THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Ion Overman abets Bette in the homewrecking; Kelly Lynch charms and confuses Kit; Anne Ramsay realizes she’s been set up; Rosanna Arquette breaks Shane’s heart.
Previously on the L Word: Hey, I’m recapping the “previously” again. Why? Because I’m going to miss this damn show and these rambly recaps. And because this time the “previously” seems longer than usual, and certainly more tense than usual: good way to set the tone for the episode, I guess. I wonder if that much thought goes into it, or if I’ve already spent more time on it than anyone else did?
The Prelude — It’s three days ago. Bette arrives at work, looking broken and exhausted and empty. She slowly gets out of her car, obviously not in a hurry to start the day, when she hears the rumble of Candace’s car/truck/old vehicle thingie pulling into the parking garage. The opening chords of Portishead’s gorgeous, desolate song “Roads” set the scene as Bette seems to consider, briefly, what to do. Candace is about to get out of her truck when Bette gets in the passenger side. Candace waits. Bette sits, presumably warring with herself; her face is by turns stoic and shattered. Finally Bette says, “Take me somewhere.” Candace looks uncertain, but turns the key in the ignition and gets the show on the road.
Uh-oh. Yeah, I’ve been rooting for this affair from the first hint of it, but I was blithely thinking it could be a fun little fling, not a ponderous, achy act of desperation. Candace, is this really how you want it to be with Bette? I guess you’re too attracted to her to think clearly, and I guess that’s what makes this a mutual — and very doomed — thing. Also, I really don’t know what the car/truck thingie is — some sort of precursor of the El Camino? — but it’s pretty groovy.
Jenny’s bed — She’s naked again. But at least it’s with Robin (Anne Ramsay), who’s looking gorgeous. She wants to know when she can see Jenny again; Jenny suggests going to the “thingamajiggy” that her neighbor Bette is having on Thursday. But Robin has a date that night, and Jenny has a date tonight. Robin confesses that she’s a little jealous. Jenny says, “that’s good,”and Robin says, “Yeah, it is.” They kiss, and I’m surprised to find it kind of touching. Robin, I don’t know what you see in her, but I’m glad I got to see that vulnerable, lovely look on your face.
Caresses fill the screen as Portishead continues to wonder how it can feel this wrong. Actually, it looks like it feels pretty good. I try to focus on Robin’s face as she and Jenny have sex, because Robin’s face is actually sexy. Hey, wait: a real sex scene! Between women! Ah, it’s so good to know that that’s still possible on this show. Next time, let’s not involve Jenny, okay? Oh, fine: she was okay in that scene. I won’t admit that if you ask me later.
Speaking of real sex scenes, Tim saunters up to the door of the studio just in time to peek in through the window to see Robin and Jenny going at it a little more enthusiastically. He’s just there to deliver the paper, poor guy. He seems to consider going back for another look, but changes his mind and stumbles away looking stunned.
A hotel or bed-and-breakfasty place —Bette and Candace are walking up to the place like they have a meeting to attend, not a mad attraction to feed. They check in; Bette starts to pay, but Candace reminds her that she doesn’t want this on her credit card statement. The fact that Bette didn’t think of that on her own should be another sign to Candace that Bette isn’t really going into this with her eyes wide open. As they climb the stairs, Bette takes Candace’s hand, and looks like she’s being led to the firing squad or the dentist or something. Can we lighten up a little, please?
Oh — Bette stops on the landing and pulls Candace back for a hungry kiss. Yow. I really do like to watch them kiss. A man and a woman emerge from their room as Bette and Candace devour each other. The man and woman are appalled — they thought this was a high-class spot for discreet heterosexual dalliances, not a seedy lesbo rooms-by-the-hour den of sin. Go away, straight people.
Candace slams Bette against the door of the room — but they’re still not actually in the room yet. Bette unbuttons her own shirt and puts Candace’s hand right where she wants it.
