At the end of the opening episode the camera panned across and paused at each room in the motel where the Pfeffermans were gathered with their significant other … or not, in the case of Ali. She had to leave the room to find an imaginary Syd sitting and waiting. Josh and Rachel were smoothing things over; Shelly was wooing Maura; and Sarah was breaking Tammy’s heart.
Life Moves On
Sarah by her own willfulness had now wrecked not only her life, but that of both of her would-be spouses and children. This was clearly wearing on her as she sat exhausted and wrung out in the lawyer’s office as she and Lyn dueled over custody of the children. The lawyer suggested, “bird nesting,” as the solution for the custody of the kids. The kids would “own the house” and remain there while the parents took turns “cohabitating” with the children. Sarah would have Monday and Tuesday and Lyn would have Wednesday and Thursday and Friday through Sunday would alternate between them. Sarah was too drained to do much of anything; Lyn was energetic in declaring moving the kids back and forth between their houses was like “PTSD,” and Sarah had given the kids “a fear of weddings.” Lyn also rejected the divorced couple cohabitating in a common apartment to save money. This segment closed with Sarah being shown a very dreary apartment to rent.
In yet another attempt to get her life on some kind of a track, Ali had gone back to college. A dreamy Ali sat in an astronomy lecture as the stars of the universe loamed over her and moved toward her. Because of the delay of the speed of light, the professor intoned, “You are looking at the past….clues to our origins.” Later, she appeared at Syd’s loft to try to restart their relationship. As Ali announced she was just stopping by, Syd invited her in and noted that the way Ali’s hair was braided was interesting, as in was it “a new cult,” “little punk house on the prairie,” a fishing thing, and lastly her head could be used “like a shuttle cock.” Ali finally responded, “Are you done making fun of me?” Syd having exacted for now her vengeance for Ali’s earlier rejection of her, playfully replied “never, isn’t that why you came by?” Ali proceeded to apologize to Syd and asked her “that you’ll take me as a friend again?” Syd accepted and invited her over for a gathering that evening.
Josh and Rachel were all snuggly at the doctor’s office as they got their first ultrasound view of the baby. The next time they appeared Josh was in 209 ½ somewhere in Rita’s messy apartment. Josh had come to pick up his other child, Colton, to go to a pool party that Josh was having. Colton told him that he was thinking about spending his senior year in L.A. and it was Rita’s idea. Everybody was cool with it and Josh was excited. Rachel was waiting in the car and as Josh and Colton walked up Josh announced, “This guy is going to live in L.A.” Rachel moved to the back seat, so that Colton could sit in the front and not be crowded. From the back seat Rachel’s response to the announcement was “wow” with a half puzzled look on her face.
The last subset of the Pfeffermans to account for was Maura and Shelly. Maura was in a moving container that had been deposited in front of Shelly’s condo anxiously looking for something to wear to a swim party. Shelly entered the container; “here I come to save the day” she came in the box to help Maura pick out a swimsuit and cover to wear to the party. Condo security pulled up while they both were in the container to notify Shelly that Rosalie Roman had complained about the container and wanted a special assessment levied. Shelly answered, “Rosalie Roman can kiss my ass.” She then assured Maura that she liked her and the box where they were and gave Maura a kiss. They would next appear inside in the bathroom together.
Shelly was lounging in a bubble bath in the tub, while Maura stood in front of the bathroom mirror fidgeting with the top of her swimsuit because she was “wearing boobies.” That was something she had never done before and “could even bump it up a size.” She also complained about her flabby upper arms and her hair. Maura, welcome to being an older woman, we all have the arms was basically Shelly’s response. Just as a passing observation, I have to insert that it struck me as a bit unusual that after years of cross-dressing and now into the second season of the show, that Maura had never done anything about her “boobies.” I might also add, that if you see a mature transwoman who does not have flabby upper arms, you are looking at a transwoman who is not on HRT, or has just started. Muscle tone and strength are greatly reduced over time with estrogen. It is also curious that Maura has never had the experience of going to a doctor to begin medical transition.
Shelly beckoned Maura over to the tube to add some Jean Nate to her bath water. Having gotten Maura to the tub, Shelly began to reminisce,
“We had some good times….You know that thing you used to do with your fingers. Nobody could do that like you…you have the talent…What did we use to call it?”
Maura had tried to demure through all that reminiscing, but at the question of what did we call it, she finally joined in to recall that it was called “Flicky-Flicky, Thump-Thump,” as she recreated the motion with her hand. Her thumb flicked upward twice and then her first two fingers joined together in a thrusting motion. Soon her hand was in the tub and Shelly was moaning in total ecstasy. After her orgasm, Shelly offered that now it was Maura’s turn. Maura merely mumbled, “I’m good” and left the room.
Fussy Puss Pool Party
The Pfeffermans began to gather at the old family home for Josh’s party to premiere his new group—Fussy Puss. As Ali and Sarah entered the house, which still was decorated and furnished according to Tammy’s sleek modern taste, Ali noted how “awful” it was. And Sarah said, “How did I not see this?” Josh greeted his two sisters and said “Momma and Moppa are coming.” Ali objected, “You make them sound like a couple.” Sarah noticed Tammy’s and her wedding cake was in the fridge and she wanted to put it out for the guests. Josh quickly overruled that idea because the party was catered. Maura and Shelly arrived. “So, I hear you two are lesbians now,” Ali said pointedly. Silence filled the room. Maura responded, “No, I’m just living with your mom temporarily since the Shangra-la went condo and kicked out the queers.” This was followed by a discussion of Maura housing and her expressed need to find somewhere. Ali suggested that Maura owned the house they were standing in. Maura broke another tie to her past by stating, “this will never be my home again.” In a brief aside Maura inquired of Shelly, “did you tell the kids about bathy time?" Shelly sputtered a bit. During all this, Maura had opened the fridge and the wedding cake was noticeably gone. Headstrong Sarah had struck again.
