From Paris with Love weaves both seasons into deeper, relevant concepts in a variety of ways, but primarily through Shane and Oliver’s interactions. And fittingly so, as they are the two characters who have spent the duration of their relationship traversing the space between the two seasons, both in their lives, and in their relationship with one another almost from the very beginning.
Oliver’s winter started long before Shane ever came onto the scene. It started the night he met Holly and kept her from freezing to death in the middle of a blizzard. But he’s been lost in it ever since. Oliver never got off that mountain---until now.
In fact, much like Holly’s poem, from a place stronger than death, someone started calling for him---reminding him to breath, reminding him to live, so that one day he, much like Holly at the end of her poem, could see the sun again.
Who was calling for him?
“Don’t be frightened. We’ll get through this. The secret is to stay awake. Maybe if we keep talking, that will help…” Oliver spoke these words to Holly, but it was Shane who put them into practice with Oliver.
Shane came into the blizzard, alongside Oliver, to share his burden. She kept him awake and, most importantly, she kept him talking and facing the challenge before him until he started to thaw and could see the sun again.
It’s a complicated assertion, but I trust that with a little retrospective it might become more easily digested.
We’ll start with that night at the Mailbox Grille when Oliver first revealed to Shane that his wife left him. Almost immediately she encouraged Oliver to go after her, and correctly surmised that he was doing everything in his power to not address the situation, which ultimately Oliver deflected by asking her not to “psychoanalyze the Section Leader.” Shane even went as far as to offer to “look her up” so he would finally know. It was at this point she began carrying his load, whether either party realized it or not. At the same time, Oliver flipped the script on Shane about the letter from her Dad.
See, the reason Shane was calling out for Oliver is because she was lost on that same mountain. She, too, had been abandoned much like he had. She understood what it was like to “wait for someone who never comes.” I truly believe that if it wasn’t for this shared hurt that neither would have been capable of helping the other survive their winters. Even in the pilot, Oliver helped Shane take steps towards finding her way out, encouraging her to open her letter from her Dad, which Shane eventually found courage to do.
Once Shane committed to taking on Oliver’s load, he was on a crash course with Holly returning. Shane never stopped pushing Oliver towards resolution whether he wanted it or not. From looking Holly up on the internet and discovering that 3-year lease, to picking up his returned letter to Holly from international misdirects, I truly believe that Shane subconsciously, and perhaps consciously, resolved to finish what she started. It wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t always easy, but she eventually did it.
Consider the major pushes forward with Holly the snow plows coming down the pass to pave a path down the mountain. The plows weren’t capable of completing the job themselves. Shane and Oliver could get out of the cold, but it didn’t mean they weren’t still frozen inside. The snow plows were aided by many little moments of thawing for both of them.
Remember that morning Oliver came in early and spent time with Shane on that platform? She compared Oliver to a snowman she saw on her way into work, frozen, and left by someone who “made him that way.” She said, “All he can do is wait for the thaw before he can change.”
Oliver’s decision to invite Shane to dance with him in the showcase in “Soulmates” was one of the first signs he was trying to keep awake and moving on with life, even if he was doing it in anticipation of his wife returning. Unfortunately for both of them, Oliver might have pushed himself a little bit further than he was ready to go. Now when I look at Oliver retreating from Shane the night before the showcase in “The Masterpiece,” I see a man beginning to thaw and incapable of handling it, doing the only thing he knew how to do---shut it out. What’s important, however, was that Oliver was thawing enough to connect with his feelings at all.
By the time we make it to “The Future Me,” Oliver’s thaw is evident in more subtle ways. For one, remember when Shane asked Oliver about whether or not they were “okay”? He fibbed and said there was no distance between them, but shied away when Shane tried to pull a piece of lint off his jacket. In the flower shop, Ellie pulled a piece of lint off of Bobby’s shirt and said “It’s complicated.” Notice the scene immediately cut to Oliver's face. It was like something clicked, like Oliver was starting to see those things for himself which Shane had always had to point out.
The thaw continued in “The Treasure Box.” Not only did he substitute himself and Shane for Jonathan and Katherine, but when Norman asked Oliver what was in the box, he didn’t hesitate to answer “Love, Norman, lots of love.” Shane seemed a little surprised, and it didn’t hit me until now why that was. It was the first time Oliver recognized and identified “love” as what the letters were trying to convey, and it was very specifically that romantic love he'd been trying everything he could to avoid for so long.
Oliver was also at a point where he could start putting words to paper, which he had not done previously, resulting in that infamous letter to Holly that deprived Postables everywhere of sleep for months.
Oliver’s biggest breakthrough, however, was in the Christmas movie when, for the first time, he placed himself among those whom Shane could count on, reminding her that “Perfect love casts out...pain and...doubt and replaces it with hope,” and showing Shane it was right there for her to embrace. At the same time, I think Oliver began believing the same was true for him, too.
Like I mentioned in my review, Shane stepped up in a big way in this installment, refusing to let Oliver go without talking through what was happening, which culminated on that rafter when he finally revealed that he hadn’t forgiven Holly. Much like it was for Shane, forgiveness was the final piece Oliver needed to heal before he would know what to do next, which Shane pointed him to. He was close to seeing the sun, Spring finally on the horizon.
Oliver's intentions, however, were quite the opposite. What’s beautiful about it all is that at the beginning of From Paris with Love, Oliver essentially revealed through “Springtime in the Rockies” what would happen once Springtime returned: He would be coming home. And much like the song, when Oliver could see the sun again, he came looking for the “sweetheart of the mountains”(Shane) that helped him survive that difficult winter, bringing the gift that “sweetheart” recognized as the hope she thought was lost.
And that’s #BlizzardTheory.
I’ll let you have a few minutes to think this one through. But when you’re done, don’t forget to check out Part I and Part II if you haven’t yet!
Have a great weekend, Postables!