It’s always great to start a review off with good news, and in this case, it’s the fact that Comedy Central has renewed Another Period for a second season. The way things are looking, the first season will go out with a bang (maybe of a gun, maybe of an orgy), so it’s a relief to know the show won’t be a one and done. To bring out the cliches, a storm is coming, and “Reject’s Beach” follows “Dog Dinner Party”s lead as the calm before the storm. In fact, if either of those episodes are to be considered “calm,” then the finale can only exceed any and all expectation. As Another Period has become a more serialized dark comedy with every passing episode, it’s really become a better show, one that has an enormous amount of confidence despite its youth. It has no problem having a syringe-fueled bachelor party so early in its series run, and that’s just something you don’t see most new shows do.
Last week, there was a sense of worry that Another Period has possibly lost the plot, with regards to character motivations, specifically when it came to the scheming Chair. As it turns out with “Reject’s Beach,” last week was just the pot finally boiling over, and the last thing Another Period lacks is strength in its plot. The season has been building, building, building to Chair taking the Bellacourt manor by (apologies) storm, biding her time until she can eliminate all those in her way. Last week was Garfield, who proved to be less devoted to her than she initially believed, and it would have been Dodo if she could have convinced her to get back on the morphine. From the beginning, with their bizarre Moonlighting relationship, Chair has had Hamish in the pawn of her hand, so even his “blackmail” is no threat to her. So this week, Chair takes on poor Blanche and Baby B, making her intentions completely known to the audience and the Commodore: She wants it all.
The framing of the Blanche/Chair vendetta being the result of the actions from the phenomenal “Switcheroo Day” is an interesting one because it implies that Chair would not have taken Blanche down otherwise. That almost brings a humanity that is otherwise lacking to the Chair character, but the fact that Blanche’s heartfelt apology for that behavior doesn’t even give Chair a little bit of pause completely eliminates that. Another Period is very aware of the structure of these types of soap opera elements and is very deliberate in its choice for the characters—despite being a show that initially comes across as an excuse for a group of friends to just fuck around. So if Chair can’t even garner a little bit of sympathy in that instance, the idea of it ever coming probably isn’t something you can bank on. Early in the season, Chair wanted the smaller-time, more attainable goal of an heir courtesy of the Commodore, but by this point, having had to really suffer as a servant (especially with her lover never around), she’s moved on up in her goals. An heir is one thing, but it’s a job of work; having the manor is at least something immediate to show for her efforts.
And while Chair is ascending, Lillian Bellacourt is losing, yet again. For the short existence of Another Period, Lillian has never been a “likable” character. That’s what makes it so fascinating that she’s the character who is perhaps the most sympathetic of all the upstairs characters when push comes to shove. Dodo is majestic and regal, whether she’s on morphine or not. Beatrice is considered the hot one (just go back to the talking head introductions of the characters in the pilot) and is sold into white slavery, when Lillian can’t even get kidnapped right. Frederick is a man. Lillian is unpleasant and caustic. She’s pretty awful. Yet when she hurts, the show can unlock a compassion that should be unheard of for such a character. It’s the case for the beauty pageant, it’s the case for her relationship with Ponzi, and it’s the case for her teenage girl relationship with Celery. Things don’t actually come easy for her outside of the servants aspect of it all, and it makes her an interesting character to latch onto.
Watching Celery and the Marquis de Sainsbury dump Lillian in Reject’s Beach (which is, of course, a real place) brings out an ache for the character that should probably be relegated for someone like Garfield, or even Blanche, who ends up back in a sanitarium. But Natasha Leggero takes that sympathy all for herself, whether she’s drowning in the ocean of Reject’s Beach or crying about hot dogs. She already took that sympathy before it all even happened by having a musical number interrupted by Blanche. It’s a testament to Another Period’s quality (both in the writing and the acting) that such a seemingly one-note character can evoke so much emotion in her favor. It’s not even that Celery or the Marquis de Sainsbury are more unlikable than Lillian. In fact, in comparison, they’re probably better people. But Another Period finds a way to have the audience take ownership of the characters, to the point of feeling like if a supporting character hurts one of the inner circle, they’re hurting the natural order of things.
Part of that is because Another Period isn’t just making characters, it’s building a world. The world-building in Another Period is actually one of the best aspects of the series and one that is perhaps the least talked about part. The way these smaller characters like the Marquis de Sainsbury and Mark Twain weave in and out of the Bellacourts’ world is actually a more realistic approach to a show that is, on the surface, too cartoonish to be considered “realistic.” And now Stephen Tobolowsky’s Thomas Edison is part of this dark, twisted world, contributing to an even more sordid part of the show. Despite the fact that Beatrice is an adult (as is the returning Falling Charlie), the child pornography scenes are absolutely uncomfortable to watch and can probably be considered the litmus test for how dark the show can go before it gets too dark. And Another Period is already an insanely dark show at times, in a way that is somewhat unexpected. Compared to Comedy Central’s other Red Hour-produced series, Big Time In Hollywood, FL, which puts a humorous spin on something like the massive blood bath that ends the season (while the two idiot protagonists and Cuba Gooding Jr. end up the last ones standing), Another Period is on a whole other plane of sick and twisted. And while that can be great for the show, pushing the limits also means knowing where the limit is. This episode may have found it.
This episode also found the perfect Night Court joke, which is the key to any great comedy, courtesy of the Marquis de Sainsbury:
“So, convicted for treason by the knight’s court in the French town of Larroquette, I watched as my mentor, the Marquis Post’s, head rolled from the guillotine to my feet, thinking: This has ruined a perfectly good opera.”
- Excellent touch having newly sober Dodo pontificate about the benefits of being sober to anyone who will listen. I can’t wait until she becomes a vegan.
- Garfield would be able to save the day if anyone cared to listen to him one bit. So Garfield will probably not save the day.
- Blanche: (re: the letter) “Nothing. It’s nothing. I’m nothing.”
Hamish: “You need to work on your self-esteem, you idiot.”
- Chair: “You know, at first this Baby B stuff was kind of funny. But now it’s just weird. It’s time to change tactics.”
- Garfield: “Sir, I have nowhere else to go. The orphanage said no 30 year olds.”
- The look of the entire musical number is just aces. What an unexpected scene that absolutely works in the episode (and series). To still call Another Period simply a reality show parody is overlooking so much of what makes up the show.
- It looks like Beatrice didn’t kill our Kate Micucci-shaped N.A.G.S. member. Huzzah! And the cops played by Sasso and Daly remain reprehensible.
- The Commodore: (to Hortense) “Oh, I don’t think of you as one of my daughters. I think of you as a son that can’t earn money or give me an heir.”
- The “Next Time On Another Period” for this episode turns the show into a telenovela, which really isn’t a drastic change.