"I'm not looking for a miracle... I just, I want to get better. Not knowing has gotta be worse than anything that can happen in that room, right?" -TaraAnd so season one of "Tara" comes to an end, more or less as most of us were expecting, but not in an unsatisfying way.
Even if you don't know about the realities of DID, or the practicalities of trying to maintain a high-concept TV show for more than one season, you had to assume that the face-to-face with Trip wasn't going to be a cure, or anything close to it. Tara's problem isn't that simple, no matter how much she or Max might wish otherwise. But I really liked the way the encounter played out -- not just the revelation that Trip and his roommate had actually abused T, and not Tara (which means the DID existed long before the incident), but the fact that Diablo Cody's script deliberately went out of the room when it was time for Trip to spell out the gory details. Even for a show as blunt about sex as this, I think having to listen to Trip describe what happened -- especially since it turned out what happened isn't at all relevant to the root of Tara's condition -- would have been too much, and I appreciated the restraint.
I'm assuming the arc of season two will feature Max and/or Tara back at square one with the investigation, but I'd almost rather they table the search for a while. You have to assume that Tara's never going to be "cured" (assuming that the problem can ever really go away, when the Robin Weigert character last week implied otherwise) until close to the end of the series, and I'd like to see some more of how the alters relate to one another, and to her. As the revelation of T's involvement with Trip jumbled up Tara's psyche and started putting different personalities in charge at a rapid clip, we got to see just how scary the condition can be. With the exception of Gimme, Tara's been portrayed with a relatively comedy-friendly form of the condition: the alters may not always come out when it's convenient, but there's no question of who's in charge and why, and they usually go away before too much damage gets done. But to see them all flitting in and out (with that eerie submarine sound effect each time), and to hear Alice again dismissively treat Tara as a lesser personality, or just another alter, is still extremely creepy. If I had to choose between season two being a rehash of season one's detective story or being about a battle for control among the different personas, I'd definitely pick the latter.
And because I suspected where Tara's story was going to go, if not the exact details, the strongest parts of "Miracle" involved Marshall and Aunt Charmaine. I still don't entirely buy the idea that T seducing Jason was the best thing for Marshall -- if he's going to get his heart broken either way, isn't it better if it's the way that doesn't involve his first boyfriend making out with his mom? -- but Marshall driving 200 miles to mend fences with Tara was a very nice moment, and Charmaine and Marshall's bonding was a lovely payoff to Marshall's concern that she didn't like him back in the episode with her birthday party.
I also really liked Charmaine being torn between the guy who's perfect on paper (Nick), and who also seems like a really good guy (see his conversation with Marshall about the Jason break-up), and the guy who's a joke on paper (Neil), but who has a much deeper connection to her. It's a messy story, and an interesting one, and also one that will hopefully give us lots of Patton Oswalt next season. After being the most extraneous character in the first few episodes, Charmaine's now one of my favorites, and a great role for Rosemarie De Witt.
The Marshall/Charmaine scenes also featured the finale's most heavily-concentrated dose of Diablo Cody-isms, including:
• Marshall explains Charmaine's dilemma as, "To use literary tropes, Neil is a Holy Fool, and Nick -- Nick is like deus ex machina."
• Charmaine responding to an offer of help with, "No, my sister's meeting with her rapist, so we're just hanging out," followed by Marshall dismissing the guy because "He looked like a retarded Mark Harmon."
• Marshall complaining, "I don't want to hear about anyone's vagina. Especially not a coupon-clipping mom vagina."
Oddly, though, I found the most Cody-esque touch of the episode to not be in the dialogue, but in Nick introducing the kids to the joys of the miracle fruit, which, when consumed, temporarily changes your tastebuds so that you taste sour things as sweet. That seemed like a cool metaphor for not only Tara's condition, but for the way the Gregson's deal with it, and how sometimes the sourness of DID provides sweet effects for the family.
When the show comes back next season, I'd like to see a better storyline for Kate. (Nate Corddry was funny at times, but that's the one arc where it always went exactly where you thought it would, and rarely to interesting comic or dramatic effect.) But overall, this turned out to be a very strong first season for a show I needed a few episodes to completely warm to.
What did everybody else think?