Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nip/Tuck: Erica Noughton (2.1)

Nip/Tuck has clearly grown up. Not exactly in the mature sense of the word (since the show is still silly-as-hell), but it's obvious that entering its second season has given it an added confidence. Ryan Murphy is now unafraid to venture into deeper, more character-driven storylines, and it's great to see every member of the cast get some great material to work with in this season premiere.

Vanessa Redgrave puts in a tour de force of a performance as Julia's icy, shameless mother Erica Noughton. The scenes featuring real-life mother and daughter sparkle with fun and humor, especially the scene at the gym, where Erica hints that she had sex with Christian and then proceeds to flash her own daughter. Both moments make Julia unsurprisingly disgusted. Erica's a hilarious character, and her interaction with all three principal cast members produces some of the episode's best scenes.

The episode's subplot was devastating. Romy Rosemont put in a brutal performance as Libby Zucker, a woman who hit middle-age and gave up on attempting to make her life better, which resulted in a gun going off in her face. As the episode goes on, we learn that Libby was shot by her best friend in a suicide pact gone badly wrong. The scene where we see the terrifying event was beautifully shot, with Rosemont and Chris Diamantopoulos aiming guns at each other, against a stark white background. Diamontopoulos brings some sympathy toward what, through a series of events, has become somebody very unlikable. He wasn't scared about shooting Libby, and then abandoned her when she needed him most. The fatal ending to the story was truly shocking, but it was annoying that it was left open-ended, and the audience left in the dark over what happened to Libby.

Age plays an important part in the episode, with both Sean and Christian hitting a brick wall as they hit 40. Sean is experiencing a mid-life crisis, angry over his wrinkles, sagging butt and lack of drive. This is all made worse by his "yips" (spasms in the hand), which put the whole practice in jeopardy. The scene with Christian at the bar was both funny and sad, with a woman ridiculing his age and his old-fashioned flirting techniques, before running off with an annoying guy ten years younger than him.

The Wilber storyline continued, with Gina actually making some sense this time around. Christian can't act like a kid, and have a kid too. His affair with the nanny was embarrassing, but it was great that at the end of the episode he realized that he needs to put Wilber before his sex life.

A perfect season premiere featuring four excellently-written storylines which cross each other in unexpected ways. When first aired, Erica Noughton promised great things for season two. We had no idea how amazing this year would eventually become. A+

Guest stars Vanessa Redgrave (Dr. Erica Noughton); Chris Diamantopoulos (Chad Myers); Romy Rosemont (Libby Zucker); Kelsey Lynn Batelaan (Annie McNamara); Portia Dawson (Kelly Appleton); Rachael L. Hollingsworth (Nicole Watts); Austin Tichenor (Marty Fine); Jessalyn Gilsig (Gina Russo)
Writer Ryan Murphy Director Ryan Murphy

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