Following a season premiere that fairly broadcast its talking points, One Mississippi bounces back with an episode that splits the characters into two camps: those who pursue, whether it’s a person or a state of mind, and those who are content to sit and let things happen around them. Like “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Into The Light” also works in real-life fuckery—here, it’s discriminatory health care practices. Once again, Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allyne have teamed up on the script, but they strike a more even balance between social issues, drama, and humor here. In some instances, it’s as simple as taking the earnest discussion out of the sound booth and placing it in a less controlled setting; other times, it means shaking Bill up but good.
Tig’s stepfather continues to move in a direction opposite of everyone else; he’s going through the motions of work and home life, but he’s also in a holding pattern. The loss of a spouse is different from the loss of a parent, so his mourning won’t look the same as Tig and Remy’s. But when he (somewhat correctly) judges Jane Eyre’s Rochester for not honoring his word to look after his first wife Bertha, that’s Bill digging his heels in after being prodded by Mellie, Beulah, and, to a lesser extent, his stepkids. Although Bill previously seemed unaware of the romantic scheming of his fellow senior citizens, now he appears to be rejecting the idea of dating, albeit in a genteel fashion by critiquing classic literature.
His friends and family’s plans, not to mention his own heretofore unacknowledged desire for companionship, are throwing Bill off his punctilious game. Rothman perfectly captures Bill’s growing frustration, steadily raising his indignation from the typical housekeeping grousing to his outburst at the book club meeting. And even then, you can tell he’s holding something back. But being that tightly wound is what causes Bill to spin out, which leads to an ER visit for vertigo (or “loose ear crystals”—thank you, Felicia and WebMD). Bill’s balance is restored by episode’s end, and so is his interest in romance, it seems.
Bill and Felicia’s (Sheryl Lee Ralph) connection also speaks to the economy of storytelling in One Mississippi. Their meet-cute is, well, cute, but also awkward and authentic. We don’t know much about Felicia—she hardly seems the sentimental or overly solicitous type, but she’s practical enough to recognize that Bill is in distress. And her compatibility with Bill is demonstrated through the cursory medical research and her remote-controlled thermostat. But we’ll see how well being the yin to someone’s yin works out in the long run.
It’s no surprise that Tig is also trying to make a connection in “Into The Light.” If she can’t be with the one she loves (Kate), she’ll tolerate having a red zinfandel with the one she’s with. It’s not exactly progress, but the date demonstrates Tig’s refusal to wallow—when it comes to her romantic life, at least. Her waning interest in Phoebe is also enough to make Kate act a little jealous, which is a bigger deal than it seems at first. As she admits to Tig, her approach to dating is much more passive: She just kind of makes herself available or at least present to someone she’s interested in, then hopes they ask her out.
Kate and Tig are at a romantic impasse then—although Tig senses Kate’s interest, the latter’s ambivalence is stalling them out. And as Tig says, she’s “so deep into being gay that [she]can’t go backwards.” She’s actually referring to Phoebe’s straight-girl act, but the sentiment also applies to Kate, who can’t even own up to having feelings for Tig, much less go on a date. The honesty of Kate and Phoebe’s hesitation keeps these situations from being mere plot points, but still effectively raises the stakes for the central romance. “Into The Light” is sweet, wry, and slyly political, and a good sign of things to come this season.
- I’m inclined to think that, if Tig had been around to hear the phrase “intemperate and unchaste” as it applied to Bertha, she’d also have found it appropriate for Caroline.
- Delighted to see Moesha and Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit’s Sheryl Lee Ralph bring her blend of sternness and warmth to the cast this season.
- I’m also heartened by the show’s commitment to showing the spectrum of sexual orientation, as well as the wide range of coming-out stories. Tig’s allowed to be frustrated on a personal level by Phoebe’s vacillating, but the show itself renders no judgment.
- The hospital admin invoking religion only prevented Tig from seeing her stepdad and was only temporary, but in real life, such practices have much more harmful ramifications. And it was an issue that was worked in to an increasingly tense situation that was nonetheless defused by Tig’s joking about her “husband-brother,” which is a Southern-stereotype dig perfectly dealt by a Southerner.
- If you enjoyed this version of Tig’s epiphany about her sexual orientation, might I also suggest her memoir, I’m Just A Person?
- And speaking of the radio show, here’s Music By Music’s “Light Of Love”: