Monday, February 09, 2009

United States of Tara, "Inspiration": V is for vandalism

Spoilers for last night's "United States of Tara" coming up just as soon as I leave the iron on...
"How can you spend a lifetime of memories with someone when the person you're spending it with isn't there?" -Tara
"Inspiration" is the first episode of the series to not be written by Diablo Cody, and it's also the least overtly comic episode so far. Is that just a coincidence, or a sign of a direction the series may take going forward?

I'm inclined to think it's the former, but we'll see. We know from some of the confusion in my Cody interview that this episode's author, Alexa Junge, contributed some of the more Cody-sounding bits of dialogue from the earlier episodes, so it's not as if she can't make with the hipster banter. I just think that, given the show's premise, they need to do episodes that are slightly darker in tone now and then -- and to show how the alters dominate Tara's life even in an episode where they barely appear. It may not be as much fun as watching Buck lay the smack down on Kate's boyfriend or Alice putting Marshall's teacher in his place, but for Tara, none of this is fun, is it?

The previous episodes made it clear that the alters know what happens when they're not in control, while Tara has no clue, and this episode starts to explain why. DID generally manifests itself as a defense mechanism for some major trauma, and in her session with Dr. Ocean, we find out that Tara suffered a trauma, though we don't know what (and maybe Tara doesn't, either). And while the mental blackouts no doubt helped her survive whatever happened to her as a child, they're a raw deal now, not when the alters can be summoned by something as minor as a stressful encounter with bitchy PTA moms, or even by (as she tells Tiffany) the smell of instant coffee.

"Inspiration" continues the tension about Tara and Max's sex life, as she walks in on him while he's having his "gentleman's time," and it sets up something of a locked room mystery: which alter vandalized Tiffany's mural? Or is Tara being blamed for something that her body had nothing to do with?

Again, this was a less lively episode than the previous three, but I'm still enjoying it, and welcomed spending a half-hour primarily with Tara herself.

What did everybody else think?

17 comments:

Granola Mom said...

My question is, if one of Tara's alters took over during dinner (at the end of the scene, where they were begging Tara to switch, it looked light maybe she was transitioning), and that alter spray painted the wall, who was sleeping with Max that night?

Could this be a new alter? Someone better at playing Tara so family and friends don't notice?

Or was Charmaine so jealous over Tara getting to be friends with someone else, and so desperate to get out from under the vitamin selling, that she set Tara up to take the fall for something she did?

And, thank heavens this show is on HBO! Loved the flash of Max hiney while he was having "gentleman's time", lol!

Guy Who Wants an SNL Thread said...

Well, if you won't have much to blog about tonight because of The Obama Talk, I guess that means you might have to acknowledge the surprisingly good SNL performance by Bradley Cooper.

A Lonely Island Digital Short, Seth Meyers surprising everyone by pulling off "Really!?" by himself, and Johnny Lawrence hosting a talk show (YES SENSEI!!!)

If you're going to mention the letdown of Steve Martin, then we should mention the pick me up of Bradley Cooper, right? After all, HE WAS ON INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO!!! 3 TIMES!!!

SoCal said...

Definitely not as funny as teh previous 4 episodes, but i stil enjoyed it.

I think it had to be Tara's sister that did the vandalism. We don't see the rest of the dinner, and with everyone getting really drunk, it seemed like her sister was ready to punch the vita-sell chick...sorry, having trouble remembering all the names

Susan said...

I was interested in Charmaine's comment - almost an aside - that in boarding school, Tara "had sex with someone she didn't want to have sex with." That sounds a lot like rape, to me. Maybe I'm making too much of it, but it seemed like a hint at what kind of trauma Tara has been through.

Michael said...

The way Showtime and HBO use their On Demand thingie is somewhat mystifying. Showtime makes the "Tara" episodes available before they're originally shown on the main channel, so this comment (no spoilers) is really based on the next episode. But no matter how much I enjoy this show, and I do enjoy it, I never stop wondering why Tara's family, especially Max, is willing to put up with her shit. If they didn't there wouldn't be any show, but I certainly wouldn't.

The Alden said...

Granola Mom: "Could this be a new alter? Someone better at playing Tara so family and friends don't notice? "

I'm definitely thinking there's an alter #4 we haven't met, one I bet even the family don't know about. A couple clues are the sex and message - both of which don't fit any of the alters, even T, my first assumption.

The second clue is in Alice's prayers. She blesses the family (Tara, Max, Marshall, Kate, Charmaine) and the alters ()T, Buck), and then goes to bless a final name... but sighs and stops. At first, I didn't notice, but upon rewatching, I had to ask myself... who was she going to bless there?

If true, this opens a lot of interesting doors...

Granola Mom said...

The Alden,

Oh, I meant to mention that! I noticed that, too! Alice obviously hesitated, and then waved it off. Going to bless the other alter/s.

I was left wondering if maybe Max really does know about the alter, and hasn't told Tara because she's the "sex" alter, or if he just doesn't know it's not Tara.

I can't wait to find out!

I seem to be one of the minority people who is just loving this show!

Charles The Polar Bear said...

No more Big Love blogs, Alan? I thought last nights episode may have been the best of the season!

Granola Mom said...

Yes, I was waiting for an open Big Love post, at least. It was certainly one of the best in quite some time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Check the comments in todays open thread for some Big Love talk.

Bobman said...

I wanted to think the sister was the vandal, but while she can be mean, I can't imagine her being THAT cruel.

I like the idea of an unknown alter though. Curious to see how this plays out.

And I'd say this was my favorite ep of teh series so far. Maybe because I find the idea of the alters entertaining, but in practice find them a little silly.

LAP said...

I liked this episode the most so far, it could be because things were finally set up enough for stuff to happen without requiring so much exposition, but regardless I liked just watching things happening.

christy said...

MYSTERIOUS! I for one am still enjoying it. Thank you for reminding me of Alice's hesitation in her blessings.

Maggie said...

It would be interesting if the last Tara we saw was another alter - one who doesn't depend on the drastic physical alterations the others do, but still is someone who takes over when Tara can't. Right now we have one alter for each family member: Marshall gets Alice, Kate gets T, Max gets Buck - so maybe there is this other fun-sister Tara who Charmaine bonds with (without realizing it)?

In this episode we learned that Tara has whole chunks of her past she can't recall, when she (we assume) wasn't controlled by an alter. A first date with Buck or Alice or T would be pretty obvious to Max, but what if it were with #4 whose the most like Tara, the fun-loving one who plays patty-cake games with her sis and lets dinner burn when she wants to have sex with a hot date?

As for the vandalism, I felt like we the viewers were being led to believe it wasn't Tara or any of her alters. I can't put my finger on why, but I felt very much led in that direction. We'll see I guess.

Scott said...

Something that really threw me off in this episode - Tara spoke towards the camera right at the beginning. I don't remember any of this in previous episodes, and this is clearly not being filmed documentary- or fourth-wall-breaking-style: what was that about?

Granola Mom said...

Scott, the talking to the camera was in each episode. It's Tara recording what's going on in her life. Part of her therapy, I believe. She had a ton of tapes.

S said...

I'm starting to think there def. is another alter that Tara, Max, Kate etc. don't know about.
I noticed near the end when Alice is praying and she's asking God to bless everyone, she lists T and Buck and then pauses after her next "God bless" like she really wants to bless someone because she knows it's the "right" thing to do, but also doesn't want to because maybe she thinks this last person doesn't deserve to be blessed.