‘United States of Tara’ – ‘To Have and To Hold’: Meeting Miss Mimi

Senior Television Writer
05.31.10 25 Comments


A quick review of the penultimate “United States of Tara” of season two coming up just as soon as I remove gluten from my diet…

“Don’t forget to be yourself.” -Tara

And now, we are very close to an answer.

After the middle portion of the season focused heavily on Tara’s attempt to establish a stronger identity for herself and the stress it put on her marriage, we’ve returned to the mystery of what caused her DID, and to the alters, in a big way in the home stretch. “To Have and To Hold” offered a huge piece of the puzzle by explaining that Mimi was Tara and Charmaine’s foster mother after they were removed from what was apparently a very abusive home. It brought back T for the first time all season, and introduced us to yet another alter in the child-like Chicken.(*)

(*) All of the alters seem to be defense mechanisms in different ways, but Chicken is odd in that she protects Tara from emotionally experiencing whatever is happening but needs physical protection otherwise, whereas the others can stand up for themselves. (And Buck can deliver a pretty good beating, as we saw last week.)

Someone expressed concern last week that if Tara found the cause of the DID, the show would come to an end. Really, though, unlocking that mystery is only one small step on a much longer road to mental wholeness for the character. If/when she finds out who was abusing her at home, Buck and the others won’t simply disappear. Her psyche is still fractured, and the alters will still come out and cause trouble at the wrong moments.

And in the immediate future, there’s still the matter of Charmaine’s wedding – and the inevitable confrontation with their parents – to deal with in the finale.

Some other thoughts:

  • Marshall’s story this season has been about him becoming more comfortable with his sexual identity, and so it feels appropriate and sweet that he and Lionel should manage to meet in the middle and realize they like each other. Personality-wise, this doesn’t seem like a long-term kind of relationship, but hopefully it will go better than Marshall’s dalliance with the football stud.
  • Toni Collette gets the flashy stuff (here again with the introduction of Chicken, and the eruption of T), but Rosemarie DeWitt is just as good with the smaller material, here showing Charmaine finally (mostly) coming to grips with the reality and necessity of Tara’s condition. She wants her sister back for the wedding, but she no longer seems like she’s going to act like Tara’s faking.
  • I had forgotten that Buck had his own motorcycle, which makes me wonder how well landscaping pays that the family could afford to buy something so expensive for one of Tara’s alters.

What did everybody else think?

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