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Couch Baron: A | Grade It Now!
Morality Bites
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
So rather than leave it for the end, I have to mention that the show has been pulled from the November sweeps schedule. The current plan, as I understand it, is to air three two-hour events starting the first week in December (thanks, Fox, guess I'd better get my Christmas shopping done before then) which will leave three episodes of the thirteen ordered. Don't know if those will also be burned off on the network or will be relegated to the Web, but regardless, the chances of Fox ordering any more new episodes seem nil to me. I'm glad at least that the more talented principals got to showcase their work in twenty-six episodes instead of only thirteen, but I guess this day was inevitable. Small consolation that this is certainly the best episode of the season and one of the better efforts of the series, but dwelling on it isn't going to make the recap go by any faster. So:

We open on an unfocused shot of Topher sounding somewhat damaged as he tells us, "I was just trying to help her" twice in succession. I'd say, given who we're dealing with, that that sounds like a bad idea on general principles, but the fact that his face appears to be covered in blood kind of obviates the sentiment.

Cut to a close-up of Sierra taking a Polaroid picture on, I believe from the vaguely artsy abounding denizens, Venice Beach, and it's nice of the show to give its crew a chance to get some air every once in a while. Not that I'd want to drive the truck back to the Fox studios during rush hour, but at least they're not in the Valley. Anyway, it's one year ago, and Sierra, or "Priya" as she was called back then, is assisting a large woman of color peddle her costume jewelry in exchange for the large woman of color assisting her with peddling her paintings, or something. Also, Priya's still Australian, which she emphasizes by sassing Queen Elizabeth II, and this tickles the large woman of color, because as sassy as women of color are on American television as a rule, they don't often get to point said sassiness at royalty. Speaking of which, Costume Jewelry Woman sees probably our least favorite person in the Dollverse, Vincent Ventresca, approaching, and refers to him as a "prince," and I was going to say that further proves she knows squat about royalty, except then it occurred to me that if you looked at all the princes in the world through all time, the way this guy acts might actually be fairly close to the mean, so I'll give it to her. Priya somewhat tellingly tells Costume Jewelry Woman that Nolan is not her type, but CJW replies that she's certainly his, so we've got the ingredients all ready for "Creepy Stalker Extraordinaire," and we just need to see how the show mixes them up. Nolan comes over with a demure "aw, shucks" hands-in-the-pockets walk, and he buys one of the paintings she has out, apparently not for the first time by a long shot. She self-deprecatingly asks what he's doing with all the pieces, and he tells her she's a collector and the "real deal," and shouldn't be selling on Venice Beach "with all this novelty crap." This earns him a reproving side-eye from Costume Jewelry Woman, but I bet if she knew his true disgusting nature it would make her feel better. In a very narrow way, that is. Priya tells him she needs the cash, which I find hilarious given that she obviously didn't feel the need to defend her stand-mate's tacky offerings, and then whispers that she also doesn't have a work visa, which isn't the kind of thing she should be volunteering, I don't think, but he merely smiles before asking if she'd be interested in doing a painting specially for him, a big one "that will cost a lot more money." At this, Costume Jewelry Woman pipes up that he's "loaded," too, because while she may have terrible taste in both jewelry and men, she is still sassy. Priya, the prospect of a large cash infusion starting to overwhelm her better judgment, asks if he had something specific in mind, and he replies, "Yes. You." with such a lack of finesse that I'm surprised he doesn't punctuate the thought by licking her face right there. He recovers, though, to amend it to the desire for her to do her "thing," and adds that maybe he could even arrange a show for her. Priya definitely looks rather intrigued, and he gives her his card and takes off, and as we follow him, we hear CJW all "Hoo-wee, you hit the jackpot, girl!" I hope if Priya ever goes back to selling her stuff on the beach, she gets a pimp with better judgment.

So Priya apparently didn't have to think it over too long, as the next scene is the gala gallery opening, and the shorthand version is that even though the snooty crowd loves her stuff enough to make her the next It Girl, the whole thing is very much Not Her Scene. Well, that is until she investigates a room that's toward the back but hardly private and sees the beginning stages of a vaguely orgy-like event happening, but after you've watched Rome pretty much everything else of this ilk pales in comparison, so let's focus on the part where Echo emerges from the room, fully clothed at least, and compliments Sierra both on her art and her own beauty before encouraging her to stay with Nolan. "He finds an artist, they thrive." Next time Nolan goes to all the trouble to arrange such a scenario, I hope he insists that the participants have better grammar skills. Nearby, Nolan is chatting with the fabulous Keith Carradine, David Carradine's younger half-brother, who you may know from...well, numerous things over the years, but most recently Dexter, where he plays Special Agent Frank Lundy. Well, "played" may be the correct term, but as I'm writing this on Saturday we'll have to wait and see. Anyway, Keith Carradine tells Nolan that the whole setup is "an elaborate, expensive seduction," and Rossum is happy to do it as a token of their gratitude for all the work he's done for them, "but couldn't you just buy her a necklace or a boat or something?" Well, not to defend Nolan, but I'm sure he's off necklaces after all the recent trips to Venice Beach, and Priya would probably fear that any boat she got on would head straight for Sydney. Rather than tell Keith Carradine this, though, Nolan says that Priya is an artist and "free spirit," and as such can't be bought. Keith Carradine, getting the idea, offers that she can be lured, but wonders why Nolan doesn't just have them build him the perfect woman. Nolan, however, says he doesn't want a Doll. "I want her." I kind of wish it still were summer, because this guy is giving me the cold chills better than any air conditioner I've ever met.

Echo, not particularly believably, is keeping Sierra's attention with a poorly-acted speech about how money alone doesn't bring power, but Nolan, who's a "medical genius" and has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize, has power, and since the speech is not only unconvincingly delivered but also obviously came from Nolan himself, let's skip ahead to where Keith Carradine brings Victor over and introduces him as "the finest art dealer in all of Italy," a description with which Victor suavely demurs before taking Sierra over to the painting to ask her some questions about it. Echo, for her part, greets Keith Carradine as "Mr. Harding," and leads him away by his tie as she adds that it's always a pleasure. If they're heading for that back room, I hope we don't get another shot of it. Back at the painting, Victor asks if a particular painter influenced Priya's work, but Priya, being a free spirit and Australian and whatever, doesn't know who he's talking about, so Victor artfully (heh) positions that as a compliment, saying she's so naturally talented before insulting the crowd there for being so artificial, which of course is music to Priya's ears. He then asks

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