It’s pretty wild what can transpire in under a half hour. Ali and Syd take a bus to go visit Ali’s grandmother, Rose. Meanwhile, Josh interrupts Colton kneeling in prayer beside his bed and almost lands himself in the hot seat with Raquel when he tattles on Colton, hoping to share a good laugh with a Rabbi who not only prays often but doesn’t find it “embarrassing,” as Josh puts it, at all. He saves the day when he offers she needs space in the house for her practice. Points, Josh.
Someone else who is exploring their space is Maura, who goes in for a doctor’s appointment, discussing a low dose of a testosterone blocker and the possibility of gender reassignment surgery. Maura is unsure though she knows she wants to be more sexually active. The doctor advises, “Get to know your body.”
At the nursing home, Syd jokes with Ali about where they’ll live when they get old, and if they’ll end up at a place like this—in bunk beds or side-by-side beds? Rose doesn’t completely know who Ali is, but finally comes out with, “Gershon, you’re here.” Later, Ali speculates if Gershon was Rose’s brother.
Sarah asks to meet with Raquel and explains she needs help. Raquel seems open as usual to this kind of aid, but after hearing the outpour of compliments and assumptions from Sarah about Raquel’s easiness and happiness, she can’t help but burst out with the truth. She has a Rita in her life (Colton’s biological mother), and she does not want to become a member of that Babysitter’s Club. Raquel finds opening up to Sarah is easy—she knows Sarah is a no-bullshit gal who will hear her gripes, and perhaps she also needs a friend like Sarah who can stir in her a little bit of self-belief. Sure, Raquel is a woman of faith, but we just saw her encounter with Josh and Colton at home regarding her spiritual practice. Has it become more of a job, something that she gives and gives with, but never finds the time to take back in for just her? This right here is why Sarah and Raquel make an unlikely duo of sorts. They both float down that same river in Egypt—denial.
Now, the incident Maura has with the lawyer at the bar is pretty interesting. Being super polite, Maura offers the slightly frazzled woman a glass of white wine. She’s obliged and maybe taken aback. Maybe in the back of her mind, she’s thinking how out of the ordinary it is that a man didn’t offer the drink, and instead this lovely woman sitting caddy corner. Upon closer inspection, after Maura offers they order some tapas, the woman has this moment arrive, and re-arrive, looking Maura up and down like she’s Mrs. Doubtfire. Reading the situation, Maura decides she better go. When you think about Shelly sitting at home in her condo waiting and wondering about Maura, and how silent Maura is around Shelly, it’s easy to understand the core of the moment for Maura. Regardless of this woman’s thoughts about her, it’s not easy feeling this lonely, and Maura is simply reaching out for the connections she craves. She’s taking chances. “I got it,” Maura says as she pays her bill and leaves.
In a flashback, Rose as a younger girl (played by the same actress who plays young Ali, Emily Robinson) walks into the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin. The year is 1933. Jude (Mel Shimkovitz), who appeared as Jules last season in a present day episode appears in the flashback, leading the tour through the institute, saying, “Where we believe that a wide range of sexuality, including homosexuality are normal.” In an adjoining room, Hari Nef is lounging on a chair smoking a cigarette when Rose walks in. “Gershon!” Rose asks her for money so the family can go to the U.S. to find their father.
So, is it fair to say that Ali could be Gershon’s soul?In the first episode of the season, Gershon lingers in the background behind Ali, then again, when Ali plunges into the pool. Ali explains to Syd a research study conducted on bunnies and their inherited trauma with cherry blossoms. It was shown that the bunnies who hadn’t been born yet—the babies, the grandbabies, and so on, all adopted the same responses to cherry blossoms. “Epigenetics,” she says. (Insert “the more you know” shooting star right here.)
Syd is turned on by the sexy little research hat Ali has on right now. “Say it again, slower,” Syd teases. Is it just me or did library just get smoking hot?
“Can I get you to wear these husky puss jeans?”
“Who you callin’ husky puss?”
At the school gala, Sarah has an especially awkward run-in with Tammy, who shows up drunk with a new neck tattoo that says: Becoming. She tells Sarah she has something to tell her and lures her into the one of the classrooms. Instead she pounces Sarah, who starts to go for it as they motion toward the wall, but then she realizes she’s up against craft shelves, paint bottles and cubbies.
Then she’s called out of the room anyway because she’s apparently the grand recipient of literally all the raffles, including a life coach. In a fit, she tries to turn it down, but finally gives in and flashes her best Sarah smile. Len watches from the crowd, knowing she was the perp who fucked with Melanie’s eye shadow palette and left a needs-professional-shampoo-service stain.
That’s okay. There’s always the darkness of one’s apartment. Sarah enjoys it that way. And being naked, eating macaroni and cheese in front of your microwave? That’s basically Kevin McAllister’s dream if he didn’t have to ward off robbers in Home Alone.
Yep, Hanukkah may be over, and Shelly’s turkey meatballs might be on the dry side, but it’s Christmas Eve, so let dreams of Gershon and Berlin in the ‘30s run through your queer heads.
Follow me on Twitter @the_hoff and let me know what you thought of this episode. Come back next Friday for a new Transparent recap, Season 2 is streaming now on Amazon Prime.