Tuesday, May 24, 2011

USOT Recap: Self vs. Self

"I'm a growing boy, and there's only so much room in the upstairs."  Bryce

Ah, Bryce, you psychotic little twerp. The fact that the Bryce personality would have to be a young teenager was totally lost on me last week, probably because he acts and talks nothing like a 14-year-old, but of course it makes perfect sense in retrospect. Last night's episode explains that he is what is called an "abuser alter," a paradoxical phenomenon in which the subject protects herself by becoming her abuser. Is this a real thing? Don't know, rolling with it. I'm just grateful that "Bryce Will Play" has managed to adequately mollify me after last week's great disappointment of an episode.

It's not certain why Bryce has been dormant for so long (if we are to accept the theory that he was around and responsible for Tara's suicide attempts during her college years) and why he's suddenly back (though he does imply that he probably wouldn't be if not for Hattaraswhat's that about?). What's certain is that he is ritualistically going after the other alters, so far in the reverse order that they became manifest. In addition to Chicken last week, Bryce has now symbolically killed Shoshanna and Gimme as well. I say symbolic because he claims not to believe in DID; he is performing the killings, he says, purely to mess with Tara's head, and it is working. Tara says she cannot "feel them" anymore, and that the others are there but ignore and blame her for what's happening. The real paradox here is the fact that Bryce's actions are simultaneously destroying parts of Tara's psyche and giving her what she's always wanted: her own life back. Of course, Bryce is really after the breakdown of Tara's self-preservation system so that he can finally kill her unencumbered and take over as the one true personality, though I'm not quite satisfied with the idea that his delusions are this extreme. When Hattaras points out that killing Tara equates to killing himself, Bryce becomes visibly angry and defensive, and his erratic behavior culminates in an attempt to poison Hattaras during Tara, Charmy, and Kate's girl-power dinner. "Don't all sons dream of killing their fathers?" he cryptically asks a mid-anaphylaxis Hattaras. Realizing once and for all that he is out of his depth, he abandons Tara once again, in spite of the evident friendship they've forged, and I don't blame him; it's scary to think that there is a part of her that wants Jack out of the picture. Still, in spite of the finality of their goodbye, I hope this isn't the last we see of the good doctor.

The other dominant story this week revolves around Marshall and Max's NYC [mis]adventure, where Marshall's movie receives Honorable Mention in the student film festival. The screening instigates an argument between father and son, the former feeling betrayed by the film's depiction of Max as tragic hero stuck in an impossible situation and duty-bound to an insane woman. Max insists that he is with Tara because he loves her, and I believe him, but Marshall's interpretation is equally valid. "Mom is crazy, and we treat her like she's an eccentric, and there's a cost," he says, nailing the complexity of the situation in a single sentence. This is the real tragedy of Tara's DID: that in order for her to be a real person, her disorder must be given free reign. This may be the first time the show has ever truly hinted at the sheer unlikelihood of Tara ever getting cured.

Who will Bryce go after next time, and how will Tara manage him without Dr. Hattaras? Answers to follow in two weeks.

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