Friday, October 21, 2016

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: The LA Complex 1.04: "The Other Side of the Door"

“Stop it. Anything you say now is just going to be insulting.”

The fourth episode of “The LA Complex” saw some of our characters appear to achieve success, while others thought they had found success but have it snatched away from them. Or have the result of their endeavors turn out not as they expected. And then there’s Abby and Nick, who go nowhere professionally in this episode, but do make some leaps personally (maybe). We also got to know Connor a little better in this episode, which I appreciated, because without the backstory, he’s kind of a whiny brat. He’s still kind of a whiny brat even with the backstory, but at least now I kind of get why he is the way he is.

The episode opens with a flashback to Connor’s childhood in Australia. His mom is taking a baby (presumably Connor’s new sister) and leaving Connor with his drunk at best abusive at worst father. Her reasoning is that Connor can take care of himself, but the baby can’t. This carries forward to the present day when Connor finally meets his new acting coach. The coach doesn’t do any acting exercises with Connor or anything. He just does what he can to build up Connor’s self-esteem. He tells him how good his auditions were and how he just needs to relax. He even goes to the well of “everybody loves you.” A hug seals the deal and Connor thinks he has a new father figure. He kicks ass in a scene that he had thought would be really difficult, and when he goes to the acting coach’s house to thank him and tell him about it, the coach says it would be best if Connor just emails him. Low blow, acting coach!

Meanwhile, Kal and Tariq are trying to get some private time. Kal tries to take Tariq to one of his “downlows” (basically a room in the hood with a video game system), but Tariq is not impressed. He asks Kal if they can go somewhere else as long as it is just as private. They end up going to a B and B in Big Sur where the proprietors have know knowledge of rap. Tariq sets it up using the pseudonyms “Carl Winslow and Steve,” and I appreciated the little nod to “Family Matters.” He tells the proprietors that “Steve” is a musician, and they appear to not recognize him at all. At first, Kal isn’t really feeling it. He doesn’t like the vegan food the proprietors serve, and there are no video game systems. The foursome bond over a game of scrabble, though, and Kal ends up actually having a good time, even talking about his and Tariq’s relationship when the proprietors ask. When they arrive back in LA, though, Tariq has to get back in his broke ass Corolla and pretend none of it happened, and it is clear that the hiding is wearing on him.

Early in the episode, Nick saw an ad for Alicia’s sex tape, and when he warns her about it, he is shocked that she already knew and was excited that it was going to be released soon. Things don’t end up working as Alicia planned, though. There is going to be no sale of the tape (and no money for Alicia) after all. Ricky booked a spot on the next season of “Rehab,” so he’s completely on the image rehabilitation train and leaving Alicia behind. It’s hard to tell whether he had genuine feelings for Alicia or if he was just hoping she’d help springboard him to the celebreality TV circuit. Alicia’s manager says he’s still trying to parlay the sex tape into nightclub appearances, but so far none have materialized. By the end of the episode, though, he does have something in mind for her. Vivid Entertainment (the porn company) wants to do a deal with her. Alicia is pretty sure she wants to do it, but she runs the situation by Raquel first. Raquel promises she’ll still be Alicia’s friend even if she becomes a porn star, and she even accompanies her to her meeting at Vivid.

Raquel spends most of the episode trying to hustle Gary the alcoholic dentist for money to get her film started. In the process of the hustle, though, she seems to start to develop some real feelings for him. They have a nice dinner, and Gary seems to be moving closer towards agreeing to put up some money for the film. The writer guys, however, think Gary might just be trying to get into Raquel’s pants. Raquel does seem at least somewhat aware of the possibility she could be getting played, and that fear gets worse when she runs into Gary’s ex-wife, Jennifer, who warns Raquel not to count on any promises Gary makes. By the end of the episode, though, Gary has proven (for now, at least) that he is trying to turn over a new leaf. He sets up Raquel with a new agent at WME of all places, and he also agrees to help finance the film.

Abby and Nick have a generally weird day in this one. They’re both broke and jobless, so Nick decides he’s going to teach Abby how to survive in LA. Their adventure starts collecting can from a high-end suburban neighborhood, which can then be turned in for money. The next stop on the “teach a (wo)man to fish” tour is Chinatown (I think), where Nick uses the money from the cans to buy some really nasty looking fish. It doesn’t end there, though. The nasty fish from the market is bait so that they can literally fish on a pier. The fishing leads to a rather cozy picnic dinner, which leads to making out, which leads to going back to their room to have sex. The sex is interrupted when Alicia wants to talk to Nick, though. So we’ll have to see how that turns out in the next episode.

On a more general note, the title of this episode reminded me of one of my favorite childhood poems, “The Other Side of the Door” by Jeff Moss. I can see several plots from this episode captured in its words.

On the other side of the door I can be a different me, As smart and as brave and as funny or strong As a person could want to be. There’s nothing too hard for me to do, There’s no place I can’t explore Because everything can happen On the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door I don’t have to go alone. If you come, too, we can sail tall ships And fly where the wind has flown. And wherever we go, it is almost sure We’ll find what we’re looking for Because everything can happen On the other side of the door.
-Jeff Moss

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