“The L Word” recap (2.1): “Life, Loss, Leaving”



  • Funny: Attempted suicide. No, I don’t really mean that, but as a method of writing a character out of the show, it has its moments.
  • Tiresome: The phase that follows “toxic,” apparently.
  • Knitter: What Alice so isn’t. Well, depending on the context.
  • Evanesce: What we all wish Jenny would do.
  • S words: Better than L words. At least the S words that start with “strap” and end with “on.”

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Arianna Huffington takes up space; Kelly Lynch gives Kit a key and then closes the door; Anne Ramsay continues to throw herself in front of the speeding Jenny train.

The lead-in — Did you watch the *look* *wait* black-and-white stylish montage thingie? I did, and I saw Bette nod to me to indicate that I’m the one she really wants. You didn’t see that?

The Previously — Whoa. They just totally crammed the whole first season into a few minutes. It was like my life was flashing before my eyes, except it was a lot less disconcerting because I wasn’t actually involved in any of it. Or maybe that’s moredisconcerting, considering how much time I’ve spent with these characters.

Disbelief — Tina has an appointment. With her ob/gyn. Because she’s pregnant. Again. Meanwhile, Bette and Candace are kissing, or perhaps trying to suck out each other’s souls; it’s hard to tell. I’m in complete agreement with Tina, who can’t believe this is happening — because I thought we did all of this last season.

But Tina wants “this,” meaning the baby, more than ever, and she wants to keep the pregnancy a secret for a while, even though she’s big as a house (and you’re quite sexy, Laurel — thank you for showing your belly). She can cover it with trenchcoats, just like Scully did. Nobody will notice. Never mind that her face looks entirely different, and I mean that in a good way.

Speaking of entirely different, the little caption at the beginning said “Los Angeles, Present Day,” but which day is that, exactly? Tina’s pregnant, like a lot pregnant, and so how long have Bette and Candace been inhaling each other? Let’s just say a while. A good damn long while. And why didn’t I get to see any of that damn goodness?

Never mind: I kinda ache for Tina, sitting alone in that exam room.

The new theme song — What? No boop-de-boop? Instead we get some group that probably can’t even get an audience at the Michigan fest. Okay, that was too harsh, because I know Betty is kinda cool, but what the hell? This is like a bad ’80s music video, except without the random fire, big hair, and droopy lace. The only good thing about it is Alice on a motorcycle, and damn is that a good thing.

If you watch the theme song again on mute, it’s a lot better. I like Bette’s back (of course) and I even kinda like Jenny’s nudie scene (ack), and I love everything Carmen, and I like Shane’s shadow behind the Men’s room door. Too bad the lyrics aren’t any better on mute — because I have the captions on, which is just asking for trouble.

At least this new theme will give me something to sing other than “doot doot doodoodoot doot doot doot doot.” Maybe I’ll even write my own lyrics. No doubt they’ll start with “Dykes in white dresses with blue satin sashes.”

Writhing — Bette’s writhing. In the bed. It’s more than I can take, especially when I realize that someone’s head is under the sheets. It’s Candace, of course, doing her best to make Bette her girl, and failing. But at least she gets that moment where Bette lifts the sheet and smiles down — a moment I decide to freeze, for just a bit — before it all falls apart and Bette just can’t look at her.

The Planet — Alice and Shane are hanging out — starting off the season in the usual way. And who can blame them, really? Alice is doing something with yarn:

Alice: “Damn it. Why did I get this assignment? I am so not a knitter.”

Shane: “Well, it’s crazy popular, and all the fags I know are doin’ it. Even some of the straight boys, too.

Alice: “Right, see? Men should be knitting, and women should be running the world. That’s how I see it. That’s what I’m gonna write for L.A. Magazine. It’s good.”

Shane: “Yeah, go for it. They’ll love it.”

They might not, Alice. But don’t worry: I will. Because I’m so not a knitter either. Sometimes I even forget how to tie my shoes.

Shane wants to know how Tina is. Alice says Bette still hasn’t called. (That bitch.)

