I think most/all summer shows are currently working their way up to their finales, but are stuck right now with less action-y episodes. It’s like the first big climb on a roller-coaster, but while some shows have that clicking noise, the one that creates a pit in your stomach in anticipation for the big finish, others make it feel like you’re still boarding, or worse, still in line.
Which is all to say that the pace continues to move at a snail’s pace; I get that they’re setting things up, but I think it could be done in a way that isn’t so damn slow. I think someone called it in the comments of a previous post, that the mini-series will end with Elaine announcing her campaign, but where’s the drama in that? We knew this was going to happen since the end of the first episode.
Maybe they’ll throw a curve ball and, I don’t know, Garcetti is somehow removed from the presidency an the Evil Vice President succeeds him? Or Elaine does the logical thing and dissociates herself from her entire train wreck of a family? I just don’t have a lot of faith the rest of the ride is going to be all that exciting.
Maybe it’s just that I’m not really that interested in TJ’s storyline and they seem to be devoting a ton of time to it? It’s so painfully predictable. That’s not to say it isn’t sad, but there’s just nothing there that you can’t see coming from a mile and a half away.
This cliché storyline is what the flashbacks are focused on. Turns out, last Christmas, TJ was actually sober, but instead of being self-destructive with drugs, he’s using a clearly doomed relationship with a closeted, married, Republican House Representative from Ohio who was being influential in blocking some sort of Child Protection bill that the Executive branch wanted passed.
Of course, somehow the Evil VP found out and he and the President agreed to blackmail the Representative with the information in order to get the bill passed. Elaine wants no part of it, but is forced into complicity to keep TJ out of the story.
It’s just fucking gross on so many levels: that politicians would actually use a tactic like that, that our government is so fucking useless that such swinish, tasteless machinations are the only thing able to get anything done, that our culture is still so ass-backwards that people still feel that they have to stay closeted and live their lives consumed with such shame and fear and self-loathing and the projection of that onto others.
Which is why is makes sense that after the man, the relationship, the love he tied his sobriety to calls him a “pathetic American punchline” and says that being with him made him feel “disgusting”, he would feel so incredibly low that he would try to kill himself, and that having all those feelings be brought up again, along with the familial disappointment, he would relapse and do it again.
Now, I’m not gay, I’ve never been an addict and I’m not a public figure, but I have been in that head-space, actually fairly recently (I’m also lucky enough to feel comfortable to talk about it openly and have a pretty strong attitude of black comedy/irony about being crazy. Fun fact: I spent a brief couple-hour sojourn admitted to a psych ward this past January. Fun times, and a good story if you ever want to hear about it). Anyway, I know it’s not the same, but suicide is suicide, and it’s similar enough that it is a little hard to watch, especially seeing Elaine and Bud having to find TJ like that. It’s so hard to see someone you love in such a dark place and not know at all what to do to help them, and when you’re the person in that dark hole, you feel so helpless and unable to ask for the help you so desperately need.
[It's also completely implausible that after his first attempt he wouldn't be admitted to the hospital, suffering from "exhaustion" and then sent away to some remote rehab facility. Come one, that is the textbook outline for this situation with this kind of family).
Moving on, there was a equally depressing storyline on the political side on things, with a Chinese submarine who was spying on the US has sunk 13 miles off the San Diego coast and more than 100 men are slowly dying from radiation poisoning. The Chinese won't have heard the distress signal, so Elaine gets sent to inform them. However, the Chinese aren't willing to send a rescue party; it would mean they're admitting to spying and it would risk exposing a weakness in the Chinese navy to both America and China. The President and VP are ready to give up, but like Elaine would ever let that happen.
One surprise here: the Evil Veep has found out about Elaine's plans to run! At first, Elaine bluffs ,restating her loyalty to the president. However, later on, she cops to it and says she'll resign, but only after they have saved the Chinese men together. It's a hell of a move; it shows how awesome a person Elaine is, that she would sacrifice such an amazing springboard to take down Garcetti in favor of saving lives (think of the attack ads: "do you really want a president who would so callously let innocent men die?"), and by showing her cards she loses the element of surprise, but she would rather win in a real fight than an unfair one. "I want you at your fighting weight when I thrash you."
With Susan and Dougie it was mostly just each of them being clear with each other about where each of them stands with their “deal”, and also them entering into each others’ personal spheres. Georgia threw a wrench in Susan’s plan, but that part did not work for me at all. There has no evidence whatsoever that would suggest that Georgia could have figured out Elaine was planning on running, nor that she is a skilled enough reporter to trick Ann into revealing what she did.
I’m not saying that I agree with Susan’s dismissal of Georgia’s journalistic abilities; in fact I think it’s weirdly (and sadly) anti-feminist. My problem is that the show itself has given us no prior evidence that this is within Georgia’s capabilities; it’s just all of a sudden she’s this psychic shark savant. What is sad to me is that what could be an opportunity for Georgia to learn from Susan, it’s this bitchy, back-handed pissing match between them. Why does it have to be All About Eve? Why do female characters have to be at each other’s throats? If these were male reporters it would be totally different.
It’s also weird and short-sighted for Susan to be all “bloggers aren’t serious journalists” and “the internet doesn’t have any real news” and “people take all of their breakfast to read our newspaper”. This is some Aaron Sorkin-level pretentious intellectualism bullshit, only he’s actually been able to recognize and credit the use of technology in reporting the news (see The Newsroom, 1×05).
Alright, I think I’ve got out all my ranting. Let’s just bullet point the rest of this shiz.
- Oh Ann, you are not the brightest interior designer in the garden, are you? You totally could’ve saved that blunder, with a “oh, I was talking about the Garcetti re-election campaign, not any other campaign. Haha, you silly blogger you!” and instead you got all deer-in-the-headlights.
- Yeah, Bud? Whatever. If you are so committed to Elaine, why didn’t you stop sleeping around after episode 1? I can’t.
- I was glad to see Dylan Baker’s Evil finally put to some good use, thank God.
- How awkward was that Skype chat with Doug holding up the iPad? Hilarious.
- There is no fucking way that Dougie will be White House Chief of Staff, especially once Elaine finds out he was the leak.
- “If only his political opinions were as toned as his six pack.” “8-pack.” “Is that even possible?” “Oh yeah, sweetheart.”
- “That douchebag is the worst. I’m not Garcetti’s biggest fan, but it shows how truly screwed up this country is when a first-termer can just stick his finger in the eye of the president.” “As far as I’m concerned he can put it where ever he wants.”
- “Georgia doesn’t even know how to spell ‘sophisticated’.” (Okay, I don’t agree with the sentiment, but funny line.)
- “First rule of D.C.: never hire anyone from LA.” Incorrect; CJ Cregg was from LA, remember?
You want let’s finish off with a gif of James Wolk and his adorable face? Okay, sure.
P.S. I’m standing by my Doug/Susan theory, especially after seeing the promo for next week. 0:17-0:19? (I think it also matches the footage in the opening titles of Doug kissing someone). What can I say? I am the Nostradamus of television relationships.