By Kerensa Cadenas and Noel Kirkpatrick
Season 2, episode 3: “The Man Who Could Move the World”
Original airdates: Sept. 30, 1977
Noel: So it appears that we’re not done with World War II just yet, Kerensa. This week the series tackled Japanese internment camps in the U.S. while tossing some telekinesis for good 1970s sci-fi measure. What say you about this episode?
Kerensa: I liked it! It was kinda slow at times, but overall enjoyed it. And I want everything that Diana was wearing.
What did you think?
No, I really liked it as well, despite the sort of ridiculous samurai stuff at the end, because, really, kind of painful.
What drew me most into the episode was, sort like last week’s episode, that the show is willing to engage the scars of World War II, still. It’s not making any significant statements about them, mind you — no one in 1977 was going to say that the Japanese internment camps were exactly what we needed to do following Pearl Harbor — but the message is still out there, the sense of awareness, and it’s not something I would’ve expected from this season when it started off with a fencing robot.
Kerensa: Agreed entirely. I thought that whole conversation between Wonder Woman and Ishida about the Japanese internment camps–and about how he thought she killed his brother was so interesting. Especially when he explicitly called her out about working with the enemy? I think in the history of the show (well what’s we’ve seen at least) was one of the most political conversations that has happened. I know that you were previously worried about this season re: having any sort of deeper context–does this help?
Noel: Yes. I’m not expecting the show to get very in-depth with a political and activist agenda regarding this, or anything else, really. It’s not the show’s nature, and it’s not the nature of this sort of genre, either, at the time, as it sort of is now. It’s a nice bit of window-dressing for the show, and we see it extended into the 80s as Vietnam became a way of defining some shows and masculinity, but the focus isn’t always on those scars. I am missing a more feminist bent (where are all the other ladies?!), but we’re only three episodes into a much longer second season, so I’m preaching patience to myself.
My expectation about this, however, may be a touch unfair. Wonder Woman’s an inherently political character, so I like for her to address these issues in some way. Then again, I also thought certain things about Superman that we’re now apparently tossing aside.
What else stood out for you?
Something else that stood out for me is again the relationship between Diana and Steve. I really like that she’s treated as his equal in their working relationship. In contrast to last season, she was always treated as Steve’s secretary who didn’t do much and here she is now splitting up the work with Steve–who doesn’t seem like he minds at all. It’s so great to see. I also like that they haven’t even seemed to think about delving into romantic territory between the two.
However, this computer boss thing has got to go soon. It feels SO cliche.
Do you have thoughts about Steve and Diana’s relationship?
Noel: This could be where my problem is? I’m looking for more women for Diana (and Wonder Woman) to interact with instead of zeroing in on the working relationship between Steve and Diana. It is, as you’ve noted, more a spirit of cooperative, equal work, with Diana…trusted?…to handle certain aspects of the investigation It also provides a nice way for Diana to twirl into Wonder Woman without having to make up a ridiculous excuse to get away from everyone.
The computer boss thing is horrible, but I’m just resigned to it at this point. If only Blankenship were still alive! Marty made the point in the comments an episode or two ago that it’s supposed to sound like Jimmy Carter, but apart from the attempted southern drawl, I’m not hearing it.
Kerensa: That’s a really good point re: Diana and Steve. Let’s hope that we get more ladies for Diana to interact with. Do you think we’ll get another version of our girl Etta?
Anything else stand out for you?
Noel: One thing that has stood out for me has been the changes in Wonder Woman’s costume. These are noted in the book we kept saying we were reading and would discuss, so I thought I’d bring it up now, as I felt like the lower cut of Wonder Woman’s top just seemed really noticeable this week.
Kerensa: Interesting. I totally didn’t notice that at all. Why do you think it particularly stood out?
Noel: Great. Make me look like the perv staring at Lynda Carter’s breasts all during an episode. Thanks, Kerensa!
No, Levine’s book did sort of prime me to notice it. She writes about the shift to CBS: “In this version, Carter’s hair was longer, looser, and more wilder and the Wonder Woman costume revealed even more skin, with a lower-cut bustier and higher-cut legs.” Levine identifies this as part of a larger trend within the second incarnation of the show as a “move away from her feminist status” and toward becoming “even more of a sex symbol.” I notice the hair when the season started, but I feel like the bustier was just a more there this time around than it was before.
Levine links this up with putting Diana/Wonder Woman more into a Charlie’s Angels mode (especially in the third season, it seems, when Diana’s not twirling very much, and taking down the bad guys as herself and not WW). So is she more jiggle TV-y at this point? Maybe not, since you didn’t notice…?
Kerensa: Anytime I can call you out, Noel!
That does totally make sense–I guess I just wasn’t paying enough attention to the Wonder Woman outfit. Mostly because I’m coveting all Diana’s 70s fashions.
I do agree with it seeming like it’s going more towards a Charlie’s Angels mode even now–which I don’t know if I like…
Noel: Levine pairs the two shows in the chapter that I was quoting from, so it’s not too much of a surprise that we’re seeing the overlap.
Do you feel like this costume shift, or even the change the theme song’s lyrics, which Levine also makes mention of, indicate that we should probably stop thinking too much more about WW as a show about the power of feminist love, and treat more as a 1970s action fantasy? I’m certainly coming around to that idea, and I feel like it could get pretty boring pretty quickly in that regard.
Kerensa: Oh god. That sounds so depressing. I honestly don’t know how you can’t think about WW without a feminist context. It makes no sense to me.
I totally think that if Wonder Woman becomes solely a 1970s action fantasy it will get boring because like we’ve both talked about at length, we see WW as a character who is inherently political so if that gets stripped away then what?
Will it become exactly like that awful Wonder Woman movie we watched? I’m gonna say no because we still have Lynda but it’s going to be really disappointing if it heads in that direction.