S-Town: Chapter III
March 29, 2017 6:08 PM - Subscribe

"Tedious and brief."

Let's also keep these separate episode posts going, shall we? Even some of us bingers like to slow down a bit and catch our breath (I've been binging since yesterday but had to stop myself today after Chapter V, just to take some time to roll things around in my mind!)
posted by nightrecordings (10 comments total)
The end of Chapter II was such a surprise. I really thought - well, what I thought turned out to be 100% not what they had in mind. Which I guess is a plus.
The private club in the second episode and the story of the tattoos was so great (I know I should be writing this all over there but hang on) that I felt sure about what I thought the thrust was going to be. So, I guess, hats off that they up-ended those expectations so well.
Which lead to a bit of squick when Brian is talking to the lawyer. The confluence of real pain and narrative is not interesting for me and feels merely manipulative. Luckily it wasn't the whole thrust of the episode, what with the cousins.
The cousins.
It really is all just this side of fiction. It's all so beautifully structured. But, frankly, the death of John was - because it is not fiction but actually something that happened to a person that, through the reporting I was starting to like... It's a tough little corner to round and popped up in a bit of the discussion in the Serial threads, rightly, I think.
I'll keep listening but man, I hope it's not that far down to the bottom.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:33 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

It was so weird to not hear John in this episode.
I kept thinking, why did he kill himself now? I'm not surprised he did it, but to still do it while his mom is alive and there's no will? That's terrible. Especially if your next relatives are cousins you can't stand.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:24 PM on March 30, 2017

FUCK. I was totally shocked at the end of Chapter II, and gave myself a day before Chapter III. I'm going to need a little more than that before Chapter IV!

I will say that the scene where the county clerk describes the phone call was really tough to listen to. I was not expecting that. It actually makes me hesitate to recommend this show to people, because that is really fucking dark. I just feel so bad for that woman.

John is so confusing! If he's so organized and cares about those boys so much, why didn't he have a will? Or at least give his assets away before he killed himself? Isn't that like, a clue that someone is going to kill themselves, giving away possessions? And why would he leave his poor mother?
posted by radioamy at 7:25 PM on March 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

One thing I've been thinking about is why John seems to take more of an interest in one brother over the other (sorry, I can't remember their names!). They both had the same shitty upbringing and are both pretty young. I guess the other one has his shit a little more together (he's married at least)? Just something I'd like to know more about.
posted by radioamy at 8:39 PM on March 30, 2017

I really could have done with a CW or TW before the conversation with the county clerk, that was super hard to listen to.

Anyone who's listened to the whole series, is there anything similar coming up?
posted by ellieBOA at 12:19 AM on March 31, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've actually been thinking a lot about the lack of content warnings on this podcast in general. Basically, the structure of the thing, and the way they've chosen to do the publicity, mean that an awful lot of people are going to be blindsided by John's suicide and then by how totally painful the next episode is. I don't know how I feel about that narrative choice, and I also can't decide if I should warn someone I know who enjoyed the first season of Serial and who lost someone to suicide.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:07 PM on March 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah, a person in my life took her life in the same way that John did, actually, and this episode was super hard to listen to. I might have skipped it had I had some kind of warning.

I'm having a hard time with the series, truthfully. I'm enjoying it, but I would strongly prefer it to be fiction. I didn't grow up in the small-town South, but my cousins did, and I spent enough summers down there to know all of these characters and it's a bit too much.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:24 PM on March 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

I spent enough summers down there to know all of these characters and it's a bit too much.

Same for me. There are very sad overlaps with events in my own family history, though the personalities are a lot less interesting and we never had the benefit (?) of a highly resourced storytelling team to relay those events. It's not fiction at all - it's sadly familiar if you've ever been close to people and places resembling these.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2017

This is great... I'm just gobsmacked that John did not have a will. For how meticulous that he was about his record keeping (about his transactions..), I'm just surprised that he did not; even if he was unbanked and distrustful of many institutions.

(I'm only through half way of episode 4)...
posted by fizzix at 9:40 AM on April 3, 2017

Three episodes in, and I'm wondering what the point of this podcast is.

I didn't find John's suicide that shocking, but I've worked in the mental health field, and it to me at least it was obvious from the beginning that he had serious mental health issues. This third episode just pissed me off with the reveal that, in fact, John talked about suicide all the time. That part, to me, was conveniently withheld by the producers to create a better twist at the end of the second episode.

At this point, I have fewer questions about the folks in Bibb County, and many questions about the producers and journalists who were recording and interviewing these folks for years just, I suppose, waiting for a story to emerge. It feels far more exploitative than anything we heard in Serial.
posted by kanewai at 3:22 PM on April 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

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