Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nip/Tuck: Dr. Joshua Lee (5.7)

Unlike so many other episodes which seem to at least attempt to parallel the personal lives of the doctors and their significant others to the patients they're treating, Dr. Joshua Lee has absolutely no thematic link between the various stories on offer. Here we have Nip/Tuck at its structural worst, with so many random elements thrown in that it becomes a chaotic mess of an hour spinning into a variety of directions. Miraculously, that doesn't dent the quality of a couple of those subplots, some of which are the strongest in a while.

At this point in the show, all the characters fall into one of two categories. We have the bunch who seem to change personalities every episode depending on the story (Sean, Christian, Julia), and the ones who are doomed to repeat the same self-inflicted misery time and time again (Matt, Kimber). Julia is one of the most annoying in this respect, flip-flopping between manipulative, shrewish doormat one moment to confident, kick-ass power-lady the next. This episode sees her at her best, finally discovering some perspective in her flawed relationship with Olivia, as well as delivering a series-best throwdown on Eden, reducing her to the embarrassing hell-bitch that she is. Of course, she goes on to ruin it all with an unnecessary make-out session with Christian, but I guess you can't win 'em all.

Julia and Olivia's kidnapping was brutal, but wonderfully written and performed. Here's this sleaze-ball thug turned on by their lipstick-lesbian hoodoo, determined to cut them down to size and humiliate them sexually. Olivia crumbles (which is perfectly in her right), but Julia discovers some sudden strength, destroying this loser and saving the day. The story itself feels a little isolated and unusual in its self-containment, but I loved what it did to Julia. I don't think she's ever as awesome throughout her future appearances on this show, this truly being the character at its best.

Elsewhere, we have poor, trashy Matt and Kimber. Kimber, still pitiful and part of a doomed faux-romance with Matt, puts her looks before her soul, dumping Matt in return for plastic surgery to fix her meth-ravaged face. There's a colossal sadness to her when she tells Christian that she is returning to porn. No longer is she even pretending to be an entrepreneur or a businesswoman, she's now selling her body for wealth and a daddy for her baby. It's so tragic. Beautiful montage of scenes where she reflects on her life and steals the jacket from the clothing store, by the way.

Matt is trying to improve himself. His heart is in the right place, but his brain is too slow to pick up on the fact that this whole 'family' thing he's trying with Kimber was never going to work. It's not surprising though. Stupidity runs in his family. The episode also sees Sean boning Eden at every opportunity and desperate to act young again. Ugh. Bradley Cooper in his panties was fun, but the rest of that particular subplot was asinine. Equally bizarre was the alien abduction subplot, probably the most ill-thought patient case in a while. So he's been taken away by the government or something? Eh. I don't really care.

A mess in terms of script, but featuring two storylines which are ridiculously powerful. Kelly Carlson and Joely Richardson work wonders here, exploring new avenues to their characters that are welcome at this point in the show. A-

Guest stars Portia de Rossi (Olivia Lord); Bradley Cooper (Aidan Stone); AnnaLynne McCord (Eden Lord); George Coe (Dr. Joshua Lee); Gary Basaraba (Arthur); Michael Wiseman (Police Officer); Anil Kumar (Dr. Anakali); Hudson Leick (Fake Wendy); Robyn Morgan (Wendy Lee); John Schneider (Ram Peters)
Writer Brad Falchuk Director Brad Falchuk

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