First impressions: Richard Armitage in Wolverine: The Long Night 1-2 [spoilers]

I’ve never seen any Wolverine films or read any comics. I decided, after trying to read the wikipedia article about Wolverine and drowning in the detail, that I’d go into this cold, with only a very basic awareness of the identity character, Wolverine. Also, I am making no comparisons to Hugh Jackman — the only thing I’ve ever seen him in was Kate and Leopold.]

Two episodes dropped this morning. After an hour-long struggle on two separate days to get my equipment to cooperate, I was finally able to listen on my desktop without a hassle.

A Thousand Ways to Die in Alaska

The context I can’t help but put this in is Richard Armitage’s recent audio works. Aurally and in terms of genre, this is most like “The Martian Invasion of the Earth” — it’s a radio drama with different actors, and it has a lot of sound effects / atmospheric insertions. I’m on record as enjoying this style of production and my reaction to this was no different — these are convincing, high quality atmospheric effects and they create a subtle, realistic, and textured background that nonetheless succeeds in creating an atmosphere of dread. The quality of sound is also closer or perhaps equivalent to the Big Finish presentation — much better than most of Audible.

The episode opens with an investigation by federal agents Marshall (Ato Essandoh) and Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) into some violent deaths on a fishing boat in Burns, Alaska. After consulting with local sheriff Ridge (Scott Adsit), who is suspicious of the outsiders, they learn that other suspicious and brutal murders have occurred in the community. The locals are also dealing with the intrusion of a creepy cult, Aurora, which broadcasts strange radio shows about the coming of “The Long Night.” The cult is led by Steven Washburn (David Call), whom the agents and the Burns PD confront about the deaths of the fishing boat crew. He is surprised by the news, and gives the agents some context about his fishing crew and a brutal experience they had when a man went overboard with a crewman named Sammy — who was in a trap and swears that he was released by another crewman — “the new guy,” who cut off his arm with claws. We can hear an ominous breathing sound in the background.

We hear Armitage at 26:30 for the first time, when Washburn recounts something “the new guy” said to Sammy. A single brutal line. At that point “the new guy” / Armitage jumped off the side of the boat. Washburn says he knows this guy was the killer and identifies him as Logan.

I would describe the first episode as ominous, but somewhat slow. The frightening ending — the story of Logan’s appearance — is played down and not melodramatic in any way. That may be good, but I’m not especially intrigued by this story or by the character. At this point, I would not be continuing if not for hoping to hear more Armitage. I would describe this story as something intended for fans of the character and/or his story lines.

Goodnight Nobody

Agent Marshall is out with Bobby (Andrew Keenan-Bolger), investigating the “bear mauling” of two women — the local murders referred to earlier. They discuss the aphorism that “everybody in Alaska is hiding something.” There’s some conflict over jurisdiction: should the federal agents be investigating these local victims? They describe the crime and its unusual force and brutality. When they interview the mother of one of the victims (Mrs. Reilly — Kathleen Garrett), they learn that the sheriff ignored some of the evidence that the mother gave about strange phone calls before her daughter Jessica’s murders. Asked about her daughter’s potential connection with the cult, the mother is dismissive (“they’re devil worshipers” — I had to laugh; this is exactly what a conservative Lutheran would say in a situation like this). Mrs. Reilly doesn’t believe the “bear mauling” story about her daughter or the other victim. “Goodnight nobody” is the tattoo on her daughter’s arm, a reference to the children’s bedtime story, “Goodnight Moon.” The agents conclude that the details, including a torn open car, don’t fit with the explanation of a bear attack.

Meanwhile, Pierce has met Logan’s landlord (Fredi Walker-Browne), who notes that Logan rented a run-down place from her that no one else would take, two months ago, and paid cash. She thinks Logan is odd and has observed him in odd behaviors. Pierce also asks the bartender about Logan — Mallory (Zoe Chao), who evades the question. Pierce, Marshall and Bobby (who’s a bit of a law enforcement tech fanboy and adulates the agents quite openly even as they disdain him) go out to Logan’s cabin, which is surrounded by debris. Their tech tells him that visible traces are about a day old.

