Lillian: “Today’s the best day of our lives!”
Beatrice: “Our marriages are being annulled!”
Lillian: “Now we’re living the dream: We’re two single women in 1903 with 16 children between us.”
Oh, Lillian and Beatrice. After spending a little time outside of the walls of Bellacourt manor, having their 15 minutes of fame and subsequent run-in Harriet Tubman, the terrible Bellacourt twosome are back home. And they’re back with the weight of their loveless marriages lifted off of them… Almost. Even with the easy out of them finally getting their marriages to Victor and Albert annulled, they can’t even do that without a few hiccups. Unsurprisingly, Beatrice/Albert have an easier time consciously uncoupling than Lillian/Victor, but “Annulment” makes sure that both plots are mined for as much comedic gold as they possibly can be.
“Annulment” feels more like the type of episode that would appear in Another Period’s first season, which is actually a good thing; because as funny as “Tubman” was and as solidly as it functioned as a premiere, it really wasn’t the most indicative of Another Period as a whole. “Annulment,” on the other hand, is a true return to form for the series, which is expected with creators/showrunners Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome behind the script and fellow executive producer Jeremy Konner in the director’s chair. That combination is the series at its purest, at its most-realized—straight from the creators themselves. As such, the episode also marks a major return for the show’s talking head device, which gets Another Period back into the Keeping Up With The Kardashians aspect of the series that the premiere sorely lacked. It’s actually amazing how much more direction an episode of Another Period feels like it has with such a seemingly little feature. But tn this episode alone, the juxtaposition of these talking heads (like the “best day of our lives” one or Frederick’s reintroduction) helps usher in the scenes—and humor of the episode—even better than without them.
Plus, by this point, if there’s still a question as to why there would be talking heads in 1903 Rhode Island, think for a minute about what this show is.
Albert: “You know, I probably wouldn’t be in this predicament if there weren’t so many hatchets in the house. I think we should just get rid of them.”
Beatrice: “But Albert, you don’t understand: I like hatchets.”
Albert: “I know you do, but you live with a man who doesn’t have the capacity to be around one safely! I mean, how many people—and servants—have to die before we realize enough is enough?!?”
Beatrice: “Wait, so you’re saying I should give up my hatchets just because they cause some people to act violently?!?”
Albert: “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying!”
Beatrice: “So what? First you take my hatchets, then you take my buzzsaws? What’s next? My timber jigs? Then how am I supposed to chop beaver carcasses or defend myself in a mutiny?!?”
Albert: “You could use a gun to mutiny.”
Beatrice: “That would take forever to load!”
In the case of Beatrice and Albert’s plot this week, it’s one-part (very timely) “veiled” gun control conversation and one-part inspirational ‘80s movie. “Annulment” working as the spiritual sequel to season one’s “Funeral” is a nice touch, as is the show going with the fallout (and any fallout at all) of Albert being wounded with a hatchet (well, tomahawk) by Frederick. Beatrice’s childlike demeanor, coupled with her noted intense love of weaponry, makes her the perfect sensei in this situation for Albert’s more rational, ridiculous pushover personality. The final moment of the ‘80s movie montage being Beatrice hugging Albert on a bed of hatchets is just Another Period at its weird finest. Since Lillian is such a force of a person, Beatrice can often play second fiddle to her in situations, but Beatrice’s interactions with the other characters yield so many interesting results, especially because of her faux appearance of humanity. It’s what made her “friendship” with Blanche work in “Switcheroo Day” and what almost makes her incestuous relationship with Frederick worth rooting for. That, and the fact that Frederick is clearly unhappy in his role as a Senator and his marriage to Jim Crow-supporter Celery Savoy (but he can still tell the difference between Beatrice’s hatchets).
Victor: “I spent the best years of my life, aging, waiting around for you to love me!”
Lillian: “You wanted me to love you?”
Victor: “Well, no, but— I will not leave this room until you acquiesce or drop dead!”
Lillian: “Stop quoting our wedding night.”
