Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Weeds Recap: Booby Trapped

"...I'm aware of all my people, wherever they are; I carry them, you know? Otherwise, they might slip away, and then what?"   --Nancy

One of my biggest gripes about Weeds as a show is that the flip tone and predominant shallowness of its comedy have been growing rather dissonant with the darker story elements introduced in later seasons. If my memory serves, the show started out with a good balance of cynicism and heart, yet somewhere along the way the dial just flat-out broke; I don't mind that the stakes keep escalating, but the characters' attitudes should adjust accordingly. Yes, there have been interludes here and there that suggested that they do indeed possess some depth and emotional maturity, but at the end of the day, Andy's character reel still includes more instances of buffoonery rather than those brief moments of wisdom and insight he's shown every now and then, so even when we are supposed to be appalled at Nancy's decisions as head-of-household, the implication is that she is doing the best she can as the only fully realized character in the entire operation. And on this I call bullshit on Jenji Kohan, because it is impossible -- not to mention boring -- for some of these characters, having been through all they've been through, to remain as aloof and irritatingly unscathed, psychologically speaking, as they were when the show debuted. It is this insistence on being by turns both a dramedy and a sitcom yet never a consistently believable mixture of the two that makes Weeds such a frustrating show and one that has become very difficult to review in a manner devoid of irony and snark. And so I am forced most of the time to treat it as the big joke it is trying to pass itself off as, yet I still await those episodes that will finally offer some sort of emotional payoff (to me) and general credibility (to the characters), and praise be to Jenji (I guess), "Object Impermanence" was the first such episode of this, the final season. (An aside: it's interesting that the episode gets its title from a theory of cognitive development; Heylia employs the phrase to accuse Nancy of failing to be aware of people that are outside of her immediate periphery, but Nancy herself has justifiable reason to be worried about this phenomenon as it pertains to Stevie.)

Amid some typical comedic situations involving (once-again) Pathetic Andy and his newest money-making scheme -- though I have to say the Copenhagen Wheel was a pretty good business idea that befit both his quirky intelligence and his boyish personality -- the episode did provide some encounters that were for once thought-provoking and analytically sound. I'm referring, of course, to the heated exchange between Nancy and Heylia, at long last. Heylia has such a humorless urban philosopher's way about her that it was difficult to determine whether she was actually aiming her shotgun's fire at Nancy and missing her repeatedly or whether she just meant to give her a little scare, though I cannot imagine Heylia doing anything in a playful fashion. At any rate, it was interesting to see the interplay between these two women, both survivors in their own right, both emotionally abandoned by loved ones, both fiercely protective and unapologetically exploitative of their families (one of whom forced the other out of her home and into the boonies, but hey, bygones). It's almost pathetic to learn also that Heylia, as chock-full of sassy badassery and self-righteousness as she is, is also deeply envious of Nancy for her ability to inspire loyalty -- albeit begrudging in Silas's case -- in her family without even trying.

The more compelling story this week, however, involved the showdown between Nancy and Silas, which was a long time coming and was handled quite well, I must admit. What better place for the long-awaited mother-son confrontation than in a booby-trapped field full of MILF weed -- the strain partly developed by Silas and the one that put Nancy on the map way back when, before human trafficking and drug kingpins and homicidal sons entered her life. And what better analogy for Nancy herself than the shot of her wandering through the grass maze, trying to find a way out of the mire of her own making while avoiding the disaster waiting around the corner and being approached by the occasional wounded party there for the purpose of some much-deserved reckoning? An adrenaline junkie through and through, there's no question that Nancy has acted selfishly more often than not, but bad parents love their kids too, and Nancy has always been good, if late, at the "grand gesture" stuff, as when she recounts to Silas the details of the day he was born ("I wanted to eat one of your toes so I could still keep a piece of you inside of me"), the significance of which -- in her mind -- is reasonable grounds for forgiveness. That Silas is still bitter and resentful over his mother's deceit regarding his paternity is baffling only to Nancy, whose arrogance and love of Husband No. 1 are displayed in equal measures when she asks Silas what difference any of it makes in his estimation of his dead father. Of course, even before he verbalizes it, we all know it is not Judah but Nancy who alone has fallen out of grace in Silas's eyes, and so he opts to stay behind at Heylia's bequest to help her harvest the current crop in exchange for being his and Nancy's supplier.

Meanwhile, back in NYC, Shane's brother-envy has reached new heights, prompting him to buy for dear old mommy the best present an ex-con drug dealer girl could ask for: a front business for her shady dealings. Andy is happy too, as he gets to peddle his revolutionary new bike to passersby, which is probably the exact kind of product that appeals to stoners. Doug continues to be a useless lout and oh my goodness, how could I forget about Nancy and Stevie: The Reunion set to the sounds of nostalgic music and Nancy's Important Speech, with which Martin Short (wtf kind of name is Steward Havens, anyway?) is pretty much as unimpressed as the rest of us. Still a sweet moment, though.

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