Weeds, "Bags": learn to trust, then you'll adjust

Quick Take: Weeds, "Bags"
Seeds of success are being sown for what could the show's final season.

Weeds Season 7 Poster

Review: Weeds, "Bags"
(S0701) Jenji Kohan’s drug-culture dramedy Weeds has attracted its fair share of criticism over the past few seasons. After burning down her suburban home in the community of Agrestic at the end of Season Three, Nancy Botwin (played by Mary-Louise Parker) eventually gets caught up with the Mexicans, leading fans down a multi-season story-arc that many fans weren’t willing to endure. The past three seasons have seen half of the show’s supporting cast written out or killed off, letting go of fan favorites such as Conrad (Romany Malco) and, more recently, Celia (Elizabeth Perkins). This newest season not only promises an end to the Mexicans’ pursuit of Mama Botwin, but a potential conclusion to the entire series.

The show and its cast are only under contract with Showtime until January, and Kohan has expressed that “I don’t want to get caught with my pants down” regarding the ending; “I’m preparing a finale that goes both ways,” apparently planning for both renewal and cancellation. The potential end run seems to have invigorated and inspired last night’s episode, which saw a return to the stoner quirks and quips that originally kept fans interested in the first few seasons, which is hopefully a healthy indication of what the rest of the season will bring the Botwin clan.

Season Seven picks up three years after Nancy’s airport arrest in an empty room in the federal prison where she is being held. Nancy walks in – looking a little dishevelled in her dreary wall-coloured jump suit, tangled pigtails and Tina Fey glasses – and is asked to recite her name and inmate number “for the record.” As it turns out, we’re sitting in the chairs with the unseen feds across from her, who have convened for Ms Botwin’s parole hearing. “She’s not even half-way through her sentence!” - That’s actually one of the feds who exclaims this, before going off on a tantrum about letting a killer loose.

                              weeds

We learn several things quickly during this bickering match: first, that Nancy was only charged with manslaughter, having pled self-defence; and second, that she likely received this lightened sentence thanks to the deal she struck with Agent Lipschitz. This deal, which also entailed Nancy’s entrance into witness-relocation for her protection from Esteban and his cartel, has apparently been struck from the record, however; and with that news, she is dragged off to her cell to collect her belongings before being bussed off to a halfway house.

So what’s notoriously needy Nancy been up to for the past three years? Well, let’s just say that she’s been confined in an all-female detention facility, bunking with a cute Russian who doused her ex-boyfriend in kerosene and set him on fire, while dreading the possibility that her husband is trying to have her assassinated. Nancy walks in on bunkmate Zoya, who is reading Stephen Elliott’s “The Adderall Diaries.” Nancy starts collecting her things while gradually losing her cool, but Zoya is quick to smother Nancy’s fears with a deep and passionate kiss, reassuring her love for the mother of three in her native Russian tongue. So that’s what Nancy’s been up to: learning a new language! Zoya also sends her off with “the key to their future” – a pair of used oven mitts?

While Nancy is busy bussing to her new halfway home in Manhattan, let me take you to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, where the estranged Botwins – and Doug – have each started their new Eurolives after leaving Nancy and Stevie at the airport.

We arrive to witness a crazy Danish woman yelling insults out the window to a “vain,” “shallow,” and “handsome” man below, whose face we cannot see. Not even re-watching all six seasons prepared me for the retorts thrown back by, not Silas, or even Andy, but SHANE! The middle Botwin child is in some sort of wonky relationship with a much older woman who lives in a two-storey house and her sister’s shadow. Shane and his new lady-love have some sort of careers as puppeteers, but now Renata wants a baby and Shane won’t commit. “I thought I was your baby,” he replies. She bombards the streets below with his stuff – a lucky catch saves his Mac laptop from the same fate as the ultra-creepy, anatomically-correct(ish) puppet, “The Naked King.” As Shane walks away, his snide, murderer’s confidence left behind in the airport three years ago, he passes his brother’s new poster.

Yes that’s right, Silas “Wears-a-Speedo” Botwin is the new poster boy for some Danish “flower water” company – but he won’t be doing any photo shoots today. Soaked in ladies and Tuborg, Silas is burning the joint at both ends, obviously enjoying his new proto-celebrity status. He has his own aesthetician, but even she can’t mask his racoon eyes or Iceland-sized zit. Instead, Silas gets sent home to style another day; and with that we are transported to someone familiar – Tour Guide / Professor Andy!

