THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
- Imagination: What Jenny lacks — like we didn’t all know that already.
- Taking: What Toxic Sludge Tonya does best. Well, that and bullshitting.
- Walls: Where the writing is.
- Talking: What lesbians do. And overdo. And again, ad nauseam.
- Sorry: The hardest word.
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Jane Lynch huffs and puffs; Sandra Bernhard sashays in cargo pants and steals the recapper’s heart; Kelly Lynch further scrambles the gender signal; Anne Ramsay dodges a Jenny-shaped bullet.
Mendocino, California, 2003 — It’s a wedding. Yep, it’s a gay wedding, or at least, there’s Robin, looking rather dashing in her white tux, and exiting the church to greet her friends and family. Alone. Huh? And then suddenly (inside the church, presumably) there’s a woman being fucked against a door, and it becomes clear that the fucker is Claybourne, Robin’s supposed-to-be-bride, and the fuckee might be a bridesmaid, but her dress isn’t all that hideous, so it’s hard to say. What’s not hard to say is “poor Robin” — talk about being left at the altar! On the other hand, what were you thinking, marrying somebody named Claybourne? Hmm… Claybourne… Rock Hudson… Alice’s knitting circle… is there a silver screen theme? Nah, I’m stretching.
The theme song — I’m trying to like it. Well, I kinda do like it, but they should have actually made it campy, instead of just almost making it campy. Like instead of just referencing “My Favorite Things,” they could have had a Julie Andrews impersonator dancing with women in Captain von Trapp uniforms. ‘Cause we’d all love to solve a problem like Maria. Or, at the very least, they should have hired Phranc or Two Nice Girlsinstead of Betty. Or even k.d., in her Angel with a Lariat phase. Ah, good times.
Also, a note to a few of the L Word fan sites: it’s “ingenues with long lashes,” not “on the news with long lashes.” Ahem.
The Lacerating Lesbian Lawyer — That’s what it says on the framed news clipping we’re seeing. And there’s a photo of the lacerator (Jane Lynch) with Bill Clinton, and a photo of her marching on Washington, and blah de blah. Don’t get me wrong: I love Jane Lynch, especially in Best In Show. Anyway, Tina is in the lacerator’s office, confessing that Bette paid the mortgage and that Bette’s name was the only one on the utility bills, even though Tina paid them. So, you know, it’s like Tina was never really there. That’s unsettling enough, but what’s weirder is this… oh, geez, those of you who haven’t seen it will think I’m not describing it right, but I really can’t… there’s this thing on the wall. It’s like a model… or an interpretation, in clay… of a uterus and fallopian tubes and, yeah, you get the message. And the lacerating lawyer is throwing these velcroed ping pong balls that stick — THWAP — in the clay uterus. I couldn’t make this up, and I really can’t watch it again in order to make sure I’m describing it properly. Work with me here.
The lacerator refers to Tina as “the little wife,” precisely in order to piss Tina off and get her into lawsuit mode. Tina’s resisting the whole shark thing, but the lacerator has already staked her claim. And thrown her pitch, and landed right smack dab in the uterus. Gross.
A sidewalk — It turns out Alice recommended the lacerator, otherwise known as Joyce Wischnia, to Tina. Shane is not impressed with the whole thing: she says Bette and Tina don’t need that lawyer crap (and who does, really?). Alice says she was thinking about Tina, not Bette; but Shane says that what Tina really needs is a lap dance. Okay — as long as it doesn’t involve ping pong balls. Or velcro.
And here they are, at the door of The Planet. Which is closed. Don’t panic!
Back in the lacerator’s lair — Joyce Wischnia (by the way, is Jane Lynch’s voice usually that deep?) tells Tina that she’s shit in the eyes of the law, because she’s given up her autonomy in a relationship the law doesn’t recognize. Tina starts to defend Bette’s sense of fairness — which, frankly, is something I wholeheartedly believe in — but Joyce is not there to be fair. No, she’s there to smoke a pipe (yes, a pipe), until Tina says she’d really rather there were no smoking, never mind why please don’t notice the shifting she’s doing and the way she’s trying to cover her ginormous belly with her tiny fashionable purse.
