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Episode: 5.13

Title: Mite Makes Right

Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

Directed by: Michael Vittes

Aired: January 17, 1994

Log line: Maggie becomes obsessed with dust mites; Maurice gets more than he bargained for when he invests in a rare violin; Chris reaches an artistic impasse on a sculpture.

Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.

5-13-mite-book

During our podcast discussion, we mentioned many themes that appear in this episode, including art, love, obsession, and nature. Another central element of “Mite Makes Right” is its focus on the body. This idea figures most clearly in Maggie’s storyline, which begins with how her body is affected by dust mites. We see the physical reaction of her body to dust mites when Joel gives her an allergy test. We also hear repeatedly how they (and other microscopic creatures) are crawling on (and ingested by) our bodies. We are their hosts.

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In Chris’s storyline, we see him trying to create a sculpture inspired by a nude woman (April). He focuses on her neck, but it doesn’t feel right. After talking to Maggie, he creates a dust mite with a body the size of a human being. This will also serve as the inspiration for Maggie’s dream of the imbibing, man-size dust mite (we called him Dusty on the podcast). Chris anthropomorphizes dust mites with his references to their universities and shopping malls. His sculpture makes his vision tangible, right down to the dust mite standing on its hind legs. (The uprightness of the dust mite will carry over into Maggie’s dream.)

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The storyline the least obviously connected to the body involves Maurice and Cal. The body in question (to reference another body-focused episode of Northern Exposure) in that narrative is the violin. Its beauty is described by the violin dealer and Cal later says that if a violin isn’t played it will die, just like a living thing. Officer Semanski likens Cal’s strong emotions for the violin to those of an obsessed lover. 5-13-cal-violin-opening5-13-cal-maurice01 5-13-violin-body01 5-13-violin-body035-13-violin-body045-13-cal-violins-die015-13-cal-violins-die02

The episode ends with two unions: Joel and Maggie’s bodies passionately entwined in a winter landscape, and Cal passionately playing the violin, oblivious to his surroundings in a psychiatric facility. 5-13-joel-maggie055-13-cal-psych-ward

Songs from the episode’s original airing:

  • Basin Brothers – “Un Marriage Casse” [Replaced in DVD version}
    Maggie and Chris talk dust mites.

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Themes / Recurrences: Art; obsession; love; nature.

The Good: We really enjoyed how the two main storylines of Maggie and Chris intertwine in the episode and how they end up helping each character solve their problems. The episode also did a really good job of making us feel itchy all over.

The Bad: After seasons of amazing Chris-created art, this dust mite sculpture was a little disappointing to us. It didn’t have much of a big moment, like the Fling or the Lights sculpture from last season.

The Notable: We enjoyed Cal’s shout out of pianist Glenn Gould, since both of them are pretty eccentric and they kinda dressed the same. Chris’ idea of human beings being as insignificant as dust mites in the scale of the universe reminded us of the Blake poem “The Fly“.

On’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

Shane’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

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