The Blackwell Franchise: Joey and Rosangela Aren't Very Good at their Job (3400 words)
In my long article about The Blackwell Franchise I claimed that Rosangela and Joey don’t do their job very well as instead of giving the ghosts what they want and let them leave peacefully, they trick them into realising that they’re dead before forcing them into Rosa’s mind and into the white light.
I thought it was an interesting idea in that it suggested that the ghost stories had to hint at a different and gentler possible resolution.
Special ability: None, but she scares dogs like most ghosts.
I actually think that Alli is one of the rare ghosts who is made aware of her death properly. She wanted to be a veterinarian, died and now haunts a dog park complaining that “they all run away.” Joey and Rosa bring her a dog and Alli realises that she is dead because she cannot feel the animal’s breath. In my opinion, once she’s had what she wanted she should be able to disappear without Joey and Rosa’s help… but they chat about the Deacon and then send her straight in Rosa’s mind so it doesn’t tell much.
Special ability: Can be heard crying for help in the dreams of the women he targets.
The Deacon is already a special case as he knows that he is dead, so there’s no private affair to sort out before he becomes aware and ready to go into Rosa’s head. He only asks for a bodyguard that would accompany him to the white light, that which Rosangela does properly as she gets rid of a demon.
Special ability: Provoked a series of accidents on a construction site.
Mavis Wilcox is a morbid mother who asks for too much attention from her son. She dies in her apartment after having stayed in the place way to many years secluded from the world. Her ghost still waits. What she wants is that her son come and get her. Sam didn’t want to do that because there’s a story of emotional blackmail behind this I suppose. Joey pretends to be Sam and manages to make her leave the construction site (the building where she lived has been destroyed) by pretending that they’re looking for a gift that her son gave her. Once outside, Mavis’ illusion collapses and she realises that she is dead and was duped. She didn’t truly get what she wanted and is pissed off at Joey and Lauren for the trick they played on her.
Special Ability: Can play the saxophone and be heard by the living.
Isaac Brown plays the saxophone on the promenade near queensborough bridge. He used to play in a band with his sister and Cecil B. Sharpe. I believe that Isaac was in love with his sister Sarah and that he subtly prevented her from entering a relationship with their pianist by forcing her to play a duet at the end of each concert to reassert his position. Sarah became ill, to me as a psychosomatic reaction, lost her voice and the will to live, and died. Isaac was destroyed, gave up on everything and died a homeless man. Obviously, he could be playing the saxophone as a ghost in hope that his sister joins him, but she is dead. So, in my opinion, he wants Cecil to play with him the part that his sister used to play as a sign that Cecil doesn’t hold him responsible for Sarah’s death… that which he is. He is looking for absolution from the man whose life he destroyed. Lauren and Joey record Cecil on a tape and play it in front of Isaac who very quickly realises that he’s not playing with his sister but is happy nonetheless. He approximatively got what he wanted, just like Mavis Wilcox. Truly both ghosts should have been left alone to realise that they should move on without obtaining satisfaction.
Special ability: None
A few ghosts don’t need a special ability to provoke the events that they want to see happen. Allen Reiken fell from his office window and died. He was contemplating suicide after his company went bankrupt and his wife left him. While dealing with him, Rosa can try to pass off as his wife but fail to convince him. What this ghost desires is simply that the woman who left him shows up in his office because she feels sad. He simply wants to see that she loved him. If he had a special ability to draw attention to him, this would weaken the meaning of her visit. This ghost can only wait and hope.
Joey makes him realise that he is a ghost by bringing him to try and jump from the building, it’s not as poetic as bringing Sandra (the wife) to Allen.
Special ability: Can be heard reciting lines by a specific person.
Frank is an actor who worked on a few movies produced by Monique Stalhman. She trusts and respects him as a professional, but truly she has feelings for him that she doesn't seem capable of confessing. She carries on jogging every morning near the place where he died. She kept his cat, and she did not have the apartment he occupied, and which is owned by the company, emptied or cleaned. The resolution that the ghost is looking for here, is simply for Monique to pass by, hear him and answer him with the lines of the movie, which are farewell lines. Rosa does it instead, mess it up and Frank and Monique never gets to know they had feelings for each other.
Special ability: She can strangle alive men and attack ghosts.
