Curtain: Why Hastings really dashes back upstairs.

***Spoilers, but if you’ve been here before, you know that! Watch Curtain already!  😛 ***

Anyway.

You know the scene where Elizabeth Cole is playing Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude right after Hastings has had his final chat with Poirot? Hastings walks in on her; she stops playing when she sees him; Hastings has a few moments of pause, then dashes back upstairs to find his friend dead in bed.

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What exactly is it that triggers the dash upstairs? Instinct? The simple fact that the music has stopped dead is what immediately leaps to the eye (or ear), and that is an important part of it. But there’s another component that is more pointed.

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“La musique cesse.” Charcoal sketch on paper.

The fact is that this scene exactly parallels the scene where Hastings first meets Poirot again there at Styles, all those years later, at the beginning of the episode. Elizabeth Cole is sitting at the piano, playing the very same piece. Hastings opens the drawing room door, and there is his friend. Poirot turns to face him, and as he opens his mouth in greeting…

The music stops. And Poirot speaks: “Hastings?”

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The reason, I humbly and speculatively propose, that Hastings stands there awkwardly at the drawing room door when he opens it on the day of Poirot’s death, is that he feels déjà vu, as though he’s waiting for something to happen. And something does happen. Once again, the music stops. Once again, he hears his name: “Captain Hastings?” But it is not Poirot who greets him. That’s when it occurs to him that there is only one difference in the two scenes: Poirot is gone.

Poirot is gone. And when he realizes this, it is then that he rushes upstairs again to see if it is true… and it is.

Hastings returns to the drawing room to ruminate in grief with his daughter, Judith, afterwards.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Curtain: Why Hastings really dashes back upstairs.

  1. I think his reaction is also due in part to that Miss Cole calls to him in a questioning voice. I think that she is trying to ask if he is okay because she is expecting him to tell her HP has passed. When he realizes what her tone of voice means, along with the sense of déjà vu you describe, it really clicks in that HP is very near death and that he shouldn’t have left his side. So- he runs back up to join HP at the end…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not so sure about the notion of Elizabeth Cole expecting Hastings to be giving her news of Poirot’s death, for a couple reasons… 1) Hastings doesn’t look as though he is in deep grief at this point, just sort of lost in thought and perhaps a little sad. 2) Norton has just been found dead that morning, and since he and Elizabeth were apparently good friends, that would be foremost on her mind and it would be more normal to expect Hastings to have come to offer her a few words of comfort on those grounds. 3) Only Hastings, as far as we know, realizes just how very bad and close to death’s door Poirot looked that morning. 4) There may be a synthesis of the ideas happening: perhaps Elizabeth also gets Hastings’ sense of déjà vu about the “repeated scene” and she’s just quicker on the uptake about Poirot having died… but even then, I’m not so sure. She looks uncertain, then confused when Hastings leaves; Hastings looks certain, like a light bulb has gone off.

    Perhaps there’s also some premonition in this scene of the future that the two of them might share– a wish of Poirot’s, who indeed introduces them almost as soon as he first meets Hastings in the episode– and a realization that the deaths and losses that have haunted them both come to a head in Poirot’s own death, which (when faced with Elizabeth) Hastings now realizes has come.

    It’s amazing how a single scene can be understood so many ways by different people! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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