This week’s episode of BLUNT TALK is a definite clunker that feels more like set up for coming episodes than its own functioning story. After a promising start with the premiere, episode two, “If it Comes in a Plastic Bag, Don’t Eat It,” forgoes any interest in its character relationships, and instead focuses on mildly humorous set ups that play without very much payoff. Curiously, instead of feeding off the ominous cliffhanger from episode one and centering the episode on the Cornelia storyline, we spend a lot of time on Jim’s on-air colonoscopy and the rushed breakdown of his relationship with Celia. There’s definitely a lot funny moments, but as I mentioned in last week’s review, the show is at its best when it caters to the connections between its characters, and we got very little of that this week.
The episode opens with Walter and Harry in the midst of their Clouseau-Kato type training sessions. And while it’s a funny opener as Walter accidentally gets into a fight with Harry’s girlfriend Sylvia, the following scene makes Walter seem so incompetent it’s getting more and more difficult to believe anyone would find genius in the man. In that next scene he’s lamenting that it’s been two days since he’s heard from Cornelia. He asks Sylvia for a woman’s perspective and she responds with the clichéd “you have to let her come to you” line we get in every rom-com where someone nervously waits for a phone call or text from their person of interest. It’s a strange way to continue what last week seemed like an interesting storyline that taps into Walter’s vulnerabilities and best self. Over the course of the show we’ve seen Walter become sweeter and his demons more muddled, but we haven’t seen him in love. The premiere suggested a man who knew what he wanted and was ready to change his life for a woman that we knew tragically wouldn’t stick around. Instead, we’re given a grown man acting like a little boy, and while that has worked in the show earlier, we’ve moved past that with Walter as a character and this instead felt very much like a re-tread.
In fact, this whole episode felt like a re-tread, or rather like they’re trying to buy time for something and didn’t have enough story to fill the ten episodes. I’m thinking mostly of the Celia and Jim dynamic and her sudden one-eighty towards their relationship after Jim hilariously tells her “I love you,” from the seat of his toilet as he prepares for his colonoscopy. It’s a great scene and Timm Sharp confirms to me what I always knew since watching “Undeclared” as a teenager: that we need more Timm Sharp in our comedies. In any case, the show decides to take the tired road of making Celia uncomfortable and not ready for that sort of commitment. I’ve seen that over and over again, and it’s disappointing to see it here because, for all its faults, Blunt Talk’s originality with its characters has been its propeller and the thing that makes it worth watching. A much more interesting move would have been to see Celia accept his love and see how the two continue with Celia finally airing all her dirty laundry. They’re such a weird and great pairing, I think the show could get a lot of run out of keeping them together and I’d love to see their ups and downs continue.
Jacki Weaver is also wasted in the episode as her Rosalie floats from room to room providing boring jargon about Walter’s business affairs. She’s allowed one moment of interesting dialogue when teaching the increasingly dumber Celia about relationships and what to expect from men. But I definitely expected us to see more of how Rosalie has been coping with her husband Teddy’s demise. Her relationship in season one with Martin was honest and unique, and it would be great to see her back in an active role with another character. Let’s hope as the season progresses she’s given more.
The other characters meanwhile are stuck at the office whole time with little to do but watch the porno spoof of Blunt Talk that Walter’s neighbor Ronnie (played by the always funny Brett Gelman,) has made and sold on the international market. Everyone’s reactions to the video are spot on, but they feel trite in an episode where we should be focusing on Walter’s love affair and the impending mystery of Cornelia’s disappearance. Even stranger though is the involvement of Herschel, the man who thinks Walter is his AA sponsor and after failing to contact him relapses and loses his home. I know we’re setting up for a situation where Herschel lives with Walter and Harry, and I’m actually looking forward to that, but the way he’s introduced here was clumsy and his overall involvement felt forced and unnatural.
This definitely isn’t the episode to show friends if you’re trying to sell them on the show. To be honest I’m a bit worried the show has become too uneven between its comedy and emotional side, but I’m holding out for a rebound in episode three now that Cornelia has disappeared, and I’d expect the episode to find its center of gravity and focus primarily around that and more importantly, exposing Walter’s need for love and how that informs all his relationships.
Season 2, Episode 2 (S02E02)
Blunt Talk airs Sundays at 830PM on Starz
Greg Brecher | Contributor