The lacerator asks some questions about giving up careers and making homes and cooking and decorating and whether there were wombs available for making babies. Yes, she noticed the shifting and the belly, but Tina says nobody’s supposed to know even though her face looks entirely different. Yeah, I can’t get over it — you’d have to be fucking blind not to notice. Speaking of fucking, the lacerator wants to know whether Tina is angry that Bette “spread her legs for another woman.” Tina says “fuck, yes” and that she doesn’t know whether or not she wants to get back together with Bette, and that she wants her autonomy. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
There’s no X in espresso — Shane is trying to order coffee at a place (the Nirvana Bean) that’s not The Planet and is therefore all wrong. She foolishly puts an “X” in espresso, but I forgive her when this happens:
Coffee guy: ”Okay, any flavoring?”
Shane: ”What, in my coffee? [turning to Alice] What the fuck is he talking about, with the flavoring?”
I hear ya, Shane. But the best part is the way Alice manages to look both impatient and sympathetic at the same time.
Alice waves Dana and Toxic Sludge Tonya over for some backup: “Shane does not know what she’s doing here.” Tonya takes control — we’re all so shocked — and asks Shane what she normally orders at The Planet. And as Tonya translates, she puts an X in espresso too, but it’s so much more annoying than when Shane did it. And it’s so much less funny than the way Dana explains the intricacies of the coffee ordering. But then there’s this:
Tonya: ”And we will each have a toffee nut caramel soy Far Out frappe.”
Shane: ”A toffee nut soy…”
Tonya: ”Far Out frappe.”
Shane: ”Far Out frappe. That’s…that’s intense, Tonya.”
Tonya: ”It’s what I’m in the mood for.”
Alice: ”Dana didn’t really say that she was in the mood for one, though.”
Tonya: ”No, but she likes what I like. She always wants what I want more than what she wants. Right?”
Dana: ”It’s true, I do.”
Shane: ”That’s so nice. [muttering] So lesbian.”
Look at Dana’s moony clueless eyes! And Tonya’s arrogance! And Alice’s smirk! And Shane’s world-weary sigh! Ah, the first zippy ensemble scene of the second season.
Muscle cars — There are butches everywhere. Look at those pompadours and grey tank tops and all the grease: pardon me while I swoon. We’re at “Best Picture Cars,” Ivan’s body shop, and there’s Kit. She asks one of the mechanics why Ivan’s not calling her back and where he is; but the butch ain’t playing. Well, almost: apparently Ivan’s at his cabin in Idyllwild. Kit keeps pushing for info, and insists that she really cares for Ivan. We know, and we like it! But the mechanic — Dax is her name, and genderblurring is her game — still isn’t sure, and is not happy about the whole “behind the strap-on” scene from last week. Kit says they can get past that, but Dax isn’t convinced and says Kit should wait a few days and then pretend it never happened. But Kit doesn’t have a few days.
Hey, Dax? You’re kinda cute. Call me. Well, you know: if Alice doesn’t get to me first.
The C.A.C. of Remorse — Bette’s assistant (is that the same guy, but with a cold?) is trying to help Bette find a place for Tina to stay until she comes back home. There’s this giant black-and-blue painting of repentance behind Bette: it says “SO SORRY SO VERY SORRY” and it’s not a bit subtle, but I like it anyway. I think maybe I want one for my kitchen, because that’s where I tend to have the most mishaps. Anyway, Bette is all bitchy and snappy and not happy with anything, because she wants to treat Tina right and simultaneously wants everybody to go to hell. Yeah, it’s okay, Bette: c’mere. You’re incredibly tense and I need to sink my fingers into that neck right about now. You know, for therapeutic purposes only.
