THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
- Operatic: Transcendently orgasmic.
- Subtlety: If you don’t know what it is, you’re in good company.
- Gold star: Not if I’m grading the episode.
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Alexandra Hedison continues to rock my world, as do the B-52s; Eve Ensler shares another monologue; Alan Cumming takes his curtain call.
Bliss, a.k.a. Los Angeles Opera, 1996 — Do you hear that divine music? It’s Jahna, bringing opera to people who think they don’t like opera. Check her out here or here or go directly to a sound clip here. The aria is the Flower Duet (Sous le Dôme épais) from Lakmé (Delibes), and if you’ve seen The Hunger, you already know it’s incredibly sexy. (Speaking of which, I had a really long dream about Catherine Deneuve the other night. Talk about bliss.)
Under the thick dome
of white jasmine
with the roses entwined together
on a river bank covered with flowers
laughing in the morning
come, let us go down together.
But right, why are we hearing this? Because we’ve gone back a decade, to when Bette and Alice were dating (ill-fated, perhaps, but it’s kind of intriguing anyway). And they’re at the opera, and as the Flower Duet begins to soar, Bette reaches over and starts a different sort of flower duet. Yeah, that’s not a good pun. The point is that her hand is between Alice’s legs, and the music is so glorious, and there’s a pinched-faced society type watching them from above through her opera glasses. It’s perfect, because Leisha Hailey knows just how to make her face show how delicious such an experience would feel, and Jennifer Beals knows how to make her face show just how satisfying it can be to give someone such an experience. Not to mention she’s also very aware of how naughty it is to be doing so in public.
The duet reaches its peak, and Alice reaches hers. She whimpers ever so softly as she comes and as the singers on the stage embrace. Bette simply smiles and slips her hand away, joining it with her other hand in applause. And Alice applauds too, but her smile is a full-on hell-yeah grin. I now have a new favorite fantasy, not to mention a new favorite L Word scene and a new definition of “box seats.” Highbrow + lowbrow = heaven.
And this is where The Chart first connected to the woman who would become its purveyor; because language is a virus from outer space, and hearing your name is better than seeing your face. (That’s Laurie Anderson. I cannot explain.)
One more thing before we move on: I have pretty much refrained from commenting on the theme song this season, but hearing it after hearing Delibes is like taking a sip of coffee right after you’ve brushed your teeth. Especially if the coffee is the nutty kind, a la Austin Powers.
A curb — There’s Dana. On the curb. Well, I mean, there’s the Olivia cardboard cutout of Dana, waiting on the curb with the rest of Alice’s trash. I just can’t figure out what I’m supposed to get out of this; she’s being dumped, unceremoniously tossed into a garbage truck, but what does it all mean? It’s so subtle and layered… I just don’t see an obvious message here.
By the way, this episode is directed by the brilliant Frank Pierson (of Dog Day Afternoon andCool Hand Luke, for cripes’ sake), and the writer credit is frankly unmentionable.
Poke my ass like you mean it — Jenny is giving Moira an injection. Yes, Moira has decided to go the hormone route; not only that, but the illegal hormone route. Am I the only one who saw TransGeneration and thus the only one who knows how disconcerting it can be if your illegal hormone contact suddenly disappears?
Jenny says it turns her on that she’s helping Moira become “more of a man.” Next thing you know, they’re fucking, and the camera is focused on the syringe.
Subtle again — Let’s see what’s pumping through Dana’s veins. Yep, that would be chemo. Dana’s cold, and even though her nurse, Connie, is pretty cool (“We do have iPods, with lots of Toto, Survivor, Whitesnake, you know — just if you want to feel worse”), Dana’s not playing along.
Lara: “How does it feel now?”
Dana: “How the fuck do you think it feels, Lara? How do you think it feels to get everything under the kitchen sink pumped into your veins? My skin’s fucking crawling. Where the hell did my life go?”
Lara: “Your life is right here. I’m here; your friends are here, your family, your fans —”
Dana: “My fans? My fans?! Have you been to my web site? Have you seen what they’re writing about me? That one moron even wrote that I’m faking having cancer. ‘She’s faking it.’ Because I finally won a tournament; I’m actually just retiring.”
Lara: “I told you a million times not to read that crap. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna keep saying it until you get it: I am here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Dana: “Why? Why are you still here?”
A sign of commitment — Before Lara can give the obvious, yet never clear, answer (and I’m talking about the nature of the answer, not about Lara), the scene changes. Now we’re at Wax, where Shane and Carmen are getting matching tattoos on the backs of their necks.
Tattoo artist: “Look at you too, another couple of dykes with matching tats.”
Shane: [growly] “Yeah.”
Carmen: “You know what though? It’s like at least we didn’t get our names tattooed.”
Shane: “That’d be the ultimate KOD, wouldn’t it?”
