The Botwins are back and, as expected, the new season of Weeds hits the grassy ground running.
PSA: This is a recap, people — I will talk about what happened on the show this week. I will talk about what happened on the show in all the episodes before this week. You have been SPOILER WARNED.
When we last saw the lovely and increasingly off-the-rails Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker), she was standing in shock beside the swimming pool of hubby Esteban’s political consultant Pilar. Shane (Alexander Gould) had just killed Pilar with a croquet mallet. Thus the title of this week’s episode: “Thwack.”
The horror of the moment can’t be denied, but somehow, I feel like Shane has been destined for something like this. I mean, his mom is a drug dealer married to a crime lord whose henchmen babysat Shane and ended up serving as his role models. The darkness has been creeping to the surface ever since the show started.
The whole scene at the pool is unintentionally symbolic by virtue of the fact that Gould has physically matured a lot since the end of last season. He literally loses all appearance of innocence in the moments between whacking Pillar into the pool and giving his mom a self-satisfied grin. Somehow, it makes Shane’s loss of innocence a bit more palatable — at least as long as I don’t think about the fact that Gould was the voice of Nemo.
Nancy’s first instincts are to activate the pool cover, knock out the surveillance camera and get the hell out of Dodge, er, California. And that is great news for viewers who weren’t crazy about the direction of Weeds since the Botwins relocated to the Mexican border. Especially since we know that a Sapphic version of Linda Hamilton awaits them in their new hometown.
Most of Season 6’s first episode is mainly set-up, to get the main players in the van for the getaway. Andy (Justin Kirk), who made a hasty retreat when his fiancé of a few minutes was accosted by an anti-abortion stalker, wallows in his cowardice until Nancy saves the day. Audra (Alanis Morissette) is having none of Andy’s apology, so he joins the road trip.
Silas (Hunter Parrish), meanwhile, has become the relatively sane Botwin, a bit stunned and frightened by Shane’s lack of remorse but also ticked off that Nancy’s solution is to run away — again.
Gould plays the part of sociopath with aplomb, more concerned about using the proper term “croquet mallet” for the murder weapon that the murder itself. I’m looking forward to seeing him more this season.
No lesbian content this week — I’m not sure when Hamilton will show. But I will say this: I like what I saw in “Thwack.” Even though it was sort of chatty, I sensed a turn from the downbeat Weeds of last season, toward more sarcasm and wit. Certainly, the humor is still dark, but I hope the comedic edge is a bit sharper this year.
One very good sign for me was the ending scene in the car. I initially fell in love with Weeds when Nancy head-bobbed to the beat of the All Things Considered theme. This week, NPR made another guest appearance in the form of Radio Lab. While guest Carl Zimmer describes how a parasitic wasp can sting a cockroach in the precise area of its brain that makes the insect its slave, Nancy glances in the rearview mirror.
We hear host Robert Krulwich: “That sounds like the purest description in nature of evil that I can imagine.”
Well played, Weeds. Well played.
Here’s the entire first episode, in case you missed it. Let us know what you think.