“The L Word” recap (1.12): “Locked Up”

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THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:

  • Beluga Whale: Another life form that finds itself strangely attracted to the alien life form known as Jenny.
  • Whoa: The word of the day, even if it doesn’t start with L.
  • Carpenter: The source of all the trouble.
  • Wallgasm: Fun in prison. (copyright C.K. of The All Gay Recap)

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Ion Overman wonders what Bette is doing to her; Anne Ramsay gets sucked into the Jenny/Marina mess; Kelly Lynch likes Kit almost as much as I do.

Previously on the L Word: Normally I don’t pay much attention to the little “previously” segment, but I can’t help but notice that the Bette/Candace kiss from last week is shown from a completely different angle; actually, it looks like a different kiss altogether. Good: more kisses, more angles — that’s what we want, but we want it to be on the actual show.

The Prelude — A-ha! Apparently the problem with the preludes is that they were about people. This one is about aquatic life, and it’s gorgeous: dolphins and beluga whales and other fishy things pairing off and… well, doing everything you expect to see on nature shows but rarely get to see on this show. The song that’s playing is great too: Frances Faye’s wonderful big-band tune “Frances and Her Friends,” which is a fun tribute to all kinds of pairings (but mostly the gay kind). If I ever have the opportunity to name a dolphin or a beluga whale, I’ll name it Frances.

The Planet — Shane is telling Cherie’s gay daughter Clea that it’s just not going to work:

Shane: “Look, when I say I’ve been with people, I don’t mean 20 or 30.”
Clea: “Okay, so what? Like hundreds, thousands? What?”
Shane: “Somewhere between 950 and 1200 since I was 14.”
Clea: “Whoa. Well, whatever. You know. It doesn’t matter; I don’t care.”
Shane: “I turned tricks on Santa Monica with my friend Clive. And all these guys thought I was some little street fag, and I could have been killed.”
Clea: “That’s so cool, when you think about it, right?”
Shane: “Clea, it’s not cool. Listen, I like you. But what you want from me isn’t gonna happen.”
Clea: “Okay. I know: it’s because of my father, right? You guys have this business together, and –“
Shane: “Clea, I’m involved with someone.”
Clea: “Oh. Are you in love with her?”
Shane: “Yeah. I am.”

I have several questions about this. First of all, Shane, why aren’t you wearing your glasses? You’re supposed to wear them all the time, now that we all know how hot you look in them. Second, wouldn’t it be fun to see how many names you can come up with, of the 950-to-1200 people? I’m guessing maybe 40 to 75. Third, how am I supposed to feel good about my number — 11, since I was 14 — especially considering that I’m about 5 to 10 years older than you are? I feel like such a failure. And my last question is this: how great is it that Shane’s in love?? It’s adorable. And, of course, it also sucks, because we all know it’s doomed.

Oh: I guess I have one more question: Clea, have you met Jenny? She has the same obsessive nature that you seem to have. And she’s about your age, emotionally if not literally.

Kit arrives and says hello to a moping Marina. Kit asks whether she’s okay. Marina says no, so Kit tells her not to worry because Francesca will be back before she knows it. Marina says, “I hope not.” Kit says “whoa,” but it’s a good whoa: she tells Marina it’s about time she realizes that her happiness is just as important as anybody else’s. She tries to comfort Marina: “The Planet is yours” — why does this pun still make me laugh? — and assures her that Francesca won’t take The Planet away. But Marina says she’ll need to buy it from Francesca, and she just can’t come up with that much money. Yeah, that’s the least of your problems: if we’re talking about Francesca, there’s probably some sort of Satanic soul-selling involved too.

Tim’s house — Tim and Jenny are eating dinner together. Jenny puts about a pound of salt on her food — wait, that’s dangerous when you have so little water in your body! The next time we see her, she’ll be Jenny jerky.

