After the hundreds of questions that Episode 1 threw up, we are left with even more after Episode 2. I would definitely say that it is the craziest and most mind-boggling episode yet of The Karen and Ellen Letters.
We start, as last week, with Helena and Dot, back in 2012. The accompanying video lets us know that Helena is in Mendocino, CA.
Helena goes down in my estimations immediately. Referring to the recently departed Misty as a “he.” Talk about disrespecting the dead!
Helena seems a real Debbie Downer.
She doesn’t like the heat. She doesn’t like cruises. She doesn’t like the price of antiques these days.
“Why pay $40 for something that was $10, 30 years ago?” she queries.
Although, maybe she does have a point here. Depreciation is a real thing!
However, genuine antiques will of course increase in value.
Take a Cellini mermaid clock for example. Its value would surely increase by at least 34.4% annually?
Do we think that Helena has echoes of Karen about her?
Picking fault, moaning, and questioning the cost of things?
I’m not sure. But they’re not completely dissimilar.
We hear from Josh, about the journey he has been on, with both the podcast, and the letters. About how Season 2 really started taking shape once Jeff (who plays Mark), had told Josh about the “lost letters.”
Josh describes how what is real, and what is not, has become fluid, and is constantly merging.
I think that is a fitting description of this episode; and leads perfectly into what comes next.
To me, this is the most perplexing and mysterious letter to ever be featured on Karen and Ellen. (So far.)
Josh explains that he originally dismissed it as being in the file incorrectly. It isn’t even signed. However, both he and Sara feel they are fairly sure now who wrote it.
(They’re not sharing of course!)
The writer is female, and the recipient is someone called George. Presumably a man, but could be a woman possibly?
The only George we’ve heard brief mention of before, is George Bush, when the links between Karen and the Bush family were mentioned. Surely, it couldn’t be to him???
Our anonymous writer asks after him and his kids. She’s bored and fed up.
She’s locked out, and won’t be able to get back in until her landlord comes after dinner.
She just has to sit and wait for “mail call.”
I wondered if this was an American phrase that I hadn’t heard before. Looking it up, the first results that came up were for a TV show about the US military, that had aired in the 2000s.
Reading on, I don’t think the author was drumming her fingers, waiting for her favourite programme to come on. “Mail call” in this context, seems to be the distribution of mail, in some form of institution.
And I’m 90% sure that the institution is Prison!
The writer’s friend Jennifer has left, to go to Chowchilla. Which, Google reliably informs me, is a Central California Women’s Prison.
Our author wants to get out too. But not to another prison.
She can’t wait to get over the wall, and is certain that her life will be different afterwards.
She is getting angry now. She hasn’t heard from George. He told her to write, but doesn’t reply. It has been 5 years, and she’s fuming.
It’s not just George. Nobody is replying to her letters.
She’s not going to “carry on wasting envelopes she doesn’t have.”
Now is it just me, or does that definitely sound like a Karen or Ellen-ism?
She is not going to write anymore. Or until George writes back.
This writing to George, to tell him that she isn’t going to write to him anymore; is reminiscent of Karen calling Mark, to tell him that she’s still not speaking to him.
(Season 1, episode 10).
Surely Karen couldn’t have ended up in prison?
Was there one mess that even Daddy or CW couldn’t get her out of?
The “landlord” reference seems out of place. Could it be a nickname for a member of staff? Or a Freudian slip, from past correspondence?
Whoever she is, she is very angry and upset that nobody bothers to reply to her. (Where’s Mark when you need him?)
She vows that things will be different, once she gets out.
I hope that we find out who she is, and if they were.
After writing my notes from the audio episode, I then listened again with the accompanying video. What stood out, is that the letter is estimated as being from “before 1990”.
This confuses things even more!
From the tone of the letter, I was leaning towards the author probably being Karen. But that dating would put it extremely close to when she was giving Mark almost daily headaches, as his tenant.
I don’t know what to think now!
After a pretty dark, and intense start to the episode; some more atrocious karaoke, courtesy of Di’s bar; serves to lighten the mood.
(I’m wondering if this is just a random find by Josh; or could it be someone we know? I wouldn’t put it past Josh to sneak that in!)
It’s time to hear from Ellen!
She’s back on Mark’s case about that free firewood again.
But there’s a bit of a preface from Josh first. This is some of the correspondence that makes up the “lost letters;” and they’re troubling somewhat.
There are subtle differences between some of these letters; and the ones that Josh already had.
If some of the letters have been changed, what else has?
There are already some suspicions over some of the most ludicrous of Ellen’s writings. For example, the Roger Rabbit letter; and the drug-sniffing dogs article.
Ellen comes across less ditzy in these new letters; and more petulant and selfish. Fairly “dog in the manger,” and rude.
I can’t help but think of the theory at the end of Episode 1, about Ellen being Karen’s and Rob’s daughter.
Just as I’m questioning her, Ellen pulls it back.
