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Weeds: “Threshold”

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At the end of “Threshold,” Nancy chooses her path for the future. After realizing that she wasn’t ready to be Dave’s rebound after his wife’s death, and with a significant sum of tobacco-company money in a bank account, Nancy hatches a plan to live a simple and stable existence operating a classy, modern marijuana boutique. It’s a compelling plan, winning over a skeptical Silas, and it sets the rest of the season in motion as strikes out to retire to the same life she was trying to leave behind when the season began.


However, while Nancy’s decision provides a clear structure for the rest of the season, it implodes what was built thus far. She unceremoniously quits her job with the pharmaceutical company (with Silas losing his job earlier in the episode for trying to steal his plants to help develop his own grow operation), undoing a fairly considerable story thread. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the way the season is comfortable just tossing out entire storylines in favor of a shiny new narrative has proven wholly unsatisfying. Perhaps one could argue it’s consistent with Nancy’s character given how often she has floated from one thing to another, but she used to float with purpose, and for clear reasons.

This is not to say that Mary-Louise Parker isn’t doing some interesting work, as her performance at the dinner party highlights the tension Nancy feels when living anything close to a normal existence. I do think there’s a thread running through Nancy’s arc regarding her inability to live a normal life: She wants to return to the suburbs, she wants to bring stability to her family, but she can’t do it through normal jobs or through a typical relationship. Rabbi Dave is trying to piece his life back together in the wake of his wife’s death, and Nancy is in a similarly reconstructive phase after her near-death experience. When she begins to understand how recently Dave lost his wife, and how it reflected her own grieving process after Judah (whose memory has loomed large this season), Nancy realizes that she’s not exactly prepared to be a part of the reconstruction of someone else’s life. It leads Nancy to tell Dave she’s a pot dealer, a reclamation of self that she intends to use to put her life back together.


What frustrates me is that this moment should have feel triumphant, and instead it feels perfunctory. Of course Nancy realizes she’s meant to be a pot dealer, as it allows the show to return to its roots. While much of the season to this point explored interesting avenues in which Nancy could search for a future different than her past, “Threshold” doubles down on nostalgia and prepares us for a walk down memory lane (as Silas’ lack of plants would certainly suggest reaching out to previous contacts would be a first step in setting up a new business). But Rabbi Dave was too much of a patsy for Nancy’s rejection to resonate emotionally. I am becoming a broken record at this point: “Threshold” does a poor job of making it seem like Nancy has learned anything from her various adventures this season. It makes the second act of the season feel like an exercise in killing time—while there are enough episodes remaining to give Nancy’s journey more meaning, it is being unwritten by more recent events that the show seems interested in moving toward the finale.

Although Showtime’s preview for “Threshold” suggested it offered movement for Nancy and Andy’s complicated relationship, their shared scene becomes more of a sexually charged exposition session in which they catch one another up on their romantic lives. It’s a frustrating scene, as it highlights the chemistry between the two actors and the complete lack of complexity in their respective storylines. While Nancy’s feels perfunctory, Andy’s just takes the same basic point and makes it over and over again. Remember when Andy got married on impulse last week? Well, you’ll never believe this, but it turns out it was a terrible idea—who knew?—and his young bride doesn’t understand his references or want to have children. There’s no nuance to be found here, with the episode playing out Andy’s sudden realization as though it will become more effective if we keep seeing examples of it. The storyline lacks a sense of dynamism, of something more than a convenient symbol of Andy’s struggle to achieve his goals. Aubrey Dollar is charming as Joanna, but her character “development” reads more like a laundry list of details that identify the marriage as a mistake—rather than rendering Joanna as an actual person.

For a brief moment, Nancy and Andy’s storylines are given meaning as the characters banter back and forth, the kind of scene that I wish there had been more time for this season. But then Nancy not-so-subtly remembers that Andy once dated a Rabbinical teacher, helping Andy transition into his next storyline with his marriage a one-dimensional bump in the road. Showing Andy masturbating to photos of his ex-girlfriend—while his wife sleeps in the same room—is a provocative choice, but there’s nothing provocative about the storyline itself, which emerged out of nowhere and seems nostalgic for something I barely remembered.

Obviously, Weeds’ final season has lots of backstory to build on, and so pulling characters out of the woodwork or returning to previous story ideas isn’t exactly unfounded. However, there has been a decided lack of elegance in how those stories have been introduced, presented more as solutions to temporary problems than as outcomes from ongoing developments. Nothing that has happened so far this season feels like a conclusion, with everything instead seeming like a new beginning with little connection to what came immediately before. With only three episodes—over two weeks—remaining, one can only hope that we’ve reached the final beginning, one that can bring us to the conclusion in addition to returning us to the past.


Stray observations:

  • This week’s “Little Boxes” comes from the show’s own Hunter Parrish, who has been hanging around on Broadway during the show’s run and is launching a recording career.
  • While I’m always glad to see African-Americans represented on the show after Conrad and Heylia’s unceremonious exit, the adventures of Shane and Angela trying to steal back the car they took from the impound lot is beyond pointless. In fact, “Threshold” completely ignores it once they’re almost arrested, never returning to give us a resolution.
  • “Yeah, family: We’ve all got loved ones we’ve left behind”—there’s still nothing happening in the storyline belonging to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Discussed, but I think that line is a good sign of where this meandering path is leading us.
  • While I know the show’s budget has shrunk considerably, it’s sad when it has to use green screen to film a “carried over the threshold” scene due to the lack of exteriors. The green screen work in the bridge sequence with Shane and Angela isn’t much better, either.
  • Did anyone else find it really distracting that Andy was able to find screencaps from previous Weeds episodes on Google images? Like, didn’t he find it weird that there would be pictures of Yael from events in his own life? I hope the next episode begins with him in a psychiatric ward, having gone insane from this revelation.