Tuesday, April 12, 2011

USOT Recap: All About My Mother

 "Yeah, keep on kicking, kid. Your pre-determined life of misery and disappointment is three weeks away." —Charmaine

Except apparently the "kid" felt three weeks was too long to put off the inevitable and decided to get a head start on that miserable life in the coolest, most disturbing between-the-legs water-breaking-slash-car-crash closing shot I've ever seen. But let's back up a bit.

Last night's episode was all very mother-centric, what with Charmaine's baby shower planning, Tara's difficulty coping with Kate's leaving, and Max's visit to his agoraphobic hoarder of a mother, this last of which turned out to be very revelatory indeed. I knew a connection would be drawn sooner or later between Max's crazy-adjacent childhood and his crazy-choosing adulthood, but I did not expect to learn that his father left his mother over a similar issue (during a long-ago Christmas season, no less), let alone that Max himself has considered doing the same. At this point, it begs the question of whether Max stuck around out of love and dedication to his family or out of sheer stubbornness and refusal to follow in his father's footsteps. Max is a great man/husband/father combo, and I don't doubt his commitment to his family, but it was interesting to get a glimpse into his history and a new dimension to his character, nevertheless.

While Max was dealing with his mother and his past, Tara was slaving away on Charmaine's baby shower, struggling to throw a decent party as well as appeasing her sister, who has been growing more and more negative and anxious about impending motherhood now that Neil is out of work. Oh, and she's also a self-loathing narcissist. The shower was shaping up to be a pathetic disaster anyway, so it's just as well that Charmaine went into labor outside a grocery store.

Kate's Japanese adventure seems to have taken a nosedive, as well. First, her plans to teach English in Osaka were thwarted by a massive earthquake, in what has to be the most unfortunate case of television prescience ever. Then, when she found herself an alternate host city, a beautiful flight attendant freaked her out about it with a casual comment. By the time a panicked Kate rushed back out into the airport terminal, I couldn't help but be disappointed that Japan would no longer be one of the settings of this show, but I am curious about what Kate will decide to do next; my money's on flight attendant training.

Tara's transitions were brief but plentiful in this episode. We've seen from Alice, Buck and T, and it's always interesting to note how different situations in Tara's life call for different personalities, yet how all of them are more or less catering to whatever her needs are at a given time. Alice pitched in with the baby shower arrangements, Buck hit the newest roadblock in his on-going quest to locate the abusive half-brother from Tara and Charmaine's childhood, and T... well, T is just pure id, showing up whenever Tara herself is too nice to be a real bitch to someone who may or may not be asking for it. When this show first started, the transitioning seemed random to me, but the more I pay attention to it, the more I see how deliberately and purposefully Tara is constructed.

So far, I like the direction the show is taking this season. I was a little bit worried about some of the less-than-stellar storylines of Season 2, but the last three episodes have been doing wonders toward restoring my faith in Diablo Cody's creation. I look forward to seeing the result of the "united states of Tara" meeting next week; I have a feeling it won't be as simple as Tara declaring herself king of the domain.

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