Tattoo artist: “KOD?”
Shane & Carmen, at once: “Kiss of Death.”
Yeah, you want to watch the simultaneous speaking too. It generally bodes ill.
Vancouver — Oh, wow, we’re in Vancouver. This show spares no expense.
Tina’s visiting Josh the dull average whatever guy (don’t make me type the acronym) on the set of his movie, and she’s looking sexy as usual.
Tina: “How’s the crew?”
Josh: “They’re Canadian.”
Tina: “What does that mean?”
Josh: “It means they work hard, they drink hard, and they all have their own personal grizzly bear stories.”
Oh, whatthefuckever. If you’re going to film there, you might want to show a little respect, eh?
They chat about the film, its stars, stunt doubles; blah blah. We don’t care, and neither do they; it’s all half-hearted foreplay.
Facing the mojo — Alice and Uta are strolling along. Wait, nobody walks in L.A. — but I’m glad these two do, because Uta has a nice swagger, not unlike Lena Headey’s. (See Imagine Me & You if you haven’t; it’s a good time.)
Anyway, apparently Alice has just been to one of Uta’s classes. She’s impressed, of course, but when Uta starts quoting Donne, Alice just says “Wow, that’s beautiful.” That’s the thing about vampires: if they can’t manage to get you with their fangs, they’ll ensnare you with their intellect. I’m not sure Alice is up to the challenge.
Alice’s pigtails are not so beautiful. Well, they’re kind of cute, maybe, but we all know how incapable I am of saying anything against Alice, so I should just let it go.
They’ve stopped in front of a church. Alice doesn’t want to go in, because God sucks.
Uta: “God sucks. That’s pretty atheistically dark.”
Alice: “Yeah, my ex, and my best friend, Dana… she’s um… she’s 32 fuckin’ years old, and she has breast cancer, and today she was going in for chemo, and I wanted to be there.”
Uta: “You’re still in love with her.”
Alice: “No. Since I met you — and I’m not telling you this to freak you out or anything — it’s just, I kind of had this uh, shrine. She’s a pro tennis player, and she had a little, er, big, life-size cutout of herself, and I… you know.”
Uta: “Well, we all have different rituals… to exorcise heartbreak. You haven’t completed yours, Alice.”
Alice disagrees; she says she’s thrown Dana out, but Uta says that’s not good enough: “You endowed mojo into this life-size voodoo doll. You don’t just throw it away.”
Well, who made this rule? I mean, I like my Xena cutout, but what if I’ve unknowingly endowed it with mojo? Curses! I mean, by the gods!
Uta tells Alice to call her when she’s properly released all that energy and let Dana go and taken care of her. And then Uta goes to church. I don’t know.
More subtlety — Dana the cutout falls off the garbage truck; the garbage man (sorry, sanitation engineer) hops off and retrieves her.
Surviving — A doctor (or whatever) tells Dana she might feel a little nauseous after her chemo. Just a little.
Lara stars to ask about special foods, but Dana interrupts to ask, “Am I gonna die?” The doctor tries to reassure her; after all, Dana’s young and has taken care of herself. After the standard spiel, Dana just says “When am I gonna lose my hair?”
Yes, it’s sad that Dana’s hating everything, but at the same time, it’s probably better than if she said “yes, I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Because that would just be too Lifetime movie-ish.
Outside The Planet — Kit’s riding some sort of pneumatic ramp or similar thing. Never mind; the point is that she’s trying to get ready for the B-52s show, and Billie is there drinking a bloody mary and looking very rough. He half-assedly defends his sleepless lifestyle, and Kit resorts to her pseudo-jive and just embarrasses everyone.
Kit: “All I wantcha to do is get yo shit together by tomorrow night ’cause I don’t want any fuck-ups with the B fitty-twos, you understand?”
Yo. G. G as in Gah.
Helena’s office — Helena’s chatting with her children via webcam, like a good mummy. There’s a knock at the door: it’s Dylan, who’s grinning and interested in the children and looking like the perfect girlfriend for me. Um, I meant perfect girlfriend. Generally.
Dylan was just in the neighborhood, yeah yeah, and thought she’d bring Helena a Cadbury’s Flake and Branston Pickle. Oh, yawn. Next time go for Minstrels and flapjack.
Dylan tries to move in for a thank-you kiss, but Helena resists.
Helena: “You know, Dylan, I made a promise to myself to stop sleeping with married people.”
Dylan: “Danny’s my boyfriend. We’re not married. We live together. “
Helena: “Yeah, but in lesbianworld, that is married.”
Please. In “lesbianworld,” the second date is married, and Dylan couldn’t possibly know that, even if she did used to live with Ellen.
Helena says “what starts in chaos ends in chaos.” Well, yeah, and you used to be the one who guaranteed that, Helena. But Dylan tells Helena she likes her — a lot. “What does that mean, Dylan?” says Helena; so Dylan pushes her against the wall and tries to show her.
