A Shoe For a Shoe

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The Tiger in The Box

Things that have been done to Cesar over the course of his service: Playing cards shoved under the fingernails, which probably sounds slightly worse to ladies than men. A piece of my ear cut off, and later reattached. Three Colombians once took turns shooting gasoline up his culo with a turkey baster. I wonder what that would do? I mean, not really. I don't really care to know what that would do, or what it's like. That's probably the worst one. In any case, there's nothing Nancy can do.

Except make the same mistake she always makes: Thinking that the sisterhood she spends half her time denigrating and all of her time ignoring is going to save her ass when it counts: "Hi, is your mommy home?" she asks the little girl on the phone, who takes it to her mother.

At the Buffet they're worrying about Nancy so Mike calls Kimmi, putting her off with traffic lies and lies and lies. Andy's more concerned with his french toast, so when he runs to catch the waitress, it's him that sees the table full of villains.

Nancy apologizes to Cesar for forgetting his last name, and kicks him when he won't tell; her smile is glittering bright when his hot wife gets to the phone. "Hi, Mrs. de la Cruz! It's Nancy Reyes, Esteban's wife?" Cesar's wife is just as pleasant. "Yes, hi! How are you? How's the villa?" Nancy is always so bad at faking it that she's like a spectator sport: "It's good, it's good! Esta bien!" The whole time, mom's totally ignoring her, yelling at their daughter about the way she's dressed. "Sorry, go on?" Cesar's wife is the coolest. She sounds like a lady on the phone, but Cesar would only marry a tiger.

Nancy's getting less chill by the second: "I know that Cesar might not share with you everything that happens at work? But today he kidnapped my son. And now he's threatening to kill him?" Cesar can't quite get it together to laugh, but he does have a sort of mordant humor as he says to tell his wife about the arrow. Properly ashamed as usual, for asking for help, Nancy asks her -- as a fellow mother -- to speak to her husband about that. A few mumbles later, of course, he's like, "She said to kill you and come home. She's making albondigas for dinner." Meatballs, skee-balls, lady-scrota; Cesar passes out and she kicks at the skee-ball machine. "You are a champion!"

Ignacio and Shane get into a thing where they're pouring hot sauce on their food and competitively eating it. Eventually Shane jams his sandwich into the ashtray; it's real gross. Spitballs aimed at Doug are of no avail, as he's staring and salivating at some kid's full plate of food that he's not eating. "Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh!" Andy stage-whispers, but to no avail. "Sammy Davis, Jr.!" he says, as a last resort, which is hilarious: What else does Shane like, besides Pittsburgh and naked pictures of his mommy? Ignacio.

Andy heads into the breach, with just his fists and sinew -- "Andy-meat," he clarifies -- and tells Mike not to save him, under any circumstances. Which is, of course, a lie. After one brief moment and a punch that only makes him sneeze, our armed Ignacio invites them all to sit down with the group while he notifies Cesar of his good fortune.

Nancy prods Cesar conscious to take Ignacio's call, and puts it on speakerphone. "Be good, and I'll call you an ambulance, okay? English preferred." Cesar assures her she will never be safe, she doesn't care, and when he picks up proud Ignacio makes everybody say hello. Even Doug. Without revealing her presence Nancy runs, weeping, to steal Cesar's car and save everybody.

Fun facts: Cesar drives like Ignacio's grandmother. Said grandmother, on her left hand, has two ring fingers. Q: How does that affect her driving? A: It's just a fun fact.

Shane wonders if maybe Cesar's just having trouble getting Nancy into the trunk, getting big laughs from Ignacio, just as she walks in and delivers a loopy little monologue to the effect that Cesar's had "a little accident" and that Ignacio is free to visit his friend, post haste. She's even willing to rescue Doug right now. Doug, himself, is still obsessing on this kid, whose wastefulness is driving him mad with a blurry rage.

Shane's eyes briefly close as he leans against his mother; he's had a long day. Nancy notifies Ignacio, who's not going anywhere, that she is pointing a gun at his scrotum; not to be outdone, he admits he's got one pointed at her "lady-scrotum" as well. When the weird waitress shows up, there's an interminably long and all-too-real conversation with Nancy that goes: What do you want? "Uh, nothing. Water." Lemon wedge? "Uh, no. Water? Ice." We're out of ice. ("How can you be out of ice?" The ice machine broke.) "Okay, then lemon?" So no water?

It's the perfect tension breaker because it is its own tension. This is quality we've not seen in awhile. I love this season so much. I hope everybody comes back and starts watching this show again because it is awesome. Doug starts ordering everything off the menu and Nancy tells him to cram it; he passes out on the table. "Ignacio, you really think you can successfully transport an infant two thousand miles by yourself?" He does. "What exactly does a three-month-old eat?" Chicken, crackers...

Although it is adorable, Nancy still pronounces this incorrect. Ignacio offers to kidnap her as well. Also, he notes, her hands are shaking. She swears she'll actually shoot him and kill him, here in this crowded awful restaurant, and he giggles at her almost tenderly. "Don't get me wrong, you're a toughie. But this?" Shane gently takes the gun from her hand, under the table, and she gently lets him. Ignacio wonders if Shane will put a bullet in him; they both know he will. But they keep staring. Ignacio smiles, impressed, and nods.

Outside the Hungry Kuntry Buffet, Ignacio holds onto Shane tightly. "Follow your dreams, mijo! Follow your dreams." He kisses both cheeks; Shane waves goodbye as he drives off in Kimmi's car. From the window, the rest of the family waves goodbye as well. Shell-shocked, sure, but I'm positive also because they love Ignacio as much as Shane and I do. How could you not?

While Mike calls Kimmi to let her know that somebody stole her car -- and that he's dumping her and vanishing -- Nancy calls Esteban once again from Cesar's phone. "Hi, it's Cesar," she says, in a doofy sort of impression that leaves much to be desired and just makes her look really awkward and strange. Which is how she feels.

"Um, don't be mad at him. You know? I'm a... I'm a mother lion. And you can't defeat a mother lion when you threaten her cubs. You might think it's the same thing for papa lion, but it's not. It's not the same thing, at all."

Leaving Seattle, again. Shane's got Ignacio's pocketknife in his hands, flipping it over and over. Una navaja, he murmurs, and she quiets him. "No more Spanish," she begs of him. Not tonight. Because she meant every word. And with her boys in the car and the lights sliding by, she'll think about every word, again, and replay it in her head, and she'll realize she meant it when she said goodbye. That that last hope she had is gone, is dead: It died the second he hung up on her and she realized she'd released him. Somewhere along the way, Esteban had been released.

He didn't care if she lived or she died. It wasn't a mystery or an option or a possibility: She called him, begged him for forgiveness, and he couldn't give it. The Esteban in her head, who knew her dark places and forgave them, the Esteban she could work every single time because they had no secrets, the one who could get Shane out of this and give her a home... That Esteban died, fed to the lion. She opened the box and there he was, dead to her. Looking for her. Consuming her. A door closed that she forgot she left open and a million possible lives were lost.

"Esteban, I want to thank you for our beautiful boy. I will always speak well of you, and I'll always tell him how much I loved his father. And how so, so fond of you I once was. You're g

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