“The L Word” recap (2.3): “Loneliest Number” 

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THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:

  • Hot: A word that can’t even begin to touch Carmen.
  • Misery: Its name is Bette. And it loves company, but company is scared of it.
  • Ton Ton: An unspeakable (and hilarious) horror.
  • House rules: What Shane has. No matter what she says to the contrary.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Jane Lynch out-toxifies Tonya; Sandra Bernhard blinks; Betty does… well, whatever Betty does.

Alice’s toxic dream — The caption says “Present day — in your wildest dreams.” This is notmy “wildest dream.” I mean, yes, Alice is in my wildest dream, but she’s not typing, and she’s certainly not feeling uncertain or afraid, and I’m probably not facing her. Well, that part depends on whether Bette is there too, because I know I’m not facing Bette. Okay. Now that I’ve managed to make myself blush, I’ll tell you what’s on the screen.

Alice is in a jungle, with her laptop, and she’s typing, over and over, this:

Dana is a friend of mine, she will do it anytime. For a nickel or a dime, 50 cents for overtime. Down the cellar she will go, she will strip from head to toe.

That’s kinda creepy, Alice. Oh, but not compared to what happens next: there’s Tonya in full jungle woman mode. Um, hello: does she look kinda good, or have I been poisoned? Meredith McGeachie cracked me up last week, so I guess I still have some fond feelings left. Anyway, she grabs Alice’s shoulder, and Alice breathes/chokes “Tonya!” in the most hilarious away. Tonya calls Alice a “bad, bad girl,” and all Alice can do is stare at Tonya’s considerable cleavage.

Alice looks terrified, but she begins to unwrap Tonya, which elicits this response:

Tonya: “That’s right. If you’re gonna play, you don’t play without the Ton Ton.”

And then the Ton Ton grabs poor defenseless Alice and kisses the life out of her. Dana comes into focus in the background, but the Ton Ton doesn’t care…she’s more interested in what’s for lunch. And that would be Alice. But wait, the one who’s about to partake of the feast is not Ton Ton — it’s Dana, who is kneeling down and saying she’s “starving” and also looking waaaay too much like the Ton Ton. And I thought Japanese horror films were scary! I think I’ve just shrieked.

Suddenly Alice wakes up (thank god) and clutches her lunch to make sure it’s still there. Maybe she’s just clutching the blanket, but I know I’d be checking for missing body parts if I’d had that dream.

That theme song again — Arrrggh. I’m just done with this. Here’s an idea for next season: take the cast to a karaoke bar and film them. Instead of a theme song, play a different karaoke delight each week. Believe me, no matter how bad they are or how many Air Supply songs they sing, it will be better than this. It’s so… eager. “This is the way, it’s the way that we sing, it’s the way that we siiiiiiiiing… and suck!”

The table of despair — Bette and Tina and their lawyers are meeting. Well, it’s more like Joyce Wischnia is holding forth and holding everyone hostage. (PlanetOut has an article about the many ways in which this is all ridiculous from a legal perspective, but I’m not worried about that, because if these people can fail to realize how pregnant Tina is, there’s probably no hope for the rule of law anyway. Or even the rules of physics.)

Bette’s lawyer (Bert) offers to cover Tina’s living expenses, plus a $10,000 stipend, but Joyce says that’s a temporary arrangement, and she and Tina are there to talk final separation. Okay, so can I take the other offer? Because in my world, $10,000 is nothing to sneeze at.

As Joyce — who is wearing a tie, for fuck’s sake — continues to bluster, Bette gets down on her knees and begs:

Bette: “How many times do I have to say I’m sorry? I am. Please don’t do this to us. This is not who we are. Tina… we can fix this. Okay? We can fix this. Tina, do you still love me? Do you still love me? Don’t do this. Don’t destroy us.”

I still love you! I don’t want to destroy us! Oh. Oops. Excuse me.

Joyce interrupts (shock) and points out that it wasn’t Tina who destroyed the relationship. I’m too busy watching Bette caress Tina’s arm, because I still kinda like them together. But I also kinda like it when Joyce tells Bette that “this moment isn’t about you.” Silly Joyce! Everything is about Bette!

Joyce asks Tina what she wants, and Tina mumbles that things need to be different. Okay, good, then speak up, and show us your belly again, and own your own damn life, because this is getting tiresome. Joyce thinks so too, so she says they should reschedule the meeting “for a time when everyone is feeling a little less dramatic.” Oh, you mean for a time when everyone’s feeling a little less lesbian? ‘Cause, well. You’re the one wearing the tie, Joyce: don’t think you don’t bring your own drama to the table.

