“The L Word” recap (3.11): “Last Dance”



  • Pitch-perfect: Leisha Hailey. Despite all the obstacles, like the writing, and the writing, and the writing.
  • The enemy: A moving target, if you’re Jenny.
  • Waterfalls: Don’t go chasin’ ’em.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Jane Lynch is a lesbian in L.A.; Alexandra Hedison runs away.

An apology — Sorry this recap was late. I won’t bore you with my lame excuses. But don’t ever bother Sarah when the recaps are late, or I’ll hunt you down and torture you by acting out Max/Jenny scenes.

A retrospective — As the opening credits roll (sans Betty), we’re seeing scenes of the joy and goodness that we knew as Dana: Dana playing tennis; Dana kissing the soup chef for the first time; Dana getting adored and teased by her friends; Dana and Alice naked, kissing; Dana and Alice dancing; Dana and Alice kissing in the bathroom; Dana and Tonya announcing their engagement; Dana and Jenny sipping their juice before their blindingly awkward sex scene; Dana in her theme song pose.

Dammit. That’s still all I can say to this damn storyline. Just dammit.

Oh, and this: could we please have a Dana montage every week, instead of the theme song? What a glorious relief that was, even if the theme song was technically still there, in the form of austere, mournful notes. I’ll take austere and mournful over shrill and off-key any day.

The funeral — I kinda love the fact that Alice is wearing brown in a sea of black. That’s very Alice.

Howie (Dana’s conveniently gay brother) tells Alice (and Shane and Carmen) that Dana’s parents want to put her ashes in a mausoleum. Alice says this “just sucks,” because she knows Dana wanted her ashes scattered over her summer camp. Aww. That’s so dorky in such a Dana way.

Tina and Helena arrive; they find Bette, Kit, Max, and Jenny.

Tina: “Why are we sitting all the way back here?”
Kit: “The front rows are reserved for family and ‘close’ friends.”
Tina: “And we are… ?”
Bette: “Does it really matter, Tina?”
Tina: “Yes, I think it does, Bette. It would matter to Dana.”
Bette: “Maybe we can put ourselves aside for once.”
Kit: “Guys, we are here for Dana.”
Bette: “That’s what I was saying.”

You so weren’t saying that, Bette.

The service starts; they sing Nearer My God to Thee, and I guess it’s supposed to be profound or at least interesting, but the only thing I find interesting is that Kit can’t seem to sing in tune when she’s sad and Jenny can’t seem to read the words properly. Don’t tell me I’m being disrespectful: they did it first!

Carmen asks Alice whether she managed to get in touch with Lara. Alice says she left messages, but she thinks Lara is still in Paris.

Then the preacher/minister/whatever starts to babble, and says that Dana longed for companionship and didn’t have a “love mate.” Our heroines start to mutter, and when the guy crosses the line and starts talking about the perfect man and husband for Dana, Alice can’t take it — she stands up and sets the record, um, not straight:

Alice: “What are you talking about? Dana was gay.”

I sort of want to cheer, but there’s something very hollow about the moment. And then it’s funny when someone says “really?” as Alice walks out.

Afterwards, the gang tries to decide whether to go to the Fairbanks house, considering they’ve been impliedly not invited. Bette decides to go home to be with her baby, “especially since her other mother’s taking her off this afternoon to be with her new man friend.”

Do you see Bette’s face? It could almost rival the SNL Church Lady’s pursed lips of disapproval.

Everyone else hangs out to wait for Alice. They talk about a job Max is interviewing for; it’s the same place that treated Moira like shit, but maybe they’ll treat Max better. Yes, you are meant to be suspicious. In fact, you don’t have to think about anything at all, because the dialogue is here to fill in all the gaps and help you make up your mind before it even occurs to you to wonder about anything.

Shane can’t really listen; she’s too wrecked to do much but lean her head against the wall and try not to fall apart. Sniffle.

