"I bet everyone thought I'd be the one to off myself. Guess what, Oak Avenue? The lady with the multipe personalities is not the most messed-up one on the block." -Tara"Tara" didn't end on a cliffhanger, but a big development happened to Tara over the hiatus: due, no doubt, to all the problems that the alters caused last season, Tara has gone back on her meds (and found a cocktail that doesn't seem to have as many debilitating side effects), the alters have gone away, and the Gregsons have gone through a kind of golden period. Kate graduated high school early, Marshall's made new friends, Charmaine and Nick are shopping for a bed together, and everyone seems calm and happy.
"You are now." -Kate
Then a shot rings out on Oak Avenue, and the suicide of Mr. Hubberd starts to unravel that sense of peace that Tara and company have been enjoying. Given temporary custody of the home of a man who worked very long and hard at killing himself, Tara starts losing her grip on her body and mind, and Buck (always the one to take over first when Tara feels afraid) slips out and starts making a move on Pammy, the bartender played by Joey Lauren Adams(*).
(*) Adams has played plenty of roles in her career other than Alyssa Jones in "Chasing Amy," but as soon as Buck started flirting with Pammy, I said, "Of course! Who else would you cast in this part?"
Back at press tour, I interviewed Diablo Cody after having seen the season's first few episodes. Because my schedule's brutal right now, and because we ultimately wound up talking about a lot of things that would spoil upcoming shows, I'm going to dip into parts of the interview when I can, and when it's relevant. The interesting part for our purposes in this episode is that Cody and the writers viewed the Hubberd house as "kind of an alter for the Gregson's house." Same street, same neighborhood, but everything's off (the dated decor, the weird dusk-like quality of the light), and it's not hard to imagine how spending a little time in that place might let Tara's demons loose.
Still, it was nice to see everybody doing well for a while, and to see Max trying to keep things that way, as he kept trying to change the subject away from suicide at the dinner party. We saw last season in the episode with Tara's parents that Max has spent a lot of time coming up with strategies to keep Tara-as-Tara, but there was a sense of desperation this time. Having his wife be his wife while also not being fogged-out by meds is something that has to be really intoxicating after so many years of headaches, and you can understand why Max would want to wrap his arms so tightly around this version of the family's reality, and also why he'd be so freaked to see the apron out and assume Alice is the one wearing it.
"Yes" is mainly a table-setter of an episode, introducing the Hubberd house, gay neighbors Ted and Hanny (Ted played by the always-wonderful Michael Hitchcock, Marshall's involvement with the more openly-gay kids at school, Kate's new job(**), Pammy, etc.
(**) As I said in the column, Kate's storyline is again the obvious weak spot. I like Brie Larson, but it feels like putting her in another goofy workplace storyline isn't the way to go. Cody said they wanted to do it because Larson comes across like "such an old soul" that the writers never enjoyed putting her in typical teenager situations, but they've managed the old-soul-in-high-school issue just fine with Marshall.
Buck's out, and now the trouble starts. I look forward to talking about all of it with you.
Some other thoughts:
• The song playing over the montage of happiness at the beginning was "Care of Cell" by The zombies.
• Last season, Marshall's school didn't seem to be that filled with openly-gay students like Lionel: Cody's argument is that Marshall was still struggling to accept his own gayness (even while chasing after Jason), and he therefore steered clear of the kids sitting at the Gayble.
• I liked that Max and Tara are out enjoying a date at the bar and suggesting that Charmaine would be the one in the family most likely to kill herself at the exact moment Charmaine is getting an engagement ring from Nick. And also that Charaine felt compelled to tell Nick at the dinner party that Tara's condition is in no way hereditary.
What did everybody else think?