Now out by the pool, Josh stood with Fussy Puss, which was made up of Tammy’s step-daughter, Bianca, and two other young women. Colton appeared and Josh described him to the group, “that is grade A beef.” Then Josh’s old boss in the music business arrived and Josh began working his deal to get the band signed up.
The rest of the family were all involved in various discussions and actions with each other. Maura sat next to the pool as Colton appeared in the pool next to her. By way of making conversation, Colton said,
“I looked up trans on You Tube the other day and saw this really funny lady. She wears a cape. Is that like a trans thing?”
Maura paused for a second and answered, “No, more like a You Tube thing.”
Sarah was also poolside and Rabbi Rachel was in the pool as Sarah continued to suffer. Rachel offered that she had a study group on healing in the Torah and would love to have her join it. Meanwhile, Shelly lay back in a lounge chair and pretended to reel Maura in like a fish. Maura ignored her and began to talk with Ali, as Ali bemoaned her fate in life, while munching on a piece of wedding cake. To which, Maura asked, “why do you always put yourself down?” Rather than answer, Ali got in the pool and began to swim underwater where for a brief watery moment she was looking into the 1930s in Berlin. Fussy Puss began to sing and the old boss was ready to sign them up as the audience swayed to the music. Maura left to go for a smoke.
I'm a Beautiful Soul and You Are All Monsters
As Maura was drawing on her cigarette, she noticed Tammy standing on the balcony overlooking the pool. As Tammy started to walk toward the stairs to come down, Maura moved to meet her. Soon a drunk Tammy reached the bottom of the stairs where Fussy Puss had been singing and Tammy was soon talking over the mike that Bianca was holding. Tammy began, “Hi everybody. Are we having fun?”
Josh began coming toward her and Tammy started walking forward, “I’m good,” Tammy said as she left Rachel. When Josh tried to stop her, Tammy said, ‘fuck off” and drew back her fist in a threat to hit Josh, who backed off. Tammy tried again to start,
“Hi everybody, my name’s Tammy in case you don’t know who I am. And I’m here because we’re having a weird Sunday.”
To Sarah Tammy said, “I don’t understand why we’re having a party and I didn’t get an invitation.”
Sarah pointed out that Tammy was drunk.
Tammy begged, “What are you doing, why?”
“Just get her inside,” instructed Sarah.
“Why are we having this party? I don’t understand,” implored Tammy.
Josh and Colton picked up Tammy and began to carry her as she struggled. After putting her down, Josh ordered, “Get out of here! Go!”
Tammy stood her ground and stated her truth,
“You know what Sarah. I am a beautiful soul. And you are all Monsters.”
The Pfeffermans had been just been put in their place. Just as it seemed that might be the end of it, Tammy saw their wedding cake set out for the guests. Tammy charged toward it.
“This is our wedding cake. Sarah, this is our cake. Sarah, remember we tried like 12 different cakes. Remember honey, we fell in love and just like a week ago…”
Looking Sarah full in the face Tammy exclaimed,
“I have the soul of a warrior. I do and you have crushed it. You have ruined my life. You think there are not consequences. I am a fucking consequence. I am not crazy. I am in pain. I am your pain! “
She then threw the cake into the pool and ran off sobbing. Everyone stood stunned.
In this outburst Tammy had confronted the devilry of the Pfefferman clan and their smug self-centered lives that only seemed to cause harm to those outside of the sacred bond. Maura was increasingly aware of what a mess they were and would soon move for more detachment from the ex trying to recreate a married past and the children who seemed to not be able to find a stable life for themselves.
The After Parties
Maura told Ali, “tell your sister to take mom home. I have to make a stop.” Sarah drove Shelly home and watched her make her elderly, drunken way to the condo. Ali went to Syd’s gathering of friends. She carefully eyed Syd; clearly Ali had plans.
Josh clung evermore tightly to Rabbi Rachel as she said that she had kept watching Colton “standing there all by himself.” Josh paused and drew himself to an upright-seated position, as if the plane was about land. He began slowly, “you, me, new baby, and Colton. We need to live in this house.” Rachel offered that it was a big house, to which Josh answered big house, big family.
The last scene of the episode opened in a raucous club complete with pool table, bar, happy patrons and dance floor. The crowd was a clear mixture of assorted queer folks, as well as other radical sorts. In the dim light, Davina led Maura to join a table. Two guys, one of whom could have posed for Tom of Finland, approached the table to see who wanted to dance. Maura demurred and smoked a cigarette, while Tom of Finland led Davina on to the dance floor. She implored Maura to join them. Finally, she took Maura by the hand and led her onto the dance floor to join her and Tom of Finland. Soon Maura went over to a mirrored wall and began looking into the mirror as she began to grind her pelvis and brace her hands on the wall. No more Saint Maura, indeed.
TRANSPARENT recap: "Kina Hora" (season 2 episode 1)
TRANSPARENT recap: "Flicky-Flicky, Thump-Thump" (season 2 episode 2)
TRANSPARENT recap: "A New World Coming" (season 2 episode 3)