Happily, this week’s episode of BLUNT TALK more or less strays away from the Cornelia plot and gets back to its bread and butter, namely Walter’s relationship with Harry. The Walter-Harry combination usually brings the most laughs, so although this episode still doesn’t totally work, it serves to push Cornelia to the peripheries and re-focus the show around the relationships of the characters we’ve grown to enjoy. The episode is still ostensibly about Cornelia’s LA-drought news story, but it works well enough when it’s not about Walter’s emotional connection to a character we just met and have heard about through his exposition. This episode proves it’s a lot more effective to focus on Walter’s feelings towards Harry and the characters we’ve actually been invested in over thirteen episodes.
The crux of the episode centers around Walter and Harry having a falling out, something we haven’t seen in the show thus far. Up to this point, Harry has always been the dutiful man-servant, able to indulge Walter’s most extravagant or ridiculous whims. But when Walter messes with Harry’s relationship to Sylvia, the two come to a head, prompting Harry to move in with and work for Walter’s porn-producing neighbor Ronnie. Ronnie, played by the diabolically hilarious Brett Gelman, definitely brings with him some of the goofier elements to the show, but Gelman has the special ability of grounding every scene he’s in all his work. The scene of Ronnie acting as his own legal counsel is Gelman in his element.
The other pleasant surprise of the episode was the amount of run given to Herschel, Walter’s former sex-addict sponsee now turned servant. It’s clear now that jamming Herschel into the show an two episodes ago was just to get him to this point. And despite how clumsy it was to get here, Herschel is a very funny addition to the show and I loved seeing him fumble his way through all the things Harry would do. The actor who plays Herschel has a similar ability in being able to normalize his really wacky actions and dialogue.
Of course, with only twenty-six minutes of run that means that our normal staple of characters gets pushed aside for these newer faces. Again, Jacki Weaver is criminally underused. At this point I have to think she’s asked her agent to have them kill her off in the event of a third season green light. Every line they give her Rosalie feels forced and disjointed. I like that we’re heading towards an inevitable piano bar duette with her and Celia, but please let’s have her do more than yell at Walter about the monotonous maintenance of their network! And Celia doesn’t fair much better this go around, she still seems confused about what she wants with Jim, but I do have the sneaking suspicion that actress Dolly Wells doesn’t know either right now. It’s really a script issue that has her scrambling to stay afloat until they write a resolution for her character’s predicament.
That problem doesn’t apply to the others in this episode who have found some sort of stasis that while not compelling, gives them more freedom to be funny. We find more out about Martin and his relationship with Cornelia 2, which of course is not going too well as he works through being in the “oral” phase of his sexual development. Shelly is a constant force of political and emotional manipulation, and Jim works through his obsession with Celia, something he has now admitted to us and the other characters in the show. In fact, there’s multiple moments when these three show a self-awareness to the strangeness of how everyone’s acting that lets the humor flow much more smoothly. Jim knows he is acting like a maniac and that makes him so much more endearing. At one point, Shelly says to Martin, “We’re all going nuts here,” and she could not be more correct. I hope the show can find a way to make these relationships the focus of the show again.
On the other end of things there’s still the looming Cornelia plot line, which as I mentioned has at least for the moment been castrated and turned into a fun caper for Walter to get into, rather than an emotional storyline. As he tries to find the elusive owner of an LA based energy company, he’s introduced to the man’s sister played by the always intriguing Mary Steenburgen. She’s a welcome addition to the show and I expect her to play a femme fatale of sorts. The closing scene at the charity auction harks back to something out of a detective novel and it’s a fun place to take the show. I could have used without the cramming of Harry and Sylvia into the scene, but then Harry has a line that sold me on it: “They say two stars on the opposite ends of the universe can still be drawn to each other, maybe that’s like me and the Major.” It’s a nice sentiment to end the episode on, one that tells us this won’t be a conflict for long, but gives their relationship its due in a season that has been straying away from it thus far.
Season 2, Episode 4 (S02E04)
Blunt Talk airs Sundays at 830PM on Starz
Greg Brecher | Contributor