Being a walking ghost in an alienated society has its advantages, but then there is the moment when the ghost happens to step into real life. There is a moment when being a complacent ghost isn’t enough anymore…
Enlightened is the kind of show that can make you laugh, cringe and cry probably all at the same time and this episode is definitely testimony to that truth. There have been a few profiling episodes that focus on a single character’s plights: From Amy’s mother, Helen to Amy’s ex-husband, Levi. Now it is Amy’s passive sidekick’s turn to shine. Tyler has never really been truly developed in the series thus far, so it is fantastic to finally see him getting his recognition. And seeing as how the creator of the series, Mike White portrays the intriguing character, it makes the episode all the more special. “The Ghost is Seen” captures Tyler’s life as an invisible entity and slowly sets him on a road to recognition and true human vulnerability. Just like previous poetic installments in the season, this special episode does well to shine a light on one of the series’ best characters and their thoughts
In the continued mission to eradicate the evil underdwellings at Abaddonn Industries, Amy and Tyler find a new ally in their absolutely ridiculous boss with his head planted firmly in his ass, Dougie. It’s a spectacularly dysfunctional heroic trio attempting to do good. Misfits with an ambitious goal and their ticket to fulfilling that goal is Charles Szidon’s assistant, Eileen (Molly Shannon). This episode quickly and beautifully becomes Tyler’s story. Always in the background, being utilized as Amy’s reluctant secret weapon and being pushed to do things he never really wanted to do in the first place, Tyler is truly a ghost floating about his life barely making contact with others. This ghost has ideas and dreams and suffers from loneliness too, but you’d never really know it. Amy is aware of Tyler’s sad disposition, yet she’s so self-involved that she never really has taken the moment to stand back and assess her buddy’s situation. Frankly, there are times that seem like Amy barely even thinks of Tyler as a friend but more of a lowly convenience and a tool for getting what she wants. And that idea is emphasized in this installment alone, now that Dougie is added to the picture.
Dougie proves himself to be surprisingly even more ridiculous in his mission to take down Abaddonn than Amy could ever be. You’d think the boss man of Cogentiva would have more tact in a tough situation like this, but we should all know better than that. This is Dougie; the self-indulgent, hot-headed goofball with no filter. Frankly, Dougie provides a great deal of this installment’s humor and agitation. I’ve always seen Dougie as a sort of frustrating character. It also seems that by adding Dougie to the crusade to destroy Abaddonn, Amy might have heightened the risk of getting found out by the co-workers at Cogentiva. Connie already has her eyebrows rising in apprehensive curiosity and if Dougie’s crass personality weren’t such a repellent for her, she might have figured it out and done some major snitching already. Amy informs Tyler that they almost have the information they need to make this ambitious idea a reality but the key in making it all happen leads them to Eileen, who is Charles Szidon’s quirky personal assistant.
In attempting to get in personally with Eileen, both Tyler and Dougie try to “woo” her while she’s working out at the company gym. Tyler’s adorable awkwardness causes him to fumble, yet it is him that Eileen happens to have an eye for, even after Dougie’s superbly ridiculous attempt at getting her to fall for him. Dougie’s misplaced arrogance is mustered up from his boss man position at Cogentiva (which is soon about to be shut down), and it is his biggest weakness. Eileen can see right through that act and peer into a frightened, agitated little man-child having a hissy fit because his depressing little playground is being slowly burned to the ground and in a few weeks will be totally gone. When Amy, Tyler, and Dougie all finally get Eileen right where they want her, they each try to coax some viable information out of her. Amy is almost a too obvious in her effort to stroke Eileen’s ego and gather what she wants to know, and it doesn’t take long before Eileen bluntly disregards her and goes in for Tyler. From this point it is up to the awkward little guy to secure this new key to the golden gate of information that is Charles Szidon’s private e-mail account.
Tyler’s time with Eileen is intriguing. Eileen isn’t one to really beat out the bush. She’s blunt and concerned--interested even. Molly Shannon portrays this character in a very natural, relaxed way that I think the character of Tyler can actually (slowly) open up to. It is almost as if Eileen is happy to coddle Tyler for a while in order to let him loosen up. We learn that Tyler downloads music illegally, which he admits to in almost a bragging sort of way, as if Eileen would be impressed by his rebellious spirit. Tyler acts like he is surprised when people acknowledge him and Eileen is very focused on him throughout the entire episode. It is like Eileen is setting a challenge for Tyler to wake up and realize that he’s is not simply floating around like a ghost. Someone has taken notice of him and it is uncomfortable at first. Tyler doesn’t truly have many friends and the ones he does have seem to only use him to fulfill their goals. And maybe Tyler is so shy and passive that Amy and Dougie don’t really realize that they are kind of being jerks to him on a rather frequent basis. If Amy did successfully take down Abaddonn, Tyler would probably be the one not to get any recognition for his efforts. He’s one of those people in history that get pushed to the side, while the ringleader gets all the praise. And as the ghost Tyler is, he’d probably be okay with that.
