Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer TV Rewind: Wonderfalls 1.02: "Pink Flamingos"

“You may be the universe’s butt puppet, but I’m its right hand fist of fate. And tonight? Accounts are coming due.”

In the second episode of “Wonderfalls,” Jaye starts to really have to come to terms with whether or not she wants to listen to the Muses. They’re telling her to do things that she really doesn’t want to do, and she’s starting to see some dire consequences when she disobeys. She sees the consequences early in the episode when her father is seriously injured, then she must figure out how she’s going to apply that lesson when she is roped into helping high school nemesis Gretchen Speck-Horowitz plan their 6.5 year high school reunion (Gretchen was a little anxious to flaunt her awesome life). Besides Jaye’s big dilemma, we also get some significant character development from Sharon, as she tries to advance her relationship with Beth, the delivery guy’s ex from the pilot, Mahandra, as she tries to plot revenge on Gretchen over Jaye’s objection, and Eric, as he’s just plain smitten by Jaye. Peppered in between all of this are little elements that we can now recognize today as things that make a Bryan Fuller television show a Bryan Fuller television show, from the rhythm of the dialogue to the horror movie homages.

A significant bit of the early part of this episode is spent exploring Jaye’s relationship with her dad. In fact, I think you could almost split this episode in two: the Jaye and her dad stuff and the Gretchen Speck-Horowitz and the reunion stuff. It has been so long since I’ve watched any episodes of Wonderfalls that weren’t “Wax Lion,” “Lovesick Ass,” or “Caged Bird” that I forgot about the father/daughter relationship set up in this one. Jaye and her dad are going out to breakfast for pancakes, and this appears to be something of a tradition for them. Jaye is waiting in the car while her dad brings the trashcans up from the base of the driveway when one of the Tylers’ pink lawn flamingoes tells her to “get off [her] ass.” Jaye checks with her dad to make sure he doesn’t need help, then decides to stay put. The car, however, has other ideas, and starts rolling backwards, resulting in Jaye’s dad breaking his leg.

The accident has Jaye thinking that she needs to listen to the muses and try to be nice to people, so when Gretchen breezes into the Barrel Bar and asks tells Jaye she needs help planning the upcoming high school reunion, Jaye reluctantly agrees. Mahandra is rather disgusted at this, because Gretchen made both their lives miserable throughout high school. Jaye can’t really believe she’s agreeing to help with the reunion either, but she’s worried that something horrible will happen again if she doesn’t play nice and go along with the Muses’ advice. Working on the reunion lets Jaye get to know Gretchen a bit more, and while there are aspects of her that are most definitely shallow (she seems to be married to her husband only because he got her a big ring), there seems to be more depth to her, too. She’s extremely upset when her husband says he’s not going to make it to the reunion, because she was really looking forward to showing him off. Jaye decides that she needs to help Gretchen by trying to get her husband to change his mind, so she calls him on Gretchen’s cell phone. Her husband is actually driving to Niagra as he’s speaking to Jaye, and the distracted driving results in a horrible car accident.

Throughout all of this, we see Sharon trying to negotiate the beginning of her potential new relationship with Beth. Beth is getting frustrated because Sharon isn’t out to her parents, so she keeps flaking on Beth when her dad needs something related to the accident. Eventually, Beth gives Sharon an ultimatum, and Sharon comes up with a rather devious idea. She’s going to drug her dad so that she and Beth can fool around in peace. Because fooling around at your parents’ house when you’re an adult always ends well. Sharon mixing the medicine in her dad’s food and delivering it is the vintage Bryan Fuller horror movie montage I referred to in the introduction. I’m not a huge horror movie buff, so I don’t know what movie it refers to, but the music and the highly stylized nature of that scene compared to the rest of the episode is a pretty good signal that the scene was meant as an homage to something. This doesn’t work out as planned, though. Darrin is drugged, alright, but in his drugged state, he wanders downstairs as Sharon and Beth are starting to make out. He just stares at them for a moment before he keeps on walking. He doesn’t seem to remember it the next day, but he does ask Jaye why the family cable package has a lesbian porn channel.

As the reunion is starting (which Jaye’s mom Karen was invited to, because in a kind of weird subplot, she was more popular at Jaye’s high school for all her chaperoning than Jaye was), Jaye gets new instruction from the Muses. The rooster on Gretchen’s school spirit hair barrette tells Jaye to destroy Gretchen. Jaye acts on this pretty quickly, which really confuses Mahandra, since Jaye had shocked Mahandra so much with the about face that it convinced Mahandra it was a bad idea to seek revenge. Jaye gets Eric to make the froofiest drink he can, and she marches right up to the stage, says “I destroy you” in a resigned monotone, and pours the drink on Gretchen’s dress. As she’s cleaning up, a classmate who had a crush on Gretchen in high school finally talks to her, and he asks her if she loves her husband. Gretchen realizes that she doesn’t, and she suddenly has her mojo back. As she puts it, she’s losing the hyphen and keeping the ring. Don’t feel too bad for her husband, though. One of the paramedics who responded to his car accident was the good Jewish girl of his dreams.

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