Bette’s lawyer interrupts, to break the news about Joyce “The Lacerator” Wischnia. It’s all getting a bit too real for Bette.
Hot for teacher — Charlotte Birch (Sandra Bernhard) is writing on the board. Can you believe how gorgeous she is? I can’t. I saw her at a show several years ago — opening for The Pretenders, of all things — and had a foolish happy grin on my face the whole time. Anyway, she’s playing a creative writing instructor, and her favorite students so far are a guy who wrote about violin making (hmm, Kate Moennig knows a bit about that) and another guy whose godfather is Edward Albee. Oh, wow, Albee: the genius of our time. Seeing Sally Field in The Goat was a life-changer for me, but I think I’ve already mentioned that in these recaps and thus would probably never be accepted into this writing class. Charlotte, in her strutty way, is asking her wannabe classmates to write for twenty minutes about “the hunter and the hunted.” But before they do that, she’s dressing them down, especially Jenny:
Charlotte: ”Where is Sarah Shuster?”
Jenny: ”Jenny Schecter, actually.”
Charlotte: ”Jenny Schecter, Sarah Shuster… well, well. Ms. Schecter has written a story called Thus Spoke Sarah Shuster.”
Jenny: ”Uh, yes… I, I realize that it’s arrogant.”
Charlotte: ”Oh, arrogant is fine. Hubristic, overly precious bad puns are to be avoided. Especially if someone wants to be accepted into my class.”
Word wordy snorty snort! Oh, please, Ms. Birch: keep me after class to clean the chalkboards.
But of course Ms. Schecter takes it as a challenge, and scribbles some glop of tripe during the twenty-minute writing exercise (why do we have to see the poorly edited black-and-white pretentious re-enactment of her thoughts?). Jenny also thinks she shouldn’t have to put down her pen after twenty minutes — never mind that everyone else does. When Jenny finally concedes, Ms. Birch says “That’s right,” as if it’s the only sane thing Jenny could ever do with a pen. Or maybe that was just me.
Irresistible — Speaking of black-and-white pretentious stuff, a band called The Organ is filming a music video, complete with fog machine. Carmen is there doing her P.A. thing, and looking gorgeous, and that means Shane can’t be far behind. Shane explains that Carmen’s mom told here where to find the one with the fabulous smile. Her mom? Shane, you know her mom already? Is that like the fifth time you’ve known someone’s mom, out of the 950 to 1200? Okay, maybe the fiftieth. Still. Carmen rocks because it doesn’t faze her in the slightest. And Shane rocks for admitting that she was an asshole at the club the other night.
Ivan’s Idyllwild — Ivan is not exactly surprised, nor exactly happy, to see Kit. He rolls out from under a car, sans beard and con ponytail, and looking pretty great. And not ready to talk about the “behind the strap on” thing.
On the set — Carmen rationalizes Shane’s detachedness. But the simple thing of it is that Carmen is undeniably happy to see Shane, because there’s a truly electric thing between these two, and so of course they follow it, as long as they can and while the pseudo-80s band wails like a cross between Siouxsie and The Motels, until Carmen’s radio starts squawking her name. It’s all so… eh… except for the fact that these two are kinda hot together.
Shane wants to see Carmen later, but Carmen knows better than that and makes up a story about her grandma. Maybe it’s not a story; but it’s good not to jump when Shane says to, and I think Carmen already knows that. Anyway, tonight won’t work, and tomorrow Shane’s gotta go get a lap dance, because she has a friend (Tina) who just got out of a relationship (oh, that explains it). Carmen says yeah, relationships can really fuck you up, like she’s about to prove that very thing to Shane.
