THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Ossie Davis. ‘Nuff said.
It’s time for a new feature! Introducing The Recapper’s Mailbag, through which I’ll share some of the more “charming” comments from my readers. This week, I learned that my failure to recognize BETTY’s musical talent represents the “self-loathing, in-fighting, and jealousy” that’s ruining the women’s movement. Also, I’m inaccurate and repetitive. And I’m repetitive. Finally, I shouldn’t spend so much time on plot details and dialogue, or I should spend all of my time on plot details and dialogue and not make any other remarks whatsoever. Gotcha.
Send in your comments: you too could be immortalized, er, ephemerized, on the Web!
Sin city — Oooh. We’re in a dungeon of some sort. A woman — let’s call her Subrina — is on aSt. Andrew’s cross, whimpering, and another woman — let’s call her Dominique — is saying “beg me.” The whip kisses Subrina’s abs a few times, and then Dominique removes Subrina’s bit gag just long enough for a proper kiss. She also teases Subrina a bit with the handle of the whip. And then Subrina does beg to be fucked, but that’s not how things work in this world:
Dominique (who’s quite a hottie, if you ask me) steps out into the fresh air, looking thoroughly pleased with herself. There’s a Pride 2005 sign on the door she closes behind her. Clearly I’ve been going to the wrong Pride celebrations all these years, or else somebody forgot to give me directions to the dungeon.
The theme song — I love it. I’ve been singing it to my plants and they’re thriving. BETTY will single-handedly bring about world peace, I’m sure of it.
The hospital — Tina is there with a bouquet of flowers as big as her belly. She looks for Bette, who’s arguing with the doctor. It seems Melvin is refusing treatment, and Bette thinks the doctor should refuse to respect that wish. Sigh. You don’t really think that, do you Bette? I know, I know, it’s just hard.
And there’s Tina. Good. If you don’t help Bette get through this, Tina, I’m going to stop recapping you. I’ll shun you, my pretty, and your giant belly, too.
Bette explains that Melvin has advanced prostate cancer, and she and Tina cry together and hug. Tina asks where Kit is; Bette says she’s there, but has to leave to get The Planet ready for Pride. Bette also says that Kit thinks Melvin’s right to refuse treatment.
Tina takes Bette’s hand and walks her to Melvin’s room. Can we please get these two back together already?
Oh, hey, speaking of Pride, Bette’s wearing her Pride costume: it’s a big black triangle pretending to be a cape/coat/jacket/whatever. How festive!
Tina says hi to Melvin. He doesn’t want the flowers.
Help, help, I’m so conflicted! I’m laughing at Melvin’s cantankerosity, and growling at his bigotry, and sympathizing with Bette’s exasperation — and above all, imagining Tina standing on a platform on the sidewalk, offering passersby a free belly feel. They should make a season 2 Tina doll, complete with shawl and bouquet — and when you press the button on its back, it lifts up its maternity muumuu and says “Would you like to feel the baby?” in an endless robotic loop. The deluxe model includes a companion soulless British stalker doll that falls to its knees and licks its lips when you say “exhibitionism” or “stretch mark.”
Introspection via intrusion — Shane is watching Mark’s tapes, including the one where Carmen says “stupid, Shane.” Haha. Meanwhile, Jenny is playing with paper dolls — rather, she’s working on a family herstory project collage thingie. She has cut up a family photo, and is now pushing the cut-out of herself into the mouth of a scary clown face. She puts some other cut-outs in a carnival big top while she whispers the hamotzi, and then pushes cut-out Jenny into some sort of whirlpool or vortex or maelstrom or whatever you want to call a dark swirly sucking thing — maybe “Jenny’s brain” is the best name for it.
Carnvials and cut-outs and maelstroms, oh my! Follow the scary art road.
Shane figures that the tears and the whispering in Hebrew probably mean “I’m not really doing much of anything,” so she interrupts. Sheesh. Look, even wannabe writers like me and Jenny know that sometimes you just have to let your mind wander and do weird things, but it doesn’t mean you’re not busy. Or, as Gertrude Stein said, “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Except of course we’re not talking about geniuses here.
At least Shane has the courtesy to pretend to ask what Jenny’s doing.
Oh. So it’s not in the service of her art; it’s in the service of her psychosis. Well, then go ahead and interrupt. I don’t wanna see it anymore.