Finally Alice shows up, with Dana’s ashes. In a coffee cup. Well, presumably a clean, dry coffee cup! Anyway, Alice has stolen the ashes so that the group can have their own memorial at Dana’s summer camp.

Shane: “You are my hero.”

Not to mention the show’s hero. Alice is keeping this boat afloat.

Max’s job interview — Max meets “the guys,” including the guy who mocked Moira. He doesn’t seem to recognize Max.

Usually I say “my eyes! my eyes!” when Max is on the screen, because I’m generally so befuddled by his facial hair. Not the fact of it: just the behavior of it. Anyway, this time I’m also saying “my ears! my ears!” because Max is once again trying to sound like he knows the first thing about computers, but it’s sort of like Chaiken trying to sound like she knows the first thing about her audience.

Helena’s house — Why am I calling it a house? It’s a damn seaside resort. Anyway, Helena sees something on her security monitor: it’s Dylan, leaving something at the gate. Helena tries to stop her, but Dylan drives away. There’s an envelope and a box for Helena, and whatever it is, it’s not going to be enough. At least not for me. I want those Dylan eyes, and those lines on Dylan’s face, and all of that luscious naked Dylan-ness.

The house of pain — Angelica and Bette are in their house, minding their own business, looking gorgeous together. They hear voices, including a male voice. Why the hell can’t you two at least break up properly first? God.

Tina introduces Bette to Henry and Mikey. Bette is gracious and Henry is nice. And Tina is… not very sincere when she asks Bette whether she wants to join the shiny happy family on their trip to the aquarium.

Bette: “I have a meeting. I’m being head-hunted by Art College L.A.”
Tina: “They want you to teach?”
Bette: “They’re searching for a Dean.”

Pow, zap, Alpha Bette is back. If I could only describe her “fuck you” look of disappointment, followed by the fakely sweet smile. Tina can only sort of chuckle in an embarrassed way. Henry at least manages to say “congratulations.” No, I did not just defend Henry.

Mikey asks Bette to take a “family picture,”and the pain on Bette’s face is almost as bad as the awkward looks on Tina and Henry’s faces in the photo. I’m not sure how much more of this Bette and I can take, especially because it’s all just cold and empty, rather than truly horrible. What happened to that passionate couple we used to know, who knew how to fight and love and fall apart whole-heartedly, rather than just sort of stepping sideways and never really talking about anything?

The flophouse — Shane is still unable to cope; she’s out on the back patio, just sort of rocking, with her head in her hands. Carmen goes out too, to do a little gardening. I don’t mean that the way it sounds; we all grieve in our own ways.

Shane: “Would you marry me?”

Who can comment on that? I certainly can’t. It’s like the Brian Kinney thing all over again, only I think Shane might really want it.

Carmen doesn’t answer.

Helena’s palace — One of Dylan’s “gifts” was a videocassette, in which she tells Helena how sorry she is, and says she can’t deal with coming out and can’t face the fact that she loves Helena. This gets muted in various spots, because Helena just can’t bear to listen to it. The quiet heartache on Rachel Shelley’s face is spot on, as they would say in her fair land.

The job interview — Surprise, surprise: Max gets the job. After he says he “just loves engines.” I don’t know.

One thing I do know: the way Max says “Whoa, that’s exciting” is about as convincing as I was when I told my first grade teacher that no, I hadn’t just slapped Billy Robinson in the face for picking his nose right in front of me.

Alpha meets Pseudo-Alpha — Bette is meeting with Joyce, the predatory sushi-loving tie-wearing lawyer who tried to put the moves on Tina last season. Ethical issues aside, it’s a strange choice for Bette, although I guess she’s feeling a desperate maternal thing. Yes, she’s there to see whether she can get sole custody of Angelica. Not shared: sole.

Bette: “Tina may have given birth to her, but really, Angelica is the mirror of me. I mean, I know what she’s going to experience as a bi-racial girl growing up in a divisive world. I mean, let’s face it: when Tina goes out in public with Angelica, people automatically assume that she’s been adopted. But when they see me with Angelica, they see a mother and a daughter. I’m the one who’s gonna be able to give her a sense of belonging.”