Idyllic and wild — Ivan offers Kit a beer, which worries Kit until Ivan explains that it’s non-alcoholic. Kit says things don’t have to be so weird between them, but Ivan just wants to know what she wants, and the truth is that Kit is focused on the business plan that she hopes will secure Ivan’s signature and 50k contribution. Ivan doesn’t know what to do, exactly, except to tell Kit to go. And to say that Kit shouldn’t count on him. Okay, but I’m gonna go ahead and count on him to continue to be so damn cool and hot all at once.
The truth hurts — Charlotte Birch reviews the results of the twenty-minute writing exercise. She doesn’t spare Jenny’s feelings:
Charlotte: ”I see that Jenny Schecter set her story of the hunter and the hunted in a carnival. Is it a true story, Schecter?”
Jenny: ”Yes. How did you know?”
Charlotte: ”It lacks imagination. You haven’t transformed it into fiction.”
I would say something about that, but I am too busy kissing the earth that is connected to the earth upon which Sandra walks. I’m not worthy!
Jenny looks positively deflated. Awww. I mean, haaa!
Toxicity Central — Dana and Tonya are getting ready; Dana’s parents are coming over, and Dana and Tonya are going to ask for their blessing. Tonya is so… condescending, irritating, and (bonus) downright frightening:
Tonya: “I need you to go get ready. I need you to wear your hair in a ponytail, and let me take care of everything else. Okay?”
It is very very fucking very not okay. Pure toxic sludge!
Speaking of control freaks — There’s a knock on Alice’s door. It’s Bette, and she’s not too happy about Alice’s part in the lacerating lawyer thing. Oh, hey, look: there’s the six degrees of lesbian separation wall, and there’s Candace’s name in big bold letters. Bette should freak about that, but I’m not sure she even sees it, because she’s so busy snarling:
Alice: ”I just suggested she see a lawyer.”
Bette: ”Fuck you.”
Alice: ”Fuck me?”
Bette: ”Yeah, fuck you.”
Simmer down! You can both fuck me anytime you want to!
Bette says she thought Alice was her friend, and Alice says she still is, but Bette can be a little cruel — “I’ve been there, I remember.” What? Bette, you were cruel to Alice? Okay, that’s it: I’m done with you. But Bette doesn’t care; she insists that she did them both a favor when she dumped Alice after six weeks. Anyway, Alice is really just worried about Tina, which sets Bette off:
Bette: ”Well, I’ll tell you what, my ‘friend,’ you can judge me all you want to. You can make me into a pariah; I fucking deserve it. But don’t you dare interfere with my life like that. Okay? Don’t cross that line again.”
Brrrrr. I paused my DVR at one point during that speech, and the snarl on Bette’s face ate right through my TV screen.
Alice seems truly sorry, and sad, and I think she needs me to stop by to give her a hug and clean up all of Tina’s shit that’s strewn all over the apartment.
Toxic Cocktails — Tonya smooth-talks Dana’s parents, and it actually seems to work. And somehow Tonya looks larger than life, sort of like this is the Attack of the 50 Foot Toxic Sludge Beast. Tonya tells a story about her ex-fiancé, Bayard, who is probably thanking every god he can think of that he escaped those toxic tentacles. But Tonya spins it all as a story of self-acceptance and being true to yourself, so it makes Dana’s mom and dad open their arms to the happy couple, and the big group hug is just toxic and fake and also funny, because Meredith McGeachie really plays it for all it’s worth and turns it into a big soap opera. Poor Dana: she thinks her parents are accepting her, when really they’ve just been toxified and will die a slow, horrible death.
The Nirvana Bean coffee shop — Tina is wearing some sort of weird shawl thing, and not only does it not really hide her belly, it also just looks bad. Alice starts to order the toffee soy whatever thing, but Shane interrupts:
Shane: ”No, no, no, no, no, no — Tonya ordered that yesterday, and it was lethal.”
Alice: ”Well, too bad she didn’t keel over and die.”
Alice: ”Oh, I’m sorry: was that too brutally frank and honest for ya?”
Nope, it was just about right for me, thanks!
