Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dirty Sexy Money: The Unexpected Arrival (2.12)

Whenever a series introduces a mysteriously vague big bad with ties to everybody and a keen ability to orchestrate evil schemes which rattle the core of the series itself, it's probably helpful if the writers actually knew what to do with them. It's been hinted at all season, but The Unexpected Arrival truly confirmed how entirely unaware the writers were of how to handle Simon Elder. Even after rewatching, I don't understand why Simon wanted Nola to 'kill' him (before changing his mind), I don't understand why he saw Karen's pregnancy as an opportunity, and I don't understand why he spent so little time distracted by the fact that somebody blew up his car last episode. Blair Underwood is a great actor, yet it's insane that the show gives him essentially six different characters to play in the space of one episode.

It's also pretty funny that his character completely destroys whichever character he's paired up with. Karen has had a resurgence since Simon dropped her, while Jeremy and to an extent Tripp are the latest people who have been brought down a couple of notches by proxy. Nola, another mystery of a character who changes her personality every episode, never stood a chance, stuck in this dramatic dead-end. I guess there's an element of fun to this episode's cliffhanger, but it doesn't disguise how elaborately nonsensical this entire storyline has been.

The three other subplots were by turns successful and lifeless. Natalie Zea, regardless of the silly subplot she is stuck in, made us believe in Karen's predicament, and she easily conveyed how disgusted she was by Simon and the fact that she's carrying his spawn now. Obviously, being ABC, the 'a' word is never going to happen, but Zea convinces. Equally fun was Brian moving into Nick's apartment. It's an obvious Odd Couple plot twist, but it's easy humor, especially where these two characters are concerned.

Less successful was the increasingly stupid Patrick ménage arc. It was disappointing to see a character whose greatest love was a transsexual resorting to lazy gay panic yelling, as well as banging the first dame that comes his way, what, a week after the love of his life was murdered? Yeesh. William Baldwin has always been short-changed on this show. He's not the world's greatest thespian (though Sliver sure is fun!), but the show never utilized Patrick at all, especially this season. C

Guest stars John Schneider (Charles Whatley); Sheryl Lee (Andrea Smithson); Krista Allen (Dana Whatley)
Writer Paul Redford Director Michael Watkins

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