The Weird Change 'Lisey's Story' Made To The Confrontation Between Lisey & Dooley

- Lisey's Story -
The Weird Change 'Lisey's Story' Made To The Confrontation Between Lisey & Dooley

Now that Lisey's Story has attempted to ruin pizza for everyone, I would like to point out that Jim Dooley's weapon of choice against Lisey could have been something entirely different. Since Stephen King is adapting his own novel here, every change feels significant. And although, I can't claim to know the exact reasoning behind him switching Dooley's weapon from a can opener to a pizza slicer in the fourth episode, I suspect it may have had something to do with not wanting audience members to barf.

There's no way around the harrowing nature of episode four. Nearly the entire hour is devoted to Dooley breaking into Lisey's home and brutally beating her in his quest to obtain Scott's unpublished works. And while it is beyond tough to watch, it's even harder to read.

In a recent interview with TV Line, Julianne Moore revealed that the episode's director, Pablo Larraín, hates violence. However, since this traumatic event is a key part of Lisey's story, there was no way to cut the confrontation entirely. Instead, he found a clever way to film the violent encounter that allowed the actual violence to largely remain in the imagination of the viewer.

"Pablo was trying to think about how to communicate this sequence and how best to play it, and he decided — and I think it’s really masterful — that you would never see the two characters, Lisey and Dane's [DeHaan] character, in a two-shot," Moore said. "You see Dane's side where he's inflicting the violence, and then you see my side where I'm receiving this violence, but you never see any physical contact between the two. So in a sense, it leaves it up to the audience’s imagination to imagine what's actually happening on contact."

Meanwhile, in the book, King offers no escape. After Dooley punches Lisey repeatedly in the face, he pulls out a can opener, which he uses on her breast. In the novel, King writes:

"She had time to register two things before he swept his left hand down the front of her, tearing open her blouse and popping the catch at the front of her bra so that her small breasts tumbled free. The first was that he wasn't sorry a bit. The second was that the object in his right hand had almost certainly come from her very own Things Drawer. Scott had called it Lisey's yuppie church key. It was her Oxo can opener, the one with the heavy-duty rubber handgrips."

Things only get worse from there as Dooley uses the can opener to mangle Lisey's breast. Seeing something like that depicted on TV, would be almost impossible to watch. From a filming standpoint, the act of attacking someone with a can opener would not only be gruesome, it would also likely be a long scene by necessity. Without getting too graphic, a can opener isn't the most practical weapon — it's the choice of someone with an eye for torture.

A pizza cutter, on the other hand, looks like it would be far easier to film using the two-shot method Larraín employs since it allows for some distance between the assailant and the victim. Plus, while the violence is still hard to stomach, the swap dials down the horror level just a notch.

It also pays off Dooley's weird junk food fixation. Remember, the pizza cutter scene was actually foreshadowed in the third episode when Dooley slices into a pie while sitting in his truck. (And hey, now those horrible squelching sound effects and the lingering shot of his lunch actually make sense.)

But pizza is far from the only junk food Dooley loves. He's also a fan of Hot Pockets, microwave macaroni and cheese, and other people's leftover hamburgers. The guy is always eating, and the show has gone out of its way to make everything he eats look horribly unappetizing — including (maybe even especially, pizza). His junk food fixation is an established part of his character, and having him use a pizza cutter as a weapon feels like a natural extension of this terrifying man's twisted psyche.

In May, King told Variety that in adapting Lisey's Story for Apple TV+ he was given the chance to look at his novel with a critical eye and make the overall story stronger. He explained the adaptation process "was a chance to rewrite what I had done — to go back and look at it with not a lover's eye but more of an editorial eye, colder."

And in that sense, switching Dooley's weapon against Lisey from her random can opener to the mad man's very own pizza cutter feels like a part of King's editing process. Ultimately, it makes for a tighter story since it plays into Dooley's character quirks, while also sparing viewers from the horrors of a can opener attack scene.

The sequence might make you look twice at pizza for a while, but trust me, the master of horror and Larraín did us all a solid by dialing back the violence in the fateful confrontation between Dooley and Lisey.


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Images: Apple TV+

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