Journey Through Kill Bill: Part 6 & 7
Steve P’s Journey Through Kill Bill was originally published on Genrebusters. This article is re-posted on Playtime by permission of the author. You can catch up on the Journey by reading Part 1 & 2 , Part 3&4, and Part 5 here.
Volume 2 Intro and Chapter 6: Massacre At Two Pines
Volume Two of the Kill Bill Saga begins exactly like Volume One: the screen is black and we hear the titular antagonist explaining in his own special way that this hurts him more than it does The Bride. And just like we saw in the first volume’s intro, The Bride is in the middle of telling Bill who her baby’s father is (hint: his name starts with a “B”) when Bill fires the infamous shot that sends her into a coma and the screen goes black.
The Bride commences her narration and the lights come up to reveal our heroine driving . The film is completely black and white and an eclectic piece of music that sounds like a classic monster movie theme mixed with a saucy tango plays as her car navigates the winding road. She breaks the fourth wall to explains all that has come before as well as what is about to occur. Specifically, she is “gonna kill Bill”.
The screen then cuts to black as the words “Vol. 2″ scroll up (and the title card for chapter six follows shortly thereafter). At this point, the Bride’s narration resumes and she reveals that the event which set this whole thing in motion didn’t occur at a wedding. Nope, it happened at a wedding rehearsal.
A church in El Paso, Texas is revealed in black and white–possibly to highlight the fact that this event occurred in the past. As the Bride’s narration dies down, we hear the Reverend’s voice as he explains a few of the dos and don’ts of weddings in his chapel. The Bride, now visibly pregnant, decides to get some fresh air and as she makes her way towards the door, she hears a flute playing a lonely tune. Immediately a look of subdued surprise (and possibly fear) appears on her face. As she steps outside onto the boardwalk in front of the chapel, she turns and Bill’s visage is finally revealed to the audience. He finishes his tune, greets her with a warm “Hello kiddo” and puts down his flute. The Bride doesn’t answer. She doesn’t welcome him. She doesn’t even smile. All she says is “How did you find me?” He simply responds with “I’m the man”. And from that brief opening exchange, it’s abundantly clear that these two have a past. Granted, the dialogue reveals some of that, but the way it’s said and the way both characters behave physically makes this point crystal clear. In fact, if this were the first scene that any audience saw, their relationship would still be as plain as day. Both the actors and the director really sold the moment perfectly.
What follows their “greeting” is a discussion between Bill and The Bride that’s one part negotiation, one part small talk, and one part genuine conversation. And just as Bill is about to reveal what could be something very important, they are interrupted by the arrival of the groom, Tommy.
Bill and the Bride pretend to be father and daughter in front of Tommy. The two assassins easily convince Tommy of their false relationship. Of course it helps that he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. The Reverend then calls everyone back up to do one last run-through of the wedding ceremony. However, before the Bride returns to the altar, she goes back to Bill and does several things. She pleads for Bill’s forgiveness, asks for his blessing, and says goodbye to her former lover all in the same moment. Bill seems to accept or reluctantly grant all three things in that very same moment. But once she returns to the altar, the camera pulls away from the chapel and we see Bill’s minions: The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad arrive outside. They give each other a once over and walk through the doorway with guns a-blazin’. The screams of the victims are heard amidst the gunfire before the Bride cries out Bill’s name and then all is silent.
This brings the number of times that we’ve seen the inciting massacre to five. The first time was in the intro at the beginning of the whole saga (and again at the beginning of volume two). The second time was at the opening of Chapter Two when the Sheriff of El Paso arrived on the scene of the crime. The third instance was at the end of Chapter Three when The Bride was revealing O-Ren’s history to the audience. The fourth time was when the Bride saw Sophie in Chapter Five. And here we have number five. However, despite the fact that it’s been seen so many times in the film, Tarantino never overlapped any of the sequences of the massacre. No repeats, no recycled footage, no repeated lines. That’s pretty impressive. Other directors might have re-used some of the same footage if they had to retell a certain part more than once–in fact, many have. But Tarantino didn’t. And that’s a refreshing change of pace.
The narrative then cuts to “today”. The color has returned to the screen and the setting looks very similar to what it was before. The camera slowly pans and we see Bill approach a mobile home in the middle of the desert. The lone resident of the aforementioned abode is Budd (A.K.A. Sidewinder), Bill’s brother.