Meanwhile, neither Lillian nor Victor have any such thing as a faux sense of humanity. Their self-imposed bottle plot features them having an escalating “absolutely nothing”-off and turning a viable room into a shit and piss factory. Both annulment plots are highlights of the episode in their own ways, since both couples are absolutely perfect for each other outside of the social climber, incest, and gay aspects of it all. So the mutual admiration between Beatrice and Albert makes perfect sense for them, just like the absolute venom between Lillian and Victor makes sense. Lillian and Victor are pretty much the same person, only where Victor goes for the jugular with bananas in shoes and harp-playing, Lillian does so by ordering the slaughtering of Victor’s family… which Victor does not stop. (Lillian’s talking head calls that “the perfect way to get even” after the banana prank, by the way.) And while the Beatrice/Albert plot has the guise of a lesson or two learned, Lillian/Victor makes no such pretenses. The reveal of Blanche cleaning up the urine and feces from Lillian and Victor’s three day stalemate works as a proper reminder that all of these shenanigans at least have consequences for the servants.
Peepers: “Unemployment is a real problem in the adolescent community. They have pre-school—well, why not pre-work?!”
Speaking of the servants, the Jay the orphan thief (Thomas Barbusca, who is terrifyingly good at playing a nightmare child) plot is the weakest of the bunch, but even it has its moments of greatness. The plot honestly deserves praise simply for the way it telegraphs the eventual loss of Jay’s cute kid thumbs. Plus, Garfield gets a win for once! It occurs after he’s bullied by the kid and accused of being the Michael Jackson of Bellacourt manor (“I’ve always had my suspicions about you and children, given that squeaky voice of yours.” “No, no, no, no! I would never. I like women. Black women.”), but it’s still eventually a win for poor, poor Garfield! Also, as fun of a concept as the entire orphan job fair is independent of the rest of the plot, it’s a bit repetitive in terms of Peepers plots: The season premiere already had Peepers hire a new staff member (Flobelle), one who’s working out well so far. Him hiring another dud doesn’t do all that much. Still, the job fair bit is worth it for its own montage purposes, as apparently orphan job fair is a lot like American Idol, complete with an “Ave Maria” rendition.
And while that particular soap opera plot doesn’t quite work, “Annulment” ends with Albert hatcheted again and Chair waking from her coma. Yes, finally, Chair is awake, which is the only thing that rivals the visual of a slumbering Chair in a party hat. The real “drama” can begin now.
- Albert: “I’m sorry, my sweet, simple tartelette.”
Beatrice: “It isn’t your fault. Father says that whenever a man hits me, I must’ve done something to provoke him.”
Albert: “But this time, you didn’t provoke it. It’s just, I don’t know what did.”
- Beatrice: “I mean, think about it: If you had a hatchet, you could’ve killed your attacker before he killed you.”
Albert: “I’m not dead. He didn’t kill me.”
Beatrice: “Or, you could’ve thrown your hatchet at Frederick’s hatchet and stopped it in mid-air. Then no one would’ve died.”
Albert: “No one did die.”
- Lillian: “The Butternut Room? Why on earth would you think you get the Butternut Room?”
Victor: “It’s my room. Butt or nut—who do you think loves those two things more?”
- The Commodore: “Frederick, hold your brother.”
Frederick: “Why don’t you make him hold me?!” Frederick’s feud with Kermit the baby (whose baby shower is the big event of the episode, by the way) is pretty amazing, and I can’t believe how much I missed Jason Ritter in this role. He’s so petulant. It’s great.
- The fact that Beatrice’s idea to throw a hatchet at another hatchet actually works is so beautifully dumb. The fact that Albert’s hatchet wound is, well, a vagina… is beautifully dumb in another way.
- Jay: “Don’t send me back to the orphanage! I already burnt my bridges there!”
Peepers: “You’re lucky I don’t make you hitchhike! Because you have no thumbs!”
- As for this week’s episode stinger: It’s just more of Victor’s harp song. It’s quite lovely. “ I am good/At playing the harp”
- This officially ends Another Period coverage at TV Club. It’s been fun. Ending said coverage—not so much.