Jocelyn Contis keeps on repeating that she needs to save people. And as Joey is the last ghost that she “saved” before everything went wrong for her, I suppose it’s still him that she is obsessively trying to send into the white light. That’s how she would reach peace, by “saving” Joey... that which puts her in a very peculiar position as Joey is far from being the most easy-going of ghosts.
Special ability: Driving a yacht as well as shooting parts of his spirit as if he had a gun.
Ryan Jacobs stole 2 million dollars trom the bank where he worked for thirty years and from which he was fired because he became less efficient after his wife died. So obviously, he is not waiting for his wife to join him like Allen Reiken.
When she enters the driving cabin, Ryan shoots at Rosangela and she protects herself with her arms: if the ghost had had the power to make his bullets interact with the living, she was dead meat. She took a very stupid risk... even more so when Joey had been hurt by the bullets. My point is, I believe that Ryan’s unconscious desire includes not being disturbed. How can you solve his situation without talking to him ? By taking his money. I think that Ryan Jacobs simply doesn’t want to see his money returned to the bank. He stole it as a revenge, the police didn’t find it, now he wants to see it make a random person happy. Again, Joey and Rosa will screw this up.
Special ability: Calling Rosangela's phone.
At first I thought that Jeremy’s reason to remain amongst the living as a ghost was to either see Rosangela one last time and maybe talk feelings or to have the pleasure to investigate something with her. However, I now think that things go a lot deeper than that. Why is Jeremy looking into the world of mediums, psychics and manipulators ? Rosangela meets Danny Marconi and his grand-daughter thanks to Jeremy. In his notebook she reads: “She is a victim but she doesn’t think she’s a victim at all, she embraces it. I wish it was uncommon, but unfortunately it’s not.” In my article I wrote that Jeremy was some sort of last chance at obtaining everything that she’s missed in the previous episodes: a sex life + a love life + material comfort = a life. But Jeremy is all that plus the realisation that she is being manipulated.
He explains to Rosangela that when she left the Village eyes, everybody followed. It sounds a lot like people were coping with their mediocre jobs for her. As she vanished, all these suitors moved on to other women except Jeremy who loved Rosangela just a bit more. Because of that, he was hurt, intrigued by or worried about how this shy and passive girl suddenly decided to quit and he somewhat kept himself informed of what she was becoming. It might sound far-fetched but actually, it is specified in the game that she writes books about her adventures (“The Deacon” and “The actor and the artist”) and the first subplot of Deception happens because she was contacted by someone as a spiritual consultant (She has a card !). So really, the "in love" journalist that Jeremy is necessarily knows what’s happening in Rosangela’s life… that which brings me back to his investigation. I believe Jeremy considered that Rosangela was being manipulated and a victim of something big and wanted to get her out of it. This would be his unconscious desire as a ghost: having Rosangela escape the influence of whoever is manipulating her. Unfortunately, she forces awareness upon him and “saves” him before she gets to the bottom of things... and before any declaration of love is made.
Special ability: Manages to attack Gavin.
Lisa Tenzin is the grand-daughter of Danny Marconi the man that Joey died to protect. She explains that because of that story, Danny made his children and grandchildren feel unworthy of being alive because unworthy of Joey’s sacrifice. As a consequence she’s become incapable of feeling guilty or at least she refuses to let this feeling influence her. She dies while trying to run away. She remains as a ghost because she wants someone to tell her that Danny was an imbecile (Rosangela maybe ?). One thing is certain though, Joey could tell her who he is, and who better than him could be convincing while telling her that Danny was stupid to make his family feel guilty for something they had nothing to do with ? But why would he be nice and understanding when he can be an asshole ? And so he blames Lisa, and blames her again and forces awareness upon her when he just needed to say “I’m the man who sacrificed himself for you grandfather and if I had known the consequences I wouldn’t have done it” and she would have moved on without any help. Before attacking Gavin, she states “maybe my grandfather was right.” Well, no he wasn’t, he was a hypocrite and a coward. Joey's behavior is all the more suspiscious as he do agree with the fact that Danny Marconi was stupid to react the way he did.
Special ability: None.
