‘United States Of Tara’ Recap: Crackerjack

Second episodes are way harder to pull off than first episodes. With initial episodes, whether it be a pilot or the premiere in the eighth season, you have no expectations. Well, you have some expectations, but right out of the gate it’s all set-up for things to come. But second episodes? You’re still setting things up, but you have to keep moving forward and set the rhythm. It’s basically like a giant QWOP game.

But this season, United States of Tara manages to have a fairly good second episode. We’re still getting used to this season, stretching our legs, becoming accustomed to the new surroundings, but we were entertained, nevertheless.

Let’s start with Tara shall we? After all, the show is named after her. This week was her first day of class and this show wouldn’t be considered a comedy if something didn’t go wrong. Right on cue she transitions. (I have a feeling we’ll get more into whether this show is a comedy or a tragedy later this season. I might have a thing or two to say about that.) Considering that she was taking a class on abnormal psychology she transitions to Shoshanna and then Eddie Izzard walks in much to his bemusement. I wish I knew more about psychology and could understand what she was talking about and whether that played into the themes of the show. Alas, my public education has failed me once again. But Izzard was quite venomous in the role and I don’t need no fancy education to see that.

“I think one of us needs to sit down.” – Dr. Hattaras

However, Patton’s story ties into Max’s, who finally got one this week. It seems his season-long campaign will be about becoming part of “The Man.” He sold his company and started working for some large corporate landscaping business (I bet all the kids in the neighborhood are PISSED) and it turns out they don’t have room for Patton. Sad Patton. Again, it was all set-up so I expect to see some sort of payoff here later, though I’m not quite sure what it will be. Or how they’ll manage to do it considering cutting grass is quite literally the second best thing to watching it grow.

Checking off the members of the family leaves us with Marshall who decided to make a movie for his film class. The movie was actually fairly inspired, a little Victorian Tarantino, which felt like something an undergrad with a modest costume budget would attempt. It was a little too polished for a high school class, but it was entertaining so I’ll let it slip. One interesting little bit here was Lionel waxing philosophical on whether he and Marshall were together because of the convenience of being gay in such a small town or because they were actually in love. It was a real and honest discussion that I would imagine many gay teens in small towns have had. Now that is how you tackle being gay in a small town. Take note, Glee.

Anyway, we end with a squabble between T and Kate. T actually slaps Kate, which left me wondering if this could be considered child abuse. Kate didn’t seem to mind, but I imagine that’s because T is so close to being her. They end up embracing after Tara transitions back and Kate makes a plea for not messing up everything they had been working for. Again, it wasn’t a terrible episode but Tara is known for really getting unexpectedly crazy. I hope that happens soon.