Weeds: "Where the Sidewalk Ends"
B-

Weeds: "Where the Sidewalk Ends"

For the second week in a row, Weeds jaunted merrily ahead of the timeline, skipping up to the very end of Nancy’s pregnancy, and for the second week in a row, pretty much nothing happened outside of the episode’s closing moments. I get that this is a feature of the show (that the episodes are often pretty plotless outside of the yearly season finale cliffhanger), but in season five, it somehow seems even worse, simply because the show is spinning so many plates just to, say, keep Celia on the show and having a good time. At the very least, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” was a good deal funnier than last week’s “A Modest Proposal,” so I was less irritated by it than I was by the last episode. But it was still a time waster, the equivalent of the kid going up in front of the cast and staring at his shoes rather than give his book report.

Basically, Nancy has begun to realize that Esteban isn’t going to let her have her baby her way, discovering that he’s having a home birth center set up in his house and that he intends to have Nancy give birth completely off the grid. This is problematic, as Andy points out later, because if there’s no legal record of the kid, then it’s easier for Esteban to abscond with the boy to Mexico or kill Nancy after she’s done giving birth. The show drives home just how trapped she is by having Ignacio tell her, grimly, that her car is in the shop (for a broken taillight, no less) and by layering music quoting the Rosemary’s Baby theme on the soundtrack. (And this would be a nice little gag for those in the know if the show didn’t have Nancy POINT OUT later that she felt like she was trapped in a Rosemary’s Baby scenario. Have a little faith in us, Weeds!)

So, of course, it’s Andy to the rescue, coming to Esteban’s after Nancy tells him that Esteban has been killed, scooping her up and depositing her in the General Lee (one of 17 used in the fourth season of Dukes of Hazzard!) because the door is welded shut, taking charge at the doctor’s office to ensure that the baby is born in an American hospital with American documentation. I still don’t completely buy that Andy’s completely smitten with Nancy, no matter how often the show keeps telling me he is, but Justin Kirk is reaching a point where he pretty much can do no wrong, and when he guns the engine and has the General Lee’s horn blow “Dixie,” it’s a hilariously goofy moment of the sort this show often strains too hard to attain.

I also liked the scene preceding the General Lee rocketing down the California streets, when Andy almost argued with himself about whether he was still in love with Nancy or whether he was merely obsessed with her. The relationship between the two is always more believable when Mary-Louise Parker and Kirk are given darker shades to play, and the shades in that scene were darker than dark. Naturally, having Nancy taunt Andy slyly with her sexual preferences was going to set him off, and the twisty monologue (peppered with a “Fuck you!” or two) that slipped from his lips was an episode highlight.

Also, for as much complaining as I do about the plot not moving forward, it did do so somewhat erratically tonight at episode’s start and end. So long as you could ignore the 25 minutes of nothing happening in between, you were probably OK. Turns out that that woman who came to visit Esteban at the end of the last episode is some sort of boss or campaign manager, and she wants to keep him from marrying a white woman and ruining his chances in the upcoming election (or so Esteban tells Nancy – it seems unlikely she’d ever get behind the marriage of these two). This is when he and his lackeys put the home birth plan into place and when Shane reads up on the woman (Pilar) on Wikipedia, only to learn just how ruthless she really is. That leads to a long episode of Nancy weighing her options before deciding that she really wants her baby to be delivered by Alanis Morisette and that lovely final shot of Andy, Shane and Esteban all gathered around Nancy’s bed, Esteban holding their son, now a legally documented American citizen.

It wasn’t all Nancy, Andy and Esteban (though those are the parts that spring most readily to mind when thinking about this). The show continued its long list of possible storylines for Celia by immersing her in the world of You’re Pretty, the Weeds universe’s equivalent of Avon or Mary Kay. The strained scene where the woman inducting all of the You’re Pretty ladies into the organization and trading sexually barbed quips with Celia didn’t invest me with a lot of confidence in this storyline, but Elizabeth Perkins’ sly tone just might save this storyline yet. Then she went home to collapse on the couch next to Shane and asked him for a foot rub, while the show then popped into one of those scenes that should be more irritating than they are, where the two characters talk about two different things and don’t really pay attention to each other. I don’t know if the actors were appreciably better in this scene than they usually are when the show attempts this, but I didn’t mind this one so much as I usually do. Maybe it was Celia realizing she was Willy Loman. (Also, bonus points for using Allie Grant and using her surprisingly well. I loved the look of sneering disdain on her face throughout the You’re Pretty demonstration her mother subjected her to.)

The Doug and Silas medical marijuana dispensary storyline continued to be kind of a drag, this week randomly incorporating Comic-Con, which Weeds is going to randomly have a panel at (there are seriously that many Weeds fans at Comic-Con?). This week, Dean got involved, and the cops came to take away the officer who’s giving the boys so much trouble with his demands (at the behest of that Tunisian fellow who works for them, who turned out to be an Internal Affairs cop undercover). Also, Doug tried to hire a hot chick, and there was pot in the ice cream. I don’t want to say that the writers are having the same trouble incorporating these two post-season three that they’ve had with Celia, since Silas is clearly stepping into the family business, but it sure seems like they are.

But that’s pretty much all for naught anyway because none of this is going to matter in a few week’s time. We’ve entered the big plot stall portion of any Weeds season, when the show, which seemed like it might have potential to reel off a season to match its first two early on in the season, pretty much just gives up the ghost in favor of sustained wackiness on its way to the shocking climax that won’t seem so shocking now that we’ve been conditioned to expect it. I laughed a lot at “Sidewalk,” so I’m inclined to be charitable toward it, but good God, it still tested my patience.

Grade: B-

Stray observations:

  • “Little Boxes” comes back for a cameo appearance in the title screen, along with a Wikipedia entry I wrote down as “self-congratulatory” until I went to Wikipedia and realized that was the actual text of the Weeds Wikipedia entry. Huh.
  • Boy, for all the hype about her appearance on the show, Alanis sure hasn’t gotten a lot to do.
  • I’m guessing that “Mexicunt” is a portmanteau that’s just not going to catch on, though I’ve been wrong before.
  • “I'm not rape-y enough for you.”

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