Here comes that Nana parallel! Tea’s head is done in at dinner, maybe because Betty is the first person to ever call her on her shit, and her house is just noise, noise, noise, noise, and she tries to get her mom’s attention — twice — maybe to say she’s gay, maybe just to be heard saying something, and when enough is enough is enough is enough, she bangs her hands down on the table and shouts, “For Christ’s sake!” She’s going to say it, then, you can see it in her eyes, but shit, yeah, her sister’s water breaks. (That is my favorite line of the episode.) And off everyone goes, leaving Tea at the table with Nana, alone together.
Tea retires to her bedroom where she asks Audrey Hepburn‘s most iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s photo how it is that her parents don’t know she’s gay. Peeling back the layers of this episode is like being locked in a candy store, I swear. Northern Soul we’ve done. We’ll do the e.e. cummings thing in just a second, so hold tight for that. But here we’ve got Tea echoing the Holly Golightly sentiment she splashed all over Betty in the hallway earlier (“We don’t belong to each other. We just took up one day by the river. I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”), right out loud like this: “For you, Audrey, I’d come back.”
I was afraid they were going to cut this masturbation scene after all that hullabaloo last week, and I’m so proud they didn’t. Nana walks in and watches Tea for a squirm-inducing moment before crawling into the wrong bed beside her. Tea doesn’t know just yet how alike she and her Nana are, but she knows they have in common the fact that no one ever hears them. Nana thinks Tea is her mother, Ruthie, and she tells her not to marry Tea’s father. Tea returns the confession: “Something’s wrong with me, Nana. I want the sex, but the girls I sleep with bore me. They’re catty, clingy, I don’t know. It never feels … enough. Is it too much to ask for someone to be interesting? I just want to feel equal. Is it too much?”
Tea’s date with the mob turns out to be a date with Tony. Tea’s dad and Tony’s dad both needed the acquaintance. They hit up the playground with a shared bottle of vodka instead of the bowling alley with two soda pops. It’s Skins-y on the merry-go-round, super Skins-y, and they take it in turns to drop their propaganda and tell the truth. Or, as much of their truths as they know. She’s a wild thing, she says, a free spirit. And you musn’t give your heart to a wild thing: a hawk with a broken wing, a wildcat with a broken leg. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods, or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree. And then to the sky.
Tony believes her, but believes also that he’s as wild, and he’s as free. (He’s never not been the Fred, darling, so this is going to be some kind of blow.)
She takes him to Northern Soul, I think, the club from the opening. They’re alone except for that ol’ troubadour Marlena Shaw singing about wading in the water. Tea dances for him first, unabashedly, and he joins her. They circle each other, just like her and Betty, and then they’re making out against the wall, making out on the couch. Tony reaches for his zipper and that’s when Tea cracks. Cracks up, actually, because what in the hell is she doing? She’s laughing so hard she can barely breathe. “That was … terrible. Just terrible.” Tony says: “Normal girls like it.” And she laughs some more: “They must be really stupid.”
(If you’re not in love with Sofia Black D’elia‘s laugh, I don’t know what to say to you except I don’t think I can be your friend anymore.)
Tony’s kind of embarrassed about being rebuffed, but also he’s like, “Gosh, how long’s it been since I went a whole afternoon without thinking about Stanley’s wang? Progress!”