Once and Again - Season Two: Episodes 5 and 6
Several moons ago, I decided that I would do a short write up of each episode of the second season of Once and Again (to go with my comprehensive (read: long-winded) season one look, here) as the wife and I wound our way through the DVDs. Attentive readers, reasonably enough, may have assumed that I abandoned the plan out of sheer laziness, but the fact is that regular TV and The Gilmore Girls season five on DVD got in our way. we've finally put that second disc in and watched the fifth and sixth episodes. So:
Episode 5: "Ozymandias 2.0"
This episode really kicks off what will be one of the season's larger arcs. Miles Drentell, Rick's client, reveals that a "global media conglomerate" wants to build a massive office park with the building Rick had been designing for him as its centerpiece. The effort to build the huge complex, and the tension between Rick and his wife, who is hired to represent the communities that the corporate project will displace, will be key in the season. And the episode kicks off the story well - the centerpiece is an elaborate dinner party in which Rick is called on to wow the clients and actually win the work (and, as he later finds out, save the floundering Drentell to boot). The sequence in which we see a desperate (and slightly wine-buzzed) Rick spontaneously improvise a vision and plan for the complex with some markers and a big piece of paper in front of the big-dog clients is a tour-de-force, not just for Campbell, but for the editors and director as well. For the sequence is intercut with scenes of Eli practicing guitar--and getting caught up in the same kind of intense, impressive, and vitalizing creative spirit that his father is getting caught up in. It was a nice way for the writers to both indicate that music was Eli's true calling and that he might actually have the chops to succeed, while at the same time drawing parallels between father and son. The episode also does a nice job of handling the tension between Rick and Lily the job will cause--with her having workaholic flashbacks to her father and first husband and effectively being shut up by a nervous Rick at the dinner. Still, this is all very much set up, and certainly nothing is resolved by episode's end.
Episode 6 - Food for Thought
Another arc-kicking off episode, with Rick and Karen taking Jesse to a pyschiatrist to discuss what they suspect is her anorexia. A potentially afternoon-special kind of vibe is happily avoided, as the writers treat the issue--and, more importantly, their characters--with non-sensational seriousness and attention. Rachel Evan Wood is brilliant here, as the scared, reluctant kid who can't even admit to herself that she has a problem, and series creator/episode writer/director Ed Zwick puts in a wonderful, uncredited, turn as Jesse's doctor. Small plot points around Grace's finding out about Jesse's therapy and clumsily trying to comfort/assure Jesse are handled deftly and there is one wonderful, intense scene between Karen and Rick in the doctor's office, in which, once again, the writers completely nail a salient, real point about divorce that popular culture usually misses--that even long-divorced spouses with significant others can still feel--and act as if--they are still married. Rick and Karen's realization that the doctor is right, and that they still care too deeply about what the other thinks of them is a great moment.