That was a good episode, actually. Strong performances, a consistent script and some really nice little touches from director Tater D. Mia in particular really rose to the occasion this week, which is always nice to see -- especially with such juicy, moving material. This is the fullest expression we've seen of the promises made in the pilot, with snappy unexpected twists and dialogue and a real sense of enjoyment among almost all the players.
Like what is going on with Sofia this week, first of all, is just straight-up fucking magical. Smoking a cigarette out the kitchen vent -- during her morning whiskey -- foreshadows an amazing new development in Sofia's backstory: Apparently she was involved in some kind of a Charlie Starkweather/Micky & Mallory scenario as a young lady, as in, she seems to have stabbed some people to death, somewhere in the South.
There have not been many times over the last two months that this show -- beyond some stray examples of that sparkling dialogue that comes and goes that I love so much -- has actually surprised me or made me sit up straight and applaud, but yeah:
Sofia Bowers, the greatest character on television, was once a teenage spree killer. Of course she was. Of course that bitch was.
This also explains one of her many accents, and I guess it's what put her in the hands of Senator Haverstock, who sampled the wares before setting her up as first Robert's assistant and then -- once Mia happened -- his wife. All this history is revealed in a meeting she calls asking for his Congressional help to keep her partner in crime (Stanton Parish!) from getting bail, which is a scene that really highlights Larroquette's particular strengths, which in turn carry the episode: More boyish than ever, very nearly sweet in fact, and with his grossness set to an all-series low.
A gorgeous PR launch/approval announcement party goes horribly wrong when Edward shows up with proof of the drug trial deaths and tickles that one little funnybone Julian has about being a self-made man, resulting in a public fistfight and eventually Edward quitting the company entirely. The other ingredient in Julian's flip-out is Joanna's reticent reaction to his sudden declarations of love. For like a thousand reasons, that whole thing is compromised for her of course, and they're both really sad about it -- but also it's even weirder because she lives with him now. Suffice to say once he shows up at the door of that consultant lady for the competitor, on the edge of tears, even Julian's earned a little sympathy. (I know!)
Will, on the other hand, is still an unrepentant buttplug of a man. Joanna, because she is very into self-sabotage about being undercover and is also a big old dummy, isn't onscreen more than five minutes before that obnoxious journalist chick makes her as a cop and then they both end up in the middle of this shootout at a Russian Mafia bakery that's somehow connected to Ben Preswick and/or his murder, and the whole thing's totally ridiculous and kind of awesome. The only real consequence so far is that Reporter Chick's Canadian visa is now under Will's control. Sucks to be her, but that's nothing new.
I can't think of anything else Joanna did this week, but Will made sure to be super aggressive toward as many women as possible for no real reason, while making his typically tender, solicitous overtures toward Edward for also no real reason. Edward's own nasty little high point comes when he runs into Joanna (escorting Mia) at Ben Preswick's funeral, and manages to find a way to be bitchy to her about it -- which is balanced out entirely by his sweet goodbye to the Tater Tots, in which he admits that he burns with hatred for almost everyone in the world, but that they are exempt. (Not that this affection will keep him from neglecting their pet frog unto death, a future event about which everybody seems to be pretty realistic from day one.)
Since the whole family is at this PR disaster party and she's been put on lockdown, Mia invites all of her prep school buddies over to the house to keep her company. Nice Guy Carpet, who starts the night being his usual unctuous self, does just enough drugs to get awesome, culminating in a fairly aggro attempt to get a threesome going with Motorcycle himself. It's always something with that kid. (And with Motorcycle, who seems to have spent all his sketchiness points just on this one arrangement that happened at the end of last episode -- so why introduce him into the story in such a weird, sketch way in the first place?)
Mia just spends the whole episode being super unimpressed and blasé and hilarious about everything, even Carpet's newfound flexibilities... Until (with Motorcycle's sexy help) Senator Haverstock manages to get her alone and make his amends. "Well, I'm the product of rape," Mia explains later in a skillful deadpan, "But at least he has a good Congressional track record on women's issues." On paper that is not so funny, now that I'm looking at it, but that's just another example of Mia's greatness in this episode. By the end she's mostly cool with everybody -- even reconciled with Sofia -- although Robert is clearly cracking under a bunch of different kinds of pressure at this point.
So who was your MVP? I gotta say Mia really did it for me this week. I had an eye roll at the "I'm throwing a party while my parents are out" trope, but that was really her last cliché -- which ended the second the party actually started anyway -- and seeing her first conversations with the Senator, Edward, and her parents, now that she knows about Vivian, was both touching and invigorating. (Bottled water and a pint of ice cream, if you were wondering. I guess the time at Julian's broke her of some of her weirder habits.) I've never been on Julian's side more, which feels weird to even say. And then, of course, it's nice to have confirmation that Sofia's sociopathic tendencies have a long and rich history we'll get to learn about soon.
Next Week: Without Sam and the Tater Tots to hold him back, Edward wrecks shop on everybody, telling the world about the Thai deaths and even confronting Robert about his possibly having killed Vivian. I don't know what else is going to happen, but doesn't that sound like a lot? And listen, if it's even two-thirds of what we got tonight, that'll be a triumph. Loved it.
Vivian decided she wanted to raise her mostly raised daughter about fifteen years too late, a whim that may have caused her murder. On learning she was the daughter of her sister, Mia tried to fill those stripper heels in a barrage of clichéd rebellions, eventually stealing a bottle of wine like some kind of anarchist, which led to her boyfriend's near-arrest and eventual alliance with her biological father, the smarmy/lovable rapist Senator Dwight Haverstock.
In addition to these stresses, her mother Sofia was also involved in some kind of heroin-related dangerous mess in Harlem, possibly spotting our lead character -- and all-around dummy -- Joanna, in the middle of doing her secret job of being a cop. One swift kick in the balls and an eviction by Sofia sends Joanna to join Mia at Julian's house of horrors, where presumably they will form a family of some kind, fueling Will's impotent and abusive rage further. As Edward begins to pull together the threads linking the family company's new drug to a string of deaths that is apparently ongoing, Julian's flexible affections are infiltrated by a consultant/con artist whose name I can never remember.
MORNING - JULIAN'S
Joanna: "Nothing fulfills me quite so much as cooking for white people. Thanks for letting me, a grown woman with a job, stay in your herpes-slathered condo. It's hard for me to remember that I have agency just like any other adult."
Julian: "Oh it's okay, I only live on juices."
Mia: "And whores!"
Joanna: "Even if I weren't staying here under fake pretenses in order to chase the nonexistent and several-times-over disproven lead of you murdering your sister, I would probably still be doing this."
That awful woman from the opposing pharmaceutical company shows up, having twisted her ankle and tragically not been run over by a thousand trucks and pedicabs. Unlike Ben Preswick.
Mia: "Did you see this huge screaming front-page article about a guy getting hit by a bus?"
Joanna: "No, why is that news?"
Mia: "It isn't, but this show is pretty dumb. Look, it's Ben Preswick. There's a half-page portrait of him accompanying the article."
Joanna: "I don't know who that is, I think. It's hard to keep my dumb lies straight, since I'm such a dummy."
Julian: "Awful woman, why did you injure yourself? Is this a ruse?"
A.W.: "If it were, would I make up a mortifying story about how I was so very intensely listening to Def Leppard At The Tokyo Dome?"