The L Word Recaps: Episode 4.4 “Layup”

Guess who's coming out at dinner — Brooke and Max are dining at a raw food restaurant. Brooke says she was on a raw food kick during her sophomore year, but was soon "falling up the stairs to my dorm."

Brooke: Guess I need my meat.

Guess I need pneumatic awls to punch out my eyeballs and eardrums so I never have to witness anything like that ever again.

Max tells Brooke he really likes her, and she returns the sentiment. She says no other guy has wanted to wait to get to know her better before having sex.

Max: I have something I have to tell you about myself. And I want to explain it to you, because I feel like you're really special, you know? And I don't want there to be any secrets between us.
Brooke: Don't tell me; let me guess. You are an escaped convict on the lam from the law.
Max: I really trust you, you know? I just … it's all new to me, this whole thing. And I just want you to know that.
Brooke: What do you have to tell me?

Max: I've always felt like a man. Inside. For my whole life. And, I mean, now that I know what that feeling is, I'm physically becoming one.
Brooke: I'm not really sure I understand what you're trying to tell me.
Max: Um, I'm going through a transition. I've been taking testosterone for the past year and I'm under the care of this doctor. And I'm living as a man, and soon I'm physically gonna be one as well. I was born a girl. And I still kinda have like a woman's body. I mean, even though I am a man.
Brooke: My God. [getting up]
Max: Wait, Brooke. I know this is a lot —
Brooke: You're a freak. I don't date freaks. How dare you? Liar. What do you think I am? Jesus. F—. [walking away] F—ing freak.

Sigh. Sorry, Max. To quote Randy Dean in The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (back when Laurel Holloman could sort of act), "I coulda told you that would happen." Also, "People are gross." That Randy Dean was a font of wisdom.

A tour of duty — Bette is giving Skip Connolly a tour. He's rambling about Proposition 209; he thinks admissions should be based on merit, not "need" (air quotes included). Bette just sort of sidesteps the whole thing, saying, "There are a lot of other issues at stake." She introduces Skip to Jodi Lerner, and introduces Tom as Jodi's "assistant." Tom quickly corrects her: "I'm her interpreter."

So this is how Jodi's gonna get to Bette: Partly with the art, but also by representing a new frontier. When you're as smart and accomplished as Bette, it must make you wobble like a weeble to encounter something you just don't know very much about. And despite the implicit public service announcement, it's nice to see someone deaf on TV. Deaf and hot.

Jodi tells Skip to feel free to look around: "I hope you find it stimulating." And then Jodi and Tom step silently away to reveal a stimulating sculpture indeed. It's Barbara Bush. The fake First Mom features a stars-and-stripes blindfold, a see-through belly with a missile-wielding George W. inside, and … um … a vacuum cleaner aimed at her nether regions. Skip is not happy.

While Skip stares at the sculpture, Bette pulls Jodi aside and faces off with her:

Bette: I thought we had an understanding.
Jodi: My understanding was that you wanted me to capitulate to some asshole's reptilian politics to get money out of him, and that I will never do.
Bette: No, actually, what I asked you to do was to put the students and the university ahead of your own ego so we could get the reptile's money in order to make art, not bombs. And you agreed.

Jodi just marches right over to Skip:

Jodi: This is called "The Unauthorized Abortion of W." Some of the most powerful student work I've seen.
Skip: It's an abomination. And an abuse of university funds.
Bette: Look, Skip, don't you think, really, that the primary mission of the university is to provide a safe haven to explore ideas and expand boundaries?
Skip: Not on my dollar.
Bette: Skip, this is one artist among hundreds here, who's just trying out her voice. And, really, isn't that what graduate school's about, supporting —
Skip: Well, I sure as hell won't be supporting it. Thank you very much. Good day.
Jodi: [grabbing Bette as Skip walks out] Just leave him alone. Then call him and give him the speech about how the Impressionists met with the same response when they debuted their work in Paris in 1874.
Bette: Now, on top of everything, you're gonna tell me how to do my job? [shakes her head and walks away]

I love the evolution of Bette during this little exchange. First she's tense, brows ever so slightly furrowed, hands awkwardly at her sides like Jack Donaghy's were when he was trying to walk naturally in that video on 30 Rock — Bette's clearly trying to support Jodi but is really about to hurl. Then she slides into professional mode, pleading for Art and Education and other Grand Goals. Then she's defeated and concerned, and then — quietly and almost desperately — she bites, not about to be instructed on anything, and not a little ruffled by Jodi's hubris.

I have a feeling these two are gonna be good together.

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