TRANSPARENT recap: “Oscillate”

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In this episode all of the Pfeffermans, other than Shelly, showed the stress of being a dysfunctional Pfefferman.  Maura tried to make-up with Davina and failed; so, to atone she becomes a volunteer in the Trevor Project.  Sarah continued to wander looking for something to do that was bigger than herself.  Josh became manic about exercise and his career before staring what looked like a breakdown.    Ali continued with her commitment phobia with Syd.  As for Shelly, she and Buzzy made a remarkable couple and she gained permission to do whatever she pleased.

 

I have a transvestite pass      

But, first there was a flashback to Rose and Gittel in Berlin in 1933 and the continued effort by their mother to get them to America and out of Berlin.  Rose and Gittel presented their mother with the money for the visas so they could immigrate.  While looking at Gittel in her dress mom responded,

“Woowee! Woowee! Ring the bell.  The queen is home.  You walked over here like this and nobody beat the fuck out of you.  You don’t think that a little meshuga.”

Geittel sought to reassure her mother.  “I’m fine.  I have a transvestite pass.  No one can arrest me.  I am protected by the city.  It actually says that I’m not meshuga.” ( A brief note: transvestite was the term used by Hirschfeld)

This exchange was a sign of the progressive nature of Berlin when Hitler rose to power in 1933.  Still beaten down by the debt and destruction of World War I, plus the Great Depression,  Berlin had become a center for modern art and progressive attitudes, what the Nazis called debauched and unGerman.  You know things like folks being openly gay and jazz music.  To be brief they were the family values party that promised to return Germany to glory. 

As against this, the city of Berlin issued protection for transgender folks, thanks to Magnus Hirschfeld the founder of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.  Though that did not stop mom from asking, who Magnus was, “is he your gay lover?”  Gittel encouraged her to get out more and appreciate what a great city Berlin was.  She declined because it had so many “Germans living in it.”  She followed this up by trying to get Rose to stay home for the night so that she could teach her how to use the turnstiles at the U-Bahn (public transit).  Her problem with the turnstiles was that she kept hearing that they broke women’s pelvises.

 

How Gittel's ring got to America

Rose and Gittel left.  They next appeared at a party at the Institute complete with bar, piano, singer and clothed orgy pile.   Gittel’s ring that Josh would use twice as an engagement ring was on a chain around her neck.  Gittel gave it to Rose, who returned home to be given a guilt trip by mom, who could be in the gutter being eaten by maggots sort of thing and Rose wouldn’t care.  After Rose left to rejoin Gittel mom took the ring and the chain along with the other jewelry in the apartment and placed it in molds into which she poured chocolate.  Mom was still preparing to leave and the Nazis let Jews leave during this time, but they strictly limited the wealth they could take with them, thus mom was smuggling out the jewelry disguised as blocks of chocolate.

 

What is this, a circus?

Rose and Gittel were again at Magnus’s Institute.  Yet, another evening of partying was going on, but this time there was a skit where Adam appeared, laid down, and Gittel popped up as Eve made from Adam’s rib.  About this time mom came in.  She had the visas and it was time to pack and get out of Germany.  The fly in the ointment was that Gittel’s visa read Gershon, a name that she had rejected.  She announced she was not leaving Magnus.  Mom demanded to see Magnus.

From behind a door Rose and Gittel listened as mom asked what Magnus had done “to my boy?” 

Magnus corrected her, “she goes by Gittel.” 

Mom exploded, “what is this a circus?  A sex circus?  A zoo for fucking?  Are you starting a religion?”

Magnus confidently replied that she was in his library, next to his museum and underneath his medical clinic.  “I believe in science, the truth, reason and progress.”  He concluded rather grandly, “this is the future.” (A statement that was chockful of irony.)

With that mom gave Gershon’s visa to Magnus to hold until he changed his mind.  On her way out mom added to Gittel, "if you’re going to be a girl, cover your tits.  Shameful!”

 

Josh pukes and goes off

Josh played a very small role in this episode as we saw him throwing himself literally in to a cross-fit class that led to him puking.  He then went with the girls of Fussy Puss to buy a van to tour in so that they could get as far away from Los Angles as possible.  After browbeating the salesman, Josh bought a van and he and one of the Fussy Puss girls headed out.  He quickly flew in to a road rage yelling at all the drivers around him and claiming they were blocking him in so that he could not go as he wanted to.  Finally, he pulled off to the side of the road and walked to the front of the van where he bent over at the waist and seemed on the verge of a mental breakdown.

 

The Trevor Project

Maura attempted to atone for and make-up with Davina by becoming a volunteer through the LGBT Center.  She declined to become involved in “the queer meals on wheels” program due to her bad cooking, but did brighten up at the mention of the Trevor Project to aid suicidal people because she was good at “butting in,” though she expressed doubts about the “graveyard shift.”  Her ignorance and age provided no barrier to being unfeeling and callous.  As Maura was to learn, suicide was and is a major problem in the trans community.

While there to volunteer, Maura noticed Davina in a Yoga class. Once the class was over, she attempted to get Davina’s attention and make-up with her by saying that she was volunteering and that she did wanted to be friends.  Davina cut her off short and left.  Even as Maura said “you want me to move out?” and “I’m trying to change.”  Davina curtly replied, “volunteering twice a week does not make you Mother Teresa.”  And, as was Maura’s norm she sought to divert the criticism from herself by noting that Mother Teresa “was not a nice person.”