Jenny asks Tim whether he’s still seeing Trish, his star swimmer. He’s decided to cool it for a while: he’s finally going to get his teaching degree, so when he switches departments he can sleep with all the swimmers if he wants to. Well, that’s not his primary motivation, but I’m sure it’s a perk.

Jenny asks whether Trish cried when Tim broke up with her. She’s not asking out of concern or sympathy, but out of some strange fascination, like she’s a mad scientist studying breakups. I’m sure she’d say it’s just the writer in her, gathering data about human experiences, but I say that’s crap and we should call her Dr. Frankenjenny.

Tim asks Jenny how her writing is going. Jenny says, “It’s good. I’m actually working on a story right now about a woman that’s been mute from birth, and then she discovers that she’s able to speak the language of manatees.”

Yes, that’s really what she said. Tim can’t believe it either, and starts to laugh. He takes a swig of his beer in an effort to suppress his chuckle. Do a spit take, Tim!

The Planet — Oh, it’s drag king night! How fun. I generally don’t consider myself to be much of a femme (nor much of a butch, for that matter), but when there are drag kings around, I feel like a giggly girl.

Kit is the host of the event. She looks gorgeous and happy, but she can’t help shaking her head a little as she introduces “Ivan Aycock.” Yeah, that’s kind of a dorky stage name. If it were me, I’d go with something like “Sir Chicks-a-Lot,” or, better yet, “Freddie Hercury.” Then I could wear leather and sing that fabulous Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Anyway, Ivan Aycock (yes, that’s really Kelly Lynch) has a pompadour and a cigarette and a pencil-thin mustache, and is lip-synching to Mink DeVille‘s “Savoir Faire.” Alice and Shane are enjoying it — and so is Kit.

Alice notices Robin (Anne Ramsay) in the crowd and points her out to Shane as “the girl Jenny’s going out with.” Marina’s interested, of course, and seems to think, “she’s got nothing on me.” Well, true: she has no Francesca, no history of bathroom sex, and no giant ego. No wonder Jenny finds her so appealing.

Ivan the drag king starts to put the moves on Kit, pulling her onstage to dance with him. They look a little odd together, mostly because Pam Grier is so much finer than almost everyone else in the world, but they look kind of cute too.

Tim’s house — Jenny tells Tim about her upcoming date with Robin. She explains that she can’t afford restaurants right now, and at first Tim thinks she’s asking to borrow money from him, but even Jenny isn’t that stupid. She just wants to make sure it’s okay for her to invite Robin back to her place so they can have a salad. Tim graciously agrees — he’ll be out late for “basketball and beer” night anyway — and says Jenny can even use the kitchen to make her salad. Is “salad” a code word for “sex” now? Because if not, it doesn’t sound like a very fun date. I’d rather watch basketball and have beer with Tim.

The Planet — Marina sits down at Robin’s table. Alice and Shane watch from a distance and agree that the whole thing is “so wrong.”

Kit finds Ivan and tells him it was one of the best nights of music they’ve ever had. Ivan says the pleasure was all his, and tells another drag king to “make room for the lady.” Kit sits down; Ivan offers her a drink. Kit explains that she’s “keeping dry these days.” Ivan says, “That’s a fine thing for a beautiful lady.” Okay, you get zero points for eloquence, but the chivalry is kind of nice. Kit looks like she doesn’t know whether to laugh or swoon or get the hell out of there. Ivan asks Kit whether she’s “in the program”; it turns out Ivan is too. Ivan offers Kit his number, in case she ever wants to talk or “for any other reason.” Good: Kit needs a friendly pair of ears, even if they are framed by fake sideburns.

Bette and Tina’s — Yet another “whoa” is uttered: this time Bette is expressing her surprise that Tina is already dressed and ready to go. It turns out Tina and Oscar — the guy from the Headquarters for Social Justice — are due in court. Tina used her connections (from when she actually had a job) to get a hot shot lawyer to take the case pro bono. Bette is impressed. Tina has all kinds of plans for the day, and Bette should be supportive, because obviously Tina’s trying to keep going despite her grief and despite the distance she’s feeling from Bette. But Bette just sort of says “that’s great” and wonders whether her Jil Sander suit is still at the dry cleaner’s, and whether Tina can pick it up. Tina says she’s too busy.

