On the season premiere of ''Weeds,'' the rival gangs force Nancy to help them find her missing stash, and zaniness ensues; meanwhile, her two sons are in serious trouble
Credit: Mark Seliger

The ”Weeds” season premiere: The great pot hunt

Seriously, is the Mexican standoff even an effective dramatic device anymore? Season 2 of Weeds ended with a bunch of loose ends, most critically the bulletless gunplay between the Armenian baddies and U-Turn’s crew over the secret stash bogarted by fetching mama Nancy and her easy-on-the-eyes biz partner Conrad. But here’s the thing: Where Mexican standoffs were once goose-bump-inducing (as in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which, if you haven’t seen, you must Netflix posthaste), they’ve quickly become a facile, go-to climax. In a series about squeaky-clean suburban pot dealers, one hoped this tired trope would yield a somewhat subversive payoff.

It did. Only I’m not sure if it was intentional. The episode picked up with the stalemate. Nancy’s deliciously estranged FBI hubby is presumed dead (thus making her a widow twice — wonder when that’ll come into play), and rebellious son Silas was arrested at the behest of Celia. The consequent Smokey and the Bandit-like joyride — with one rep from each of the camps in tow, all looking for that missing herb that Silas jacked — immediately shed (sun)light on a situation that was going the dark way of The Wire. That wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, if it didn’t encourage forced jokeage, particularly of the MILF persuasion.

I truly hope this seismic shift toward wacky doesn’t set the pace for the rest of the season. For me, the beauty of Weeds has always lied in its ability to hang out rather coolly at that intersection of quaint, droll, and dramatic. In season 1, this meant preserving the lingering memory of Nancy’s first husband, Judah, and introducing Celia’s cancer battle; in season 2, it meant gradually facing up to the reality that cute little Nancy is knee-deep in a violent, felonious world. Nancy’s auto excursion this episode resulted in U-Turn’s team buying out the Armenians — a shame, because the latter nicely balanced out the former’s wisecracking tendencies — as well as a criminally ridiculous Celia dumping the stolen stash into a pool. (Okay, am I being naive here, or can’t they fish it out and dry it? Just being practical….) Also, where is the tough-lovin’, level-headed Heylia during all this? We need us some Heylia.

That leaves the two other buddy plots hanging. If Nancy & Co. were Smokey and the Bandit, then brother-in-law Andy and his bounty-hunter driving buddy were Hope and Crosby. (Somewhat related side note: Bing Crosby = big-time ganja enthusiast.) As for the warring husbands and party boys, Doug and Dean? They’re clearly the series’ Cheech and Chong.

I’m not exactly sure how I feel about Weeds‘ reliance on going to absurd extremes. With all due respect to Justin Kirk — as well as to Zooey Deschanel, playing Andy’s insane ex, who kidnapped wee nephew Shane — the zany roles here come off like easy punch lines. Frankly, I was thrilled for probably all the wrong reasons when Andy’s burly Alaskan traveling companion head-butted him, putting a cork in both Andy’s twittering and their ill-conceived comedy outing. On the other hand, I could not get enough of the hysterical homoerotic repartee between Doug and Dean, who popped some pills and literally dropped trou to measure each other’s dude parts in the Thunderdome that is Dean’s loo. (”Two men enter, one man leaves manlier.”) I totally knew straight men did that! And that, my friends, finally gave me the closure this episode so direly needed.

(This week the theme song, ”Little Boxes,” was covered by Randy Newman: On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 7.)

What do you think? Are you on for a new season? Is the show getting too zany? And if so, does it make it hard to care about the characters?

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