The Socratic Method

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Pennies From Hell

We open on a close shot of a middle-aged woman rocking back and forth with an intense expression on her face. From the processed voices playing, ostensibly in her head, that are accusing her of killing a cat, we're meant to think that she's a few sandwiches short of a picnic. She should stay away from Foreman, in order to hang on to the few she has left. Aaron Himelstein -- best known to me as Friedman on the late lamented Joan Of Arcadia -- tells the woman, who's apparently his mother, that everything is okay. As usual, his hair isn't included in that assessment. A longer shot reveals that Friedman and his mother are sitting with a female representative from the "New Jersey Department of Employment Development," who's reviewing their application for an extension of the mother's disability benefits. The mother blurts, "I don't like her. She's fat." I don't think extreme rudeness qualifies you for disability benefits. If it did, I'd be a lot more forthright in telling people who bump into me on the goddamn sidewalk exactly what I think of them. The woman pauses, and then smiles and agrees that she could stand to lose a little weight. She then twitches her nose and assumes the guise of Christy Turlington. Well, come on, the latter seems barely less likely than the former.

The mother grabs her calf in pain, and we CGI into her leg, wherein she seems to have a clot in one of her blood vessels. Either that, or someone on the editing staff really was craving a hard candy right about here. Friedman asks if she's okay, and the mother says she killed the cat: "Lots of blood." Given what happens later in the episode, I hope she didn't do so by barfing on it. The state representative haltingly tells Friedman that she has some questions about some dates, all the while looking at the mother like she's got a third boob growing out of her forehead. If nothing else, that would probably get her in to see House more quickly. Friedman clears up the concerns about the dates while expositing that he's eighteen. I don't know how old Aaron Himelstein actually is, but given that he looks young enough to still be wearing undergarments by SpongeBob SquarePants, I'm guessing we're meant to think he's lying. We go back to Calf Cam, where a piece of the hard candy breaks off and goes its merry way. The representative stamps the application and tells them they're all set; all she needs is a signature. Just then, a glass frog on the table starts taunting the mother, saying that the cat was first, and she's next. I'm thinking that this little demonstration that talking figurines are evil is Fox's clever way of standing behind the decision to cancel Wonderfalls. The mom tells the frog to shut up, shut up, SHUT UP! as Friedman tells the representative that his mom just needs a little water. I think she needs to be gagged before she says something that causes the nice lady to rip up the fat check coming her way, but I haven't been trained in these situations. The representative graciously volunteers to go get the water. When she's gone, Friedman begs his mother to hold it together long enough to sign the papers, and gives her an airplane bottle of booze as an incentive. Considering I'm on my way to California and am writing this recap at 30,000 feet, you'll forgive me if that little container is looking more inviting than usual. Friedman tells his mother that the voices aren't real. What is real, however, is the piece of hard candy that has hurtled through her bloodstream and has reached her torso. She clutches her chest in agony, and then collapses to the floor, unconscious, as Friedman, panicked, yells "Mom!" over and over again. You'd think that little incident would dissuade me from the airplane bottle. Think again. Credits.

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