The origin of the serial format, though popularized in the 19th century when magazines and newspapers were popular as “flash” media, is historically attributed to One Thousand and One Nights. Like Scheherazade, Venice is spinning stories all over the place to keep people afloat. Gina, of course, is at the center of it. The shit that hit the fan last week is piling up all around her. At her workplace, at her brother’s, in her pool.
Gina switched from white wine to water as soon as she found out Candy Cane’s fate, but it’s probably too late. When her employees are lying to her, her best friend is ineffectual at hiding the bodies, her family members have all lost their mojo, and her ex has just figured out that those haunted looks mean something… The Colonel represents a frying pan/fire sort of situation.
How great was it to see Crystal Chappell being funny? The whole episode was either longing looks or hilariously pulled faces. Funny. I like funny. And Jamie was right there with her, stealing scenes with just a look.
jaina47: “Crystal is awesome when she’s funny but she gets so little opportunity to do it! But that’s Venice right? All these actors getting to do things they aren’t usually allowed the chance to.”
We open, as we often do, on Owen. He and Sami are eating breakfast together in the NBC kitchen. A glumness permeates, probably due to Owen not being invited to or told about the party. Sami suggests a night in with the Colonel. But there’s a whine to his voice when he talks about his father that gets Sami’s attention, and then her sympathy. Her little boy, essentially fatherless.
jaina47: “Sami seemed a little more accepting this time. I’m curious if that means she’s just given up at this point, kind of internally where she hasn’t even admitted it to herself yet or what.”
kelinswriter: “Sami is trying a different tack with Owen by suggesting he go over there to give Gina a break. And he is having none of it. He just doesn’t want to hear what she’s saying. Then Owen tells his sad story, which is sad…I mean, he’s justified in being angry. But at the same time, she’s realizing that she’s talking to someone who is still, in many ways, a 12 year old. He’s never grown up.”
Meanwhile Michele has the saddest scene ever. It was so hard to watch. In a good way. But still. It broke my heart and made me despair all the way through the episode during my first viewing. I want Michele to get everything she deserves. Chances are so slim. See above, with the shit and the Scheherazade and all.
So many people get to do so much on this little show without speaking. It was Michele’s turn, after Ani and Lara last week, after Gina in the premiere.
NEVER LET MICHELE HAVE ANOTHER SOLO SCENE AGAIN.
It is the day of Ani’s party at Gina’s house. Jen Foster is sitting on a couch playing the guitar. That’s pretty cool.
kelinswriter: “Aw….there’s Jen! She’s such a sweetheart.”
Lara and Katherine walk by together. I’m dying to know what they talk about.
Gina and Jamie are holding court by the pool. It is, regardless of any other factors, Gina’s party. Ani is with them, because of all the people poolside, they are her favorite. Lara comes to steal her away and give the toast. Lara, the center of the attention, talking as fast as she can to establish her place here. See: introduction.
jaina47: “It just seemed a little unreal that they’d be so happy and cheery together at the party and not weird, or maybe that level of non-confrontationalness is just how Ani rolls. Or for my third theory, Ani doesn’t feel ‘safe’ enough with Lara (and I don’t mean in the physical sense) where she can have an argument with her. Michele’s ‘long time coming’ comment to Ani, I wonder if she sees some parallels there. I mean, I do. Kinda. If you squint. And of course that’s the first time that Ani hasn’t wanted to go refresh that drink with her and her little ‘yeah,’ as Michele commented that Lara was so cute it was so not enthused. Cracks, they are a showing!”
kelinswriter: “This speech is SOOOOOO awkward. And I’m wondering where Ani is emotionally at this point. She wants to buy into Lara’s praise but things are still out of whack with them.”
(kelinswriter: Chloe needs to develop a drinking problem. ASAP.)
Ani hates every moment of it, except the part she gets to stare at Gina. Then Ani is at Lara’s table, the table of those who choose to remain outside of Gina’s circle. Like, Michele. But Lara decides another martini–hers is full–is more important than guarding Ani, and the second she leaves, Gina is back.
kelinswriter: “‘Everyone always leaves’ is SO cute. Both gleeful and terrified. Okay all these scenes, there’s something extremely subdued about Ani. She’s trying to put up a good front but she’s off kilter still. She’s tiptoeing and it breaks my heart. Part of her is monitoring Lara all the time. She’s hyperaware and it’s supposed to be her day.”