Combining his love for talking and soft drugs, Andy takes us on a short history of “Freetown Christiania” – the Amsterdam of Denmark, without all the impending coffee-shop prohibition. While Doug is off trying to pick up American tourists looking for “tall mysterious guys,” Andy is campaigning to be president of this fine, anarchist community, gaining renown in the community as “Bike Andy,” or maybe it’s “Bi-Andy,” because he shaves his legs.

Back to Nancy, who, upon arriving at her halfway house, finds out that she has an unexpected visitor. Anticipating the worst, she is relieved to see Agent Lipschitz awaiting her, bearing the news we’ve all been waiting for: Esteban is dead. While I’m typically sceptical of such expository conversations – especially from self-involved feds – I honestly believed him. I didn’t have to see Esteban shanked in the prison yard to believe that his cartel disbanded (though it would have been nice). For the sake of the show, they just can’t afford to linger on that blemish any longer

With her case closed, and all impending threats neutralized, all Nancy has to do is sign some papers and stick out her probation. She quickly comes down with a case of what Counsellor Ed (recurring guest Gary Anthony Williams) calls the “freebie jeebies,” though, obviously jonesing for some food, some family, and some freedom. Counsellor Ed gives her the “five-cent tour” of the halfway home, rhyming some words of wisdom to help the newest parolee through her stay, then gives in to Nancy’s big sad eyes and grants her a two-hour pass before dinner, which she proceeds to take full advantage of.

Her first trip is to an Internet café, where her sister Jill (Jennifer Jason Leigh), looking worse than Nancy did in the slammer, tries to hide three-year old Stevie from his mother. Pulled away from her computer for only a moment, we see a huge baby-toothed grin appear on the screen: “Aun’ Nancy!” the toddler cheers. Nancy’s sister certainly has some explaining to do, but Stevie is pulled away and the video chat disconnected before Nancy can get any answers. While Nancy takes off with her oven-mitts, Jill breaks the news of their mother’s release to Silas and Shane.

Shane is quick to put his salvaged laptop to use, pulling up flights to airports near Manhattan and booking three tickets – one each for himself, Andy, and Doug. While Silas still has his modelling career to pursue, he seems initially dismayed at not being included. He reaffirms the choice, however, warning Shane not to let Nancy ruin his life.

In a non-descript sauna in an undisclosed day-spa, Nancy finally puts the oven mitts to use, literally finding a key beneath one of the steam rocks. Don’t those things get changed? I have to assume that Zoya hid the key before Nancy was even arrested, which makes the hiding spot supremely difficult to accept. In any case, what’s far more interesting is what the key leads to. Inside the trunk of a dilapidated car, is a bag; and inside the bag – side arms, explosives, and ammunition!

My literature professor once told our class that, if you introduce a loaded gun, it better be shot by the end of the story. If this truly is the final season of Weeds, it’s bound to have a few explosive exploits before the end – and as Nancy walks away to MEN singing her out with a triumphant “I can never die,” I have to wonder if Nancy hasn’t finally sealed her fate just as her doting son and brother-in-law are on a plane to reunite with the show’s matriarch.

Keep an eye out for the Doug-patented spit-and-iron technique while I leave you with Counsellor Ed’s advice: “you learn to trust, then you adjust.” Sage advice for the newest season of Weeds.

By Mark D Curran

About the author

Mark is a freelance writer, student of English and Philosophy, and still has too much time on his hands. If you have any of your own, check out the blog and follow him on Twitter!

http://twitter.com/#!/MarkDCurran

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2 Comments
On: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

I believe your professor was quoting Beckett... now please don't ask me a single further thing about the theater world !

I was hopeful that the end of the era of the Botwins on the run would be an opportuity for Weeds to reboot the franchise / get back to its roots, and glad to see the beginnings of this. For those of us who have stuck with the show from the beginning, we've been long hoping for this turnaround -- a slide that began around the burning of Agrestic, I want to say? 

In any event, huge welcome to tvga Mark !

On: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Mark D Curran said:

Thanks for the welcome!


For those wondering, the Jenji Kohan interview with TV Guide can be found in its entirety here: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Weeds-Jenji-Kohan-1034601.aspx

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