Tina looks confused and shaken. Bette looks like each of her legs weighs 10,000 pounds, or $10,000.

Scenes of mayhem and madness — After Bette and Bert leave (Bette and Bert. It’s funny.), Joyce holds Tina’s hands and offers Tina her guest house. I’m gonna whip that tie around and strangle you with it, Joyce: you’re an arrogant, amoral sleaze. You’re worse than the skeeviest ambulance chaser. You’re worse than Toxic Tonya!

During the conversation, Tina expresses anger by taking off her jacket. Huh? Oooh, I’m scared. And actually, I am scared when Joyce says “You know how many of my clients have stayed in my guest house?” Because yeah, I bet your guest house is a teeming hothouse of disease by now. Sorry, I had to say it, because that’s how Jane Lynch delivered it.

Meanwhile, outside, Bette drives too fast, runs a red light, and slams into an SUV. The driver of the SUV gets out and starts screaming at her. Bette’s face does this amazing thing — Jennifer Beals is fucking channeling something — that makes her look sort of like a comic book character who is so angry she’s about to turn into a force of nature. And that she does: Bette gets out and stares the little guy down:

Bette: “You need to stop yelling. No one was hurt; I have insurance; so just shut the fuck up. Do you fucking understand me, you fucking idiot, or do I need to scream like you, like a fucking insane savage?”
SUV guy: “You’re going to be one sorry bitch.”
Bette: [grabbing the guy by the collar and shaking him, and screaming]“What makes you think I’m not already? What makes you think I’m not already?!”

After that, I am really, really hoping that we get to see a Bette/Joyce smackdown at some point.

The New Planet — Kit is getting into her new managing gig. Alice and Shane show up and can’t believe how different the place looks. Kit starts talking about all the music she’s going to bring in, including a jazz quartet for the opening night. Alice and Shane aren’t so sure about that:

Alice: “Kit, this is West Hollywood. This is gay town. You got to give the girlies what they want.”

Listen to Alice, Kit. She knows. And Alice, could you maybe talk to hmm… everyone who’s in charge of this show and tell them the same thing? Much obliged.

Alice decides they can get Pink, because they’ve got to know “a lesbian who knows a lesbian who knows another one who knows her.” Shane and Kit are not optimistic, but Alice says she should “believe in the power of the lesbian phone tree.” But Kit needs something solid, so Shane says she knows a DJ. Yes, she does.

A clean, strangely-lighted place — Jenny, who appears to have let Shane do her hair, is trying once more to convince Charlotte Birch to give her a spot in the writing class. Sandra Bernhard is so good at doing the unimpressed thing. Jenny has to hear the hard truth:

Jenny: “I just actually wanted to know why I didn’t get in.”
Charlotte: “Maybe it’s your self-consciousness. That schoolgirl outfit you came in here with — am I supposed to fall for that? I want real writers in this class. Fiction writers. You don’t write like that: you journal. You think because you change the circumstance and the settings that you’re creating… but you’re not. And I’m not here to read The Autobiography of Miss Jenny Schecter. Become a writer first. Then maybe.”

That made me so happy, I think I’ve sprained something.

Jenny looks stunned, and as if she might cry, and then does something rather surprising:

Jenny: “Well, thank you for letting me know. But please don’t presume that you know me.”

Sandra likes this. I kinda do too.

The guest house — Alice helps Tina move in. The guest house is lavish and annoying, but not as annoying as the weird music that’s playing as Tina and Alice walk through the woods. Alice, by the way, is wearing one of those shirts that she’s not supposed to wear around Dana. Or me, probably.

The sad sisters — Bette and Kit think that life sucks and maybe they should order some food. Kit starts to whine about The Planet, but Bette stops her:

Bette: “Kit. Tina is taking legal action against me. She’s divorcing me, and I smashed my car in an intersection, so…”
Kit: “You want Mexican?
Bette: “Sure.”

Bette’s sad little smile breaks my heart.

I’ll take one — There’s Carmen. Rummaging in the fridge and wearing red undies and a tank top. She’s trying to decide which beverage says she cares: soy milk or beer? Carmen, if you’re the bartender, you could heat them up and mix them together and it would still be a tasty treat.

But she’s not asking me: she’s asking Jenny — yeah, now we get that Shane and Jenny are indeed roommates, so Carmen was bound to show up at some point. Anyway, Jenny says soy milk is the more caring beverage, but Carmen says it’s not very sexy. Jenny sort of pauses, probably because she’s thinking the same thing I am, about the deliverer being more important than the item delivered.

