Transparent recap: 'Looking Up'
Ed has up until this point been mostly a silent part of the Pfefferman clan. In “Looking Up,” even though Ed remains quiet and sickly, his presence is deeply felt, as Shelly and Maura, now reunited, plan to ease him into death with some Percocet. They could have a great shiva, Maura and Shelly agree.
Maura has come to Shelly following the fall out from the Trans Got Talent show, when all the younger Pfeffermans ditched her in her hour of need. With Ed bedridden, Shelly needs her. “He wants out,” Shelly says. Ed’s end of life directives say “no extreme measures,” but Maura says they have options, and Shelly confesses that she sometimes does “some Googling.” In the present day Maura and Shelly are like old friends, eating chicken. (There’s a special joy in watching Shelly eat.) Shelly asks Maura if she still wants to date women. “So we got gay married before it was fashionable,” Shelly says. But the show also flashes back to reveal the fallout from Mort’s time at Camp Camellia in which Mort confesses where he was, telling her, “I’d love to share it with you.” Mort presents himself to Shelly in full Maura regalia and Shelly says, “I’m done,” after asking him if this was who he was when they met and on their wedding night.
When the Pfefferman children finally arrive at Shelly’s, they ask Maura why she’s there, and she explains they abandoned her at the show, an act for which they lamely try to make excuses. In regards to Ed Shelly repeats what she had said to Mort all those years back. She’s “done.” After Maura and Shelly’s announcement that they plan to “ease Ed into the next transition,” Ali resists. Maura points out that Shelly is suffering and that the children don’t notice. Josh says that he calls, and Shelly breaks down, “I don’t want you to call me. I want you to be here.” She points to Maura and says that “he’s the only one who comes.” Maura corrects her to “she.”
Sarah recommends involving the rabbi, at which point Josh pulls out his phone and explains he can text her. That significantly lightens the mood when they all find out that he’s been, in their words, “f—ing the rabbi.”
Yes, Josh goes to Raquel the rabbi to apologize for ditching her on that fateful night. She is resistant, but he offers to wait for her, and they eventually go to his place to eat. Things almost go awry when Raquel realizes that Bianca has been staying there. Raquel says that it has been a waste of her time. Their fight, however, turns into sex.
Josh’s sexual escapades are having an impact on Ali’s life. Ali notices Josh’s Heart record at her place. Right after the sex scene between Josh and Raquel, the show cuts to Ali asking Syd, “Oh my God are you f—ing my brother.” Ali is livid upon hearing this news, to which Syd counters, “you make me feel bad all the time,” recalling all the moments Ali acted selfishly in their friendship. Unsurprisingly, Ali is a terrible friend. But Syd also has a confession: “Since eighth grade I’ve had feelings for you that are confusing, that aren’t just like friend feelings, like they’re more than friend feelings. I don’t know, it just seems weird that you’ve never noticed those before.” Ali continues to think only of herself, asking in return: “I’m just confused. If this is how you feel, then why are you sleeping with my brother?” When Ali, after storming out of Shelly’s, confronts Josh about sleeping with Syd without telling her, he says it’s not going to happen again. He’s in love with Raquel. Ali leaves.
Sarah, meanwhile, has her own set of guilt. Tammy, a recovering addict, makes her throw out her pot. Sarah complies, annoyed, but finds more when she drops the kids off at Len’s. Len happens to have his own vape pen, and they sit on his bed, getting high, talking about what has happened between them. Len has to get ready for a date with his assistant, and Sarah almost flirtatiously asks what his date’s breasts are like. Len says that he and Tammy agree on two things: both of Sarah’s boobs. It’s an odd moment of admission that their relationship isn’t what it once was that’s tinged with nostalgia. Sarah later asks Tammy if she thinks about Len and Barb and if what they did to them was okay. Sarah tells Tammy about Len dating his assistant and Tammy mentions that Sarah might be jealous. That’s likely the case.
And then there’s Ed, poor Ed. Ali goes into see Ed right when she arrives at Shelly’s, the only child who really engages with him. She holds his hand and asks how he’s doing. He smiles and nods. As Shelly and Maura talk about the Shiva they could have with Josh and Sarah, the show returns to Ed’s perspective, and Ed, ignored by the Pfeffermans, walks out of the door. The episode ends as we flash back to Ed and Shelly in better days. Ed tells a joke about a woman who either has Alzheimer’s or VD to the younger Pfefferman children, Shelly encouraging him and laughing by his side. “I’m just here to make you happy,” Ed says. He takes a sip of his beverage. “L’chaim,” he says. To life.