Weeds (Showtime, Monday, 10 p.m.)
The climax of Weeds’ second season was so shocking I had to re-watch it to make sure I didn’t miss something. A standoff? Seriously? Season one ended with our drug-dealer mom, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), realizing she’d just slept with a DEA agent, exposing all sorts of existential anguish. Season two’s cliffhanger is something as trite as fear of death? That’s some CSI: Miami nonsense.
How could a show so deft at poking around inside the suburban mind — at exposing its consumptive absurdity — end with such a cliché? The show’s writers have succeeded thus far in whipping humor and pathos into Weeds’ airy trip through the bog of early middle-age. How could it fall so flat?
The writers were going for satire, that’s why. Rather than the opposing factions having guns trained on each other, the writers decided to have the two black men and three Armenian men all point their guns at a cute little white lady. That way, it’s like they’re pointing the guns at the TV audience — suburbia itself!
Parker, bless her soul, did the best she could with the extended scene. Her eyes glassed up. Her voice squeaked. She managed a milquetoast defiance that struck the right chord. This smart, sad, half-crazy woman doesn’t like the idea of being told what to do, but she realizes she’s out of options, so she lobbed sass like toy grenades. Parker was brilliant, but the scene fizzled.
The larger cliffhanger, then, was whether this minor stumble (one bad episode against 23 good ones) would turn into an all out plummet.
It didn’t, thankfully. Last week’s premiere smartly diffused the situation by getting Nancy out of the house. Then, the writers created a far worse situation by taking from her both the pot and her partner. This week she begins to come to grips with her new circumstance. It gets kinda dark.
Then it gets lonely. Weeds slides into September with the various characters going their separate ways, leaving Nancy — faced with consequences she can’t bat her eyelashes out of — no option but reality. She gets an actual job. Ultimately, right at the end of episode four, she’ll break the only hard and fast rule she has left. In doing so, she throws everyone who hasn’t deserted her into harm’s way.
So yeah, for the next three weeks at least, Weeds is still unbelievably good TV. •
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