Do we really need to blame Candace, or the miscarriage, or anything else for this kind of unraveling? No, I don’t think so. Something is very wrong in Queen Bette’s Realm of Monogamy.

Dana’s house — Dana is giving Toxic Tonya instructions for taking care of Mr. Piddles. Oh, okay — now we see why you brought her home. I’d like to have a permanent cat sitter too, but I think I’d try to find someone less toxic.

On her way out, Dana smothers her cat with affection, and now I know how silly I must look when I do that to my cat. After Dana leaves, Tonya sort of kicks the cat off the bed — that’s so mean! — and calls a friend to brag about the fact that she’s in Dana Fairbanks’ house right now. Dana, please kick this woman out of bed the way she kicked Mr. Piddles. He and I both like Lara a lot better.

The C.A.C. — Protestors have surrounded the gallery. They’re carrying signs that say things like “Depravity = art” and “The CAC: a receptacle for trash.” I think I’ll join them, with a sign that says “Bette, will you go out with me?”

Candace arrives. One of the protestors asks her whether she’s aware that the gallery is run by homosexual pornographers. She sort of rolls her eyes, so the guy asks her whether she is a homosexual pornographer. She says, “Get out of my face, slimeball,” which I think means “yes.”

Inside, Bette finds Candace and asks whether she’s seen the craziness outside. Candace wonders whether Bette is okay, prompting Bette to babble on about all the crap she has to handle in her hot shot job. But the dialogue means nothing — what’s important is the way these two are looking at each other, drinking each other in.

Bette tells Candace that the main gallery looks great, so Candace offers to show her the blueprints for the remaining work. In the process of doing so, she gets about as close to Bette as she possibly can while still standing next to her, and the tension between them is delicious.

Bette: “Fuck.”
Candace: “I’m sorry, I…”
Bette: “What happened the other night cannot happen again. You understand?”

Candace just sort of tilts her head, not really acknowledging the comment, and goes back to explaining the plans. Bette just stares at her, and the next time Candace looks up, they get closer and closer, clearly about to kiss, but I hate the fact that Bette’s hair is keeping me from seeing what her eyes are saying.

So, Bette, back to the statement that what happened the other night can’t happen again: did you mean ordering Cuban food? Or answering your phone in the middle of a conversation? Or interrupting a kiss? Because you clearly didn’t mean the kiss itself, or pursuing this attraction that’s so very strong between you two. And I’m certainly not complaining, but it’s time for you to be honest with yourself. You want Candace: so admit that, and either go for it or don’t, but stop playing games with me. I mean, with Candace. I mean, with Tina. I mean, just be the badass gorgeous thing that you are and get on with it!

Anyway, of course, just to piss us off, Bette’s assistant interrupts the near-kiss. He wants to know what to do with the protestors. Candace asks Bette whether she’s ever done “defense” at abortion clinics, because they could try the linked-arm human shield technique. Bette says she hasn’t actually done that: “I’ve just written checks.” Ha ha! That is a great way to sum up the difference between these two, actually: Candace is a front-lines, hammer-and-nail kind of grrrl, while Bette is the aloof facilitator who puts everything into motion. I suppose that’s obvious, but the point is that someday I may find myself saying, “Let’s play Museum Director and Carpenter Girl.”

Bette decides that Candace’s idea is a good one, so she tells her assistant to call all the artists, and his friends, and to gather the staff so they can get out there and defend Art.

The Planet — Marina is trying to seduce Robin, or maybe just confuse her. She asks Robin whether she likes to read, and whether she’s read Anne Carson, who is the author that Marina and Jenny bonded over in the pilot episode. Robin is clueless, and I think she’s going to wish she’d stayed that way.