Ani is happy, and Ani doesn’t give a shit about anything when she’s happy, so this scene is frickin’ adorable. She’s drinking Amstel Light, which is Spenser’s drink of choice, which makes Ani a somewhat typical Hispanic lesbian. Also, there is a DETECTIVE in this episode.
Lara is in Ani’s line of sight, but she doesn’t see her. She only sees Gina.
No one mentions it aloud, but the party has pigs in blankets.
Katherine is trying to figure out why her plate is full of taquitos. Then she shares an awkward stare with Guya. Then a buxom blonde passes by and flummoxes her. Katherine is not having a particularly great ten seconds.
kelinswriter: “Tina Sloan is so fabulous. I want more Tina Sloan. Now.”
Gina, circling, as party hostesses do, lands at Guya’s table. Jamie joins them just in time to hear that Brandon is a detective. HILARITY ENSUES. Luckily for Jamie, gay concern and sheer terror are expressed similarly. As we know from recent news, aortic aneurysms are usually fatal, even when caught early. The Colonel may be off the hook. Unless Brandon is PLAYING US ALL.
kelinswriter: “‘She was a loner…hooker. Whatever.’ Oh HBS. Brandon and Guya have fantastic chemistry. I am really liking them a ton.”
My favorite moment of the episode that doesn’t involve my OTP making googley-eyes at each other is at 7:21. And the conversation that directly follows, where Gina berates Jamie for hiding a dead hooker in a funeral home and Jamie points out that he HID A BODY FOR HER. They freak out a little. Together. That’s what matters.
kelinswriter: “And speaking of chemistry, the comic chemistry between Crystal and Harrison is off the charts. These two need to take this act on the road.”
jaina47: “That dead body? Totally looked candy cane shaped to me. So wrong. So. Freaking. Hilarious.”
aimlessla: “I just rewatched so I could laugh while Harrison White screamed down the street pushing a dead hooker on a beer trolley. Priceless.”
kelinswriter: “The flashback is the part where I nearly aspirated pea soup. Thanks ladies.”
jaina47: “The awesome moment to end all awesome moments came when Guya was blabbing about Brandon’s case. Apparently he’s not very undercover. OR. He wanted her to blab. idk. Still Gina and Jamie’s reactions, fucking priceless. I laughed so damn hard! And I want to know who’s toe that was sticking up! The actresses, I mean.”
I could watch this all day. “Don’t worry, girl. I got you covered.”
And then it turns surprisingly sentimental. Linger in the quiet moment, as the sea turns stormy and people get drunker.
kelinswriter: “That last moment of the comedy, though, you see the fear. which I thought was a nice way to reground us that there could be serious issues due to this.”
Gina stalks over to figure out why Michele is avoiding her. Michele avoids her. Now we have the paradox that Michele, overwhelmed, doesn’t want Gina to return to the office and find out what she’s been doing.
jaina47: “And Michele, talking to Gina! She was almost more squirrelly than Gina and Jamie. Dang. She just knows it’s going to come back and bite her in the ass. She can’t not know, but she’s doing it anyway. Interesting, interesting, interesting. Here’s what I’m curious about: is Alan gonna like Michelle’s style better than Gina’s or is he gonna have problems with the “finished” designs. I think it was more killing Gina too because she could sense something was wrong with Michele but she couldn’t get her to open up and she just wanted to help.”
kelinswriter: “No matter what she does, she’s torched her relationship with Gina. Either she takes down the entire project, or she succeeds and Gina never trusts her again.”
Gina introduces herself to Drew, because she apparently did not notice him at her last party. He is a GIANT NERD and Jamie is in love. Gina has had too weird a day to fully cope with equations.
jaina47: “He’s a ROCKET SCIENTIST! HEE!”
kelinswriter: “At first I thought the rocket scientist scene was random Jamie-service, but then I realized that this scene is about the fact that Gina is alone. Everyone around her is coupled up (save Michele), and beyond cute, and she’s there at the center, alone. And it’s making her crazy. She’s rethinking all her choices, and not liking the math.”
Then there’s Guya, alone, as she so often is, even at parties. She’s contemplating. She’s waited long enough, though, and Amber appears. Amber takes her away from Gina the way martinis take Lara away from Ani.
Jen Foster’s work here is done. She says goodnight to Gina and Jess, leaving Gina an opening to ask how Tracy is. Tracy is sad.
jaina47: “I liked the little nod of her asking about Tracy, her guilt kind of making her need to know that Tracy will be okay. It makes me like her more, shows a little maturity, that she’s turning over a new leaf, etc.”
