On ''Weeds,'' everything comes up roses for Nancy, as she gets her second husband's life-insurance check and wins Sullivan over with a quickie

”Weeds”: Power, sex, and money struggles

Remind me again. Why do we like Nancy Botwin? Let’s see: chill disposition; sharp sense of humor; awesome wardrobe; way smarter than she seems; impressively entrepreneurial; will do anything for her family….Oh yes, there’s that. Here’s the thing: Nancy got back in the game to sustain her and her kids’ upper-middle-class lifestyle but has expressed only fleeting guilt over her rotten parenting skills. On the flip side, we’re to believe that this increasingly fiscally minded mommy, like, totally feels bad that her late second husband’s first wife was screwed out of his six-figure life-insurance policy — enough to be guilted into potentially handing over the cash to her. What gives?

It’s good to know that Nancy still has a soul. And despite her moral lapses, she has remained a likable, even sympathetic, character. (Cue those old home videos of Judah.) It also helps that Conrad continues to have feelings for her. But I nonetheless wonder if her appeal to viewers isn’t flitting away here, bringing credence to Sullivan’s telling comment that she’s not all that different from him businesswise. Yikes! Also, what to make of the violent liaison that transpired between those two? After three seasons of MILF and rape talk from sundry ne’er-do-wells, it’s interesting that this messed-up power struggle ultimately transpired on her own turf and during a season in which Nancy has increasingly experimented with using her sexuality to manipulate situations. Meanwhile, how disturbing is it that everyone in Nancy’s family just assumed that she’s some sort of black widow who casually murdered Peter (Shane’s fine samurai theory notwithstanding)?

Fittingly, the episode started with a money montage. After a season that dubiously dallied with gangsters and hookers and heroin, Weeds has kind of come full circle and then some. Nancy’s back on as a grande dame pulling the strings of an operation out of her house. And, hey, business is booming. She’s teamed up again with Doug — just like old times! — and they’re basking in this new Homegrown Depot, as he put it, this Potco. Is it wrong for me to get a little verklempt seeing our favorite accountant smoking out again? A plea to Weeds‘ writers: Doug and Andy really need to hang out more, too.

It was all good times until those pesky Majestic folks decided to check the books, and Doug was in dire need of those missing funds he had handed over to Nancy to step up their operation. After jokes involving prison bitches and various orifices, Doug used his inexplicable superior power of rhetoric to convince the Majestics that Agrestic invested in a lucrative fountain business run by the underprivileged. Now, I’ve never questioned Doug’s ridiculously charmed life before (a testament to Kevin Nealon’s charisma), but I gotta say: C’mon, just how much am I expected to suspend my disbelief here? Sidebar: Just think of the wasted possibilities of Doug in prison?.

Turns out we needed to suspend that skepticism even more, as an ominous call from the DEA office softened into a bid to offer the dressed-to-the-nines Nancy dead spouse No. 2’s life-insurance and pension checks. But one good thing did come of this. Where I’m losing faith in the lucky Nancy, Valerie — excellently executed by Brooke Smith — only gets more compelling, more tragic. It’s quickly dawned on us that her tendency to fly off the handle comes from a place of frustration — financial woes, a d—head son, that flaky ex — and not, say, an unparalleled hatred of humanity. ”I work a middle-class job in the Bush economy,” she said drily in a bid for Peter’s insurance money. Can’t argue with her there.

I’d go so far as to say that Celia has actually been replaced as Nancy’s foil by the more complex, dyspeptic Valerie. Once a likable aggressor, Celia has lately been oscillating rather predictably between victimizer (screwing over Doug; mistreating the wheelchair-bound, diapered Dean) to victim (obsessing over her cancer scars; walking in on Sullivan’s sex act with Nancy). Yeah, we get it: Her life is perennially messed up. But how much do we care anymore?

What do you think? Is Celia’s behavior so awful that she karmically deserved to lose Sullivan — and will this drive her back into Dean’s damaged arms? Will Nancy ultimately hand over all that insurance money to Valerie? Will the Tres Seis enter the picture again? And where’s our girl Heylia these days?

This week, the theme song, ”Little Boxes,” was performed by the Decemberists. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 6.

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