Sunday, March 29, 2009

United States of Tara, "Snow": In treatment

Spoilers for the penultimate episode of "United States of Tara" season one coming up just as soon as I make someone my special lady...
"But it's doable, right? We can fix this?" -Max
"It's not like a 10-minute dry cleaner's, Max." -Tara
We're one episode away from the finish line of season one, and if I can beat my Bruce Banner metaphor into the ground a little more, I seriously doubt that a trip to find Trip is going to fix much, if anything, for Tara and her family, in the same way that Banner's attempts to make the Hulk go away never quite worked.

Part of the set up for this season was that Tara had only recently gone off her meds -- that she decided she'd rather risk letting her alters back out into the world than go through life in a permanent haze. But after T came out and broke Marshall's heart last week by seducing Jason(*), it's time for drastic steps to be taken. Marshall suggests a return to the medication, but instead Tara and Max pursue a stay at a psychiatric facility, under the care of Dr. Holden (Joel Gretsch from "The 4400").

(*) Kate's theory that T did it to protect Marshall seemed unusually generous from her -- and probably too generous for the situation. Maybe Jason hurts Marshall down the road when he decides to get back on the hetero train full time, but I can't imagine that stinging nearly as badly as the way things actually went down. Yes, Jason's break-up -- "Remember me when you win your Oscar, okay?" -- was probably gentler than what might have happened if the relationship had traveled its natural course, but I still see the shed incident as far more scarring -- and also not something that's going to help Marshall take care of himself the next time he gets a crush on an unavailable boy.

After seeing the underqualified Dr. Ocean struggle to stay afloat in Tara's wake, it was really interesting to watch a specialist work with Tara, even though his methods didn't seem to be working. Tara got to deal with people she didn't have to explain her condition to (including Robin Weigert from "Deadwood"), Max got to be around spouses of DID patients -- and none of it made them feel better. How is confronting Trip going to improve things?

I intend to do a much longer examination of the season finale, so I want to move to the bullet points now so I can go and watch it:

• When did Patton Oswalt turn out to be such the smoothie? First he out-slicked Agent Ballard on last week's "Dollhouse," and here he makes Charmaine weak in the knees with Neil's speech about how their relationship was more than just sex. Between these two episodes, his voice work in "Ratatouille," what I hear is a great lead performance in "Big Fan" (friends who saw it at Sundance loved him in it), and the fact that he's in the next Steven Soderbergh movie, I wonder if he's going to become one of those guys who winds up being an even better dramatic actor than he is a comedian.

• This was the last episode to be written by Alexa Junge, who ran the writers' room this season but who won't be back next year. I have no idea what went on behind-the-scenes to lead to her departure, or how the show might be affected by her absence next season, but Diablo Cody raved about Junge when we spoke before the season premiere, while adding that she had no interest in running the writers' room herself. So either she's grown a lot after a year on the job, or she'll have to find a new trusted lieutenant.

• One of the things Cody mentioned in that interview was that, towards the end of the season,"we were really able to play with the idea of, 'Would Tara ever masquerade as one of the alters to get away with something?'" I haven't noticed that before now, but in this episode, we see Tara briefly pretend to be Buck to get that guy to stop hogging the pay phone. One of the few benefits to the condition, I suppose.

• I think Nate Corddry has done an admirable job of making Gene seem like an obvious creep and yet also like someone who'd be a survivor in this job despite his creepiness, but I'm hoping next week brings an end to Kate's time in the Barnabay's family, and that next season the character gets to do something else.

What did everybody else think?


Pete said...

Just wanted to poke my head in and ask, am I crazy, or were they using some of the hospital sets from Scrubs? The lobby/waiting room and the cafeteria looked awfully familiar.

qrter said...

I was kind of sceptical of the whole "Dr. Ocean is breaking up with me"-thing.. surely a psychiatrist can tell her patient that they've reached the limits of her expertise and that it would be much more fruitful to see someone who is more knowledgeable?

It would be the same as a general practitioner sending someone to see a specialist.

I mean, I know the relationship between a patient and a psychologist/psychiatrist is different, more intimate, but surely not to the extent that Tara and Max seem to be feeling.

princessapr said...

I agree with Pete and noticed Sacred Heart in the episode where Charmagne is released from the hospital and Buck picks her up. I wondered how many people watched both shows.

Anonymous said...

For those unwilling to wait, the final episode is available, floating somewhere in the space of the interwebs, albeit through less than legitimate channels.

Anonymous said...

I believe the correct spelling of Kate's place of employment is Barnabeez. Which is so cheesy as to actually be realistic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

For those unwilling to wait, the final episode is available, floating somewhere in the space of the interwebs, albeit through less than legitimate channels.

And for those unwilling to wait, either through illegal means or via Showtime's On Demand, do not discuss the finale here, in any form. Spoiler-free zone folks...

james said...

This episode was okay. Kind of felt like one of those that need to be here so it can't jump ahead.