A hatchet for everyone and for everyone a hatchet. At least according to Beatrice, who owns an entire collection of them, each one so treasured it has a name. There’s Benjamin (her most prized hatchet), and Dan, and several others she keeps stockpiled around her room. Because, you know, arsenals for everybody!
In the second episode of Another Period’s second season, hatchets equal guns in so many words. The bit is a familiar one for the show, which likes to criticize contemporary issues by couching them in past signifiers. The timing, however, couldn’t be more eerie. The hatchet storyline seems almost prescient arriving so quickly after Orlando’s mass shooting on June 12. Then again, considering the United States has experienced 136 mass shootings so far in 2016, perhaps it could have aired at any time and hit home.
Having been written and filmed before Orlando, though, the episode isn’t responding to that tragedy specifically. The show’s writers take aim (forgive the wording) at gun rights and its floundering counterpart gun control by making one of its silliest characters an advocate for weapons ownership.
Per their father’s request, Lillian and Beatrice annul their 20 year marriages. (For those keeping tabs, that means they were 15 when they wed.) Beatrice and her husband Albert, the not-so-closeted lover of Lillian’s husband Victor, find that he responds violently when confronted with a hatchet. He was after all knocked into a coma during the show’s first season when Beatrice’s brother Frederick threw one at him and nearly cleaved his chest in two. Having recovered, the guy’s got a bit of a problem when he sees the weapon and he wants Beatrice to get rid of hers.
“Wait, so you’re saying I should give up my hatchets just because they cause some people to act violently?” she asks. “So what? First you take my hatchets then you take my buzzsaws. What’s next? My timber jigs? Then how am I supposed to chop beaver carcasses or defend myself in a mutiny?” The argument parallels what gun owners continue to lob against citizens and legislators asking for stricter laws. It’s that infallible line of reasoning: The Second Amendment promised guns. All guns. No questions asked. Even assault rifles, which hadn’t yet been created at the time of its signing, as Key & Peele so poignantly criticized in one of their more famous sketches.
Stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito followed a similar line of thinking. On June 16, she tweeted:
In fact, when it comes to the argument about gun control comedians have provided a clear voice of reason. Honestly, sometimes it feels like the clearest. Among others, Samantha Bee gave an impassioned speech and Stephen Colbert skewered the Senate for failing to vote in gun reform.
Another Period’s contribution to comedy’s gun control debate has a more absurdist quality. It throws away any clear-voiced reason and instead explodes the notion of any person’s right to weapons by replacing the idea of “gun” with “hatchet.” And then it has Beatrice—a child in the body of an adult woman—go about defending her right to own as many as she possibly can. Beatrice lists off all the reasons she needs a hatchet, echoing the well-trod arguments gun owners continue to rely upon. She argues that had Albert been armed he could have killed his attacker or he could have thrown his hatchet at the hatchet coming at him and stopped it in mid-air (more on this in a moment). “The point is, hatchets don’t kill people, people without hatchets do because they basically kill themselves by not having hatchets,” Beatrice explains. “Think about it, have you ever seen a dead body with a hatchet in its hand?” It’s not as sharp or even as moving a commentary as other comedians and shows have presented since Orlando. But it’s not supposed to be.
The show lets her win. Kind of. In the episode’s penultimate scene, she gets a chance to prove her earlier hatchet logic. Beatrice throws her hatchet at another one flying through the air toward Frederick. Her aim causes the two hatchets to ricochet off one another, causing minimal damage to the bystanders in the room. The show may have a critical mind, but it’s not going to forego an opportunity to dip into the low end of the comedy spectrum a la physicality.
In the end, hatchets win out. “A hatchet in every hand. It’s just safer that way,” Beatrice concludes. Until it’s not.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance journalist specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.