Weeds Session: Is Episode “Van Nuys” the Nice Calm Before Another Botwin Storm? Monday’s Episode is Set Six Months Later
Posted on Sunday, July 12th, 2009 by Hunter Stephenson
The previous three episodes of Weeds were the breeziest of the season and decidedly welcome after the brick-cold start. However, by now viewers are conditioned to expect another hellish crescendo to fall upon the resilient Botwins. It’s like dysfunctional clockwork. And these days, even the lighthearted eps dance inside an atmosphere of widespread murder and violent threat. So, before things get all gloomy again, let’s take a look at last week’s ep, “Van Nuys.” The ep introduced viewers to a bit of gross, titular, pregnancy-related slang courtesy of a very experienced Andy. It also marked the introduction of Dr. Audra Kitson, a seemingly open-minded, open-eared obstetrician, in a recurring guest role for Alanis Morissette (Dogma, movie theaters).
“Van Nuys” was captivating and thoroughly enjoyable because it redefined several important bonds between family, friends and a homicidal bodyguard. Before we touch upon these, let’s start with a hypothetical: If Nancy Botwin ended up six feet under this season, would you be interested in seeing Andy (Justin Kirk) take the lead? Sure, it’s a highly, highly unlikely scenario, but nevertheless it’s one we’ve contemplated over the last two episodes. This season has seen Andy become more involved in the plot and as the dubious moral center of the Botwin clan. And clearly, with the new online “University of Andy” feature and a growing emphasis on the character, Showtime and the show-makers see mass potential as well. In “Van Nuys,” Andy finds himself embodying his deceased brother and reciting his bro’s favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye, to a wonky LARP date. Post-date, he then proceeds to pork her out of doors to secure Judah’s $100K account. The gross sex places a refreshing spin on the utterance of Holden Caulfield‘s “Goddamn Phonies!”
Plan A)ndy: He’ll use the newly acquired, hard-won funds to escape with Nancy—her criminal underworld baby on board—to drug-friendly Copenhagen. The writing in the episode attempts to convince us that Nancy will choose Andy and his brash, if smart, decision to flee. But while Andy’s new role as a doting, responsible family-man is affable, it’s also become eerie. Weeds is a show that loves to flirt with borderline incest and sex-in-the-family and Andy’s become a willing pillar for the trend. After banging his aforementioned brother’s old fling—and obeying her request to deflower her as Judah all over again, ew—Andy doesn’t realize that he continues to embody Jonah after the bout of cosplay has ceased.
Instead of becoming his own man, the threat of death and violence has cornered Andy into taking over his brother’s life almost verbatim. His latest plea to Nancy as a surrogate Judah isn’t convincing; it earns him nothing more than a handwritten love note. Instead, Nancy chooses Plan B)abydaddy and the ep ends with her and Shane walking into, and thus moving into, Esteban’s manse. But to us, the scene didn’t have the impact of permanency that would signal a completely new direction for the show. Andy and Nancy: it’s almost meant to be. (Note: Monday night’s episode takes place six months after “Van Nuys,” so apparently an abortion didn’t take place. Does that mean a fat suit is finally in the cards?! Click here for a preview synopsis.)
What do you make of Shane’s ridiculous thug retaliation on his former teacher? Even though Nancy makes Shane return his teacher’s Theremin and Ray Bans—and hilariously offers the dude an iguana to replace the bird Shane blew up—this is not a break from the looming darkside for Shane. Nancy’s bat-to-the-throat reaction even supports the kid’s growing belief that thuggish acts are badass. Moreover, just as his older brother Silas is seeking a hug-giving father figure in Doug (nice cock-nose portrait), Shane seeks stronger-willed guidance from Ignacio, a cold-blooded, if good-humored, henchman. No big deal. Moving into Esteban’s luxurious manse, one partially built on drug money, will only give Shane a panoramic view that Scarface-like organized crime pays.
We also finally discover the fate, if not the cause (WTF?), of Esteban’s missing goon. He’s a piece of dead storage on Nancy’s property. Of course, good ol’ Celia has returned from her detour in Mexico to witness the corpse get an acid bath courtesy of Esteban’s endless clean-up crew. Celia makes sure to take camera phone pics of the crime scene so as to force Nancy into letting her crash in the garage and enjoy complimentary showers. It’s amusing to see the once-rosy, still resourceful Celia confront Nancy about gruesome murder in such a casual, exhausted fashion. Many of the characters on Weeds are so financially distraught and semi-desensitized to the intensifying horrors around them that even murder has become the tame subject of stiff cocktails and stiffer blackmail. And it’s worth noting that Celia’s daughter, Isabelle, has quietly become the most far out chick on the show. We remain hopeful that her preference for sunglasses indoors hasn’t changed this Monday/six months later. It’s a good look for a summer of carnage.
Weeds airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. For /Film’s previous articles on the fifth season click here.
If this ep sparked interest in the instrument, check out the acclaimed 1994 documentary, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey.
Hunter Stephenson can be reached at h.attila[@]gmail.com and on Twitter.