Sorry I missed last week, what with real-life obligations and being sick, but I caught up on both episodes last night, so here you go…
Episode 3, “Olympics”
Women’s archery has come to the Olympics, and the high-society men of… wherever Bellacourt Manor is located are having none of it. They are led by Lillian’s ex-husband Victor (making his first appearance of the season), joined by hey-I-know-you guest stars such as Erik Charles Nielsen and Samm Levine. The parallels to our time are obvious but no less effective, particularly when Victor decries archery as the last safe space for men and then goes on to list a number of other male-exclusive spaces (including Congress).
Lillian decides to compete in the archery event once she realizes the Olympics can make her famous. As she puts it, “All women have to learn archery when we’re young. It teaches the three tenets of womanhood: silence, standing still, and crushing boredom.” Victor decides to lead a campaign of harassment to drive the women from competing; this includes leaking one woman’s bordello photos, and throwing a brick through another’s window with the message “The next one is going up your uterus.”
Meanwhile, Victor’s nephew Adolf is visiting from Austria, and while it becomes obvious who this child is pretty quickly, it’s actually pretty funny to see him portrayed as a sensitive artist-type of child, particularly as regards the disdain the grotesque characters who inhabit and hang around Bellacourt Manor regard that type of person with. (His first line is “Uncle Victor, do you ever feel the beauty of the world is so intense, that your heart will explode in his chest?”)
While off painting, young Adolf Hitler smells some delicious food, and stumbles upon Dr. Goldberg and Hamish enjoying a Shabbat dinner. They invite Adolf to join them, and he seems to be enjoying himself, even as their line of conversation goes to the disturbing (and hilariously meta) “Who would you kill if you could go back in time?” (They both answer “Marco Polo”, while Adolf wouldn’t kill anybody, because taking a human life is like destroying art.) Adolf then shows him his drawings, and they mock them for being terrible. And Adolf’s “I hate you” sounds a lot like “I hate Jew” in his accent.
Victor is confident he can break Lillian, but of course she’s not going to go so easily. Lillian is the only competitor to stick around until the final, and the competition is briefly cancelled (because, as Thomas Lennon’s Marquis de Sainsbury puts it, you can’t have a competition with one person). So Helen Keller, who has showed up in solidarity with this newly broken ground in the feminist struggle, enters as well. She misses all her targets badly. Victor, in his desperation, throws himself in front of the archery target, daring Lillian to shoot him if she wants to advance. This is the easiest decision ever for Lillian, and he quickly jumps aside after she fires. Lillian is excited to win the gold until she’s told that this was just the preliminary round for the actual games in St. Louis. Lillian wouldn’t be caught dead in a rail-over state, so she declines. Thus, Helen Keller advances instead. She fires an arrow in celebration and it hits Adolf in the nuts.
Meanwhile, Frederick’s wife Celery discovers a birth certificate that indicates he’s adopted, meaning his affair with Beatrice isn’t incestuous, just regular adultery. (Celery: “Everyone in Washington cheats on their wives and vice-versa!” Frederick: “What?”) He tells Beatrice this, excited that they can get back to having sex, but somehow, the spark is gone for her. Of course, they first think this is because they’re no longer brother and sister. Frederick confronts Dodo over this, and she affirms that she gave birth to Frederick. (“Don’t you remember?” “…No.”) It’s revealed in a talking head that Celery forged the birth certificate, so Frederick goes to bring the news to Beatrice… only for her to find the spark is still gone. They look for where they lost it, and it’s then Beatrice realizes: She lost interest when Frederick blamed her for their incestuous relationship and had her sent to a nunnery. You go, Beatrice!
Episode 4, “The Love Boat”
Hortense has recruited a couple of her hangers-on to help her with a meteorological experiment (Abortion Deb recurs; I’m not sure who the other one was, maybe Cornetta?) but they quit when she decides to take credit as the lead researcher. She recruits Lillian and Beatrice to help her, and they of course mock her, only to change course when they realize that the visiting weather scientist, Juan Pablo el Castillo from Barcelona, is super hot. This leads to a scene where Hortense’s attempt to harness lightning gives way to Beatrice and Lillian fighting over Juan Pablo, leading first to Hortense accidentally whacking him in the head with a lightning rod… only for him to revive, but unfortunately grab the lightning rod at the wrong time and be electrocuted.
The Bellacourt sisters recruit Hamish to help them dispose of the body and cover up the crime (Hortense is nervous about this; Lillian has clearly done this before), and his solution is to dump it in Frederick’s bed. Jon Daly and Will Sasso return as the policemen and coerce a confession out of Frederick.
Meanwhile, Dodo is feeling bored with life after morphine, so she books a pleasure cruise, taking along Peepers. The same storm that Hortense tries to harness tosses around the boat, leading to some unexpected intimacy between Dodo and Peepers. Peepers follows this up by being much too forward and casual with Dodo, discussing wedding plans and if the daughters will learn to love him as a father. Cue Dodo telling him she wants to keep it casual, and later dismissing Peepers when he’s not needed. A heartbroken Peepers decides to leave Bellacourt Manor, appointing Garfield head butler.
Dodo’s return from the cruise dovetails with the other story nicely, as she confronts Frederick over his murder confession, and of course he admits he didn’t do it, and he doesn’t know why he said he did. Cue Juan Pablo entering the room, unbelievably still alive. Beatrice: “I told his heart, beat once for alive, twice for dead, and it beat twice!”
This one wasn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as the other one, although we did get some hilarious moments, particularly with Peepers and Dodo’s lovemaking. If I was giving grades, I’d go with A- for “Olympics” and B+ for “The Love Boat.”
- I wasn’t sure exactly what year the show was set, but if these were the trials for the St. Louis Olympics, that would put us in 1904. (Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if events from other episodes completely contradicted that.)
- Victor vomiting in disgust upon seeing a woman fire a bow is a nice touch, as is his pathetic attempt to upstage the women at archery.
- Frederick suggests role play with Beatrice, and they reverse roles, with her playing him and vice versa. There’s also some great physical comedy in the way they paw at each other in extended takes.
- Frederick: “I just don’t understand how my behavior and your desire to have sex with me are at all related.”
- The tag has Beatrice and Frederick in a crib, with the former unsatisfied: “Blanche! Finish me off!” Cue Blanche entering the scene with a feather, and Beatrice making some noises that are, uh, unique.
- Beatrice to Hortense: “Are you almost done with this room? Mayor Cutie wants to take a shit in here!”
- Lillian is poorly dressed for the rainstorm: “I’m not wearing rain gear, I’m trying to fuck.” Also, she calls Juan Pablo “Biblioteca Gracias.”
- Peepers advises against Dodo exploring the great outdoors. “I think even the lesser outdoors would kill you.”
- Marc Evan Jackson, taking a break from his roles as Shawn and Kevin Cosner, is the boat captain.
- The foreplay between Dodo and Peepers, where the former wants to be ordered around and has to order the latter to do it, is a highlight of the episode.
- Also, Peepers apparently is bleeding afterward because it was his first time. That’s not how that works.
- The tag has Peepers in a variety of ridiculous boudoir poses on the boat, a naked-under-the-covers Dodo perplexedly watching.
What did everyone else think?