Inside the room, the roles reverse briefly: now Candace is against the door. Bette starts to slide down, but Candace pulls her back up and proceeds to throw her down on the bed. Bette grins, and I hold out a faint glimmer of hope for the fun, sexy fling I was hoping to see. Bette keeps on trying to take the lead; eventually Candace pins her arms above her head and says “You can’t always have control.” Bette laughs a rueful little laugh. That is exactly what I wanted Bette to experience — a loss of control, a rocking of her world — because she needs to get some sort of jolt to her system so that she can see her life for what it is and stop feeling so trapped. But this is not quite what I had in mind. Who cares: it’s really, really hot despite the angst of it all. I blame Portishead; they always put me in this weird state.
The Headquarters for Social Justice — Tina is under a sink, trying to fix something while Oscar looks on. Right on, Tina! But alas, she can’t fix it: it’s probably one of those tricky compression fittings. She and Oscar talk about getting a plumber, as well as a carpenter, and we all know what that means. Tina tells Oscar about the carpenter who’s working Bette — I mean, working for Bette. Oscar, don’t you remember Candace? Didn’t you give her a ride home from jail last week? What did you do, play the alphabetical states game and not talk about your jobs even once? Tina calls the C.A.C. to ask Bette about the whole thing, but of course Bette’s not there, so Tina asks Bette’s assistant for Candace’s number. She and Oscar seem unnecessarily conspiratorial and giddy about this. I’m just hoping Bette and Candace turned off their cell phones.
Shane, the salon — Shane is admiring her new sign. Steve Jaffe, her financier, arrives and starts lecturing her about sleeping with his daughter. Dude, she didn’t! She slept with your wife! Shane tries to tell him she didn’t sleep with Clea, but he’s not listening. He also says “Cherie’s on the warpath,” which of course freaks Shane out and sends her to her truck while Steve is still rambling and hollering.
The Jaffe manse — Shane hollers at the intercom, trying to get Cherie to open the gate. Instead, Clea runs out and gets in Shane’s truck, professing her love and screaming about everything in general. Shane tries to keep her cool.
Shane finds her way to a room where Cherie is screaming at someone — I guess the screaming runs in the family. Cherie freezes when she sees Shane, but then starts shrieking again and ineffectually pummels Shane. Shane stands her ground and tries to explain that she didn’t sleep with Clea, and asks, “Do you have any idea how much you mean to me?” This gets to Cherie a little; she pulls Shane into a hug, but then sees Clea watching them and freaks out again. Shane, this is so not good. Remember when Cherie tried to warn you about her craziness? Yeah, it’s too late now.
Jenny’s studio — Tim reminds Jenny that they need to get a divorce. Jenny agrees. The weird thing is that so far, this is one of the most lighthearted scenes of the episode.
Dana’s house — Dana is sitting on her couch crying. Now what? Oh, crap: it’s Mr. Piddles! No, anything but that! Toxic Tonya announces that Alice is there and then, in her toxic way, refers to Mr. P. as “it” and says Dana’s been crying for three hours. Hey, when my Siamese cat died several years ago, I couldn’t even manage to go to work that day. Alice says all the right things, offering comfort and assistance and whatever Dana needs. She suggests a mahogany casket: “Only the best for Mr. P.” Wah! I cuddle my cat and tell her to stay away from people named Tonya.
The C.A.C. — Kit and Ivan have brought food for Bette, because they know she doesn’t take care of herself. Bette is not very friendly to Ivan.
The Headquarters for Social Justice — Tina thanks Candace for dropping by and says, “I guess you know what I want to talk about.” Candace tries to keep her face blank. Don’t worry, Candace: I don’t think Tina would be so cheerful if she wanted to talk to you about that. Well, unless she wanted to have a threesome, and wouldn’t that be fun? Maybe next season.
Tina explains that they need some carpenter-type help. Candace is so relieved that she’s not being screamed at and pummeled like Shane, she agrees to help without a second thought. I’m starting to feel sorry for Candace: I’m sure that means I am morally bankrupt. But look at her in her overalls!
The C.A.C. — Bette warns Kit about Ivan: “She’s madly in love with you.” Kit says, “No, he’s not.” Bette continues to try to make her point, emphasizing the “she”-ness of it. Kit says it’s not like that, but Bette insists that Ivan is courting Kit. Kit ends up thanking Bette for the lesson in the “ritual mating habits of indigenous lesbians.” Ha ha! Kit, you still rock. Ivan shows up in the doorway and says they’d better be going so Bette can eventually “get home to the little woman.” Kit takes Ivan’s arm and saunters off, throwing a challenging look over her shoulder at Bette. Bette rolls her eyes and smirks.
