"Group time. Who wants to begin?" -ShoshanaWe're at the midway point of season two, so why not lock most of the regulars into the Hubbard basement for some bonding and uncomfortable truths?
"Torando" - named for the misspelling on the TV weather report that so unnerves Marshall - ultimately didn't go as full "Breakfast Club" as I was expecting once the Gregsons, Charmaine and Ted and Hanny(*) went into the basement together - but, of course, it couldn't. Still lots of season to go, lots more to be revealed about Tara's psyche, the childhood secret that she and Charmaine share (that fractured Tara's mind and made Charmaine afraid of basements), and the state of Tara and Max's marriage.
(*) But not, interestingly, Courtney, whom I would have pegged for a berth in the basement just so she could weird out Marshall and his new grown-up gay role models with her plan to be a "celibate power couple." Down the road, I guess.
But "Torando" still offered us plenty of revelations, including a lot more detail about Shoshana and Tara's relationship with her. I wondered all through last week's episode whether Shoshana knew she was an alter, and it becomes clear here that she does, and that this fact doesn't seem to matter to either her or Tara when it comes to their "therapy." (And it was also interesting to see Ted acknowledge how much she resembles the real Shoshana, other than the slight lisp - and then funny to see Max and Charmaine simultaneously tell him not to tell Tara that, lest the lisp become part of the character.) I don't know if there's an actual case of an alter being used as a healing tool like this, but as a dramatic device, it works, particularly in an episode like this where the other characters were all trapped with Shoshana and forced to listen to her psycho-analyze them. (And because Shoshana is an alter, with a slightly over-the-top Noo Yawk accent from Toni Collette, we can laugh a bit at her rather than feel uncomfortable that the show is using Shoshana to tell us things about the characters we should be able to figure out in less obvious ways.)
And in addition to Shoshana, we got rapid-fire appearances by Buck, and Alice, and even Gimme, as Collette got to prove once and for all how unnecessary last year's alter costumes were. She's good enough to tell you exactly who she's playing without the pumps and the ponchos and the hunting vests, isn't she?
And for all of Max's despair about the flickering light at the end of the tunnel, and Marshall's unease about what the "Torando" misspelling says about society, and everyone's fear of the storm's damage, in the end the Gregsons do what they usually do in these circumstances: they took pain (or, in this case, fear), and they (literally) danced around it. And in the final moments of the episode, Tara stepped out of the Hubbard house and into the wreckage of their neighborhood (in a sequence gorgeously shot by Craig Gillespie). Tara's as much a mess as that tornado-ravaged street, but in the end she and her family will have to pick up and start trying to patch things up again.
Finally, in case you missed the news earlier today, I'll be moving to HitFix.com in a week's time. While I've tried to get these "Tara" reviews up by the time the show finishes airing on Monday nights, I suspect the next week is going to be chaotic enough that my review of episode 7 will be one of the first things I post to the HitFix version of the blog on Tuesday, rather than one of the last things I post here on Monday. So I look forward to discussing "Department of (Bleeped)-Up Family Services" with you at HitFix next week.
What did everybody else think?