selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
[personal profile] selenak
And my show love is back! Woo hoo! That was a fantastic episode.

Possibly the best Alison episode since season 1. The trailer had me believe it would just go for a rerun of Alison-centric comedy formula, with her trying to score a point in suburbia under pressure which inevitably climaxes in one of the other clones pretending to be her. But no. Instead, it was a fantastic character exploration in a way that makes sense at this precise moment of the show and at the same time adresses the past.

Among other things, the big one, Alison letting Ainsley die in a gruesome way. Ainsley has always come across as a one dimensional suburban wife cliché, so the flashbacks culminating in that scene with Alison and Ainsley under the stars showcasing their friendship was very welcome and retrospectively made her real. Before that, we do get comedy - Ainsley & Matt inviting the Hendrixes to a wild mushroom party (complete with the Hendrixes at first thinking they were suggesting an orgy) - but Alison on a bad trip while also meeting Cosima for the first time is about more than comic relief; it's connected to her deep unease in her own skin and her long term depression which she voices in the present at the end.

It says something about the way murder has been played as black humor in the Alison subplot that I first thought she actually wanted to poison what's her name with those pills, not embarrass her, and thought, come on, that's too much. And so it was. But it was part of Alison's ruthless streak that's been there from the start. The show went a bit meta with Frontenac (spelling?) asking what exactly Alison contributes and saying all the other clones provide more than her - it's Neolution thinking, true, but it also reflects on the show sticking Alison strictly to the suburbs without letting her interact with main plot characters beyond the other Ledas, as I've complained before. And the episode beautifully changes that by letting Alison find the solution to its problem du jour (the discovery of the bodies in the garage, Neolution using police investigation to get the information about Helena's hiding place out of Donnie) by also changing the pattern when Alison confronts Rachel. What I love most about that scene isn't just the Alison standing up to Rachel part but that she does so in a specific Alison way, different from the way Sarah would have done it, and that she manages to win by the application of logical thinking - any police investigation into the murder of Dr. Leekie, even given cop coruption, would inevitably lead to Neolution and Rachel's office.

(BTW: also loved Rachel's reaction, because a few seasons back, the fact she didn't kill Leekie - while happily letting everyone else assume that she did -, and instead let him go was one of the first signs of more dimensionality on her part, and a reflection that Leekie did raise her after her parents left her. As far as she knew, he was living undercover in safety ever since. So both the genuine shock at the sight of the head and the non-psychopathic anger felt genuine.)

Furthermore, I appreciated that the parallels with The Zeppo end there in that Alison finding a way to save the day, while giving her confidence a boost, wasn't presented as the complete solution to her basic problem - that she still needs to figure out who she wants to be.

Alison and Donnie: surprisingly the show's most enduring and endearing m/f relationship, arguments and all. Who'd have thought in s1?

Meanwhile, in other subplots: so it seems they're going with an "Rachel tries to corrupt Kira" storyline. Hm. Can't see the corporate benefit of Kira being encouraged to skin a mouse right now, but it's going to piss Sarah off, which might be one reason why Rachel does it. Or we could see Rachel simply repeating something she was taught as a child, i.e. replicating the child raising she's known. Could so see the Rachel we know today going first steps there by first given pets and then being told you can skin them, it's not painful to them because science, can't you?

Last picture of the episode: and here I thought Helena would never go back to the nuns. Talk about ways you were raised informing who you are now. Didn't she murder her birth mother for giving her to said nuns? (No, not going to forget that, ever.) After this great Alison episode adressing past and presence, I'm cautiously hopeful we might actually get a Helena episode doing the same, and Helena about to give birth in exactly the same type of environment that formed her could be a good set up for this.
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