Last week’s Another Period took a stab at the “holiday”-themed romantic comedy genre, giving it an injection of the series’ own twisted brand of historical-based humor. “Switcheroo Day” was impressive in how complex it was—in addition to being just plain hilarious—and set the standard for the series moving forward. This week’s episode, “Dog Dinner Party,” continues that standard-bearing and forward momentum for the series, taking all of Another Period’s soapiest aspects and just running with them. These are the moments like Chair’s scheming for a higher standing in the Bellacourt household, or Peeper’s love of Dodo, or Beatrice and Frederick’s inappropriate sibling love. They’re actually the moments that appear in the forefront of “Dog Dinner Party,” and somehow it all ends up as quite the moving episode, one that is the show’s version of teaching valuable lessons.
“Lillian’s Birthday” was the episode where Lillian first showed flashes of being a real human with wants and desires, instead of just being a horrible heiress with “Hitler” in her name—and in a way, it was shocking. Appreciating things going terribly for the Bellacourt family (as they tend to bring it all on themselves) is not the same as actively wanting bad things to happen to them, so watching Ponzi break Lillian’s heart again and again was legitimately heart-breaking, despite the context of the entire series. Here, Lillian isn’t vulnerable in that same way, but the show does make her needy in a way she typically isn’t as she works for the approval and friendship of Celery Savoy (Missi Pyle).
Lillian is a character who (along with Beatrice, actually) has said time and time again how much she hates all of her “friends,” especially the ones higher in society; only now, the highest possible friend in society isn’t just someone she envies, it’s someone she admires. Even when holding a fake funeral for her husband and brother-in-law or fake kidnapping herself, Lillian was never shown to work as hard as she does to become friends with Celery, a person who is cold to her throughout (even once she accepts her). While “Lillian’s Birthday” dug for that humanity in Lillian through the power of first loves, “Dog Dinner Party” does so via an adolescent girl need to impress the most popular girl around. This can’t possibly end well, which can only mean more Lillian emotions, as unnerving as that can be.
Frederick: “Senators don’t make the laws. They just accept bribes from corporations. Until there’s a corporation that cares about siblings being allowed to marry, there’s nothing we can do.”
Beatrice: “I hate corporations! And I hate Celery!”
Frederick: “If it makes you feel any better, I hate her too. She’s smart, well-traveled, she laughs at all my jokes. It’s awkward.”
Beatrice, on the other hand, reaches “very special episode” territory immediately with her storyline, as Frederick being “engaged in a soon-to-be-married agreement” with Celery sends her into a trauma-induced fugue state. Compared to other episodes, Beatrice isn’t really given much to do in this episode once she transforms into her alter ego Baby B, but what the episode does give us with the character is hauntingly brilliant. A catatonic, sex-crazed Beatrice may not sound very far from normal Beatrice, but it’s amazing to see the transformation once that switch turns off.
But credit should also be given to the lead-up to the “nervous breakdown incest strip tease” (as Lillian calls it), as Frederick and Beatrice’s tree-side conversation quickly devolves into a soap opera scene full of leans and backs turned toward each other (which continues in the Peepers/Dodo scenes). The way the swelling music takes over here, it’s easy to find oneself in a trance-like state while watching, like Beatrice (although less terrifying). Another Period is taking these over-played tropes and making them fun and fascinating again, which you simply wouldn’t expect with a show called Another Period. Because of the period joke.
Dodo: “NO! THIS DRUG YOU SIMPLY WILL NOT DO! NO MORE!”
Chair: “A little won’t hurt.”
(Peepers knocks down the tray.)
Peepers: “SHE SAID NO MORE! The lady said no more.”
