Weeds, "Dearborn-Again": Mr. Holland's dope-us

Quick Take: Weeds, "Dearborn-Again"
"Ohhhh, a strip club. I'll put my sweatpants on!" - Doug Wilson

weeds

Review: Weeds, "Dearborn-Again"
(S0610) I was about to give up on Weeds. I had all but written it off as aimless and pointless. I went so far as to begin a draft of a Draper-esque "Why I'm Quitting Tobacco" letter to the show for a previous review. But like tobacco, Weeds (and weed, for that matter) is harder to quit than one might anticipate. Just when you think you're finished with it, the show gives you a reason to come back.

"Dear-born Again" was a hell of an episode. The Botwin's sojourn in the RV is over, and not a moment too soon. The show is once again grounded and has found a sense of place. It is no longer adrift in a current of self-indulgence. I have always liked Weeds, despite its rough patches, so it kind of sucks having to hate on it every week. I'm glad I'm able to heap a little praise on it, even if the success turns out to be short lived.

Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and company return to her hometown of Dearborn, Michigan. Shane (Alexander Gould), like myself, was skeptical of the wisdom of this decision. "How smart is it to go back to your hometown when everyone is looking for you?" he asks. "We sell hash, we go where the customers are. Dearborn is crawling with Arabs," Nancy explains and Andy (Justin Kirk) adds, "Also not a bad place to score a fake passport." Okay, I can buy that. Not the greatest bit of logic I've ever heard, but I'll roll with it.

Since Dearborn is now "Little Beirut," it isn't very safe for the family to live in the Jesus-mobile anymore. Shane suggests they crash at Mr. Schiff's (Richard Dreyfuss), Nancy's high school teacher that Jill accused her of sleeping with. She reluctantly agrees and when they show up at his doorstep he recognizes her immediately. "I knew you'd come back," he says creepily. Dreyfuss is great as Mr. Schiff, but if the rumors are true, he needs to keep that opus in his pants. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Mr. Schiff, or Warren as Nancy referred to him in high school, lets the whole gang crash so long as no one touches his telescope or tries to enter a mysterious locked room (which Shane guesses is a shrine to his mom). It is never expressly stated whether or not Nancy and Mr. Schiff had sex (Doug and Shane think she did, Silas, played by Hunter Parrish, and Andy hold out hope that she didn't) and the viewer is left to make his or her own assumptions. But the evidence for the "they totally banged" theory is pretty hard to ignore. Warren keeps a picture of Nancy in his wallet and a copy of her yearbook with a picture of her high school sweetheart jealously scribbled over.

Shane and Silas, curious about their mother's past, ask Schiff about her high school boyfriend in the yearbook picture. He tells them that his name is Lars and he looks, well, a lot like Silas. This sends the boys on a quest to track Lars down and when they meet him, the resemblance is striking. Shane, who has always questioned the difference in the brothers' appearance and demeanor, steals a comb from Lars' house to harvest a DNA sample.

While the kids are out playing Maury Povich, Andy and Nancy are hard at work. Nancy is tasked with selling off their stash of hash and Andy has to procure phony passports for their trip to Denmark. Nancy tries her luck at a night club, but she is behind the times as kids these days only want blow and E. Andy starts his passport hunt at the local mosque, where he claims to be a recent prison convert. "It was either that or go Aryan Nation. And those guys are just assholes." Amen, brother. Things there end quickly when he is escorted out for fake-coughing "chhh-passports-hhh" over the din of allah al akbars.

Their luck changes when, while making Stevie a bottle (yes, Nancy is actually mothering her baby now) she stumbles across Schiff's prescription drug stash. Remembering what the club owner told her about kids' tastes in highs these days she puts Andy's culinary expertise to work and the two create a cocktail consisting of grain alcohol, hash, red bull and some kind of opiate. Just throw in a splash of Mountain Dew and call it a Peggy Olson. After Doug tests it and gives it his stamp of approval, Nancy sells it to the club owner, who likes it as much as the former Agrestic City Councilman.

Initially, the premise of Weeds revolved around the difficult, sometimes awful, decisions people make when they are left with no options. Mom is forced to sell drugs to support family after husband dies. As the show evolved, it began to adopt the philosophy that maybe, because of the experiences we have had and, more importantly, the people we are inherently, we would have made those same choices no matter how many options life may or may not have provided. Did Nancy's life first begin to be f-ed up when Judah died? Doesn't seem like it. Would Shane have killed someone by now, if not Pilar, someone else? Certain family members seems to think so.

We get a little glimpse (aside from the near-confirmation of teacher-student statutory rape) into what (more specifically, who) helped make Nancy the way she is in "Dear-born Again." Nancy takes a trip to a cemetery to visit her parents' graves and introduce them to Stevie, during which we learn that in life they never met any of her children. Possibly because they didn't approve of their father's religious affiliation. Something tells me the Prices' weren't "racially, pretty cool", to paraphrase The Dude. Also, Mama Price was apparently a bit of a drinker.

A weird guy accidentally on purpose bumps into Nancy as she's leaving the cemetery and introduces himself as Ellis Tate, a former classmate. He claims to have had a huge crush on her, despite being four years younger, but she has no recollection of him. After a creepy speech about his recently deceased parents he asks her out, twice actually, to which she politely declines, "You're a freshman, I'm a senior. It would never work out." He skeeves Nance out considerably, so when she gets back to Schiff's, she looks him up in the yearbook on to find a ? in place of a picture.

She has reason to be freaked, as the episode ends with Ellis, or whoever is claiming to be Ellis Tate, in a motel room surrounded by surveillance photos of the Botwins. "I found her," he says into a cell phone. Who's on the other line?! Now that's how you end an episode! Not with everyone stuffed in an RV flying down some podunk highway and Nancy, ignoring her infant, watching Zach Morris zipping up his fly slowly fading in the rear-view mirror. (That isn't really how they ended an episode, but you get the idea.)

Video: Weeds, "Dearborn-Again"
Check out this clip from the episode called "Everything's Fine," from Showtime: 

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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2 Comments
On: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Lucas, seriously, I think I enjoyed your coverage far more than the actual episode, really amazing stuff! I thought the episode was marginally better than others (definitely had more chuckles, which was a huge plus, and loved the bit with Doug casually musing about getting his sweatpants on for a strip club visit) but still has a ways to go to win back my full attention. I suppose I'm still so turned off by Nancy at this point that it's hard to have a lot of enthusiasm for her New Drug Adventures. 

On: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Lucas High said:
Eric, I'm glad you liked my review so much, but I'm surprised you didn't like the episode more. I think you and I are probably the biggest fans of the show on the site, so if they can't get us both back on board, what hope do they have for the public at large? Is Nancy beyond redemeption for you at this point? What would it take to save this season, and more broadly, the show as a whole? Any guesses on who Ellis was talking to on the phone at the end of the ep? Esteban? Someone connected to Pilar's people in Mexico? The Feds? Or do you just not care enough to venture a guess?
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