The C.A.C. — Bette and Candace and the rest of the human shield march out the door to try to get the artwork into the gallery. A reporter asks Bette whether she’s still going to go through with the Provocations show — of course she is, you dummy — and whether she knows anything about, or is perhaps responsible for, Fae Buckley’s absence. Bette waves off the reporter and links arms with, hmm, somebody, and of course with Candace.

The protestors are chanting “Shut them down! Tell them no! Filth as art has got to go!” — which has got to be the stupidest slogan I’ve ever heard.

Alice and Shane show up and join the column. They say that Dana is on her way and ask where Tina is; Bette says Tina isn’t answering her phone. Well, why the hell should she? She’s in court, or she’s doing something else. She might think that it’s as important as what you’re doing. And guess what? It actually is.

The Planet — Marina wants Robin to come by after work to pick up the Anne Carson book, but Robin is not excited about the idea. Marina insists; Robin reluctantly agrees and says “You’re very persistent.” Marina says, “Ah, persistance, c’est la mère de tous les succès,” or at least that’s what the captions say she says. My French is about as good as Jenny’s French kissing, but I think she means that persistence is the mother of success. In this case, it’s probably the mother of all mind-fucks. Robin walks off without any idea what Marina just said, and with about as much hope of getting out of this mess.

Kit shows up and tells Marina she may have found a way for her to raise enough money to buy The Planet. (Someone behind Marina is waving at Kit, but Kit has no idea who she is.) In the process of discussing this idea, Kit reveals that she hasn’t seen one cent from the Slim Daddy video. Well, that’s because you signed on the dotted line without talking to a lawyer first!

Marina suggests that Kit talk to Bette about joining the partnership to save The Planet; Kit says she might, right after she meets Ivan. Marina points out that Ivan is behind her — yep, the person who was waving. Kit pretends to recognize Ivan out of drag. Well, at least the hair is kind of similar; but this time, instead of a black pompadour, it’s sort of a blonde pompadour-meets-mullet.

The C.A.C. — Dana’s there now, and asks where Tina is. We’ve been over that, Dana. A guy behind Bette and Candace is ranting and raving and getting kind of pushy. Candace shoves him, which of course breaks the human chain and messes things up, and also makes the cops decide to get off their asses and start arresting people, including all of our heroines. One of the protestors points out the artist who was in the Jesus video (you know, that one) and then the protestor guy goes on to describe the whole thing in some detail. So, dude, how many times have you watched the Jesus video by now? Between 950 and 1200?

Kit and Ivan arrive — Ivan opens the car door for Kit, like a proper gentleman. Kit wants to rush right into the fray, but Ivan reminds her that she has a DUI and thus another arrest is not a good idea. You know, Kit may not have much of a storyline, but she may have the only one that’s actually consistent.

In the paddy wagon, Dana says she’s going to die if her parents find out she’s been arrested. Alice says, “Well, look at the up side: now being a dyke won’t be a big deal.” Right on, Alice! And have I mentioned that you’re adorable in your plaid shirt?

Bette stumbles into the wagon and promptly sits on Candace’s lap. Convenient. They almost kiss again, and I don’t know whether it’s because I love Bette so much or because Jennifer Beals is actually that good or because Bette and Candace really do have that much chemistry, but every time they’re on screen, my TV starts to melt.

Alice wolf-whistles and waggles her eyebrows at one of the protestors, a sweet frightened-looking blonde girl with a cross around her neck. Alice says, “Hey, good-lookin’.” The girl looks nervous, of course, so Alice does that bare-your-teeth-and-bite-the-air thing. It’s about seven seconds of screen time, but it’s one of the funniest things we’ll ever see on this show.

The big house — Actually, it’s just the police station. But the mood is hilarious and harmonica-accompanied as our heroines arrive for processing. They give up their jewelry and phones. Alice is full of attitude; Dana looks like she’s going to cry.