Carmen introduces herself and is all happy and cool, and apologizes that Jenny had to meet her in her “supa-lova” costume. Jenny thinks it’s a nice costume, and so does everyone else who has eyes.

But in the bedroom, Shane is not sufficiently impressed, because she’s thinking of going out rather than staying there with Carmen. Hey, Shane? You’re a fool. Also, the Fraggles called — they want their hair back.

Carmen knows that Shane’s being a fool, so she suggests a game, called “too hot.” It’s an exquisite form of torture that requires constant kissing but no touching, and the point is to not give in to the urge to slide your hands all over the deliciousness that is Carmen. Shane thinks she can do it, of course, so she agrees to play, and it is indeed a hot thing. And Shane loses, grabbing Carmen’s ass in a moment of weakness (or perhaps clarity). So Carmen says “Lie down, bitch” (actually, she says “lay,” which isn’t entirely inappropriate in this case).

Shane actually seems kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing, and who can blame her? It’s too hot.

Just when I was starting to soften a bit — Jenny’s writing again. She’s imagining some sort of carnival scene that involves crappy music and going through the looking glass and boys circling her and just about every other kind of pretentiousness you can imagine. Did you hear nothing Sandra said to you?

The silent treatment — Carmen is being unbelievably cute and trying to get Shane to talk about herself. But Shane just doesn’t do that pillow talk stuff, so Carmen gives up.

Carmen: “I don’t know if you have, like, house rules or something…”
Shane: “No, I don’t. There are no house rules.”
Carmen: “Right. Right.”
Shane: “There’s not.”
Carmen: “Okay.”
Shane: “I don’t like sleepovers. I’m sorry. But I don’t.”
Carmen: “Okay. You don’t have to explain anything. It’s your choice.”

Yep. And if that’s the choice you’re gonna make, you’re a fraggly FOOL!

Maximum levels of toxicity — Tonya has arranged a lunch with a bunch of reps — Subaru, Absolut, Bride magazine, Wilson, and The Advocate. Tonya has decided they will all work together to produce the first ever “corporate-sponsored celebrity lesbian wedding.” Help me.

This is all news to Dana, of course, whose expressions are a funny mix of incredulity, amusement, and helplessness. The Absolut vodka rep says the whole thing will be “Absolut herstory,” and I guess that’s true, if by “herstory” you mean a steaming pile of toxic crap.

Still, once again, give McGeachie some respect: the woman is funny. Scary, but funny.

The C.A.C. of whup-ass — Bette has some projects lined up and is expecting the Peabody Foundation to come through for her. But Bette’s boss is concerned, because Peggy Peabody is stepping down, and her daughter Helena is taking over.

Franklin: “The good news is that she’s one of your people.”
Bette: “One of my people?”
Franklin: “Mm hmm.”
Bette: “What are you referring to? What, is she a Yale graduate? Is she an art history major? Is she a mulatto gal, is that what you’re trying to say?”
Franklin: “I meant she’s a lesbian.”
Bette: “And why is that a good thing?”
Franklin: “Because I thought your paths might have crossed. It could be useful.”
Bette: “Right, because me and my people, we’re all on a first-name basis.”
Franklin: “May I suggest you get on one? Because if we lose that grant…”
Bette: “Franklin, if you want me to go to New York and make nice, I will. But please, stop panicking. I’ll handle it.”

You can say that Bette’s being bitchy or whatever (especially because last season she did seem somewhat willing to play the “my people ” card), but the real question is why Franklin hasn’t learned not to cross Bette or provoke her. He’s probably tried to feed a grizzly bear too.

Just to prove my point, James interrupts and says Brad Green (the SUV guy) is on the phone for Bette. Franklin and the other C.A.C. people just sort of sit and stare as Bette proceeds to shred the guy. She tells him he’s not going to get a blank check just because he yells like a “fucking banshee.” She also calls him a “dwarf,” which of course isn’t nice, but do you see that vest she’s wearing? It’s some sort of fetishy thing that laces up in the back, and she can call me a dwarf or a banshee or anything she wants to, if she’s going to wear that. Talk about asserting your dominance.

