“The Whole Blah Damn Thing”
June 30th, 2008
There are certain points in time when I question whether or not Nancy Botwin really understands what she does for a living. It’s one thing that she isn’t a seasoned professional when it comes to the drug trade, such as last week’s embarassing excursion to Mexico, but when she remains so shocked at the voltatility of it all I have to wonder if she even understands her own life. When she programs her new “secret” home into her GPS that Guillermo has access to, why should she be survived that he knows where she lives?
In what was technically an episode about assisted suicide, this is the only real pressing issue: the episode featured some strong performances from Justin Kirk and Albert Brooks, and ushered in a somewhat questionable if also potential-filled scenario that reintroduces Celia into the mix more quickly than anticipated. It’s a quickening of the pace that, following Bubbie’s passing, allows the show to stop dealing with the past and moving forward to the future.
And that’s a good stage for a series putting itself through an identity crisis on purpose.
Well, the pieces are officially in place to relocate the entire cast to Ren Mar – Doug has jumped out a hotel window out of fear of the Majestic council, Celia is working undercover for the police (And failing miserably at it), and this leaves only young Abby as the remaining link in the chain. I’m really curious at this point how, precisely Celia (And Ddug, next week) so easily found the family home, but the truth stands for itself: the gang is getting back together.
This is good, although I have some issues with plausibility on the Celia count. It seems like a bit of a stretch that they would allow Celia to enter into the situation with Nancy so easily when it’s fairly clear that the people who fingered her could very well be in contact with them and could tell them of Celia being locked away. She’s a good liar, but I don’t think she’s quite that good – I’m curious to see how they handle this scenario, and whether she’s just there for surveillance (At which point, why didn’t they bring in someone competent? Why wouldn’t Celia pass the information she got from the cell phone? And…I should stop, shouldn’t I?)
The reality is that the show doesn’t care, and I don’t really either: the separation was starting to take its toll on some of the cast, Parker in particular. Nancy as a character is in the most interesting situation here on paper, but it’s also one we’ve seen her in too many times before: her trip to Mexico was humorous, and certainly went better than the previous one, but it didn’t really do anything new nor did it feel all that authentic. Parker continues to be extremely humorous, but at what point is the character just treading water? Her days in the drug trade just don’t have the same zing they once had.
Of course, when she gets thrown into Bubbie’s memorial of sorts, Nancy is a far more interesting character: her speech as she prepared to flip the breaker to kill the woman who hated her so much was poignant, funny and perfectly in line with what we’ve come to expect. The Bubbie storyline has not been comic gold by any standards, but it has felt like something different and meaningful in the lives of these characters. For once, it isn’t Nancy against the world, but rather a real person with a real problem that connects to Nancy on a personal level. I won’t attempt to say whether the assisted suicide was or was not justified, but Nancy’s little speech hit all the right notes for the characters.
And this little excursion into the world of Lenny and Bubbie has been good for the show’s characters: Shane continues to act more mature than his age but inside continues to be a small boy, Silas can throw insults but seems to be more willing to listen to logical arguments or sentiment, and Andy has finally re-emerged from an awful third season of army rockets and foot fetish porn to become a human being again.
Watching Justin Kirk and Albert Brooks play off of each other is a lot of fun in general, but here there’s also a poignancy – these are two great actors who are stepping up and showing that they’re capable of playing more emotional roles on this series. The show has often been at its best when mixing comedy with drama for a dark effect, and while the final pillow line might be a bit morbid it as it least consistent with the series’ overall tone. The third season traded this type of darkness for violence and terror, and it was a poor choice: here’s hoping the beach and the border might be able to offer a bit more in the way of organic rather than explosive drama for these characters.
So, for the most part, another solid segment leading into (hopefully) more of a vision of where the series goes from here (And where it heads when Albert Brooks departs, as he isn’t sticking around much longer).
- I’m presuming that we’re close to seeing the last from Dean as well, so interesting to have him partially go out on deciding that Andy’s stub foot is “kinda hot.”
- We got our first glimpse of the contextual opening title card – after last week’s border crossing, this week the title was integrated into Bubbie’s breathing apparatus. It’s a cute little gag that, hopefully, will remain short and simple in future episodes.
- The episode’s title comes from Justin Kirk’s great speech where he explains his views on why Bubbie should die on her own terms. It’s a neat little piece of word play that’s my favourite use of the term blah on television since Greg the Bunny’s Count Blah.