They discuss the death of O-Ren Ishii and her minions at the hands (and sword) of the Bride. And as they talk, it’s clear that something has happened between these two. A rift, if you will, that seems to have driven them far apart. And Budd does what he can to expand the rift by telling Bill that he sold his priceless Hattori Hanzo sword for two hundred fifty dollars. Bill then changes the subject by emphasizing the importance of his visit to warn Budd of the Bride’s imminent attack and offers his aid to Budd… if his brother will accept it.
What comes next establishes the complexity of Budd’s character for the rest of the film. Budd is not a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have some emotional depth as well as some inner conflict (The same can also be said for Bill). He may not be as articulate as Bill or O-Ren, but he does have their strength of character. And while he may not like his brother or what the Deadly Vipers did to The Bride, he’s not about to just roll over and die. And I love how he articulates that sentiment in his unsophisticated vocabulary.
Budd pauses for a moment before responding that he’s not afraid of getting what’s coming to him. He states that The Bride deserves her revenge and that they deserve to die. But then he changes course instantly and states that she also deserves to die. Ultimately, Budd concludes his thoughts and the chapter by stating “So I guess we’ll just see, won’t we?”
Indeed we shall.
Chapter 7: The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz
As I watched the opening portion of this chapter, one thought became very prominent in my mind: Budd must hate his brother, Bill. The chapter begins with Budd arriving late to his job as a bouncer at topless bar that has no clients. His boss chews him out, takes him off the schedule for the foreseeable future and makes him go deal with a stopped-up toilet. I mean, Budd obviously has no qualms about killing people as evidenced by the film’s inciting incident, so why else would he quit the high-paying, jet-setting life of an assassin to become a bored and broke bouncer for a strip club that has no patrons with a boss who treats him like crap? Simple, Bill did or said something that wounded Budd like nothing else.
Getting back to the story, Budd arrives home in the dead of night and goes inside as the Bride waits for him to settle down before striking. However, she has underestimated her latest quarry. She rips open his door, but before she can even finish her “We have unfinished business” speech, she’s knocked on her back by the blast from a shotgun. Looming over her, Budd explains, as our heroine lays there in agony, that he loaded the shotgun with rock salt because it’s not lethal, but it’ll still incapacitate its target. He then promptly drugs her before she can recover. I find it ironic that the only member of the Deadly Vipers who hasn’t continued to hone their skills is the only one who manages to take down the Bride.
As soon as our heroine is unconscious, Budd places a call to Elle and offers to sell The Bride’s hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind, Hattori Hanzo Sword for one million dollars. Elle agrees to purchase it for that amount on one condition: the Bride must suffer before she dies. Budd agrees and they make plans to meet in the morning.
The next thing we see is the Bride waking up, all tied up, in the bed of Budd’s truck. He hauls her out and tosses her on the ground. As she looks around she sees a grave being dug and hears Budd’s buddy holler that he’s done. It dawns on her what they’ve got planned for her and as they pick her up to carry her to the grave, she struggles with them.
Budd, having no patience for this, pins her down and puts a canister of mace up to her eye. He explains that she IS going in the ground. No ifs ands or buts. However, he was planning on giving her a flashlight. But if she keeps causing problems, he has no problems blasting her eyes with every last drop from the mace canister thereby blinding her. After explaining that to her, he gives her the choice. Naturally, she chooses the flashlight.
As Budd places her in a pine box, he looks her in the eyes and tells her “This is for breaking my brother’s heart.” He then closes the lid and nails the coffin shut, sealing the Bride within it. Clearly, Budd is not a nice person by any stretch of the imagination. But there is something about him, some small hint of remorse in his homicidal mind, that makes him interesting (at least more so than Elle). I wouldn’t say that he has scruples, but he does seem to have a few guidelines that he adheres to. Otherwise he would have just tortured the Bride and killed her. At least this way she seems to have the slimmest possibility of hope. Perhaps he regrets what he and the other Deadly Vipers did to the Bride. And maybe, in his mind, this is his way of apologizing while still following through on his deal with Elle.
Once the lid is closed, the camera perspective switches to that of the Bride enclosed within the coffin and the audience witnesses the loss of illumination as Budd’s act of vivisepulture is completed. Our heroine whimpers and struggles against her bonds with no success. She turns on the flashlight and looks around the claustrophobic box for any sign of hope. But there is none. The coffin is closed and has been buried six feet under. After several minutes of struggling and searching frantically, she turns off the light. And it is here, in the darkness and silence of the Bride’s coffin, where the chapter comes to an end.
Continue reading Part 8 & 9…
Edited by Tracy McCusker.