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‘Weeds’ Season Premiere Review: “Messy”

Weeds
Showtime

When last we left the troubled Botwin family of ‘Weeds,’ Nancy and her family (including sister Jill) were celebrating their new home in Connecticut, but someone had a rifle scope pointed at Nancy, and as the episode ended a single shot was fired…

The season opens with a nostalgic return to the delightful “Little Boxes” theme song as the story of the Botwin family’s long travel is drawn out in marker, reminding us how far we’ve come from those first seasons in Agrestic. We’re so very far from the simple dark comedy about a suburban mom selling pot to keep her family afloat, but with the family hunkered down in Connecticut, might we get a something resembling a return to form?

Nancy has, of course, been shot — though not fatally, as the wine glass she was holding slightly deflected the bullet. Shane appears to be more level-headed — and more tolerable — this season, thanks in part to his secret police academy training, which was a smart move from creator Jenji Kohan, allowing Shane a more stable, grounded storyline.

At the hospital a hilarious administrator shakes the family down for payment, reminding us that Doug is the only one with legitimate financial stability — as always. Kevin Nealon has been a great well of comedy for ‘Weeds’ over the years, but in these later seasons he’s oddly become the straight guy — he still gets his bizarre, crude one-liners, but he’s definitely become more responsible and reliable than all of the Botwins combined. The same could be said for Andy, whose torch for Nancy still burns dangerously bright. Justin Kirk continues his great, snappy work as Andy, even if his character has largely existed for at least half the show’s run as hopeless, lovelorn whipping boy.

One of Jill’s kids snaps a photo of Nancy covered in blood and posts it to her sort-of-Facebook thing, prompting Jill to take her kids and head home to delete the horrific image. Meanwhile, everyone flits in and out of Nancy’s room as she lays in an induced coma to help the doctors better evaluate the swelling in her brain. It’s the first time that Nancy’s really been quiet, and it allows her friends and family to speak freely without judgment or interference. Nancy is a manic force of nature — a whirlwind of bad decisions, and she never lets anyone have the last word.

Shane admits to Silas that he’s been going to the police academy, and the two joke about all the people who could have been coming after Nancy — the Mexican cartel, Heylia James, Armenians, bikers, DEA agents… The list of people Nancy has stepped on or thrown in the line of fire to protect her own ass is almost endless.

Doug’s visit with Nancy is very Doug-appropriate, including a little breast groping of the unconscious Botwin. Thanks to the family’s pillaging of a neighboring gourmet food basket, Doug gets banned from the hospital. Jill shows her softer side by putting lotion on Nancy, but quickly turns that around when she sleeps with Andy right in front of her slumbering sister. It makes sense, though — Jill’s dalliances with Andy are partially competitive and manipulative in spirit. She can’t control Nancy’s pot dealing or other illegal activities, and Nancy has always been more interesting in Jill’s estimation. Jill spent most of her life being a responsible family woman, while Nancy got all the attention — wanted or not — and while Jill has had to use her manipulation of Andy in more subtle ways, now she’s free to rub it in her sister’s face, and maybe sort of admit to herself that she likes Andy?

Andy faces his insecurities with Nancy during a conversation with a stranger in the waiting room (who turns out to be a Jewish hospital chaplain — and so adorable), questioning the way he defines himself by Nancy and continues to follow her around like he’s stuck in her orbit. It would feel more revelatory if Andy didn’t seem to have this crisis every season.

The episode ends with the reveal of Nancy’s attempted killer — Daryl Sabara, who in earlier seasons played the son of Nancy’s DEA agent boyfriend, the man who Nancy got killed. It’s a completely unexpected twist, though the scene is a little too forced as he says to himself, “I thought it would make me feel better, but…” Sabara is an excellent actor, though, as evidenced by his snotty performance in ‘World’s Greatest Dad,’ so it’ll be interesting to see what he does with this character and what Jenji Kohan and her writers have in store for the rest of the season.

Is the premiere a return to form for ‘Weeds’? Not exactly, but every season seems to present some variation on a soft reset, and this season — if they play it right — could very well succeed in bringing us back to the simpler show we adored.

Quotable:

“Very elegant, long fingers. Do you play the piano? Or have a very happy girlfriend?”

“She’s not gonna die, Andy.” “Why not?” “‘Cause there is no God.”

“You didn’t use that Michael Jackson drug, did you? ‘Cause that didn’t turn out too well.”

“Nana’s boobs fall down into her armpit when she lays down like that, but not you — you look great!”

“Are you cruising me? Because if so, I’ve gotta say tuna was a bad call.”

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