Helena: “I don’t want to be the lie you tell to someone else.”
Dylan: “Well, what do you want?”
Helena: “You know what I want. But I don’t want it halfway, and I don’t want it at someone else’s expense. We should just be friends.”
Did you ever think you’d ever hear Helena say anything remotely like any of those things? She must have done some incredibly life-changing stuff in between seasons. Maybe Peggy sent her to some sort of adult boarding school to teach her a lesson. Oh, I seem to be taking the whole thing in an entirely different direction now.
A pool non-party — Shane and Carmen are showing off their new tattoos. Helena likes them, but then Helena seems to like everything lately.
Jenny wanders in, smiling like she has some sort of secret. Maybe she does. Where has that cute puppy Otto disappeared to, anyway? Hmm.
Jenny has picked some flowers for Dana. Dana seems to like them. They look really, really fake.
What is this weird synthy spacey music in the background? Why does it almost seem like everyone’s high? Oh, right; remember who wrote this episode.
Bette and Lara emerge from the house with a cake. Lara says “Happy first chemo, baby.” Um. I know it’s good to make light of things sometimes, but happy first chemo? That’s just wrong.
Dana says she’s nauseous and can’t have any: “I’m fucking sick, Lara.” Well. Now it’s even more wrong.
Did I say everyone seemed high? I’m beginning to feel that way too, because this dialogue is so forced:
Alice: “Is that wedding cake?”
Carmen: “It’s not wedding cake. You’re just jealous because my girlfriend and I are two gold stars that have found each other.”
Kit: “What’s a gold star?”
Bette: “Oh, it’s somebody who’s gay who’s never had sex with a person of the opposite sex.”
Carmen: “Yeah, people who bump uglies with uglies.”
Jenny: “Can I be a gold star even though I’ve slept with men.”
Jenny. What part of the definition was unclear to you? That’s like asking “can I be a writer even though I don’t know the first thing about grammar?” That was just a random example.
Shane tells Jenny she’s the Jewish star instead. Yep, everyone’s high. Actually, wouldn’t that have been a better scene? Dana could probably get some medical marijuana, and then the party would be an actual party, instead of this weird thing.
Bette asks “So how many gold stars do we have here?” But she says it like she’s on Romper Room or something.
Helena raises her hand because she doesn’t think the effeminate teenaged boys she shagged in school should count. Alice calls her a “spoiled star.”
Mange says that his mama always calls herself a “lone star” because her husband is the only man she’s ever slept with. Shane looks positively horrified by the notion.
Dana barks at Lara again and then goes in to lie down. Great, great party.
The Planet — Max thinks s/he’s already starting to bulk up. Well, there’s certainly a little mustache action going on, anyway.
Max and Billie talk about Dana. Billie reveals that his lover was sick for three years before he died.
And then Max and Billie start to kiss, and then they just do what comes naturally. I guess this is the really shocking thing we’ve been waiting for: Max is fucking Billie with her strap-on. I’m too busy rolling my eyes at the fact that Max’s jersey says CAUC 1. But I’m impressed that Billie keeps lube in his pocket. I should start doing that, just in case I need a conversation piece.
Vancouver — Josh and Tina talk about a gratuitous sex scene in the movie. “I don’t have a problem with gratuitous sex,” says Tina. Good to know the subtlety problem can happen anywhere.
The weird party — The pseudo-psychedlic music is gone; now we’ve got the Lakmé duet again instead.
Bette: [to Alice] “Remember this aria?”
Alice: “Oh, you mean our third date, when you finger-fucked me at the opera before telling me you didn’t think we were right for each other? Oh, and that you had just met a straight girl that you thought you might fall in love with. No. I don’t remember a thing.”
Lara comes out of the house, looking broken. Alice gives Bette a look like “Well?” and Bette slowly gets up and goes in, still willing to play that mom role.
Alice tries to comfort Lara. Just when you thought the scene couldn’t get any weirder, Alice says “Lara, Dana needs you,” and Lara says “She needs you, Alice. You’re strong. I just… I feel lost. I feel totally lost.” And of course Alice says “Dana’s lost too. And I need to find her.” I mean, the lines are pretty bad, but what makes them even worse is the unnecessary zooming in on the two women having an emotional moment, and the clunky way the lines are delivered. It suddenly feels like a daytime soap. I suppose that’s where we’ve been heading all along.
Inside the house, Dana tells Bette that she feels like she’s watching her life from outside of her own body.
Dana: “I just can’t relax. I can’t sleep. I can’t listen. I love Lara, and I can’t stand her. And I’m terrified to be alone.”
Oh, no, she’s just described me! Except I don’t love Lara, not really. Anyway, when Bette asks Dana if she’d like to try some relaxation exercises, Dana and I both say “yes.”
