TRANSPARENT recap: “Mee-Maw”

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In this episode all of the Pfefferman’s continue in their search for a future as their newly emergent selves.  For Sarah, it was life alone with her pot, and Mr. Iron Discipline.  For Ali, it was as a lesbian and hopeful grad student at UCLA with Leslie Mackinaw.   For Josh, it was the prospect of creating a family with Rachel and Colton.  For Maura, it was the continuation of the process of freeing herself from her past life.

 

You're a lesbian

Sarah and Ali were getting a massage and would soon be in a sauna together where they discussed each others most recent sexual activities. Ali discussed her relationship with Syd and its connection to feminism as taught by Leslie.  Was Ali a lesbian or just a feminist finding solace with Syd under the weight of the patriarchy?  Ali announced that, “she had crossed a line.”  But, was unsure if it was because of the patriarchy and with Syd it was more than sex, it was emotional.  After asking if Ali liked it, Sarah passed judgment, “You’re a lesbian.  And I don’t give a shit about what you think about patrimony.”  Ali went on to explore the age old question of how do you know if you are gay or straight.  Was it based “on who you think about when you come?”  Sarah told Ali about her most recent sex act with an imaginary Mr. Iron Discipline as a coach and voyeur, which drew an eeew look from Ali.

 

Winning your sessions at an auction is a problem

Sarah had come to collect on her life coach sessions she won at the school gala auction.  Only to be told that it was a problem for the therapist, because as she wrote in her book,  Sarah’s spark had not gone boom and then in increasing volume yelled that it needed a change.  Rather, Sarah’s spark had not spoken, Sarah had just won the sessions.  In the therapists’ soliloquy she had said that for “all intense and purposes,” which Sarah picked-up on and corrected to “all intends and purposes.”

This earned Sarah the reaction from the therapist, ‘do people say you are controlling?”    Sarah confessed that she was and that she had been living a life where everything was perfect, but now everything was falling apart.  Sarah wanted to get back to the problem with winning the auction.  After all, the therapist had donated the sessions.  “That sounds hostile to me,” replied the therapist.  She then followed by describing the wall that Sarah was erecting between them and that they would knock down that wall.

 

Go home… Zone out

Sarah met the medicinal marijuana man in a parking lot as he rode up on his motorcycle.  He explained that this was illegal; but, because of Josh, he had brought her two joints and that she needed to come in to see him and have another prescription written.  After the transaction, he asked if she wanted to go out.  Sarah declined.  Then he asked, “is that because you’re gay?  You can tell me about it.”

Sarah basically answered how does anyone know?  The guy then suggested that maybe it was when you were lying in bed; were you thinking about “getting your face in that sweet, sweet puss or that d?”  He assured her he was looking for puss.  Sarah got in her car and left.  When last seen, she was sitting in her car, smoking a joint and eating a hamburger.

Syd and Ali were talking in Ali’s apartment.  Syd was reading an invitation to a “Full Moon Ritual” to be hosted by Leslie and her “land partner.”  Ali appeared flossing her teeth with a significantly large strap on around her groin.  Syd responded by telling Ali she was violating the rules and that “that thing was only to appear in the dark.”  She assured Ali that she loved her and “now, put it away.”  Ali persisted in rubbing the dick against Syd.  Ali reading over Syd’s shoulder said the invitation said to bring your “own ritual tool,” so she was wearing the strap on.  That was followed by Ali’s worry that Leslie might not let her into Leslie’s program at UCLA.   Syd tried to be reassuring and then the subject returned to the strap on as they discussed what all they were going to do with the strap on, for example, the New York Times crossword puzzle, and watching the rain.

 

Full moon ritual

It was night as Syd and Ali entered the grounds to the sound of drums for the Full Moon Ritual.  As they entered a voice intoned, “to those who came before.”

“Wherever they may be,” came the answer.

Followed by “Here! Here!”

Ali identified Leslie as the “one holding court,” who had a younger woman nestled next to her. “Is that her girlfriend or her daughter?” asked Syd.

“Did you go out with Taylor?  I’m her ex” one of the women asked Syd.

“Yes, I remember you,” answered Syd

Another woman reminisced, “Everybody used to fuck everybody else, or at least think about it…

Leslie interrupted, “I met you at UCLA.  You’re Mort Pfefferman’s kid.”

“Maura,” corrected Ali.

“Are you going to come study with me? The big bad dyke,” asked Leslie.