Anyway, Shane wants to talk about the Carmen thing.
Then Shane says she wants to show Jenny something. Great, more sharing. When did this become an encounter group? What happened to them just hanging out together and having chicks over and having fun? Oh, right — that was on my imaginary show, not this one. Or at least it wasn’t on this one for long.
Shane shows Jenny some of Mark’s tapes of her. We see Shane eating cereal and smoking pot and having sex and talking about what she wants, and I guess it’s all supposed to reveal that she’s kind of empty. What it really reveals is that the writers ran out of ideas and this is their way of doing a flashback show.
But nah, okay, it’s sort of interesting. It’s certainly freaking Shane out. But Jenny’s there to talk her down. Jenny kisses Shane’s hand and says “you’re not scary, and Carmen is not gonna get herself involved with something she can’t handle.”
Shane pulls Jenny close and they just hold each other for a minute. I like these two as friends, really a lot. They seem to get each other, just like Alice and I do. Um, Alice and Dana. I meant Alice and Dana.
Speaking of Alice and Dana — They’re having sex again. You might be tired of it, but I’m not, especially not the sight of Alice’s calf on Dana’s shoulder. Yow. And especially not the way Alice kisses. Anyway, they’re roleplaying again; this time maid and master. Alice knows how to do the French ooo la la thing. And Dana’s wearing a sweater and glasses and looks rather mannish — or at least rather bookish.
In the heat of the moment (telling me what my heart meant), Alice says “I love you.”
Camille? Ha. But Dana hesitates, and then opens her mouth to reply, but is saved by the doorbell. Alice looks through the peephole: it’s Howie, Dana’s little brother. They rearrange their clothes and their hormones as much as they can, and let him in. Howie gives his big sis a hug, and then sees Alice. He’s no dummy:
And she really is — pretending this is how she does the dusting. Never mind that she’s using Dana’s tie as a duster.
Dana wants to know how Howie found her:
Helena’s falling pride — Helena and Tina are having dinner. Helena says Tina seems far away; Tina says she’s just thinking about Melvin.
The server comes to take their plates, and Tina decides this is a good time to tell Helena that she wants to see other people.
Well, who doesn’t?
Helena pretends it’s fine, that they weren’t exclusive anyway; but I’m not buying it. I can see the hurt in Helena’s eyes, and so can Tina, and we both feel kinda bad for her. Did I just say that?
The uninvited guest — It looks like Howie is planning to stay for a while, because his parents have been all up in his grill. He gets the impression that Alice and Dana are not that thrilled about the idea of him staying. Alice explains that it’s “gay pride weekend, and we’re kinda all up in that ‘out and proud’ thing.” Howie says he’ll just go with them to Pride.
Alice sits on some filing cabinets or something, in a very unladylike way, and I almost forget to listen to the dialogue because I’m drooling over the fact that she’s likely commando under that French maid dress. Anyway, Alice explains that gay pride is for gay people. Dana puts an arm around Alice (and a hand on her thigh) and says “Gay…” and then points to Howie and says “Not gay.” Howie sorta snorts and says “right.”
What happened to my open-minded Alice? Why isn’t she saying “hmm, who are we to say who’s gay and who’s not?” But it’s hard to be open-minded when you’ve just been open-legged and didn’t get to finish what you started.
Cooking something up — Jenny and Shane are chopping vegetables and talking about going to Pride and to the post-Pride party at The Planet. Alliteration is fun.
Mark shows up; he wants to stay one more night, even though he knows that they hate him. He says he would love to ask for their forgiveness, but probably wouldn’t forgive himself, so there’s no point. Sure there is, Mark. Do it anyway. Beg. Grovel.
Instead he says, “I don’t know if you can relate to this, but it’s like this terrible thing that I was doing suddenly became the best, truest thing that I had ever done.”
Exactly. What else can she say? So Mark realizes he’s a jerk and starts to go. Shane stops him and tells him he can stay one more night. I guess this is because Mark’s tapes showed Shane some truth about herself, but I’m kinda with Jenny on this one. She’s giving Shane a “what the fuck?” look.
Bette Porter reads the classics — Bette is reading Huck Finn to her father — the part where Jim gets bit by a snake. We don’t get the chance to enjoy Bette’s voice, or to ponder what this particular paragraph might have to do with anything, because Tina’s there. She’s got some food and a change of clothes for Bette, who’s very grateful.
