The Exclamation Point is a feature where I look at the moment a piece of culture made me go [!]. Today’s subject is The Shape of Water, a film from Guillermo del Toro.
About two thirds through the film, the monster eats Giles’ cat. Despite half the film taking place in that apartment, you did not know that Giles has a cat, let alone about five cats–that Giles is an eccentric cat hoarder!
As a writer, Guillermo del Toro is strangely indifferent to establishing stuff. He simply doesn’t care. This is a thing I’ve noticed.
So I also noticed when he spent a lot of time establishing two things:
A) Thanks to her friend Zelda, Eliza always clocks in and out of work on time, whether or not she is late. Which is always, because
B) She masturbates every day before work. We see her jill off in the bath while boiling eggs for lunch. She gets in the tub and finishes lady-fapping before the egg-shaped egg-timer goes “ding.” Essentially, this is a high-end B-movie creature-feature, so you might expect some gratuitous T&A, but the scene repeats, so this is an *establishing* self-gratification scene. Every day she brings freshly boiled and masturbated over eggs to work.
She Feeds These To The Monster
She feeds these to the monster! She shells the egg for him—sensually, with her teeth!—before she offers it. Yum! He gobbles the next one down shell and all. We see Eliza laying the eggs out deliciously in a row for him. “I rubbed it out over all of these,” she seems to say, as if playing a particularly daring hand of poker, “which sounds kinda weird, but unfortunately I’m mute and you can’t talk, so I’ll just assume we understand each other.”
. . . Let’s call this her kink.
“Only the monster sees me complete,” Eliza says. But what does this mean exactly? Eliza has two close friends in this movie. No one else seems to have any! She has snippy coworkers, but by cutting in line, she makes them clock in late for work every day, so the abuse seems pretty mild. Maybe that she can’t get a date? All the men go out of the way to do her special favors or explicitly state they want to fuck her. Some guys are charming, some are dicks, but no one is indifferent. Well then?
“Complete” means “egg kink and all.”
The Monster Is Totally Aroused By Her Egg Thing
It’s like fucking heroin to him. He spends a week in a teaspoon-sized bathtub just to get his fix. Later, we see him dropping dead at the breakfast table, raining down scales down on the kitchen tiles. Does he look at his wrist and say, “Look babe, tricks have been great, but if I don’t get back to the ocean soon, I’ll dissolve like the Little Mermaid”? No. He says, “Got any more eggs?”
Actually It’s Not A Happy Ending
Here’s why. The monster thinks Eliza lays those eggs. She’s the only female he interacts with. She’s the only one with eggs. Coincidence? He assumes not. Fish lay eggs.
Also, all the music and dancing. Ever see fish dance? It’s an egg-laying ritual. He must think if you hoof a big show-stopping number, her ovipositor gets to work.
But here’s what. Eliza will never lay an egg under the sea. Not one. The monster will feel confused and betrayed. The romance will be gone. I don’t know where they’ll end up, but will it be more soul-crushing than Baltimore in the late 50s?
Hard to imagine. But possibly!