Ali said yes and then introduced Syd, who asked what Leslie was teaching. “I don’t teach.  I like to talk about things I care about with people who are ready,” came the answer.

The women gathered for the ritual as the drums played under the full moon surrounded by moving, wispy clouds.  The leader of the ritual began, “The 100th moon is the last one before we cross over.  We honor the things that we have hunted; the things that we have killed; but, have given us life.”

Leslie suddenly said, “That’s so violent, but it’s ours.  And power for each of us.”

As the camera pulled back the circle of very serious women included Ali and Syd standing uncomfortably and slightly bemused.

 

They don't trust the postal service

Colton’s adoptive family from Overland Park, Kansas was coming out to meet Josh and Rachel ostensibly because they do not trust the postal service to deliver their signed high school papers.  Thus began the adventure of West Coast Jews encountering a middle American fundamentalist preacher and his family. Pastor Gene, his wife Flossy and their other two children, Becky and Clifford, were coming.

These were conservative people so one preparation that Josh thought was necessary was for Rachel to wear an engagement ring, and because he had not bought one so far, nor proposed, that raised the tension between he and Rachel.  Josh appeared with Tante Gitte’s (Aunt Gitte) ring, which in season one he was going to use with another woman he had impregnated.    As we shall eventually find out, Aunt Gitte was grandma Rose’s transgender brother, but it was a family heirloom nonetheless.  Josh approached the ring as “for optics.” 

Rachel would have none of it,  “Is this your proposal?” 

No, “it is just a thing for while people are here,” Josh offered. 

Rachel upbraided him, “ why could you possibly care? We are good people.  We haven’t done anything wrong.”

Josh and Rachel then revealed how deep the divide was over Colton.  “He is lucky to be her with us,” Rachel reasoned. 

Josh corrected, “no, I think you got that wrong.  We are lucky to have him.”  She then reluctantly put the ring on.

 

Pastor Gene

Colton’s family got off the old RV that had backed down the driveway as it became dark.  Everybody was pleased to meet everyone and Colton took his brother and sister around to the pool.  As Pastor Gene, Flossy, Josh and Rachel walked toward the house, Pastor Gene remarked to Josh, “you’re all grown-up.”  This surprised Josh.  They had seen pictures of him as a teenager, doubtless from Rita.  All while Josh had not know about Colton.

Now in the house, Pastor Gene and Rachel were talking, “I hear you got coyote’s out here.  Ya’ got a firearm.”  Rachel demurred and offered that getting a firearm in L.A. would be difficult.  “That’s not true,” Pastor Gene corrected her.  They then joined the others as Josh remarked that it was cool that the Pastor was a hunter.

 

Mee-Maw

At this point, Maura made an unexpected entrance into the house and said hi to everyone.  Pastor Gene quickly introduced himself and then remarked, “you must be Colton’s Mee-Maw.”  A pleased Maura answered, “yes, exactly.”  Maura was there because earlier in the episode she had been with Davina and Shea when Davina got back her childhood photos back after having them regendered.  What had been pictures of her as a boy, were now pictures of her as a girl.  Maura wanted to have the same done to her photos.  She was there to retrieve them from wherever Tammy had stored them and she was going to be there as long as it took.

 

Jesus was a Jew

Pastor Gene described his mid-size congregation and explained the role of his TV show in his ministry.  Colton proudly pointed out that Rachel was a Rabbi;  the silence that followed was broken by Pastor Gene,

“You know, we love the Jewish people.  Have the utmost respect for them.”  A Prolonged silence was interrupted by, “Jesus was a Jew.”

Rabbi Rachel agreed, “yes, he was.”

Then Maura announced, “we Jewish.”

Pastor Gene questioned, “you’re all Jewish?”

Josh happily answered, “yes, even Colton’s Jewish.”

“No, he’s not,” insisted Flossy, as she was almost dying from laughter.

Colton tried to save the day by proposing that Gene and Flossy see the house and his bedroom.  The tactic might have worked, but he mentioned that he would be in a different bedroom downstairs after the baby came.

 

Baby? What baby?

“Baby?  What baby?” exclaimed Flossy.  Once told that Rachel was expecting, Flossy continued and asked Rachel if she would have time for Colton what with college and SAT exams and such.  Flossy had talked to Rita about it and volunteered that Rita could help.  

“You talk to Rita?” questioned a disturbed Rachel. 

“You don’t have a problem do you?” Flossy shot back. 

After a pause, Rachel replied, “no, no, she’s a complicated person.” 

