"I'm trouble. I am trouble." -TaraOh, indeed you are, Tara. And at the moment, you're the only one who knows it.
Last week, we found out that Buck was back in the picture, and this week Tara finds out, too, repeatedly - first regaining control of her body in a strange neighborhood while wearing Max's clothes(*), then being confronted by Pammy in the supermarket parking lot, and then waking up naked(**) in Pammy's bed after another night of wild passion between Pammy and Buck.
(*) Because they threw out everything of Buck's - except, for some reason, the glasses. As I said in my preview of the season, ditching the alters' costumes is a nice touch - Toni Collette's too good to need the crutch, and on a character logic level, it feels like having that stuff around just enables the alters to feel like they should be in charge. So why keep Buck's specs?
(**) Toni Collette's a fearless enough actress that I'm sure she's been nude on-screen before, but it was still a jolt to see her topless here, even on pay cable. I guess the idea is to emphasize Tara's femininity after she's woken up from another Buck episode?
And because Tara and her family have just been through such a golden, alter-free period - as exemplified by that splendid duet of "All Out of Love" she and Max perform at the Hubberd house (before a cover of the song plays over Buck and Pammy's foreplay) - and because she's still fairly ashamed of her condition and the things her body does when the alters are in charge, she doesn't tell anyone. Not Max, not Pammy (who could have used a much sterner, more explicit warning than the one I quoted above), not Charmaine nor anyone else. And that should be bad for Tara and a lot of people around her, shouldn't it? Sometimes, the cover-up's worse than the crime.
It's clear Tara's relationship with the alters - or, at least, the show's approach to depicting them - is different this year than before. Not only are the costumes gone, but we see Tara and Buck interacting even while Tara's in charge, in a mental state that's known as co-consciousness. And Collette's terrific not only at playing against herself (or, rather, at giving two separate performances in a vacuum that can be spliced together), but also at Tara's dawning horror and shame at discovering that she's not better - that she's stuck with Buck and the rest of them. I'd forgotten that a number of episodes last year featured Tara keeping video diaries of her blackouts, but the "Blair Witch"-style flip-phone confessional after she talks to Pammy in the parking lot was a great moment. Watch her be that scared and angry and ashamed, and you understand exactly why Tara would keep this mess to herself for as long as she can.
As Max starts pondering the idea of buying, renovating and flipping the Hubberd house, his plumber buddy offers to "Sully-rig" the pipes, coming up with a fix that won't be permanent but will last long enough to push the problem onto the next owners. By not fessing up to everyone that the DID is back in effect, Tara's trying to Sully-rig her own life.
Some other thoughts:
• While Tara's body is being used against her will to have sex with a woman, Marshall backs off from his big political statement last week and lets himself become Courtney's gay boyfriend. Everyone on this show knows Marshall's gay, Marshall included, but he's a teenager, and he's freaked out - and intimidated by Lionel, who's unapologetic and confrontational about his own sexuality - and he's experimenting.
• The debt collection office is still too broad (particularly when Kate's male coworker slobbers over the pictures of Princess Valhalla Hawkwind), but the job sort of turns into a means to an end, which is introducing Kate to Lynda P. Frazier, played by the wonderful character actress Viola Davis. Lynda, like Tara, is an artist, and she also has something of a more manageable alter ego in Princess Valhalla Hawkwind ("I will always be her... a little"), so she could prove to be a kindred spirit to either Kate (who'd love to be around someone similar to her mom but less crazy) or Tara herself.
• Charmaine's re-virginization plan suggestions a Bridezilla-in-the-making, but moving her into Max and Tara's house should be good for the character (and for people like me who are fans of Rosemarie DeWitt).
• Fynder-Spyder is usually the fake search engine name of choice for movies and TV shows that don't want to give Google free advertising. Here, Kate uses "Sirchbot," which I haven't seen before.
• Between "Breaking Bad" last night and Courtney and Marshall's make-out session tonight, it's been a good week for ouija boards on cable, hasn't it?
What did everybody else think?