I tend to view a good season of a television as its own three act story. Granted each individual episode has their own three act structure but they drive toward a greater story throughout the season. As we enter the midway point for the season of United States if Tara, things are beginning to take shape for a second act.
The first few episodes set everything up. We got to know generally what each character will be going through during the season: Tara and her class, Max’s new business, Char’s baby, etc. Now that we're on the fifth episode of the season we finally get to see them all bask in their stories. And since this show is considered a comedy they're generally enjoying themselves. But we know how dark and twisted this show can be so I have feeling this is only the calm before the storm.
‘I want to do a paper on this. On you.’ - Dr. Hattaras
First the good stuff! Tara’s little freak out last week has seriously intrigued good ol' professor Hattaras so much that he wants to study her. I mean, help her out. Same thing really. When Tara approaches him to drop the class he refuses stating that there is something serious going on inside her head. He’s typed up the contract she wrote out during the final and it’s quite something. She refuses to be some lab rat or freak show, but when he approaches Max and gives him the self-effacing “you’re so tall but I want to help your wife” spiel, Tara eventually turns to the idea and agrees with some rules, of course.
I was hoping we would actually get into the first bit of Tara’s therapy but I guess that’s such a big part of the upcoming episodes that they saved it. I’d imagine these next few weeks are the reason they’ve hired Eddie Izzard in his “special guest star” role because save for two or three spectacular scenes, he hasn’t really done anything yet.
‘I even killed a goat and made a sacrifice to Satan, nothing fucking works!’ - Char
The other story Tara had significant involvement in this week was with Char’s baby. Apparently Char is still kind of pissed that Tara tried to run her over and won’t let her near the baby despite the fact that the kid won’t stop screaming. This drives Neil to go behind her back because Alice shows up randomly at one point and calms the baby down by turning on the vacuum. Tara might be crazy, but she raised two kids through that crazy (and one of her alters happens to be super 1950’s mom) so she knows what she’s doing. It was a really sweet closing image this week (as opposed to the last two week’s CRAZY endings) and showed real promise for Tara. Yes, she’ll need professional help from people like Dr. Hattaras but she’ll also need the support of her family. Taking control of her alters for her own advantage shows significant improvement for her. Which can only mean she’s going to fall that much further later this year.
And it’s a testament to Patton Oswalt that I can watch him wipe a kid’s ass and still find it hilarious.
‘Why is a giant coming to steal my poo?’ - Neil
Meanwhile the other story lines of the week were just about as normal as they could be. Max is going through some shit working for The Man now. Unless he goes on a shooting rampage through the office, I doubt anything that happens there will be of surprise/major consequence. Kate started her flight attendants training program that resembled more basic training than learning how to push a cart up and down an aisle. It was funny, but it’s never that entertaining watching someone learn something. I see more potential for this story than with Max’s so hopefully it’ll develop into something greater.
As for Marshall, somehow he stepped out of his Gay Cocoon and just started making out with other dudes when Lionel leaves in a bitch fit. I was really surprised to see him be that aggressive but I guess after Lionel pushing him to explore last week, it makes sense. While it was nice to see him step out of his shell like that, if I wanted to watch gay teen relationship drama I’d watch Glee. It’s ten times better than Glee, don’t get me wrong, I just find myself hoping that his stuff will get done with sooner so we can get to something more interesting. I really like Marshall the character, I don’t want him to become some stereotype.
So it wasn’t the most interesting episode of the season, but it is nice to see these characters we know and love actually enjoy their lives for a bit. I’m sure something terrible is about to happen (I kept waiting on it to end on something big) but for the time being let’s just enjoy the quiet before the storm. After all, next week’s episode is titled ‘The Road to Hell Is Paved with Breast Intentions.’