Whiskey salad. That’s a new one.
It’s also totally believable in the world of BASKETS, which buried “Mee-maw” … or Grandmom … or Esther Roosevelt … in “Funeral,” a slightly more serious episode that emphasizes sibling togetherness and brings us a little closer to the season-two finale.
Before we tackle this one, let’s recap: Christine shacked up with Ken in Denver, and obviously she’s thinking about whether the “Mile High City” is in her future. But what does that mean for the family? Chip is getting jobs but is otherwise in flux. And Dale’s home life has fallen completely apart. Can Christine leave that?
For now she can’t – she’s home for Mee-maw’s funeral. So she’s making that whiskey salad (there’s one raisin in it) and hosting out-of-towners. But family tensions just beyond her reach are simmering.
Cody (Garry Clemmons) and Logan (Jason Clemmons) come in for the funeral, but they’re at odds. See, Logan stole one of the Chemical Brothers’ girls. The Chemical Brothers didn’t like that, and one of them punched Cody thinking he was Logan. So Cody is angry at Logan for getting wrapped up in some girl and making him a punching bag. It’s clever enough, mostly because it addresses that nobody (including the family themselves) can remember which brother is which.
But it is a detour, one that slightly derails the train (sorry for that apt metaphor) of an otherwise laser-focused season. After an expansive first few episodes of the season, Baskets has drilled down considerably to tackle deep internal strife. Cody and Logan’s tiff seems more than a little outside the world at this point.
That said, it does bring Chip and Dale together. The twins help unite the estranged DJs by re-energizing their career. Chip brings in Penelope to connect to some bands needing openers (the Sneaker Pimps), while Dale raids his office for laptops to arrange a last-minute promotional video shoot (Trish can’t help but be curious that Dale is taking things from the office just before an audit). The promo shoot works: Sneaker Pimps hire Cody and Logan and all is right with the world again.
Ultimately it takes us away from everything. Case in point: At Mee-maw’s funeral, the brothers all hug, but Dale retreats to vomit up all the mimosas he downed the night before. And right beside his daughters. It reminds us that Dale has some real issues to sort out (which will likely come to a head before the season ends), and maybe this detour wasn’t very necessary. (It’s likely Dale’s raid of his office comes back to bite him, but otherwise, what’s the collateral damage?)
Same goes for Chip, who calls Penelope for help and has an awkward enough conversation that signals there’s nothing there between them. Did we need the final admission of closure?
Then there’s Martha, who’s left behind halfway through the episode as Chip and Dale run off to rescue Cody and Logan. Chip’s spending more and more time with Martha, and while their conversations remain fluidly weird, they obviously care for one another. Not to mention Martha’s hilarious, which we get this week in her interactions with Christine (both Christine describing her night with Ken and the recipe for whiskey salad).
Basically, it’s a shame we need to deal with the Cody and Logan split so hard in this one. We lose a lot by gaining this small thread.
More necessary and poignant is Christine’s battle with brother Jim, who comes to his mother’s funeral in a zip-up reminder of his status as a Quiznos franchisee (right in line with Baskets’ tone). He asks about Mee-maw’s finances (that can only portend trouble) while defending their father, who according to Christine was a drunk who abused his wife and children. Jim says Dad was “fair,” and when Christine reveals she took out a new burial plot for Mee-maw, it further separates the two.
Fathers have become a major theme of season two, with Chip and Dale reminiscing about their coward dad, and now – in a scary imitation – Dale vomiting his booze in front of his children. There’s real evil in the men around Christine Baskets, and she wears it like a badge she just wants to rip off.
That’s where we’re heading as Baskets nears the end of season two (in good news, the show was rightfully just picked up for a third season). Christine has some decisions to make about her future, and whether she wants to remain attached to men harboring that evil. Hopefully Baskets steers itself back in this direction completely over the final two episodes of the season. Detours are fine, but for a show that’s focused intently on very deep central conflicts, sometimes ancillary characters need to stay that way.
Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)
Baskets airs Thursdays at 10 PM on FX
Timothy, who grew up on The Golden Girls and Seinfeld, writes regularly about entertainment, arts and lifestyles for a number of publications.
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Timothy Malcolm | Contributor