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‘Weeds’ Review: “God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise”

Showtime

Sometimes to move forward, we must revisit the past. Such is the case when Nancy, Silas and Andy pack up and head back home to Agrestic — also known as Majestic, and now known as the reborn town of Regrestic — to see some very familiar faces in this week’s ‘Weeds.’

If the show’s middle seasons were like Diet Coke, then the last couple of seasons have been RC Cola, or maybe that generic store-brand stuff — it resembles the thing you love the most, but it can never truly replace it. This week’s show begins with the classic opening sequence — men who all look the same jogging down a path, SUVs that all look the same, kids getting off of a school bus, and they all look the same. It’s the warm, if slightly goosebumps-inducing embrace of Coke Classic, and when we see Conrad (Romany Malco) open the front door to Nancy in the suburbs of Regrestic, the name and the surprise encounter introduce a significant idea: Regrestic is supposed to represent rebirth — not just for the town people, but for Nancy as well — but Regrestic sounds an awful lot like “regression.” And after an entire season of Nancy slowly taking tiny steps backwards in her quest to move forward, maybe a full-blown regression is what this show needed.

Silas almost immediately encounters his deaf ex-girlfriend Megan, whom he tried to keep from leaving him in high school by poking holes in their condoms and getting her pregnant. Her parents made her get an abortion and sent her away, but she’s the only girl Silas has ever truly loved besides his own mother. He admits the truth to Megan and the pair reignite their love, with Megan agreeing to move back to New England with the Botwins. Back home, Shane is busted with the car he lifted from the impound, and two officers claiming to be from Internal Affairs ask him to give up his shady superior, Mitch — he doesn’t, and it turns out that the whole thing was a ruse set up by Mitch to test his fortitude and loyalty. Clearly, these are the conclusions the show has in mind for Shane and Silas, and they seem a bit too tidy, don’t they? Then again, this has always been a show about Nancy — that selfish, careless, wild mess of a woman — and I don’t think creator Jenji Kohan is going to concede much for anyone else in next week’s finale.

Also encountered in Regrestic: Pam, Celia’s old hanger-on (because they couldn’t get Elizabeth Perkins back?) and Lupita, the Botwins’ old maid. Lupita is now working for Conrad, who is planning his wedding when Nancy shows up with a proposition: she’s purchased five acres of land for Conrad to grow on to supply her modest and clean — and most importantly, legal — weed store. Using the advance the big tobacco company gave to Silas, they will grow their own marijuana and sell it in California, affording an alternative to the medical pot stores with huge, sterile selections. There’s only hitch: Guillermo is out of prison and he’s running his old territory again, which means the five acres Nancy has purchased aren’t exactly her own. And since Nancy doesn’t know the word “quit” or “trouble,” she marches over to Guillermo and convinces him (with the help of Conrad and a gun) to work with her and make some clean money for once. He agrees, and again, these loose ends just tie themselves a little too neatly.

Doug has brought his group of homeless charges to the Botwin house while the family is away, and after a hobo who claims to be from the future tells Doug he will be a great man someday, Doug decides to make a pot-smoking hobo cult because religious institutions get better tax breaks from the government. Another loose end tidied up.

But the best stuff in this episode belongs to Andy and Nancy. Andy is determined to find Yael Hoffman, the Rabbinical school teacher he used to shack up with and one of the only women to distract him fully from the power Nancy has had over him. Unfortunately, when he finds Yael, she doesn’t remember him at all. Frustrated and feeling that his life lacks meaning, Andy takes his aggression to Nancy when she drags him to the spot where her husband — and his brother — died. He tells her he’s leaving, and Nancy becomes heart-achingly desperate to not lose the one connection she has to her dead husband, or to lose the one person who will always be there and always do what she needs when she says so. She may not love Andy the way Andy loves her, but she loves him in the way she might love a pet, and perhaps she has grown too complacent, knowing that even with a spur of the moment marriage to a 22-year-old waitress and college student, Andy will never really leave her.

Except this time, he’s going to. And in that moment of horrible desperation, Nancy finally gives herself to Andy to keep him from walking away, and the two have brief, passionate sex a few feet from where her husband — and his brother — died. When it’s over, he kisses her sweetly and straightens her dress, then he shoves her aside and walks away. This season, and maybe most of the series, has been uneven, trying so many paths before walking down the last one it had left, but the penultimate episode does something so poignant in the span of five minutes that it reminds us of a time when this show had some purpose and a clear vision. The final moments between Nancy and Andy are so heartbreaking and startling, taking everything that’s happened between them in the span of eight years and crystallizing it into one event.

The theme of this week’s episode is woefully obvious, as the words “the future” are repeated by each character throughout, but each one of them is embracing the past. Silas’ future involves his forgotten ex-girlfriend. Shane’s future involves his old manipulative habits. Doug’s future involves the same scheming and drugs that got him involved in this whole Botwin mess in the first place. Conrad’s future is with the Nancy of his past; Guillermo’s, too. Nancy’s future is a return to selling the pot that made her successful in the drug business. And Andy is the only one shunning his past. How wonderful would it be if ‘Weeds’ had really been a show about Andy this whole time?

 

This week’s “Little Boxes” theme was sung by the wonderful Aimee Mann:

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