So, Weeds, what do you want to leave us with this season? Last season, you felt like leaving us with the idea that Nancy ruins everything she touches (actually, you left us with that in season three too). This season, you apparently want us to realize that Nancy needs to go it alone, that she can’t rely on the men in her life, except for maybe Andy. But, no, she can’t rely on him either, as he abandons his potential fiancée Audra to race from the house when she’s confronted by a bow-wielding guy who greets the two with “Have a seat, sinners.” Also, she should never wear Esteban’s deodorant or something.
Like most Weeds season finales, this one is building to a crazy cliffhanger that’s actually not all that crazy. In this case, there’s a series of cliffhangers. One by one, they feature Celia assembling a team to start her own pot dealing service, Andy leaving Audra to be pinned down by the guy who stalks her and Shane finally snapping entirely and whacking Pilar in the head with a croquet mallet, her body pitching into the swimming pool, blood swimming out of it and filling the blue expanse. None of these was as out of nowhere as some previous Weeds cliffhangers, particularly the Shane cliffhanger, which the show has actually been building to, but this ended up being a weirdly ruminating season finale, and that didn’t quite work. With the level of randomness that this season has been aspiring to, apparently, it didn’t feel quite crazy enough.
But let’s take those plots one by one, eh? Naturally, we’ll start with Celia, who’s been wandering around the edges of the series all season, seeking a reason to justify her continued existence on the show other than the writers just really wanting to work with Elizabeth Perkins. In the early days of the series, it made a lot of sense to have Celia around, as she provided a handy compare and contrast with Nancy in their methods for dealing with suburbia and coming out on top. Since season four began, however, she’s been adrift, without her role as the queen of Agrestic to fall back on. What made Celia compelling was how different she was from Nancy. Celia was assured, while Nancy was unsure but unflappable. Since Agrestic burned, though, Celia has lost the calm self-assurance that made her the antagonist to Nancy that the show needed at the start. Nancy’s threats have become much too prosaic and not spiritually threatening enough, while Celia has apparently embarked on a mission to become Nancy. Even if this works as meta-commentary both on the show’s early seasons and how the fans want to return to those early days, it still is going to feel like a flailing attempt to give Perkins and Kevin Nealon something to do. Who cares that Celia has a team? The show hasn’t justified going in this direction enough to make us care.
But, meanwhile, Andy was finally proposing to Audra after a few weeks of dating her. And she seemed mostly amenable to his advances, though a series of events caused her to not be able to accept his proposal, even if it came with a flex-fuel vehicle (and I think we were supposed to see the purchase of this vehicle at the expense of the General Lee as a big step for Andy). The Andy and Audra scenes have been genuinely sweet some of the time, so I was rooting for the two to somehow make it work, but, of course, Andy had to go back to being Andy and run out on his lady love in her time of need. And the guy just let him make a break for it! What the hell?
That meant that the bulk of the episode, as always, was focused on what was up with Nancy and how her story would change as the season came to its end. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, since Nancy’s story is always the driving force of the show. But did it have to be so boring tonight? I think the series was pushing for something profound, but having Nancy tell Esteban about how all of us are broken or having her pontificate about how men are weak just came off as the series dragging its feet, delaying getting to the big cliffhanger we knew was coming. Sure, she ended up taking care of Esteban’s daughter when she had the heroin overdose after Silas called in Audra, Nancy sending the girl off to rehab, and yeah, she continued her plot to take out Pilar by checking in with Guillermo, but the episode seemed dedicated to making sure the character knew her place in a way that seemed to come out of nowhere tonally. Nancy’s been struggling to carve out a spot for herself since the series began, and even if she hasn’t quite gotten there yet, she’s closer to it than she was at the start. I suppose this could all be generalized anxiety due to her recent marriage (and Esteban’s dislike of her wearing his deodorant), but this jarring shift is rather unusual.
This brings me to another complaint: The threat from Pilar has never felt all that real, even though she shot Shane in the arm via a proxy. I think that’s because no one really altered how they reacted and tried to find safety outside of talking about how they might do that at some point or travel to Europe or something like that. The biggest problem with these last two seasons of Weeds has been a question of stakes; the series wants to have the low stakes of a comedy, but it’s playing in the high stakes world of a crime drama. This is not to say that there couldn’t be a hilarious show about the high stakes world of crime or a low stakes show about being a criminal, but the plotting on Weeds is decidedly high stakes – things that are literally life and death are on the line here – and the people on the show act as if they know nothing will happen to them because they’re regular characters on a TV show.
All of this led to Pilar dropping the revelation that Guillermo worked for her (since she employs all of Mexico) and that Nancy is to remain politely in the background and no longer challenge her. And, then, of course, she brought Shane and Silas into it and said that their deaths could lead to a classic grieving mother look for Nancy, then suggesting they might die in a car crash or plane crash before Shane connected with her head and sent her flying. Naturally, the show has been building to this throughout the season (though the Guillermo revelation felt a little cheap – can’t Nancy have anyone she can rely on?), and Shane’s turn toward violence, in particular, has been carefully built toward, but how can we know that this will alter anything at all? Next season will probably have everyone talking about how Shane could get in trouble, and then they’ll sit down for mimosas and talk about how Gentle Ben was a helluva TV show. Weeds has always been a show at war with itself to some degree, and I’m usually willing to cut it a bit of slack in this regard, since it seems like it’s heading somewhere interesting enough most of the time. But this was a big shrug of a finale, an egging-on of the loyal audience. See you in 2010. If you want to show up. Y’know. Whatever.
- Man, after Mad Men did a much more trenchant AND hilarious blackface scene this week, do you think the Weeds folks felt a little embarrassed about last week’s scene?
- Weeds is usually pretty good at season finales, so I thought we’d get a redemption for some of the season’s stupider elements this week. Geez. I guess not.
- Thanks for hanging out and talking about Weeds with me this season. Even when the show was awful, you guys kept me on my toes. Here’s hoping season six offers something better, though I’m not at all hopeful. If you're a Showtime subscriber, though, I'll be back covering Dexter in a few weeks' time.