Geoffrey: Okay. I’ve been thinking about the willow speech—
Ellen: Oh no…
Geoffrey: You describe Ophelia’s death—
Geoffrey: —in great detail, why?
Ellen:(exasperatedly) Geoffrey, please, you’re driving me insane!
Geoffrey: Why do you describe it in such detail?
Ellen: A young girl falls in the river and drowns. (turns to look at him) That kind of thing tends to stick with you.
Geoffrey: Why didn’t you save her?
Ellen: I don’t know, I didn’t want to ruin my dress— please don’t make me talk about this now—
Geoffrey: Ellen, come on. (slaps the dressing table top with his hand)
Ellen: (sighs) She was better off dead, she was suffering.
Geoffrey: Okay. (rises from his seat and walks across the dressing room) Let’s take this a little bit further. What if Ophelia didn’t drown? What if she killed herself?
Ellen:(twists in her chair to look at him) I say she was mad, she was incapable of her own distress.
Geoffrey: You could be lying.
Ellen: Oh, Jesus Christ!
Geoffrey: Ophelia drowns and you stand by and watch it happen. Why? Because you do believe that she’d be better off dead. You already feel responsible for her madness, and now you feel responsible for her death, so in a final act of mercy… (he sits back down) you lie about it. You disguise her apparent suicide so the poor thing can be buried in consecrated ground.
Ellen: (stares at him) Geoffrey, that is a completely different approach to the speech.
Geoffrey: Yeah. (stands up again) I think it might be a bit stronger than your, “I didn’t wanna ruin my dress” subtext.
Ellen:(shouts angrily) You can’t do this to me! This is the last performance!
Geoffrey:(pauses by the dressing room door) Well, think of it as your last chance to get it right.
Ellen:(waits for him to leave, then screams incoherently)
- Slings & Arrows 2x01 Season’s End
Can I just talk a minute about how much I love this scene? Okay, well, I love all of the scenes, but this is indicative of Geoffrey and Ellen’s relationship at this point: he knows Ellen is capable of more, of better. He pushes her, openly challenging her. He knows she’s better than the performance she’s been giving and she won’t respond to coddling, so he pokes and prods at her, demanding she justify her motivations, knowing that she will rise to it in turn - and she does, magnificently.