Back at the office (?), Bobby and the sheriff argue about the agents. Bobby’s a fan; the Sheriff Ridge is suspicious. So we’re hearing this story from Bobby’s retelling of it to the Sheriff.

Back to Logan’s cabin: there’s a butchering station. The smell inside of the cabin is infernal. When they go back outside, they see that the squad car they were using has been badly vandalized, apparently by a group of feral children, the “Strawberry Kids.” Pierce and Marshall give chase and Pierce takes a strategic shot at one of the kids, intentionally not killing them. (In the office, the sheriff sees this as evidence of the agents’ violence.) Bobby gives them a backstory: they are survivalists or living off the grid or eco-terrorists or something, children of a late father (possibly died of illness, possibly attacked by someone named Joseph Langrock) who decided to live this day after his wife died. Marshall asks the Strawberry Kid (Jaiden Clark) questions about Logan. The Strawberry Kid was trying to help Logan, who warned him that people were coming after him.

The sheriff chastises Bobby for not being present at the interrogation. (This is confusingly scripted.) The agents find a book about “lay lines,” while the Strawberry Kid escapes. We learn that we’re hearing this conversation via bug on Bobby’s ear that the agents have placed there, and that Bobby has lied about some of it. They find a letter in the book.

Finally, Richard Armitage at 31:18, narrating the letter to someone named Maureen, explaining why he hated New Orleans, and his concern that “Weapon-X” is hunting him, as he is their property. He apologizes for leaving without explanation. In a violent incident in the city, he was protecting some victims and ended up on security camera footage and the news. There’s a kind of gross moment where you think he’s going to turn affectionate toward Maureen, but it’s serial killer-like ideation: he looks at her lightly clothed body and thinks about how he could kill her. He can’t turn off his violent impulses, and this made him run, alone: his desire not to hurt her. He hopes to escape Weapon-X by running away: and himself.

The voice is a variation on Daniel Miller, but more drawly / growly. More stirring than Daniel, and the first character reveal. He’s definitely not trying to make Logan especially sympathetic. It really recalls the vibe of the down-and-out Vietnam veteran of a generation or two ago.

The episode closes with the agents listening to an Aurora cult broadcast, which again references “Goodnight nobody.”

The snippet of the letter narration was intriguing, and I’m more interested in the character than I was, but I still would not be listening to this story except for Richard Armitage.

~ by Servetus on March 12, 2018.

8 Responses to “First impressions: Richard Armitage in Wolverine: The Long Night 1-2 [spoilers]”

  1. After sorting only some problems with Stitcher ( no laptop listening yet) I listened to this. I’m quite enjoying it, even if sometimes I’m confused ( the Aurora broadcasts, and I completely missed that Washburn was Aurora!) I thought the voice was closer to Dolarhyde than Miller – but whatever he’s doing, I’m liking it. I am frustrated by the podcast format though – I wish all the episodes were available.

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    • I think I misunderstood that. I found the script confusing in places.

      I think we have to put up with this because they are using it to sell their subscription service; I honestly hope if there’s more of this stuff that they’ll change their strategy but I’m not optimistic. Monday is really the worst day of the week to drop an episode.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps you did, because the fisherman/captain didn’t speak like the broadcaster ( which was apparently supposed to be on You Tube according to the interview?) Will the podcasts always drop on Monday? I’m still having some issues with the interface – no after show – but at least I have access. I will say that I mentioned to customer service Rep that they would not be happy if fans tweeted complaints about access – I referred him to Digital Theatre.

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        • What is the after show even called? I searched for it and didn’t find it (and then had to do some work). My assumption was they’d drop weekly. That’s what the articles have been saying, so I’ve been assuming if the first ones drop Monday, that was going to be the day of broadcast.

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  2. Thank you so much. Your fast and fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] first 2 episodes have been aired and I understand from Servetus’s blog (with spoilers!) and Perry’s blog (without spoilers) here and here, that it takes a while for Richard to […]

    Liked by 1 person

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