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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weeds is "Red in Tooth and Claw"

This season, the final one for Showtime's Weeds, the show is going back to its roots. With the Botwins living in the suburbs once more, surrounded by upper middle class opulence and the wisp of a normal life, there is nothing Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) wants more than to stay there. That's why, in this week's episode, "Red in Tooth and Claw," she tries to get out of the the drug business.

There is definitely something ideal about living this way. It's the American dream. Sure, one may have to donate a bit of money and kiss some butt, playing local politics, but that's far better than running from guns. Life here isn't dangerous. As Nancy watches Stevie (Ethan and Gavin Kent) play soccer, a happy, normal child, she knows that she wants to give him this life, as she has failed to do with her other two sons. The life she used to have, before all the craziness started, way back in the early days of Weeds.

Alas, wanting doesn't make it so. Nancy has forgotten why she got into the pot business in the first place - to support her family. She is broke once more, and has no prospective income coming in. Shredding the pot she does have is a dumb move. It's understandable, given how she just saw such a horrible reflection of herself in Kiki (Kat Foster). And sure, it helps Nancy go straight. But it also takes away the only thing of monetary value that she really has at this time. She may get the life she wants temporarily, but it will come crashing down around her soon enough.

Where might Nancy seek help? In "Red in Tooth and Claw" she finally meets the neighbor whose pool she has been secretly using. It turns out he is a rabbi, and thus, resists the sexual advance Nancy inevitably tries to make. It's interesting to watch her in this scenario, as she has a certain method to get her way, and a rabbi throws that off. But perhaps he can offer her some helpful guidance, at least spiritually. Then maybe she can be happy with what she has, instead of wanting to be with a group of people, meaning this rich neighborhood, that she doesn't fit into anymore.

Andy (Justin Kirk ) also gets a bit spiritual in "Red in Tooth and Claw." He is seduced by yet another woman, and wonders aloud if this might be a karma payback, or the work of a god who just likes to see him get laid. He does seem to get with a lot of people throughout the run of Weeds. This monologue is a great way to address that concern for viewers who have remarked how unrealistic this is. It's very tongue in cheek, which is classic Weeds style.

However, Andy's dalliance with the roller derby chick costs him a reconciliation with Jill (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whom Andy actually has real feelings for. As lucky as Andy thinks he is, there is a reason that he doesn't end up with any of the many women that throw himself at him. Getting sex is one thing; maintaining a meaningful relationship takes a different skill set. Andy is good only at the first, not the second, and his run with Jill may be over, sadly.

Yes, it's a little messed up that Andy goes after Jill, especially after all the years that he pines for Nancy. But Nancy was Andy's sister-in-law, so at least Jill is slightly more appropriate. Both sisters are a lot alike, so it's clear that Andy is attracted to the similar qualities in each. No matter how hard he tries, he probably won't get either girl, and there's scarce time left for him to find someone who actually appreciates him. Nancy and Jill would each benefit from finally fully committing to Andy, but that ship has seemed to have sailed. What will become of Uncle Andy?

Silas (Hunter Parrish) is at a crossroads. With his pot stolen because he isn't open to head from a guy, he has no stash and no job. Nancy has not yet told him about her desire to go legit, but will this be something Silas would even consider? Silas grew up with Nancy's illegal machinations, and that's the life he not only knows, but has chosen. He is lost without the growing business. It's really a blessing, though, because he should have noticed how destructive this life can be by watching his mother, and it's time for him to pick something else. Perhaps the only way he can do that is by being forced out.

Shane (Alexander Gould), alone of the Botwin family, has staked his claim on a worthwhile path. Funny, since he went darker than any of the rest when he murdered a woman a few years back. Shane has a good girlfriend (Daniele Watts), who is a positive influence on him, and he is fitting in very well to the cop world. It's heartening to see him making good choices, and to witness those choices pay off. As long as Shane doesn't do something stupid to screw it up, he's got his life made.

Part of the conceit of Weeds is that its characters are weeds themselves, the annoying plants choking out the ones you want around, ruining the landscape. Shane has turned himself from a weed into something better. What chance do the rest of them have in the short time that the series has left, as it will bow out permanently at the end of the season? Will they need to be pulled from the garden of life so that others can thrive? Or will they, too, find a way to not be as destructive as the term weed implies? Weeds has been a terrific show for many years, and I can't wait to see how it ends.

Weeds airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

For Weeds DVDs and streaming episodes, please click here. If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my new website,! Article first posted on TheTVKing.

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