'Weeds' Review: "A Beam of Sunshine"

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Showtime

'Weeds' continues to re-shape Nancy, using the bullet in her head as a soft reset button, allowing the Botwin family to change course. But after 77 days in the hospital, is Nancy really ready to change? And will her family go along with her?

The episode opens with a list scrawl documenting the over $400,o00 the Botwin family has accrued in debt while Nancy's been in the hospital -- a reminder of the high cost of healthcare in our country. Nancy, as one flirtatious doctor proclaims, has become a "beam of sunshine" in the hospital. With the help of Shane, she goes from room to room, fulfilling small requests for patients under the name "The Pony Express." For one cancer patient, she brings a bottle of peach Schnapps and a bag of pistachios, but her new friend can't handle morphine, so she has one more request: a clown that performs for children in the hospital sells marijuana-laced lollipops, and she needs Nancy to go buy one for her.

This leads Nancy to discover that the clown is selling lollipops at a very high mark-up rate, effectively swindling dying people by preying on their need for an illegal substance. Nancy pauses and reflects, wondering if she was ever as big of a douche bag as this clown guy, and resolves to make pot-infused baked goods that she'll hand out for free to those who need them. It's a very moving sequence of events, and it presents Nancy as someone who is finally ready for real change. Sure, it reads a little hokey -- throughout the series it would be reasonable to jokingly assume that Nancy would need a bullet to the head to change her ways, and this season has taken the most literal route to inspire an about-face.

The problems arise near the end of the episode when the douche-y clown guy confronts Nancy and tries to scare her off his "territory." Nancy corners him in a break room (as he's unbelievably having sex with a nurse) and informs him that she's a dangerous lady who comes from a family of criminals -- and he buys it thanks to some clumsy set-up early on with Nancy's nosy new roommate. Shane explains that Nancy's police report was labeled "Mexican mafia," and a dumb reporter misinterpreted that as mafia mafia, so now everyone thinks Nancy comes from a line of murderous Italian criminals.

'Weeds' has always skewed absurd, but even this feels a little too wacky, asking us to believe that a few passive-aggressive words to a burly clown will get him to lay off. And although the point of this plot thread is to introduce us to the new Nancy, creator Jenji Kohan fumbles a bit there, as well, because it's hard to believe that this New Nancy would want to rely on her old business acumen in dealing with a fellow criminal.

It's noble of her to give the drugs away for free, but manipulating her competition with threats? Kohan & Co. have always struggled to keep a tight grip on Nancy's character, and maybe that's a testament to how unwieldy and vibrant her character truly is, but in the final season, we need a more reliable pulse, even if that reliability rests on Nancy's unreliability.

Meanwhile, Doug gets the biggest throwaway plot this week. Back at Vehement Capital (worst fake business name in the history of television?), he's busy taking bong rips and handing out money to bikini-clad women.

Jill's husband, Scott, has returned from a sojourn to India, and Jill decides she needs to break it off for good. But Andy is wary after finding her daughters packing their bags to head home, presuming their mother will get back together with their father, as they tell Andy she always does. Andy dashes to the restaurant and coaxes Jill (with the help of a cooked duck -- really) to the bathroom for a quickie, when Scott finds them. It could spell trouble for Jill who, although more responsible than her sister Nancy, still possesses the same reckless streak, and really needs to lock it down to avoid a messy divorce and retain custody of their kids.

Silas also gets a bit of a nothing story this week, still fooling around with the modeling agent, but their relationship has at least progressed to BDSM with ball gags and paddles -- something Silas seems quite comfortable with. Who knew?

As for Shane, he's doing rather well in the police academy, and might even have his first big love interest in a fellow cadet. He's been using his training to sniff out the culprit responsible for shooting Nancy, though she thinks it best to leave it alone and seems certain the attacker can't be a former criminal associate -- they would have either done the job right the first time or come back to finish it off by now. Using this info, Shane discovers the shooter was Tim Scottson (as we saw last week), the son of Nancy's former DEA boyfriend, a man whose death Tim holds Nancy responsible.

According to the previews for next week, 'Weeds' won't be wasting any time getting Tim and Nancy together for a little chat.

Now that the original "Little Boxes" theme has returned, expect a new version by a different artist every week, just like the good ol' days. This week's version comes courtesy of the great Ben Folds. Listen below:

Quotable:

"Was I like that? A douche? A gouge-y clown douche?"

"Don't be Before Silas."

"Maybe you should enlighten drug pusher Bozo here about who he's threatening."

Filed Under: Showtime, Weeds
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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