A quick review of tonight's "United States of Tara" coming up just as soon as I lose to a Rush cover band...
First things first: I did my marathon of this season of "Tara" in the early days of the Japanese tsunami/earthquake/meltdown disaster, which made the twist in Kate's story spectacularly unfortunate in its timing. I know these episodes were written and produced months and months ago, and also that there was so much talk about where Kate was going that there was virtually no way to work around it short of expensive (if not logistically impossible) reshoots, but still... yeah. That's a story development I imagine the "Tara" writers would love you just pretend didn't happen while you move on to whatever Kate does next(*).
(*) According to Diablo Cody, they took out as many references as they could from the version I saw; did they leave in the scene where Kate is pouting about the great inconvenience while Max is pointing out that hundreds of people died?
Second, Frances Conroy turns up as Max's mom, and her appearance unlocks a huge new door into Max and why he both loves Tara and stays with her through all the crap the alters put him through. Max not only has prior experience loving a mentally-ill woman, but his resentment of his father abandoning him and his mom has clearly made him resolve to never do the same to Tara and the kids.
Third, it's our second episode in a row with a terrific, harrowing, ugly climactic scene involving T coming out at the worst possible time. It's really surprising in hindsight that the show was able to go an entire season last year with T only making the briefest of cameos. She's the most disruptive, destructive of the alters - Buck and Alice cause problems, too, but they can be reasoned with and can act calmly, whereas T is all attitude, all the time - and it makes sense to have her back and be so prominent in a season that's dealing with the corrosive effect Tara's condition has on her family. Everybody loves Tara, but it's not just some wacky quirk she has - it's a problem that brings great emotional anguish to Tara, to her husband, to her kids, and, here, to her pregnant sister, who desperately needs Tara and not her hostile, Ritalin poster girl teenage incarnation. Just as Brie Larson was great last week in the comparable Kate/Tara scene, Rosemarie DeWitt - whose Charmaine once upon a time was one of the show's more problematic, broadly-drawn characters - nailed Charmain's anger, confusion and pain as the VW advanced on her in the parking lot.
And that was a hell of a final shot, wasn't it?
What did everybody else think?
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