Monday, June 1, 2015

Master Keaton Case 6: White Goddess

Case 6:  White Goddess


Keaton arrives by boat to the Scilly Isles in Great Britain and is on his way to visit the Tomb of Guinevere.  After getting some directions from a kindly old woman, Keaton marvels at the sturdy stone road leading up to the tomb.  This road was made by the Romans which if you know your history shouldn’t surprise you.  The Roman Empire spread so far and wide that they reached both the West and Eastern hemispheres, and if memory serves there are notable walls built by the Romans in both Britain and Scotland (Hadrian’s Wall is in Britain).  Before he leaves Keaton is handed an apron by the woman doing her laundry.  She only cryptically tells him that he’ll need it and shoos him on his way.

As Keaton makes his way up the road to the Tomb of Guinevere we see just what advancements progress has brought to the Scilly Isles.  Bulldozers have crashed right through the ancient Roman road and knocked over gigantic monoliths without a second though.  As Keaton ambles up to the Tomb admiring the scenery a gun is aimed right at him.  Keaton dodges a few warning shots and quickly remembers the apron the old woman gave him earlier.

We see that the person shooting at Keaton is a woman named Professor Anna Plummer.  Keaton has been sent by Lloyds of London to evaluate the ruins she has discovered.  Anna is incredibly surprised to see Keaton and we find out the two are old friends from Oxford who took the Archaeology program together.

Anna is fighting desperately to protect the Tomb from bulldozers and other threats of progress.  She believes it is the last resting place of Queen Guinevere but Keaton disagrees, saying he thinks it’s an antechamber.  Apparently the owner of this small island, Lord Langley, refused to let even an expert excavation team from Oxford look at the Tomb.  But after months of meeting with him Langley agreed to let Anna excavate the Tomb herself for study.  However unfortunately Lord Langley died about a month ago and his ne’er-do-well son has taken to destroying the island’s landmarks to make way for tourist attractions and casinos.  Keaton offers to go back to Lloyds to make his report after hearing what exactly is going on but Anna tells him that by tomorrow morning the entire hillside will be completely leveled to make way for a major roadway.

Anna quickly changes the subject and asks if the rumors she’s heard from friends are true:  that Keaton really got divorced.  Keaton seems really embarrassed by this (whether it’s because Anna is asking this or just the fact that his old college friends seem to keep rumors running about him we aren’t told) and Anna asks why Keaton let his wife walk all over him.  In college Keaton was known for his boldness and intelligence but also for his indecisiveness.  Keaton sort of brushes this comment off and says he simply isn’t a brave person like Anna or John Wayne (he earlier remarked she was like a cavalryman or cowboy protecting Fort Apache).  This interaction gives us a glimpse again into Keaton’s past.  His college associates knew of his incredible intelligence and bravery (we’ll find out more on that latter bit in one of the last episodes of the series, right before the OVAs kick in) but they also know about Keaton’s divorce.  Since Keaton divorced his wife when Yuriko was five that would have been around the time he had started working with Daniel at Lloyds of London.  How exactly did his college friends find out about his divorce?  Did his wife tell them?  Did they see her with other men or here gossip about her?  We never find out how they come by this knowledge but it would have been an interesting thing to find out.  It also makes me incredibly curious as to whether any of his college friends know anything about Keaton’s service record.  Nothings every stated to say any of them ever find out about his time in the military and I have a feeling they’d all either be incredibly shocked to find out about it (and what Keaton can do) or they’d be disappointed a man of his intellect would ever do anything so “destructive.”

Anyway…back to plot…as Keaton and Anna are enjoying a good chuckle together the sound of treads on stone alert them to the arrival of Lord Edward Langley, the son Anna spoke of earlier.  Edward is turning the area the Tomb is located at into a racetrack for motorcycles.  He hopes the extreme sports will attract droves of tourists.  Edward isn’t worried about preserving historical locations and ancient burial grounds, he simply wants to create a nice tidy profit and line his pockets with more money.  Edward has even gone so far as intercepting letters Anna has written to his Mother.  Edward gives us a little sexist speech about how women are happiest when they know their places, stating that Anna should obey men instead of fighting them and find a ‘suitable’ husband while she’s still young.  He leaves with the warning that construction will commence tomorrow and that he expects no protests or rifles (Anna had been loading the rifle with rock salt instead of bullets but only Keaton knows that).

