As he’s discussed himself and we discussed on the podcast, Sepinwall tuned out of “Weeds” a while back, so you can’t expect him to do a “Weeds” finale blog post.
I know I’m not a good substitute, but just in case anybody has any thoughts on tonight’s sixth season finale, I’m happy to instigate a conversation. After all, I’m a “Weeds” apologist. Some people see “Weeds” the way it is and say, “Why aren’t you Season Two?” I see “Weeds” as it could be and say, “What did we get from Season Six?”
Leaving aside the grotesque paraphrasing of Bobby Kennedy there, I thought this was a strong season of “Weeds,” but I also found a way to talk myself into liking the past two seasons as well. If you expect “Weeds” to be the snarky comedy that it used to be, with the different variations on the Malvina Reynolds theme song and the broad ironies of suburban life? Well, you probably turned away from “Weeds” a long time ago. If you viewed the show as a journey from one point in the pilot, to an extremely different place 70-plus episodes later? Well, Season Six made that journey literal, forcing all of the show’s remaining characters to examine how far they’ve traveled.
A few more thoughts after the break and then y’all can share any opinions you might have…
The essence of the early seasons of “Weeds” was its insularity. Agrestic was an oasis, an artificial world that was both an aspirational paradise and a prison for Nancy Botwin. It was a place that she was so terrified to abandon that she corrupted that world and sacrificed everything about herself that made her and her family worthy of being a part of it. So they moved to Ren-Mar, which was a little less insular, but only barely. Then things progressed to Mexico, though the increasingly permeable membrane of our nation’s Southern Border. But even that was constrained, with the Botwins navigating between subterranean tunnels and the ill-gotten wealth of the criminal upper class.
“Weeds” was always a show about the steps people take to maintain the American Dream, but it was always an upwardly mobile version of the American Dream, where the Botwins began with the white picket fence and the cul de sac and pretended that even as they were cast out of that Eden, they could still stay at the same level.
This season, “Weeds” broke out of its constraints and took the road and, in the process, it acknowledged the economic realities of America 2010. The Botwins spent their season fleeing capture, but they did so by living amongst the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. They were hotel scabs. They were itinerant preachers. They debased themselves to butter-eating contests to keep their journey going. And when all of that failed and their only salvation was a fantasy beyond outside of North America entirely, they retreated to the womb, or to Nancy’s childhood home in Dearborn, Michigan.
We got a sense of the woman Nancy used to be before she met Judah and we learned that — not-so-shockingly — she wasn’t such a great person even before she began this six-season spiral. She was a bully. She carried on a lengthy sexual relationship with a teacher and ultimately left his life in ruins. It used to be that people saw Nancy and assumed that she was an innocent in all of this, but the reporter who tracked her down only wanted to let her give her side of the story. He wasn’t offering exoneration, because his word cloud for her was correct. Nancy is cold and manipulative and a horrible mother and while she partially came to understand her condition during her baby’s pediatrician visit a couple episodes back, she probably needed that extra push from Silas discovering that his true father is some Nordic dude named Lars who Nancy used to date. Much of this season was picking apart the lies Nancy told herself and the lies she used to keep the family together.
And yet Silas still showed up at the airport, as the family plotted its desperate trip to Copenhagen, he gave up spending time with his father and applying to college — What college was Silas really going to get into anyway? — and the hope of no-strings-attached escape, because the Botwins stick together. And then Nancy turned around and sent Andy, Silas and Shane off on that flight alone, realizing that their chances of escape were better without her. She offered herself up to Esteban and Guillermo and then, as Plan C, sacrificed herself to the FBI and lied about her culpability in Pilar’s death. “Weeds” has always been excellent as season-ending cliffhangers and this was another winner: Nancy’s entering federal custody. The men in her life are off to Denmark. And then, strangely, we have Doug back in Agrestic, renamed Regrestic, trying to reconnect with his long-since-estranged family. But Doug is, at least most recently, a stoned innocent in all of this. You’d say that he probably deserves another chance at happiness and his family, except that it’s Doug and he probably doesn’t.
Maybe the whole season comes down to Silas’ temporarily parting words for his psychotic little brother: “Please, please, choose to not be a dick.”
We had several “comedy” weeks leading up to the finale, but the finale was almost all drama and self-sacrifice and featured some really great acting from the entirely cast. I’ve been saying for a while that Alexander Gould was Emmy-worthy, but the big surprise of this season has been Hunter Parrish, who the show kinda abandoned a couple seasons past when they tried to make him into a dreamy heartthrob and then gave up. But Parrish was great this season, as he first began to doubt his place in the roving family, then had those doubts half-confirmed and then determined he was going to belong entirely, because you can’t be half-a-Botwin. His line to Esteban and Guillermo — “When you kill her let us know. Just for closure.” — broke my heart a little. And the sacrifices by Nancy and Richard Dreyfuss’ Warren were also impactful.
Where does this leave the show for next season? Who the heck knows. Part of me was thinking that the journey of this season was full-circle enough that Nancy turning herself in and that final freeze-frame would be a good place to end the series entirely. But it’ll be back next year.
Well that was rambling…
A couple other quick thoughts on the “Weeds” finale and whatnot:
*** Another moment that killed me: Andy’s “God, you’ve ruined my life” to Nancy. Totally true. But Andy probably would have ruined it himself. But differently.
*** I’m not necessarily sure we got enough payoff to Legspreader as the new MILF Weed. The whole subplot with the Michigan Muslims was a confusing treatise on prejudice and how even people who are victims of prejudice and profiling have their own prejudices. Dunno if there was necessarily a point beyond the idea that this was a different version of the quest for the American Dream. We saw advantages and disadvantages to profiling in recent weeks.
*** I liked Richard Dreyfuss. He wasn’t around for long, but they got good value out of his guest appearance.
*** Andy’s Bjork impression was almost funny enough to excuse the drama and lack of laughs in the rest of the episode. Justin Kirk? Very talented. As always.
*** Mary Louise-Parker is always excellent. This episode’s combination of defeated/determined was terrific, especially since Parker isn’t the kind of actress who lets you see the machinery working in her head. She makes almost every acting choice feel like a surprise, like it surprises herself as much as those around her.
*** The finale’s closing song was Gin Wigmore’s “Hey Ho.” I preferred the use of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” in the penultimate episode, which would also have been appropriate here.
I really just wanted to give y’all a place to talk about the “Weeds” finale.