Saturday, January 30, 2010
Not a lot has been missing from season one of Steven Seagal: Lawman. Each episode has buzzed with a wholesome singularity, the rules of society gloriously upheld, wanton acts fought by an unstoppable force. Dastardly youths have been seized, drug pusher antics curtailed, burglars slammed by the boot of justice. Consistent victims of the onslaught of evil, the neighbourhoods of Jefferson Parish have seen their thoroughfares purged of debasing foes and truculent intruders. Gleeful mammons have had their greed stones battered to mush. The charge led by Seagal, erasing negativity in a callous world.Away from bettering society – in a narrative locked safely far from the menace of time – Seagal has visited sick children, trained attack dogs, fed hungry alligators, performed acupuncture and played a gig with his band Thunderbox. Zen wisdom has saturated his every word. Mystical somatic control has typified his every kick. Seagal’s presence is tethered to a disregard, surely arcane in character, to the limitations of reality. A polymathic freedom floats humbly airborne in the wake of his full-throttle nature. His level of certainty, held close to the core of Seagal, can be unhinged by no man.Such has been the essence of season one of Steven Seagal: Lawman.Yet one absence has been both glaring and subtle. Its unavoidable obviousness has rendered it invisible, adding equivocation to a set of affairs otherwise clear. By a strange dialectical inversion Seagal has transcended the antithesis stage to conjure a synthesis that blinds the beholder, shielding from sight an acute gap upon the topography of Seagal. The cost is high: a partner lost in the transition from one stage to another. Like Sherlock Holmes without Watson, Han Solo without Chewbacca, Seagal’s integrity is lessened as a result of his partner being absent.Amid kinetic displays of roundhouse kicks and vengeful fists, Seagal’s films are marked by one dependable continuity: his ponytail. Thousands of scenes have receded into the past leaving only a scorched outline of ponytail, an indelible fragment of asses kicked and evil destroyed. Seagal’s ponytail – unerring in its capacity to act as more than mere adornment: a pulsating symbol of Seagal’s omniscience – stole easefully through the plot containers of Under Siege and Out for Justice, incurring neither harm nor insult. It blasted holes in adversaries, advancing to holy zeniths of ninety-minute mountains. The ponytail struck down barricades, tracing an unhindered path onward. Glowing at the heart of Seagal, but resting upon his head, was this object of unreserved victory, a greasy slick of hair captured in ponytail form.But Steven Seagal: Lawman has no ponytail of which to speak. Recent episode “Street Justice” is a case in point. Seagal and his minions raid two crack dens, seeking a mix of substances and abusers. They discover the tiniest of crack rocks, far from anything substantial, and the individuals involved are mostly let go. Now, had Seagal possessed his ponytail, the crew would have stumbled upon a major drug-dealing operation. The motel room would look like a laboratory, all Bunsen burners and pipettes. Mind-fried junkies would writhe on the floor as a dreadlocked devil adjusts the settings on his chemistry set. Giant crack rocks would be found in the bathroom alongside forty snakes and a leper. It would transpire that a series of tunnels underneath the motel leads to Columbia. After three minutes of sprinting, Seagal and his gang emerge in the blistering jungle. Soaked in sweat, they find that a local businessman is pumping drugs into the US via the tunnel. An epic showdown ensues that ends with Seagal battling the businessman (clad in a special mechanical suit) on the top of a volcano.The ponytail makes everything better.Another example: after the drug bust, Seagal visits a kids’ karate school. He talks to the sensei and imparts some pithy words of wisdom to the youngsters – the usual stuff. But had he possessed his ponytail, Seagal would have noticed something odd about the dojo. Monotone voices and steroid-lit eyes would have alerted him to a wicked scheme, a plan to build an army of ultra-strong pre-teens. The megalomaniacal sensei would use these diminutive warriors to take over a military base under the masquerade of a school trip. Once in charge, he would start selling arms to terrorists. Upon unravelling the details, Seagal would have to fight off all the kids, before ending up in a tense confrontation with the sensei (now wearing a special mechanical suit).I repeat: the ponytail makes everything better.