Anna requests Keaton’s help to try and learn as much about the tomb as she can before tomorrow morning.  She relates a brief history of the island, that centuries ago women here were the ruling body, not men, and that they were even the ones whom inherited property.  Some scholars even go so far as to believe that this island is in fact the island of the Amazons referred to in Greek mythology.

As Keaton and Anna try and clean up the mural on the wall to the Holy Room of the temple Keaton turns Anna’s earlier relationship question on his head.  According to his ex-wife, the guys in college used to all go nuts over Anna but she never showed any interest.  Anna states she barely even noticed men going after her, and when Keaton brings up someone in particular she states that she’s has always been after #1.  Keaton says she is an incredibly ambitious woman but Anna says her mother was even more ambitious; going from working part time in a launderette to owning her own boutique.  When Keaton asks how her mother is doing nowadays Anna admits that she died almost two years ago.  Keaton apologizes and Anna goes on to relate about how her mother would tell her all about her life in Czechoslovakia.  Apparently when Anna’s mother was just eleven years old she defeated a Nazi tank all by herself.  Anna states that even her mother couldn’t stop the bulldozers from destroying the mural in the morning.

A figure enters the tomb behind them and we are introduced to Lady Langley.  She apologizes to Anna for the trouble her son has caused and states that even though she isn’t sure he’s making the right decision to benefit the island’s population and wealth she isn’t in any sort of position to stop him either.  Lady Langley hopes her ancestors would understand that they are trying to make the island and its people more prosperous but Keaton intervenes, stating that this ruin and a majority of the others scattered throughout Europe, were built by an unknown civilization that Archaeology simply doesn’t have an understand of at this time.  Anna says that even if she could prove her theory of the White Goddess being the ancient Stone Age European civilization that built all these mysterious ruins in Europe she doubts Edward would stop his bulldozers.  Anna vows to do all she can tonight to uncover as much of the mural as possible, and to hopefully add more information and images to her thesis.

Lady Langley asks why Anna insists on doing a ‘Man’s Job ™’ when she’s such a beautiful young woman.  Keaton isn’t quite sure what he should say to this (I doubt Keaton would call out Lady Langley on her statement, it’s just that Langley is a very well off woman that was more than likely raised with specific gender roles.) but Anna states it is her mother’s will.  We then are treated to a flashback of Anna’s mother telling her daughter about how she defeated a Nazi tank with her own too hands.  Anna’s grandparents were killed in WWII when her mother was 11 and she fought for three years against the Nazi’s before defecting to England on her own.  She was without means until she turned 20 and married Anna’s father.  Sadly shortly after Anna was born her father had an accident that took his life and Anna’s mother worked tirelessly to provide for both of them and even though they weren’t very well off she saved enough money to send Anna to college.  Two years ago Anna’s mother became mysteriously ill and the doctors gave her a morphine injection to try and ease the pain.  Before her mother slipped into a coma and then passed away, she told Anna that she had no regrets and that she had done everything she had wanted to do in her life, and that above all else it would make her happy if Anna did the same as “That is what makes a woman beautiful.”

Keaton prepares an air canister and attaches a nozzle to it, blowing away a majority of the dirt covering the mural they had been working so hard to clean with brushes.  The mural is finally revealed, and it is indeed a picture of the White Goddess.  Lady Langley leaves having heard Anna’s story and seen evidence for herself, and Keaton returns to see Anna taking dutiful notes of her discovery; sure that in the morning nothing will remain standing.  Keaton, trying to lift Anna’s spirits, says that they should reenact what Anna’s mother had done during the war and fight back against the bulldozers.  Anna starts to say her mother made up that story but Keaton interjects, telling her it’s worth a try.  This little moment is another reason I believe Keaton’s college friends have no idea about his military background or years of service.  If they did they’d certainly know that Keaton has an idea of what he’s talking about.