Dodo also finds herself in a “serious” episode of the show, as her morphine addiction has reached its peak, and detox is the only way to move on. Another Period’s unflinching attitude in the face of darkness is a large part of what makes it work, which is why Dodo’s “conversations” with her children’s portraits is jarring, albeit poignant. As Dodo yells at the portraits about how each one of is a “product of rape,” Another Period treads that sly line between the humor of a rape joke and condemning the era and all that it led it. It also helps that, as an actor, Paget Brewster can bring the gravitas to Dodo, even with such an amusing voice and when she’s deliriously calling her son a girl:
“Now you listen to me, girls! Especially you, Frederick! I’ve never told you this before but: I love you.”
Meanwhile, a riff on “White Rabbit” plays during this detox-fueled haze, reminding us this is a smart comedy with fantastic taste in music. (In fact, the act-opening songs are only getting better as the show goes on.) Despite the reliance on drugs and the knowledge (the reminder) of her giving Peepers a blowjob last episode, Dodo is somehow the only person who learns a lesson for now, in a show where no one really learns a lesson.
Garfield is a character that has already had his own overtly soap-opera storyline of the season, so here, he is used as a pawn in Chair’s schemes. If it’s a “very special episode” for everyone else, then Chair is the bad girl who comes to shake up the otherwise “innocent” characters. Chair gets Garfield fired in this episode and she lets Baby B go off to cause a scene, but she fails in the most important endeavor: getting Dodo back on morphine. What’s interesting about Chair’s scheming is that it would easily fit in well and work on a Melrose Place or a 90210 (I am referring to The CW’s reboots), but in Another Period, the character doesn’t account for the warped (and small) minds of the people she’s working for or her colleagues. Also, the end game is (supposedly) to end up with the Commodore, a terrible man, and become the head of the (also terrible) household, which don’t sound much like successes (or things she’s fully thought through). I’ve talked about how the put-upon version of Chair is the best Chair, but this mastermind version of Chair (sadly foiled by fools) is great, too, as long as the object of her “affection” isn’t also present.
Keep in mind, most of the above happens while grown adults watch two dogs (one of which “looks like he’s filled with potatoes” and another that’s wearing a cape made of other dogs) have a dinner party. That’s where the episode gets its title from, after all. It’s dumb, brilliant, surreal, and absolutely understandable, given this world. It’s Another Period, and it’s great.
- I hope it wasn’t cut off of broadcasts like It’s Hamish! was, but the Next Time On Another Period… being dedicated to Towelin’ Around really made me all warm inside.
- For whatever reason, I feel like Celery Savoy and Mark Twain would be a hoot to see interact. Hopefully that will become a reality.
- The image of Garfield with the puppies and the puppy-sized nooses is horrifically adorable, especially with the eventual cut to Mayor Cutie (who is the Cruella de Vil of the piece, not Lillian) with the cape. Garfield’s “stop trying to escape” and immediate chuckle are pretty great too.
- With the Frederick/Beatrice “break-up” scene, my mind immediately went here.
- Blanche’s immediate reaction to Beatrice’s mental breakdown is a reminder (as if one’s needed) that Beth Dover is pretty phenomenal in everything she’s in.
- As (also) phenomenal as Missi Pyle is in this episode, that gives me a reason to mention Josie & The Pussycats. But it’s actually scheming Chair’s audible “neither will I”—where she takes a page out of Parker Posey’s book—that is the most Josie moment of the episode.
- Lillian: “So how did you two meet? Was it love at first sight? How’d Dumpling get the name Dumpling? How’d you get the name Celery? Tell me everything.”
Celery: “Well, me and Freddie met through your mother. No love yet but here’s hoping. Dumpling got his name because he looks like he’s filled with potatoes. And I got the name Celery because Papa always said I took more energy than I gave.”
Lillian: “Father always tells me I’m an energy suck as well! Who knew we had so much in common?”
- Lillian: “Well, I just want to make sure that you understand that the Bellacourts—except for Hortense—are a wonderful family with high ethics and good Christian values.” Then, the squeal Lillian makes as Baby B enters the dinner party is unreal. I can’t even begin to describe it.
- Celery calls Peepers “Poopers,” and I don’t trust her. I don’t trust her one bit.