The aquarium — Oh, god, not this again. Jenny and Gene are watching whatever-they-ares in the tank. Oh, look, a shark fin: oh, sorry, that’s Jenny’s shoulder blade.
We find out that Gene hates exercise and mornings. Gene is kind of cute; at least his shoulder blades don’t stick out. He kisses Jenny and asks if she wants to go meet the seals, because they might change her mind about using manatees in her story. Don’t encourage her, Gene!
They proceed to have sex in front of the seal tank. Avert your eyes, poor seals! But this is a sad scene: Jenny starts crying during the sex, and Gene tries to be sensitive and nice, but what can he do? Jenny’s feeling lost and confused and probably thinking about Tim and Marina and Robin and the rest of the mess that is her life. So Gene just holds her: good job, Gene.
Mr. Piddles’ funeral — It’s so sad, and yet so funny: I’m laughing through my tears. Mr. Piddles is on display, and everyone’s looking somber. The music in the background sounds like Liberace or something equally schmaltzy. Tina thinks Mr. P. looks strange; Alice explains that she and Shane put him in the freezer because they were worried about him decomposing. Eww! Hey, is this going to be like When Night is Falling — will Mr. P. thaw out and wake up at the end? Sigh. Or it could be like that creepy movie May, in which there was also a cat in the freezer, but I don’t think we should go that route. Erin Daniels and Jennifer Beals have already been in horror movies — of rather disparate quality — and I don’t think they need to develop their screaming skills any further. They can do that on this show, after all.
Tina asks how Shane is, but Alice doesn’t really know. She thinks it has something to do with Shane’s “Hollywood Wife.” That just about sums it up right there.
Kit and Ivan arrive. Tonya gives Ivan a toxic look — deck her, Ivan! Bette arrives and gives Dana a portrait of a cat; it was going to be her Christmas present. Bette, you’re hurting my fragile little mind: clearly you want these friends, this life and everything that goes with it, but somehow it’s simultaneously too much and not enough. Still, I’m so glad you know how to be there for Dana.
Alice watches Dana and Tonya from a distance and asks, “What is with the twin thing? Are they merging already?” That’s funny — a minute ago I was thinking that Tina and Alice were looking way too similar. But yeah, Dana’s definitely not herself, and I don’t think it’s just because of her grief.
Bette saunters over to Tina — look, Bette is wearing that gorgeous long black jacket again. No wonder Candace couldn’t resist. Tina asks her how her day was. Bette just sort of shrugs. Eeek.
Marina proposes a toast to Mr. Piddles. Bette does the honors: “To Mr. P., kitty, you well-loved furry feline, we will miss you.” Awww! Dana thanks them all for coming and says that at times like these, you realize what’s important, and that’s why she and Tonya are engaged. What?! Alice says “No way” and Shane says “shit.” I laugh, because this is one of those great ensemble scenes that make me happy to be alive. But not happy that Mr. P. is dead!
Bette and Tina’s — Bette is having a fit about the “conflict of interest” inherent in the idea of Candace taking the job for the Headquarters for Social Justice. She yells at Tina about exploiting Candace and blah blah blah, and ends up slamming the bathroom door, calling Tina “selfish” under her breath. Selfish? You really wanna go there, Bette? Tina throws a shoe at the door and looks confused.
The Jaffe manse — Shane is sleeping in her truck. A cop knocks on the window and tells her she needs to leave. Shane says she’s waiting for the Jaffes and everything’s okay, but the cop says they’ve filed a restraining order. Is anybody going to have any luck with love in this episode? God, did I just ask that question?
