During the first week in March, The Montclarion will be publishing content related to the two-year commemoration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the effect it has had on Montclair State University’s campus community #Since2020.
“Two weeks isn’t too long.”
Or so we and the characters of “Modern Love” season two, episode three all thought on March 13, 2020. How naive were we?
Each episode of Amazon Prime’s “Modern Love” brings to life a different story published in the popular “Modern Love” column in the New York Times. Last summer, the streamer released its second season of the show. Episode three, in particular, caught my eye.
Titled “Strangers on a Train,” the episode shows college girl Paula (Lucy Boynton) and tech guy Michael (Kit Harrington) as they meet on a train heading back to their childhood homes as a result of a two-week lockdown. Having decided to meet right back at the train station two weeks later without exchanging phone numbers, the two end up stuck at home for much longer than they anticipated, barring their plans for a happily ever after.
Although the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic isn’t specifically mentioned, the timing, as well as the all-too-familiar landscape of the episode, implies exactly what it’s about.
Living in the beginning of the pandemic in real-time was hectic, and sometimes it takes a bit of reflection to realize just how insane everything was. Watching this episode did just that.
For instance, when Paula mentions her seminars starting back up two weeks later, it reminds me of when I went home for spring break with the anticipation of coming back to school the following week, only for it to be extended a second week. Which I’ll admit, at the time, was a relief. Though in that first week of March I never thought it would be over a year before I saw in-person classes again.
Seeing the pair at the train station with people frantically running around in masks and Paula relating it to a “black and white horror film” looks similar to the days of arriving at Costco before it opened just to stand in a line that wrapped around the entire building because so many people were afraid they’d shut down food stores, or worse, run out of toilet paper.
Though this story takes place in Ireland, it is funny to see how similar of an experience the entire world had. Reading book after book, watching movie after movie and getting some fresh air from the comfort of a beach chair in the middle of the yard is something not only the characters in the show experienced, but something the entire world experienced.
Perhaps the best parts of the episode are the satirical spins on the clichés that came out of the pandemic. Just as Paula and Michael part ways, they dramatically touch elbows rather than hug one another. Later on, Michael tries to convince a cop to let him past a checkpoint by singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Or there’s my personal favorite saying from the early pandemic days: “we’re all in this together,” which is repeated several times throughout this episode.
“Strangers on a Train” is a detailed reminder of those first few weeks of March 2020 compiled into 34 minutes of runtime. It combines the uncertainty of the beginning of the pandemic with humor and romance. And if nothing else, it left me with one lesson: if you hit it off with someone on a train, give them your number because you never know when a worldwide pandemic may hinder your plans to find each other again.