Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Searching For Signal: #118 - “United States of Tara” - Season 2, Episode 3

We start out with Tara looking all forlorn and sitting in a swing. She’s a little blue about all this transitioning mess and having to lie to Max, not to mention the business with Buck demanding timeshare on her body. He’s been doing this for two weeks now and-

Hold up, Girl. Two WEEKS? I’m thinking you need to get a little help from somebody at this point. Geez.

Then Tara provides a pitiful voice-over while we are treated to a montage of exactly what Buck has been up to during his watch with Tara’s body. Well, he’s basically been spending all that time with Pammy and her cute little girls, bonding and all. Oh, and there’s been some sex. Lots of it.

Speaking of intimate relations, we zip over to Marshall’s school where he and his apparently official girlfriend, Courtney, are primly sitting around the schoolyard talking to each other in that mousy way they have. Interestingly enough, she’s wanting to discuss physical lovin. “I think about sex all the time!” Marshall’s a bit startled, especially when she makes it clear that she is MORE than ready to go all the way. Any time. Right here on the sidewalk if you want.

It’s sad, really. First of all, not really buying the whole “Marshall being straight” thing. He knows too much about black-and-white movies. Then there’s Courtney. She’s so clinical and detached, even when trying to be naughty. Marshall, Dude, if you’re going to cross-over, at least do it with someone who’s the tiniest bit sexy.

Then we have Charmaine, Tara and… one half of the gay couple that lives on Tara’s street, haven’t learned their names yet. Anway, they’re having an impromptu girl party, doing beauty treatments and such. Then Charmaine startles us with the announcement that she was a LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) back in her college days, running around with a girl who was “very proud of her vagina”. Well, then. And though Charmaine left all that behind long ago, she hasn’t closed the door on the possibility. “I’m gonna go gay when I decide to start eating carbs again.”

Quick scene with Tara sitting in her car somewhere, studying herself in the rearview mirror and trying to act and talk like Buck. This can’t be good.

Max and Neal are over at the Hubbard House, which is now actually Max and Tara’s second house, waiting for some contractor to show. From the conversation, it appears that Neal is still pining for Charmaine and has no clue that she’s about to get hitched to another man. Hmm. There’s potential disaster around every corner in this episode.

Next up, Kate arrives back at Lynda’s house, the stoner chick with lots of imagination and colorful accessories. It seems that Lynda’s check to the debt collection company bounced. How sad. Just then, another stoner rides up on a bicycle, and then everybody goes inside the stoner house to do stoner things.

Another quick scene with Tara practicing Buck mannerisms. (Okay, we get it, Tara’s about to do something really mean and she’s going to do it as Buck. Check.)

Back over to Lynda’s House of Weed and Debt, where everybody is, not surprisingly, very high. They’re all babbling and laughing and carrying on about nothing. Except for this one unidentified guy sitting in a chair off to the side. He’s not moving and might not even be breathing. But since we don’t know his name, there’s no real drama and we move on.

Now we’re at Marshall’s high school, in what appears to be the auditorium, with Bitter Roxy and his hair trying to direct a scene in a play. Or something. Still don’t care for that character so I’m bored before he even opens his mouth. But where’s Marshall?

THERE he is, high up in the rafters with irritating Courtney. Lo and behold, she’s actually pawing away at his privates (just out of camera view, of course, don’t set your DVR if you’re wanting soft porn) while he provides commentary. Then they switch and he fiddles around with her business. It has got to be the most awkward and uncomfortable sex scene ever captured on film. Then Courtney manages to kick over something noisy, the folks down on the stage look up in surprise, and we’re done. Thank God.

Tara finally knocks on Pammy’s door after the extensive dress rehearsal in the parking lot. Pammy is thrilled to see Buck, but it quickly becomes apparent that something is not right, especially when Buck just stares at his beer instead of drinking it. Tara takes a deep breath. “This is not working out.”

Back over to the Stone Cold Palace. The dead guy and all the extras have left, leaving just Kate and Lynda to deal with their munchies. For kicks, Lynda starts dragging out all her Valhalla Hawkwind props from back in the day. Kate decides that she wants to put on one of the outfits. Okay, producer people, let’s pick things up a bit. This particular subplot is going from interesting to dull very quickly.

And we’re at Pammy’s again. It looks like something major was revealed while we watched Kate play dress-up, because Pammy is crying hysterically and on the verge of doing something really unsavory. Tara: “I have a disorder.” Pammy: “It’s always the disease’s fault, never someone just being an a**hole!” (I actually really like that line and might need to use it in the future.)

Pammy finally goes over the edge and snaps “I’m gonna tell Buck!” Um, sweetie, Buck’s right there in the chair. You might have to take a number before the operator can make a connection, but he’s still there.

Max and Neal again, still waiting on that contractor while they stand around the Hubbard House. Charmaine flounces in, Neal notices the engagement ring, and there is tension. Stupid Charmaine prattles on about the flaws of the stone, completely ignoring the pain on Neal’s face. He finally just turns and leaves. Good move, Charmaine. Such class.

Kate and Marshall in one of their bedrooms. She’s brought some wacky tobackey back from loopy girl’s house and wants him to try some. He demurs at first. “I’m not into weed. It makes me like action movies.” Then Kate starts talking about his new-found heterosexuality, and he quickly reaches for the pipe.

Downstairs, Max and Tara are chatting in the kitchen. He’s whining about petty things and she gets bored. We never do anything fun around here. Hey, let’s grab the kids and go ice skating! Max thinks that sounds swell, so they race up the stairs to round up the whacked-out kids, along with Charmaine and her unsatisfying ring.

Quick shot of Pammy sitting in her car on the street outside, glaring at Tara/Buck/Alice/T’s house. Uh oh.

So there we are at the ice-skating rink, with everybody in a really good mood. Happiness is not theoretically allowed on this show, so we know something’s coming. And there she is. Pammy waltzes inside, not bothering to rent any skates so it’s clear she’s up to no good. She marches to the little booth where the DJ is playing uninteresting songs, grabs the mike away from him, and proceeds to address the crowd.

She starts off with a polite “I didn’t want to do this,” and then launches. She’s had a crappy life, deserves so much better, and is finally take charge. “Buck, I love you! ALL of you! I hope I catch your disease!” Then she just-as-politely informs the stunned crowd that they can go back to their skating.

Dead silence.

Then Max turns to Tara: “All I’ve ever done is be good to you!” And then he’s out of there, jumping in his truck and peeling out of the parking lot. (Hey, how is everybody else going to get home? That’s really rude.) Max drives to the contractor’s house, the one who never showed, and they get into a fistfight, rolling around on the ground and getting dirty and everything. It’s like the WWF, but for real.

Now we find Tara standing by herself at the skating rink. (Kate, Marshall and Charmaine are still there, but they’ve skated off in a sad little corner, feeling sorry for themselves as they tend to do. Tara always ruins everything. (That’s right, kids, she does. Because her name is in the title of the show. Did you not read your contracts?)

We end with Tara standing in the restroom area, studying the doors for both the Ladies and the Gents. Then her face hardens, she transitions into Buck, marches into the room for the guys, slams a stall door shut, and completely loses it…

Oh boy.

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