They’re so into each other — Tina even does that winky thing — that they don’t even hear it when Melvin presses the call button. A nurse comes in; he asks her to close the curtain around his bed. Gah. That’s pretty damn rude, Melvin.
Tina takes the hint and starts to go.
And then Tina kisses Bette’s cheek, and Bette almost starts to try to make it more, but holds back because she’s Uber Patient and Sensitive Bette now. Sigh. Not that I’m complaining. Just sighing.
And sigh is what Bette does, after Tina goes. Bette opens the curtain and tells Melvin he doesn’t have to hide anymore.
And she says this to Melvin too, and if he weren’t lying down, the words might just knock him over. As it is, he recoils a bit. Ah, strong, sexy, wounded-and-still-kicking Bette: anytime you wanna put me on a dungeon cross and make me beg for it, I’m there.
Sorry. That was highly inappropriate at such a touching moment.
Narcissism once removed — Shane is still watching tapes of herself. This time it’s the confession scene, in which Carmen says they have something “rare.” Shane is crying as she watches. Well, Shane, this is why people say it’s bad to watch too much TV. I’m living proof.
Nice shorts — Howie is making himself comfortable. Dana offers him sheets and pillows, and wonders if he needs PJs, ’cause he’s just wearing some sort of shell necklace and some groovy animal-print-ish shorts. “Not gay.” Yep, that couldn’t be more apparent.
Back in the happy orange bed of love, Alice whines that Howie is going to ruin their Pride. Dana says maybe Howie can hang out with Alice, because Dana’s going to be on the Gay and Lesbian Center float anyway.
Dana feels bad, and says Alice should be on the float too, because she’s a celebrity too:
That was adorable. Partly because Erin Daniels is funny, and especially because I suspect Dana is congratulating herself for knowing how to say Alice’s last name.
Aww. So they kiss and make up, but then it gets kinda sad:
Ouch. Okay, deep breath. I’m only gonna say this once, because I don’t want the dream to die. I’d kinda rather see Dana with Lara, but I hate hate hate the fact that Alice has to get her heart broken in order for that to happen. And I think Dana already knows that she just can’t quite return Alice’s feelings completely, and that makes her a user and a coward, and that makes me mad.
But she’s still funny and cute!
The house of introspection — There’s Mark again. He’s brought coffee and “organic scone things.” Shane just sort of stares.
Shane gets that, so she lets him try to talk to Jenny.
Oh, pause, please, so I can clap. Well said, Miss Schecter.
But Mark keeps going: he says that through his mistake, he has learned how difficult it is to be a woman. Jenny and I both scoff at this. So just to prove that he’s as extreme as Jenny, Mark takes off his clothes.
Um. Did you see what Mia Kirshner just did? She just took a raw moment and a profound truth, and she delivered it just like a woman who’s raw, profound, and true.
Yeah, I’ve been won over. Bring it on. Also, kudos to Elizabeth Hunter, who wrote this episode.
Shane stumbles in as Mark gets dressed. He’s embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for him, but I get that maybe he’s changed. I also get that it really isn’t Jenny’s job to help him do that, and it’s also really not in my interest to see him naked again. Let’s skip that next time.
The Pride parade — The people on the Gay and Lesbian Center float are thrilled to see Dana, but not so impressed with Howie and Alice. I’m not impressed with Alice either, at least not with her terrycloth shorts and … hmm, what I used to call a “boob tube.” Did she forget the roller skates and disco ball? I had that outfit when I was 8. But I was EIGHT, and it wasn’t the twenty-first century.
Dana tries to convince the LAGLC rep that Alice is “my girlfriend” and a celebrity too, but it’s not working. The rep says that only the people on her clipboard get to be on the float, and that it will be fun for Alice and Howie to watch Dana from the crowd.
Haha! It’s the queer advocacy group death match! Where are the peeps from Tina’s Headquarters for Social Justice? Let’s throw in Lambda Legal and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and some mud or jello or kid’s choice slime or something. My money’s on Kevin Cathcart.
As Dana gets on the float, Alice says, sarcastically, “sweet of her.” Dana’s clearly into her moment. And Howie’s getting into his own moment as a cute guy eyes him, but Alice shoos the cute guy away and apologizes to Howie for the “meat market” thing.
Shane and Jenny show up. Jenny’s looking rather cute in her cap and suspenders. Damn, I’ve really lost it, haven’t I?
