Audra gives the FBI their next bit of evidence regarding the Botwins desaparecidos, and cries. But then speaking of guests stars we miss, Ignacio! Oh, I have missed Ignacio. Yeah, you can count on Cesar to be humorlessly humorous and shit-spookin' scary, but for sheer adorable sociopathy only Ignacio will do. Murderous lil' teddy bear. Unfortunately, he shows up only at the end of the episode, the part that also includes Doug. Maybe they'll never find the Newmans, and you'll just have a nice little separate show inside your show, where Ignacio and Cesar do demeaning abusive things to Doug. I would watch the shit out of that show.
As for the Newmans, their status quo heading into the first act break seems to follow thusly: Scabbing for picketing hotel staff, because they are slime, the Newmen find themselves in a variety of shameful jobs. I.e., those jobs regular/white people would never do. Nathalie's in hotel housekeeping, her elder son Mike is a bellhop while younger son Shawn is now in childcare, and patriarch(ish) Randy is a dishwasher under the iron fist of six-foot-three-inch Chef Peter Ingvar Rolf Storm (Stormare for the uninitiated).
Of course, there's a multitude of twists that immediately make it clear nobody's dealing with their best strengths: Maid Nathalie is invisible to men, Gabby Randy is silenced by his Chef, and latte-slurping (!) Shawn gets fed up with being little Avi's mommy after half a day and steals a high-end stroller for the sake of his teen back.
And Mike? Well, speaking of TV shows they should invent, the former Silas Botwin is puttin' that smoking, legal-aged body to work as a mostly naked reader of Choose Your Own Adventure novels to a particularly specific sort of lonely old guy. It's not as creepy as it sounds, because -- as Uncle Randy truthfully explains, it's not gay if they pay you/it happens underwater -- but mostly because he gets to keep his little bellhop hat on. Which makes the whole thing more of a lark, really.
Everybody deals with their responsibilities, of course, except for Nathalie, of course. Although it's worth noting that Nathalie is able to tell some random dude at the bar more shit about Nancy Price-Botwin than we learned about her in six years, which is a sign of something or another. But one moment being treated like an actual maid -- a job she describes as being "no better than the whore that pees on people," which in context is actually a pretty understandable complaint -- and she's right back looking to score some pot and start selling again.
No go on the weed, even after a meeting with [Serena van der Woodsen's grandmother/William the Bloody's mother] a shoe-happy Dr. Feelgood, but Nathalie does turn to making and selling hash once she meets Linda Hamilton and her adorable girlfriend Fiona: Running a perfectly fine personal-use business out of their home; demonstrating how Nancy could have done this [motherhood/drug dealing/dealing with life] passably well to begin with; and best of all, being double the one thing not even Nathalie has yet learned to defeat: Women.
"It was aboot four months ago and... Andy was there for the birth. Of course. And Esteban arrived later... Pissed off Andy like you wouldn't believe." Audra rolls her eyes on the FBI tape, as they fast-forward looking for clues. "But I guess he's happy now... He took off after her like she was made of shit and he was King of the Flies..." Or in this case a cockroach, wasp eggs humming in its zombified brain...
And she didn't find this bizarre? She didn't think to call anybody or do anything about it? "I had just been held hostage, and my fiancé was leaving me. I wasn't asking too many questions about Nancy's travel plans. Far away, I hope..." (How about a fuck you, bitch?) "In my minivan... In my minivan..." These FBI guys really know what they're doing. That right there is what you call a lead. She sucks on the bitter mint of Newman entitlement, and then begins to cry.
You know, when I'm sad I hurl myself into my work. Not always deadline work, but something. A little idea about something that might turn into a thing. It brings me comfort; it's like coming home. I don't know what I would do if my work escape involved doing some comforting abortions. Probably I would take up exercise as my stress relief in that case. Or, knowing me better than that, I would end up dating the crossbow-wielding Jesus freak just so I'd have something more WTF to think about than Nancy in my minivan. After Ryan Reynolds, dating probably just becomes this thing you do.
The Newmen take a good look around Seattle and see a picket line, noting that their desires are, in a certain way, parallel to those of the strikers. They want money! They want it now! Randy at least pretends to have an issue with this -- one of the more positive aftereffects of Zooey Deschanel -- but Nathalie? She wants money. She wants it now. What is the question.
Although crossing picket lines stands against everything Andy Botwin's ever stood for, older son Mike wonders what, then, would be "broke-ass Randy Newman's take." If you cross the picket line and toss out even your tiny little moral set, turn to page 54. If you take the unimaginably revolutionary option of actually working for your living, turn the channel to some other show because that is not how we roll.
