Don’t you just love Karen Darling? As her proud papa rightly points out, she’s clearly the most capable of the Darling clan. And she reveals several shades of her competence in this jam-packed episode, which marks a reunion of sorts for Peter Krause fans, since it’s co-written by veteran Six Feet Under scribe Jill Soloway (along with series co-creator Craig Wright).
Last week, we saw Karen craftily getting a drugged-up Patrick to sign some mysterious papers while hospitalized — perhaps carrying the water for mom and getting the charges dropped against half-brother Brian. This week, she’s still in bed (literally) with Tripp’s arch-rival, Lando — Simon Elder. Only it appears that she’s doing so at the bidding of dear old dad. (He was doubtless talking to Karen when he made a phone call to a mysterious informant to find out why Simon was seeking five years’ worth of Darling financial data from Nick.) The twist is that Karen may be going off-message and actually falling for the shady, pill-popping, cherry lemonade-swigging “Russian,” particularly after getting the blessing of Simon’s royal ex-wife, who met him after plunking her head into his boat while swimming in the ocean. (Seriously, swimming in the ocean at night? Who does that?) But despite the fresh dalliance, Karen still seems to have some chemistry with longtime crush Nick, particularly at the family’s annual Nutcracker staging at the Darling mansion.
Speaking of Nick, it’s hard to make out exactly what he’s up to. Just as he’s beginning to warm to Karen and feel all brotherly-protective (or is it jealous?) toward her, cozily sitting beside her during the ballet, he goes and makes nice with the wifey with whom he still has not the faintest spark of chemistry. He even goes so far as to suggest that they sire another sibling for Kiki. Ironically, this comes after Lisa has been flirting with another member of the Darling clan: the irresistible Jeremy.
I love this boy. Or maybe I just love Seth Gabel, who also happens to be married in real life to the fetching redhead Bryce Dallas Howard (star of The Village and daughter of Opie).His scheme to pose as a poor starving artist for Sofia collapses whenLisa’s ant-loving artist won’t play along. So Jeremy decides to take upa sketch pad and use Lisa as his model — with a little weed asadditional artistic inspiration. “We need to chillax,” he says withcharacteristic charm. “This is a bad idea,” she says. The sketch turnsout terribly, but the marijuana seems to bring some clarity. Jeremydecides to come clean to Sofia (who dumps him, proving that she wasn’tone of “these love pirates” who chase him for his money).
And Lisa confesses her fear that she’s losing her husband — not toKaren so much as all of the Darlings; Nick’s hardly home anymore. “Ifyou were mine, I’d be a couch potato,” Jeremy says and plants a kiss onher. She stops things right there, but clearly she’s beginning toponder some possibilities of a non-Nick (or post-Nick) existence. Asshe tells Nick later in a more circumspect recap of the event, “Maybe Iwanted something bad to happen, to shake things up.”
But this being Dirty Sexy Money, there’s a punchline still tocome. And it’s a delightful one: The giant blue German sponge sculpturein her gallery has apparently soaked up the stank of maryjane and thepatroness who forked over $150,000 for the monstrosity backs out of thedeal since it reminds her of her pothead ex. And since Lisa isn’t aDarling (yet), this time there are consequences to her slip injudgment: She gets fired. (Does anyone think that this is just part ofthe transformation of Lisa into a possible free agent, romance-wise, ordo you think there really will be a Jeremy-Lisa-Nick triangle playedout?)
Jeremy’s twin is back in the picture — her absence explained, somewhat curiously, by the fact that she supposedly took Karen’s honeymoon vacation to the Seychelles. While there, Juliet picked up the most gorgeous souvenir: a French-accented hottie named Kai (played by Alex Nesic, whom you might remember as the French-accented Hollywood tour bus driver Christian on Showtime’s Sleeper Cell). He resembles a toothier version of Scotty (Luke MacFarlane) on Brothers & Sisters, not that I’m objecting. Juliet falls for him hard and he even puts up a bit of a fight when she tries to treat him like Brian Jr., i.e., a shopping accessory/beneficiary. “I didn’t come for you to care for me like some kind of poodle,” he says. She saves the biggest surprise for the end: It looks like Kai will be the first get up in her swadisthana (credit the secret virgin’s new knowledge of sex chakras). That’s the plan, at least, after Kai extends his visit from two weeks to…indefinite. (Personally, I give his stay about two more weeks, three tops — that’s about how long the Jeremy-Sofia fling lasted, after all, and renewing those tourist visas can be awfully tricky.)
When Tripp isn’t plotting Simon’s downfall with Nick and consigliere Karen, he’s seeking to reconcile with Brian, who’s reconsidering his life after his bishop suspends him and orders him into counseling and a series of workshops. “Who doesn’t love workshops?” Brian notes dryly. (I wasn’t aware that there was a “state board” with the power to suspend men of the cloth, but I guess the writers can use one clause of the First Amendment to take a little license with another clause of the First Amendment.) “What’s next?” he wonders to Tish, “leprosy?” — and it’s hard not to sympathize with a guy who’s lost his wife, kids, and career in rapid succession. Even as he begins questioning whether he wants to remain in the church, his parents rally to his side in ways that have aptly religious overtones. Mom washes his feet, while dad speaks of the “still, small voice of the Lord.”
That voice, though, seems to be calling Brian to go work for Tripp. While I suspect that a valet job is not in his future, this is a truly interesting development. And Tripp’s early reconciliation-seeking conversation with Brian seemed genuinely heartfelt: “I spent most of your life trying to find me in you and I couldn’t,” he says. “Now we know who to look for.” (I admire the fact that the writers treat religious matters with some seriousness, and not just as a source of easy laughs. Brian, flawed though he clearly is, seems sincere in his turn to prayer and religion as a source of knowledge and comfort.) So the question now becomes just what aspects of Brian’s real dad are we likely to see in him now? Keep in mind that the Dutch we’ve so far seems to be a rather nasty, duplicitous piece of work.
Speaking of nasty, duplicitous pieces of work, can we talk about Patrick? First we see him having “sensational” sex with his wife — then predictably running off to console Carmelita, who’s convinced someone’s broken into her apartment. Clark Babeison, Darling family chauffeur/Guy Friday, comes to the rescue with a surveillance plan, but it’s not enough to prevent Carmelita’s apparent abduction; she leaves only a suspicious trail of red nail polish on her pristine carpet. The intruder eluded the ficus, Clark reports to a clearly jumpy Patrick. Is this Patrick’s usual jumpiness or did he have something to do with Carmelita’s disappearance? Is he trying to get rid of her to protect his campaign and marriage, or perhaps to provide cover for himself to carry on the affair in private, removing her to one of Dick Cheney’s “secure undisclosed locations”? These are just a few of the nuts that DSM-loving PopWatchers have to crack. And we’ll have a good long while to ponder them, since this is the last new episode of 2007 (though there are a few more original episodes whose scripts came in before the writers’ strike). See you in the Darling new year!