The light begins to dawn — As Tonya sends the sponsors on their way, Dana’s business manager mentions that he’ll be cutting Tonya a check for her manager’s fee. Once again, Dana knew nothing about this, but pretends it’s fine. Tonya then explains that she has to go meet the Monistat rep, who couldn’t make it to the lunch. Ew. Did you say Monistat? Are you sure you didn’t mean Massengill? ‘Cause when I behold your toxicity, I kinda get that not-so-fresh feeling.

Dana sort of tries to confront Tonya, asking whether she’s her fiancée or her manager, but Tonya insists that they talked about it and Dana’s training too hard and it’s really all fine. Dana kind of accepts it, but not really, and it’s about damn time.

The apex of cuteness — Alice is dusting, whilst cleansing her pores with one of those nose strips and listening to the Thompson Twins (“Hold Me Now”). Is it me, or does that feather duster look like something she should be tickling someone with? Speaking of which, Dana’s at the door. On her way to answer the buzzer, Alice switches the stereo to something less ’80s-ish. Too late, Alice: we know you’re not cool. And we love that.

Dana is there to whine about Tonya, and at first Alice doesn’t want to hear it, but then she tells Dana to come on up. Dana insists that they’ll be violating the “rules,” but they get around that by talking in the doorway. Alice says that Tonya has brainwashed Dana, which Dana denies, but then agrees with, just a little. Dana tells Alice her skin looks good (a miracle, considering the force with which Alice stripped off that pore cleansing strip). Some light petting ensues:

Alice: “Well, you look really good too.”
Dana: “Thanks. [pause] Feel my thighs; they’re getting stronger.”
Alice: [feeling Dana’s thighs] “Wow. They’re tight. Tighter. They’re tight.”

They giggle and smile and try not to look at each other and gaze longingly through the doorway, at the bed that’s beckoning to them. Dana looks like she’s ready to throw Alice on said bed, but Alice plays it cool and talks about the get-together Shane is having, and then gets back to the cleaning she was doing. Come on! I already told you what you can do with that feather duster!

Pushy — Jenny finds Charlotte Birch and gives her a new submission. Charlotte’s not interested, but Jenny is pushy, and says it means so much to her, blah blah, and that Charlotte has already made her a better writer. Well, fine.

Shane’s get-together — Alice and Dana and Tonya are hanging out at Shane’s place. Kit calls Alice to check on the Pink thing, but of course Alice is not making much progress there. She checks the six degrees of lesbian separation chart on her computer, asking Shane and Dana for ideas on who might possibly know Pink. Alice and Dana start to snipe at each other a little, when Jenny shows up, having decided not to go to work, because who really needs a job when your job is to insist to everyone that you know how to write?

Anyway, Tonya points out that Jenny is one of the “interesting single women” that Alice was complaining about not being able to find in L.A. — and of course I don’t have enough lifetimes left to point out all the problems with that statement. Alice is surprised to hear that Jenny is now single, and proceeds to flirt with her a little, and then makes that lame U-haul joke that we really didn’t need to hear again. The back door opens — it’s Bette, with a glass of something, and it’s clearly not her first glass of something tonight. Bette says she thought she would invite herself, since nobody else does anymore. Awww. Shane gets her a chair and it’s all really awkward.

Tonya decides they should change the subject, and poses this question to everyone: “If you saw yourself at a bar, would you ask yourself out?” Alice says Dana wouldn’t have the balls to ask herself out. Shane says she would fuck herself but not date herself. Alice says it’s a stupid question, and that she would find herself “hysterical and charming” but she wouldn’t go there. Dana says, “Something tells me you would,” and at this point Tonya interrupts to ask why Alice and Dana are “totally on each other.” Um.

Jenny and Bette win, if this is a game:

Jenny: “I think that if I were a guy, I would definitely ask myself out as a woman, and if I were a woman, there is no fucking way that I would ever ask myself out as a woman.”
Bette: “I would see myself, and then I would go running in the opposite direction.”

Bette laughs a crazed laugh that scares everybody.

Good friends — Next thing we know, Alice and Shane are helping a sloshed and sobbing Bette into bed. They care for her and give her little kisses, and their kindness seems to surprise Bette. It’s a short, simple scene, and possibly the best one in the episode.

Indeed better — Charlotte Birch is welcoming her class to the “defining moment of their existence[s].” Jenny is there, and looks like she’s expecting Charlotte to kick her out, but instead Charlotte tells Jenny to sign in. Jenny gets her submission back, and it says “Indeed better.” Really? ‘Cause it looks like she didn’t put any line spacing between the paragraphs, nor indent them, so I would give her an F. I have other reasons too. Many.

