Weeds – “I Am The Table”

“I Am The Table”

August 4th, 2008

One of my most common issues with Weeds is not necessarily the content we receive, but rather the abrupt and often miniscule portions in which we receive it. Right now, the show is juggling five storylines: you’ve got Silas and his Cheese MILF, Shane adjusting to a new environment, Andy and Doug working on their Coyote business, Celia trying to keep herself conscious, and Nancy cavorting with Esteban south of the border.

So, “I Am The Table” can’t possibly satisfy all of these stories, and as a result one can’t expect it to. I’ve often wondered how this show would play as an hour-long, and I really think that it would do many parts of it a lot of favours.  At the same time, however, the short format did lead to some great comedy here: the Shane and Celia stories, in particular, are well served with just some small moments of really great comedy, and with Elizabeth Perkins and Alexander Gould up to the task it’s hard to argue that there isn’t entertainment.

I just sometimes wish that the glacial pace of everything else had either Nancy and Esteban’s passion or the aforementioned humour.

The real offender in this episode is Silas and Julie Bowen, mainly because it feels like the most blatant example of a plot just spinning wheels, and not in a natural fashion. Lisa just happens to smoke pot, and Silas just happens to grow pot, and then she just happens to be desperate for money and willing to jeopardize her small niche business by running it as a front for Silas’ grow operation since the smell of cheese is so powerful. I sometimes wish that these characters could have normal relationships as opposed to convenient plot developments in human form – the two have some chemistry, don’t get me wrong, but when it all feels like a slowly revealing means to an end something just doesn’t feel romantic or organic for me.

At least things seem better with Esteban and Nancy, who take up the majority of the episode with their Tijuana tryst of sorts. The second Nancy laid eyes on Esteban you knew this was coming: she does not meet exotic men in power without eventually ending up in bed with them. The eventuality has been drawn out far enough, though, but the payoff seems justified: their little adventure, from Esteban’s scolding of Guillermo to the Restaurant shootout, culminates in a visceral sex scene unlike anything Mary-Louise Parker has done in quite a while, at least (Maybe, with Call Girl airing behind it, they felt they needed to pull out all the stops?). I loved the way that, even as he bled from his neck, they just kept going; it’s the kind of thing that the show pulls off well, Nancy’s romantic escapades, and this was no different.

The best part of the episode, however, was Shane and Celia. No, there’s really no connection between them, but here we have the two comic storylines of the week. Shane literally has three scenes in the thing: he wakes up his mother with design decisions then treats Cesar like a plumber, he gets dropped off at school in a limo begging to do drug work instead, and then he EATS THE BEAR. Shane has no idea how to really live his life, that much we can be certain of, but he takes Cesar’s advice almost literally as he ignores “Dan” and his friendly handshake in favour of smashing him in the face with a lunchtray. It’s a fantastic little scene, as it demonstrates both how Shane’s strange upbringing has led him to ignore the safer routes of passage AND how entertaining it is to see someone get hit in the face with a lunch tray.

And while I do wish we got more of it, perhaps that would have felt like too much; with Celia, the gag of her being so doped up that she can’t function at the store unless she continues to get hits from the tunnel guard’s “Stay Awake” is really funny in a few moments but kind of got repetitive by the end. Elizabeth Perkins is great at playing drugged up Celia, and there was some great moments as her insanity got the better of her, but I’m torn: while I like occasionally having something more based in comedy than in the plot, I think that spending too much time of it just slows the show down even more.

I’ve avoided talking about Andy and Doug’s Coyote business mainly because it just isn’t catching me: Andy as Moses was really charming, as much of what Justin Kirk does is, but in terms of overall plot thread I am just really getting annoyed with the usual “Place Andy in mortal/legal peril” side of things. I also really think the show should have rethought Doug’s fellow Coyote – there is nothing funny about his creepy efforts to pump steroids into women, at least not as much humour as the show seems to think there is.

And once you get through all of that, you get an episode that has enough humour and enough plot to keep us moving. But, if we turn the plot threads into condiments on the table the episode’s title refers to, I do think things are a little bit crowded, and they will need a new table eventually.

Cultural Observations

  • Yes, I am well aware that the above play on the title is both lame and obtuse beyond recognition.
  • I am presuming that it was during this sex scene that Mary-Louise Parker broke her toe, so that does explain why there was some serious intensity going on considering the end damage she did to herself.
  • Don’t think, Jenji Kohan, that we were able to wipe the memory of Shane’s Oedipal desires from our mind so easily: Shane was great this week, but the kid still has some serious issues that you’ll need to deal with, and they’re ones more important than which backsplash to use.
  • I get that his Moses routine got him carried away, but would Andy of all people really ever forget to collect money even if he was doing “God’s work”? I just don’t tend to buy any of Andy’s “transformations” considering how often the character reverts back to his usual self, and have always viewed his desire for money to be a constant.

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