Christmas with a Capital C: Part 3
The judge comes to town, and it’s a pretty informal affair—she checks out the handmade nativity scene, then sits down with Dan, Mitch, and Willa to discuss options. (And yes, the judge is a she. Refreshingly and surprisingly to me, she is an older lady. She’s also fucking awesome.)
She’s very sensible and wants things to be settled with a minimum of fuss and drama, and tells them that if they want an official ruling, it’ll be for Mitch, but they have other options. I’ll present them, along with Dan’s very mature and Christian reactions:
Judge: Well, there are three options to consider. You could add to this as a holiday display and include elements of a non-religious nature or elements that are of other faiths.
[Dan sighs and looks away]
Judge: Or the city could donate or sell them, the statues and the platform, to a private individual, who can display them in another place, either on private property, or with permission in a public setting where there is equal opportunity for others to put up their own holiday displays.
[Dan looks away, rolls his eyes, and shakes his head]
Willa: And the third?
Judge: Don’t display them at all. But if you ask me, that would be a shame.
If there’s one thing this scene drives home, it’s that Dan is very, very unused to not having his own way. He’s not even being told “no,” here; he’s just being told that he has to make some kind of small compromise, and cannot have things exactly as he wants. But clearly this woman is just a pawn in Mitch’s evil scheme to “hold the town hostage.”
Dan: With all due respect, your honor, all three of those are ruining our town’s traditions that we’ve had over fifty years.
You’re ruining Christmas, Judge! RUINING IT!
Oh, and it’s nice to see how well Kristin’s campaign is working on Dan, eh?
But the judge is apparently used to dealing with privileged blowhards.
Judge: Or you could look at it as creating a new tradition. Moving the Christ child to another place of honor does no harm to his reputation. Perhaps you are concerned more about yours?
OH. SNAP. Hot damn, I did not see that one coming!
(And no, Dan does not take this criticism in an open-minded spirit. He looks away again, and opens his mouth with a “do you believe this?” look on his face.)
Also worth noting that Mitch and Willa thank the judge immediately, making eye contact, while Dan mutters his thanks while not even looking at her.
Dan has pouty time at the empty platform (in the falling snow, mind you, so we know he’s really being persecuted). He also sees that the bouncy, brown-nosing coach is wearing a Mitch-Bright-for-Mayor button.
Later that evening, we get a shot of Mitch coming home to his big, gorgeous log home…only to see that he’s camping on a couch in the living room. Weirdly, the set has been decorated with a roll of holiday wrapping paper. Wouldn’t have thought a RTC movie would put that in an atheist’s room.
The music of sadness plays as we see the loneliness of an atheist’s life: reduced to eating pizza in front of a roaring fire.
Actually, that sounds kinda awesome.
Back at the mayoral homestead, Dan is still moping, and dude, it is way past time for you to get over this. He is hunched over, head in his arms, while his wife and kids and Jesus play Monopoly. I can’t even imagine how he would cope if something actually bad were to happen in his life.
Typically, Dan wants everyone else to attend his self-pity party, but Kristin and FTS are pretty zen about the whole thing, and Makayla is sympathetic to Mitch, saying she’d be upset, too, if she was living as he does, all alone on a couch.
Well. If there’s one thing guaranteed to perk Dan right up, it’s the thought of Mitch being unhappy!
The family puts the pieces together: Makayla saw nothing in Mitch’s house other than a couch, so the U-Haul at the beginning of the movie must have been to cart things away from the house, to sell them! (This doesn’t seem the kind of thing you could keep under wraps in a town as full of busybodies as Trapper Falls, but whatever.)
Dan and Jesus laugh as they discuss Mitch’s presumed fall from grace (and riches). Their eyes light up. They chuckle into their hands. It’s pretty disgusting.
Kristin attempts to distract them for 2.3 whole seconds, reminding them that this is all none of their business. But Dan and Jesus are not about to let the little woman dissuade them. With a “terrorist fist jab,” they agree to a ROAD TRIP (by which they mean a plane trip) to check out Mitch’s old law firm. Which means they are flying their little plane from Alaska to San Francisco in order to dig up dirt on Mitch.
Remember, Dan is the one who thinks Mitch has a vendetta against him.
(Kristin looks aggravated in the above pic, but she’s more good-naturedly moaning that “the Reed brothers are scheming again“! Aww, those adorable scamps! Trying to ruin a man’s life!)
At the law firm, good Christian Dan lies to a fresh-faced young attorney, telling him that they are there to see Mitch. Dan continues to feign ignorance and asks for the name of the firm he went to after leaving this one, or a forwarding address, but FFYA is not down with that, as the firm is “protective” of former employees.