Joyce wants to know how Tina will react to this, but Bette’s not thinking about Tina right now. And she almost makes that sound sensible.

The Planet — Max is celebrating his new job and new six-figure salary. Jenny thought the whole thing was a test of the company’s “fucking hypocrisy, that equal-opportunity bullshit” — and of course she wants to write an article about it. Yeah yeah, I think maybe Norah Vincent‘s got that covered, and it’s not so interesting there either.

Jenny: “So what are you gonna do? Are you gonna sell out? Start sleeping with the enemy?”
Max: “If you think men are the enemy, then you and I have a problem.”

I’m not sure that’s what Jenny was saying; I think she’s more concerned that Max is willing to work for sexists, and to let sexism work in his favor. But it’s hard to tell, because Mia Kirshner’s face is really just staring at Max and saying “Who are you, and why do you think that qualifies as acting?”

The house of even more pain — Bette walks up to her own back door, only to see Tina and Henry laughing (rather fakely) and kissing. Tina! Move the fuck out of Bette’s house and let her be in pain in peace!

Alice’s apothecary — Alice is scooping Dana’s ashes into little fancy containers. I have no idea what I’m supposed to make of this scene.

Kit’s place — Bette needs a place to crash. “I’m so lonely, Kit. I don’t think I’ve ever been this lonely in my life. I just… I can’t… I can’t bear it.”

Mange offers to sleep on the couch so Bette and Kit can have a sisterly slumber party.

Bette: “Angus, can you watch Angelica tomorrow while we scatter Dana’s ashes?”
Angus: “Of course. Tina already called me.”

Bette makes a face at that, of course, so Angus assures her that he’s “her guy” and that Bette has family there. Nicely done.

The summer camp — To get to Camp Imalahkaha (“Place of Family,” according to the sign), one must hike. Alpha Bette tries to figure out the hiking trail map, but Max defeats her Alpha powers with his stunning male sense of direction. Whatthefuckever.

A long strange walk in the woods follows. This reminds me of every low-budget bad lesbian film I’ve ever seen — and believe me, there are many.

They find Dana’s cabin, and we get a sweet little flashback to when Alice and Dana first met. Alice (with Lara-ish hair) interviewed Dana for a sports magazine, and clued in to what Dana was really saying when she talked about her “mature, together, strong, funny” mentor at camp. Heh.

Dana denies that she had any sort of crush and tells Alice she’ll be hearing from her lawyer. They’re so damn cute and funny together. Dammit.

In flashback No. 2, Alice tells the story of her second meeting with Dana, which ended up in a lunch date at Fred Segal. Alice was with Gabby Deveaux at the time, and it’s funny that every time she mentions Gabby, Shane grunts in a disapproving way.

I can’t handle these flashbacks! Too much Dana dorky cuteness.

Flashback No. 3 involves the group’s “millennium Y2K party,” which included a performance artist in a glass box who wrote on the glass (naked) (don’t ask me). One thing she wrote on the glass was “Ilene is here.” If only Ilene had stayed there.

In the flashback, Kit (a still-drinking Kit) meets Dana’s beard, Harrison, and Dana is transfixed as Shane puts the moves on the woman in the box. Um. I’m not sure the words “Shane,” “moves,” “woman,” and “box” can ever be that close together without someone being transfixed.

Back in the present, they all talk about how closeted Dana was.

Kit: “Y’all couldn’t wait to out her outta that closet.”
Bette: “Yeah, like you were so innocent about that.”
Kit: “She was suffocatin’ in there. You had to bring her out. She had to breathe. She needed to live. What. Am I wrong?”
Bette: “Kit, you were shitfaced.”

I do still love me a little silly Kit/Bette dialogue, mostly because it always seems like Jennifer and Pam do too.

