This recap is coming to you live from New York! Actually, from my hotel room between shows, from the bus, from the scramble before another long drive. So if it’s riddled with typos, forgive me. I encourage you all to go see Lisa Brescia in Mamma Mia. Meanwhile, Venice’s champion, Michael Fairman, has interviewed Hillary B Smith. Awesome! Just like this episode.
Technical notes first or last? First, I think. This episode was 20 minutes. That’s a sitcom. That’s an episode of something. And there was an arc and a story and it was one cohesive, beautiful piece. I think the gang is onto something.
Onto the show!
jaina47: “::wibbles:: But it’s almost over.
kelinswriter: “Consistently amazed at how this show manages to pour salt in every single open wound I have. (Not that I’m complaining, because it hurts so good.)”
We open on Ani in her dress, bemused. My heart flutters. But it is not to be. Whatever Ani thought of Gina fondling her clothing is left for fic. For the moment, Ani has bigger problems. She comes out hard, snippy, and lying. Lara’s confused. Didn’t you have a nice party?
Ani was embarrassed at the party. And it didn’t start out well to begin with. They’ve been fighting. Lara’s perhaps made promises.
kelinswriter: “In the first scene, the second Ani starts to challenge and Lara gets defensive, Ani backs down with the standard ‘under a lot of pressure’ line. She just can’t quite say ‘I read your emails’ yet. How Lara shuts her down is perfect. By defining Ani as part of the problem if she doesn’t just “go along” with Lara’s behavior.”
kelinswriter: “Lara’s playing the “everything’s normal” game. Lying her ass off about what she did or didn’t do, minimizing, doing the ‘it doesn’t matter what I did because I was drunk’ thing.”
rysler: “I wonder why Ani tries to trip her up with the Jess thing. Do you think Gina cheated on her? Say, constantly?
kelinswriter: “I’m sure Gina cheated on her. But I also wonder if that thing with Jess even happened or if she was trying to find out for sure if Lara actually remembered anything or not.”
Ani storms out, despite Lara’s desperate pleas. Lara knows how this ends.
kelinswriter: “This is the other part of this that is so cruel. People will say hateful horrible abusive things to you. Like Lara did to Ani. And won’t remember a thing in the morning. qnd will insist when you tell them what happened that you’re exaggerating or making it up or that it wasn’t a big deal.”
I knew it was coming, but “fucking cocktail police” was funny. My plan to get a screenshot for every scene is thwarted by how sad Ani looks. But Nadia looks incredible here. Every expression. Genius.
jaina47: “Shit, Nadia made me want to cry. With those little tremors in her voice, how she was falling apart and Ani just couldn’t deal. She was too mad to be able to comfort or reassure her and she couldn’t stay mad with Lara like that so she just had to leave. Looks like Nadia’s been taking some lessons from Crystal with that raw desperation.”
kelinswriter: “The moment of panic that sets in when Ani walks out is perfect. Lara can’t play the “pick up the Lara pieces” game if Ani isn’t there. Oh this has happened before. ‘Don’t leave me.’ Lara’s been waiting for this shoe to drop. She’s living her worst nightmare, and she doesn’t know how to stop it.”
Meanwhile, Owen tells Guya everything and gets unconditional love. Owen is so lucky. Parents who love their children as they are are rare. And he has Gina, too.
kelinswriter: “Okay I love Guya’s glasses. Also the theme of this episode seems to be confessions.
jaina47: “When Guya took off her glasses as Owen started talking, that was the first time I’ve really gotten the mom vibe from her toward them. She’s so much their friend. That was a really great moment.”
kelinswriter: “‘You’ve been lying to all of us. You’ve been lying to you.’ LINE OF THE EPISODE. And I love how that was delivered. She gives him support first, as a good mom should. But now she’s telling him the truth, straight on. Same way Jamie did, only now he might be ready to hear it.”
kelinswriter: “Owen is doing what the youngest does. He’s run home to mommy. ‘Van’s mean!’ She kind of can’t deal with the Van implications. She just shuts down when Owen starts on his ‘Van is evil’ rant. She makes it go back to Owen.”
jaina47: “Um, okay, Owen, yes, Van’s definitely a manipulative ass. You’re a saint, yadda yadda, blah blah, but you don’t talk shit to someone’s mom like that, dude. Majorly not cool. Foul!”
jaina47: “Hee. Awesome nose wrinkle, Gering. So freaking perfect. He’s too old, too grown up for that shit!”
Back with the other half of the family, Gina covers the Colonel with a blanket. She’s learning to be nurturing. Then she drinks–kelinswriter points out that it’s safe to drink now. He’s going to be all right.
jaina47: “Interesting echo of Ani covering Lara up on the couch…”
After so much Ani exposure lately, she has to process. She has to let it out. So she does, but not to Ani. She feels less safe with Ani than Ani does with her–a reversal. And in Gina’s mind, how it should be.
