And then I get an answer when we cut to the next scene, which is at Billy's photo gallery. We dissolve straight from Ruth's rouged face to a photo of a squalling baby, and the resemblance is uncanny. We pan around the crowded gallery before settling on Nate and Brenda, as Brenda teases that he's going to regret not getting high with her. To be perfectly honest, I regret not getting high for this part, but seeing as how it's 8:15 on a Sunday morning, that's probably for the best. Brenda spies Billy and gushes about how "handsome" and "confident" he looks, and then Billy comes over, breathes right in her face, and asks if his breath stinks. Nice. If I did that to my sister, she'd probably start rubbing her armpits in my nose. And before you ask, no, we're not sleeping together. Anyway, Brenda says that this show is Billy's best work yet, and praises it for being "very disturbing." Suddenly, Ruth and Nikolai appear, and Brenda cops to having invited them as part of her ploy to increase the dramatic tension and potential for comedy in the scene. Okay, she actually just says that she wanted Mommie Drearest to like her, but we all know what she really meant. Before Ruth can join them, however, Ma Chenowith appears. I know I called her Bo last time, but then Pontoon shamed me by pointing out that Joanna Cassidy was actually in one of my favorite movies of all time, Blade Runner. So, she'll be Zhora from here on out. I just didn't recognize her without the snake and the see-through raincoat. Zhora drunkenly slobbers over her children, and then leans over to whisper seductively in her son's ear. Then she looks Brenda in the eye and fulfills this week's incest tease quota by saying, "You can't keep him to yourself all the time." Nate echoes my sentiments by observing that the Chenowith family is "fucked up beyond comprehension." Also, your homework assignment for this week is to speculate on what exactly Zhora whispered into Billy's ear. You've got ten words or less, and the winner will be printed in next week's recap. Let's try to keep it PG-13, though, okay?
With Zhora gone, Ruth and Nikolai wander over, and small talk is exchanged. Nate, ever the suave one, asks after Hiram right in front of Nikolai. Turns out the St. Elsewhore is visiting his son in Portland, which is apparently code for "worked the producers' and the viewers' last nerves, so we gave him the week off." In another corner of the room, Billy and his mommy are chatting. She also praises his work, calling it "not at all left-brain like your father." Then she explains that Dad couldn't make it because he's treating a patient who suffered a "complete psychotic breakdown." Billy points out that this sort of thing seems to happen every time something important happens in his life, and I have to agree that the excuse does sound sort of fishy. I mean, if Dad were really looking for complete psychotic breakdowns, this gallery would be an excellent place to start. Back over to Nate, Ruth, and Nikolai, where Brenda is putting her foot in her mouth. Which is odd as well, because in a public place like this one, you'd expect her to be putting Nate's foot in her mouth. You'll notice how I kept that last joke PG-13. In the interests of increasing the dramatic tension and comedic possibilities of the scene, Zhora comes over and drapes herself over Nate, calling him "Mr. Seattle Co-Op Hippie Boy." When she finds out that Nate's mom is there, however, she suddenly understands why Ruth is looking at her "like [she] just took a giant dump on [her] lawn." Oy. Zhora next notices that a "Dr. Feinberg" has arrived, and Nate helpfully exposits that this is the guy who wrote Charlotte: Light and Dark. Brenda refers to Doctor Dork as a "Nazi fuck," which sets an HBO single-season record for usage of that particular phrase. Marry me, Lauren. Brenda and her mom bicker for a bit as the good doctor makes his way over, and then Doc Feinberg sleazes all over the entire Chenowith clan. Brenda stalks off in disgust, and Zhora asks Billy what the theme of his show is. "Mother, nothing is more tedious than when you look for meaning in my work," he replies. "I don't need your fucking approval." Actually, I can think of any number of things more tedious than that, and one of them is the fact that this scene is still nowhere near being over.