Sadly, FFYA is not so protective that he doesn’t reveal that Mitch made a bad investment and lost everything.
There is no possible way Jesus could be happier about this. This is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to him.
LOOK AT HOW HAPPY HE IS
I don’t say this very often, but dude needs to get laid. Maybe then his mind would be occupied by other things than reveling in the misfortune of others.
FFYA is yet another of our movie’s heroes, though. Naively taking Dan and Jesus’s word that they are friends of Mitch, FFYA gives them a wad of cash for him. Turns out Mitch was a total mensch, and gave FFYA a great start at the firm, letting him help with big cases, and getting him onto a rock star track.
FFYA: Just tell him it’s from an old friend or do it anonymously. I know it’ll be hard for him to take it, but he needs it. He really helped me out a lot back then. I just want to help him.
That is so sweet and so sensitive and so classy that I don’t even have words.
Now, all FFYA needs to learn is not to trust every neck-bearded, smirking asshole who walks in the door.
Back at the homestead, Dan and Kristin discuss how Mitch “lied” to everyone. Which is pretty hilarious coming from the guy who just flew some 3,000 miles to lie to the face of Mitch’s old friend.
And was Mitch supposed to call a town meeting and tell everyone he’s broke? Weird town.
Dan: Maybe people will forgive him when they find out the truth. Or we could just run him outta here on a rail.
Kristin: Oh yeah! That’d show him the real spirit of Christmas!
Dan: It’d sure feel good.
You monsters. You are both fucking monsters. I mean, Dan is a full-blown sociopath, but Kristin is enabling him, so she has definitely lost the Christmas-with-a-Capital-C high ground.
Also, it is implied that Mitch inherited his house and owns it outright, so how he could be run out of town is best left to Dan’s sick fantasies.
Teenage flirting. The big race. Girl wins. All pretty pointless except for the fact that Mitch is a no-show, along with the cruise ship business folks that he promised would be there.
Mitch shamefacedly shows up at the Reeds’ boat later that day, upset because the cruise guy cancelled and everyone must be disappointed.
Oh, did I mention that it’s Christmas Eve? Why did anybody, including Mitch, expect some big deal to go down today?
Then Mitch reveals that growing up, he was always jealous of Dan and Jesus. I like to think of this as Mitch’s crafty way to weasel into their good graces. Maybe one showing of humility will be enough to get them off his back, so he can do what needs doing, yanno?
I mean, probably not, since now that Dan and Jesus have laughed at Mitch for days, they can also pity him, as good Christians should.
BUT I CAN DREAM
Mitch wanders off and Jesus says to Dan:
“You gotta give him that money.”
Wait just one goddamn second. You weren’t going to give him the money, Dan? That money is Mitch’s. It is a gift from his friend. It is not now, and never was, your money, Dan.
Holy shit. Monsters. They are monsters.
Christmas pageant time, and as Josie comes to sit with Jesus and his family…
…Mitch is cold in his empty house. Like an evil atheist would be.
(By the way, not to be hard on a kid or anything, but Makayla’s pageant performance sucks on toast. She has, what two lines and she can’t remember them?)
And then Dan leaves, in the middle of his daughter’s performance, mind you (though she’s fine with it), and heads out to his truck. There, he contemplates the money and how many Bibles he could buy with it…
But the spirit of giving (people what is theirs) is in his heart, and he drives off with a purpose.
Mitch is busy getting all snuggly in front of his fire, but Dan, as usual, will not take no (answer at the door) for an answer, and eventually gets his way. Then he gives Mitch the cash and this weird exchange takes place:
Dan: It’s from an old friend. He asked me not to tell you who.
Actually, FFYA asked no such thing. He said Dan didn’t have to say who it was from. He also said Dan could do it anonymously, which probably would have been the kindest thing, as FFYA knew.
Mitch: How did he know where to find me?
Dan: You know who it’s from?
Mitch: Yeah, it’s the exact amount of money I lent him two years ago. He was working as a clerk and he and his wife were having a baby.
Wow. Color me naïve on the scale of FFYA, but that story sounds quite plausible. I know, we’re supposed to interpret it as Mitch just trying to save face, but Not Alec Baldwin delivers the line in a way that does not bespeak lying.
Makayla and Kristin have followed Dan, post-pageant, and are now outside Mitch’s house with a poinsettia.
Makayla: Can we come in?
Okay, Makayla, you’re a kid, so I’ll play ball: it is generally considered poor form to just show up at someone’s house at night and expect to be let in. Especially when it is immediately apparent that the homeowner has already turned in for the night. (And it is–Mitch has been snuggled on the couch for at least an hour now, and it shows.)
