This season drew to a close as for the three Pfefferman children there was perhaps a look into the future and a grieving of the past for some. For Maura there was a reaching across the generations by the women in her family from Rose’s mother to the present because one strand that held this episode together was the story of grandmother Rose Pfefferman. But first, we must get all of the Pfefferman stories up to date and then turn to the strand of the episode that was the story of Rose, which was woven in and out between the episodic life of Maura and her three children.
When the pool filled with leaves
Ali and Sarah came out of the Pfefferman home and went to the pool where they jumped in. Soon, Josh, who was still in bed, stirred and went to get a bowl of cereal and then he joined the “trespassers” in the pool. Their play in the pool was interrupted by their reminiscing about when the pool guy quit and the pool filled with leaves for two years because no one wanted to clean it. They mused over the deeper meaning of that experience and their lives. After Josh talked about the break-up with Rachel, it was announced that it was “tea time” and like small children they sank to the bottom of the pool and pretended to have tea in what was doubtless a fond childhood memory.
The next time the kids appeared they were all in the same bed and beginning to snuggle. Ali noticed Gittel’s ring on the bedside table and asked if she might have it. Josh replied, “please.” Ali wore it on a chain around her neck. They had returned to their childhood when all they really had was each other.
Do you want to be my student or my old lady?
Ali walked triumphantly across the UCLA campus on her way to meet with Leslie in the Gender Studies Department. Leslie invited her in to her office and they began to chat. There was the subject of recovering from the festival and the problem of Maura being there. This lead to Ali beginning the “I am a graduate student and I need to impress my professor conversation.” Ali began to wax eloquently about working on “the whole pain and anxiety passed down through the generations. Not just the Holocaust and the pogroms, the Jew shoes,….” Leslie interrupted to assure her that Ali did not need to try to impress her. In fact, Leslie wanted her to be one of her T.A.’s next year and that Ali was certainly someone that she wanted to get to know better. But, there was one problem, it was against the faculty code of conduct “for a professor to fuck a student.” So, Ali could have her choice whether to be Leslie’s student or her “old lady.” Ali grinned and said nothing. Decisions, decisions, life was full of decisions.
Being ridden by a pony
Sarah next appeared at the studio of the dominatrix who had pleasured her at the festival. She was there for her spanking with the paddle. At the end she paid with a credit card and thanked Pony. Seemed she was now a weekly client.
Melanie ditched me
Sarah’s next appearance in the episode was at Len’s office in order to make amends for the $485 color pallet of Melanie’s that she had messed with and taken. Only to be told by Len that he hoped she had a gift receipt for it because he and Melanie were no longer an item. Sarah expressed great regret at hearing this and moved on to the sofa where Len was sitting to express her sympathy and assure Len that he was not too boring, as Melanie had said. So, was she headed back to where she came from?
Her final appearance was at the Temple, where she and Rachel said hi and then Rachel invited Sarah inside. Had she come for advice?
Josh found a father
Josh went to Shelly’s condo, but she was not there and Buzz was. Buzz invited him in. They began to discuss the relationship of Buzz and Shelly. Buzz wanted to know what Josh thought. Josh answered that it did not matter. Buzz quickly fixed that notion, “it’s important to me what you think.” The hook had just been set for Josh to finally have a parent who cared about what he thought. It had been clear that the children were not the first priority of either Shelly or Maura, who seemed to put themselves first constantly from the summers with the pool girls to the present.
A fatherly with a buzz
They next went for a walk and discovered an ailing duck. Buzz instructed Josh on how to tenderly care for the duck. Back in the condo with the duck in the tub, their conversation continued. Josh admitted to his confusion and Buzz began to issue his analysis of the situation. To Buzz, Joshua was clearly in shock and grieving the death of his father. Josh exclaimed, “but I didn’t like him. So, you think I still miss Mort?” Buzz answered, “what do you think?” Again what the child thought was important to the parent. Josh then reasoned that “it was politically incorrect to say you miss someone who’s transitioned.” Buzz tossed that objection aside, “This is not about correct, Joshua. This is about grieving, mourning your father…..have you grieved the lose?” Now they were both sitting on the edge of the tub and Buzz gently caressed Josh’s head as he dissolved into tears. Maybe for the first time ever he had just had an adult/parent say that his feelings were important. Perhaps Josh’s chaotic life might actually start to come together, or this could be yet another false start.
One of the hardest, but often overlooked, changes that come with any transgender person living the life that feels correct for them is the effect it has on those around them. The family and friends do have to undergo a period of adjustment, which many of them are unable to accept. The transgender person has filled a role in the life of others, sometimes for decades as in the case of Josh, and now his experience of his father, even though he disliked him, had suddenly changed to being Moppa, as his sisters called Maura. To paraphrase an old song, sometimes he felt “like a fatherless child.” Behind all of this is the problem of whether or not the transperson is becoming someone else, or if they have always been that person, just dressed in drag, but now they presented as themselves?