Bette’s bed — Bette is working from home, since she’s hungover and feeling like crap. She stares at Tina’s pillow, and I think maybe she’s wearing Tina’s PJs. Waaah!

The diseased guest house — Alice is there to pick up Tina so they can go to the re-opening of The Planet. Tina says she can’t go because she’s working on a grant proposal. Huh, imagine that: Bette was working on a grant proposal too, and I’m sure there’s only one possible grant to apply for, because otherwise it would just be too realistic.

Alice freaks out a little and says she can’t handle this breakup stuff anymore, because Bette is smoking and drinking herself to death, and:

Alice: “And you’re… I’m gonna say it, Tina. You’re eating your pain.”

There is no way I can explain how funny she is as she says this stuff. Absolutely perfect timing!

Tina interrupts to say that no, she’s not fat, and then shows Alice her belly. Look at the size of that thing!! It makes Alice cry. Well, not the size of it, but the fact of it.

The Planet grand re-opening — Jenny is wearing a doily. Jenny tells Shane that she reminds her of guys she used to date in high school. Ha! But at least Shane isn’t wearing a doily. Or maybe several of them stitched together. Whatever it is, I have the urge to mop up my drink with it.

Alice shows up and finds Shane, and wants to tell her something she’s not supposed to tell her, but Shane says, “Fight the urge.” I think maybe that particular urge is even harder for Alice to resist than the Dana-in-the-vicinity-of-a-bed thing.

Shane tells Alice to turn around and see what fell out of the lesbian phone tree: Betty. Oh, great. Alice says “Betty rules,” proving that she hasn’t heard the theme song. One of the members of Betty — yeah, I could look up her name, but I’m not gonna — gives Shane an “I want you” sort of look. Here we go again.

Outside The Planet — Jenny and Bette smoke. Jenny says she didn’t know Bette was a regular smoker; Bette says she’s not; she quit four years ago. Wait. Didn’t you tell Candace that you haven’t smoked since adolescence, or maybe even before then? The timelines on this show confuse the hell out of me. I’m not too upset, though, because when Bette smokes, I get a contact high.

Bette wants to know why Jenny is being so nice, considering how mean Bette was during the Jenny/Marina thing. Jenny says “I guess … I know how that feels.” I actually want to like you right now, Jenny, but you’re still wearing that doily.

It’s a jungle in there — Inside, Carmen is spinning a raunchy-sounding song while Tonya and Dana dance. Alice walks by, so of course Tonya grabs her. Alice looks as frightened as she did in her dream, while Tonya dances in front of her and Dana dances around and behind her and, well, very much with her. Dana’s dancing is hilarious — look at her do the robot! Tonya announces that she knows why Alice and Dana have been barking at each other — it’s because Alice misses her best friend, but it’s okay, because “Ton-Ton knows how to share.” Tonya starts to boogie on down, which sends Alice over the edge, so she says she has to pee and runs away.

Dana suddenly decides she has to pee too, and tries to follow Alice, but the Ton-Ton isn’t having that.

Now you’re just asking for it — While Bette is at The Planet, Tina goes to the house to get some clothes. And to hug Bette’s pillow and read Bette’s e-mail. Oh, Tina Tina Tina. Yes, there’s an e-mail from Candace (and a couple from Marina, which is funny). The e-mail from Candace just says “I miss you.” But there’s a picture attached. Do not click it, Tina! Fight the urge to click!

She clicks. It’s a picture of Candace and Bette in bed together. It’s not exactly the best photo — it almost looks like a stalker trophy, because Candace is smiling and Bette is asleep, but anyway, the damage is done. Tina, Tina, Tina.

Not what the girlies want — At The Planet, Betty sings. I yawn. The lead singer keeps making eyes at Shane and finally goes and gets her and drags her onto the stage. They do a little simulated sex show, and I’m still kind of yawning. Carmen, meanwhile, is not enjoying it either.

Elsewhere, Bette tells Kit how proud she is of her sister. Aww. And then Betty asks Kit to sing with them, which is so much better, because Pam Grier can actually sing. What a relief — some kind of wonderful, indeed.

While Kit sings, Carmen gives Jenny a quick kiss, just in time for Shane to see it and feel rejected. You’re a FOOL, Shane!

Too much grief — Bette goes home, sees that the bedroom looks different, sees the photo on her laptop, sees that Tina’s clothes are gone, and walks right out into the pool to float face-down in her misery.

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Joyce makes her move; Bette and Helena gab; Alice and Dana stare each other down; Jenny and Shane get a new rommate.

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