Mia Kirshner

“It’s a scorcher out there folks!”

You have to admire the subtle thematic forecasting (not!) with which theL Word writers began this soft-core steamer, but why make fun when thiswas such a sassy return to form after last week’s doldrums?

Let’s start with Jenny’s fabulous public meltdown while watching Nikienjoy “for-the-camera” hetero sex with her “actor boy” costar. Jenny — looking loonier than ever in giant dangling hoops (pictured) like Madonna circa1988 — figures out that Niki’s been secretly doing “actor boy,” andsends him packing with one of the episode’s finest lines: “It’sunprofessional… it’s a vile and despicable act. You’re fired.”

A vile and despicable act. That’s the kind of high camp gem that keeps The L Word crisp and amusing for all the sodden storylines that have come and gone. (Joyce is always good for zingers likethese, as when she coos about Phyllis’ “sweet little slip of afrock.” Love, love, love the Joyce. Wish she sauntered through the showmore regularly.)

Meanwhile, Shane’s “straight girl crush that will not go away,” doesn’tgo away. After a visit from her dud boyfriend — another in the longline of male stooges written into the plot — Molly fortifies herselfwith a goblet of burgundy and takes Shane to her pillowy girlhood bed. Herreluctance to acquaint herself with Shane’s nether regions suggestlingering doubts, but she seems to have a pretty nice time. Onceagain — can’t they ever push the story forward without someone bargingin on a sex scene?

As for Max: I’m no Alice, but I have to confess to some uneasiness about wherehe’s going. The reappearance of Jodi’s flirty interpreter, this time inreally tiny running shorts, deepened my anxiety. Is this the rightdirection? Or is Max heading off a cliff? I’m not sure what I’msupposed to wish for him. Clarity? Love? But with whom? If I’ve writtensomething politically incorrect here, like Alice, I will publicly andcheerfully recant.

But the climax of the evening, so to speak, was the sultry Bette andTina elevator reunion, with Jennifer Beals sweating even more than she did inFlashdance. Bette explains how much their common values mean toher —she loves Tina’s “attention to beauty” and how she surrounds herselfwith tasteful things. Does their epic love story all boil down toliking the same spreads in Domino? I thought Tina, one of the show’ssaner characters, might roll her eyes. But she seemed to melt; oralpleasure soon followed.

In fact, the whole last quarter of this show was one slow-mo advertisement for girl-on-girl oral pleasure.

So, Tasha and Alice: on the shelf for now, happily playing with icecubes and useful for an occasional boob shot. I think they’ll staythere for a while.

Shane and Molly — doomed! C’mon, isn’t Molly just a spoiled straight girl having a Sherri Jaffe moment?

Bette and Tina are apparently together again, though Bette still has totell Jodi. And fast. I was cringing for Jodi as she slithered allover a wincing Bette early in show. In fact I was cringing for both ofthem.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of saucy Dawn and Cindy, as thathilarious little “sitdown” practically guaranteed. I’m also panting tolearn what skinny, nasty little Adele is cooking up in that twisted brain of hers. But even without herevil machinations, don’t you think the affair between Jenny and Niki — two of the mostvolatile, self-centered women in Los Angeles — has the lifespan of apeeled potato?

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