This Week in Milford

July 10, 2016

Sunday Metapost: What just happened here?

Filed under: Gil Thorp, metapost, What the hell is going on here? — teenchy @ 11:02 am

I don’t know why I feel compelled to put up this metapost but in the face of what has been one of the more difficult story arcs to snark on/figure out when it ends/get the point of, I thought it might be a good idea. At the very least it might give us TWIMers a place to freethink what’s been going on. To kick it off, I’ll try to summarize our story since it started in early April (trying to minimize the hyperlinks).

The spring arc started off with Boo Radley working on a knuckleball, then telling us she and True Standish were no longer a romantic couple but still had a friendly relationship. We were introduced to industrial solvents salesman Del Bader who in old-school fashion has too much to drink after a day’s work, gets pulled over and charged with DUI. Del’s son Barry, an underclassman, wins the starting second baseman job but grates on his teammates and coaches by being too aggressive during practice and in the locker room.

Del Bader draws a weak defense attorney and a strong judge. Barry Bader earns the reputation of a me-first, team-second player. True emphasizes that he and Boo are now just friends. Barry overhears his parents talking about Del’s possible DUI conviction and jail time. Barry then has an outburst about his dad in the locker room, making rude comments about Del’s presiding judge and insulting his teammate Ken Brown in the process (as we learn the judge is Ken’s mom).

We fast forward a bit and Barry’s still starting at second base, while his teammates and members of the Lady Mudlarks softball team are now starting to talk about Del. In parallel, Boo Radley works on pitching a no-hitter while Del has a successful business dinner with a client, who entices Del to start drinking again in celebration. Boo Radley, completing her no-hitter, then has a celebration of her own with her teammates at The Bucket.

A drunken Del leaves his dinner and drives erratically, failing to turn on his car’s headlights. Boo leaves her after-game celebration and drops by the Swifti-Mart to pick up some groceries. Boo and True talk to each other on the phone (noteworthy that one published version of the strip had them both talking on the phone while driving, while another had the driving aspect awkwardly edited out).  Boo pulls out of the Swifti-Mart, and turns left into an oncoming Del Bader. Del’s car crashes into Boo’s Jeep, spinning it into the opposite lane, whereupon it get hits broadside by a pickup truck. Boo, dazed but unhurt by Del’s impact, is killed by that of the pickup truck.

In the aftermath, an injured Del is arrested and handcuffed to his hospital bed. Dr. Pearl calls out the school grief counselors. True is consoled by pretty much everybody he encounters. Meanwhile Barry shows up at Milford High, is treated to physical and verbal abuse, and decides to leave school and stay home. Ken Brown, the judge’s son, wonders why Barry doesn’t show up again.

The Lady Mudlarks turn to True for advice as to whether to play their next game after Boo’s death. He says they should, they do, and they get beaten badly. The Mudlark boys play their next game against their traditionally low-class rivals Valley Tech, who surprisingly don’t behave in a low-class manner. Barry Bader’s replacement errs, causing Milford to fall behind, but Ken Brown puts them ahead and an angry True Standish seals the victory.

True’s performance in the Valley Tech game gains the attention of baseball scouts, possibly calling into question True’s path of signing on to play quarterback at Wake Forest. A suddenly nihilistic True questions his path until Gil and True’s father, Art, give him pep talks, leading to yesterday’s start of a memorial service for Boo.


So many troubling things about this arc: where do we begin?  With Boo Radley, a female character that begins to get developed, then abruptly killed off? With Del Bader, a classic drunken salesman who apparently learned no lesson? How about with Barry Bader, a traditionally two-dimensional Milford teen who defends his father, receives abuse for doing so, and receives no compassion for essentially being an innocent bystander to all that unfolds? Or maybe the Milford girls’ response to Boo’s death compared to the Milford boys’?

No, it seems that the last three months of Gil Thorp has turned into a series of plot twists designed to test the mettle of True Standish, possibly the greatest athlete Milford High has produced in recent memory. Since arriving in Milford, True has managed to lead the football team to a state championship (allowing the player he displaced to score the championship-winning touchdown); started playing baseball on a whim and turn into a closer who immediately gets the attention of scouts; attempted to put the college football recruiting process on its ear (#gottabetrue); managed to get signed by a  FBS Power 5 football program despite a disappointing senior season marred by an unrealistic reality TV show; and now regained the attention of baseball scouts.

What the hell is happening here? Consider this diatribe a jumping-off point for discussion. Thanks for indulging me.




  1. One loose end–Del Bader did not kill Boo; so what about the driver of the pick up??? He must be facing charges also…

    Comment by Rowdyman — July 10, 2016 @ 11:28 am

  2. And of course, Rubin is like Tom Batiuk in that he refuse to defend the sewage he sews out.

    Comment by dougputhoff — July 10, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

  3. True was depicted as uncommonly mature and level-headed from the first day we saw him. It sure feels like we’ve seen a lot of him. He’s changed little, if at all.
    I don’t know how anyone else feels, but I’m about ready to move on, and let True go the way of Lucky Haskins and Knox Foley. Problem is, Rubin has set himself up to keep young Mr. Standish in the mix with pro baseball and college football (and he could do both … Ricky Williams played minor league ball for the Phillies while he was a running back with the Texas Longhorns).
    We’ll probably see some sort of half-hearted resolution of the Bader subplot. After that, as far as I’m concerned, thirteen weeks of Gil and Mimi sipping adult beverages on the patio would be a step up.

    Comment by Philip — July 10, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

  4. Bravo, teenchy, bravo. Brilliant synopsis of the spring story line.

    Meaning no discourtesy to Rowdyman, the third driver was simply a plot device. If Boo had not had those few seconds to assess her condition and decide to try to get off the road, we would not even be talking about driver 3. Nothing has suggested anyone but Bader is to blame. I think we are supposed to assume the Swifty Mart is on a curve or something, and that driver 3 could not have seen the crash in time to stop.

    My only objection is to the idea that Mfnrd “produced” True. In fact he fell from the sky, a nationally noted player from another part of the country. Art did in fact indulge him, deciding on where to buy a house based on the best football program for True. Again, in fictive terms, I think we are being told that Gil-the-Noble was the reason Art and True chose Mfnrd.

    So I guess my question is why Whigrub has chosen to have this paragon spend two years in Mfnrd, despite the fact his role there relegates the death of a wickedly independent teenaged girl to a plot device. True is one of the most likable– and mature– characters GT has featured in years. But Boo had that potential in a different way. We first saw her spooning cereal and angling for her parents to buy her a car. Not Jack Armstrong behavior, perhaps, but attractive and compelling. I remember an article about Jack Berrill’s choice of the name “Gil Thorp” as having to do with his baseball hero Gil Hodges and the athletic immortal Jim Thorpe, and have to wonder if those forces are not at work here almost sixty years later, but only for boys.

    Comment by vaganova — July 10, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  5. Quite frankly people’s lives are actually pretty boring. Kids in my local high school live a mundane existence that simply mirrors the blandness of their future lives as salary men and women in the greater middle America. Thorp, on the other hand, takes that mundane life and cranks it up to 11; that is it puts it on fast forward. so that an otherwise boring lifestyle actually can have a modicum of interest for us casual observers. This accelerated drama in their storyline calls for oversimplification in the Thorp storyline–hence why the episode of Milford vigilantes taking Del Bader out to be tarred and feathered was glossed over–and allows us to accept this accelerated reality in the face of our otherwise droll lives. This breakneck speed also causes random plot twists.

    Comment by lester — July 12, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

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