ACT THREEA Meeting With Ziegler.
Bill arrives and the house is strange. . .it seems that it doesn't look right without a big fake party going on. Like Ziegler's life is based around the gathering of many, many rich people. Kind of sad, in a Richard Cory sort of way.

Bill meets Victor in the billiards room (Napoleon is forever standing with hand in coat above Ziegler's fireplace, and a blue light pulsates in through the window, in front of which is an incredibly intricate model of a ship) and they make smalltalk for a second and soon the conversation digresses to Victor's knowledge of Bill's activities the previous night and that day. Bill denies it. "Please Bill, no games," replies Victor. Too late for that. He tells Bill that he's in way over his head and that the whole thing was false, all the "woman as hero" act. This discussion occurs, of course, above Ziegler's richly RED pool table.

Victor tells Bill that, in short, Mandy was just a hooker, not his savior, and that she wound up dead only because she was a junkie, just like Bill said she was back in the bathroom two nights ago. "It was all a charade," he says. Bill is for some reason very convinced of all this. . .as if to say "Yes. . .no woman could save me!" and yet he doesn't want to believe that he's been played as a fool. "People die all the time. Life goes on, it always does; until it doesn't. But you know that, dontcha?" Sure he does. Victor tells Bill that he had him followed, that Nick was sent back to Seattle "where he's probably banging Mrs. Nick." Bill seems very distressed at all this, at all of his beliefs being broken. He thought he was involved in a big, interesting conspiracy of murder, intrigue, and depravity. Yet, Ziegler tells him, it was just a party that had been crashed, and then a big Broadway show for a bit of flair. Just a dream. Of course, if Ziegler's so sure of himself and of his manhood, where has his wife been since the first act? That's right, you forgot he had a wife, didn't you? Hmm. He's not one to be trusted. And yet Bill breaks down at all this information.

So is Victor telling the truth?

Good question. I really don't know. There are a few possible answers, each with their own ramifications.

1) Yes, Victor WAS telling the truth. If this is true, then A) this is an overlong, unnecessary scene that probably would've been cut OR B) there is some deeper meaning to Victor's confession and Bill's acceptance.

2) No, Victor was lying. If this is true, then A) this scene is more necessary to the plot, and Bill's acceptance of this is yet another in his personal bad decisions AND B) we still don't know who the Masked Woman ACTUALLY is and what happened to Mandy and Nick.

3) It doesn't matter. If this is true, A) this film is not a mystery; the obscure identities of the Masked Woman, Mandy, Tricorn, and so forth are meant to be just that AND B) instead of focusing on solving the mystery, we should focus on how it affects Bill.

To be honest, these are all plausible. 3) is inherently the most Kubrickian, but there's no evidence that makes it any more valid than the other two.

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