Wednesday, May 18, 2011
USOT Recap: Twist?
"And who are you?" —Dr. Hattaras
Answer: Bryce Craine, presumably modeled after the real-life Bryce Craine, mysterious and abusive half-brother of Tara and Charmaine and possible sociopath. Oy. Where do I begin talking about this week's episode? I was not crazy about it.
Let me rephrase that: a part of me was not crazy about it. The part of me that enjoys cheap thrills and shock factor and instant gratification? She was happy. It's the snobby critical bitch with elitist TV tastes that is being a huge stick-in-the-mud right now. And given that she is the one in possession of all the words and brains and stuff, well... guard your loins, folks.
It's no surprise that Tara's alters are modeled after real people she's known (we saw this with Alice last season), but Bryce is possibly the first of her personalities to be directly lifted from real life, at least in name. Since Tara didn't even remember that she had a brother in the first place, we now have to wonder: what is she basing the Bryce personality on, and how close to the original is her rendition? Also, why did Bryce kidnap baby Wheels, and where was he trying to take her? And this is the extent of the real intrigue this episode provides. Otherwise, "Chicken 'n' Corn" was sorely disappointing.
First off, Bryce is an utter caricature! Granted, all the alters are caricatures, but he strikes me as exceptionally over-the-top in his Eeeeevil Prospector impression. If he had a mustache, he'd be twirling it (and actually, Tara did seem to be smoothing an imaginary goatee while "occupied" by Bryce). And even if I could get on board with the personality—which I probably will do given the chance to sleep on it, because I still like this show—what's with the whole "take me to Tara so that I may kill her" schtick? Does Bryce really not realize that he is Tara? More importantly, is the viewer supposed to believe that he doesn't realize this even after he has already attacked her on several different occasions? He certainly knew where to find her those times!
One of the things that's always kept me tuning in to this show was its plausibility, as strange as that sounds. Sure it romanticizes—even glamorizes—DID, but at least there was always enough of a method to Tara's madness that the viewer could still go along with all of her "crazy" antics under the justification, "hey, it could happen." Now, even with my rudimentary understanding of [this show's] psychology, I get the sense that this really couldn't happen. The addition of Bryce to the mix just smacks of the kind of sensationalist crap that writers often utilize when they're desperate. I like a good, shocking twist as much as the next person, but I still want it to make sense and feel somewhat realistic within the parameters of the show. Perhaps this creative decision will prove to have hidden depths and a more logical rationale in future episodes—I hope it does—but right now I just feel let down and vaguely insulted as a fan.
I can't say what it is exactly about the Bryce thing that bothers me so. We've been treated to enough hints this season to anticipate a murderous and violent new alter to spring forth eventually, so I shouldn't have been surprised when he finally introduced himself. It was also obvious that this alter was out to destroy Tara and possibly the other alters, so hearing him confirm his intentions shouldn't have been a shock, either. In the end, I suppose that's just it: everything about Bryce's big introductory speech pretended to be a big, shocking twist but was ultimately full of stuff we already knew. This episode played like a mini whodunit, except without the mystery factor, which made it a bad whodunit and somewhat ridiculous when we consider that none of the purported crimes are actually happening. The only big reveal is that Chicken was "murdered" by the mystery alter, who—hint, hint!—is named and modeled after a real person from Tara's childhood. Well, big freaking whoop.
If this "big reveal" were a food pyramid item, it would be sugar: delicious but empty of substance. Combined with the archetypical evil affectation (poor Toni Collette must be up to here with all the new voices they're making her do) and the painfully obvious significance of there being two Bryce Craines, it ultimately made for a pretty insulting TV gimmick. Besides, all the so-called secrets Bryce readily revealed to Dr. Hattaras (and really—why now?), including his name, were the kind of secrets that should have been merely hinted at and left up to the viewers to uncover using a little thing called deductive reasoning. And the fact that the episode's climax occurred in a corn maze? Gee, I wonder what that could symbolize. Come on, writers! We're bright enough to have managed to follow along for three seasons; have a little faith in your audience and stop spelling everything out. But anyway.
The other storylines were no more inspired than Bryce's this week. I seem to remember some boring minor conflict between Max and Marshall, and some boring minor inner conflicts within Kate and Charmaine, both of whom are having some trouble navigating the waters of new step-/mommyhood. (And speaking of caricatures: Monty, anyone?) Here's hoping next week's episode delivers a little more protein.