The aquarium — I refuse to recap Jenny’s so-called writing. She’s sitting on a bench watching beluga whales that she wishes were manatees; her words appear on the screen in a nearly illegible font and she reads the words in an echo-y voiceover. I guess this is the story about the girl who speaks the language of manatees or whales or whatever life form Jenny happens to stumble upon next. I’m sure the story is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for Jenny’s own journey of self-discovery, but if it weren’t for the happy-looking whales in the background, I would have to close my eyes, because the words on the screen are too hideous and horrible. And stupid.

The phone calls from jail — Candace calls Yolanda (what? Am I the only one who thought she had a partner? Why is she calling her ex?). Bette calls Tina and says this mean thing: “Fuck, Tina, I know you’re real busy saving the world and everything, but I need you to start answering your phone.” Shane calls Cherie and leaves a message to let her know she’ll be late for their date. Dana calls Tonya, but it’s not what you’re thinking — she just wants to know how Mr. Piddles is doing and whether he’s “had a poo.” Bwah ha! Alice just checks her messages.

Behind bars — Candace and Bette are escorted to a separate cell — they’re being held separately because they’re “high risk; dangerous ring leaders.” Yeah, it’s great when the workings of the universe conspire to get you to have sex, but isn’t it sad that we don’t get to see Dana, Alice, and Shane — and, if the universe is really on our side, the innocent protestor girl — serving out their time? What a wasted opportunity.

So here they are, Candace and Bette, behind bars with nothing else to do. Candace sits on the cot, but Bette says she can’t sit near her. Candace suggests that they draw an imaginary line down the middle, but Bette says, “I don’t think that’s gonna work for me.” No, it won’t work for me, either: just get on with it! Bette takes a few sexy steps toward Candace and says, “I am in so much trouble.” I don’t think she’s talking about the arrest. Candace, in all her cuteness, backs up and suggests that they play an alphabet game. Bette looks relieved, and kind of in love.

The aquarium — A guy sits on a nearby bench and starts to talk to Jenny. He hears her mumble something about manatees, so he tells her that manatees have crazy mating rituals and that Keela, the beluga whale who keeps swimming down and making clicking noises, likes Jenny. Yeah, maybe, but maybe Keela is just saying things like, “If you were one of us, we’d fatten you up, and we’d make sure you never write again!”

The guy is a biologist; he’s the assistant curator of fish at the aquarium. He flirts with Jenny and calls her a “nice Jewish girl.” Oh, if only things were that simple, buddy. Jenny gives him her phone number. This guy is kind of pretty, actually. I don’t understand why these perfectly nice people are interested in Jenny, unless she really is an alien and has some sort of device with which she captures her unsuspecting prey.

The Planet — Marina tries to tell Robin more about Eros the Bittersweet (the Anne Carson book), but Robin isn’t very interested. Marina starts rambling about what eros means and about wanting things and then finding out that when you have them, you don’t want them anymore, but it’s about as interesting as Jenny’s manatee ramblings. Unfortunately, I think Robin might be a little bit interested.

The police station — Kit wants to know how much longer she’ll have to wait. She starts to get upset, but Ivan calms her down, saying he’ll go get bail bonds and some Reese’s cups. Kit says, “How did you know that’s what I was jonesin’ for?” Ivan just gives her a look. Hee.

Bette’s boss shows up to post bail for her. I don’t like him, because he doesn’t like Kit until he finds out she’s Bette’s sister.

Behind bars — Apparently Bette and Candace have been listing all the states alphabetically, and now that they’re done with that, they can’t help but reach for each other. Their hands creep across the cot and barely connect, but it’s enough to make their breath grow shallow. Bette says, “let’s do math.” Candace is too distracted; all she can remember at this point is that two plus two equals four. Bette recites the Pythagorean theorem and actually makes it sound sexy.

A guard stomps nearby; Bette breaks the contact and tries to talk to the guard. What a tease.

Jenny’s place — Jenny and Robin are eating their salad and talking about what happened when they were thirteen. Robin was embarrassed by her parents, blah blah blah. She says more about realizing she didn’t like boys, and I really want to like Robin, but Jenny is in the way.

