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Transparent recap: 'The Letting Go'

A father comes out to her oldest daughter.

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Transparent Recap 102
Beth Dubber/Amazon


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffmann

And here Sarah and Tammy thought a Pfefferman family get-together was awkward when the parents announced they were divorcing over Thanksgiving dinner!

In a show built for binging—the action doesn’t cut between credits—we’re right back in the bedroom, where Maura has discovered Sarah and Tammy. Tammy breaks the ice in the kindest possible fashion, saying, “Mort, Mr. Pfefferman, you look awesome.” Meanwhile, Sarah is justifiably flabbergasted. “Dad, what are you wearing?” Jeffrey Tambor’s delivery of his line—”So, there’s something I have to tell you”—made me laugh and want to cry and hide at the same time. Sit for a second and picture living out this moment; imagine the ground-shifting idea, however false, that you might never have known your parent at all. “Are you saying, like, you’re going to start dressing up like a lady all the time?” Not exactly. “All my life I’ve been dressing up as a man,” she says.

It’s so hard to do time shift cutaways; usually, the look is wrong, or the characters feel phony. But Transparent‘s shift to 1989, when Professor Pfefferman retreats to his office and unlocks his drawer, works. He lovingly unwraps a package containing a silk tunic, looking upon it with the fear and tenderness one might reserve for a baby. When someone interrupts his reverie with a loud knock on the door, the spell of what-might-be is broken. “Professor Pfefferman, is it too late?” the girl’s voice wonders. And it is. He ends up trashing the blouse, giving himself as best he can over to the identity of husband, father, man in slacks.

Meanwhile, Josh insists on referring to Glitterish as kids, which is creepy and wonderful; his sense of boundaries seems hopelessly off. Kaya, the one who looks and sounds slightly less like a platinum young Winona Ryder, has to beg off an important meeting with a possible collaborator because she needs to get an abortion. Josh then says what is possibly the single dumbest thing any regrettably pregnant woman has ever heard after delivering the news: “Now I get why you’ve been so fussy lately.” He tries to soothe her, like one would a child grumpy about having to go to a dentist’s appointment—with promises of Coldstone ice cream and some TLC.

Ali has started sleeping with her trainer, of course, though he’s sensibly suggested she practice her squat form while riding him. Forget the Soulmate book; how about a sex video? Just keep workshopping that title, though, because Twerkout.Com isn’t quite there.

Sarah sneaks out of the house (high school!) and whisks Tammy up to some lookout point. The sight of the car seats tossed out on the gravel is great. With the backseats of the wagon splayed, the women bask in afterglow. “I feel like I’m lying in a pool of water,” murmurs Sarah. “Len and I don’t—” “-have sex like that?” Tammy interrupts. “Have sex,” answers Sarah.

Apparently, Tammy and her wife, Barb, are adrift in a dry spell too. One of the best lines of the episode comes later, when a put-out Len and Sarah have to reinstall the car seats. “Why is this soaked?” said Len about a soggy blanket. “Did a CapriSun explode back here?” New favorite euphemism!

At the LGBT center, Maura’s one safe haven in the world, she commiserates with the group over her sloppy coming out. “It was so tragically impromptu, but there you have it. It’s done.” (This about sums up the majority of my life’s most intimate moments.)

NEXT: “Eww to the Holocaust?”