Dana thinks of the most beautiful place she can imagine. There’s a rather phallic bit of greenery, but let’s ignore that; Dana is feeling peaceful and alive and whole. Sigh. I’m starting to hate this storyline.
I knew I didn’t like him — Josh and Tina are making out. But then Josh says “I never thought you were queer. You’re way too hot for that. You’re so not a lesbian.”
Tina: “Josh. Are you really that clueless? You have no idea who I am or how I feel.”
And she pushes him off a couple of times (by pushing his forehead, which is really funny somehow) and calls him an ignorant ass.
Thank you, Tina. Don’t expect to hear that from me again.
Josh: “You are one fucked-up woman, Tina.”
Tina: “Yeah, well, I’m still your fucked-up boss.”
The Planet — Billie’s snorting something. Kit and Mange arrive just in time to witness it. Kit freaks out, and gives him a little lecture about fucking up her business. She looks really scary; I don’t know if it’s the camera angle or what, but she’s suddenly looking like the crone part of the triple goddess, and Billie’s getting a curse put on him.
Billie finally says “I think it’s time for me to go,” and leaves.
Distracted — Shane and Carmen are trying to have sex. Emphasis on the trying. Shane can’t get into it; she says she’s just distracted. Carmen doesn’t even know what to say.
Waking up — Alice wakes up suddenly and gasps “Dana!” Elsewhere, Dana gasps too, sobbing. And then she continues to spew vitriol at Lara until Lara gives in and leaves.
A mission — Alice’s mini looks like a little blue ant next to all the garbage trucks. And Alice looks tiny compared to the guy who tells her to check out a recycling center and/or a landfill if she really wants to find Dana the cutout.
So Alice heads for the landfill in Whittier, and then turns right back around when Dana calls.
The revelation — Carmen and Shane have found the syringe and want to know what’s up with Jenny. Moira explains: “It’s mine. It’s testosterone.”
Carmen seems a bit clueless during this conversation. Moira just gives Carmen a high five. You know, Moira/Max, it’s one thing to be caught up in your own drama, but you really can’t read people at all, can you? At that moment, Carmen wanted a high five about as much as you want breast implants.
New York — Jenny’s editor (Eve Ensler) is not happy with Jenny’s book. She says it’s all from the standpoint of a victim; there’s no survival. Somebody forgot to tell Eve Ensler that this isn’t the Vagina Monologues and that she doesn’t need to project as if she’s on stage. Anyway, she doesn’t want Jenny’s book to tell young girls that cutting is a viable response to trauma.
Jenny: “I would never suggest that anybody do that to themselves. But for me, in that moment, at that time, it made me feel like I was alive, and it made me feel like I had some control over my life.”
The editor just keeps berating Jenny until Jenny grabs the manuscript and walks out, stopping long enough to say “fuck you” on the way. Right on. I do mean that.
The publisher (the one who gave Jenny the deal in the first place) tries to patch them back together, but the editor says she simply can’t promote Jenny’s book. Jenny smiles and says “thank you.” I don’t know whether to say “Yes, please don’t encourage her” or “Can’t you see you’re just reinforcing her resolve?” So, yeah, both.
Enough — Dana tells Alice that Lara left. But Alice sees through it: “You’ve been showing her the door with this self-pitying bullshit.” She reminds Dana that she has love, insurance, family, friends, a home. It’s truly a hell of a lot, Dana.
Alice convinces Dana to go see the B-52s. “I like the B-52s,” mutters Dana. Aww.
Later that night — Kit has roped off a safe space for Dana and Alice (“Look out guys, I’m the booby guard.”) and the rest of the gang, plus Mange.
Is Bette futzing with her hair a lot in this episode, or is it me? And you’ve gotta love the strategically placed shadows that keep hiding Jennifer Beals’s belly. It’s like Eyes Wide Shut all over again.
Kit steps outside to see Billie standing across the street, flashing her his demonic yet cute smile. She nods to him; he blows her a kiss and exits stage right.
Inside, the conversation turns to Tina; Helena starts blathering about Josh, so Bette realizes what’s really going on.
Bette: “Great. So she went up to Canada to be with fucking Josh Becker.”
Mange: “Who’s fucking Josh Becker?”
As the B-52s do their thing (and what a still very fabulous thing it is — look at Kate Pierson bopping around as she always has), Shane and Carmen babble about Moira. Carmen blurts out something about getting one’s tits cut. Dana just gets up and leaves. Alice tries to help her, but Dana wants to walk her lonely road alone.
The next day, Alice goes to the landfill, where cardboard Dana is already decomposing. Smell that? No, I don’t mean the landfill.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Dylan and Helena are more than just friends; Carmen questions Shane’s fidelity; Dana tries not to disappear; Bette tells Tina to get real.