THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Alan Cumming welcomes us to the Cabaret (again); Anne-Marie MacDonald meditates; Alexandra Hedison proves that it’s good to have lesbians on TV; Rosanna Arquette proves that it’s fun to be a lesbian on TV.
Fairfax, Virginia, 1985 — A guy has a flat. He’s driving a sensible station wagon, and he’s come to DJ’s Tireland for help. He’s also on his car phone, talking about his ministry, Out From Sin, which helps the homos discover Jesus. But the DJ’s Tireland guy in the red tank top and tight jeans and cowboy hat might have a different sort of discovery in mind.
As they stroll on to select a tire, we hear “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” and it’s pretty great. (But it’s apparently not the same as the one on the soundtrack, because it absolutely is a remake of the Bad Company/Goldfinger tune, and I think that rocks.)
Mr. Redshirt (not the same as a Star Trek redshirt, but not exactly a recurring character either) selects a tire, and as he does, Mr. Christian admires his treads. No, I don’t know what that means either, but it sounded vaguely sexual, no? Actually, not so vaguely: Mr. Redshirt is talking about handling and response and road irregularities.
And then Mr. Redshirt finds the perfect tire, but by now Mr. Christian’s hands are on Mr. Redshirt’s hips, so Mr. Redshirt proceeds to hump the tire, just a little. So that’s where the term “rubber” came from!
I shouldn’t be mocking it so much, because it’s actually kinda hot. Yeah, I know, the sight of a guy giving another guy a blow job isn’t exactly what we tune in for, but these two are sorta cute. At least they’re not leering at teenage girls like most of the men in these film-school things.
And by the way, the boys are named Frank and Coleman, and Frank (must I remind you) was fucking the ex-nun in last week’s episode. Yes, the connections are varied and wondrous.
Sierra Hills Memorial Hospital — Dana’s getting some news. Bad news. “The results of your biopsy indicate infiltrating ductal carcinoma,” says the doctor.
“Ductal carcinoma,” says Dana. I say something that almost rhymes with “duct.”
The doctor recommends either a lumpectomy and auxiliary node dissection, or a mastectomy.
The doctor asks if there’s someone she’d like to call, but Dana just wants to know what to do. And when he talks about reconstruction, she just says no, get it off me, and it’s not hard to understand the impulse.
Props to Erin Daniels for proving she’s not just a funny girl. And applause for the director credit: Kimberly Peirce, who brought us Boys Don’t Cry and is already making her presence felt.
Almost serene — Bette is meditating. But her head is full of Tina (wow, imagine if I meant the other kind of Tina — who could meditate like that??) — Tina talking about money, and generally grousing. But Bette tries to center herself in spite of all that spiteful stuff, and it seems like she might get there — but then her laptop pings.
I have two questions about this laptop. First of all, are you telling me that Bette Porter has a PCMCIA wireless card? Come on. We all know she’s an onboard 54g kind of girl. Second, when I meditate, I either mute my laptop or am on a laptop-free floor of the house. This seems sensible, no?
But that wouldn’t facilitate any plot points, so let’s trundle forth: the ping is not for Bette. Rather, it’s for Lindsey76, otherwise known as late-night Tina, and it’s from DaddyOf2. I’ll type it out for you, shall I?
And of course all Bette can do is slam the damn thing shut.
There’s a lesson here, girls: do not, under any circumstance, share a computer with your partner. Put a password on it. Buy her one of her own. Do whatever you have to do to be master of your own domain (har har).
Oh, and if you do, for whatever crazy reason, share a computer with your partner, log the fuck out of your favorite IM program when you’re not actually in front of it. In fact, just log the fuck out of everything. Did we learn nothing from the carpenter photo?
Never mind all that. I’m the first to admit that finding love online is entirely possible, but who types “sqrtng” instead of “squirting?” Also, just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can dispense with the foreplay.
Shaolin Studios — Tina is in a meeting. She’s being charming, and so is the guy she’s talking to, sort of. The word “incredible” is tossed around. If I were to say that word, I’d be tossing it at Ilene Chaiken, in a totally different way.
Tina’s assistant interrupts to say “Bette’s on 2.” Tina says “Tell her I’ll call her back.” And then the charming-yet-completely-dull guy (and I’m not saying that because he’s a guy; I’m saying that because he’s dull) sees a picture of Tina and Angelica on the desk. He asks Tina about her husband (including asking whether he’s African-American, though not in so many words) and Tina says “I don’t have a husband” (in exactly that many words).