Girls in prison —Bette can’t stand to be so close to Candace, so she walks over to the opposite wall and proceeds to have sex with it. Well, that’s kind of what happens: Bette gets happy against the wall while Candace gets happy on the bed. Here’s the dialogue, for what it’s worth:

Bette: “I can’t stand it.” 
Candace: “I’m sorry it’s so painful.”
Bette: “It’s so painful.”

Bette: “What are you doing right now?”
Candace: “I just lied down.”
Bette: “I’m lying on top of you.”

Bette: “Do you know what I’m doing right now?”
Candace: “I think so.”

Candace:“God, this is fucking insane. What are you doing to me?”
Bette: “Fucking you.”
Candace: “Come over here.”
Bette: “I am there. You know I am.”

Jennifer Beals melts my TV again with her orgasm face. Wow. I suppose you could find this scene funny or weird, but I just think it’s hot.

Jenny’s place — Apparently when Jenny was 13, she had sex with a boy. It seems to have been kind of traumatic; Robin is moved. Right on cue, Tim gets home. Jenny explains that he’s her “ex.”

The evening thwarted, Robin and Jenny try to make plans to meet again. Robin can’t see Jenny on Saturday because she has a date. Oh, the drama! So she says she’ll call Jenny. As they say goodbye at the door, in full view of Tim and his friends, Jenny lunges at Robin and kisses her. Tim’s stupid friends hoot and holler and tell Tim he must not have been man enough for Jenny.

Jenny’s phone rings shortly thereafter; I think she thinks it’s Robin, because she seems pretty excited, but it’s the guy from the aquarium, calling to ask her to dinner. As it happens, Jenny is free Saturday night. The music in the background is saying “she’s kinda freaky,” and I couldn’t agree more.

The police station front desk— Bette’s boss has called in a favor to get his prize employee released. Tina shows up and tells Kit she got the message half an hour ago, but she and Oscar were at the soup kitchen. Okay, I’ve been defending Tina a little, but she got the message half an hour ago?! I think I might have dropped what I was doing, had I been in her situation. Bette’s boss explains that Bette and the artist are on their way out; Tina says, “What about the others?” Of course Bette’s boss knows nothing about the others, so Oscar offers to help.

Behind bars — Bette and Candace are basking in the glow. Bette says she needs a cigarette; Candace says, “you smoke?” Bette says, “Not since I was 12.” Yeah, that’s right: it hasn’t been this good since you were 12, has it? Go after the girl already, Bette.

The guard arrives to tell them they’ve made bail. They’re disappointed.

Out in the lobby, Shane and Alice and Dana greet Tina and Kit. Shane says, “Jail is whack.”

Bette strolls out and gives Tina a fairly convincing hug. Candace is close behind; Bette introduces her as “my cell mate.” Tina says she’s heard a lot about Candace and shakes her hand. Oh, if you only knew where that hand has been! Candace and Bette exchange glances one more time. They’re gonna have to stop doing that, especially when Tina’s around.

Kit introduces Bette to Ivan, referring to him (or her?) as “him.” Bette is a bit puzzled, but Ivan is happy either way. So am I, but I hope Ivan will express a pronoun preference at some point, because it complicates recapping a little.

They all arrange rides home; Candace very nearly ends up with Tina and Bette, but Oscar lives closer, so the crisis is averted. Shane decides to stay behind and wait for Cherie; she leaves another voice mail.

Tim’s house — Tim apologizes for his friends’ behavior; Jenny says it’s okay because “it was too soon.” Tim wants to know whether he’s the reason Jenny likes women. He suspects that he’s inadequate in some way. Tim, I thought you were smarter than this. I’m going to assume it’s the beer talking. Jenny tells him he’s a good man.

Four hours later — Shane’s still waiting for Cherie. I told you it was doomed!

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Only the spoiler hos know what’s next, because Showtime screwed up the preview.

More L Word recaps available here.

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