Bunheads
For Fanny

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: B- | 9 USERS: C
YOU GRADE IT
Nothing But Precisely Sitting

That, there, is what death is like. Everybody said last week that ASP has a problem with death and her funerals are always uncomfortably glib or uncomfortably maudlin or uncomfortably saccharine, and most of this episode I would agree, but that right there is death. We are getting worse and worse at pointing in the direction you can't see -- "I take my spirituality very seriously," Fanny said, "If I don't see it with my own eyes, I don't believe it" -- and this is an example. You get the same place whether you think of death as a person or a place or a thing, but most of all you get there when they won't let you clean up or do anything and you don't know what to wear or where the memorial is.

I don't even think death is really about missing the person, honestly: It's just the unbelievable unfairness and powerlessness of it. I think that's what really pisses us off. That even having become adults, or almost adults, some arbitrary bullshit thing like biology can come along and fuck you without even asking nicely.

Talia: "How was the sex?"
Michelle: "Talia. It was... Really, really good."

SURFER PLACE

Into some loathsome surfer bar-pub-restaurant run by Mitch Huntzberger in some sort of troll-woman costume that makes him look like the Butterscotch Stallion, and it's so gross and forced and dumb and there's this burnout surfer and his burnout surfer wife and they end every sentence with "maaaaan" and it's just. Tragic. I don't even want to talk about it, this whole thing I don't want to talk about. Michelle is sassy with the guy, but then they talk for a while and he's kind to her, and then he figures out that she's the stripper from Tahoe or whatever, and then Ellen Greene feels, like, this critical mass of cutesy weirdness and is drawn to its gravity like a magic spell. Like Vancouver nudity and old ladies in capes, she comes when called.

But first, a moment: Michelle somehow starts getting the Fanny calls, and the first or second one she gets is from a sitar player who wants to play at the memorial, and won't hear Michelle's protests, and she's forced to sit -- in the middle of this aging-surfer bullshit, and a random old man's dog, and not having a housekey or anything -- forced to just sit and listen until this person is done playing the sitar over the phone. It takes a long time.

There's a Buddhist practice Michelle doesn't know about, a form of Zen meditation called sitting zazen, where the deal is that you just sit there. Dōgen called it shikantaza, "Nothing but precisely sitting." Whatever dreams or fears or sadness come up, and they will, torrents and tumults and horrors and passions, the discipline is in continuing to sit. Fanny doesn't know a lot about her spirituality, and Michelle knows nothing about it, but in this they are connected, because being excluded from the process has become for Michelle what the chaos of creating the process is for Fanny: A way of not sitting. I don't know who this sitar player is, but I think he maybe saves the day.

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