“Lady’s a Charm”
June 23rd, 2008
When Nancy Botwin is wearing an extremely short dress, her family knows the score: she isn’t shopping for a bed skirt, that’s for sure. After we learned last week that Guillermo had plans for her that went beyond the “sales floor,” it was pretty easy to put two and two together that he had plans to exploit his muse to the fullest, so to speak.
The result is the usual theme for Weeds, as Nancy’s new experiences are told through an alarming sequence wherein she’s way over her head and where Mary-Louise Parker can continue to indicate why she’s so great in this role. It’s at least, though, more of a learning experience for Nancy than before, as she might just have some time to grow into this one without fear for her life…but probably not.
The second episode of Weeds’ fourth season is a lot like the first: a lot of setup with little payoff. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll stress that point a lot, but it does mean that the most shocking thing about the episode was that Silas got a new haircut. This isn’t to say that Weeds needs to shock us, but it does mean that things are continuing at the snail’s pace the show can be known for.
I’m being facetious when I say that Silas’ haircut was the episode’s only surprise, but in all honesty the real change in the episode is the slow but natural build towards Silas emerging more as a lead character than before. It’s subtle here, but the haircut and a new aggressive attitude are an extension of the learning lessons he got working for his mother last season. He’s more assertive, and you can sense the show leaning on him more and more.
The little scene with Andy in the converted into a growhouse van is a fine example of this; not only do they continue to make a big deal out of the haircut (Which elevates Hunter Parrish from teen mopcut to wannabe-adult fauxhawk), but the scene also reminds us that Silas lost a father too. Shane has usually gotten the “My father died, pity me” storylines, but Silas is just as screwed up. The introduction of Andy’s has done well to return Judah to our narrative, and I think that building off his father’s legacy and his mother’s business might be a good way for Silas to become interesting. Conrad’s departure has left a whole for a male lead to fill, and that Conrad was the one to teach Silas the ways of growing makes it somewhat fitting (If still an unfortunate event for some fans).
The other two storylines of the episode are exactly what we’d expect: Nancy and Celia are both in over their heads, so there is clearly comic potential in both instances. Celia’s is quite simple, as we get to see through visits from her lawyers and Doug/Isabelle how her roommate makes Celia her “special girl” through a variety of extremely humorous hair and makeup treatments. It’s a simple little gag, but Elizabeth Perkins is great at this kind of comedy. The storyline takes a turn for the interesting when we find out that the authorities have a photo of Nancy with Guillermo (Taken while they were watching the fire), which should make her situation more plot-driven in future weeks.
The plot here, though, was all for Nancy Botwin, who takes her Prius for her first assignment for Guillermo. It’s an intriguing journey, but totally in the vein of the tasks she did for U-Turn last year (Including her booty dance she did for Guillermo in the first place). There was the same misdirection, the same incredulous anger from Nancy when she finds out that she’s just being tested, and the same chance for Mary-Louise Parker to look both very attractive and very panicked at every turn. Her trip across the border to “get her taillight fixed” and pick up inhalers has her starting a feud between two mechanics, buying a bunch of souvernirs to make change, peeing into an Iced Latte cup, and cracking redundant immigrant smuggling jokes to border police.
And it’s all quite funny, which is something that couldn’t be said for Season Three’s opening. There, Nancy had reason to fear for her life, whereas here there’s a light-hearted take on everything: Guillermo is dangerous, obviously, but he’s using Nancy less in a violent and more in an exploitative fashion. That it was all just a test, with no drugs outside of the prescription confusion that she was too panicked to think about, also makes this seem more like an actual relationship than a debt-driven blood contract of sorts. We’re also getting into it a bit faster, and the reveal that there’s a camera to “review the tape” certainly helped put an ultimately humorous perspective on things.
As a result of the amount of time this took, Albert Brooks didn’t have much to do; strangely the episode title actually comes from his phrase, a story about how he would have won $20,000 in gambling bets if not for Andy and Judah running off with his money. We did learn, however, that Bubbie wants them to kill her – there was no way that they would keep her around considering how little humour can be brought on by feces, so it’s nice to see another area where they’re keeping things moving. Albert Brooks isn’t sticking around all season, but he’s been a good addition to the cast in the meantime.
So on the whole, more of the same: good comedy, great performance from Mary-Louise Parker, and still plenty of questions to answer for the rest of the season.
- I’m with Nancy – Shane and Silas’ conversation in the bathroom was just plain awkward. From Silas being a bigger dick than usual, to little Shane suggesting that Silas, you know…it was just kind of shocking considering how young these kids once were. Shane, in particular, isn’t old enough for this stuff.
- While Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s absence form the series all this time seems strange, I think it’s actually quite natural – Shane’s insane period last year was really the last time it would have felt natural, as now the whole point of returning to his family seems to be to allow his family to move out from under that shadow. Plus, the tone of the series is less into sentimental or emotional flashbacks/visions these days, and the shift of tone would make it far more difficult.
- The big question remains: how do we keep Nancy from being completely on the run, and how do we get Celia, Doug and Isabelle to Ren Mar? And, how long will it take us to get to that point?