The Planet — It’s bisexual speed dating night. (Admit it, that’s funny enough on its own.) And Billie Blaikie is dating himself: he’s half man, half woman, in that I’m-wearing-two-costumes way, and also just in that general way. And he seems to be doing the Cabaret emcee spiel, at least for a moment. That’s my only complaint about Alan Cumming’s stint on this show. I think he’s quite sexy, and a fantastic actor, but I don’t know why he has to keep recycling the Cabaret thing.
Anyway, guess who’s there? Our favorite bisexual: Alice Pieszecki of The Chart, Pieszecki. And Helena’s there too, but only to offer support: “I’m not even bisexual,” she protests.
That is very great on many, many levels. I could spell them out for you, but that would ruin it, okay?
Alice and Helena start the first round. Helena talks (to someone we never do see) about wanting someone who’s creative, willing to take risks, has a vision, etc… while Alice talks to someone who’s there with her girlfriend and looking for a sperm donor.
Oh Alice. I love you despite that weird shirt you’re wearing.
They move on to the next table, and I dig the great loungey music. But it must give way to another kind of music: that of Angus, serenading Kit.
It’s not as bad as it sounds: he’s not singing the Hello song. Instead he’s singing Bowie’s “Changes,” and I love that song (and that singer), so I’m okay with it. The rendition is not so terrible, and Alan Cumming is there to do the “Turn and face the strain.” You might just be okay, Mange.
Is Mange wearing eye makeup? Gosh. Bisexual speed dating, indeed. Also, um, I kinda like the fact that Helena seems to be liking this little scene.
But then suddenly the scene changes, to Dana in front of the mirror, covering and smushing one breast to see what she’s going to look like on the other side of surgery. It’s profound, and profoundly sad.
And just like that, we’re back to The Planet, where Alice and Lara are having an awkward moment (surprise). Alice is being all defensive about the speed dating, and how Dana and Lara will have a good laugh over it; Lara just mutters that Dana has bigger things on her mind.
Helena breezes by with her cell phone conspicuously displayed: she’s gotta go but she wishes Alice good luck. Alice says “Helena, what the fuck?” — and we’ve heard that once before this season, but we could hear it a hundred more times and I’d still be grinning.
La casa de Carmen — Shane and Carmen are home. But Carmen doesn’t like what she sees: a mess. So she starts shrieking: “Can you guys come clean up your fuckin’ mess?” Moira stomps out to see what’s up, but can only stare at Carmen in wonder. Carmen, I do understand: I’m not very good with messes either. But the shrieking? It’s not cool. Shane doesn’t think so either; she tries to calm Carmen down and take Jenny and Moira’s side. Carmen storms off, Moira starts to clean up, and Shane stares at the ceiling, a little exasperated. Not that “exasperated” is really a Shane state of mind.
Bisexual speed dating, continued — Alice is cranky about the Lara thing and the Helena-has-better-things-to-do thing, so she doesn’t seem receptive. But the other half of her speed date is perceptive:
It turns out Alice kind of knows her date too: Alice once referenced Jean Rollin’s Les Frissons des Vampires on her show, and also mentioned an essay that The Date (whose name is Uta Refson) happened to write for a course she’s teaching. What course would that be? Why, a course on the queer vampire in literature and film. She also teaches a seminar called “Demon Desire,” about the vampire as lesbian predator. Clearly I’m at the wrong school.
Me too! Um, not that I should be so eager to admit that. But I once had a thing for Pam Keesey (still do, really), and I’ve seen The Hunger far too many times. And, well, lots of other lesbian vampire films. But let’s move on before I embarrass myself further.
Yes, that was sort of lame, but the great part was the way Alice said Uta: like oooh-duh.
So they arrange to meet for dinner, not lunch, because vampires don’t go out much in the daytime. And as Uta says “We lie in bed with the curtains drawn,” we hear a spooky horror film scree scree clank clank sound and Alice does that shifty-eyed thing she does so well. Oh, this is gonna be good. Bwa ha ha ha ha (and here I’m quoting my favorite vampire, The Count on Sesame Street).
An unpredictable part of town — Helena is on a dark street, where everything seems a bit dodgy, as she might say. The clothes she’s wearing probably cost more than most people in that neighborhood make in a month. Make that three months. But to her credit, she doesn’t seem to be feeling uneasy.
