August 10th, 2009
Ah, the false finale.
In many ways, “Perro Insano” operates as a finale would, giving every character a climactic moment or climactic decision and leaving them hanging as we move on in a new direction. In the events of this episode, there are moments of resolution, moments wherein you are seeing an entire season’s of storylines reach a particular apex. The problem, of course, is that this is a false conclusion: while Celia may appear to have reached that deluxe apartment in the sky, and Nancy has finally convinced the man she loves to marry her, one can’t help but believe that things can only go downhill from here. And, unfortunately for Nancy and Co., there’s still two episodes for that destruction to take place.
It’s an awkward point for Weeds, really, because we as an audience are conditioned to the point of numbness to these types of events, and for every bit of false resolution we’re given we can’t help but resist, pushing back as if in defiance of Jenji Kohan and her writing staff. It creates an odd bit of tension that I think the show wants to thrive in, but here there’s been too little definition in the supporting storylines, and too much sensationalism in the major ones, for it to feel like an example of the audience being manipulated rather than the storylines being contrived. It’s a difference between consistency and repetition, in a way, and I think the show is falling at least slightly too much on the latter point.
But not so much so as to discount the show’s overall quality too greatly.
I want to make something clear: this is clearly designed as a false finale. It’s a means to an end, and I don’t think the show is pretending that there is actually any resolution in Nancy’s quickie marriage, or in Celia’s rise to success. You can see the complications immediately with both scenarios, whether it’s Celia’s trick being discovered by Doug (and her supply issues being complicated by a battle between The Wizard and Esteban’s drug network) or Nancy’s decision to go over her husband’s head and engage Guillermo in murdering Pilar.
Celia is, ultimately, not aware of how much trouble she’s in, as she’s too busy riding high on success (and, you know, marijuana) for her to be able to fully understand that there will be consequences to her actions, and that in attempting to escape the madness of Nancy’s life she’s actually both turning into Nancy and, more problematically, entering into Nancy’s world through her engagement with a new dealer. I find Celia’s storyline really interesting on those levels, but at the same time I think that her ignorance is being played at least somewhat for comedy, and Doug and Dean’s dick-related shenanigans are only amplifying that effect. It’s not even a question of whether I like that comedy, it just seems like there’s some interesting parallels to draw there that are being fundamentally ignored. Celia’s story really is this universe’s equivalent of The Jeffersons, moving on up to the deluxe apartment having finally accepted the madness of Nancy’s world and embraced it wholeheartedly – however, because Nancy herself is busy trying to off powerful lobbyists with the help of Guillermo, the parallel is lost to the show’s center/periphery structure.
Nancy, of course, knows exactly what she’s doing, even thought we as an audience are quite skeptical of both its intelligence and, perhaps more importantly, its usefulness. For Nancy, her goal appears to be the safety of her children. Shane getting shot seems as if it should have been a wake up call, and it certainly leads Nancy to shoot Cesar out of retaliation, and to quite easily fall back into Esteban’s arms once it becomes clear that he isn’t as willing to abandon her as others would be. What I find interesting about this is that it just doesn’t fit: I don’t foresee a place for Esteban in this universe, and Nancy’s wedding with Esteban seems as much a question of convenience as her DEA marriage. She’s heading back into the same pattern, and I don’t think having someone off’d is going to necessarily help her move past the madness, which I understand is counterproductive to the show itself; however, at the same time, I think that the show always needs to get to that reset point sooner or later, and I think this storyline (now a whole two seasons long, in a way) is reaching the end of its usefulness.
A fine example of this is how Shane and Silas’ storylines are, ultimately, repeats of what came before. Nancy has always insisted to Silas that he live a normal teenage life, and now she wants him to live a normal college one: travel Europe, enjoy the sights, stay in hostels, be a regular 19 year old kid. The problem, of course, is that Silas has never wanted that: when his mother wanted him to be normal he wanted to sell weed for her, and when he was finding independence he also found himself in a complicated entanglement of romance and business that never really quite took off. This season, he’s been relegated to being Doug’s straight man, so I can see why he would be frustrated by the idea of living a normal life: he’s never had a normal life, and he decides to stay to essentially look out for his brothers, a noble decision but one that should wake Nancy up to the fact that she is placing her entire family in danger by sticking around (and that’s not going to change with a single murder).