Tiffany Walters fell in love with Ken Sharpe, son of Cecil B. Sharpe. Cecil, in Unbound, already looks like a Casanova but we have to remember that he’s lived through the most horrible love story you can have: he was in love with Sarah Isaac, she died before they could be together. So, it’s understandable that he should have a more superficial approach when it comes to women. Lauren could have been the one to heal his wound but she fails miserably because of her medium duties. Now, it’s Ken Sharpe who cannot find the strength to follow his heart and drives a girl mad with sadness. I’m not exactly certain of that, but I do believe that Tiffany isn’t the idiot she seems to be and that Ken isn’t as distant as he pretends to be. And thus, the right resolution of this subplot would have been to bring Ken Sharpe to admit that he had very serious feelings for Tiffany but couldn’t bring himself to confess them or act upon them because => family trauma.
Another possibility would be that Tiffany became crazy about Ken Sharpe as a desperate move to avoid becoming aware of her homosexuality. She ditches a female friend of hers for Ken Sharpe. And so, her resolution would have been to make her go back to her female friend.
Special ability: She can kiss ghosts.
Jamie Graham was overwhelmed by life in the city and decided that everything that she was, was ridiculous. She changed and became superficial, and thought that the best thing she could give a man was her body. Joey seduces her and makes her go through the same pathetic ritual that you can witness in nightclubs every week end. The girl who tries to convince herself that she’s gonna have sex with a guy and it’s going to mean something when actually he’s just another desperate ego-boost amongst others and she is too. Her boyfriend is in the club and she could simply be brought to see that he still thinks about her. I can’t quite fathom the kind of interaction she could have had with him as she doesn’t seem to have any particular ability as a ghost.
Simply, both Tiffany and Jamie could have had a conclusion in which they are not just stupid girls repeating the same mistake.
Special ability: He managed to resurrect. Knows how to tap into people's positive energy in order to strengthen himself.
Gavin is killed by Rosa. He could have left no ghost behind him. I cannot exactly see why he comes back except for the fact that he rejects death and immediatly plans to siphon positive energy from someone. I can't see how he could "move on" in a normal manner.
Special ability: none.
Mary Meehan was an actress who was so humiliated by a particularly scathing review that she couldn’t cope with being Mary Meehan anymore. She hid in the ruins of a building amongst other pariahs. I think that her goal is to know for sure that she’s disappeared from the surface of the earth without living a trace. She doesn’t want people to know that she died out of shame. So, simply, as soon as the police would have decided that she’s a Jane Doe, she would have been satisfied. Sadly, Joey and Rosangela had to come nosing around. They identify her and what does Joey say about her ? “You wouldn’t know it from looking at her (that she used to loo beautiful). The ghost upstairs looks like life chewed her up and spat her back out.” That’s exactly how Mary Meehan didn’t want to be remembered.
And so, again, the ghost saving ends up meaning: nothing matters. Mary was humiliated by an asshole ? It’s fine. She died alone and ashamed ? It’s fine. She wasn’t even given the consolation to be remembered as a beautiful bad actress. It’s fine. Everything’s fine, nothing means anything. Thank you Joey and Rosangela.
Special ability: Playing the piano.
Kendra Haskins took a bullet in the arm and bled to death, I can’t even remember who shot her. What I can remember is that she dies because her mother hides her in a secret place in their cellar because she is afraid that the poor little girl is going to have her soul torn when she dies like other members of the Grace group (of which she never was a member). So, the little girl dies because the mother is scared of what’s gonna happen when she dies. It is clearly stated later on that if she had brought Kendra to the hospital, the girl would have survived.
Rosa and Joey bring Kendra to her dad’s apartment when they believe that if she becomes aware of her death, she might get her soul torn. They are taking a huge and useless risk instead of simply bringing the father to the daughter. More, Emil Haskin would thus have been able to hear his daughter play the piano melody that she couldn’t wait to play for him.
Lia Pierro (Ex-member of the Grace group)
Special ability: None.
Like all the other members of the Grace group, Lia Pierro will see her soul be torn apart. On the level of meaning, this tearing of the soul underlines the fact that the ghost doesn’t have a real past life because he rejected it and thus cannot exist. Lia Pierro was happy with Emil Haskin but she was driven more ambitious, became a cop and married George Ostin (Less of a loser than Emil) as a result of her attendance to the Grace group.
After Joey and Rosangela have saved Kendra (and were very lucky that she wasn't truly threatened), Lia shoots herself in the head in hope that they’ll manage to have her reach the white light. They fail miserably.
