Amazon’s Too Old to Die Young
Volume 3: “The Hermit”
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Refn & Ed Brubaker
* For a recap & review of Volume 3: “The Lovers” – click here
* For a recap & review of Volume 4: “The Tower” – click here
In the Tarot, The Hermit holds a lamp, illuminating his path despite his being isolated from others— his journey is within. If upright, the card suggests it’s time to withdraw, and to look deeper within oneself in order to gain knowledge— it suggests another person may be of help, but that, ultimately, you must step outside what is familiar. If reversed, the card warns of refusal to face problems created by one’s own attitude, and suggests to look towards meaningful solution rather than avoidance tactics.
Diana DeYoung (Jena Malone) is a New Age healer. She speaks of “the direct path” towards healing and all the difficult parts of the process. She assures people she teaches they’re headed in the right direction. Not without capital gain. Her services require “an offering,” so the people she counsels give her a ring, a family heirloom.
Viggo Larsen (John Hawkes) is a man missing one eye. He’s also a man out for vengeance.
We see him attack somebody, using a plastic bag to suffocate him from behind. He puts the body in his trunk, then drives off. On his car radio, he listens to somebody who sounds like an Alex Jones-type character, ranting about “human rights” being violated in America. Viggo has trouble with his vehicle after hearing a harsh knock. He pulls over in an alley, unsure what to do. Then he locks himself out. Nearby, there’s a shooting, and now he’s really fucked.
Who does he call? Diana.
Note: Because of the Tarot connection, the fact Viggo has one eye brings to mind The Hanged Man, which is often connected with Odin. Something to keep in mind as the series progresses. Volume 8 is actually titled The Hanged Man.
Newly minted Detective Martin Jones (Miles Teller) is called to the crime scene where Viggo’s car is found. The victim, Zack Thomas, was a sex offender. The detective and others laugh at a “victimless crime“— shows how much they’re concerned with the impartial nature of the law / justice, only one of MANY troubling things about Martin. Darkly ironic, considering Dt. Jones was fucking a 16-year-old, who’s only 17 still.
Back at the station, he catches up with his ridiculous Lieutenant (Hart Bochner) on the case. Something Refn does so well is show the glib way cops treat their jobs. It isn’t always because they’re bad people. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through the day. When you couple scenes like this with scenes of Martin, or Larry, in Volume 1 doing beyond questionable things, it’s no doubt Refn has an opinion.
The Lieutenant references Jung’s “collective unconscious.” He carries around a single die with him. “We force order onto life so we believe our choices matter,” he says, speaking of life’s randomness. He’d roll the die if he came up against something in a case that had him stumped.
“Time is a river”
We discover Viggo is a “former FBI agent” who went on medical leave a decade ago. He’s also on dialysis. He meets with Diana. He worries about his mother, so he has to get money for Diana to make sure the old woman’s cared for, no matter what happens. His mother has Alzheimer’s, or a similar disease. He helps her try to keep what memory she does have alive. Simultaneously, Viggo’s trying to keep himself alive. Like he’s running on the fumes of unfinished business.
And there are more people yet to die, too.
At a memorial for her dead mother, Janey (Nell Tiger Free) slips out for an illegal drink. She heads back over to a gallery, where her father Theo (William Baldwin) has managed to suppress his icky coke drip sniff long enough to give a speech about his wife, all while stroking his ego. Theo’s taking his wife’s art around to pimp it out in her absence. His daughter’s having a harder time dealing with the loss.
Martin’s following Viggo, who’s grabbing stashed cash and maybe a few weapons. The one-eyed man is off to another location. He parks and soon Diana gets in the backseat. She takes the money he brought. “The Sun is in Capricorn,” she tells him. They have no clue Martin’s documenting their meeting. Turns out Diana is a “victim‘s advocate” with the Los Angeles D.A in the Violent Crime Division.
It’s all connected.
So Martin drops by Diana’s office. She counselled the family of Thomas’s victim(s). He asks about her relationship to Viggo— he’s a client from her healing practice in “energy work.” Martin calls bullshit when she claims not to have seen the man lately. Diana plays it cool. She claims Viggo is “capable of greatness.” She doesn’t tell the detective she’s in love with her one-eyed companion.
“This unconscious psyche, common to all mankind,
does not consist merely of contents
capable of becoming conscious,
but of latent dispositions towards
certain identical reactions.”
— Carl Jung
(Commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower)
Martin has to check in with his new boss. He meets Damian (Babs Olusanmokun) in an unassuming parking lot— the gangster’s texting with his daughter on her first phone, and he has the detective take a pic for him. An absolutely hilarious moment slipped in between the grim realities of this nightmarish Los Angeles landscape.
After that, Martin’s given a new task.
Dt. Jones heads to the home of a woman he has to kill.
Inside, he prepares a syringe he was given. He sneaks up on the woman while she’s watching TV— she looks to be watching The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds, as you can hear “Instrumental Collage” by Peggy Williams playing. He puts her down quietly, and he’s gone in the night like a shadow. Not before seeing children asleep in another room.
Viggo is confronted by Dt. Jones. They meet at a diner. The detective comes clean about killing the woman, surprising Viggo. He says he felt nothing, even after he saw the kids. He’s curious if the one-eyed man only kills paedophiles, if there’s a code.
Is he about to descend further into the underworld of LA crime? Is he on a journey to becoming more than a criminal hitman, like an assassin, or a samurai? Will Viggo teach him, passing on the trade of death from a dying man to a younger one? Just as the cartel world changes in Mexico, the old giving way to the new, so is the American landscape changing from past to present.
“You ride horses, too?”
Amazing. Father Gore’s been sold since the start. It only continues to get more interesting, weird, and surreal at times. There are many mysteries, little pieces to latch onto, theories to dig out from the material. This is why Refn’s work is always so intriguing, for those who truly love it— there’s so much below the surface.
Volume 4: “The Tower” is next.