“Yes I Can”
July 28th, 2008
The title of “Yes I Can” refers to both Sammy Davis Jr. famous autobiography and the drive of Nancy Botwin to remain independent within the existing operation. This storyline drives most of the episode, and while it suffers from some stretches of logic (including the entire purpose of a “front,” but never mind that) it does give Mary-Louise Parker plenty to do and has some potential.
But, really, this episode is about the moments when Silas and Shane Botwin, officially speaking, stopped being the characters they once were. In the beginning, Silas was a teenager of innocence, certainly sexually promiscuous but certainly still finding his footing so to speak. Shane, literally, was a child, someone whose naive world view was tempered with an intense knowledge of its inner workings – he was always smart, but he was still removed from the reality of it all.
This week, though, it’s officially over: these two are not kids anymore, not in the way they once were anyways. Silas’ conquest of Mrs. Rad, Lisa, is forceful and mature: his newfound confidence is almost beyond belief, but the show seems intent on turning him into a sexual animal even weeks before the character’s eighteenth birthday (nudity and all). And Shane, who has had his bouts with insanity in the past, has officially transcended to a whole new realm with his choice of jerk-off material.
Both transitions aren’t beyond the stretch of the imagination, but I’m not quite sure I’m on board enough to trot out Sammy’s answer to the question of “Can you tolerate this?”
First off, let’s discuss what has been ongoing all season: once Conrad was out the window, it was natural that Hunter Parrish was likely going to take up his role as the “leading male.” What I didn’t realize, though, is that it would more or less happen in a single episode. Last week, Silas was still a teenager: sure, he’s spent more time without a shirt on than ever before (It’s like they went to the beach just for the excuse), but he was still the considerate but passive participant as far as we saw even if he did instigate their walk.
But this week he waltzes into the Cheese Shop, waxes poetic about his pending birthday, locks the door, puts down the blinds, and then offers to let Lisa hold onto him as they have a torrid sexual tryst. That we later get to see him providing oral pleasue while completely naked is just one more step in this transformation, one that I should have seen coming but still felt really off. I still remember fondly his more innocent moments, like after he discovered sex with deaf girlfriend Megan and so giddily kept going at it for hours on end.
That Silas, however, is dead: at this point, there’s no going back with the character, as they have more or less accepted that his teenage years are over. I do have to wonder whether there’s a storyline for him outside of his sexual encounters, but something tells me that the female viewership of the series likely has few concerns about the context. Whether we’ll actually see him get an apartment of his own, and literally splinter away from his family, is still up in the air, but the fact remains that the character has certainly grown up.
I’m willing to accept that this is the case, even if I felt the show rushed it a little, mainly because of how disturbing our other Botwin child revelation is. Sure, Shane has always been a bit on the weird side, but masturbating to naked photos of his own mother is going in a direction I didn’t think the show was heading for. I know that Shane has to lose his innocence at some point, but did it have to be this Fruedian mind fuck? I get the point here: that as he steps up to take on more responsibility for the family, he returns to infantile desires as his lack of maturity in many areas of life crashes against his forced maturity in others. But that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.
But ignoring “The Kids Ain’t Alright” for a moment, Nancy gets the real forward moving storyline with its own sexual kinks and the like. She wants money to get her own bathroom, and Silas wants his own room (So no place of his own?), but she doesn’t have it so much: as a result, she sends feelers out to Marvin, her former housekeeper and Sanjay in order to see whether she could get back into the Weed game. Guillermo, of course, refuses to give her the weed, citing chain of command and all of those things.
Of course, the real reason he does so is that it would complicate Nancy: she’s supposed to be his clean front, so why exactly is he even entertaining the idea of her dealing? If The Wire’s first season taught me anything, it’s that you need someone clean to run your fronts or else you’re leaving yourself vulnerable. Guillermo’s reason, as far as the show givews it, is the usual “I am possessive over Nancy” that everyone seems to succumb to: he just wants to be able to control her, ignoring any of the show’s already established logic.
It’s really just an excuse for Nancy to go to Esteban, who we learn is personally financing projects to secure his role as mayor (citing private benefactors), so at least we know that the drug money isn’t just funding, well, drugs. Nancy’s encounter with him in the limousine literally boils down to exposition and a spanking, so really Nancy just gets off and eventually gets her pot much to Guillermo’s chagrin (Mainly because, as noted, he no longer has control of Nancy as she jumps the chain of command).
And that’s the thing: maybe I’m just used to the strict chain of command of The Wire, but this one is kind of all screwed up and manipulated for Nancy’s sake. The episode as a whole seems to be about creating new and in some cases twisted versions of these characters, new trajectories that seem dangerous and in some instances totally off kilter. I’m willing to follow the show there, but I have to wonder whether their own self-statement of ability is more futile than Sammy’s.
- In our first useless and slow-moving plot point of the week, at least one that provided some comedy, Doug and Andy have made progress on their Coyote business: they found some people to pump for intel (And handle the renovations), and then Doug got himself a job as one of the patolling Minutemen to work both sides of the fence if you will. It didn’t go anywhere, but there was some cute lines here and there (even if I could have gone without the Minuteman’s cell phone image).
- And, in the second one that was almost entirely humorless, Celia goes to Mexico for some drugs, gets the charges dropped officially, and then is rejected by Roy Till who, apparently, is gay? I’m not quite sure where the show is going with that, to be honest: is this something they plan on following through with, or just a throwaway? It is confusing that there was so much sexual tension with Celia, but I guess that works.