Last time on One Mississippi, relationships gained traction and tension, as Bill sought out Felicia (though under the auspices of thanking her for getting him to the hospital); Remy dropped his guard with Desiree; and Kate and Tig both acted on their feelings, only for the former to get cold feet by episode’s end. If the second installment outlined the family’s different directions (and speeds), then “Kiss Me And Smile For Me” wrapped them all up in a bear hug and wished them well. You know, until that lovely musical number was ruined by Kate saying she can’t actually be with Tig.
That record scratch moment was disappointing, but, as Erik’s pointed out, it didn’t feel like the end of Tig and Kate, nor was it intended to be. Even at just six episodes per season, One Mississippi isn’t a sprint, it’s a stroll. As efficiently as its stories are told, it’s not in a rush to cram in a whole lot of plot. The show is the kind of entertaining yarn that some older, genteel Southern woman might spin on her porch while fanning herself and/or sipping a mint julep—that is, if that woman were given to discussing sexual politics, gender and race dynamics, grief, etc. There are colorful characters, courtly men, romantic gestures, setbacks, and a moral or two (though the themes are worked in much more seamlessly after the premiere).
Which is why, once again, Tig doesn’t anguish over the latest development with Kate in “Who Do You Think You Are?” She goes on another date, this time with lovely Sapphic country singer Cassandra Knight (Missi Pyle, who’s already working on her next Random Roles). It’s not bad as far as “obvious temporary speed bumps on the path to love” go; they seem compatible and Cassandra is openly gay. But her disdain for less cosmopolitan lesbians is also on full display, and sends Tig running. Before they fall out, though, their connection in the sound booth is enough to ruffle Kate. Watching Tig hit it off with someone else while talking about openness is enough to make her do some research, i.e., watch The L Word. Kate’s looking for a greater understanding, which she’s more likely to find by just talking to Tig than watching Shane, but maybe she’s also reading Love Wins.
Empathy is everywhere in “Who Do You Think You Are?”, or, at the very least, attempts at it. After being chewed out for not being more welcoming, Tig nabs an autograph for Desiree, who really loves Donkey, Kevin, and Beck’s show. She’s trying, especially after realizing that she’d turned up her nose in a manner not unlike Cassandra’s, and it wasn’t a good look for either of them.
But the best example of an earnest desire to take in someone else’s life experience comes via Bill and Felicia. As I watched John Rothman and Sheryl Lee Ralph go back and forth, it was clear that Bill’s furnace wasn’t the only thing generating excess heat. Really, the way they talked about devices “going rogue” in such crisp tones reminded me of that scene in My Cousin Vinny, where Marisa Tomei gets Oscar-winning mileage out of the word “torque.” When they eventually make plans to go to dinner, the moment is as satisfying as if they’d had their first kiss.
In true One Mississippi fashion, though, the biggest first date hurdles aren’t a lack of common interests or chemistry. Writer Zoe Jarman makes pertinent points about just what is being claimed with Southern heritage; while Bill is obviously right-minded, the speed and ease with which he waters down someone’s slave-owning history is still shocking, especially to his companion. As she points out to him, “That woman owned other people. Why would anyone sugarcoat that?”
The moment where Felicia waits for Bill’s reaction to her statement about the “immense evil” of slavery and its far-reaching effects is so loaded, especially since “talking politics” is usually considered impolite, particularly in a part of the world where people remain in denial about why their ancestors went to war. To the show’s credit, Bill doesn’t fall on his sword or call out Whitey; he apologizes for his ignorance. And though initially confused—because he probably thinks that slave owner was one of the good ones, since she offered her slaves wages after the war—he doesn’t burden Felicia with explaining a 400-year legacy. Instead, we see Bill educate himself at home on the new Jim Crow and the prison industrial complex, which yes, leads to a funny exchange with Tig, but will yield so much more down the road.
- “I don’t think this is an issue a maitre’d can solve”—Felicia, on the brutal legacy of slavery in this country, which she is just so right about.
- “I too detest being foiled by a computer.” I think Felicia had my favorite lines this episode.
- I didn’t pick up on new tracks to add to a One Mississippi playlist, and I’m not sure if those Cassandra Knight songs were Missi Pyle originals or what. But this is even better.
- Finally, the “Who Do You Think You Are?” is probably a reference to this Candlewick Green song, but thanks to The Deuce, my mind went straight to Jean Knight.