“Till We Meet Again”
September 8th, 2008
Weeds is at its worst when it escalates to the point of life or death.
I don’t mean to say that it isn’t well plotted: the final scene of this week’s penultimate episode of the fourth season is gruesome but powerful, and it feels like a logical step for the storyline to take. However, in the wake of such storylines, the rest of Weeds feels severely trivial. If I’m seriously worried about Nancy living or dying, what do I care about Doug’s mistress getting shipped back to Mexico or Celia searching out Quinn (Who we haven’t seen since the pilot) in order to make amends?
Say what you will about the reasons for half hours shows like Weeds or Entourage to make the jump to an hour long program, but these later episodes make a fine case for it: with an hour, perhaps the more dire situations could be better balanced, striking a more subtle tone through a slightly slower pace. Instead, we’re going from the violation of Nancy’s moral code (the women and the guns going through the tunnel) to the violation of a person in a very vile fashion. Mary-Louise Parker plays this kind of role extremely well, so I’m not really complaining on that front, but when it stops the rest of the show dead in its tracks I do have to wonder whether this end of season escalation is really in Weeds’ best interest.
We knew Nancy was speaking to Till from the previous episode, which I had never got around to blogging about. It was a decent episode, representing the deteriorating morality of the tunnel and its impact on Nancy. The problem, though, is that the show was just finally returning to Nancy’s home life, once the most important part of the show – before there was U-Turn, before there was the DEA, there was a mother selling pot to support her children. And in this episode, Nancy shares not even a single second of screentime with her two children – it’s a tough shift to deal with, considering I much prefer Nancy straddled between the two worlds as opposed to completely wrapped up in this one.
And I think that the show is running into a brick wall in terms of its insistence on creating these new worlds for Nancy to exist in: much as with Sullivan Groff last season, it feels as if this entire cartel has just been setup for Nancy to play in and then it will simply fall by the wayside when the season ends. They did their best to make it believable, what with Esteban proclaiming his love for Nancy, but are we really viewing this as a safe or comfortable environment? The fact of the matter is that Nancy can’t settle, a fact that makes for some interesting but ultimately unsustainable drama. When the whole world comes tumbling down last week, it won’t feel like an idyllic life in shambles: it will seem like yet another meltdown in a Weeds season finale.
But it is certainly quite grave, as evidenced by the brutal sanding of Till’s partner that certainly represents a new level of gore for the series. It creates a definite tonal inconsistency with the series’ comic side, and while it certainly worked to up the ante, so to speak, I felt it paled in comparison to, say, Peter’s sudden and shocking death in the second season. But even if it works to built momentum in that storyline, its impact on the other ones is different. Take, for example, Doug’s decision to turn over his Cinderella to the authorities: considering that Doug is behind it, we know it’s supposed to be at least moderately funny, but within the context of the rest of the episode isn’t it also kind of cruel and unforgiving?
I know that our pre-existing knowledge of the show should make a difference, that we know Doug is funny and that Nancy’s storyline isn’t, but Maria’s fate is still kind of grave. The same goes for Shane, who buys off Silas’ conscience and gets some weed for his slutty friends: it was a storyline that wasn’t overly funny or interesting, but within the context of the episode it feels like this grave falling off the wagon (which could have been the intention, but if so it was never really dealt with properly). Are we to view drugs as his final crossing over into the serious territory of his mother, and if so isn’t the show itself being hypocritical by using its oft-commercialized commodity as the sign of Shane’s fall?
Really, only Celia’s storyline is overly clear at this point, but it is so disconnected and random that I don’t know what to make of it. I know we recently finally mentioned Quinn again recently, but the fact that her storyline turned into this pilgrimage just doesn’t fly with me. I enjoyed her total non-apologies to Dean, but was there really a point to it all? Without integrating Celia into Nancy’s storyline, it feels like she’s off in her own little world: fine for mid-season filler episodes, but here it seems like a distraction or, as mentioned, something so trivial that it doesn’t even register.
Heading into the finale, promising to render us speechless, I just want them to find a balance between these elements: and based on this episode, where Silas didn’t even get a storyline, I’m struggling to see how these threads can wrap themselves up in anything but a highly disorganized and divergent fashion.
- Say what I will about the episode and its intentions as a whole, but the scene juxtaposing Nancy and Esteban’s discussion and the silent break-in on the maternity store was really well done. For a show that so often prides itself on comedy and on simple setups, these types of scenes do have an extra punch that sets them apart.
- The Andy/Maria storyline is an example of something that I find interesting and charming but, ultimately, seems really far removed from Andy’s storyline at the start of the season. Justin Kirk plays the role so well, especially in his very sincere apology to Doug, but it just seems like the writers always get distracted by shiny things when writing for the character; how this storyline resolves in the current climate is probably the biggest question mark for me right now…
- …after what exactly happened to Julie Bowen, that is. To drop Silas’ storyline entirely this week seems like a strange decision, and it better mean that something’s going to happen in the finale: if not, I have to wonder whether a 13-episode season was really enough to make this story work.