“The Love Circle Overflap”
August 17th, 2008
Silas and Shane, as brothers, are an interesting pair. In the beginning, Silas was growing up too fast while Shane’s innocence was slowly being eroded. As time went on, Silas never truly matured, remaining mature in his actions but not quite in his mind. Shane, meanwhile, has emerged into his mother’s world and now into the world of a sexually charge middle school open to new experiences, ready to make the choices Silas had to make in the beginning.
Their relationship is emerging to the forefront of Weeds as we head further into the fourth season, as issues of family center this week on their brotherly bond and their shared experiences of sorts. Silas is at a turning point, feeling mildly aware of the consequences of his actions while actually wanting them to be more serious, wanting Lisa to be able to be with him in a way he knows she can’t – like he says to Lisa, he actually does for once want the truth, not some idealistic notion. Shane, meanwhile, feels pressure to live up to the reputation he created for himself, one that he doesn’t really understand and one that sends him into a situation that he can’t handle.
So while Nancy is off on a spiritual quest with hallucinogenic medicine of some sort, and Andy and Doug are finally finding his Flip Flop Cinderella, the Boys Botwin are left to find their own path. And, while neither solve their problems, they at least go to the edge of understanding in a way that proves they are advancing yet.
August 11th, 2008
There have been many episodes of Weeds more eventful than Monday night’s ninth episode of the show’s fourth season; in a show that in later seasons has really delved into the more sensational elements of Nancy Botwin’s career choice, episodes have featured action and comedy that tends to feel like something out of a movie versus something out of, well, “reality,” as trite as that may seem.
So it is with pleasure that I say that “Little Boats” may be my favourite episode of the season so far primarily because it owes all of its drama to character, to a very human reaction from the show’s central character as it pertains to her family as opposed to her employers. This is the side of Weeds that we have, perhaps, lost in recent years: this was a show about a family first and foremost in the beginning, and this is one of the strongest examples of that in the past few seasons.
Faced with the behaviour of the people of both her own children and her extended family, and disconnected from Esteban, Nancy turns into someone who isn’t defined by drug trafficking or anything else – she’s just another Mother struggling to care for those she loves. And the result is definitely one of the season’s strongest episodes.
“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.
“Yes I Can”
July 28th, 2008
The title of “Yes I Can” refers to both Sammy Davis Jr. famous autobiography and the drive of Nancy Botwin to remain independent within the existing operation. This storyline drives most of the episode, and while it suffers from some stretches of logic (including the entire purpose of a “front,” but never mind that) it does give Mary-Louise Parker plenty to do and has some potential.
But, really, this episode is about the moments when Silas and Shane Botwin, officially speaking, stopped being the characters they once were. In the beginning, Silas was a teenager of innocence, certainly sexually promiscuous but certainly still finding his footing so to speak. Shane, literally, was a child, someone whose naive world view was tempered with an intense knowledge of its inner workings – he was always smart, but he was still removed from the reality of it all.
This week, though, it’s officially over: these two are not kids anymore, not in the way they once were anyways. Silas’ conquest of Mrs. Rad, Lisa, is forceful and mature: his newfound confidence is almost beyond belief, but the show seems intent on turning him into a sexual animal even weeks before the character’s eighteenth birthday (nudity and all). And Shane, who has had his bouts with insanity in the past, has officially transcended to a whole new realm with his choice of jerk-off material.
Both transitions aren’t beyond the stretch of the imagination, but I’m not quite sure I’m on board enough to trot out Sammy’s answer to the question of “Can you tolerate this?”
July 21st, 2008
Well, Weeds, you might have run out of goodwill. Thus far this season, as some have been critical of the show’s new direction, I’ve been a herald of prosperous futures. I embraced the change of scenery, cared not for the departure of Conrad and Heylia, praised the introduction of Albert Brooks, and didn’t even blink as the show transitioned Doug and Celia back into the mix without even a wiff of plausibility. This resulted in last week’s episode getting at least a moderately solid review, as Andy’s Mexican oddysey was balanced out by the return of the great dynamic between Celia and Nancy.
But the jig is up, Jenji Kohan. While I felt the change in scenery was breathing life into the shaky framework the show operated on (with some success) in the third season, now it has fully reverted back to retreads of previous storylines in a way that feels neither fresh or organic. What was once a show about people doing things has become a show about things happening to people, and whatever agency the characters have is largely either hideously misguided or just inexplicable. I’m fine with some of this, as it certainly can still be funny, but when I leave the episode thinking mostly of how good the show used to be versus where it sits now I have to be concerned that these “Treasures” just aren’t worth searching out.
“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.
“Lady’s a Charm”
June 23rd, 2008
When Nancy Botwin is wearing an extremely short dress, her family knows the score: she isn’t shopping for a bed skirt, that’s for sure. After we learned last week that Guillermo had plans for her that went beyond the “sales floor,” it was pretty easy to put two and two together that he had plans to exploit his muse to the fullest, so to speak.
The result is the usual theme for Weeds, as Nancy’s new experiences are told through an alarming sequence wherein she’s way over her head and where Mary-Louise Parker can continue to indicate why she’s so great in this role. It’s at least, though, more of a learning experience for Nancy than before, as she might just have some time to grow into this one without fear for her life…but probably not.
The second episode of Weeds’ fourth season is a lot like the first: a lot of setup with little payoff. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll stress that point a lot, but it does mean that the most shocking thing about the episode was that Silas got a new haircut. This isn’t to say that Weeds needs to shock us, but it does mean that things are continuing at the snail’s pace the show can be known for.
“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.