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  • Writer's pictureLiz Edwards

Heal Thyself - Shame, Injury, and Dud's Foot

Ok, so I reckon I have a theory on why dud’s foot wouldn’t heal in season 1.

First of all, it always struck me as odd that Dud was embarrassed about his foot. It doesn’t seem like Dud at all to give a shit about that kind of thing.

With that in mind, I was thinking about Bill Dudley’s watch. He sold it to Bert to go get Dud from Nicaragua, right? So, what did he tell Dud and Liz about what happened to the very obviously missing watch? He surely must have had to tell them he hocked it, and it’s right there in Bert’s store. This also could be why he was so reluctant to sell it, why he almost found the balls to ask Paul for money. He knew selling the watch to Burt meant admitting to the kids he was not doing great.

Anyway, fast forward to Bill’s last day, with Dud in the store, when he asks if Dud would like to get in the water. Dud says no, and again, later explains that he was too embarrassed about his foot.

My theory is that he wasn’t embarrassed about his foot. He was embarrassed about his Dad. He had no idea things were shitty, and now suddenly dad has had to sell his watch to get money to come get Dud. Suddenly seeing your parents, who have supported you all your life, as flawed humans struggling for money is quite a thing.

My theory is: Dud’s injury wouldn’t heal because, after Bill’s death, his mind conflated it with unconfronted guilt and shame about his dad, and his identity as the Son in Dudley and Son. Dud’s depression about his physical injury during that scene when he declines to join Bill - it just doesn’t match the way Dud seems to deal with physical injuries, but it certaily matches someone who is trying to reconcile

Avery even tells us the snake bite is all in his head, and he’s the only person who can heal this universal wrong. This seemed like such a ridiculous thing to say at the time

So, it possible that it wasn’t the shark bite, the antibiotics, or the that healed the foot - that it was Dud’s reconciliation of his Dad as a hero not a failure, and the dissipation of his guilt associated with his belief that his shame of his father is what killed him?

One of the greatest things in a very long list of great things about this show, is how wonderfully unspecific it is in all the right places. There are very few compelling readings that, if we accept them, exclude other compelling readings. There's absolutely no reason why the salt water, the shark, the psychology, the universal alignment, and the antibiotics can't all be potential answers that are just as likely as each other - but more than that, there's absolutely no reason they can't all equally be the answer.

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