By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated August 03, 2020 at 08:23 PM EDT
Credit: Paul Michaud

The second-to-last episode of any TV season needs to ramp up the action, and it needs to do it good. So you’ll have to excuse me if I sound disappointed this morning, but I’m suffering from a swirling hangover of confusion after last night’s very odd (and oddly placed) episode of The L Word. Eleven weeks into a rejuvenated fourth season, and our central storylines are… Paige’s whiny hopes for a birthday gift from Shane? Leonard Kroll’s anger at his newly lesbian wife? Tasha’s post-traumatic flashbacks to — oh, L Word, do we have to go there? — combat in Iraq? And stop, wait a minute, hold up! We’ve gotten a total of about 13 minutes with Max all season, and now you decide to give him full play?

What’s up, my little lesbian friend of a show? You gave me so much last week! Jodi Lerner’s all-hands bitchfest, that totally awkward dinner party, Bette’s rants and raves, sex at the races… it was all so much fun. And when I saw that this week’s episode was titled “Literary License to Kill,” I just knew that we were in for a big, Crazy Jenny-sized explosion of cuckoo. “Lez Girls” has been released, and the gang is finding out just how badly Jenny skewered them in print. (What kind of friend is she, not asking her publisher to send out some galleys?) I wanted another throwdown, and all I got was a too-brief glimpse of Crazy Jenniness more than 35 minutes into the episode. Very uncalled for.

addCredit(“The L Word: Paul Michaud/Showtime”)

Funny how just last week I noticed my stomach felt normal for thefirst time in more than a year. That’s because I was finally startingto get my appetite back after last season’s nauseating fellatio scenebetwixt Max, Alan Cumming’s sleazy, entirely unnecessary party promoterBillie Blaikie, and a strap-on. Oops! There went that. Look, I likeMax. I think it’s great that The L Word has incorporated atransgender character onto its canvas, and hope Max sticks around witha compelling story next year. I applaud Max for walking away from acrappy IT job, and I think his new girlfriend, Brooke, is a hottie. ButI just don’t know that I want to see prosthetic penises being floppedabout in the middle of my sex scenes. I’m vanilla like that.

Didn’t you find Paige’s behavior a bit presumptuous? Now that Shayhas left town, she wants Shane’s undivided attention and even seemedjealous of her own son because he got that El Panda doll for no specialreason. Geez, lighten up, Paige. Shane — who, as far as I can tell, onlyruns a skateboard shop and has no discernible electronicaconnections — managed to get one of my absolute favorite musicians inthe history of ever, Alison Goldfrapp, to play your birthday. Lightenup, girlfriend! If I were you, I’d pass out, just as I nearly did when Goldfrapp took the stage in New York last fall.

What did you make of Bette’s reaction to the (apparently shocking)news that she’s a control freak? Pretty control freak-y, eh? Bette’s aninteresting heroine, for sure; she’s can be shockingly unaware of herbehavior and doesn’t often feel the need to apologize when she’s actedlike a beast. That, atop her capacity for generosity, is why we loveher. It’s insanity, though, for her to think that she can get away withgiving Jodi Lerner the silent treatment. Jodi’s title, after all, isnot Cal Arts’ concubine-in-residence. She can leave — and perhaps sheshould — whenever she wants. And it’s nice to see Tina (pictured) giving Bette apiece of her mind again. These two are a lot of fun to watch when theyaim for civility.

What do you think will happen during next week’s season finale? WillBette and Jodi get their chance to talk again? How is Tasha going tohandle returning to Iraq without sending Alice off the deep end? IsHelena going to be able to pull herself out of her latest jam? WillJenny find out that Kate Arden wants to ban her from writing the “LezGirls” screenplay? And most importantly, will we again see Bette’ssuper-adorable assistant James, whose appearance always calls for around of shots in any well-run L Word drinking game?