The idea of “television logic” is a tricky one, critically speaking. Without writing an entire essay on the subject, sometimes you watch a show and wonder, “Would that really happen?” And yet that’s a double-edged question: Are we considering the logic of the show itself, or the real-world logic that theoretically—but not necessarily—governs a show set in what is effectively an alternate version of our world?
I do not raise this point because I find the events in “Allosaurus Crush Castle” to be illogical: Weeds has established enough of a slightly off-kilter version of our world that I take the notion of a pharmaceutical company experimenting with engineered marijuana at face value (and don’t doubt that it might be happening in the industry). Rather, though, I find the episode to be entirely too logical, contorting itself into a situation where Nancy and Silas’ respective roles in the “drug business” can be immediately and perfectly translated into the other drug business seemingly—and, given Nancy’s sleepover deal, literally—overnight.
While I noted last week that the show was somewhat ballsy for its swiftness in taking marijuana out of the equation for Nancy and Silas, the effort to return to a legitimate version of the status quo is the precise opposite of ballsy. It’s a safe move, reverting to familiar patterns while removing criminality from the equation. Never mind that Nancy somehow gets hired without any kind of background check, and without any references, or that Silas somewhat magically gets brought into the picture offscreen so that his skills as a gardener can educate the scientists and researchers who don’t have his artful touch. While the theft of Silas’ plants and Nancy’s decision to shred her supply bred uncertainty, the unlikely scenario of Nancy backing her way into a pharmaceutical company has the show tripping over its own plotting to make things very certain as we reach the halfway point in the season.
To be fair to the show, I have no way of judging the success or failure of the storyline itself, which I think is structurally sound and helps transition the two characters into potential futures whether or not the show chooses to strip them away again. The problem isn’t in where we got so much as how we got there—the season has allegedly been building to this point, but the arc has been sporadic and unclear, with stops and starts as opposed to a gradual evolution. Perhaps this better reflects “real life,” which rarely follows an elegant narrative, but the sudden switches between stories calls attention to just how much they sound like plots as opposed to organic events happening around these characters. This is especially true for Silas, whose friendship with the now institutionalized R.J. started just so it could force him into a new path, with no other real motivation or purpose (beyond episodic comedy, of course, which I’d argue is ill-suited for this late in the show’s run, although that reflects a larger preference for dramatic over comic storylines in the show’s history).
I will say, however, that Nancy’s side of the storyline fares better, albeit still wrapped up in the convenience of it all. It works, though, because Nancy’s arc has been thematically sound all season, consistent in returning the character to her roots and forcing her to reconsider her path in life. Her misreading of the drop-off as illicit drugs rather than illicit prescription drugs shows how skewed her perspective can be while also allowing us to return to the pilot (where Nancy showed off her “tucked into a magazine” technique with Doug). The storyline represents an alternate past for Nancy: What if she had stumbled into an opportunity to become a pharmaceutical sales rep in the beginning? What if she had discovered her talent for drug sales, gotten out of the game when Heylia told her to get out of the game, and made a play at a more legitimate career? What would be different? What would be the same?
The problem is the thematic value for Nancy is dulled by its structural practicality moving forward. The storyline works in the abstract, but the idea of childcare being traded for a job is hokey, and bringing Silas into the mix takes a personal journey and turned it into a storytelling solution. Regardless of where the storyline goes, and I would agree with the writers that it offers some good structure for the remainder of the season, its introduction stretched too far to provide that structure, calling attention to its almost too-logical parallels to seasons past and the show’s choice to fold Silas into the scenario alongside Nancy.
While Shane spends time revisiting his own past in the episode, updating his terrorist-video aesthetic for the Occupy generation as he babysits Stevie and his new friend, the bulk of the episode follows another too-logical development: After sleeping with both Andy and Doug, Jill’s pregnant. It’s another case where something happens too fast to register as anything but a contrivance, and in this case I’m less convinced in the structural value compared to Nancy and Silas’ sudden employment. Without repeating the same case I’ve been making all season, Andy and Jill still feels like a relationship born out of convenience, a desire to keep Jennifer Jason Leigh around and to give Justin Kirk something to do. I want to care about the relationship, and do care about Andy’s self-evaluative turn in light of his potential fatherhood, but the storyline doesn’t feel like it’s been earned. I can see why Andy becoming a father is a logical step for the character, but the whole relationship with Jill—and Doug’s use as little more than a spare penis to complicate the situation—hasn’t been an effective path to reach that point. This isn’t about shipping Andy and Nancy so much as it’s shipping Andy, and Nancy, as individual characters—I feel Andy deserved better than an “accidental pregnancy/whose baby is it?” storyline, particularly one where his relationship with the mother has never connected.
If last week’s episode left us in a place of uncertainty, “Allosaurus Crush Castle” does precisely the opposite: Nancy and Silas have a new workplace, Andy and Jill are going to raise a baby together, and the season finally feels like it has fallen into place. However, as much as I appreciate a degree of certainty with which to situate my expectations for the final episodes of the series, I would have rather Weeds’ eighth season return to the sense of gradual, organic story development that marked earlier seasons. While Nancy’s arc may be working on this level in isolation, everything around her has been shifted into place awkwardly and suddenly, mirroring the show’s tendency toward the reset button more than its ability to converge storylines in climactic and compelling ways. A final season can be tough, and the verdict is certainly still out on how these stories will work moving forward, but “Allosaurus Crush Castle” is hurt by its location at the heart of an awkward, tenuous transition into a new future for the series and its characters.
- Tonight's Little Boxes comes from Bomb the Music Industry!
- I was wondering why Hunter Parrish wouldn’t be willing to even come close to stripping onscreen, and then this interview offered an explanation. Still, it seems kind of odd to introduce an episodic “Silas turns into an exotic dancer after being caught in the midst of a robbery” storyline without either having the real stripper show up part way through or objectifying Parrish for the female audience. It does continue Silas’ march through 2012’s prominent female-oriented popular culture trends, though, transitioning from Fifty Shades of Grey to Magic Mike.
- Shane’s police-academy storyline—making some money writing papers for fellow students—tangentially ties him to the family’s efforts to establish financial stability, but outside of resurrecting some How I Met Your Mother-related emotions regarding Bill Fagerbakke it again felt like a non-starter. The police-academy storyline just hasn’t worked since it stopped being a secret.
- It was really bugging me where I knew Terry from, but then Kevin Sussman’s IMDB page showed one recent credit (the owner of The Big Bang Theory’s comic book store), one older credit (Betty’s nerdy boyfriend on Ugly Betty), and one memorable credit (on ABC Family’s short-lived but wonderful The Middleman, which you should all check out) I recognized.
- All respect to the young child actors, but the material with Stevie and Terry’s son struggled under the weight of the complete lack of personality.
- Speculation time: If you’ve been following the events at the Television Critics’ Association Press Tour, you might have caught two Weeds-related developments. The first was Elizabeth Perkins vehemently denying she would be returning, suggesting the show couldn’t afford her. The second was Jenji Kohan, on a panel for the show, stating that everyone who they asked to come back chose to come back. So was Perkins lying, or did the writers choose not to tie up the Celia loose end and focus elsewhere? I’m interested to know who people want to see come back, provided a reunion tour is oncoming.