwich”. This really cements the “us” and “them” feeling within the company and the show, the true physical and psychological split between dancers and non-dancers. Claire’s been given a present of some ridiculous Louboutin stilettos from Barneys in front of the rest of the girls, and because this is American Ballet Company they all clearly assume that Claire must have done something (or is going to do something) to have earned them. Poor Claire visits company director Paul in his gorgeous office to clear up if going to dinner with ABC uber rich chairman Laurent is mandatory. Paul makes it absolutely clear in his fabulously stern way that yes, of course, his dancers are expected to do what is necessary to contribute to the company’s success, and if sleeping with someone is the way to do it, so be it! On that note he kindly sends her out the door with a recommendation for the divine duck at the restaurant.

I am especially looking forward to this new bad ass alternative choreographer with the hair Paul does not approve of. Even though Ethan Stiefel is credited with only being a choreographer for the show, a not so small part of me wants the name Toni Cannavato be code for Cooper Neilson, so we can get some motorcycles on that stage.

Ethan Stiefel in Center Stage (2000)

Ethan Stiefel in Center Stage (2000)

We also get a peak into prima ballerina Kiira’s world, learning that the top ballerina is trying to come back from injury and expects to keep her tiara away from Claire. Her insecurities are revealed to their full extent when she visits her eccentric artist friend, and begs for a top up of her coke stash with an extra gram, moaning about “bitches half her age”.

Mia and company pianist have a sweet interaction, as Mia admits to still striving to be the ballet Beethoven, something Pashsa has long given up on. Because this is Flesh and Bone, it is highly likely these two involved in an illicit sexual affair, but I am choosing to take this at face value for an innocent interaction between friends.

Claire does go out on her “date” with Laurent, and zips up her new shoes pointedly in front front of Mia who is relaxing in the bath, and delivers a final blow by taking the lipstick out of the bin and using it before leaving. You showed her, Claire! Romeo offers Claire a pill to deal with her evening and some words of wisdom on her way out to dinner. Claire does end up taking this pill at the beginning of her night, and that mixed with wine leads her to reverting back into a Pittsburgh bumpkin and not impressing Mr Rich Chairman Laurent at all. Not to be put off, he practically demands she show up in his hotel room. There is a horrible scene where he undresses a clearly unwilling and high Claire, and she manages to be lucid enough to make herself throw up so he stops and ends up leaving her there to sleep it off in a pile of vomit. To be fair, if such a scene could be “tactfully” done, Flesh and Bone manages that. It’s not uncomfortable because it’s gratuitously graphic and over the top, it’s uncomfortable because of the content it portrays in a very matter of fact way. This whole segment of the episode is very upsetting, which is obviously the point. I just want Claire to catch a break.

But that doesn’t happen, and Claire wakes up, ditches the shoes and cries; seemingly broken. We are left with the horrible knowledge that her creeptastic brother Bryan has arrived at the Port Authority. Did we mention that Bryan knocked out his seatmate at a rest stop on his mission to get to Claire? Well, he did, so we know Bryan means business.

Prediction for next week: Claire’s probably about to hit rock bottom. She not only has to deal with the inevitable fall out from her evening out, and but there is also the massive surprise that Bryan has found her. There’s only so much one person can take!

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