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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weeds: "Ducks and Tigers"

Illustration for article titled Weeds: "Ducks and Tigers"
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At this point, I’m almost completely uncertain of what to make of Weeds’ fifth season. The stuff I like and the stuff I hate about it is so closely bound together that I just don’t know what to say about it. Scenes will start out pretty good, with promising comic or dramatic ideas, and then kind of wander off the track and light out for the territories while leaving the audience completely behind. Or a scene will start off on some other planet but then gradually descend to Earth. It’s hard to know what to make of anything on this show anymore, whether or not we’re supposed to find any of this sincere or genuine or even funny. It’s like the smug wryness the show was holding back for most of its run has finally just risen up and swallowed the show whole. The appropriate facial expression to wear while watching it, I suspect, is a bemused smirk, but at some point, you have to wonder why you’re not smiling.

And yet all that said, “Ducks and Tigers” was a pretty good episode. I didn’t have as much fun with it as I did last week’s, but it felt like it had some smirk-worthy moments, as well as some good momentum on the plot front in all of its storylines. Sure, all of the storylines feel like they’re taking place in different shows, but at least they all managed to attain roughly the same level of interest this week, which is probably saying something. Let’s break it down, then, by major plot points and see how well each worked within the context of the episode and the season.

Dean and Doug try to get back at Celia by brainstorming methods for their revenge. The “good God, all of these people are stoners!” plots are usually among my least favorites on Weeds, which sometimes tries too hard to equate everyone’s sins with everyone else’s. But I thought this one had quite a few genuinely amusing moments, particularly when the two woke up covered in the notes they had written so that they could be sure to remember the good ideas they had to explain them to each other during a rather complicated brainstorming session where one was to remain sober and the other was to get stoned. Was it obvious that everything was leading in this direction? Of course. But seeing the two wake up with all of those goofy scrawls on their faces was still amusing.

Celia, meanwhile, is falling for/leading on her You’re Pretty chapter head. Take your pick for Celia’s motivation in this storyline. She certainly seems to have a bit of an interest in the woman, though that could be, as she tells Isabelle, because she’s fairly lonely and hasn’t gotten any in a while. Having a successful businessperson get turned on by how well the business is doing is, again, not a terribly original idea, but having a mother who’s newly discovering lesbian tendencies attempt to discuss the whole thing with her lesbian daughter actually made for a pretty funny scene.

Andy and Audra finally consummated their flirtation, and it was pretty awesome for both of them. My favorite scene in the episode, hands down, was Audra naming all of the bones in her leg as Andy slowly slid his hand up it, her passion gradually growing. It both said so much about who Audra was and about how she was starting to fall for a guy like Andy without ladling it on. The scene was nicely, deftly subtle, something that Weeds doesn’t always seem capable of. From there, the two just seemed to spend most of the episode in bed, as Andy took Audra away from her place, where she’d been followed by the abortion clinic protestors. This stuff wasn’t as funny or good, but that one great scene goes a long way toward making this plotline work.

Esteban’s daughter shows up at the mansion, and Silas decides to hit on her. This stuff was all bound up in the Nancy A-plot, but it might as well get its own breakout while we’re at it. Silas is an attractive guy, and Esteban’s daughter is hot, but she seems uninterested, pointing out that even though she’s a teenager, she has a 32-year-old journalist lover. Still, watching Silas improve himself, mostly in the backgrounds of scenes, in an effort to win her heart was, again, nicely sweet and subtle, especially when he slammed down Infinite Jest, of all things.

Nancy wants Pilar dead. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, though it involved a certain amount of machinations. Guillermo’s willing to help her out if she’ll get his case transferred to Mexico, where it will be easier to escape. Nancy’s wary, but she knows that Pilar’s out there, marshalling her forces, so she agrees to it and enlists Caesar to get the judge in charge to move the trial south. And will she ever be able to trust him? Well, she’ll just have to know that their relationship is like a YouTube movie where a duck and a tiger are best friends, says Guillermo, in another nicely written little moment.

Nancy deals with just about everything else that’s going on and has a few squabbles with her new husband, which would be ominous on any other show but here pretty much just seem tossed in to kill some time. I suspect the foremost thing here is that baby Stevie is rejecting Nancy’s breast milk in favor of the formula that Esteban would rather the baby drink. I think this is all supposed to be pointing out how the two have different parenting philosophies and cutting the apron strings and blah, blah, blah, but it mostly just feels like some whining. Better was Nancy realizing that she’s really screwed up her kids and telling Esteban as much (and his quiet insistence that they would be fixed). Plus, hell, Nancy’s just beginning to figure out that she’s a step-mother now, and that seems to have shaken her quite a bit.

Esteban gets arrested. This was only a quick little moment at the end of the episode, but it seemed set up to both provide a cliffhanger and drive home how little Nancy knows her new husband. Esteban, indeed, looks pretty happy working the campaign circuit, but there’s trouble lurking right around the corner. Are these real charges? Ones pumped up by Pilar? For the time being, I’m willing to consider the latter, but the fact that this kind of came out of nowhere leaves everyone as confused as we are.

How will all involved get out of this latest scrape? I’m sad to say that I just don’t care. As you look over that list of plots (and I’m pretty sure I misplaced one or two), you realize that Weeds is maybe a show that needs to streamline just a little bit, especially when you consider that Nancy’s pretty much in a dark comedy about drug trafficking, while Doug and Dean are trapped in some sort of Half Baked ripoff and Celia remains trapped in season one of Weeds. It’s not that I didn’t like all of these individual plotlines. Far from it. I just would rather they all fit together in some sort of coherent sense.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

  • I liked the way Esteban said “It’s Nancy!” like he was introducing her on a game show.
  • Just two episodes left. Non-spoiler predictions?
  • “If you don’t climax, the terrorists win.”