Shane: “There’s something really wrong when God lets two people who are meant to be together come apart like that.”

Alice: “You believe in God?”

Ah, I love the banter. The words look serious, but it’s really quite a funny exchange. Shane thinks she’s talking about love, and Alice just wonders about the God thing, and they both look confused, and then Alice turns her attention to the fact that the coffee tastes like “poopy shit.” Oh, pardon me while I guffaw and spit out my mouthful of un-poopy martini.

Alice wonders where Marina is; Shane hasn’t seen her for days. Then Alice tries to get Shane to talk about her broken heart, but Shane’s not gonna play.

Shane: “Oh, quit being such a lez.”

Alice: “Well what, you’re just back from Cherie Jaffe land?”

Shane: “Nothing’s changed. I’m still me.”

Alice: “Oh, so you still live by the code. You don’t do relationships.”

Shane: “It’s not a code. It’s me.”

Keep telling yourself that, Shane.

Just when I was starting to relax and enjoy myself, Toxic Tonya shows up. She should rethink those white pants she’s wearing. She waves at Alice and Shane from across the room, but Alice mutters that she can’t take Cruella DeVille this morning, and pretends she’s upset about something because “no halfway sensitive person” would ever dream of interrupting a friend consoling an upset friend.

But of course Tonya does interrupt, and reveals that Marina (a) has had a breakdown, (b) slit her wrists in the penthouse suite of the Bel-Air, (c) is now with her mother in Milan, and (d) is a contessa. Hey, Tonya? (a) shut up, (b) shut up, (c) shut up, and (d) shut up.

Dana comes in, all sweaty from her morning run, and Alice looks like she’d rather drink the poopy-shit coffee than have to look Dana in the eye. But look each other in the eye they do, lingeringly, because they can’t really help themselves. And then Tonya starts babbling again. Dana mentions that the bellboy saved Marina’s life by coming in just as she was about to jump, which of course doesn’t match Tonya’s story, but Miss Toxicity 2005 is now talking about how “cute” it is that Dana sweats so much — cute enough to require mopping up, apparently.

Dana then asks about Tina, which prompts Tonya to make up a story about how Tina found out about Bette and Candace, but this time Alice corrects her.

Alice: “Well, actually, Tonya, she guessed, because she saw them touching hands, and then she knew everything.”

Dana: “How could she tell just by seeing them touch hands?”

Shane: “Women can do that.”

Alice: “Yeah, especially dykes.”

Dana doesn’t get why Bette can’t just control her urges, if the thing with Candace is just a sex thing. She says this while looking at Alice and thinking about sex things.

They keep babbling (especially Tonya, who expresses horror that Bette is still “schtupping the carpenter”) until Shane points out that Tina is right behind them. Yep, there she is, wearing her big trenchcoat for no apparent reason, hint hint.

The Farmers’ Market of Lesbians (TMRo Thorton) — Gene — remember him? aquarium guy? — and Jenny are shopping for groceries. Or at least Gene is. Jenny is checking out all the women instead, and there are a lot of them — of all shapes and sizes. Gene watches her watching, and feels a little like a third leg. Um, I mean wheel.

Jenny stops to smell some onions, and to flirt with the woman who’s selling them. Gene says “Do you want to fuck her right here, or do you both want to come back to my place?” Jenny is appalled, but of course Gene knows exactly what he’s saying. And he makes it crystal clear:

Jenny: “I said that I like you.”

Gene: “Well, that’s really nice, you know, I like you too. But we don’t have sex. Okay, there it is: I’d like to be having sex with the woman I cook for… I make mix tapes for you… you don’t want to have sex. And I know why. It’s because you’re gay. All right? That’s it. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are a girl-loving, full-on lesbian.”

Did I hear that right? No, I’m not talking about Jenny being gay — whatever — did he say mix tapes? Oh, Gene, you poor sweet geek. He leaves her standing in the midst of all the women, even though she says it’s not for him to say whether she’s gay.