NATO and spooning
This episode actually opened with Maura and Vickie, having left the festival, spending the night at the Wagon Wheel Motel. They had a room with two double beds. Now, what to do? Maura emerged from the bathroom brushing her teeth shortly after Vickie revealed that she had had a double mastectomy due to cancer. “So they loped off my tits, so what?” Maura asked if Vickie was a “bathy” or a “showery” in an effort to make small talk, I hope. Otherwise, what’s with the baby talk? After getting the clearance from Vickie that sharing a room was ok; as, Vickie said she was “NATO, not attached to outcome.” She patted the mattress next to herself and invited Maura to join her. She released Maura’s hair and soon they were spooning, and Maura was the spoonee, not the spooner, This was doubtless new for Maura, she was the one being gently seduced.
The next morning they awoke and began kissing. Soon Vickie was on top, as Maura said, “I don’t know what to do.” Vickie asked if Maura wanted to see her and she removed her pajama shirt. There was then a discussion as to whether or not Maura wanted to keep her bra on. Apparently despite her fears, Maura’s things down there still worked as Vickie humped the heck out of Maura, which ended in moans of release.
The next time they appeared, they were having breakfast. The subject of Maura’s mom, Rose, came up and she had to admit that it had been three years since she had seen her and that her mom did not know about Maura. Maura asked if Vickie would like to go see her with Maura. Vickie declined, as she was not really into seeing other people’s parents. Maura said she got it, that it was about boundaries and “you have some hot boundaries.”
Ali and Maura go to see Rose
Ali was on the train with Maura on the way to see Rose. Ali talked about being at UCLA in the fall and Maura advised her “to steer clear of people who are overly attracted to dogma.” Hint, hint, avoid Leslie, I supposed. Maura wanted to know how she looked, and Ali answered “pretty.”
They arrived at Rose Pfeffermna’s room and entered. Rose was seated motionless in a wheelchair close to a window. She was totally not there. Maura tried to gently get her attention and introduce herself. Rose paid no attention, then she glimpsed Gittel’s ring hanging on the chain around Ali’s neck. She reached out for it and touched it, as and old memory must have stirred.
Gittel's ring comes to America
The storyline that does more to tie this episode together, than any other, was the story of Rose in America. It was 1933 and Rose and her mother had escaped the rise of the Nazi’s in Germany. They were riding in steerage in the bowels of a large steam ship. The immigrants were packed together sitting on benches. Silently, Rose pulled out a paper wrapped block of chocolate that she had prepared for the trip. She handed it to Rose. Rose unwrapped it and broke it open to reveal Gettel’s ring in the center of the chocolate.
He'd better be fucking crippled
Pretty much ignored to this point, Rose’s and Gittel’s father had gone to America before them to prepare for his wife and children coming over. They had tracked him down to an address in Los Angeles. As they reached the address Rose’s mom wondered if he was hurt or whatever because she had not heard from him in quite a while. She knocked on the door. A young woman opened it. A wife in search of her husband said, ”Yes, I’m looking for Heinz? Who are you?” as she noticed a child in a high chair. She continued, ”I’m his wife and this is his daughter.” Soon they were in the house and Heinz was being yelled at, as he attempted to be welcoming to Rose. “You lied!,” screamed the woman scorned. Heinz asked, “where’s Gershon?” His wife continued, “who’s this?” Heinz said it was Muriel and the baby. In a feeble effort to reconnect with Rose, he offered to buy her a book. Rose and her mom headed for the door, but not before both turning around to curse Heinz complete with the spitting as they walked out.
On the beach
Maura’s sister had joined them at the beach. They had taken mama Rose to the beach. Ali, Maura, her sister and Rose stood in a line gazing out to the Pacific. They stood there in total silence as if meditating on their very existence together.
This scence cut to Rose having contractions in a delivery room. Rose’s mom and her husband were in the waiting room. Mom was fretting over how long it was taking and that Rose hadn’t even picked out a name yet.. The husband mansplained to her that the doctors knew what they were doing. And not to worry about a name, as he puffed on a cigar, the father announced he had picked out a name, “ Fay. Fay Pfefferman. It sounded like a movie star.” Rose’s mom wanted to know how he knew it was going to be a girl. The new dad explained, “well, a father knows these things.” Meanwhile in the delivery room the doctor was congratulating Rose on the birth of a boy. The episode closed with a close-up of Maura gazing out over the Pacific.
TRANSPARENT recap: "Oscillate" (season 2 episode 8)
TRANSPARENT recap: "Man on the Land" (season 2 episode 9)
TRANSPARENT recap: "Grey Green Brown and Copper" (season 2 episode 10 FINALE)