This is the scene of the season for me. Chappell at her best. All alone. A one woman show of pure love and devotion. This isn’t angst; this is light. “I was lying to myself and you.” She’s still nervous, even in her kitchen. It’s only when it becomes fatalistic that she grows comfortable. I can’t watch this scene without tearing up. No music throughout most of it. Just halting words and shaky breaths.
kelinswriter: “Gina decided to fall on a very large sword. My guess is it had ‘Spencer’ embossed on the handle.”
The Colonel marvels at this soft, sweet creature. Does Gina love Ani as much as he loved Katie? The Gina/Colonel scenes, once unbearable tension and rage, are quiet and solace. Tonight, also for Guya and Owen. The truth will set them free.
jaina47: “Um, holy shit. Damn. Best letter reading ever. And that would be a Valentine’s Day butterfly shoutout and a graveyard heartbreaking shout out. Wow. Oh, wow the Colonel heard all that. Wow.”
kelinswriter: “The role of Doris Wolfe will be played by…THE COLONEL.”
Remember that the Colonel has not spent much time with his children as adults. Not in YEARS. No family dinners, no outings to the theater, no Monopoly nights. No Christmases. He has no idea who Gina is, other than some imagined disappointment. And vice versa. I’m loving seeing the awakening.
Of course, in that scene I thought of Xena. And jaina47 called up I Can’t Think Straight. Letter-writing is NOT DEAD EVERYONE. Anyway, there is no 73 Cherry Ct in Venice. I Googled. If I wasn’t about to head out for Christmas, I’d streetview some swanky ‘hoods in Venice, but the debate over where and how Ani lives continues.
Meanwhile, Van’s biceps.
kelinswriter: “If Van must wear a shirt, it should always be a tank top.”
Sami is sad.
kelinswriter: “She’s attracted to Van, but she loves Owen. She wants to make it work but she doesn’t understand him. That’s a lot to process while feeding the homeless some unnamed paste.”
jaina47: “Yeah, Van, can’t stand seeing a pretty girl so sad? Such a bad line, dude. Really bad.”
jaina47: “Oh, shit, wow, that’s Owen’s worst nightmare…and I so bet he didn’t stick around for the blow off. I am kind of glad that Sami proved she’s not as dumb as female characters are often portrayed to be.”
Sami is a private person? The question from the beginning remains. What’s Sami really like? The Brognos are pretty transparent. Is Sami a good witch, or a bad witch? Regardless, I would let Van seduce me to get back at his brother any day of the week. And I love Owen’s expression.
kelinswriter: “Love that she flat out tells him “no.” And you realize that he knew all along that Owen was there.”
rysler: “I think Sami has a vision of what she wants her world with Owen to be, and she’s tried all her tricks to get there and it hasn’t worked.”
kelinswriter: “I would agree with that. Owen is bringing drama that Sami finds pointless when they could just be happy.”
We have ragged a lot on Owen’s childishness but this scene closes on Van being SULLEN. That sulky, hurt look? He’s just another boy, hoping not to get in trouble. Just like his brother.
A transition to a lost, little girl. Lara wants Ani to show up. Lara wants Ani to call.
Lara wants a drink.
jaina47: “I’m glad that even while she’s chugging down Bloody Marys like they’re going out of style, Lara’s at least more upset about losing Ani, probably, than the book deal. Thing is with Lara, she’s not a good enough drunk. She still actually cares about her life. She’s not drunk enough to totally stop caring yet.”
What I found so sweet about that was that Lara’s going to Ani’s haunt. To wait for her. Sure, she’s having a drink while she’s waiting, but… she’s waiting. She’s searching for Ani. And before, with Drew and Jamie, she went there for solace. To reference Buffy yet again, it has Ani’s smell all over it.
Jamie is her confessor, just as he was Owen’s last week. In this economy, everyone’s unemployed.
“I think I may be losing Ani,” Lara says to Jamie, and at that exact moment, Ani is somewhere else, gazing into Gina’s eyes.
That is a cruel, cruel scene transition.
Ani freaks out a little at Gina. She trusts Gina with herself, but not yet with Lara. So this is an awkward conversation, at cross-purposes. Has anyone mentioned that this is a soap?
jaina47: “This is worse than watching Olivia counsel Frank…also flashback to Olivia stroking Natalia’s hair when she tells her that she slept with Frank both in the kitchen and on the couch. There was the same sense of ‘She’s the most precious thing in the world and I may never get to hold her again.’ Freaking perfect.”
There are echoes of the first season beach scene. Ani needs Gina. Gina comes running. Gina’s trying to be everything. She listens to Ani say that Gina’s damage makes life harder. A cue to push Ani at Frank Lara.
kelinswriter: “I think in some ways Gina and Ani weren’t on the same page there. Gina just thought Ani’s worries were about past relationships. About her, a little bit. Ani really wasn’t being honest with her. To some extent she was protecting Gina from how bad she knew it was getting.”
kelinswriter: “When Gina finds out (as inevitably she will), after she is finished grinding Lara into powder, she is going to blame herself. She sent Ani back into the lion’s den in the name of doing the “right” thing.”