Speaking of girl-loving — Dana and Alice are in the bathroom at The Planet. They talk about the fact that they kissed, and wonder whether to kiss again, and then they just sort of do kiss, and even though I’m temporarily distracted by the fact that Alice threw her used paper towel on the counter rather than in the trash, it’s really hot. Hot hot hot. Do you see the way girl-loving full-on lesbians kiss? No, not Erin; you know who I mean. Leisha should do an instructional video.

We don’t get to see enough of it; instead we see Alice exiting the bathroom, adjusting her clothes, and it’s anyone’s guess just how much groping happened in there.

Back at the table, Shane talks about Arianna Huffington. Alice says Arianna is like 50, and “kinda fancy,” and thus not really Shane’s type. Shane says “I’m doing her hair, Al, I’m not gonna fuck her.” Come on, we were all thinking it! Alice says the old Shane would have. Touché. Dana comes back to the table and leaps to the same conclusion about Shane and Arianna — and is kind of rubbing her lips as if to wipe the kisses (or something) off them.

Tina, who’s still wearing that trenchcoat, is about to leave, when Bette shows up. Tina makes Bette say her piece in front of all of them, which is really awkward. Bette promises to never see, or speak to, or think about Candace again, and says she misses Tina, and needs her and can’t live without her. Tina is unimpressed and skeptical, and then goes right for the jugular: she asks Bette whether she broke it off with Candace in person or over the phone. Apparently Tina drove by the house at 2 a.m., and Bette’s car wasn’t there, so she asks the obvious question: “Did you fuck all night before you told her I was the love of your life this morning?” And then Tina overturns the table — yow — and leaves.

Everybody just sort of stares and gapes, except for Tonya, who is now covered in poopy-shit coffee. So much for the white pants.

A garage — Hey, it’s Ivan! and Kit! And they’re talking about cars, or at least Ivan is.

Kit: “Ivan, you are speaking a foreign language to me… and you know what that does to a girl.”

Then they talk about Marina’s suicide attempt — which, in this retelling, took the form of driving into a wall in the hotel parking garage, which Ivan thinks is rather unimpressive. Then Ivan gives Kit a present: keys. One is to Ivan’s apartment, because he lives only a couple of blocks from The Planet, should Kit need a break during her workday. Kit’s talking about banks and meetings and Marina’s family: sounds like she’s making a purchase, doesn’t it? When she mentions Marina’s family, she says “Her mom is some kind of damn contessa.” And nobody can say “damn contessa” the way Kit can. Ivan sums it up nicely: “She may be a contessa, but as far as I’m concerned, Kit, you’re a queen. Don’t you forget it.” Swoon!

So Kit takes the key, and then asks what the other key on the ring is for. Ivan goes to the window and points to a car below — it’s Kit’s. Ivan has restored it to celebrate Kit getting her license back. Kit is very moved and starts to move in for a kiss, but Ivan says no, because Kit’s not sure. Have I mentioned that I think Ivan rocks?

Kit does a little diva-like pose against the car. Have I mentioned that I think Kit rocks?

Movin’ out — Tim is loading the moving van. He’s moving to Ohio. He suggests that Jenny stay in the house until she can find an apartment. She starts babbling about a writing class, and Tim sorta pretends to listen, but not really, and then he just walks on by.

Not this again — Jenny’s reading her writing again. There are words on the screen, or at least on her laptop screen, which is bad enough, and there’s a voiceover. One of my friends who’s watching with me points out that Jenny appears to be wearing a baton twirler’s outfit. Yes, it’s complete: the ponytail, the sequined vest, and the self-delusion. And we get some weird little fantasy/storytelling scene that makes me want to put a baton through my skull.

An awkward goodbye — Tim finds Bette by the pool to say goodbye. Bette’s drowning her sorrows and not really listening, but finally gets the message and chats with him a little. Bette tells Tim that Marina tried to kill herself — by “trying to drive her car off the PCH or something.” I’m beginning to think Marina has nine lives.

Tim says “you never expect your life to throw you so totally off plan.” Bette kinda gets that.

Nice wallpaper — Jenny opens her mail: she’s got a rejection letter. She adds it to what is apparently a wall of rejection letters. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!

