‘United States Of Tara’ Recap: Train Wreck

S03E10: Oh, United States of Tara. I know this isn’t the case and they created this episodes months ago before the news of their cancellation, but it seems like this week’s episode was a direct response to the news a few weeks ago, because everyone starts abandoning the U.S.S. Tara. Well, almost everyone. But a captain never abandons his ship and we’ll get into that later.

Anyway, there were two catalysts for the episode. First was the news of Bryce and the implications of his existence. The second was Lionel’s death. Combine the two of them and well, I’m still not exactly sure how we can call this show a comedy after that.

First, let’s start with the central character most removed from the rest: Charmaine. While still a part of the family, she’s removed from the general destruction that was unfolding with the rest of the Gregsons. Neil finally returned and while it was really sweet to watch Patton Oswalt hold the baby and be really sweet, it was really funny hearing Char talking about getting some dick (and a little strange to learn that she lost her virginity at 11 to a dude with a hairlip, but I guess it has to be a comedy somehow). The two new parents finally find out about Bryce playing games with Wheels and taking her on the bus, and as Patton tweeted, he fucking lost it. This was the first of the bailouts. Neil finally gets through to Char that he is her family now, he has a responsibility to her and his daughter to ensure their safety and if that means removing themselves from her dangerous sister, so be it. Char eventually sees that she can’t take of Tara if it means potentially taking her away from Wheels. And we all gotta love it when the man of the house finally takes charge, woo!

“And does super casual mean we’re khakis or jean shorts?” – Evan

But right as he was about to jump, the captain of the ship ran up to deck to ask for his help: Max. Poor, poor, poor Max. Everyone else had the ability to leave and took the opportunity to do so. But Max? Max can’t leave. Whether it’s due to social responsibility or love (Max will always say love), Max has to stay and help Tara. He finally realized that he was in over his head when he finds out that Hatteras gave up Tara as a client and when Bryce was going crazy he asked Marshall for help with this “river of shit.” And then Max finally sees that the rest of his family can’t deal with Tara any more and it’s up to him. And him alone. In that moment, he recognized his duty and he could’ve buckled under that pressure, but he didn’t. You have to respect a man like that. Max is very strong and if he can keep Tara from killing herself or someone else there may just be hope for her yet.

Unfortunately, a ship isn’t able to jump itself; it has to weather the storm: Tara. Tara had the right idea this week: snort the pills. Bryce can’t barf up something that’s gone up the snot tube and it works. Unfortunately it puts her in a high state and that’s only slightly better than Bryce because she’s not destroying anything. But it stops her from being there for her family when they need her. Ah, choices. Comatose or a destructive adolescent? She attempts to stay sober and Tara for a little bit for Marshall when he’s at his lowest, but that choice has disastrous consequences. Because she didn’t take the medication (or immediately after?) Bryce was able to escape. When the family is off to Lionel’s (flamboyant) funeral Bryce goes off in Marshall’s room and trashes the place. So, it’s not enough for Bryce to destroy Tara’s inner self, he starts taking it out on her family and he starts with the most vulnerable. What a dick.

And since we have two episodes left to go, Bryce asserts himself out saying that he’s going to be around for a while. He takes a pair of scissors to Tara’s hair and boom – we’ve got a crisis on deck. With everyone seemingly leaving, the final two episodes will probably focus more on how Tara tries to handle Bryce and the implications of his appearance. Like the title of the episode suggests, this was a train wreck and like a train wreck you really can’t look away (and yes, I realized I used shipping metaphors throughout. Artistic license, FTW) even if you have to wait to weeks to watch the destruction.