Amy does this thing (and I’m not sure she realizes she does it) where she finds these people to help her fulfill her own wants and then she congratulates them like they’re a child who didn’t know any better before she, herself led them to personal discovery. Amy has always been one with ulterior motives--even if they may be for the greater good--that may indirectly benefit her and make her feel better about herself. She does it with Tyler in nearly every episode, and now that Dougie is on her side, she is doing the exact same thing to him. And people are starting to notice. Eileen doesn’t do that sort of thing with Tyler. In a way, Eileen is sort of like Amy, except she is certainly more sincere--no ulterior motives. Eileen is a learned extrovert, claiming to once be a lot like Tyler. It’s something that I think attracts Eileen to Tyler, seeing a ghost of her former self and knowing that she has overcome her own chronic introverted personality, and maybe Tyler can too. Tyler is flustered and continuously awkward with Eileen, as Amy and Dougie look on giving the thumbs-up. From the central hacking plot to this odd little growth story for a character that usually remains in the background, this installment reveals a genuineness that is a rarity in our veiled society.
This episode clearly resonates to last season’s “Lonely Ghosts”, which focused on Amy, Tyler, and Dougie’s collective loneliness in a less than perfect world full of lonesome souls trying to hide their insecurities behind falsely confident personas. It’s a trapping we all get ourselves into at some point in our lives. Tyler is arguably the most lonely person in the series, yet his ghostly disposition keeps him from pursuing anything, from having any passions or goals. Tyler is just stagnant and alone, and he’s become complacent in this reality so much so that he isn’t even suffering from it much anymore. Which makes his lonely position sadder than Amy’s. Tyler is very much like Amy’s mother, Helen. Tyler and Helen are both so deep in their sufferings that they’ve become numb to it and expect it. They’re uncomfortable with anything else. But all they really need is for someone to pull them out of their soulless complacency.
Eileen is, in many ways, Tyler’s savior as well as his new love interest. She spends the episode subtly pushing Tyler to open up to her. Eileen even goes off to Tyler’s house after their sweet date together and she slowly opens Tyler up even more. They talk (well, mostly Eileen talks) of where they’re going in life and their pasts, even bringing up Tyler’s previous relationship with the infamous Julie. Eileen makes the observation that Tyler doesn’t look her in the eyes. This doesn’t make Tyler a jerk or someone who might screw her over, but the truth is that Tyler isn’t used to being seen. This is a distressing experience for him in a lot of ways and he’s trying to do and say all of the right things because he is honestly tired of being a lonely ghost. Tyler is use to rejection and people over looking him, so Eileen’s undivided attention is a bit intimidating for him. It’s a moment worthy of applause as Tyler takes the baby steps needed to build a relationship with another person--to help them seeing him and his true self, which moves on into intimacy. The kisses the Tyler and Eileen share are no doubt clunky and a bit off-putting, but it is a sweet sharing moment between two people that are lonely and that are growing together in an intimate way. Eileen is probably the only good thing to happen to Tyler in a long time.
The ghost is alive for the first time in the long time. It’s a bewildering experience, to be awakened from a chronic stagnancy and pushed into life and human-to-human interaction. To be seen by a special someone who understands and is thoroughly interested in him, Tyler is engulfed by something that was once foreign to him: Feeling. It’s the cost of being alive--feeling alive. There are many advantages to being a ghost, such as being able to sneak around computers and uncover some incriminating details about company executives, observing certain things that others may overlook and not being burdened by the conventions of emotion and attachments to others. However, living and taking a part in one’s life is vital. It makes Tyler question why he hasn’t done so in the past--why he’s wasted so much time not feeling and not being attached to someone who truly notices him.
While Tyler finding himself and overcoming his ghostly disposition of being invisible may end hopeful, it is somewhat of a shaky kind of hope. A hope that might blind him and his partners in crime from the reality of what is to come. Now that Tyler is visible--now that he is no longer a ghost, what other things about him will be seen? Eileen is Charles Szidon’s assistant. Tyler has been seen by someone who could possibly bring this mission down to its knees. Or potentially worse, Tyler might lose the one person that sees him because of the holy crusade Amy has him tied up in. Tyler hacks into Eileen’s computer for Amy and Dougie, which gives them the information they need. But at what costs to Tyler’s new love interest? Will the passive, silent knight be forced to decide between the greater good for everyone, or for himself?
It’s an absolutely sweet and refreshing installment which finally considers Tyler. While full of hope and lighthearted awkwardness and charm, this installment sets us up for the final showdown between Amy and Abaddonn Industries. The stakes have risen even higher now at the possible cost of Tyler’s conscience and new girlfriend, Eileen. Enlightened continues to wrap up its shortened second season, with only three more episodes left and the storylines and characters taking some intriguing turns. I’m very excited to see how the relationships are effected as the ball starts rolling and Amy’s dream to destroy Abaddonn comes to possible fruition. Hopefully, Tyler will not have to go back to being a ghost in the process. “The Ghost is Seen” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013