Anyway, there’s Dylan (Alexandra Hedison), tossing the keys down so Helena can let herself in. So yeah, apparently that’s why Helena left the speed dating thing in such a hurry: because Dylan called. And when Dylan calls, you go. Like a rolling stone. (Sorry. That was bad.)
Bedtime — It’s dark. It’s quiet. And then we hear this:
Tina says “what?” — of course. Bette says “DaddyOf2 was looking for you. He said he had a big hard-on for you.” And then (also of course) Tina makes an ewwuggh noise to show her disgust and says “Internet freaks.” The disgusted noise is (of course) a big sign: talk about protesting too much. I’m about as gay as they come, but I don’t feel repulsed by men. I’m usually just indifferent to them.
Tina begins to tell stories about doing research for some stay-at-home dads project. Bette is calm and very clued in:
Tina makes one last bratty comment about research and goes to sleep. Bette just sort of waits and stares.
Dylan’s place — Dylan is showing Helena her latest work; it’s a brutal inner-city-ish documentary. Dylan gets a little overwhelmed when she remembers the death of one of the women in the movie, and stops the playback. Helena asks her if she’s all right, and the next thing you know, they’re kissing. And it’s very hot. Well, Dylan’s a better kisser than Helena is, but the whole thing is sizzly. There’s no music, no poltergeist tricks, just Helena sitting in a chair and Dylan straddling her and lots of sharp hot breathing and hands in hair and hands on breasts. Very nice.
And of course then Dylan’s husband comes home. He doesn’t see them; he just calls out to say he’s going to bed, and unfortunately that’s not the sort of going to bed we were all hoping to see.
But hey: just the other day I was thinking “What’s wrong with The L Word this season? What would I change? What do I want?” And my answer was “Sex. Sex, sex, sex, and more sex.” I’m not sure whether I was speaking generally or specifically, but either way, I’d like to thank Alexandra Hedison for raising my body temperature.
Another sad bedtime — Lara is finding encouraging things on the Internet, about how Dana can be cured and can get her strength back in order to play tennis again. But Dana says she doesn’t want to play tennis again: her career’s over, and she doesn’t want to teach or coach. Lara continues to offer optimistic details about muscles and procedures.
Aw, Dana. I feel sad for you, and I feel completely fucked over by this storyline. I mean, why do this? It was hard enough losing Mr. Piddles: that’s enough mortality for one character.
The Planet — It’s the whole gang! Well, everyone except Tina, which is interesting. Dana and Lara arrive; Dana says she wants to talk to them. What is Jenny’s hair doing? It’s sort of a Dorothy Gale look. I think there’s even a ribbon in there somewhere.
Alice launches into her usual passive-aggressive mode: “So what’s up? You guys gettin’ married?” Dana keeps her cool and starts to share her news, but Bette’s cell interrupts: it’s Tina. So Bette gets up to take this call we’ll never know the details of, and Shane makes an announcement instead: “Alice is about to go out with a vampire.” Alice corrects that: “vampirologist.” I like the way Dana’s smiling graciously and fondly. Even though there’s a lot of heaviness behind it.
Bette’s back, so Dana gets back to what she was saying. But she doesn’t tell the whole story; she says it’s “a little operation.” They all ask for details, but the most Dana can say is “They found a lump in my breast and so I’m having it removed.” She sidesteps all their questions while Lara looks on uncomfortably. Then we get this brief bit of awkward humor:
— which doesn’t really break the tension at all, unfortunately.
Shane does one of her things — you know, those things that reveal that she’s a good friend: “Fuck it: what time?” But Dana doesn’t want any of them to be there; she says Lara will be there, and that’s enough. Lara and Alice both look like they’re going to burst: both with fear, and one with fear made even more horrible by truth.
A job interview — Moira is wearing a suit again, and hoping to secure an IT job. I’ll skip over the inaccuracies of her pseudo-geek-speak for the moment. The point is that the interviewer is being a general fuckhead and asking illegal questions, like whether her former co-workers were okay with the fact that she’s “hard to peg” and “neither fish nor fowl.”
I like the way the camera zooms in on Moira as the fuckhead asks that question — well, what I really like is the way she doesn’t reply, but just sort of turns her head out of the frame.
Shaolin Studios — Tina is sporting fuck-me boots and a short skirt and a trés chic haircut. Here we go.
