“The Three Coolers”
July 7th, 2008
A cooler can be many things, but the eponymous ones referred to by this week’s episode title are of two varieties: two literal coolers, the refrigeration equivalent of The Matrix’s red/blue pills, and one cooler that follows another definition.
From Urban Dictionary:
A hand in poker in which a person with a very strong hand (often the 2nd best possible hand) is beaten by the best possible hand (usually a very rare full house, four of a kind, or straight flush). The 2nd best hand is so strong that it is impossible to fold, usually resulting in the loss of a lot of money and sometimes, an existential crisis.
For Len Botwin, his Cooler was his mother, and while her departure leaves him with a house he can’t sell it also leaves him without that other hand there to beat him at every turn. Albert Brooks’ short stint on the show, spanning only this first set of episodes, has been a strong one largely because he hasn’t been a dominant hand. What made the character so strong is that he was a disruptive but not destructive element for all of these characters: he didn’t destroy anyone, but laid the seeds in all of them for a season’s worth of development.
And it looks like a good season: with everything now mostly settled, including how to bring Celia and Doug back into the fold and how to normalize Nancy’s drug work for Guillermo (All ruined by the previews, although maybe not in a bad way), it’s time to move on from Len and focus on how these characters will truly embrace their new habitat.
“The Whole Blah Damn Thing”
June 30th, 2008
There are certain points in time when I question whether or not Nancy Botwin really understands what she does for a living. It’s one thing that she isn’t a seasoned professional when it comes to the drug trade, such as last week’s embarassing excursion to Mexico, but when she remains so shocked at the voltatility of it all I have to wonder if she even understands her own life. When she programs her new “secret” home into her GPS that Guillermo has access to, why should she be survived that he knows where she lives?
In what was technically an episode about assisted suicide, this is the only real pressing issue: the episode featured some strong performances from Justin Kirk and Albert Brooks, and ushered in a somewhat questionable if also potential-filled scenario that reintroduces Celia into the mix more quickly than anticipated. It’s a quickening of the pace that, following Bubbie’s passing, allows the show to stop dealing with the past and moving forward to the future.
And that’s a good stage for a series putting itself through an identity crisis on purpose.
“The Birds are After Her”
June 16th, 2008
If I were to make a list of the things I enjoy about Weeds, which began its fourth season tonight on Showtime, at the end of last season, it would have included a number of things. It would have included the most infectious theme song since The O.C., the no-nonsense attitude of drug maven Heylia James, the foul-mouthed criticism and blind romanticism of her nephew Conrad, and the narrative potential of a series set within the depths of American suburbia.
As Season Four begins, let’s take inventory: the theme song is played for one last time before being replaced by a new credits sequence, Heylia and Conrad are no longer series regulars and will rarely if ever appear, and the show has moved from its original setting to an oceanside border town. The end of the third season foretold these changes, in a way, but seeing them all happen is a whole other story. Yes, the show was perhaps getting complacent in its current setting, but such a drastic set of changes needs to be justified.
The course correction, however, comes with its benefits, including the introduction of Albert Brooks (Who rarely does television) as Nancy’s father-in-law, so the show is certainly surrounding itself with the right people to gain its footing. It also means that Silas, who got a bit of a short straw in the third season in that his love interest was a barely-used Mary-Kate Olsen, will slowly be able to emerge as a leading player in his own right, and it will also mean more screentime for the criminally underused Justin Kirk whose Andy has a new lease on life himself.
The premiere, like all episodes of Weeds is a total tease, barely even poking at whatever potential they’re creating for themselves. The result is that while I think the change will be for the best in the end, at this point it’s hard to know how all of the pieces will come together.