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"Carmilla" S1E3 'The Roommate'

Enter Carmilla Karnstein

Episode three is just a flurry of emotions—mostly annoyance—from beginning to end.

Carmilla barges into the room, cranks up the music, and steals a grape soda from the fridge within the first few seconds, and Laura’s up on her feet, hands in the air, and nose wrinkled not long after.

Carmilla claims that she’s Laura’s new roommate with a letter from the Dean to back it up, and Laura’s furious because Betty is still missing. Carmilla’s run-girls-off-campus routine is in full swing, everything she says being condescending and sarcastic—exactly what will rile Laura up.

“I have a roommate.”

“Well don’t you catch on fast?”

“So you can’t produce this Betty or anything but you’d like me to leave?”

Carmilla mentions the letter from the Dean, and then starts rifling through Betty’s things, and pockets one of the things she finds. Laura tries to get her to stop, but Carmilla claims that possession is nine-tenths, basically saying that Betty's things are fair game since Betty isn’t there to say otherwise.

Everything about Carmilla seems to annoy Laura. Her boldness, her seeming entitlement, her very presence. And I have to say, it only fuels the sexual tension, which kicked into full gear when Carmilla booped Laura’s nose and later, when Laura said “I am going to find Betty and you’re going to be out of here so fast there will be scorch marks on those leather pants of yours."

Laura sits down at her desk with a huff, and the video promptly does a three-day time skip, where we find Laura sitting at her desk again with a box of cereal and carton of soy milk, looking extremely agitated. She declares Carmilla the Roommate From Hell, and then roles her surveillance tape. I’ll talk about Laura’s lack of boundaries a little while later.

She rolls the tape, which shows clips of Carmilla stealing Betty’s clothes, stealing a chocolate cupcake from Laura’s desk, stealing Laura’s takeout later on, and then wiping her foot on Laura’s bed after presumably stepping in something. She then shows Carmilla sitting at Laura’s desk with Elsie (played last minute by the lovely Paige Haight) a student in Laura’s anthropology class that Carmilla seems to be toying with because later on, the video shows Carmilla and Elsie laying in Laura’s bed while perusing what looks like Laura’s diary. (In that diary, if I'm not mistaken, Natasha drew funny NSFW doodles to break the tension some because Paige wasn’t versed in acting since she was part of the crew that filled in last minute when the original actress that had been cast for Elsie was unable to continue with the project.)

Laura continues her rant when we cut back to her sitting at the desk, and she says that the last time one of Carmilla’s “Study Buddies” came by looking for her, she mentioned offhand that Carmilla had "raging cold sores, and she should probably get herself checked out." Which, honestly, was kinda mean.

To put the cherry on top, Laura decides to steal Carmilla’s “super special soymilk,” but is immediately horrified when what she pours into her Chokoa Crunch isn’t soymilk, but blood.

And that’s where episode three ends.

Over on Twitter, their passive-aggressive ranting about each other continues, and Carmilla’s impressed at Laura “really elevating passive aggression to a kind of art.”

(I’ll start digging into Tumblr more after we get past S1E6, since the first six episodes being dropped in one shot doesn’t leave much room for posts in between.)

-------

So, I know I’ve been picking apart Laura’s behavior mostly in these articles so far, but in my defense, we haven't really been introduced to anyone else so far.

Laura’s black and white, good vs. bad thinking goes hand in hand with her absolute lack of boundaries during Carmilla’s first few days as her roommate. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be surveilling your roommate. It’s a little weird, to say the least. When it comes down to it, she believes that if she’s doing something for the “right” reason, then, however, she does it is fine, which also plays into her journalistic instinct of getting information however she can.

Laura’s on the hunt for Betty, and since Carmilla’s wrapped up in this as her new roommate, Carmilla’s privacy is fair game in Laura’s search for answers. Carmilla is bothered by this obviously, but seemingly not for the reason we’d think. She seems to be more worried about catching the Dean’s attention rather than being personally annoyed that her privacy is being encroached on.

With the life Carmilla’s led under Maman’s watchful eye for the last 316 years, intrusions on her privacy are probably fairly commonplace.

Going back to Laura, on top of this journalistic instinct, I wonder if all of Sherman’s hovering, despite how much it annoyed Laura, sort of normalized the act of hovering or snooping to her. Not that I think Sherman was the type of dad to take Laura’s door off the hinges or anything that extreme, but it’s a thought. Though I think it’s more her drive to find out the truth, and the tunnel vision that can create.

Negative qualities make the characters really interesting. You don’t want flawless characters, all that does is create shallow, short, uninteresting stories. You want characters who have room to grow and don’t always react in the best way, because that is how you get the plot rolling. The not so great qualities that Laura possesses helps to move the plot along just as much as her really admiral qualities. Her tenacity, loyalty, and dedication when it comes to finding Betty is just as much a driving force as her invasiveness and insensitivity where Carmilla is concerned because that invasiveness and insensitivity pushes her interactions with Carmilla while they’re still in this enemies stage. 

They push each other’s buttons, and that moves their development, and on a larger scale, the plot along. You need that to create an interesting narrative. Real people aren’t perfect, and fictional characters shouldn’t be either. Character development is the meat of a character-driven story because it influences that character’s surroundings, and vice versa, and the writers have done a really wonderful job of showcasing that in this series.

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"Carmilla" S1E3 'The Roommate'
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