Bette and Tina’s — Bette has slept on the couch in her clothes. Are you kidding? They don’t have a guest bedroom? Tina is clanking dishes. She starts to leave; Bette stops her and apologizes and says she knows she overreacted. Tina calmly accepts the apology and says she’s sorry she didn’t think to warn Bette that she had dared to talk to someone she works with, but “We’ve been a little out of touch.” Bette says it will all get better once the Provocations show is off the ground. Tina doesn’t believe her any more than I do. After Tina leaves, Bette mutters “What the fuck am I doing?” several times. Tina, I think I’ve neglected you as much as Bette has, and I’m sorry: you don’t deserve this, of course. I don’t think Bette’s really trying to do anything to you, so much as to herself and her life… but still, you’re right to keep your distance. And you’re right to keep getting cuter every episode!
Jenny’s studio — Jenny wakes up to Gene’s face — but he’s just watching from the corner; they’re both fully clothed. Gene knows the whole Tim/Marina/whatever the hell else story now, and for some reason he stayed anyway. I kind of like Gene/Jenny, mostly because I like Gene, and also because they remind me of the David Bowie song The Jean Genie, and of course the Jean Genie “lives on his back,” which is perfect for Jenny if you switch the pronoun. Or even if you don’t.
Jenny tells Gene that she still likes guys but will understand if he doesn’t want to see her again. But he does. Why do these people keep coming back for more? Maybe Gene is going to study Jenny the way he studies fish, and write her up in a journal of comparative anatomy. “Shark Fin or Scapula? Bizarre Schecter Mating Behavior and Its Mind-Numbing Effects.”
The Planet — Ivan has ordered breakfast for Kit. Kit says she’s getting spoiled, and then says what’s on her mind:
Kit’s not quite sure how to answer that question.
Jenny’s studio — Tim sees Gene leave, and then storms into the studio. He’s in a rage because he was supposed to be the only guy for Jenny. Jenny sort of tries to defend herself. Tim says he doesn’t want her in his life anymore: “It doesn’t feel good.” They agree that Jenny needs to move out. I guess it’s kind of dramatic or something, but after all of the screen time this storyline has had this season, I’m very ready for both of you to move out.
The C.A.C. — Bette, please wear those jeans in every single episode from now on! She’s rambling to her assistant about something when she sees Candace and loses her train of thought. She tells her assistant she needs 45 minutes in her office, alone. It’s good to be the Queen.
Bette leaves the door of her office open, and Candace accepts the invitation. Candace leaves the door open too, which is kind of cool of her: she’s leaving it up to Bette. Bette seems a bit unsure, and very vulnerable, but she closes and locks the door. Candace slowly steps up behind her and inhales her scent, wrapping her arms around Bette and hanging on. Bette takes Candace’s fingers into her mouth, then turns in Candace’s arms and kisses her in that hungry yummy way again. She unzips her jeans and guides Candace’s hand down. Candace fucks her against the door — I really don’t think this can properly be called anything but fucking — and I don’t care how wrong it is: it’s still hot. Jennifer Beals is making every minute of it — this scene and every scene — so very intense.
Jenny’s studio — Lest we start to think that every scene can be as good as that last one, we get more of Jenny’s words-on-the-screen rambling. This time she’s muttering something about not knowing who she is because there are so many of her. Please: one is much more than enough.
Gene arrives, scrubbed and smiling. He’s there to take her to the Provocations opening. Oh, we’re finally getting around to that?
Bette’s shower — Bette stares at her hands, then sinks to the floor and cowers in the corner of the shower. Tina sees her and helps her up. She decides Bette is exhausted:
Oh. This is heartbreaking… Tina gives Bette a little kiss, and Bette sort of reaches forward for another, but Tina just kisses the top of her forehead instead. “Out of touch” is a very good phrase for what’s going on with these two.
Kit’s apartment — Ivan arrives in full drag, with flowers. Kit opens the door, a sexy smile on her face. Ivan tells her she’s beautiful, and she seems happy and charmed.
The C.A.C. — Ack! Bette is wearing that super heavy eye makeup again — like she wore in the flashback scene. A reporter asks her what the Provocations show is all about. She gives a very practiced answer that has absolutely no passion behind it. What happened to that fierce workaholic we all know and love?
Jenny and Gene run into Tim and Trish. (That sounds so silly if you say it out loud.) Tim is acting nice, but when he shakes Gene’s hand, he says “Has she told you she’s a dyke yet?” Grrr! That’s it, Tim: no more sympathy for you.
