Weeds – “Super Lucky Happy”

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“Super Lucky Happy”

June 29th, 2009

Known for its rather glacial pacing (I was reading in Todd’s review from The A.V. Club last week that the show arguably has only taken place over the course of a year or so, which is probably accurate if often ignored by the show itself), Weeds has been operating at a pretty decent clip this year. However, that was bound to change, and we have our first bit of a thematic pause in “Super Lucky Happy.”

Now, let’s be clear: this isn’t a bad thing. Personally speaking, I’m a fan of Weeds episodes that try to capture a mood or a particular point of view, rather than those which feel like they’re being particularly sensationalist. What struck me about this episode, though, was that it arguably wants to have its cake and eat it to. The actual events in the episode are pretty major, but the show’s current milieu means that there really isn’t anything abnormal about Nancy taking people hostage, and so her reaction after the fact seems less like a major event than a necessary moment of reflection.

It has the show in a holding pattern, either way, but it’s ultimately a position that the show can manage thanks to the skill of Mary-Louise Parker and the need to place Nancy’s predicament into a slightly different light.

Esteban’s presence in Nancy’s life is perhaps the most telling yet, because it is ultimately a stabilizing one: with the baby in her stomach, Nancy is no longer on her own, and with confirmation that it is both his baby and a boy (most hospitals would never tell you this so early, I don’t think, but my guess is Esteban’s doctors have no such argument) he is really there to help her and keep her safe. The show has never quite let Nancy feel this safe within the confines of one of her associations, usually relying on Conrad or Andy to serve as her knights in shining armour. Now, her enemy and her protector are one and the same, and that has her both physically safer than before and, of course, more on edge than ever.

What I like about the episode’s basic thesis is that it goes a long way to humanizing Esteban, a character that I’ve had trouble relating to since his introduction. There was just something about him that was so overtly political that it was difficult to separate him from the drug trade. However, we’re five episodes into the season and drugs have barely been mentioned, which is allowing Esteban to develop into his own character.

And it’s a character who is far more out of sorts over this baby than he is over anything we’ve seen politically. Bringing t-shirts for Silas and Shane was a horrible move that demonstrates he isn’t able to woo children the same way he can woo businessmen, and his gift of a baby rocker far too early in the pregnancy demonstrates that he truly is a Henry VIII-esque ruler in desperate need of both control and a male heir, willing to cede the former to whoever is able to offer the latter. When he’s on the beach with Nancy, his suit pants rolled up and on his knees kissing her stomach, he is starkly human in a way that takes him out of the context of his deeds and into the context of a character in this own right.

No, I’m not to the point where I foresee him becoming a cast member, as there is doubtlessly going to be some circumstance wherein he is assassinated or otherwise killed, leaving Nancy to raise their baby alone or perhaps to lose their baby altogether. Plus, based on goodwill alone, there’s no way that any viewer isn’t rooting for Andy in this picture, who is the one that eventually puts together the rocker and sits silently at the end of the episode sending it back and forth pondering how he got to this point.  But there was enough here to sustain this story for a while longer, allowing the show (if it wants to) to go into a bit of a holding pattern with this situation.

I do think that, ultimately, Nancy was a bit too traumatized here: she’s had similar situations in her own hands before, and part of me feels like she should have been able to handle it. I’d chalk it up to the pregnancy, which obviously changes your emotions, but Nancy is so calm and collected otherwise that I don’t know if this is a justification for her trauma. I like Parker in this position, and she more than pulled off the Sophie’s Choice dilemma in front of her, blood on her hands either way, but Till was right – there is already plenty of blood on Nancy’s hands. I guess the weight of everything fell down on her all at once, but the script didn’t give Nancy enough time for reflection to really make that connect as it could have, if that was in fact the point of it all.

The rest of the episode was kind of all over the place. The one thing of note is the total switchover between Silas and Shane, especially as it relates to their reactions to Esteban: Silas is a bit awkward but ultimately shakes his hand, while Shane spits out insults and graphic sexual depictions of the scenario wherein the baby was conceived. The rest of the episode shows much the same dynamic, as Silas is professional and courteous as he, Doug, and their policeman friend (it felt like there was a scene missing there, cut for time perhaps, where we saw the fallen through deal get relayed to the cop) find a place for their “compassionate care facility,” while Shane is busy getting himself into trouble trying to deal drugs, falling for his English teacher’s con and losing a whole lot of weed in the process. It’s not a bad shift, per se, but Shane’s loss of his moral center (as Andy, knowingly hypocritically, points out) is a bit more annoying than I would have liked, and Silas maturing wasn’t meant to be followed by Shane become less mature, as logical as his descent is.

Andy’s storyline, meanwhile, was intriguing but really just beginning. On the one hand, it’s your traditional bit of Andy pretending to be someone else, and getting into an awkward sexual relationship with a person of the female persuasion. On the other hand, it’s also a really interesting question regarding why, precisely, Judah had an account that Nancy wasn’t aware of, and that was never available to her following his sudden death. What Andy’s discovered could have kept them from their mortgage problems, and subsequently could have kept Nancy out of a life of crime; now, even if Andy is successful at getting the money out, Nancy is in so deep that it might not do them any good, an irony that is currently sitting there waiting to be explored while Andy plays Judah in a sexual fantasy.

But I think it’s a really interesting little development, and one that will do well at connecting the events of this season back to past ones. The show has sometimes seemed too quick to jump into a new storyline or location without really paying attention to what happened before, but this is a good way to take us all the way back to the beginning, and I look forward to seeing how the show deals with that in the weeks ahead.

Cultural Observations

  • You notice that I don’t make mention of Celia’s return above, largely because once I started writing about the episode I forgot it even happened. All storylines outside of Andy’s felt like they were just getting screentime to remind us that they existed, rather than actually telling us anything substantial – Celia’s arrival and subsequent removal from Nancy’s home was a decent little sequence, and Nancy throwing matches at her a fun piece of physical comedy, but there’s just nothing more to really say on the subject.
  • I’m glad to see Ignacio return, and live – while Till was a decent character, Ignacio manages to be both menacing and legitimately hilarious. Their fight while handcuffed to the bedpost was particularly fun, if a bit juvenile (plus, 30 Rock’s men fighting erection joke in “Hard Ball” is preferred).
  • I’m curious at what point the show pulls the trigger (oooh, unintentional pun) on Andy and Nancy – their arcade interaction to open the episode was a lot of fun, but there will come a point where those speeches cease being funny and start becoming one big tease. It’s a relatively new development, really, considering that they really only brought it up after the car kiss, but they’re really pushing it too hard to leave it hanging for too long.
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