The next morning Keaton approaches the old woman from the day before and returns the apron he borrowed the day before and also asks her for another favor.  As the bulldozers approach the Tomb, Keaton and Anna stand at the ready armed with…metal wash tubs?  Edward is furious that Anna has dared to stand in his way and demands she remove herself from his property.  Anna and Keaton ignore him and Anna wonders what they can do against bulldozers armed only with metal wash tubs filled with regular old soap and water.  Keaton reveals that Anna’s mother wasn’t just telling stories about her youth, but that this technique is actually one used by the Czech Republic to outwit the Nazis.  The soap and water reacts with the treads of tanks, or in this case the bulldozers, and makes them slip on any rocky surface like roads.  The machines lose traction and spin out putting the bulldozers out of commission but leaving Edward a chance to threaten Anna with a pickaxe.  Out of nowhere Lady Langley appears and gives her bratty son a good swift slap in the face, making him drop his pickaxe as Lady Langley declares the battle lost.

Keaton expounds a little on the White Goddess theory, stating that there was no gap between rich or poor and all of society was ruled by a woman.  It’s possible the White Goddess was a symbol of fertility, death, or regeneration, but whatever she was the fact that her effigy was found in a century’s old Tomb means that this place once had people living in it that believed in the ideals she represented.  Keaton tells Anna that he will write up his report to Lloyds, and Anna says she’ll be counting on him but that if Edward comes back she’ll fight him again.  Anna tells Keaton as he leaves that he has become a great man over the years, and that he is the greatest man she’s ever met.  Keaton says that John Wayne has nothing on her as Anna simply smiles and says that determination and strength are what make a woman beautiful after all.

So how was this episode?  Over all a very good one, a little more about Keaton’s past is revealed but we also meet one of his friends from his college days.  Anna is a likeable and strong character, we know straight away that she’ll fight for what she wants and believes in but at the same time she also knows that there is only so much she can do against things like laws and regulations.  It’s only when Keaton arrives and keeps pushing her and providing encouragement that she understands the truth behind her mother’s will that she instilled in her.

When I first watched this episode way back when I always got the feeling that Anna may have liked Keaton when they were in school together but was too busy with her studies, never found the right time or way to tell him, or he was simply too utterly devoted to his wife (or girlfriend, we don’t know what stage their relationship was in when Keaton and Anna went to Oxford) to ever tell him.  Considering that Anna states that she would only go after a #1 man and yet at the end of the episode calls Keaton essentially that, it’s easy to put two and two together and devise that yeah…Anna may hold a certain romantic inkling or fondness for Keaton that she won’t admit strictly face to face.  I personally think they’d make a great couple, but I don’t know how Yuriko would feel about that, though I have a feeling she and Anna would get along well.

Edward Langley is a rather pompous spoiled rich boy, pretty typical of guys getting his way with rich parents.  I’ve heard a lot of people cry that this episode is a great love letter to feminism and feminist rights and I just…oy…just no, just…stop right there and you won’t have to get my rant on feminism.  Back on topic though, even if Edward is tearing down ruins his logic on bringing in tourism isn’t exactly unfounded.  Racing and other things like casinos and such would indeed bring in tourists and their money.  Increased revenue, and word of mouth at the beautiful landscapes, would mean that more additions could be added and thus money would continue to grow.  This sharp jump in visitors would mean more money could be spent on the island, meaning that the public could possibly have a better way of life.  I say possibly because how Edward states it and how he does it would probably be two very different things.  Edward seems like the type of guy that would say he’d give most of the money to the people who live on the island but would in fact take a majority of the funds earned for himself and his estate.  He’d line his own pockets but make sure people directly in tourist’s lines of sight would be well off, thereby leaving the rest of the island to fend for themselves.

Considering Edward’s world view on women though it’s surprising to see Lady Langley carries a fairly similar belief, just not as rudely worded.  I’ve always surmised she believes this way because she more than likely comes from a very old, very well off family that probably preached traditional values and ways of life.  She more than likely passed these teachings onto her son, he just took them too far to root, or at least he spouts them more bitterly than his mother does.  I would have been interesting in finding out just a tad more about Lord Langley though.  He wouldn’t let anyone excavate the ruins, so that must mean he cared either about the land, the historical nature of them, or his ancestors.  Would he have held a similar world view on women’s roles that his wife and son do or would he have been fully open to the ideals based around the White Goddess?

Next time Keaton takes a bit of a vacation at the insistence of his daughter Yuriko to his childhood Summer home in Japan.  There he and his father Taihei end up stuck in a world of memory, reminiscing on days long gone by and the tastes, sounds, and smells of yesteryear in Case 7!

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