Friday, January 17, 2014

Trophy Wife 2.12: "The Punisher"

“I don't have time to empathize. Punishing is part of being a parent, and thanks to Peter's inability to date casually, that's something that you now are.”

“The Punisher” was an entertaining episode of “New Girl,” for sure. It had different from normal character combinations, and it also explored Kate’s desire to be parent-ish to Pete’s kids in a new way. Kate always wants to do things like go to parent/teacher conferences and pick the kids up from activities, but where parenting loses its luster to her is punishment. When Warren and Hillary do something really stupid, she has to grow a spine and try to be a disciplinarian. Parenting (so I’m told) isn’t all sunshine and puppies, after all. The problem provides an opportunity for some fun Kate and Diane interaction, though. Usually, they’re at odds with each other, but this time, they were on the same team, albeit in a kind of dysfunctional way. Additionally, we see Pete, Jackie, and Bert trying to sort of function together as a family unit, and we get a pretty good idea of why Pete and Jackie divorced.

The main plot of this episode is that Kate catches Warren and Hillary doing something just plain stupid. Warren jumps off the roof of the house into the pool, and Hillary films it on her phone (presumably to live in YouTube infamy). Warren deliberately takes the jump right after Kate tells him to get down from the roof, so Kate is very angry and thinks Warren and Hillary should be punished. She’s having trouble getting serious about the punishment, though, so she tries to call in the best enforcer she can think of. Diane, of course. Diane, however, wants Kate to grow a spine and learn how to dole out punishments herself. At first, Kate is pretty ineffectual. Meg is at the house, and at one point, she and the kids are just watching TV and laughing and eating popcorn in the living room when they’re supposed to be on punishment. To their credit, they’re watching “House Hunters International,” which is a pretty great (and appropriately nerdy) show.

Meanwhile, Pete and Jackie are at a parent/teacher conference for Bert. They are less than thrilled when Bert’s teacher says that Bert is solidly in the middle of his class, because of course they think he’s a genius. Bert’s teacher also has some additional troubling news. She thinks that home life tensions might be affecting Bert’s academic progress. Pete and Jackie try to defend themselves, but then Bert’s teacher shows them a picture Bert drew of himself with really long arms standing between his parents. Pete and Jackie think that it might be a good idea to do a family activity together, just to show Bert that they can be civil, and they’re still all on the same team. Pete wants to go for ice cream, because it’s quick, but Jackie wants to take Bert to a new pirate-themed miniature golf course. Why is “pirate” such a popular theme for mini-golf courses, by the way? Anybody?

Back at the ranch, Kate puts in another emergency call to Diane and gets Diane to come over to the house. Kate thinks Diane is going to deliver the punishment the kids deserve, but Diane still really wants Kate to do the work. She sends the kids upstairs and starts giving Kate a pep talk. After some role playing, Kate thinks she’s ready to dole out some punishment. She takes away Warren and Hillary’s phones and tells them “no screens” for the rest of the day. Diane is proud of Kate, but she warns Kate that the kids are going to test her. And test Kate they do. First, they start playing instruments badly, then they start throwing around a tennis ball loudly. Then they start staging readings of Pete’s “legal erotica” (say what?). The final straw is when they have a neighbor who started a pet charity come over for an hour-and-a-half lecture on the spayings and neuterings she does in her garage.

Across town, the pirate mini-golf session starts off well enough. Pete and Jackie do dueling pirate impressions, but they manage to not be terribly disparaging of each other in front of Bert. Then Jackie starts blatantly cheating. The score is heavily in Jackie’s favor, which makes Pete unhappy, because like most good lawyers, he has an overdeveloped sense of injustice. Just as the nightmare seems like it will be over, Bert gets a hole in one on the final hole of the course and wins a free second round (that has to be used the same day, of course). Happily for Pete and Jackie, round two ends early when they tell off some teenagers who were being rude and asking to be allowed to play through. It was amusing to see Pete and Jackie come together for the common cause of telling off the teens. Bert’s a little unhappy to be banned from the mini-golf course, but Pete and Jackie promise ice cream, which makes everything better.

When Warren threatens to eat a toe wart in front of Kate, Kate finally puts in another call to Diane. Diane tells Kate she just needs to ignore the kids, so that’s what Kate does. She does her best to not let any of the shenanigans phase her, and she seems to be gaining ground. Then Warren and Hillary find Kate’s phone. They pounce on it, but they don’t have time to use it before Kate returns to the kitchen. In a quick thinking effort to hide the phone, Warren tosses it down the kitchen sink drain. Kate then turns on the sink and runs the garbage disposal when she sees the sink isn’t draining. When she realizes her phone has been destroyed, Kate is very unhappy, and she lets off a string of obscenity at the kids. Hillary calls Diane to tell her about it, and Diane comes to the house again. Diane pretends to fight with Kate about it, but she’s actually proud of Kate. Now, Diane says, Kate just needs to work on finding that middle ground between push-over and rage monster. Diane lets it look like Kate won an argument between them, so for the rest of the evening, the kids wait on Kate hand and foot.

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