They continue their hike to the waterfall. Jenny tells everyone that she and Dana once “fooled around.”

Carmen: “Are you kidding me?”
Alice: “Are you fucking kidding?”
Jenny: “No!”
Carmen: “You’re just saying this to get attention again.”

Carmen. Palabra!

Shane finally confirms, so Jenny tells the story. We don’t get to see the awkward sex scene again, which is sorta good, because it was so insanely awkward, but also sorta bad, because it was so insanely hilarious. We do get to see what they did instead: dance. It’s sweet. And it makes me say dammit again, especially when they just hold each other a little, and it seems to be a Mia/Erin hug.

Before we move on to the next Dana story, I have to stop to say that this narrative structure, if you can call it that, is appalling. Here’s how Shane’s story begins:

Shane: “Remember when her and Lara broke up?”
Alice: [in a “go on, tell me more voice]“Mm hmm.”

Okay. What? This is like an episode of The Waltons or something. “Remember when Jim Bob went out on the roof to say good night and we all just thought he was in his bed like usual? Oh, those were the days.”

And no, a comparison to The Waltons is not a compliment. When your characters suddenly start narrating, that’s a sign that you need to stop writing. I’m talking to you, Chicken.

So anyway, Shane took Dana to a Tegan & Sara concert, and she also brought some acid along. Dana had a “revelation” — while she was tripping, she thought Tegan & Sara said “Do you know who’s a lesbian? Dana Fairbanks.” And the way Dana’s jaw drops (in the flashback) and she hollers “I am not!” is another bit of superb dorky Dana hilarity. An unparalleled bit, actually.

Shane: “What?”
Dana: “Huh?”

And that’s when Dana came out, at least in her trippy adorable little head, anyway.

Back in the present, a tribute:

Bette: “[She was] a crazy dancer.”
Jenny: “And she was the best kisser.”
Alice: “And an incredible lover.”
Kit: “And a trusting, trustworthy friend.”
Bette: “All that and so much more.”

Yeah, the sentiments are good, but the way they’re stated is like “you go next.” “Now you.” “Okay, your turn.”

They hike on, and stop at a bridge. Shane tells Bette about the proposal.

Bette: “Losing someone you love as much as you loved Dana can really make you think about the rest of your life, you know?”
Shane: “The worst part is that we’re estranged from her family. I’d love to repair that. I’d love to ask for their blessing.”

Oh my fucking god. This dialogue is completely tone-deaf. And why is Shane talking about Carmen when Carmen can hear every word?

They hike on some more; Max says he can hear the waterfall, so they must be close. Yeah, well, I can hear your voice: does that mean I’m close to a factory where they make those shrieking golden eggs from the Harry Potter movie?

They get to the waterfall. We know this because we can see it, but also because Jenny says “Hey you guys, look at the waterfall.”

They get ready to scatter the ashes. Bette says that Dana is in a peaceful place, but Shane says she doesn’t buy “that fucking spiritual bullshit.” I can’t type up any more of the dialogue because it’s just too painful — and I’m not talking about the fact that Dana’s dead.

The other sign that you need to stop writing is when even your best actors can’t rise above your crappy dialogue. Even Alice’s tears seem crocodiley.

So they each scatter some ashes. Hey, hear that music? It’s Jane Siberry again. What a waste of her talents.

As they leave, Alice looks back and sees some sort of fairy ghosty angelic tinkerbell (but giant) version of Dana in the waterfall. Please make it stop.

One last moving moment in the woods — Carmen says yes.

Back to civilization — Lara is back. She’s sitting on the steps at Dana’s house. She and Alice go inside and cry together, and then find themselves kissing each other. I’m not going to say anything more about that, except that it actually makes complete sense to me. And it’s the only thing in this episode that does (well, that and Alice’s groovy glasses).

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Shane and Carmen plan their nuptials; Jenny flirts; Lara and Alice continue to comfort each other; Bette runs.

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