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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

United States of Tara and "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Breast Intentions"

United States of Tara: Seasons One-Two

     This season of The United States of Tara finds Tara (Toni Collette) dealing with her alters more directly. No longer are they just using her body, but she is communicating with them, and making agreements with them. But this week’s episode, “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Breast Intentions,” finds Tara touching on something else that may be going on. For the first time, it occurs that Tara may actually be using the personalities as an excuse, as Dr. Hattarras (Eddie Izzard) theorizes. It’s not that she is consciously doing it, but the fact that her alters begin taking over to shield Tara from her mother, Beverly (Pamela Reed), whom Tara does not get along with, is a sign.

     That does not mean that Tara is in control of the others yet. It merely hints that she may be able to control them, once she understands them better, and knows where they come from and why. While this has been an overaching theme of the series, Dr. Hattarras does a lot more to define it than Tara herself, or even Shoshanna, her psychologist personality, has. As such, Tara is actually making much faster progress than she previously has, especially in “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Breast Intentions.”

     Dr. Hattarras does not have all the answers. Not even close. He is skeptical at first that Tara isn’t already controlling her alters. Which goes to show that Tara is probably a much more severe case than most. Surely, Hattarras has dealt with others with the disorder that led him to draw the conclusions he holds. So Tara is something entirely new and different to him, an experienced mental health expert.

     At the end of the episode, Dr. Hattarras us listening to tapes of his sessions with Tara, and one piece of audio sticks out. A strange voice comes out of Tara saying “You will not win.” This is a reference back to the season premiere, when Tara faced the same phrase. What does it mean? Is it a new, unseen alter fighting against her? Or is it her, fighting against whatever caused the condition? This seems to be a whole-season mystery. The whole situation has really raised this season to whole new levels, making it far superior to the first two.

     A side plot where Dr. Hattarras tries, and eventually succeeds, in trapping a rat that has infested his office, is curious. Is the rat a methaphor for Tara’s condition? It proves elusive and grates at him, and then, all of the sudden, he understands it? Perhaps it is just a silly gag, but that seems unlikely.

     How important is family? In this week’s episode of Showtime’s The United States of Tara, “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Breast Intentions,” Neil (Patton Oswalt) calls his mother-in-law, Beverly (Pamela Reed), who is estranged from her daughter, to reconnect with the family. Neil’s motives are not pure. He and Beverly’s daughter Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt) have recently had a baby, and since Neil lost his job, his hope is that the rich Beverly will spend a bit to help them out during her stay. Unfortunately, Beverley no longer is swimming in cash, and that motive never pays off.

     It may seem callous of Neal to invite Beverly just for that reason, but Beverly spent many years lying about very important things to her family, and may be part of the reasons that her other daughter Tara (Toni Collette) developed multiple personalities. Because of that, Tara and Charmaine have cut their mother out of their lives, much to Beverly’s chagrin. Is it wrong to use someone when they don’t deserve your respect and love?

     Beverly realizes immediately why Neil has called her, but decides to go anyway, without telling anyone the truth. She just wants to meet her infant granddaughter. The debate here is, is Beverly just as manipulative and conniving as she was, or does her desire to know her daughter’s child supersede the not-so-nice way she goes about it? This isn’t easily answered, as both sides of the disagreement have valid positions and arguments.

     Personally, I am always for the importance of family, and despite the bad things that Beverly did, she should be in her daughters’ and granddaughter’s life as much as possible. That’s why it is so sweet that Tara decides to reach out to her mother as part of her therapy. Perhaps Tara is dealing with the difficult Beverly for somewhat selfish reasons, but at least they are renewing their relationship. That is something to be thankful for.

     This week on Showtime’s The United States of Tara, Tara’s (Toni Collette) kids, who aren’t yet quite adults, continue to forge their own paths, as their parents are too busy to offer much guidance. It’s resulted in a situation where both Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) and Kate (Brie Larson) have made some not-so-wise choices. In “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Breast Intentions”, this continue to act on following the decisions they have made.

     Kate is now a flight attendant, which is the latest in a long line of attempts to figure out who she is. It is not likely that Kate will stay a slight attendant very long, as nothing else she has done ever sticks either, no matter how much she initially likes it. While Kate is still young enough to make some mistakes, and search for her calling, she does need to spend some serious time considering, instead of jumping wildly from one thing to another without forethought. Otherwise, perhaps Tara isn’t the only crazy lady in the house.

     Daughter Kate also spends time flirting with a passenger. After subtly being rejected by him, she asks him out directly, to which he also lets her down. While Tara’s motherly advice to go for it may have been good given the facts that Tara knows, Kate could have predicted what the passenger’s response would be, given his behavior. And after such a brief meeting, why is she so smitten? It continues her pattern of obsessing over things she knows little about.

     Marshall, on the other hand, who always did carefully consider things, is now also acting on impulse. After a threesome instigated by Marshall’s boyfriend, Lionel (Michael J. Willett), Marshall ends up kissing the third party, Noah (Aaron Christian Howles, Swingtown). Lionel dumps Marshall when he finds out, and Marshall and Noah immediately begin seeing each other.

     While Marshall’s unhappiness with Lionel is relatively clear, especially when Marshall admits that part of the reason they are together is because of lack of choice, he is going about things all wrong. It would be out of character for Marshall to cheat, except, he is a teenager who recently first experienced physical love, and he is pursuing the guy he wants at the time. Hormones and lust can cause people to behave illogically, and Marshall has subcumbed to that.

     In this week’s episode, Marshall and Noah look at home movies, and discover a real love between Tara and Max (John Corbett) that is not exactly what Marshall is used to seeing. What he now realizes is that his parents have a real, loving, stable relationship based on deep emotions, not just physical attraction. Despite Max and Tara’s problems, they have a strong marriage. Hopefully, Marshall will use this new realization in his own love life, and stop acting so stupidly.

     United States of Tara airs Monday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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     Go to amazon.com to buy past seasons of The United States of Tara.


 My Other United States of Tara Reviews:

United States of Tara says "...youwillnotwin...": Tara / The Rest of the Family

United States of Tara is held together by love

United States of Crazy

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