Friday, 14 October 2011

Popular - I do like them. They were home to me.

Popular: 2x01 Timber!

The Kids Are All Right.
Brooke: All-in-All…
Sam: …a pretty uneventful summer!
Brooke and Sam recap what happened after Kelly’s dramatic appearance at the wedding: since Mike wasn’t legally divorced, the wedding never happened, and then followed a long and painful period of awkward dinner table moments, silences, fights, especially since Brooke’s mum decided to stick around. Sam blames herself for the drama since she planted the idea in Kelly’s head, and Brooke is just happy to have her mother back. 
I think Brooke’s reaction to Kelly reveals a lot about her character. Imagine Sam in the same situation – she would be furious (one of the reasons why she isn’t more vocally outraged about Kelly is probably because she is too busy trying to fix things for Jane – keeping her own family together takes up all her energy). Brooke doesn’t even seem angry, she just clings to the idea of finally having her biological mother back, regardless of what Kelly did to her in the past. 
Mike feels like Kelly is taking his daughter away from him, and additionally, he is struggling with the fact that Jane is angry at him too. Things fall apart. 
Mike: Every time I hear her call you mom a chill runs down my spine. Then I remember there’s different types of mothers, aren’t there? I think your type is more closely related to the garden-variety alley cat that dumps her litter in the gutter and leaves them defenseless so she can run off and squeeze in her next mating opportunity.
I haven’t really made up my mind about Kelly yet; we will probably never know what the reason for abandoning her daughter was, but now that she is back and sees Mike’s perfect family, she realizes that she wants back into the life she left behind. She kisses Mike, Jane sees, and immediately starts packing her bags. The most painful thing about the scene is Sam’s reaction (also, Mike’s desperate “Sam is my daughter too”), because she is just sad and exhausted, not angry, not loud, none of the things that we would expect her to be. She took forever to get used to the idea of expanding her precarious family to include Brooke and Mike, but now this new family is something she feels protective of, and she doesn’t want to lose it. Brooke feels the same way, really, but finally having the mother she thought lost is more important to her at the moment. 
Part of Sam’s anger turns against Jane because she is forced once again to adapt to a new situation (“you finally use a pronoun that involves me!”)

Sam: How many times am I gonna uproot myself and follow you on a whim.
Jane: Us moving out of that house is your dream, Sam. You don’t like Brooke, you don’t like Mike…
Sam: I do like them. They were home to me.
Jane: Is the way Kelly makes you feel the way Brooke used to make you feel, like you’re not good enough?
Sam: Yeah. But I got over it.
Jane: I don’t think I will.
Sam tries everything to fix the situation, but Brooke turns out to be an unreliable ally because she wants two conflicting things: for Kelly to stick around and for Mike and Jane to be okay. It’s a question of priorities, and the absent mother currently overrules Sam’s agenda. 
Sam: This is about the sink, isn’t it; I mean you always hated sharing the sink.
Brooke: Sam it’s not about the sink. I liked having you around, I’ve always wanted a sister and even though I fought it I got one.
Sam: I caused this, Brooke. Do you have any idea what it is like to lie in bed at night and hear your mom crying in the bathroom and know that it’s because of what you’ve done? I thought you said my mom was the mother you never had.
Brooke: It’s complicated, Sam. My mom came back.
Sam: Brooke, my mom is the one you sent the card to last Mother’s Day. Your mom left, how can you forgive that?
Brooke: I had to make a choice, Sam, I could either hate her forever for what she did and turn her away and never know my own mother or try and understand why she left and just concentrate on the future instead. I am just trying to get rid of some of that pain and some of that anger that has been building up in me for eight years.
Sam: What about our family? Just know one thing. If you threw away that piece of paper I gave you, it’s just the same as if you threw away my mom and me.
I really love this conversation because it's such a reminder of the fact that they've come far, since their initial fights. There is so much at stake, and yet, they manage to talk about this relatively calmly, without calling each other names, and I think ultimately both understand the other's point of view, and there is just nothing either of them can do to fix this. 
Brooke is the one who finally makes a plan to solve both issues, to somehow untie the Gordian Knot: She will move to San Francisco with Kelly, giving Mike and Jane room to figure out their relationship. 
Brooke: I know this is hard but it is a way for both of us to win.
Mike: How do I win if my daughter leaves me and moves to San Francisco? What about me? What about how I raised you alone…
Brooke: Daddy, if I leave and mom comes with me you and change can work this out, I know it. Daddy, I realize that you and her are the ones that are supposed to be together. I need to spend time with my mother, it has nothing to do with you.
Mike: It has everything to do to me because you mean everything to me.
Brooke: You can’t hold on to me forever. I look at my mother where I come from and I don’t know her, daddy. And I think to know myself, that is a journey that I have to take.