Alice momentarily wonders what to do with Howie, but Jenny says she’ll look after him. Jenny’s both nice and cute. What’s happened to me?
Alice takes the opportunity to give the LAGLC chick (and Dana) an update:
And she thwaps the clipboard into the woman’s face as she scampers off. Alice, you really do make me proud.
Then Alice gives Shane an update:
So they hop on the bikes. Yeah, look at those fine machines — both the women and the motorcycles. Alice is all grinny and cute despite the terrycloth. They both wave at Jenny as I try to ignore the dance/pride/drag version of the theme song in the background.
I gotta say, that scene kinda made me look forward to seeing QAF again. Remember when Melanie rode her bike in the parade? The funny part was that she wore a helmet.
Come to think of it, Shane should have had her own bike, don’tcha think? Hmm.
For those of you who find these scenes boring or whatever, try to think back to your first Pride parade: it was fun, right? Yeah. It’s good stuff.
Speaking of your first Pride parade — Helena is telling Tina that she’s never actually been to one before. She’s done the parties around it and all, but has never been quite this close to the action.
Haha! Okay, that’s kind of how I feel about this show, without the “before 3:00” part.
Helena asks Tina whether she misses those times with Bette, but Tina insists that she likes seeing it through Helena’s eyes. Yeah, but Helena’s eyes are still kinda hurting.
Later, Alice and Dana find Jenny at the HRC booth. They ask her where Howie is. Jenny’s not sure, but she’s not worried about him. I think some lines were cut in this part, because it seems a bit hiccuppy, but perhaps I’m just mesmerized by the glamour and dazzle of Pride. Yeah, uh-huh.
Dominique (from the dungeon stuff at the opening) shows up with flyers for “The Seven Stations of the Cross.” Dominique likes Jenny’s cap and suspenders almost as much as I do.
During this little exchange, Dana has this “oh, hi, how are ya” look on her face that’s cracking me up.
Another kind of pride — While Melvin sleeps, Bette rifles through his wallet and finds a picture of herself, him, and Bette’s mom. “I wish you were here, Mom,” she says. She hides the wallet as Kit comes in.
Kit tells Bette to go home, but Bette says she just can’t do anything else but be there. It’s a weird thing, that hospital state of mind… consuming and yet so very slow.
Melvin wakes up at the sound of “his Katie’s” voice. Kit goes to his side, and he tells her he’s sorry for all of the years of foolishness, because of course he loves her and her barrelly boyfriend now. Bette kinda rolls her eyes in the background, until Melvin asks for his “baby.” Bette gets up and goes to the other side of the bed, and she and Kit stand there with their dad and profess their love, all three of them so close and yet so far.
The seven stations — Alice and Dana are trying to muster the courage to check out Dominique’s domain. They’re nervous, so they decide to “look at the pros and cons.”
No words on earth can capture the hilarious alacrity with which Dana says that line.
Also, torching? Interesting highlight, since it can also describe the state of being in love with someone who isn’t in love with you. Oh, Alice! Lemme hold you.
They decide they can at least sneak a peek. So they go in, and as they do, Dana says (again with the funny eagerness) “Ooh, what do you want your safe word to be?” Alice says “I dunno, tuna fish?” I expected a little more creativity. My safe word, if you’re wondering, is “Home Depot,” because it’s somewhere I don’t wanna go.
About five seconds after they enter the dungeon, they leave it, consoling themselves and thanking the BDSM peeps and scurrying off to The Planet. Cuteness.
The Planet — Helena and Tina say hi to Carmen. Jenny finds some sort of window or French door on the side of the room, and watches Shane and Carmen from afar. An older and rather tipsy lesbian sees Jenny and taps on the other side of the glass, and then chats with Jenny for a bit. Okay, this is weird.
And Jenny does give her a smooch, and says “happy pride.” The crone is sort of reminding me of Diana Lethaby’s creaky creepy friends in Tipping the Velvet, but she’s maybe also showing Jenny some sort of possible future or something. Is her slight Australian accent (or whatever I’m hearing) of any consequence? Why do I try?
Elsewhere, Helena and Tina find the foxy Leigh Ostin, who once flirted with Bette and is presumably still making those dangerous glass mobiles. Leigh is very, very cute, and is in the middle of breaking up with her girlfriend. Well. That’s all Helena needs to hear: she asks Leigh to dance, right in front of Tina. Nice.