Again, on the level of meaning, if Joey and Rosangela had brought Emil Haskin to Lia’s house, he would have been able to hear his daughter play the piano and he would have prevented Lia from shooting herself. The threat of the torn soul would thus have been postponed and Lia would have had the opportunity to realise that she had been completely stupid to leave Emil. We can see that they still have a lot of respect for each when reading their e-mails, they didn't have a real reason to split.
By making peace with her past self, by acknowledging that her new life was a stupid mistake, Lia would have reformed a bond with her true self and escaped the threat of having her soul torn.
George Ostin (Ex-member of the grace group)
Special ability: None.
I don’t think there’s anything Joey and Rosangela could have done for George Ostin’s soul.
Peter Fielding (Ex-member of the Grace group)
Special ability: None.
Peter Fielding’s story is complex. The most obvious aspect is that he is homosexual. I thought his working in a gym was a sign of the fact that he was fine with his sexual orientation, when actually it could be the contrary. Physical exercise is often used in movies, as an indicator that the character is trying very hard to control their body because their libido is a trouble for them (Ex Machina, Commando, Silence of the Lamb). So, managing a gym might be an indicator of his suppressed libido and not the contrary. He dies by changing a lightbulb in the locker rooms. Lightbulb = understand something, eureka. Men locker room = he is aroused. Why would he die because he realises that he is aroused by men ? I don’t know.
My guess is that he left the Grace group because he was attracted to the priest (Cooper or Palmer?). Running his manly-macho-wife-beating-father’s gym is an avoidance of his sexual desires. When his soul is eventually torn, it is sliced horizontally, his mind and his libido are in conflict.
Of course, to save him properly, Joey and Rosangela should have discovered that he was homosexual. That which would have actually made a big difference on another level as Joey too is a repressed homosexual.
Tanya Corsey/Heather Goffstein (Ex-member of the Grace group)
Special ability: Split personality.
Heather used to be a prostitute. She fell in love with Jim Peebles, one of her client who worked for the news broadcast. She was ashamed of her situation and would never have tried to enter a romantic relationship with him. Instead, she joined the Grace group and found the incentive to transform herself entirely. She even changed her name and became Tanya Corsey (Corset ? Suffocating new identity ?). When Tanya Corsey joined the News team Jim Peebles recognized her immediately. However he was convinced that she did not recognize him. I’m pretty sure Tanya did everything she could to impress everybody -Jim acknowledges the fact that she was very good at her job and always nice- in order to earn Jim's respect, that she already had. The problem is that her seductive attitude, her popularity and the fact that she pretends not to recognise him, makes him think that he was nothing to her, that she despises him. Eventually, when she makes it to the top, Jim blackmails her out of spite and she is destroyed by the irony: she did everything to make herself acceptable to him, and all that he wants from her is her money. She perceives this backmail as an indicator of how much she disgusts him becauce she was a prostitute.
So, the proper conclusion to Tanya’s plot is to have Jim, Tanya and Heather reunited. This is not exactly what Joey and Rosangela do. And Heather's split personality ends up splitting her soul.
Special ability: Spirit Guide, Possess people.
Madeline “embodies” complete submission to a role and acceptation of a duty. What she needs to learn is that she is an individual. She possesses Lauren, Patricia and Rosa when they are at their weakest (and most sexually frustrated). I believe that to be properly saved Madeline would need to have sex (birth of desire and individuality), and thus would need to possess someone beforehand. She is a very complex ghost, but that’s why she also is a spirit guide. Her situation is unsolvable without a link with a human being. I have the feeling that she is attracted to Joey that which would add to the general irony of the story because if Joey had been attracted to her, she would have turned evil, but Joey is homosexual. He compliments her on how her necklace makes her eyes stand out, that's what she needs to move on, being acknowledged as a woman, a potential sex partner and an individual.
Her psychological situation is very similar to Joey's, they both suppress their libido and need positive energy to solve their problem, hence their turning into spirit guides...
The process of dying and going through the white light being natural, it shouldn’t need the intervention of any “worker.” I do believe that every single ghost story off Blackwell could sort itself out on its own. In the worst case, the ghost can slowly become tired of waiting, conclude “it’s not worth it” and be transported to the white light.
At worst, spirit guides and hosts can bluntly force ghosts to leave. At best, they can help ghosts to obtain/accomplish what they remain on earth for. In any case, hiding their ability to interact with the deceased to the people concerned by the deaths makes it a lot more complicated for Joey and Rosangela to bring all these stories to a satisfying end.