“No Man is Pudding”
July 14th, 2008
When Weeds started its fourth season with a rather stunning departure from its original setting, there was a question of how long it would take to get back into a groove, so to speak. Albert Brooks did a fine job of integrating into the cast, propping them up for a while, but eventually things would have to return to normal (Or whatever whacked out concept of normalcy applies to these people).
And this is the episode where that happens, albeit not exactly in a welcome fashion across the board. Shane, Silas and Doug are given a paper thing “Bees” storyline (“BEADS?!”), and the show continues to believe that the only characters arcs Andy is capable of are “Crazy Hijinx Leading to Criminal Investigations.” So on those two fronts, normalcy (Sidelining the supporting players to silly storylines that aren’t nearly as interesting as our central conflict) isn’t so much welcome as familiar.
But sometimes familiar can be a good thing, and the episode is the triumphant reunion of probably the show’s best two characters. If you wanted this to feel like the Weeds of old, with high stakes combining with high emotions and dark comedy intersecting with personal drama, look no further than the teaming of Nancy Botwin and Celia Hoades. Elizabeth Perkins and Mary-Louise Parker are at their top of the game here, and the end result is television magic.
And, Andy’s episode title quote is pretty funny too.
Remember a day when Andy’s storylines were about his libido? I didn’t think I’d wholly desire a return to these times, but these ridiculous near-crusades the show has sent him on these past two seasons demonstrates to me that they don’t quite “get” him. We were just talking last week about how good he’s been at stepping up for the family in a time of need, and then he inexplicably (Okay, we can blame the Weed) waltzes off with a bunch of illegal immigrants?
My issue is not that this is completely out of sync with the show’s aesthetic, but rather that this is Andy’s choice to do all of this. For Nancy, she gets caught up in ridiculous situations largely out of bad luck or getting in over her head – in Andy’s case, he just kind of fumbles his way into them and ends up with two illegal immigrants and a literal smoking gun. It’s a source of some humour (Like I say, the “No Man is Pudding!” line was cute), but at the end of the day I wish Andy could get real storylines.
Because, really, this episode belonged to Mary-Louise Parker, once again finding herself in an incomphrensibly complicated scenario. She’s likely to pick up an Emmy nomination later this week, and this episode could see her with another nomination a year from now. She brings to Nancy, in these moments of absolute terror after she’s stuck with a toothless Celia who is being led by a police captain, this raw emotional reaction that just straight out works. Her phone message to Andy (Whose message I’ll discuss below) is just on that right level of panic and concern combined with genuine anger at the whole process.
And you never really know if it’s “Funny;” I’d say that Perkins’ Celia is more traditionally humorous, but Nancy’s rantings and her window choke on Celia are just nicely walking that line between funny and disturbing. The show has always been more of a drama when these storylines hit the proverbial fan, and this instance is no different; like the third season premiere, the last time we picked up after such a direct gunpoint cliffhanger, this episode was about the decompression of Nancy’s emotions.
It eventually ended up with a fantastic monologue for her, a winding and magnificant apology/explanation to her new family of sorts regarding her future. That future, while confusing at first, is really a tidy way to move Nancy into a new storyline while being rid of their other complications. She becomes the front for a new route between Mexico and the U.S. (A tunnel between a mysterious location where Guillermo’s boss seems to operate and the Maternity Store Nancy and Celia are running as a clean front). This is no The Wire (I’m thinking back to Season One’s Orlando here), but it does create a bunch of new potential (And yet another leadership character who falls for Nancy – we get it, she’s alluring).
While I think that the entire police complication storyline did go away a bit too quickly, I think it’s for the best – it allows these characters to find their own groove, and “running in fear” is not the kind of storyline that a show can sustain for very long. It’s clear from casting spoilers alone that Silas is going to be getting his own storyline at some point in the near future that doesn’t involve bees (“BEADS?!” – and yes, if I think it I must type it), and that can’t really happen if they’re trying to balance both the Botwins and the people attempting to catch Nancy in the act.
In the meantime, though, “No Man is Pudding” is a strong segment with some great buddy comedy from Celia/Nancy, and an intriguing and potential-filled future foreshadowed.
- This was definitely the show’s funniest segment of the season, largely thanks to reuniting Nancy and Celia. It’s weird that the most violent and dangerous episode would also be the funniest, but that’s honestly where Weeds often finds its best material so why should I be surprised?
- The bees (“BEADS?!”) storyline was just a huge waste of time, I actually wonder why they’d bother – was it because they needed something to fill out the episode, and they had a new makeup artist who specialized in bee stings and allergic reactions?
- I’m starting to get kind of bored with the new contextual opening credits – I miss Little Boxes, even if these make more sense considering the show’s new setting.