With a completely ludicrous, but totally Ellen-like request, that Mark creates a fireplace in the cottage. So that Ellen can make use of the free firewood that she is obviously entitled to.
Of course, Guru Lahera would need to be consulted over the Feng Shui aspects of the decision.
Ellen would like a marble fireplace; Karen prefers pottery. This is more like the Ellen we know and love!
But to echo Josh’s thoughts, why are the letters different?
Has someone invented or embellished some letters? Mark?
Remember when Angry Karen contacted Josh in 2012? When requesting that the blog be taken down, she says:
“I want you to erase the things I said in there. Especially the things I didn’t say.”
Is some of it completely made up?
Back to the episode, Ellen and Mark are dealing with a whole new problem.
And it’s brilliant.
Ellen has an ant infestation in the kitchen. They won’t leave, despite her yelling at them.
Mark apparently already knows this, as he has heard Ellen yelling, from his office.
He can hear her???
Is this Mark at his facetious best, saying that he can hear Ellen, despite being miles away? Because she’s being so loud?
Or does he really live very close to the girls?
If this is the case, why the need for the letters at all?
Unless they were more like notes passed back and forth, under door mats. This would explain the sometimes very rapid succession of letters.
(And the reason that Karen never bills Mark for postage!)
Getting back to the pressing problem of the ants, Mark wants to kill the ants, with a spray made from orange peel.
(Only Mark would have an ant spray made from the peel of a thousand Blood Oranges…)
Ellen is horrified.
She does not want the ants murdered, and needs time to think.
Mark agrees to wait; which I did think was slightly strange for a landlord with a pest-control issue. Although, we have seen Mark exercise (or is it exorcise?) extreme patience and restraint with the girls before.
Ellen reports the sad passing of 10 ants; and wonders if the soap found close to their bodies is a prime suspect.
Not a totally outlandish suggestion; as we know the soap has previously led to the death of other animals.
(RIP Extraordinarily Clean Fish.)
Mark reveals to Ellen that she will be killing ants daily, just by walking around.
Ellen debates whether it will be safe to walk outside, ever again!
She starts catching and releasing the ants outside; and also seeks advice from her mother.
We haven’t heard too much of Ellen’s family before.
In this instance, Ellen reports that her mum is straight to the point; telling Ellen she has too much time on her hands.
She suggests that Ellen’s time could be better spent, helping make gift baskets and brownies for the church.
We need to pause a moment here.
Towards the end of Season 1, there was a lot made of the fact that Ellen was Jewish; and was having to deal with anti-Semitism from Karen’s Grandmother.
There was that fairly emotional exchange of letters between Ellen and Mark in Season 1, episode 11; in which Mark offers advice, and personal narrative.
Surely that can’t all have been made up?
But something is amiss here.
Even Ellen can’t mix up “church” and “synagogue!”
She also apparently showed her mother Mark’s letters about dealing with anti-Semitism.
There has been a big focus on Ellen so far this season.
She must be real, as Bonnie has requested her letters, for whatever legal wrangling is going on.
We know that Karen, Rob, and Ellen have all been found.
It seems impossible at the moment to untangle what is real, and what isn’t.
(I need to make a mental note to ask Josh whether or not he has ever managed to trace Bonnie, or Charles Worthington.)
Back with the ants, in a sudden turn of events, Ellen has had a change of heart.
She rather flippantly announces that Mark can now spray the kitchen, as she has “lost interest in the ants.”
This seems very dismissive after how passionate she seemed previously about saving them.
Is this just typical Ellen short attention span?
Or perhaps the “creator” of the letters got bored of the subject…?
Speaking of subjects, Mark’s last correspondence in this episode is to forward some homework of Ellen’s that he’s found, to Bonnie.
The subject in question is Geography.
There is a lot of it!
I won’t go into it here, but there are some real gems, which I will highlight in a separate post.
From Ellen’s perplexing homework, we finally get to hear again from the even more perplexing “Detectives.”
The male detective, who I’m reliably informed is called David, is yelling at Leslie.
Demanding to know the status of the “special project.”
A rather harassed-sounding Leslie assures him that the whole team is en route, and that there’s a meeting on Tuesday.
What can all this be about?
My gut feeling was that it is probably connected to the Yahoo political forum conversations from 1999; briefly featured in Season 1.
The contributors are discussing a possible scandal linked to the Bush family.
One of them even claims to have a copy of the letters.
However, thanks to the video that goes along with the episode; we know that the Detectives conversations pre-date this; coming in 1998.
Can they still be linked?
Is the person claiming to have copies of the letters, the same person who emailed Josh back in 2013?
And is this in turn, one of the keepers of the “lost letters”?
Or are they all separate people?
Just how many copies of these letters are there???
We’re all in need of a huge exhale after all that; and it comes in the form of another mouse-release video from Ellen.
A piano plays us out, and I’m as usual hoping that it’s Annette.
And with that, it’s a wrap for Episode 2!
If anybody thinks they have the answers to any of the many questions, please share them.
I’m still as confused as ever!