“Weeds” mini-cap: Do the math teacher

Oh, Weeds — how can you be so good and so cringe-inducing at the same time?

I’m not talking about the kind of cringe that comes from something like Andy chopping off his toe to avoid the military. I mean the things that are out of character. Even Shane whacking Pilar fit his twisted persona. But this week, some of the cringes left me, well, cringing.

When last week’s episode closed, the Botwins had just arrived at Nancy’s hometown because Nancy wanted to visit before she family shuffles off to Copenhagen. The goal for their time in Michigan is to find fake passports, ditch the Praise Wagon for a less conspicuous vehicle, and make the one huge score that can finance their journey from Dearborn to Denmark.

The first uncomfortable cringe came when Nancy and Andy said that Dearborn was an ideal place to sell hash and find fake passports because of all the Arabs. Silas asks, “Isn’t it a little racist to assume all Arabs have access to fake passports?” Nancy replies, “It’s also racist to assume all Asians are bad drivers, but they are.”

Nancy is certainly no goddess of political correctness, but that comment seems a bit off to me. I know she was being sarcastic, but I don’t see her as quite that cavalier about being called racist. Seems she would manufacture something to defend herself, like “I just meant that people from the Middle East are very resourceful.”

In any case, home is not exactly like Nancy remembers it. (Dearborn was one of the many Michigan towns that housed autoworkers; if you’ve seen Michael Moore’s Roger & Me, you know what happened to the town once motor companies started outsourcing production to Mexico.) She directs Andy to her childhood best friend Lainey’s house, which has been slightly remodeled.

Nancy doesn’t want to stay in the van because it will attract too much attention, so Shane suggests that they stay with her former teacher Mr. Schiff — and Nancy remembers exactly where his house is. In case you have forgotten, when sister Jill visited last season, she got drunk and told the boys that Nancy lost her virginity to Mr. Schiff and that he went a bit mad when Nancy dumped him. Nancy has always denied it, but as Shane says, “Who the hell knows where their high school math teacher lives?”

We don’t have to wait long to learn who’s telling the truth.

This situation caused uncomfortable cringe No. 2. Sure, the sex was consensual, apparently, but I can’t imagine Nancy taking her family to stay with a possibly mentally ill former teacher that she had sex with as a teenager. That seems over the line even for her.

While Shane and Silas get to know Mr. Schiff and find Nancy’s old boyfriend Lars to see if he might be Silas’ dad (was Silas’ parentage ever in question?), Nancy goes to visit her own parents — at the cemetery.

That’s probably the most insight we’ve had about Nancy in a long time. Love her kiss-off to dear old Mom.

As Nancy walks away from the graves, a weird sort of guy who claims to be someone from her high school approaches her. She doesn’t recognize him and turns down a coffee date, a smart decision since we next see him in a motel room, calling someone to report that he found her. Ruh-roh.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Weeds? Did the scenes that made me cringe have the same effect on you? Was it a mistake to visit dear old Dearborn?

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