I think one of the reasons I lost interest in United States of Tara last season was that, in addition to introducing us to Tara, her family, her alters, explaining her disorder and giving us a plot, the writers also wanted to explore the origin of Tara's Dissociative Identity Disorder. I don't think I could articulate it at the time but I wasn't ready to care about that yet. I didn't know Tara well enough to need to know from whence she came.
The show seems to be giving that another shot this season, but much more deliberately and I think less obviously, too. Whereas last season the quest for Tara's beginnings seemed rather tell-don't-show, on tonight's episode we started to see Tara's earliest memories but without her having to actually say, "When did this all start happening and why?"
Tonight's episode began with Max busting up the new house, only to break through a wall to see Tara on the other side (metaphor alert!) He's pissed at her not for sleeping with Pammy as Buck, but for not telling him that she was transitioning. Then, he gets turned on by ordering her to see a shrink (who doesn't?) The two of them go at it in the back yard since Tara doesn't want to have sex inside the house, only to illustrate the benefits of having sex indoors, as Charmaine sees them through the window and Kate notices that her mom has grass all over her back.
Speaking of Kate, she's back to snotty teen mode, although maybe you can't blame her if your pleasant stoned ice skating trip is spoiled by your mother's alternate personality's girlfriend protesting her love over the PA. She spends more time with Lynda P. Frazier, discussing Valhalla Hawkwing and potential creative ways to make money off her. Kate takes her annoyance out on Max as well, shooting back "No one!" when he asks her who the parent is, after he bails her out when her car breaks down at Lynda's house. Tara is intrigued by Lynda for some reason, although she doesn't know why yet. Not just because she's black.
While I almost find it hard to believe that even Charmaine would be this obnoxious, I liked the line about her wanting a Badgley Mischka wedding gown and chocolate fountain AND wanting to dance down the aisle AND have her whole wedding party wear sunglasses. Sounds like someone on the US of T writing staff is sick of weddings. Her newly-announced pregnancy seemed to come out of left field (especially as Tara pointed out, Charmaine was allegedly staying with her sister in order to "revirginate") so we'll see if the new and responsible, potentially homeowning, baby-having Charmaine will clash with the tacky wedding version. And how all the various people who have stock in the house will cooperate.
Tara, believing her situation to be too complicated for a local therapist, starts reading the book by her neighbor's shrink, the famous Shoshana Schoenbaum. She find a (somewhat strangely still furnished) 70's-style office in the new house which delivers flashbacks to her early life, and amidst significant-sounding tonal music, she sits down to read Schoenbaum's book, in a voice in her head that I recognized as Toni Collette's, but with what sounded like a new inflection, so even though I knew what was coming up, it was still a neat little clue.
Courtney continues her quest to get Marshall to deposit a load of womanhood in her. Marshall's never seemed totally enthusiastic about her brazenness, and I think the fact that he didn't want to touch any of the (packaged) condoms she poured on his bed was a good sign that Marshall wasn't totally up to the task. Despite her claims of him making her come "bigtime. So many times," Marshall doesn't seem completely enamored of the experience. Actually, quite the opposite. It makes him finally come out officially to Max, who takes it in stride. Marshall advises his Dad meanwhile that he should come clean to Tara about beating up Sully, which he does later in the episode.
Again, the episode was crafted well in order to elicit the ol' "What happens next"? After getting rid of the sign in front of the house next door, Max walks through and hears Tara's voice. He opens the door to the office and sees Tara as Shoshana, who puts her "patient," Dolores, on hold and asks Max to get out, as she's with a client.
--Do we think Dolores is a real person/patient or Tara's talking to an unconnected phone?
--Whitney Matheson at USA Today reported on how Princess Valhalla's origin story is online along with her comics. The same origin story that you see on Showtime's site was also online in the show when Kate initially searched for Lynda P. Frazier and came up with Princess Valhalla Hawkwind. I'm pretty sure the origin story isn't something made up out of whole cloth just to take up space, so does anybody want to wager any guesses as to where this season will go based on Princess V.'s story?
--While Googling for the correct spelling of her name, I discovered that Dr. Schoenbaum happens to have a Tumblr.
--I wish the tension between Tara and Lynda had been broken down in a little more realistic way. I think that Tara is intrigued by her, but the whole "What do you really want to know?" one-sided exchange could have been filled in more practically by Tara just asking Lynda what she and Kate had been up to. It's not a weird thing to ask.
--Wake up Fox News!
--Which of Tara's remaining alters would you rather see next, T. or Alice?
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