Gene says this great thing: “Well, you know, you told me that you were in love with that one woman and now you’re sleeping with another woman, but you didn’t tell me you were a dyke.” Ha ha!
Tonya and Dana greet the rest of the gang. Alice tells them they look alike; they protest, but it’s true, they do — and what’s even scarier is that Tonya pulls Dana away from the group so they can go talk to Melissa Rivers. Shane and Tina tell Alice that Tonya’s not really that bad. Don’t listen to them, Alice! She’s toxic! Alice says she thinks Tonya murdered Mr. Piddles. Shane barks that it’s not like Mr. Piddles was going to inherit Dana’s money and Tonya murdered him so she could be the next in line. Whatever, Shane. She storms off; Alice says Shane’s so “fucking cranky.”
Shane encounters Steve and Cherie. Steve tells her that if she ever goes anywhere near his wife or daughter again, yadda yadda yadda. Cherie walks past Shane in a way that suggests she’s not quite done with her yet.
Tina finds Candace and congratulates her on the work she’s done. Candace tells her she looks beautiful; Bette shows up and says “doesn’t she?” in a rather possessive tone. Wow: you really do have an alpha bitch thing goin’ on, don’t you? Bette meets Candace’s friend — I’m starting to think that Candace’s long-ago reference to her partner really was about a business partner — and the four of them have a little conversation. Candace’s friend asks about the Jesus-fucking piece. Apparently it’s called “Jesus Is In Me.” Nice. The chairman of the board is motioning to Bette, so she and Tina go; Bette tosses a cryptic look over her shoulder to Candace. Once again I feel some sympathy for Candace — and have I mentioned how gorgeous she looks in her non-carpenter clothes?
Gene tells Jenny, Dana, and Tonya about same-sex kisses among walruses. Cute! And have you heard about the gay penguins? Suddenly Robin shows up. She and Jenny are kind of giggly-happy to see each other, but of course it’s an awkward situation. It gets worse: Robin’s date joins them. Yep, it’s Marina. Jenny is stunned, of course, and Dana’s confused too. Jenny and Gene go; Robin asks what’s going on and gives Marina a nasty look. Robin, you’re sharp: I like you.
Shane and Cherie are in a funhouse — oh, no, I guess that’s art, but it looks like a hall of mirrors. Ah, look deep within yourself, young lesbian: only then will you know the truth.
So, would you say you’re feeling dismantled?
Cherie tells Shane it was all a delusion, and that even if she did love Shane too, she can’t leave her Hollywood Wife life behind. The lines aren’t great, and the acting isn’t a whole lot better, but it’s still kind of sad. Shane gives Cherie one last heartbroken, accusatory, disappointed look, and leaves.
Kit and Ivan say their goodbyes to Tina, because they can’t find Bette. After they leave, Tina looks out the window and sees Bette and Candace talking and standing close; Bette squeezes Candace’s hand as she walks away. Tina doesn’t really react, except to sort of set her jaw and steel herself for what’s to come.
Bette, we all take risks and we all fall hard, but you went too far. It seems clear that you wanted to get caught: you’re smart enough to know better than to even talk to Candace when Tina’s around.
Out in the parking garage, Ivan gives Kit her own personal drag king show. This time the tune is Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man. They dance; it’s sweet and sexy, at least in my estimation. Pam Grier is divine as usual: her face is a jumble of everything from joy to desire to confusion to regret. Yeah, Leonard Cohen often makes me feel that way too. Heh. Actually, I was grinning like a fool throughout most of this scene: I think these two are great together. And although I don’t know if I could ever sufficiently “see past” a guy’s guy-ness, no matter how much I might like his heart and his soul, I think maybe Kit might be able to do that — except of course she’s seeing past this particular guy’s girl-ness. And I’ve gotta say it: why should we have only two genders, and not three or four or five? Ivan doesn’t seem male or female: Ivan’s just Ivan. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
This is also a nice counterpoint to the Bette/Candace parking garage desperation of the prelude: Kit and Ivan are in an uncertain space (and a parking garage) too, but it’s not quite so complicated — oh, hell, yes it is, but the point is that this is a mutual attraction that’s so full of respect, it’s likely to turn out okay no matter what happens. Also, Ivan is so smooth and chose the perfect song: I’d be swooning. It’s that drag king thing; what can I say?