Shane, meanwhile, is in that lovely post-traumatic position where he just goes off the rails. Shane’s been like this before, although this is by far the most mature breakdown considering his penchant for alcoholic beverages and his love of pain. I find Shane to be the most frustrating character on the show at times, primarily because he’s too young to actually take part in the major storylines and yet is now old enough (and lewd enough) that he isn’t an innocent child either. It’s placed him in this awkward state of flux where Nancy is concerned about him out of concern with him still being her “baby,” and yet he’s old enough that she lets him get away with drinking after his shooting incident, and seems to not even care that her son is clearly not “fine” in the wake of all of this. That entire scene of people parading in so that they can use Shane as a sounding board, keep secrets hidden, or ensure his trust and his silence as to the events that transpired, has Shane sitting there lifeless, and there are times when that becomes his position on the show itself.
Really, I’m more interested in what role precisely Andy will play in this whole scenario: he’s willing to give up being father to Stevie Ray, but he is certainly still hung up on Nancy, and no marriage is going to fundamentally change this fact. I love Justin Kirk, and his scene with Alanis Morissette was fantastic here – the entire muppet section of that discussion was a perfect example of the fact that despite becoming more of a man all season, Andy really is still a man-child, but an evolved one capable of being mature and straddling that line between a real human being and Doug. And yet, it feels as if Andy becoming more of an adult, no longer pining after Nancy directly and no longer being in opposition with Esteban, has removed him from the drama: being normal is the cardinal sin of the Weeds universe, so the show is clearly not going to let Andy’s sobreity as it relates to Nancy’s situation go on too much longer.
And thus, we’re left with that sense that everything is about to go wrong all over again, a sense which keeps this episode from really connecting: what should feel like a climax instead has us checking our calendars, knowing that everything is just going to get all frakked up again two weeks from now. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind you, but it’s getting to be a bit repetitive.
- I’d like to think that the reversal of the “dick in drawer” as the “Dean Nuts in Coffee” was done not because they think dick jokes are funny, but because they wanted to be able to do another reaction shot from next door – by far the best part of both jokes.
- The entrance of lucha libre wrestling into the show’s universe was pretty charming, something that they’ve probably wanted to do for a while, and was paid off with the black eye at the wedding.
- Speaking of the wedding, not that I’m much of a fashion critic, but what precisely was Nancy wearing? I know it was the very definition of a quickie wedding, but seriously?
- And, while I love Andy’s Dr. Teeth runner during the episode, I’d contend that Dr. Teeth isn’t really a jazz pianist. I’d argue that Floyd and Zoot are more definitively jazz musicians if we’re discussing the Electric Mayhem as a whole. But that’s just my opinion.
3 responses to “Weeds – “Perro Insano””
False finales are awesome. I love that unhappy, dangerous feeling I get when a show does this. I’m hoping you’re right and the end of this season is a reset point. I would love for season 6 to be the final season with everyone back in Agrestic, but that’s a lot to ask. At least I hope for the timely death of Esteban. That would destroy Nancy’s happiness, which would be a good thing. But I don’t see how Celia’s going to fall. She seems to have thought of everything, and she’s not nearly as naive as Nancy was when she started out.
As for the sons, I can totally relate with Silas, most of the time and especially in this circumstance. He’s just like his mother in his need to be where the danger is. But I completely don’t understand Shane. Is he suicidal? Or is he one of those kids who cuts themselves? It doesn’t seem like it. I think he’s just frighteningly destructive, and Nancy and Esteban are total enablers.
Alanis Morissette made me very worried this week. She said she wanted to stick with the family to see how things were going to turn out. I think that’s dangerous either it means she’s going to be killed or she’s the old undercover agent. Something bad is happening there.
Do you think perhaps this show would do better with a longer format? You said that “there’s been too little definition in the supporting storylines”. Would that have been remedied if the show was an hour long instead of half an hour? I would have loved that, but I can see how it might have made the first three seasons unbearably dull.
I have to say this, that montage with everyone talking to Shane was glorious, I might watch that over and over.
I have cited your comments about Jazz Muppets in a piece at my own blog, Lubricity. I would be very interested for you to weigh in there to elaborate on your comment.
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