This post discusses plot points from Nine Perfect Strangers’ sixth episode, “Motherlode.”
It’s not hard to see why in-demand actors Regina Hall and Melissa McCarthy jumped at the chance to join a project like Nine Perfect Strangers. Its gorgeous, coastal Australia filming location aside, the Hulu miniseries gives the A-Listers the chance to dig into complex, complicated characters—roles that both play into their strengths and subvert the expectations of two women best known for their comedic work.
The latest episode, “Motherlode,” pushes the Tranquillum House guests further still into Masha’s (Nicole Kidman) peculiar “protocol.” To put it bluntly, these nine perfect strangers are fully tripping, and their diet of drug-laden smoothies is leading all sorts of strange visions. Image-obsessed Jessica (Samara Weaving) imagines she loses her nose—in a scene that might be funny if it weren’t also so gruesome—while Heather (Asher Keddie) is now able to see her deceased son, just like Zoe (Grace Van Patten), which just about causes the Marconi family to combust. But, before all that, McCarthy’s Frances opens the episode by battling her demons in the form of an action-figure-sized Paul Drabble, the man who scammed her and broke her heart. At the outset, Frances was a thornier and more guarded person than audiences are used to seeing from the actor, but the character’s loosened up quite a bit, and her encounters with tiny Paul in the episode feel like classic McCarthy—especially because Paul’s played by her husband and frequent collaborator, Ben Falcone.
“I think Nicole brought it up first,” McCarthy reveals to The A.V. Club. “She was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be so great if [Falcone plays] just a terrible drabble?’” It’s fair to say McCarthy and the entire Nine Perfect Strangers crew had a lot of fun turning Falcone into the miniature cabaret act of nightmares. “He’s so nice, and [yet] he’s so strangely good at playing a scummy bad guy,” she laughs. Frances initially snuffs the singing-and-dancing nuisance with her pillow, and then later gets to flick him into the toilet, complete with a courtesy flush. “It’s just not something you ever plan on doing to your husband!” McCarthy shares more about the cathartic moment in the video below.
Husband-flushing aside, “Motherlode” offers up its fair share of gasp-inducing moments, too, perhaps most notably the reveal of Carmel’s real reasons for visiting Tranquillum. As it turns out, Masha had the initial affair with her husband—and she knows Carmel knows! The two come to a relatively quick truce after Masha apologizes, and it’s confirmed that this has nothing to do with the life-threatening texts she’s been receiving. But Carmel’s frequent fits of violent rage portend that the dust is far from settled—unless of course she gets the help she so desperately needs at the retreat.
It’s that seething anger, that feeling that Carmel’s coming undone, that sets her apart from many of the more put-together characters Regina Hall has played previously, and the actor was eager to explore those new depths. But is she capable of hurting Masha? Does she want to? As Hall shares with The A.V. Club, “I think she came [to Tranquillem] for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes, you’re either placing blame or taking responsibility. And I think, with a lot of the things that Carmel has done, she has blamed Masha for the demise of her would-be life.” Hall teases that those “myriad reasons” will continue to be revealed through Nine Perfect Strangers’ final episodes, but provides a final hint that Carmel’s journey will come to a happy—or at least hopeful—conclusion: “What is always wonderful about this story is that, no matter what the intention that everyone goes [into it] with, something beautiful is still able to come out of it.”
For more on Nine Perfect Strangers, check out Gwen Ihnat’s weekly TV Club reviews.