Then they all have a little discussion of lawyers and Bette and equality and autonomy and Shane thinks the whole thing sucks.
Jenny’s awakening — Jenny tells Robin about her ordeal: “I don’t think that I wrote very well yesterday, and I think that Madame Birch didn’t really like me.” Oh, really? And does “yesterday” mean ever? ‘Cause that’s how I’m hearing it. And does “Madame Birch” mean everybody? Yeah, I thought so.
Robin, who is really quite cute, says that Ms. Birch is jealous because Jenny is gifted and hot. Robin, that means you’re crazy and insane.
Sexy coffee — Dana and Alice have coffee, and it is the most electric coffee ever. They deny that they’re finding it difficult to keep their hands off each other, but even crazy insane Robin would know they’re lying.
Talking talking talking talking — Did you see Gillian Flynn’s article in Entertainment Weekly, in which she mocks Jenny? She also disapproves of the “new trend of littering scenes with whispery spoken-word sounds, like talking-talking-talking-talking.” I couldn’t imagine what she meant when I first saw the article, but now I know, and couldn’t agree more — the whole idea is ridiculous and annoying. It’s sort of the audio equivalent of Jenny’s words on the screen.
Anyway, the people talking are Robin’s friends, who are all coupled and have kids and think that Robin and Jenny will be the next to get hitched. Jenny looks like she’d rather be just about anywhere else; she doesn’t know whether she wants kids and doesn’t know what’s going on in general. It’s pretty funny:
Friend 1: ”It’s a little soon for them to be talking about children, Nora.”
Friend 2: ”Oh, come one, we’re lesbians: we talk about everything.”
Friend 3: ”Yeah, and anyway, one of the problems with Claybourne was that they didn’t talk enough. I mean, Robin didn’t even know that Claybourne didn’t believe in monogamy until the day of the wedding.”
Huh? That’s like signing up to be on Survivor without knowing how to swim. You thinkmaybe you should have talked about that stuff before you headed down the aisle? As Shane would say, that’s so lesbian.
Back at Jenny’s house, Jenny decides to actually get an ounce of self-awareness. She tells Robin that she’s not ready to be settled and coupled and mature (definitely not mature).
Jenny: ”I’m terrified of being on my own. I’ve just gotta make myself do it, Robin, and I can’t — I can’t distract myself by creating all this fucking labyrinth-like drama that I’m soooo good at creating. And I promise you that you do not wanna get sucked into my fucking bullshit.”
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jenny, for once I totally agree with you. Wow!
Robin: ”So you don’t wanna be in a relationship.”
Jenny: ”No, I don’t.”
Robin: ”You just wanna sleep with people and make them fall in love with you, so you can fuck with their heads.”
Jenny: ”No, that’s not what I want.”
Robin: ”Well, that’s what you did.”
Jenny: ”Right. That’s why I think we should end this right now, before I disappoint you any more than I obviously have.”
And because that’s just about the most passive-aggressive thing Robin’s ever heard, she leaves. Wait! Wait for me! Aww. Robin was cute.
Mandarette Chinese Cafe — Shane, Dana, Toxic Sludge Tonya, Alice, and Tina are talking about whether it’s okay for lesbians to get lap dances — or, as Tina puts it, for women to exploit other women. Shane says the strippers she knows do it for fun. And Tonya thinks it’s weird that Tina’s never had a lap dance, until Dana confesses she hasn’t either. Tonya says Dana wouldn’t want anyone else’s booty on her booty right now. Alice and Dana exchange a look that totally clues Shane in and makes her say “Whoa” and almost choke on her chopsticks. Alice notices, but Shane pretends it’s nothing.
Fab, funny scene! What’s hard for me to describe is the way the camera’s working — which is as if it’s sitting on the revolving lazy susan thingie in the middle of the table, and so every time someone seems to be turning that, the camera turns. It’s groovy.
Tina isn’t sure she wants the first woman to ever touch her other than Bette to be a stripper. Speaking of Bette, there she is — picking up some takeout — and when she sees them, it’s like she’s the little kid on the playground who can’t get anyone to play with her. Poor Bette! Yeah, I guess I’m not done with her after all. Shane follows Bette out and says she’s just sorry about the whole thing and that it just sucks. And she’s just sorry, and it seems like the best word for all of it. I think it’s what Bette needed to hear — nicely done, Shane.
The strip club — Well, well. What can I say? Dana’s shy and hilarious as she tries to tuck some money into the stripper’s… well, G-string or whatever it is (count me among the many who are not in the habit of going to strip clubs). The most disgusting thing about the whole thing is not the strippers but the Dana-Tonya kissing.
But then we almost get Dana-Alice kissing in the bathroom, and woo! I dig the heat between them — until Tonya interrupts (and then, yuck, takes Dana into the stall with her while she pees). Toxic toxic toxic.
Shane confronts Alice about Dana. Alice admits that they kissed, and tells Shane she’s a freak for figuring it out. Let’s just hope Shane is a freak who can keep a secret.
Tina gets a lap dance, and maybe it would be okay, except the stripper she chooses looks a lot like Bette, and why doesn’t anybody see how pregnant Tina is? There’s barely room on her lap for the stripper. But it really is kind of a painful moment for Tina, and her face shows a lot of heartache and confusion. I’d be sadder if I didn’t love the Martina Topley-Bird song in the background.
Making deals — Bette waits with Kit — they’re meeting Marina’s dad to finalize the deal. Suddenly we hear a motorcycle outside — it’s Ivan! Yep, he’s got the $50,000 Kit needs, but he just wants to be a silent partner. Aww, don’t break up before you even get together!
And then Marina’s father shows up and yells at Bette for being so judgmental about the Marina/Jenny thing. And — come on, you saw this coming from a mile away, didn’t you? — then he reveals that he’s not Marina’s father; he’s really her husband of 12 years. Gah, can’t we let her rest in peace already? But Mr. Marina is kinda cool, because he says that Americans are too conventional and that “everyone is capable to commit a passionate crime… and everyone deserves the compassion to start again.” Kit gives Bette a look and says, “Amen to that.”
Oh, the drama. And hey: Kit owns The Planet! Yes indeedy!
Bed — Tina masturbates and hears Bette’s laughter in her head. She cries. Oh, poor Tina — that is meant with no sarcasm whatsoever.
The back step — Bette is drinking beer. Remember last season, when Bette said she had no desire to drink? Hmm, desire is a funny thing. Anyway, Shane shows up, so Bette shares her beer, and Shane shares her cigarettes. I can’t help it: Bette with a cigarette is sexy. And it rhymes.
Bette: ”How did I let this get so fucked up, Shane?”
Shane: ”Shit’s not always in our control.”
Bette: ”I used to think that it was.”
Shane: ”I learned early on that if you want to avoid that big mess that sucks and fucks with your life, you just keep it simple.”
Bette: ”You mean, like, sex with no emotional entanglements?”
Shane: ”Right. That’s just me. I don’t think that applies to you. You’re a very well-rounded individual.”
Bette: ”I don’t know, I think I just might like to study at your feet, Shane.”
Next door, Jenny is just getting home; Bette calls her over for a beer. Jenny talks about her search for a roommate — she’s just put an ad on Craig’s List, which I will now think of as Navel-Gazing Freak’s List. Anyway, Alice did say that Shane is a freak — which I guess is why Shane expresses interest in being Jenny’s roommate. Bette chuckles, like she just can’t believe how weird life is. I chuckle, ’cause I can’t believe how good this episode was, as Erin McKeown‘s fantastic rendition of “How To Be A Lady” plays over the credits.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Shane and Carmen continue to dance around each other; Bette tells Tina they can fix everything without lawyers; Alice tries to expose Toxic Tonya; Bette is one “sorry bitch.”