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'Weeds' recap: Going south

With her life in L.A. up in flames, Nancy heads to the Mexican border, where a new job in the drug biz — and some old family issues — await

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Weeds, Mary-Louise Parker, ...
Cliff Lipson

Weeds

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
08/08/05
performer:
Mary-Louise Parker, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins
genre:
Comedy

‘Weeds’ recap: Going south

Greetings, Weeds wackers, and welcome to season 4. I will be your hostess on this likely turbulent flight from fictional Agrestic, in the L.A. suburbs, to Ren Mar, just outside San Diego, where the Botwin clan, sans hangers-on, will set up house (and shop) for another somewhat nonsensical venture. Why was I chosen to be your TV Watch guide this time around, you ask? Well, I do happen to have an unusual credential — namely, my book, Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language and Life, which came out in April and was partly inspired by the success of the show. I tell you this not to see the book’s ranking inch up on Amazon (though that’s always nice), but in the interest of full disclosure: Weeds was high on Pot Culture‘s list of ”Must-see Stoner TV” shows because I genuinely love the series. And even when the story line has been a bit lacking or veered off course (Andy’s Army stint), or when the production tried to cash in on some casting cache (ahem, Mary-Kate Olsen), I continue to be wowed by the mere fact that it’s on television.

Anyway, the point of this diatribe: I try not to be overly critical, but to provide more of a pointed recap (along with behind-the-scenes tidbits and a pot fact here and there) in my TV Watches, leaving it to you, faithful viewers (and hopefully readers), to duke it out. So let’s stay focused, have an intelligent debate, and appreciate the fact that, even for cable, Weeds has broken many old-guard Hollywood rules and helped bring TV up to date with permissive culture. And it has done so under a conservative government, which is certainly something to cheer for. With that in mind, Weeds creator Jenji Kohan promises that season 4 will be ultrapolitical, and so the journey south to the U.S.-Mexico border begins…

Someone’s passing gas in the car and it ain’t Andy, Shane, or Silas. Just another day for the Botwins, where three-quarters of the family members are, as usual, unknowing accessories to a crime perpetrated by unlikely ringleader Nancy. And not just unlikely, but unqualified, as she’s proven time and time again. But this infraction — arson on top of the grow operation and distribution network, not to mention the dead DEA-agent husband — is a new career high for Nancy. Getting out of it, or around it, will require some serious craftiness.

NEXT: We’re off to grandma’s house

So what does Nancy have up her sleeve? A trip to Grandma Bubbie’s. Because in times of possible incarceration, who else do you turn to but family? Only problem is, it’s not Nancy’s family, it’s Judah’s, and said Bubbie is not all that fond of her granddaughter-in-law. ”She just hates that I’m not Jewish,” Nancy explains to the boys before coming clean about setting the house on fire. But after that admission, somehow interfaith marriage doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. So the plan, in no uncertain terms: Get in the car and move on.

Meanwhile, back in Magrestic: Celia is discovering karma as the hand of the law comes down on her big time. It is, after all, a sexy triumph for a cop: nabbing the ”Drugs Are Wrong” lady who’d even posed with Sasquatch. But why, with all of Celia’s smarts, why would she ever consent to being interrogated without a lawyer present? Has she totally lost it by this point? If not, the diet Shasta in a can at room temperature without a straw will certainly send her over the edge.

This is all of no immediate interest to Nancy, it seems, who’s blissfully daydreaming of a new life by the beach (factoid: the new city is named after the Hollywood studio where Weeds production is based), but what of Bubbie? Turns out great-grams is in a coma, strapped to life-support machines that have taken over the living room. The Botwins figure this out after breaking into the joint — do they know no boundaries? Ever the sleuth, Andy also finds evidence of his estranged, gambling-addicted dad, Len (Albert Brooks), and suddenly life by the ocean starts to look a little bleak.

We have at least three more episodes featuring Albert Brooks (now there’s good casting), so we’ll soon dig deeper into the issues between Len and the rest of the clan. The father-son dynamic is clearly tempestuous, but not nearly as transparent as the scorn for Nancy, or as Len likes to call her, ”Not Francie,” a reference to an ex of Judah’s, who, we can only assume, was Jewish (and not because she’s an eye doctor, necessarily). Then again, the German-delicacy/gas-smell combo (and funniest line of the night) wasn’t exactly working in her favor. But at the heart of the Ren-Mar home is the late Judah, beloved and held above all others, who we’ll hopefully get to know a little bit better, even if it is posthumously (a flashback or two wouldn’t hurt).

NEXT: Nancy’s new job

Len comes through and allows Nancy and crew to stay, opening up himself and poor Bubbie to a host of potential entanglements, both legal and otherwise. But at least Nancy has the decency to acknowledge that they’re on the run and avoiding a paper trail. Len assumes Andy’s the culprit, while Shane and Silas brace for Act 3 of the thug life.

Back to police headquarters, where Doug and Dean are closing the door on Celia’s freedom without a hint of remorse. As for Sanjay, the prospect of jail leaves one lingering thought: ”I’m gonna get raped and it’s gonna make me hate being gay!” But most shocking is that even little Isabelle is in on the conspiracy to nail her mom for the grow op. Indeed, Celia’s prospects are looking grim with no amount of between-the-glass flirting getting her out of this jam.

Which leaves us with Guillermo, Nancy’s new main man, at least in business (anyone wanna bet on whether she’ll end up boning him?), who has some grandiose plans of his own. Nancy’s responsibilities, however, are fairly straightforward. Look pretty for the border guards while you smuggle massive amounts of drugs inside the country. But no heroin, Nancy insists, prompting Guillermo to make perhaps the most incisive remark of the episode: ”You got some arbitrary rules you live by.”

Where do we go from here? Gangster-territory, where moving mota (Mexican term for marijuana and the name of an Offspring song — see page 97 of Pot Culture) is a source of livelihood for many a drug peddler (and the path to early retirement for a small few). Does Nancy have what it takes to bro-down with Guillermo and gang? Or will she soon crash and burn — again?