The guy (you know, the dull one from the meeting a little while ago) has bought Tina a present. “I got something for you.” Mm hmm. It’s a film poster — Catch 22 (groan) — but must he hold it between his legs like a big dick? It’s not like anybody’s sitting at home thinking “Oh my god, I’m getting a sneaking suspicion that Tina might have a hankerin’ for cock. This is completely out of the blue! I’m so very surprised! What on earth is going to happen next??” We could do without the unsubtle visual cues. And I do mean “cue” as in a pool cue you’ve just been whacked over the head with. But just in case you missed it, Tina sort of runs her hand along the poster tube, watching wistfully as the guy walks away.
A bit previous — Dana’s watching the tape of her last match — and I meant “last” as in “most recent,” but she means “last” as in “final.” Lara asks if she’s okay (well, yeah, not a good question to ask) and says “Baby, I think you should tell your friends what’s really going on.” Dana quietly and snippily says “I told them what I wanted to tell them.” Lara just leaves, which might seem a bit cold, but then there’s a lot of that going around.
Wax — Shane is lackadasically skateboarding again. She must have forgotten to do the Dew.
But she has an appointment, anyway: someone named Cherie wants a haircut. Yes, that Cherie — as in Jaffe, but she’s divorced now, so she’s Cherie Peroni, and she’s very horny.
And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge made of lackadaisical skateboards to sell you.
Shane seems unsure at first, but Cherie’s tight skirt and loose morals work their magic. And then Shane puts her specs on, and they work their magic on me — given the choice between Cherie’s cleavage and Shane’s specs, I’ll take the specs any day. But Cherie takes them off — damn her — so she can get close and tell Shane she looks beautiful. And oh, what a shock, there’s Carmen.
Shane introduces them, and Carmen knows exactly who Cherie is, so she says “fuck you” and storms off. Shane follows her, and they… well, I can only describe it as a brief scuffle, complete with soapy dialogue:
So Carmen does, but it doesn’t help.
And then Shane just kinds of drops her gaze, so Carmen drops the book and stomps off (again). Oh, and did you see Carmen’s shirt? It said “No jodas.” Well, yeah.
So Shane goes back to Cherie, who’s waiting and eavesdropping and plotting. “She’s pretty, but not as hot as you are.” She invites Shane to “the beach” this weekend, and says Shane can even bring “the girlfriend.” And then she gives Shane a little kiss, and Shane gives her a little kiss right back, only nothing these two do together is really ever very little. She also gives Shane a business card (well, address card, I suppose, for “the beach”). Shane tucks the card into her shirt pocket, sits down, and exhales.
Bringing home the bacon (and the slop) — Bette wants to go to her meditation group. But Tina has to work, and she thinks that takes priority. Bette continues to get dressed, which means putting on a Kermit-green meditation shirt. Is shirt the right word? I dunno, I do yoga now and then, but I don’t buy the clothes, so I have to go with “shirt.” Tina’s not happy that Bette’s buying expensive Buddhist bodices:
Woo! I mean, woe. Or something in between the two. It’s hard to want them to break up, but at times it’s impossible to want them to stay together.
Inexpensive meditation — Julia (Anne-Marie MacDonald) is leading the meditation. So she’s both an important art person and a zen master? Yes, because those are the perfect roles for an actress who has great comedic timing. Sigh.
Bette has a sort of epiphany (you can tell by the way her face is suddenly bathed in light and then briefly morphs into one of those blurry-layered faces that usually indicate that someone’s high). Good: an epiphany has never been more needed. Julia talks about the presence that is always there. Namaste.
Jennifer Beals’s blossoming expression is a form of enlightenment in itself.
Another kind of godliness — Moira is scrubbing the floor. Jenny wants to know why. “Because I’m not making any other contribution,” says Moira. So Jenny offers to help (and now her hair is looking more like Bettie Page than Judy Garland, but either way it’s still just weird).
Moira tells Jenny about the fuckhead interviewer. Jenny tells her to stop cleaning; she’s got a better idea. Oh my god: you’re really going to leave all that soapy water on the hardwood floor? I can’t cope.
They go to Jenny’s room, where Jenny gets out the strap-on.
So Max does: tight jeans, and an ace bandage around her breasts, and a muscle shirt to finish it all off. “You look really hot,” says Jenny, and I don’t disagree. Well, maybe I disagree with the “really.”