Your parents should be the ones to school you in such things, as they’re standing right there and all, but apparently they have no interest in doing so. But you can do better, Makayla—
Oh, hey! Looks like your mommy has invited the whole town over, too, because here they come with house-warming gifts.
Well, Makayla, your lessons in manners are screwed. As is Mitch.
Yanno, this would be quite sweet if they weren’t springing it on Mitch in the middle of the night. Guy was settled on his couch and has an empty house and…damn, it just seems so purposefully humiliating to do this all on their schedule.
HI MITCH! HOST OUR CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY IN YOUR EMPTY HOUSE! LEMME JUST SHOVE THIS USED PIZZA BOX OUTTA THE WAY AND WE’LL BE ALL SET.
I’m not sure this tops squatters buying a whole town’s worth of Christmas lights and stringing them on Main Street in secret, but it’s definitely in the same ballpark.
btw, Josie’s housewarming gift is awesome: it’s a tea kettle. I am going to forget that she sat with the Reeds, and hope that she and Mitch still end up together. She deserves so much better than that smirking troll.
Okay, I’m trying to be nice about this: at least Mitch can easily explain away the unfurnished house. Hell, the last time I moved, I was sleeping on an air mattress for 21 days, waiting for my furniture, and I wasn’t moving anywhere so remote as
Bedford Trapper Falls, Alaska.
Then again, I’m sure Dan and Kristin and Jesus have told everyone everything. And will never let anyone, least of all Mitch, forget.
Dan gives Mitch a condescending pat on the back as they head into the house.
But Mitch proves himself a much better human being than any Reed by being a total gentleman to the invaders of his home.
The most interesting shot of the whole “party”: Willa takes it upon herself to decorate Mitch’s lovely mantle with white holiday lights and…a “Mitch Bright for Mayor” poster.
A day or two later (or more, because who the hell knows with this film), all conflicts get resolved. Dan and Jesus have purchased the decorations and are putting them up on public property (I have no idea where—the shots are too tight to tell). Mitch drives up and it is clear that the impromptu party and the revelation of Mitch’s poverty and the spirit of Christmas have not affected Jesus one iota:
Jesus: I’m not ashamed of Jesus, Mitch. Never gonna be.
Jesus, for the last time. Nobody cares. Nobody likes you. Shut the frak up.
Mitch, as usual, takes the high road and refuses to be drawn into Jesus’s petty, ranting squabbling:
Mitch: Freedom of religion. It’s what makes America great, right?
Damn, two Wintermases in a row: Jordan Scoville and Mitch Bright—two atheists who are far, far too good for their tiny, oppressive, busybody, hateful towns.
Mitch has come by to show the
heroes assholes two things. The first is his motion to drop the complaint. Which is sweet of Mitch and all, but it’s a moot point since the evil, monster brothers actually went with the judge’s Option 2.
I admit I’m surprised that the nativity set never ended up back at city hall. Then again, when the next evil atheist moved to town, the issue would just arise again, and I think it is pretty clear that Mitch was proved to be Right All Along—many of the townsfolk were sick of the whole thing, but cowed into submission by the monster, ranting Reed brothers.
Oh, and the second thing? An e-mail from the cruise line guy that Mitch knows. The guy missed his plane and wants to have a big meeting in January with Mitch and other cruise people to bring more business into town.
Holy shit. Are we sure this wasn’t made by atheists as a Trojan Horse on film?
And the hits just keep coming: Mitch suggests that he head the Chamber of Commerce and go for a city council seat, in preparation for all the changes that are surely coming. He adds that he will be so busy that he’ll need to “set aside” his campaign for mayor.
Holy holy shit.
Mitch is playing the Long Game. HE IS PLAYING THE LONG GAME!!!!
Damn, but it is all so clear now. Mitch uses the revelation of his temporarily-poverty-stricken status to fool the Reeds into thinking he doesn’t have this all in hand. It’s like a Not So Weak come I Am Not Left-Handed.
Mitch will be running this town within three years, mark my words. “Set aside” my ass. Set aside for about 18 months, I figure. Until he has singlehandedly brought this town mad bank.
And in furtherance of his Long Game, Mitch wishes the monster brothers a MERRY CHRISTMAS and helps them set up the nativity scene.
Oh, I am on to your brilliant plan, Mitch Bright. Yes, I am.
He will frakking buy and sell your ass, Jesus. Best be ready.
Well, this movie turned out WAY better than expected.
I hereby nominate Mitch Bright for King of Everything.
What a glorious start to the Wintermas season. Next: on to Wintermas romance!