 

You're such a good mom

Maura next appeared with Shea practicing to become a Trevor volunteer.  While playing the role of a caller,  Shea said “I just feel like no one understands me.”  Muara was beginning to realize that this might be harder than she thought because she would “have to prevent them from harming themselves.”  (Suicide is a major problem in the trans community.  One study found the percentage of trans people who attempt suicide at 41% vs. a little over 1% for the population at large.  All too often the story of a teenage transperson committing suicide makes the news.)  Shea then shared her suicidal feelings in high school and on into college.  And that she still had “my days “ of feeling that it was “easier not to be here.”   Maura was stunned at how intimate Shea’s discussion of suicide was. For once Maura really rose to the occasion as she said, “you call me.  Really call me….I’ll come over and tell you how fantastic you are….and what a fucked up world this would be without you.”  Shea hugged her and said, “you’re such a good mom.”  And Maura was.

 

Polyamory freaks me out

Ali and Syd walked down a path discussing Yom Kipper when Syd intruded with “OK, I don’t want to start a thing but…polyamory freaks me out.”  Ali objected that that was not the correct word and that their relationship was not about other people, “it’s about you and me” and how Ali wanted to be free to become herself and not be committed.  Syd replied that how big a deal was it to commit for a month, “a whole month?  A day, an hour?  Like what’s going to happen in an hour?”  Ali complained that she did not want to feel locked up and “why burden ourselves with expectations?”  Syd insisted that what they had was not a burden for her and that “I cannot do this.”  Syd announced she would not be going to the music festival.

 

Leslie has disdain for the aging female body

Ali dropped by Leslie’s house to leave her essay seeking admission to Leslie’s program at UCLA.  Leslie appeared with Bella on her arm.  Bella was the about 20 year old who was Leslie’s current lover.   The witness to Ali’s interaction with Leslie was another older woman who lived nearby and was preparing veggies there because her stove was broken.  She explained that Leslie had disdain for the ageing female body and that as Leslie got older, her lovers stayed the same age.

This distressed Ali.  She might be too old for Leslie.  Soon, she brought this up while walking to Shelly’s condo with Sarah.    “I’m too old for her.”  She preferred “excommunicated Mormons.”  And now that Syd was not going to the festival with her, Ali was begging Sarah to go with her.

 

Buzzy's meat

Sarah and Ali arrived at Shelly’s condo, which had been totally redecorated to look like “Key West.”  Buzzy had semi-moved in.  He had bought a grill and a margarita maker; much to Shelly’s delight.  Buzzy was out grilling enormous steaks, while Shelly made drinks.   Josh would not be coming because he was “still depressed.”  The steaks were discussed, as Shelly said,  “Buzzy loves his meat.”  She then leaned into to tell her daughters that, “I love his meat.” When the “bloody steaks” were served there was a brand on them that read “Buzzy’s Meat.”  He had gotten the branding iron from Sky Mall.

 

Buzzy says

Shelly triumphantly announced that she had been elected president of the condo board, but guess what?  She did not like it, so she quit because Buzzy said, “you need to do what you want to in this life.  Not what you think you should.  Just quit.”  Now they were off on an Alaskan cruise that had a wonderful buffet and “it’s all for free.”  Shelly had found her perfect mate.  Anything she wanted to do was right and life was full of free things.  Nevermind, that the cost of the buffet was included in the fare for the cruise, to her like life it was free.

 

There's a bidet

Sarah and Ali had to excuse themselves to the restroom, which they entered while trying not to burst out laughing.  Once in they saw remarkable changes.  It was so clean.  There were real plants.  There was a bidet.  Sarah announced that it was “puppy love.”  But, she had to use the bidet and promptly proceeded to do so.  Ali suddenly realized that a piece of artwork she had done was gone and left to find out where it was.

 

I gave it all to Hadasa

Ali wanted to know what Shelly had done with her artwork.  To which Shelly said, “what artwork?”  Ali began to list off her artwork.  Shelly happily responded that “Buzzy says, if you hold an item in your hand and it doesn’t give you joy, then you should get rid of it.”  So, she gave it all to Hadasa.  Next, they went into the garage that had been cleaned out.  Ali was horrified.  Even the painting she had done of her mother holding a symbolic baby had been tossed because as Shelly said, “that painting did not give me joy.”

Ali and Sarah went to Hadasa in search of the missing treasures, but had no luck.  Ali did persuade Sarah to go to the music festival with her because Sarah confessed she needed “to start doing something bigger than myself.”  Ali volunteered, “like a really big music festival; in a really big woods; with really big vaginas.”

 

Idyllwind Wimmin's Music Festival

Ali and Sarah were exploring the tent they had purchased for the festival when Maura entered the room in an excited mood.  She had gotten back her childhood photos that had been regendered.  Now she could leaf through her past and see herself as she had always felt.  Sarah wished that Moppa could have always lived as a woman.  Ah, the sweetness of acceptance, as Maura replied, “I’d be shaking my tits in the wilderness with my daughters.”

In the next scene, Moppa and her two daughters were headed to the festival and singing along to the Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine.”  Just three women joyfully and liberated headed for the Idyllwild Wimmin’s Music Festival.”  Where new and unexpected adventures awaited them.

 

 

See also:

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

TRANSPARENT recap: "The Book of Life" (season 2 episode 7)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Oscillate" (season 2 episode 8)