Ani: “I can’t find your keys. Can you give me your bag?”
Lara: “Why are we gunna–”
And then Lara falls into the pool!
Ani tries to decide between being angry that her drunk girlfriend fell into the pool and laughing. Jamie has fished a number of people out of pools and springs into action. Lara is having the time of her life.
Jess snickers, but Gina is pissed. Gina is too old for this, and this is ANI’S girlfriend. Gina will, of course, help. Gina has thrown Ani a big party because Lara was too wasted working too hard to help out, and now she has yet another opportunity to step into a vacancy.
Ani doesn’t think Lara handles stress very well. Is this the line Ani has come up with for the inevitable “Everyone will know what I know about Lara” moment? Gina’s not buying it. Lara is pretending to be a happy, silly drunk. What can you do once you’ve fallen into a pool while arguing with your girlfriend? You save face. You get home. You sleep it off and pray Ani doesn’t say anything.
You realize there is a shitload you haven’t seen yet.
kelinswriter: “Pool stunt. Okay… loved it. That worked so great. I love that Lara’s reaction is not anger, which I would have predicted, but amusement. That suddenly it trips her party girl switch. Oh Ani. Let the minimizing and enabling begin. My favorite moment of the episode may be when Lara’s hair smacks Ani in the face. She SO wants to say something but doesn’t. That ‘oh God this is what I signed on for’ look is priceless.”
Ani and Gina get Lara back to the house. Ani puts Lara to bed. We don’t see this part because we already know what Lara sleeping looks like. Gina looks at all of their stuff. She’s wearing Flashback Jacket. She finds an old tee shirt.
kelinswriter: “The smile and nod at the photo – the resignation. Gina so wants to do the right thing for once. I don’t think Gina thinks Ani really is going to hear her with the comment about the shirt. She’s just musing aloud. But that moment when she breathes it in…when she lets herself do what she wouldn’t let herself do on the rooftop…God. That’s a killer.”
jaina47: “I loved the slightly guilty look on her face as she contemplates breathing in the shirt or not.”
kelinswriter: “That’s not an ‘Oh shit, you’re in love with me’ look. Ani is very clear that Gina is in love with her. Always has been, even when Gina didn’t know it. That’s a “you’re picking now to finally be the person I needed?” look. That goes back to S1 ep 1: I don’t think I can be what you need me to be. Gina’s finally ready, and it’s maybe too late.”
kelinswriter: “There’s so much simplicity in the performances in this last scene. And knowing when this was shot and how tired everyone was, I know that plays a factor. But I think it was really a great advantage to them in that both of them seem very stripped bare. There’s no pretense between them. They just are showing each other what they feel. Gina doesn’t even try to cover. She apologizes to some extent – ‘oops, you caught me’ – but she’s not trying to pretend she was doing something else. She misses Ani on every level and she’s too worn down to not show it.”
rysler: “Ani looks so YOUNG.”
kelinswriter: “I know. They went really minimal with the makeup. Simplistic. That they did that for the party as well, I read to some extent as Ani just not having the energy to go all out. She’s preoccupied with Lara, she didn’t really have time to do much for herself so she just kept it simple. She looks stunning but like I said before, it was subdued. It’s a combination of body language and the simplicity of the makeup. And very deliberate performance choices. The trilling, gleeful Ani we saw on the beach is nowhere to be found right now.”
jaina47: “I loved the way she picked up the photo and kind of smiled ruefully, wistfully at it. And of course, breathing in her shirt (sounds way more dignified and less creepy than sniffing or smelling). Of course that leads me to wonder about the significance of the shirt. Was it something that Gina got for her? Better yet, did it used to belong to Gina? So many possibilities. My hopes for next week? That they pick up right there with that awkward moment where they both know they’ve got some ‘splaining to do. Also I’m curious as to what’s going on in Gina’s head about Lara. I mean, the woman just go so drunk at her girlfriend’s gallery opening that she fell into Gina’s pool – and Hello Nadia’s interview outfit for the season! – and she’s still smiling at their pictures and happy for her not a little grumpy in Ani’s defense? Or maybe she can’t think about it at all. I don’t know.”
I find myself watching the full credits each week because I like the music. This week it’s “Why Not Now” by Alissa Moreno.