Transparent season finale recap: 'Why Do We Cover the Mirrors?'
The title of the episode refers to the Jewish tradition of covering mirrors in the house during shiva, the period of mourning after someone dies. Ali asks Raquel what the basis for this is as they perform the task. Raquel says it’s about “being free from vanity.” That’s not really something the Pfeffermans are particularly accustomed to doing.
Each Pfefferman has his or her own moment of vanity in this final episode, and none are really paying attention to poor Ed.
The episode opens with the clan, including the dead Ed, getting ready for the funeral as Bianca and one of the members of Glitterish sing Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie.” Ali puts on a tie. Josh tells Raquel he wants to tell everyone about their relationship at the funeral. Shelly brings a gigantic jar of mustard, “just in case.”
At the grave site Ali notices that Rita asks if Josh invited her. Rita has come with a much younger man. “Some things never change,” Ali says. Tammy and Len battle over who gets to be one of the pall bearers, each trying to stake their place in the family. Tammy eventually pushes a woman off to grab ahold of the coffin. Maura and Davina arrive in the middle of the service, prompting whispers. As the family members shovel dirt onto Ed’s coffin we hear excerpts of their conversations. Josh asks Shelly if everyone is staring at Maura. Shelly says, “see ya, Ed.” Len asks Sarah if he can be buried with Sarah and Tammy. Ali bitterly comments on Maura’s Star of David necklace asking her when she got into Judaism. “Who knew?” Ali says.
Still at the graveyard, Syd approaches Ali, who is trying to cut her tie, yet another Jewish tradition. Syd helps Ali, and Ali asks Syd if Josh ever told her he loved her. Ali explains that for Josh it’s not about loving other people, it’s seeing that he is loved. Ali is still pissed that Syd and Josh lied to her, and when Syd asks if she should come to the shiva Ali tells her she doesn’t need to come.
At the shiva, Shelly still frets about the mustard, while Tammy organizes people into a circle to share memories about Ed. One woman says, “pass,” which Sarah and Len take as an opportunity to hide out in the laundry room. (“Do not piss off Esther,” Len says, in a line that is now this Esther’s motto. “She will f— you up at your memorial service.”) There, they once again flirt. Sarah tells him she’s glad he’s there, and he says it’s “kind of weird being replaced.” She says he’s not replaced, and he asks if she misses anything. Len asks if she misses his c–k. Len pushes her down to perform oral sex and then pulls her up again telling her he loves her and then pushes her down, but he then pulls her up again, “I don’t want to be a f—ing secret,” he says. “Just because you’re from this family doesn’t mean you have to be like this family.” When Tammy encounters Sarah leaving the laundry room, Sarah declares she thinks they should get married.
Meanwhile, as Ali and Raquel hang the covers for the mirrors, Raquel confesses to Ali how happy she is with Josh. But Ali grabs this moment to get back at Josh. “I think Josh has a kind of f—ed up relationship with women,” Ali tells her, concluding that he is a “love addict.” She is shocked and grabs Ali’s hand as if a thank you. Raquel leaves, and Josh follows her. Josh pleads with her, insisting that he loves her, but when she brushes him off, he digs himself into a deeper hole asking if Syd or Rita said anything. Raquel leaves, and Josh goes to confront Rita. But Rita has bigger things to reveal. That young man? Rita’s his birth mother, meaning he’s Josh’s son. Colton is from Overland Park, Kansas, and tries to bond with his father about sushi. Josh tells him, “I’m not sure you’re gonna like me,” to which Colton responds, “No matter what happens I’m always gonna like you.”
Maura meanwhile had been talking about her transition, when Ali comes in and confronts her about her bat mitzvah. Shelly had told Ali that the reason she didn’t have a bat mitzvah was that Maura wanted to go to the camp for men who dress up like women. Maura says that she let Ali cancel the bat mitzvah and tells Ali not to be so “self-centered.” Ali is enraged. “What on Earth would I do with God?” she screams. She says that their family religion is “secrecy,” bringing up the fact that Maura gave her money but told her to keep it quiet. Ali asks why Maura always gives her money. Maura stands up and yells, “because my beautiful girl, you cannot do anything.” Ali throws money in Maura’s face, and Maura asks if Ali even likes her. “If I didn’t give you any money would you even talk to me?” Ali leaves, and Josh and Sarah follow her. Shelly goes over to fix Maura’s dress.
Later that night the Pfeffermans are once again gathering around the table while eating the leftovers from the shiva. Sarah announces that she and Tammy are getting married. Josh comes in with Colton, who shakes hands with everyone and has his first taste of chopped liver, before mentioning that he usually prays before every meal. “We’re Jewish, man, we don’t do that,” Josh says. But Sarah says that Colton is their guest. They join hands and Ali comes in, at which point the family starts chanting her name. Maura says, “come on, hon,” and she joins. Colton begins his prayer and ends, “in Jesus’s name we pray.” Maura says, “Oy, gevalt.” Oy is right.
And that’s our first season with the Pfeffermans. There are traditions that bring people together. Funerals and shivas, for instance. But it takes a powerful familial bond to actually keep people together. The Pfeffermans have that.