Eek. Tina doesn’t feel great about this, so she leaves, making her excuses to Alice and Dana on her way. Well, it’s okay: let’s let Helena and Leigh have their fun, shall we, Tina? And let’s go find Bette. Right now.
Dana is worried about Howie, and then suddenly there he is, dancing with that cute guy who was checking him out at the parade. Dana grabs him and asks how he can be drinking a cosmo.
Howie says he’s just celebrating pride, but Dana doesn’t know what he has to be proud of. But Howie has actually known he was gay since age 4 (wow), and Dana’s just gonna have to get used to it. As Howie and Dana talk, Alice and Howie’s new boyfriend dance. Hee.
Dana wants to know why, if Howie has been gay for so long, he’s made that much fun of her:
And the crowd cheers. Aww. Howie, I’ll adopt you if Dana doesn’t know how to be a good big sister. But maybe she does know: Howie asks her to tell mom and dad, and she just hugs him.
Darker than dark — Jenny’s still working on the herstory stuff. The klezmer version of the theme song that’s playing in the background is really pretty brilliant — could we please use that version rather than the current one?
Mark sneaks in to drop off his keys. Jenny dares him to stay and deal with the Pandora’s box that he’s opened. So he takes the dare, snatching up the keys as quick as he can.
Mark just stares at her, and then leaves. And then Jenny puts on her coat and leaves too.
More dealing — Kit talks to her dad, assuming he’s asleep and can’t hear her. She muses about how wonderful she thought he was when she was a kid, and how handsome, when he suddenly replies. He wants to know where Benjamin is, so she says Toe Jam’s with his wife and kids.
She shakes her head, and squeezes his hand, and collects herself, and leaves him reaching for an empty chair.
Pam Grier rocked that scene.
Dance the night away — Alice and Dana are gettin’ down. Alice’s outfit has greatly benefitted from the addition of a rainbow boa. They’re laughing and having fun, when Dana kinda stops and really looks at Alice.
They hug. Alice says “I love you too” and blinks back tears or surprise or boa feathers. The camera steps back to show them hugging in the middle of the happy prideful crowd, and I curse the heavens for all of it. I mean, I think Dana’s sincere in some way, but I know it’s probably not quite enough.
Truth hurts — Jenny partakes of the seven stations of the cross. As Dominique straps her in, she flashes back to something. It’s just like those visions of her stories, set in a carnival, but this time we’re seeing grown-up Jenny’s face, but she’s in little girl clothes, and she’s being attacked and held down and it’s stark and horrible. Meanwhile, real-life Jenny breaks her restraints and tells Dominique, “don’t touch me.” We switch to another carnival vision, in which little girl Jenny stands and stares in her mussed clothes as the freaks dance under the big top. Real-life Jenny can only cry and say “fuck.”
C’mere, Jenny. Let me hold you and shield you from the vagaries of Ilene Chaiken’s truly sadistic imagination. You’re exploring everything, and you’re dark and troubled and deep, but your heart is nothing but open and there are a hundred reasons why this particular development is simply too far and too much.
Love is everything — Shane confronts Carmen. Well, not “confronts,” so much as gives in. She tells Carmen about herself: her dog Remy, her brother she’s never met, her mom who put her in foster care when she was 9 but whom she still loves very much.
Carmen says nothing: she touches Shane face, lets her own tears start to come, and goes away. It’s not cold — it’s just too intense, and they both need some time. Or at least that’s my version of it.
The music swells as we see Bette and Kit staring out of windows, thinking about everything they’ve got and all they’ve lost.
And back at the visionary carnival, grown-up Jenny stands in mussed little girl clothes, understanding and wishing she didn’t.
Postscript — If you don’t know it, the song that’s playing is Jane Siberry’s Love is Everything, and Jane Siberry is god. I’ve known this since I was 4, just like Howie. Okay, maybe since I was 15. Anyway, I’ve been a fan for a long time, and her clarity and transcendence are something this show can only aspire to. (Also, her song “Temple” is the sexiest song ever, and would please Dominique.)
Love makes sweet and sad the same.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Jenny tries topless boxing (a Toxic Tonya nod?); Dana partakes of dinner with the lovely luscious soup chef; and Bette takes Melvin home. Pssst: Tonya! Come back!