Episode Report Card
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Fake Empire

I don't know what it is about the last couple episodes. Maybe I just liked the Eddie/Karen and Mickey/Ian stories too much, or maybe I just got too into the Fiona/Monica stuff finally hitting the fan, but it's just felt like treading water for a bit. Will Fiona run away with Steve? Given last week and the week before and the week before that, probably not. Will Ian do anything interesting? Not with Mickey in jail and Kash having proven himself useless once and for all. Is Debbie going to needle Steve about his double identity issues? Is Frank going to be almost too gross to deal with? Chances are those things will happen.

When was the last time you gave a shit about Fiona's tremendous responsibilities, or Steve's wheel-spinning slumming-hipster act? Do you think Ethel will exist this week, much less Veronica? Is this one of those episodes where Karen matters in any way, or is she just going to careen from personality trait to personality trait as a foil to Lip or Frank or Eddie? What's Jasmine's deal going to be this week? Is Lip going to be a genius with a brighter future, or the anarchic voice of every disappointed, heartbroken son?

It's not like you have to check in with every member of the ensemble -- God knows Carl's never done anything besides blow shit up -- and it's not like the whole thing has to snap closed like a box, although that would be nice (at least show us where the hinges are) but when you think back on this season, like: What was it even about? A churning mess of white privilege and there-but-for-the-grace about barely real poor people, spiced up with occasional brilliance and bravura performances? There's a reason it's called a story arc and not story pointillism, and it's what showrunners were invented to shepherd.

I'm just not sure where the burnout is coming from, if it's even burnout, or if it's not personal to me and this is just a situation of the story not gelling, but this season ends with a whimper. Maybe it's just that Showtime disease, where each episode is such a little movie unto itself that nobody really bothers to connect the dots and make a thing to hang the story on. It isn't enough that things should just be enjoyable: Things are enjoyable when they are well-made, and this season's last half has been about as good as some unholy union of Hung and Weeds, two shows I like that rarely justify themselves.

Anyway, Veronica is not so delighted to hear that Fiona leaned on one of the moms from Deb's school during last night's travails, so she jumps on the "we need a real lawyer" train to prove her worth: "Not some just-got-out-of- law-school, liberal do-gooder with a 2,000-ghetto kid caseload."

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