Shane does hair and more — Shane meets Arianna Huffington, who proceeds to say several odd things like “So, you’re gay” and “dykes are the new fags” and “what about love?” Shane pretends not to care about that, but then someone very interesting shows up — Carmen, one of the new characters — the one with a smile that’s almost as hot as Shane’s glasses. And because Shane is wearing those glasses this very minute, Carmen’s a goner. She kind of melts when Shane says “I’m Shane.” Is it the voice or the glasses? Either way, Arianna noticed the chemistry, so when she sees Carmen go by later, she sends Shane after her.

It turns out Carmen is a D.J. and a P.A. and also an S.T. (sexy thang). She doesn’t let Shane get away; she invites her to listen to something in the mixing studio or whatever convenient space that is. She talks about the kind of stuff she wants to do with her career.

Shane: “I like a girl with ambition.”

Carmen: (laughing) “Fuck you.”

Shane: “Okay. If you want.”

And she does. So they do. Carmen has sexy tattoos and I don’t like Shane’s hair.

The C.A.C. — Bette is bitchy because Candace has called five times. Well, and maybe just because she’s kind of good at being bitchy.

Jenny’s job — What, you thought Jenny’s job was annoying people and preying on hapless fools? Yes, but apparently she’s also waiting tables. She’s just getting started when Robin shows up to see if Jenny’s okay. But of course Jenny hasn’t heard about Marina. Robin actually knows the real story — which is that Marina was indeed at the Bel-Air, in the presidential suite, with three bottles of pills (is this a game of Clue?) — and Robin knows this because Marina had Robin’s number in her purse, so that’s the number that “they” called. Robin says that when she got to the hospital, Marina was calling Jenny’s name.

No, no: she wasn’t calling Jenny’s name because she wanted her. She was explaining what made her want to off herself.

Tiresome Tonya — Guess what kinds of gifts Tonya wants to register for? Really expensive ones. Surprise. As she and Dana window-shop, Dana’s phone rings. It’s Alice, calling from her knitting circle (ha ha). They pretend they’re talking to other people so that nobody will suspect anything, and arrange to meet the next day.

One of the other knitters is not sure Alice knows what she’s doing:

Knitter: “Dear, I don’t think you’re going to be able to get anybody’s head through that thing.”

Alice: “You know, though, I think this would make a really good harness for a strap-on dildo.”

Alice! I have lots of yarn at my house.

Kit sets the table and lays down the law — Bette is moping. Kit says she should try to pretend to be human, as in using plates and napkins rather than eating directly out of the takeout container.

Kit: “Lemme talk to Tina.”

Bette: “What would you say?”

Kit: “That my sister is a pooty-chasing dog who deserves to be tied down and whupped upside the head, but it doesn’t change the fact that she loves you more than she loves her own life, and that you should finish punishing her and get back to figuring out how to live with one another for the next 50 years or more.”

Bette: “You could give it a try.”

Then, because that’s all too painful, they talk about Kit’s loan — so she can buy The Planet. Bette’s willing to cosign, but she doesn’t have the 50K for the down payment. So Kit says Ivan can get it, but Bette says that’s a bad idea. Kit says it’s typical of Bette to “diss her solution.” Bette doesn’t want Ivan to get the idea that it’s a broader invitation, but of course Kit thinks she just might want to make that invitation.

Bette: “You’re straight.”

Kit: “Who says?”

Bette: “You’re not?”

Kit: “I am. But I don’t need you to tell me that, and neither does Ivan. The way I see it, Ivan is the one who gets to say whether he’s a man or a woman. And he’s been telling me he’s more of a man.”

Bette: “That’s delusional thinking. It doesn’t work that way.”

Kit: “Maybe in the World According to Bette. But the World According to Bette doesn’t have the same props it once did. You know what I’m sayin, baby sis?”

Word! Yeah! Kit! Wooooo!

