‘United States Of Tara’ Recap: Bryce Will Play

May 24, 2011 | 6:49am EDT

S03E09: Well, this is grim. After yesterday’s less than stellar news about the fate of United States of Tara, each new episode comes with the rather bittersweet reminder in the back of our minds that this is the end. Each new episode brings us one step closer to the finale that, rather than being a cliffhanger that we’re expecting, is the actual no-more-after-this series finale. It sucks doesn’t it? Especially considering the whole season has been completed for months with the hope that they would be coming back. So, it’s definitely not going to end on a conclusive final moment. Fantastic.

Oh well though. No use crying over spilled mimosas. We have three really great seasons of Tara, which is more than a lot of other great shows had, so let's count our blessings while we can. Everyone involved with the show is extremely talented and will work again; we’ll see them soon. Besides, we still have three episodes left and if this episode is any indication, things are about to get weird. How excellent is that? Not as excellent as a fourth season but DAMMIT I’M TRYING TO REMAIN POSITIVE.

"Same film, over and over again. Minimal plotting, funereal pacing. Hardly American stuff." - Hataras

Anyway, Tara has gone off the deep end! The really deep end. Like, Mariana Trench deep. Bryce is out in full force despite everything Hataras does, like keeping constant watch over Tara. Hataras brings in a colleague and they pretty much agree. Tara is crazy and unlike anything they have ever seen before. Bryce is in full blown crazy mode taking out the alters one by one. He ripped up the bunny and Chicken was dead. He burnt Shashana’s book and Shashana is gone. He nailed Gimmy’s red poncho to a ping-pong table and stabbed it with a knife while wearing a pumpkin on his head. Yeah, he’s crazy. And Hataras is well over his head, like his boss seemed to tell him, but Eddie Izzard don’t play that game and he keeps on trying to help.

Ah, but it’s no use. Bryce is a fairly clever teenage boy. The pills Tara takes? He vomits them back up so they won’t take effect. Think about that for a second; how terrifying it is what Bryce is doing. Up until that point, Tara always had the safety net of medication in case things got too hairy. But now? When things are at their absolute worst? Her traditional means of medication are of no use. She’ll either have to get another type of drug or administer it in an alternate way. But still, it’s quite creepy how Bryce manages to maneuver around all the road blocks put in front of him.

And his biggest roadblock? Hataras. Bryce does the unspeakable and puts crab in his soup. There was a gentle reminder in the “Previously...” section that reminded those that forgot (okay, I’ll take the bait. I forgot) he’s deathly allergic to crab. And so he starts to clam up and poof: he almost dies. This is, of course, is VERY BAD and Hataras seemingly removes himself from helping Tara. Very sad stuff indeed.

Now, this was a very interesting plot line. So far Bryce has gone through and “killed” the three newest alters one by one and took out Tara’s biggest ally. Also, he seems to have an eye for the theatrics (pumpkin on head, anyone?). Of course, being the compassionate human I am, I want Tara and her family to be safe. But being the lover of television I really can’t wait to see where this goes. Joesph Campbell speaks of the monomyth and every great hero has to reach the lowest point of their life on their journey to then rise back up in triumph. Needless to say, Tara is well on her way to entering the lowest point of her life and Bryce is driving her headlong into it. This is going to get especially good when he starts going after the three original (at least when the show started) alters: Alice, T, and Buck.

"But this isn't a story about my mom. It's about my dad." - Marshall

I’ll gloss over Kate and Char’s story if only because the rest of the family had so much more an interesting time this week. Char discovered that you can drink and take care of a baby at the park. Good for her. Kate realized that dating a father is kind of hellish when the kid is the spawn of Satan. Good for her. Not saying they weren’t important but Marshall and Max’s story was so much more interesting!

So, Marshall and Max finally get to New York for the film festival and Max finally sees Marshall’s film. It turns out, the film is mostly about him and Max finally sees what Marshall thinks of him. Finally. Now I’d like to imagine the whole film and Max’s reaction to it is a meta-metaphor for Max’s portrayal on the show. Marshall tried to boil down the extremely complex psyche of his father into a short film. Considering how weird this family is, you can’t do that and Max takes offense to it. What he said about how there were so many unspoken moments that weren’t captured that fleshed out his reasons really spoke to the character of the show. For those who might have criticized/questioned Max in the past (like Marshall did earlier this season), we’re watching a TV. We get to see the most interesting 30 minutes of these character’s lives but in their world they have full weeks to live their lives. If these characters are real (which the best television creates real characters that exist even when we’re not watching) they have lives beyond what we see. And those are the moments that keep Max around. Whether you agree with that sentiment is up to you. I think the show is well-written enough that I can believe Max sticking with Tara and that there’s more to them than we’re shown. Marshall and Max’s stories have been suffering lately, but I really think that scene on the sidewalk made up for it. This is a female-centric show, but there is a strong male presence as well that finally got to voice its frustrations. It worked quite well for me.

So that’s that. Three more episodes to go and then bye-bye Tara. I feel a little bit like a dead man walking. I can see the end and no that it couldn’t possibly answer or fulfill all my questions. But oh well, it’s just a TV show. A damn good one though and we’re sorry to see it go.

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