Jenny’s studio — Gene and Jenny arrive home to find Robin there with a flower in her hand and a concerned look on her face. Robin explains that Tim let her in and that she had no idea Jenny and Marina even knew each other — they’ve been “set up.” I dunno, I don’t think that’s a sufficiently diabolical phrase for the sort of mind-fuck that Marina seems to be into.
Robin tells Jenny to listen to her machine; the phone rang while she was waiting. On the machine, Marina tells Jenny she’s in love with her and would do anything to have another chance. Jenny’s reaction is the only one possible: “Oh, fuck.”
Robin and Gene both offer to go, but Jenny doesn’t want either of them to leave. Such an appetite!
Bette and Tina’s house — Bette is getting undressed. She sees Tina in the mirror; Tina is sitting, staring, wearing her pain on her face. She stands up as Bette walks toward her, and says “I know. I saw it.” Bette tries to give her a hug, but Tina pushes her away. Bette says she’s sorry; Tina’s reply is a hard slap.
What happens next is difficult to watch and harder to describe. Bette keeps trying to tell Tina that she loves her and she’s sorry, while Tina mostly says “Fuck you.” They struggle, and they fight, and they end up having sex, of a sort… the sort that’s about hurt and anger and despair.
I don’t think I’ll say any more about that, except that it was really, really sad, and that Jennifer Beals and Laurel Holloman are incredible.
Dana’s front step — Alice is standing there, looking small. Dana answers the door, wondering what Alice could possibly need at 4:00 in the morning. Alice says, “I have to talk.” She tells Dana she can’t marry Tonya. When Dana asks why, Alice mumbles “because” a couple of times, and can’t look Dana in the eye, and is so vulnerable and scared and perfect, and then she kisses Dana, quickly but firmly, not knowing how else to say what she needs to say. Then she whispers, “Oh, fuck.” They look at each other, and then Dana leans in, and then they really kiss, and at first it’s shy, and so sweet, and then even sweeter and hot and delicious. Let’s call it DeLeishous. Don’t ever criticize this scene in my presence: it’s the essence of romance, and I am a sap.
After the kiss, Alice says “fuck” again, and says she’d better go. Dana watches her leave, steadying herself against the door frame, and puts a hand to her forehead. How will any of us survive until next season?
After watching this scene about 18 times, I have no doubt: these two are so, so good together. Erin Daniels and Leisha Hailey are so well-matched as actors: they’re hilarious, honest, adorable. And let’s not forget that they really know how to juggle a banana between them. (Big thanks to wow1 for the banana montage.)
Jenny’s studio — Jenny watches Gene and Robin sleep. Yeah, it’s annoying that Jenny’s so “multiple,” or indecisive or whatever, but it’s kind of a nice little scene anyway.
Shane the salon — The sign is half gone (it just says “Sha”). Shane stares from her truck, looking like she’s about to skip town or get really drunk or do something else we’ll have to wonder about until next season.
Alice’s house — Alice stumbles in, muttering, asking herself what she’s doing. Falling in love, I think! Suddenly she sees Tina on the couch. Tina asks if she can stay for a while. Alice asks what happened, but Tina can’t speak. She goes over to the damn “six degrees” chart and draws a new line from Bette’s name; she tries to write Candace’s name but can’t. Alice holds her and lets her cry.
The Last Word — Well, it’s been a fun, frustrating, fascinating season. (Hmm, maybe it should be called The F Word.) I reveled in the ensemble hijinks and suffered through the tedious Jenny-jive, and finally found myself moved, provoked, and thoroughly entertained. My affections wandered from Alice to Dana to Bette, and happily found their way back to Alice again — and never left Kit for a minute. What a short, strange, Jenny-chomping-on-shrooms trip it’s been. I don’t know what’s in store for this show, or what any of it means about the future of lesbians on TV or any of that crap, but I’m sure about one thing: Mr. Piddles was a damn cute cat.
Seeya next season!