By Nicholas Fonseca
March 12, 2007 at 07:36 PM EDT

You can always count on disaster when somebody on television throws a dinner party. Mary Richards was a famously hapless hostess, the Friends always ran into trouble when they tried it, Larry David completely ruins them by doing little more than opening his mouth. So it was obvious that Bette was in for it the minute she started to gather the troops last night. Jodi gave it to her in spades. News broke last week that we’re in for another season of The L Word — woot! — and the producers would be wise to bring Marlee Matlin (pictured) back to the fold. She’s been a vital and challenging addition to the show’s canvas; her pissy arguments with both Amy and Bette were captivating and well-acted. I used to hold out hope that Bette and Tina would end up together by series end, but I’ve since recanted that statement. I can’t get enough of Jodi. She keeps Bette on her toes in all the right ways, not with smarmy behavior and bratty comments(*coughTINA!cough*) but with an uncompromising point-of-view that’s entirely heartfelt.

On to Helena and the horse track: Oh… oh, I don’t, um, know what to — say? Did she and Catherine really have sex right up against the window of their sky box, in full view of the crowd? (Maybe Crazy Jenny got them worked up with that comment about her “compulsion to take off all my clothes” when she’s in public places? What was that, by the way?) Ah, the juxtaposition of galloping horses and two lesbians heaving their way to an orgasm. Riveting TV, readers. Just visionary! I can’t figure out Catherine’s motivation, and it’s unclear whether she even has one aside from screwing Helena — on so many levels.

Check out these reports of something that Kristanna Loken reportedly said to the press about her castmates. Ouch. This could mean Paige isn’t long for The L Word. Loved watching her and Shane come up with a new euphemism for having ravenous, buck-wild sex, but is “telling stories” really the best they can do? I dunno… wouldn’t you erupt in a fit of giggles if someone you liked asked you to “tell me a story”?

addCredit(“The L Word: Paul Michaud”)

Max’s trip home was handled with far more grace and a lot lesscreepiness than I was expecting. Max has really twisted in the windthis entire season; in a grand L Word tradition, Max has agrizzled, craggy father who is both enigma and biggest influence.Unlike Shane’s ne’er-do-well excuse for a dad, though, Max’s fatheractually showed a great deal of empathy toward his daughter-turned-son.Was it right that he couldn’t ‘fess up to the guests at his wife’sfuneral that Max was, indeed, his son? No. Was it right that Max had tostand to the side of his mother’s service, all by his lonesome underthat tree? No. But ask yourself this: Were those scenes handled withgrace and a careful ear for the realities of so many youngtransgendered Americans? Absolutely. Max’s dad may not have done the”right” thing, but he at least gave his daughter the courtesy of anexplanation for his actions.

It’s just too bad Max wasn’t at Bette’s dinner party, because Ithink Jodi could have used his help. As much as I love the lovely,lissome ladies (Marina’s words, not mine!) of The L Word,they can be an awfully hard sell, and woe be to anybody who’s at one oftheir dinners for the first time. Remember when Jenny first brought Maxto dinner with the girls — and the painfully awkward conversation thatoccurred at that chi-chi restaurant? Yeah, see? Not as sensitive asthey’d like to believe they are. Jodi probably set herself up bysitting at the end of the table rather than the middle, though. Andit’s not as if Tina’s new director friend Kate Arden (eeek! it’s Gloria Trillo,paisans!) was going to help. I’m totally into this woman, who’s alreadygetting under Crazy Jenny’s skin because she’s clearly going to giveher a run for her money in the self-absorption department. And it’s notlike Jodi was going to have Bette’s ear after Kit’s drinking problemresurfaced in front of everyone. You have to wonder why not one of thewomen at the table noticed Kit downing glasses of red wine; surely Papiwas in the corner feeding her her merlot-soaked finger — or somethingsimilarly inappropriate.

What do you think? Does Bette have the right to call out Kit fordrinking again? Was Jodi unfair after the party? Is Helena going tokeep losing money — or will she see another windfall? And what aboutTasha? Now that she’s been spotted by another soldier, will she befound out?