The Forever Tree

In a storyline that seems more ridiculous than it actually is, a returned Bobbi Glass decides to end the much-cherished Forever Tree (which the students use to declare their never-ending love). Naturally. Lily declares war, but surprisingly, Sugar joins in because he recently tried to use the alleged powers of said tree to cement his relationship with Exquisite Woo (who is still around, but sadly without the ability to speak, apparently). The tree is used, in a rather surprisingly smart and interesting way, to portray each of the character’s idea of permanence – Josh starts out not believing in the power of the tree because he has lost his faith that relationships can last, but eventually comes around after a conversation with Lily (and comes around to wanting a lasting relationship with Brooke – “I think relationships are the biggest cause of all. And sometimes you just have to decide to commit.”, advises Lily). Both Lily and Sam try to use the tree as a metaphor for family life, but come to different conclusions based on their individual experiences. 
Lily: Sam, maybe it’s time you face the fact that maybe the merger between the McQueens and the McPhersons isn’t going to work. I mean, culturally, families are a dying breed. Something like 65 percent of all marriages ends in divorce. ‘Till Death Shall Us Part’ should be replaced in the American Lexicon by ‘Until something better comes along or I get bored’.
Sam: Yeah, well if you don’t believe in the power of forever, why are you up in this tree?
Lily: This tree has roots, Sam, if your family doesn’t, I know from experience, no amount of wishing or plotting can keep it growing.
I love this little insight into Lily’s family life, considering that we sadly never really get to see her background. 
In the end, of course, the tree falls (“Timber!”, Claw screamed manically, chainsaw roaring), and this sort of brings the question of whether this isn’t mean to symbolize some of the upcoming stories, as well. Brooke doesn’t seem too committed to Josh’s idea of a permanent relationship (and, only a couple of scenes after agreeing to it, she decides to move to San Francisco with her mum). Lily, without Harrison as her compatriot, loses. 

Nicole: It’s called show-business, not show-friends, Mary Cherry.
The OTT-storyline this episode actually ends in something that is going to be significant later: Nicole uses the room that Brooke’s preoccupation with family matters gives her to go on a power trip (literally: “This gives my ferocious will to power room to dominate and to devour.”) and forces Mary Cherry to try out for the open spot on the cheerleading team rather than just giving her a shoe-in: unless Mary Cherry donates one of her knees to her (because Nicole “spends a lot of time on her knees”, snort, and they are now making weird noises when she moves, which doesn’t exactly help with the whole cheerleading thing). Mary Cherry obliges, but manages to coax a spare knee from an elderly nurse at the hospital. Nicole, triumphantly exercising her power via try-outs, finally falls from her throne (yup, literally), and is expelled from the team, and her spot is given to… Carmen. Finally, the one thing Nic has always feared the most has happened: she is alone, without status, and Brooke is nowhere in sight.   

Random notes: 

Harrison’s absence will make sense later, but it’s sort of weird that nobody actually acknowledges it in the episode. 

One of my favourite things, both in television shows and back in school, was the inevitable parade of risky new haircuts after summer break. So far, I’d say Sammy’s is an improvement, while Josh and Sugar have entered dangerous boy-band territory with their general blondness. 

Tying up some left-over storylines from last season: “The Doctor’s verdict is in and I am not with child!” (I would suggest that Carmen switch doctors though if this actually took two months)

Sam: Maybe you can cut off the wedding dress at the knee and use it as a cocktail thingy!

After the new, “Montessori-style” chemistry teacher is dragged off, Bobbi Glass returns!

Nicole: It’s alive.

Mary Cherry calls her Claw (because Bobbi lost a finger to her pussy, er, cats, and replaced it with a creepy Bond-villainy thing), and of course it immediately catches on. CLAW, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO WITH US?

Oh Brooke, just have sex with Josh already! I mean, he washed his sheets and everything! 

Jane and Sam at the crusty motel: 

Jane: Did you hear one word I said? 
Sam: No. I was too busy renaming this place in the windmills of my mind. Guess what catchy name won: Chez Crackwhore.

Mary Cherry [to Nicole]: I’ll give you my uterus and we’ll just call it a day.

Sugar’s favourite thing about occupying a tree with Lily: “: It’s the common ground that I’ve found up in the air with a girl who I always thought was a hairy armpit, cause-of-the-week loser freak.”

Bobbi’s strategy against the tree-huggers: DDT, metal music, homing pigeons. 

April thinks she deserved the runner-up spot on the team: “When by god it should have been me, I am a freaking teen Paula Abdul.” 

No comments: