By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated March 05, 2007 at 08:38 PM EST
Paul Michaud

So my all-time favorite L Word character, Marina (Karina Lombard, pictured), is back, and… I get her singing a wildly off-key song in some sort of Pussycat Dolls-meet-Busby Berkeley-meets-21st Century Vegas Strip milieu? Um, okay. I’m game for this. The “pre-opening” gimmick on this show is a definitive staple and I don’t think I’ve ever missed it, but aside from that odd shot of Max’s hoo-ha a few weeks ago, damned if I can remember one of them. And they’re always making me feel a little dumb. They’ve never added up to any one thing, and they run the gamut from completely obvious to totally inscrutable; ergo, they always leave me asking, “Were we just having fun there, or was I supposed to be jotting notes for the final?” But this was just plain weird. It gave me a heartburn. It left me unsettled.

We got our explanation by the end of a very long and moody hour. Marina was there as a guest of Lawrence Bender (side note: Hollywood’s got major love for The L Word, which is why you saw Bender, Garry Marshall, and John Stockwell self-promoting/self-flagellating in last night’s very LA-lovin’ episode). Marina has been eyed to play, yup, Karina in the hoped-for film version (a musical!) of “Lez Girls.” As wonderfully bitchy as this development may prove to be, it’s incredibly preposterous and also corny. Marina was being billed as the must-have star of the film, but her episode-ending performance was completely overshadowed by a huge, whirring lineup of women, gyrating in lycra. Strange. And Jenny’s reaction? I know she’s been her usual bobble-headed self during this entire story-to-film process, but I kind of expected a massive blowout when she saw Marina’s face last night. (Maybe a bottle of wine, Jenny? You always liked to hurl those.)

addCredit(“The L Word: Paul Michaud”)

The Phyllis arc came to a satisfying, albeit odd, close. BruceDavison gave a touching turn as poor, befuddled Leonard, who ended upspending nearly the entire episode lying in bed with Tasha, Papi,Helena, and Alice. I hardly think a man who’s been married for 23 yearsonly to find out that his wife likes the ladies would need just onequick verbal ass-whuppin’ from an Army girl, but then, I don’t write The L Word.That bed scene was fun; it again proved that Leisha Hailey’s Alice isthe show’s unofficial mascot, and it also found a way to give theladies something fun and fizzy. Consider it the DInah Shore tournament,only in Alice’s king-sized!

I’m actually pleased with the way that things were wrapped upbetween Shane, Shae, and their father. Dude’s a creep and he bulliedShane into giving up the fight, but there was something about thatfight that would have felt really ludicrous and exploitative on a showlike The L Word. I bear the scars of Angelica’s season 3 “kidnapping,”and child custody battles are just one thing that I don’t ever need tosee played out on this show again. Still, great acting work fromKatherine Moennig last night — and besides, Shane can bond withKristanna Loken’s kid. J.R.? D.J.? B.T.? Guys, why can’t I rememberanything about those two?!

Poor Max. Can’t anything ever go right for the tranny? First he’sbeing pushed out of his job at work (do you think Brooke finally toldDaddy what went down?), then he finds out that his own mother has diedand he’s not even wanted at the funeral. It’ll be interesting to see ifthe show pursues Max’s trip home to the Midwest — there always seemed tobe a great backstory there.

I thought Bette acted like a bit of a toolwith Jodi, playing the jealousy card right after she dumped her. Bettewas confused and confusing all night. She made my head spin! Byepisode’s end, you just knew she’d be back with Jodi, didn’t you? So Iwant to make a prediction: Season 5 will be the last of the series. Idon’t have any backstage proof on any of this, I just feel it. Fiveyears feels about right for a cable series with a loving and devotedfan base. But what I want to know is this: Will Bette return to Tina?Will she and Jodi still be sparring and screwing? Or will she havefound an entirely new girlfriend?

Also, why did Helena have a humongous sombrero on her head… afterreturning from Majorca? That monstrosity on her head was straight outof a souvenir shop at Epcot Center’s Mexican section.