Starz‘s Flesh and Bone Bulling Through TV Show Review. Flesh and Bone: Season 1, Episode 1: Bulling Through was the beginning of a series that introduced audiences into a world very few people outside of the performing arts know the inner workings of (until this series). Black Swan was a dramatic and brilliant window into that world. Flesh and Bone is another bridge into the profession of ballet but of a different variety, hitting the ground running as it picked up steam in its second and third acts.
When the viewer watched Paul Grayson (Ben Daniels) watching Claire Robbins (Sarah Hay) audition for the first time, the viewer realized that writers Moira Walley-Beckett and Bronwyn Garrity and director David Michôd put thought and time into Bulling Through‘s cinematography and its scenes. The camera never left Grayson’s face throughout the entirety of the audition. The viewer never got to see Claire’s movements. It was all in Grayson’s face, what he was seeing, and what he suppressed. This scene was initially presented a character moment for Claire, especially with what she had said moments before, but it was actually a character moment for Grayson.
A similar stand-alone audition happened later in the episode but this time the viewer got to see what Grayson was witnessing. It was as if, because of the assembled ballerinas (an audience), it was appropriate for the viewer to see it at that time as well.
The small-town-girl-in-the-big-city motif, seen a million times before, was present in Bulling Through (though Robbins was from the metropolitan city of Pittsburgh) but this time with a semi-crazed modification – the man that lived under the apartment’s outer staircase. Romeo (Damon Herriman) was one of the richest characters in Bulling Through, if not the richest (second only to Grayson, who was a delight to watch). Romeo was full of quirks, history, awkwardness, and oddities that at first were off-putting. Slowly, the viewer began to welcome his presence, as had the apartment (“domicile”) renters (there is no way he would still be there if people had complained to the apartment owner or the police).
Bulling Through presented some of the realities of being a ballet performer (e.g. losing a toenail), whether that is a professional ballet performer or an amateur one. These realities were used in Flesh and Bone as instruments to illustrate how physically tough Claire was even-though she was emotionally damaged.
The very jealousy that Mia (Emily Tyra) warned Claire of when she first arrived at the American Ballet Company, Mia, eventually, exhibited the most. I see Mia and Kiira (Irina Dvorovenko) quickly becoming the villains of series, one waiting for Claire to fall (and maybe taking an active role in that), the other seeking to protect what is hers by any means necessary. On the other side of the spectrum, I see Romeo becoming Claire’s emotional backbone, her greatest ally for what is to come.
What is to come, at least initially, is Claire’s brother Bryan Robbins (Josh Helman) and the twisted story-line that he brings with him. From the very first season of Game of Thrones, incest sex was a central issue of the series, creating a myriad of sub-story-lines and events. It wasn’t so much disturbing as impactful on the lives of so many characters on that TV show. Within Flesh and Bone, it was conjured as sickening from the outset. During the first act of the episode, the viewer believed that Claire was either running away from an abusive boyfriend (typical) or an abusive family member (also typical, unfortunately). The form of that abuse and the perpetrator of it were undisclosed until the closing moments of Bulling Through. It was a good hold-back by writers Moira Walley-Beckett and Bronwyn Garrity, rendering the reveal far more effective than it would have been had it been placed in the first or the second act of Bulling Through.
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