So it didn't take long for rumors to circulate that Shane must be either absent, or located elsewhere, for a decent portion of the film. Yesterday, I hinted at why this might be a good opportunity to see some growth from Oliver, but there's also much to be said about what revelations a separation from him in a completely new place might yield for Shane. First, we have to speculate about how we even get there!
It absolutely matters if Shane and Oliver are on good terms when she leaves. Let's not forget that Mark Valley is listed prominently as a guest star in Higher Ground. That means Steve is back, and one a scale of one to Dale, Steve is definitely Dale+1 in terms of threat level from Oliver's perspective.
But we haven't even really talked about what could cause Steve to re-enter the picture just yet...
It occurred to me that in the wake of Katrina that a lot of federal government agencies had to get involved. We don't know if Steve has always been with the Department of Defense, and very well could have been with the Department of Agriculture at some point, but with connections to information that the POstables need and don't have, he's starting to look really good. It's a lot like how they repeatedly leaned on Dale for help in One In A Million and Lost Without You. So it shouldn't be any surprise that this is the avenue through which his return is made possible.
Let's take a second to remember that, in terms of POstables time, it's been less than a year since Shane and Steve were in the same zip code (Impossible Dream). That was July 2015, and by the time Higher Ground rolls around it's March-ish 2016.
And if Steve's behavior in July 2015 is any indication, then I find it likely he'll take full advantage of open lines of communication with Shane, even if it starts as a work-related favor. One thing Steve has on Oliver is that he's very clear in his feelings for Shane and has expressed them clearly. If in any way Shane indicates that she and Oliver are not exclusive, or he catches wind that Shane is heading to New Orleans alone, then I would fully expect him to fly down and surprise her.
On The Ground
But another question we can ask and maybe answer is what benefit might there be for Shane to meet Hattie? As Gabe mirrors Oliver, I look for Hattie to mirror Shane. If, in fact, Hattie felt abandoned in some way by Gabe after the evacuation, especially if she had feelings for him the went un-reciprocated, then there's a good chance Shane can relate. Convincing Hattie that it's worth the chance to make the trip to Denver and see Gabe will require Shane to grapple with her own feelings. Will Shane be a women reflecting back on how she dealt with loving someone whose feelings remained to be seen for a time, or doing some real-time soul-searching to decide her position on the state of things with Oliver? I think I might have an idea, but it'll have to go through Steve first...
If, indeed, Steve decides to pull a Holly and show up unexpectedly in New Orleans, then I fully expect him to be finding ways to spend time with Shane. This will absolutely cause her to make a decision about what feelings, if any, she still entertains for Steve, and have to decide whether to act on them or not. I don't expect Steve to make this easy, and if Shane is in any way vulnerable---like having left Denver on less than stellar or uncertain terms with Oliver---then I think we may find ourselves yelling at the TV a time or two as she makes up her mind.
Let's not pretend like we don't know how this ends---Shane loves Oliver with every fiber of her being. What will be extremely important here is the fact that she openly declare that to someone, a reality she has so far denied with everyone who attempted to confront her with it. Where she rejected Steve in favor of Oliver on what now register as very vague terms in D.C., I fully expect her to be more explicit and direct with Steve this time around. Doing so completely and totally shuts that door---she can't have one foot in the door and one foot out anymore. Her risk becomes equal to Oliver's---they go all in for each other and risk whatever happens next.
And I fully expect Steve to take Shane's decision like a gentleman, and tell her that Oliver's a very lucky man. Double points if Shane responds "luck is the religion of the lazy"---whatever that might mean in this context!
Of course, if you joined us yesterday to talk Oliver's Higher Ground character development you probably also read that more detailed synopsis which kind of debunks some of the details here. But, once again, I think thematically this is about on par with intent, though obviously there might also be some additional dimensions to be explored post-premiere!
Thoughts on Shane's whereabouts in Higher Ground? Think she heads to New Orleans or could something else be on her agenda? Do we even see Steve in present time, or is it a flashback? Look forward to your answers in the comments section.
More From Speculation Week:
#1: Time & Tone | #2: Visual Aids | #3: At Home, By Himself | #4: Far & Away | #5: What Else To Watch For