Flossy dismissed that, “we all have complications in our lives.”

“Congratulations,” Gene said to Josh as the rest of the folks started downstairs. 

“Hope you don’t make the same mistake this time,” Pastor Gene concluded.

Josh was incredulous, “what?” 

Josh tried to explain that he did not know and that Rita had run away and why was Gene “coming after him like that.”

Maura came down the hall from her photo search and Mee-Maw interrupted the discussion, in defense of her son.

“Excuse me.  We knew.  I want to be more clear with you.  No one abandoned anyone.  What we did do was make a sizeable contribution to your church to help that poor girl and pay her medical bills.”

Josh was visibly crushed by this information and left the room to join

Rachel where he bemoaned his parents not telling him.

“Everything in my life would have been different.”

Rachel vainly tried to correct him, “honey, everything in your life would have been different, if Rita hadn’t molested you.”

Josh blurted out, “I loved her.”

Colton came into the room and explained that Pastor Gene and all were packing up the RV and they could make space for him, if you want. “This is fucking insane,” was Josh’s response.   He and Colton had a brief exchange about whether Colton should leave or not.  Colton refused to say he wanted to stay and laid the decision totally on Josh even as Josh pleaded, “what do you want?’

Colton finally admitted that he thought Rachel and Josh, “had a good thing going on.”

Colton wanted to “give them some space” and expressed how sorry he was. 

“What am I suppose to do?” asked Josh

“This feels really bad.  I’m really stressed out….that can’t be good for a baby,” offered Rachel. As they began to get on the RV, Flossy offered to Rachel that the baby was “going to bring so much light into your life.”  Colton made one last appeal to Josh.

“Want to make sure this is what you want.  If you want me to stay, just say so.”  All was silent except for Becky and Clifford chanting, “humble thyself in the sight of the lord…and he shall raise you up. Higher and higher he shall lift you up.”  As the RV drove off, Josh and Rachel moved closer together and began to walk back to the house in silence.  They did not touch each other.  There were no hugs or holding hands, as they were both clearly distraught over what had happened.  Josh was disconsolate and Rachel could not fix it.

 

I'm going to go

Maura returned to Shelly’s condo.  She was laying on the bed reading as Maura came in.

“Hon, Dolly,” questioned Shelly s she heard the door close.

“Hi,” replied Maura with a very distressed look on her face.

Shelly got off the bed, “oh good, I was worried.” Then “what’s the matter?’’ when she saw Maura’s face.

“Josh knows about everything,” Maura said flatly.

“Oh my God.  What did you say?” asked Shelly.

“Everything.  It just came out,” said Maura with regret.

“Are you O.K.?” Shelly said solicitously.

“I feel horrible,” whined Maura.

In her cheery voice, Shelly continued, “you have nothing to feel horrible about.  Please.  We were protecting our boy.  Our Joshie.  He’s with a Rabbi now.  Com’on I’ll make you a cup of coffee.”  After a gentle nudge to Maura, she continued that she would put snapps in Maura’s, as she moved to the kitchen. Maura stood flatfooted and said, “Hey, hon, I’m going to go.”

“You can’t go” Shelly instructed.

While motioning back and forth between them, Maura said “this doesn’t’ work and you know it.  We’re broken.”

Shelly’s unctuous way turned to anger as she said with an edge in her voice, “How dare you do this to me!  Twice in my lifetime I have to put up with you deciding I’m not good enough.”  Clearly, she was feeling the pain of a second rejection from the person she had sought to fulfill her life.

Maura, vainly tried to reassure Shelly, “It’s not about that…”

““You have no where to go,” exclaimed Shelly.

Maura calmly replied, “ I’m going to pack.”

 

Open the fucking gate

Maura was finally ready again to escape to her new life.  The car was loaded and all that remained was for someone to open the gate at the entrance to the condo complex.  She had made the decision to leave, but seemingly her past was not letting go because of the gate.  Honking the horn of the car, and shouting for “somebody, please help.  Come open the gate….” Until finally the rage built up to anger, “open the fucking gate!”  The guard appeared and said he was sorry and opened the gate for “Mrs. P.”  Maura drove off into the night.

Nothing had been resolved about the future lives of any of the Pfeffermans.  They were all adrift to one degree or another in their relationships.

 

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See also:

TRANSPARENT recap: "Cherry Blossoms" (season 2 episode 4)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Mee-Maw" (season 2 episode 5)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Bulnerable" (season 2 episode 6)