Wax — Carmen is DJing for “the Def Jam guys.” They’re impressed, and they’re also flirting with her, and she’s flirting right back. Shane’s not impressed with that part.
Alice is there with Uta (who’s looking great), and Moira (sorry, I mean Max) and Jenny are dancing, or rather, engaging in foreplay on the dance floor. “She’s packing. She’s packing,” says Alice, in a hilarious “I know all the cool lingo” sort of way.
Read that again, but in the most dead-pan way you can manage — that’s how Shane says it. I nearly choke on my green tea.
And you know, I really do think Max is sorta cute sometimes, but Max and Jenny together? It’s not working. Not yet anyway. And it’s not (or not just) because Jenny’s hair is confusing me. Perhaps it’s not hair, but a small animal that keeps shifting around on her head?
Uta and Alice decide to dance too, but it’s considerably hotter. And funnier, when Uta bites Alice’s neck and freaks Alice out. Alice signals to Helena, who’s been watching and smiling and waggling her eyebrows. They meet up by the bar.
Alice shows Helena where Uta bit her, but Helena says “It’s a hickey.” Alice isn’t so sure, so Helena offers her a compact: “You know what they say about vampires: no reflection.”
Uta glides over (vampires glide, you know) so Alice turns her back to her, pretending to check her teeth and aiming the mirror over her shoulder. But Uta bends down to pick something up just as Alice turns around, so Alice sees no reflection. “Holy fuckin’ shit.”
Uta smiles. “Oh, I dropped my ring. Why don’t we get out of here?”
Alice agrees, squinting suspiciously as she follows.
Another epiphany — Bette’s home. Tina’s still unfriendly: “How was the meditation group? Did you have an epiphany or something?” Or something, yeah.
Bette (who is nearly bursting out of her green bra) says Julia told her about a couples retreat. Tina doesn’t know when she’d find the time.
Bette, I’d move to New York if you were named the Head Cleaning Lady of the Whitney. Or the Whitney of the Whitney. Or, you know, even the Britney of the Whitney. Maybe.
Bette doesn’t know what to think, so she just stands and waits.
Wax — Shane starts to think about confronting flirty Carmen, but turns and leaves instead. Yes, it really was that short of a scene.
The dark side — A naked Alice calls Helena to tell her how incredible Uta is. “I didn’t think I was ever gonna have sex like this again. It’s like she has unbelievable stamina. I don’t know if I can keep up with her.”
She tells Helena about Uta’s “teaching certificate,” which appears to be from somewhere called Dartmill University. What’s that: a cross between Dartmouth and Bushmill’s?
I think Alice is asking Helena for general advice about vampires, but I’m a little distracted by her general toplessness. Helena recites her the standard lore while Alice paces with a sheet tied around her waist, tapping the walls and looking for signs of the undead.
One of the supposed signs is “stronger than their bodies might suggest,” so when Uta comes back with “red wine” from the “cellar” and literally lifts Alice higher, Alice is of course suspicious. But then she’s soon hanging by her wrists as Uta devours her (metaphorically) and the music gets all hilariously psychedelically vampirey soft-porny. And then suddenly Alice sees a mirror, and the “teaching license” in it, and guess what Uta Refson is backwards?
At first Alice starts to freak out again, but Uta has been kissing and fondling her, as vampires will, so Alice says “What the fuck” and devours Uta right back. Have I mentioned that Leisha has a luscious-looking mouth?
A harsh juxtaposition — Dana stands in front of Lara, takes her shirt off, and says “please.” And cries as Lara makes love to her. Again, no music, no poltergeist, just people, and it’s just perfect.
Darker and darker — Tina finally tells Bette she’s got something to tell her. Bette can only say “what?” with that kind of breathlessness that life-changing events tend to induce.
And then Tina cries, and Bette does too, and Bette’s face says only one thing. Not “oh god, she’s straight,” or “oh god, she wants men,” but something bigger: “oh god, I’m losing her.”
Losing themselves in each other — Shane goes to “the beach.” Cherie is waiting. They stare at each other, and step toward each other, and then they go right for the fucking, in the pool, by the pool, and with a strap-on that Shane wields quite expertly. It’s hot and a little bit empty and somehow almost sweet. And hot.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Carmen gets her revenge; Mange and Kit get it on; Jenny gets the news she’s been waiting for; Helena and Dylan get to finish what they started; Tina gets curioser and curioser; Dana gets by with a little help from her friends.