Personally, I’m looking forward to the grinding way more than the self-flaggelation. Even though I don’t morally support grinding, per se. I wouldn’t mind playing the Gina Brogno FPS for a day.
But for now, Ani’s scared. Of failure, not of Lara. She lets Gina hold her. That’s why she came. She’s a physical person. She needs hugging. It’s the safest place she knows.
Lara has fallen asleep at the bar. Jamie throws her out in the nicest way possible.
kelinswriter: “Jamie has her number. The fact that he called a car rather than Ani was telling. He’s trying to give Ani space if she needs it. He’s picked his side, rather benignly.
Guya is cuddling with the dog we haven’t seen in a while. Brandon appears. Guya’s been having nightmares. Her confession is slipping out against her will. Her sister and the Grateful Dead. Brandon is not Jamie, so she deflects.
Brandon: “I think it was a full moon last night.”
Guya: “Did I howl, too?”
kelinswriter: “Guya and Brandon are wonderful here. Sweet and sexy and he’s just a lovely, supportive guy.”
It’s nice to see Guya have an easy, happy moment.
Gina has cooked dinner for her father. He takes it without complaint. It’s so quiet in that house. Gina tells him what she learned from Brandon about Candy Cane. He’s an old, old man here.
jaina47: “So they finally talked about Candy Cane. She did him a really big favor and he knows it. He knows she cared enough to find out about it for him. He owes her one.”
kelinswriter: “Gina doesn’t quite know how to feel about letting him off the hook.”
kelinswriter: “This moment of revelation is stunning. You can see the weight come of his shoulders.”
Ani goes to Lara’s. Ani looks angry, even coming through the door.
Lara, always the fun drunk, tries to invite Ani to the party. “Drink?”
Ani’s not thrilled.
Lara wipes away her tears. She’s been crying all day, ready to be good again, to be sweet, and Ani’s mad? That’s so unfair. Lara has been getting worse. Descending. That doesn’t mean she was in a good place at the start. Ani is so heartbroken when she confesses to reading the emails. She loses her anger, shamed, but it’s too late. Lara’s been waiting to say this. Like Gina, it all comes pouring out.
kelinswriter: “It doesn’t matter WHAT Ani said to her. Ani could have said ‘you left your keys in the door’ and Lara would have taken it as a betrayal.”
“I am Lara Miller. The most successful writer with the most successful series in the world. Do you get it?”
Ani doesn’t get it. This wealthy workaholic artist is so different than the last one. But Lara’s hurting, and she wants to help her. She told Gina she’d help her. This is a mission. Everything else can be sorted out later. But Lara needs space. She’s been squeezed to death by the pressure. Ani has her arms all the way around Lara’s waist when Lara shoves her into a wall. By her face.
She didn’t mean to.
kelinswriter: “Ani is just trying to settle Lara. it’s like she’s trying to comfort a small child. if she can get her to hold still she can calm her down and then they can sort this out. But that’s also, to some extent, Ani trying to control the situation.”
kelinswriter: “Technical observation: When Ani’s head bounced off the wall (side note: FUCK), they pulled focus in such a way that for a split second, she was out of focus. That’s putting us into where she is in that blurry, stunned moment. Exquisite use of camera to tell story.”
kelinswriter: “You know why you don’t talk to a drunk? Because this happens.”
jaina47: “Blaming the editor is no longer cutting it. As terrified as Lara is, now she’s blaming Ani. Her hair is so artfully fucked up. I couldn’t help but notice. For a second it was like watching them throw their separate insecurities at each other and then it just got really bad from there. Jesus. This was all set up…I can’t even remember what I was going to say, but this…it seemed so slow motion. Lara was so drunk, she was both pulling Ani closer and pushing her away and it all happened so slow that Ani – and Lara – can say it was an accident. Which makes things murkier, slower and far more complicated. Easier for Ani’s mind to play tricks on her. I’m still very curious to see what they’ll have Ani do now that this has happened.”
kelinswriter: “God the look on Ani’s face in the last shot. So much despair and resignation. I can’t decide if Ani is accepting that this is going to be what life with Lara is like, or if Ani is accepting that Lara needs more help than she can provide. But she’s definitely accepting something.”
Ani is in Hell.
Some technical notes:
kelinswriter: “Okay I would reiterate. NEVER TALK TO A DRUNK.
kelinswriter: “Happy, sad, doesn’t matter. Do. Not. Engage.
kelinswriter: “They’re too dangerous.
rysler: “But what if your ex has pumped you up with “talk to her!” juice? Ani’s making her stand.
kelinswriter: “Then your ex has never lived with an alcoholic…other than herself. 🙂
jaina47: “Shit. If this is all set up next week is going to be absolutely crazy. Best, least boring setup ever.”
kelinswriter: “I’m thinking s3 may start with Jamie hiding another body for Gina.”