Jenny’s drama — Robin tends to Jenny, who seems to have fainted. That’s because she hasn’t eaten in about eight years. They talk about Jenny’s apartment hunt, and Robin says this horrible thing: “Why don’t you move in with me?” Oddly enough, Jenny has the sense to say she can’t, but then Robin says she thinks they could be happy. You could be what? Happy? With Jenny? Have you actually met Jenny?

The Planet — Alice asks Bette to be out of the house for a couple of hours so Tina can go by and get some things. Bette is — surprise — not terribly cooperative. She and Alice go back and forth about the whole Candace mess. Alice is not sympathetic. At some point Bette says Tina was “completely wrapped up in herself” — oh, you mean, after the miscarriage? ‘Cause I dunno, I think maybe she should have been wrapped up in herself then. Anyway, I don’t like this pointless analyzing; I just like the way Alice is getting all rrwwwarr:

Bette: “[Tina] completely shut me out.”

Alice: “For how long?”

Bette: “Two or three months.”

Alice: “Out of seven years? I think you coulda waited.”

Bette: “She abandoned me as much as I abandoned her. We both did it.”

Alice: “Yeah, but only one of you was having an orgasm.”

So Bette says “fuck you” and walks off. Yeah, that word is gettin’ tossed around a lot tonight.

Oops — Kit goes by Ivan’s place. She has the key, so, you know, she just goes in. Ivan has a nice place, and some loud music — so of course, he doesn’t hear Kit, and doesn’t know Kit is snooping and has found his strap-on. Well, I suppose the proper term is prosthesis; anyway, Ivan enters the room, wearing boxers and little else, binding his breasts as he walks, and when he sees Kit he naturally freaks out. He pushes her out of the room and tells her to go. Kit tries to apologize (and, um, get the money for the down payment), but it’s just too much.

That was cool — not the sort of thing that gets explored much in general, let alone on TV — but I have to ask: didn’t Ivan consider the privacy issue before giving Kit the key? I’m just saying.

Rules of Un-attraction — Alice and Dana jog — well, Dana jogs while Alice walks — what are those boots she’s wearing? They talk about their attraction to each other. Dana keeps saying things and then running away, and then running back. They’re so cute together. But they decide they can’t act on the attraction, which means not being alone together, especially where there’s a bed or a couch or a table or a floor or…

Alice: “Or the back seat of a car.”

Dana: “Oooh, that’d be good. That wouldn’t be good!”

Cute cute cute. They agree that Dana can’t show up all sweaty with her veins popping out, and that Alice can’t wear those shirts that cling to her in some places and fall off her in others. You two are so screwed!

Alice kinda smirks, so Dana says “Fuck you” and runs away again. Can I say “cute” once more?

Vaporized — Jenny is saying goodbye to Tim and using the word “evanesce.” Shut up shut up shut up!

Bette’s house — You didn’t really think Bette would be out of the house like Alice asked her to, did you? Of course not. She’s there to tell Tina that she can’t accept that it’s over, and that she wants to fix everything, and other stuff. Tina just says “I hope you had fun blowing off some steam with the carpenter” and walks out. Ouchy.

Milk — Shane walks in. Everybody watches her. Carmen is there, and waves. But Shane has her eye on someone else, although nobody could possibly really want to make out with the frightening woman she goes over to. Carmen doesn’t get it either, so she confronts Shane, with that dazzling smile of hers. Shane just plays her cool and detached card, or whatever, so Carmen goes away, but Shane watches her go — a little too long.

One last nightmare — Tim surveys his empty house (did his arms double in bulk between seasons, by the way?) and then decides he wants to fuck Jenny once more. Jenny doesn’t really resist, and even tries to play along, but then Tim changes his mind and leaves. I evanesce.

Tea for one — Bette burns herself on the handle of the tea kettle. She’s never made tea for herself before? Or she’s just so out of her mind over Tina, she forgot that hot water is hot? Either way, it’s not good. She goes and stares out the window, and sees Jenny across the way. They’re both lonely and sad. Aren’t you “glad” this show is back? Yeah, me too.

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Alice and Bette fight; Tina gets a lawyer; Dana and Alice find it hard to resist each other; Robin sees through Jenny; a “shocking” secret is revealed.

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