Wednesday 10 December 2014

Transparent - No more secrets.

Transparent: 1x05 Wedge. 

Wedge, as an episode that is in the middle of the first season of the show, feels like it mostly serves to set up things for later. Josh and Tammy clash over what’s to be done over Maura’s house, because Josh in traditional Josh fashion is incapable of just having girlfriends (Syd is a betrayal, because she is Ali’s friend, Kaya was someone he managed, Rita was his babysitter, his new girlfriend is, suitable, a realtor). Maura finds out about an upcoming talent contest at the LGBT centre and recruits Davina to team with her for it, and she proves that she is getting stronger and fiercer in being herself, when she meets someone she used to know (an experience she will build upon in her choice of song, later in the series) and uses the fact that he turns out to be a cheater to negotiate being “found out” as a trans woman. It’s gorgeous to see how well she is handling the situation, but devastating at the same time considering the only way that Maura is safe is by MAD, mutually assured destruction. Josh voices his frustration and shock over his mum knowing about the babysitter sleeping with him when he was fifteen for the first time, realizing that this was a seriously screwed up situation in his youth only after Syd pointed it out to him. 
The most important development comes for Ali, who seems to be struggling more than Sarah post-reveal, enough to re-examine the conditions of her childhood. The way she is invested in finding Ed when he goes missing shows her frustration and exasperation with how careless everybody else in her family is, and has always been, how self-involved they are: as she goes on to try and find her stepfather, lost in the endless similar rows of the retirement home, everybody else seems to enjoy the ironic hipster fun of having drinks at an awful restaurant. It goes far enough that Ali ends up outing Maura to Josh, not realizing that it would have a far greater impact on him than it had on her or Sarah, that he is in no way equipped to deal with it properly, or linguistically or mentally ready to realize what it means for Maura to have lived that way all her life. 

Random notes: 

It’s even more set-up: Tammy and Sarah seem happily set up in Maura’s house as their love nest, and just then, Tammy’s ex-stepdaughter comes by, and is quickly recruited as a “summer girl”, which builds up a toxic parallel to who Rita used to be, back in the day, to all of the children, but especially Josh. 

Hey girl hey. 

This episode brings Kathryn Hahn’s first appearance as the rabbi who is supposed to read to Ed, with the kids’ mum’s only worry being that Raquel will find out how careless she is (and she will become the talk of the temple). Raquel is an interesting and necessary character, a beam of humanity and reason in a household of self-involved selfish people who barely manage to look out for anyone but themselves and mostly hurt each other more accidentally than because they mean to. 

Maura: This is, er, some people call this a necklace. This is a.. I guess you would call it a wrap. This is a ring. 
Gary: That’s fingernail polish, huh?
Maura: How’s Helen? 

And it is revealed that the mum knew, but only far enough to call it Maura’s “kink”, without any capacity or even intent to take it seriously. She knows that it screwed up her marriage, and the way they tiptoed around it seriously fucked up their kids, but she still doesn’t take it anymore seriously, or is willing to engage with it beyond calling it Maura’s “kink”. She dismisses her identity (which is understandable to the extent that it must have hurt her, but at this point, she is too far gone for that initial reaction to still shine through, there seems to be barely anything left that could be called empathy or compassion with either Maura or Ed). 

Ed comes back in the end, but he really shouldn’t. Everyone is the worst.  

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