Searching for Paradise – Episode 5 – Paradise

"We've waited so long, waited so long, I've got two tickets to paradise." -  Eddie Money - Two Tickets To Paradise
"There is no Shangri-La you know. Every relationship's messed up. What makes it perfect is if you still wanna be there when things really suck"  - Carla - Scrubs - Season 2  "My Karma"


Can paradise be found? As our curtain opens in Episode 5, we are given two quick contrasts.  We find Liz passed out on the couch shaking off her night of free-spirited drinking and partying, and Dud is drifting in the pool monologuing to Gloria about his favorite default topic; how the Tongva Indians lived in that very location in peace and harmony for 3,000 years.  To him, even in the face of her dark pessimism, paradise is truly possible.


We find Ernie working through an all too common issue.  How do you best handle someone losing the ability to care for themselves?  Larry's growing senility manifests through his visions, further blurring the line between reality and fantasy.  Reaching out to Connie for help, he finds little support, as she is trying to take a break from the extramarital relationship. In her defense, Connie is still struggling with her own demons both past and present.


Shaking off her three day "hot bath of shame" Liz returns to Shamroxx and finds she must come to terms with the aftereffects of her wild night with the corporate executive and her fellow co-workers.  The wild and free Liz has gained admirers.  In her journey "over the falls", she has further enticed her married boss Jeremy, as well as the very smitten corporate executive, Eugene. In her blowing off Eugene and sorting through Jeremy's openness about his feelings, she kisses him and then immediately apologies.  Jeremy clears the air with his explanation about the dangers of dreams vs consummation, as Liz excuses herself and returns to work.


At the lodge, Blaise and Dud work through the writings of Wallace Smith and the mysteries they hardly understand. Blaise is getting ready for his big lecture while battling a flare-up of a parasitic issue he has been dealing with for years. With London on its way, Larry moves up the transfer of Sovereign Protector, much to Scott's dismay. This uneasy tension between Scott, Connie, and Ernie spills over to the bar, dampening an otherwise fun evening.


Reality and the trials of every day are never far away.  Ernie after his abduction is written off as crazy by his boss.  Dud and his money troubles seem to only compound as he makes further bad decisions digging himself deeper in a bottomless hole of debt.  At work, the direction of his non-relationship with Gloria is further complicated by Liz confronting Dud that he is nothing more than a Cougar fling. The reality of that brought out when Gloria tells him it really is "just sex."  Faced with the cold reality, they close out their relationship.  For Gloria, her angel of death complex compels her to push Dud away, for fear that she will spoil his goodness.  In this confusion, the normal triteness of watching TV together is spoiled for brother and sister.  Liz has reached her breaking point of being the horse that always pulls the cart everyone rides in. The fight that evolves between Dud and Liz may start with superficial issues, but don't be mistaken.  It is deeply grounded in the fight for the truth, or more directly Dud's perception of it.  Liz believes her dad checked out to leave what he couldn't handle.  Dud refuses to see that in his dad and physically fights her over it.  His cold words finish the conversation and the fight; " You are wrong about Dad. He didn't want to die, but you do."


"Ti estin aletheia" is a Greek phrase written on one of the oldest existing fragments of the gospel of John.  "What is truth?"  The phrase is attributed to Pontius Pilate, speaking in rebuttal to Jesus's statement that his purpose in the world was to testify to the truth before Pilate washed his hands of the matter and turned him over to be crucified.   And here we are in our story, as each of our characters look inward, and ask themselves this question.  What is the truth?  Dud is both desperate for it and frustrated by it.  The "shadows and riddles" are just part of the deal, he comments to Larry by the beach.  Larry feels that Dud is the answer to the questions he has had, the puzzle piece that was missing.  Gloria struggles to face the truth about herself and pushes away Dud to avoid it.  Ernie fights against what he seems to already know about the relationship with Connie, and if what remains is worth the heartache.  And as the curtain closes, the breakdown between Liz and Dud hinges just as much on the truth of who their father was in life as it does in their unanswered questions left by his death.


Truth is a terrifying thing. For some, it is a Jeopardy board of answers, that they are unprepared to ask the questions to.  For others, it is an open door they wish to hide. Sadly, sometimes it is too much, and it breaks those not strong enough to bear it. The aftermath can tear the fabric of a marriage, a family, or a nation apart. Yes, real truth, like real love, does hurt, even deeply sometimes. But, therein is the key to the freedom of paradise. A chance to see above the maze, instead of being lost within it.  If only we would look for it sooner.