Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nip/Tuck: Rachel Ben Natan (5.9)

Yikes, this one was a mess. Probably the most frenetic episode in the history of the series, pulling at a dozen plot strands with little cohesion and stumbling around to try and find some kind of meaning in each one. It's like a bad spoof, with a pinch of lesbian bikers and gay pride gags, a dash of commentary on the Middle-East, and a smidgen of brawling dudes in love with the same lady. Ugh. Throw in a bunch of tired guest characters and you have the worst episode in a long, long time.

I have no idea what they were trying to say with the Sean story here. So he's bummed about Christian and Julia - that's understandable. But were they trying to say that he's so mad about it that now he understands how anger can drive a terrorist to blowing up innocent people? We get a series of ill-conceived scenes in which he stands in front of Christian and Julia with explosives strapped to his stomach, as well as some annoying moments where he's haunted by a vision of the terrorist who blew up Matt's new friend Rachel. It's all just too ridiculous. This is a night-time soap opera, not the right kind of series to explore issues like this. Especially when they're depicted in such a half-assed way.

The story continues to bug as it drives to its inevitable conclusion, with a silly slapfest between Sean and Christian. There's also the matter of Sean inviting Gina back into the fold as McNamara/Troy's new receptionist, another odd development that feels out of place here. And she's so tired as a character that it's just no fun having her around anymore.

Meanwhile, there was an equally messy subplot involving Freddy discovering his sexuality at a gay pride event, hurting Dawn in the process. Dawn, like Gina, is a character who has gotten tired at this point, and I don't think this story managed to hit the notes everybody intended it to. Great work by Rosie O'Donnell and Oliver Platt, but it doesn't disguise how contrived this whole subplot has been.

Nip/Tuck, in its later years, struggled to recognize when both characters and storylines had overstayed their welcome. Rachel Ben Natan is unfortunately weighed down by everything that the show needs to get over with, from Christian once again betraying Julia and schtupping botox fiends in his office, to Sean still being angry about his ex-wife. There are some amusing moments here, sure, but that doesn't make it a good episode in any form. D

Guest stars Oliver Platt (Freddy Prune); Bradley Cooper (Aidan Stone); Jessalyn Gilsig (Gina Russo); Rosie O'Donnell (Dawn Budge); Maggie Siff (Rachel Ben Natan); Dylan Ramsey (Saaed Hotary); Brooke Dillman (Jan Tooney)
Writer Jennifer Salt Director Charles Haid

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