Randy is with Nathalie, so they head on across the picket line and into the hotel. They are scabs! They are becoming scabs! Which, after you've sold out everybody you know to everybody else you know at least once, and personally gotten numerous DEA agents shot to death or with their faces sanded off with a belt sander, and managed to traffic in child prostitutes completely by accident, is probably not as big a deal to you or I, who have hopefully done none of these things. You know Celia would relish just the act itself.
The guy with the eyebrows from Mad Men, whose wife Don was so very inappropriate with that time, the Hotel Manager, is not happy to be hiring scabs. In fact, he makes it devastatingly clear right in the middle of Nathalie's blasé attempt to side with Management against Labor, he's on the side of the picketers. It's just that he is supporting his youngest son's ice dancing habit.
"Russia, 2014. Noel Kruszewski. Remember that name." They look at the young man and his gay ice dancing outfit, and before they can remark on the total gayness of this entire thing, he's like, "He's not gay. Well, he might be gay." Either way they are cool with Noel Kruszewski's ice-dancing ass, because they want jobs and I guess only his dad's eyebrows can provide them with jobs.
Nathalie, see, she's a "great problem solver." Which is true. Especially if you leave out "And an even better problem causer." Additionally, Nathalie "manages" people really well. Which is, again, true. She pops her waspy stinger in there and waits for God to take care of the rest, zinging little heart attacks and random Armenians at anybody who dares to disobey. Randy's got "extensive culinary training," and Mike is great behind the bar: "Quick with the bottle, short with the pour." Eyebrows tells them how impressive they are and then points at Randy, Mike and Nathalie in turn: "Dishwasher. Bellhop. Maid."
Not jobs for white people, which silently irks them in a place they can't quite identify, but as Nathalie says, this is merely a "seedling, from which we will branch out and flourish." Mike is entirely unsure that even this Newman life is sustainable, given that they are a family of crazies, but Nathalie has hope. "This is who we are now. This is us." But as Michelle once said to Romy, "But okay, if those things were so easy to get, wouldn't we already have them?"
"What if you'd have gotten a real job after Dad died, and we could have skipped all this shit?" Nathalie explains that she would have had to sell the house, they'd have gone to a different zip code -- the horror! -- and the boys would have gone to even lousier public schools. The way she says it, you can hear the way Nancy's been telling herself this, every second, for the last six years. If you can accept the lot of a million other widows just like yourself, turn back to page one. If you're a Daredevil Girl looking for your next hit, turn to page 420. She nearly sounds bored, she's heard this speech so much:
"You probably still would have knocked up a girl. Maybe this one would have been blind instead of deaf, or missing a limb. You would have struggled with your grades, smoked weed, dropped out, gotten your GED. Your brother... Still would have had rage issues. He would have lost his virginity to a skanky girl. Or a skanky-girl duo. He would have grown increasingly alienated, ended up stabbing the mailman or my manager at the Gap. We would have been in the exact same spot we're in right now."
Mike calls his brother Shane. "Shane. If Mom woulda worked at the Gap instead of selling drugs, you think you still would have killed somebody?" Shawn thinks about it, and then nods. It seems more than likely. The crazier Shawn gets the less crazy he gets; that's something he got from Mommy too. Maybe Nancy wasn't the worst mother in the world, maybe she was just his U-Turn and we're seeing the best possible Shawn. It's a theory. When you're raised by broken people you tend to see things more positively because your other option is to start screaming and never stop.
But Mike's asking the wrong questions, he didn't go back far enough; he's missing the bear. It's not about Nancy selling weed, it's about Judah dying. Nancy would have gone crazy either way, become Lacey, become Nathalie, just like she did when her parents got sick and she ran off to Paris. Maybe it would have gone even worse. Maybe she'd have had a normal white-lady breakdown and turned into Celia Hodes. I cannot say for certain that she would have ended up in this horrific junkie whore wig. The wig might actually be due to drug dealing.
Randy ties on a big red kerchief for his first day of dishwashing, and Mike appears in a fairly adorable bellman's outfit. Nathalie's been gone for a while, "awakening the hookers." They're leaving Shawn with Baby Avi, which seems like a very sensible idea to me personally, and Randy gives him all the parenting info he can. "Hopefully he should sleep soon, there's four bottles in the fridge, changing stuff is on the dresser, remember to cream his butt so he doesn't get a rash, and you gotta burp him every time you feed him."
Did Randy actually say "cream his butt"? Of course he did. And he further reminds Shawn of Nathalie's orders not to leave the room. Mike's not sure about leaving Kid Krazy with the baby, but it's a leap of faith. So add "childcare" to the nonwhite jobs the Newmans are doing. The baby's still just a baby, but then, he wasn't white to begin with. Shawn kids around with Mike, so Mike takes the TV remote as he's leaving. Of course it's all of five seconds alone before Shawn looks down at the baby. "Fuck this place. Let's roll." Avi conti