Bored to Death
Season 2, Episode 5
The team behind Bored to Death is certainly having fun—but, in the same way I wish it of the central characters, I wish the show would take itself a little more seriously. Maybe I’m missing the point, especially if the point is simply to send up popular NYC stereotypes—poking fun at them while demonstrating that most clichés, especially the ones well worn, possess some element of truth. This week, we have overreacting stroller derby Brooklyn moms, down-and-out Indian limo drivers, six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and the ringing death knell of print journalism.
Jonathan is hired by a beautiful Indian woman, Lakshmi Bargava, who suspects her husband of cheating: He’s been coming home late at night reeking of bacon. It turns out he’s been laid off from his job and unable to find new work, so he passes the time at a diner working on his poetry. As usual, Jonathan is more interested in identifying with the people he encounters in his detective work (another writer for a second week in a row) than he is in properly doing his job. Presuming that Lakshmi will be relieved that her husband is not having an affair, he encourages Vikram to tell his wife the truth. Not at all surprisingly, Lakshmi is far from placated and tells Vikram to take a hike.
Kevin Bacon wants to option and star in an adaptation of the “Super Ray” comic—assuming a fat suit is provided. After the recently jilted Jennifer Gladwell (Kristen Wiig) interrupts Ray and Kevin’s meeting with accusations of invented STDs (“oral Chlamydia of the mouth”) and assault, Ray accidentally clocks Bacon and tells him that he’s not Super Ray material. Kristen Wiig struggles with dialogue that is beneath her comedic ability, but at least she gets to have a drink with Kevin Bacon—just as long as they can get out of Brooklyn, because “it’s just not as cool” as he thought it would be.
The show has done a great job of demonstrating George’s bafflement when realizing that he’s not exempt from life’s more pedestrian challenges—bed bugs, drug tests, and, this week, the cancellation of his beloved column—just as he has finished penning what he believes to be his best yet. After delivering a bleak monologue to Jonathan’s class, the two of them hop in George’s orange Mercedes and interrupt Vikram’s attempt to hold up the diner. When George—who believes he is addicted to pot and probably shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel—offers Vikram a job as his driver, he readily accepts and they narrowly escape a police pursuit.
Although I don’t quite understand Zoe Kazan’s indie leading lady appeal, here she is again as hot-for-teacher student Nina, who could get Jonathan into hot water (from which he will surely emerge unscathed).
Season 1, Episode 6: “Family Limitations”
Margaret Schroeder is officially a kept woman: Nucky has made her an offer she can’t refuse. Although she does pantomime a perfunctory soul search for a hot minute—asking Mrs. McGarry for advice on how to respond to the indecent proposal—she’s seen dollar signs in Nucky’s eyes since the start. While Margaret and Nucky were genuinely drawn to each other from their first meeting, this new arrangement is a business transaction above all else. In exchange for providing for her family, Nucky can keep an eye on her—and as long as Margaret is dependent on him, any watchdog shenanigans (like ratting out the green beer bootleggers in last week’s episode) will have serious consequences. Nucky’s got her in his pocket along with just about everyone else in Atlantic City, and her early taste of life as a concubine is a bitter one: Nucky stands her up just before she learns that she’s essentially living in a dormitory full of Atlantic City’s well-appointed mistresses. (In case anyone was wondering what she was doing with the Lysol: That was douching as birth control).
With Margaret safely tucked away, Nucky directs his attention to punishing whomever is responsible for ripping off one of his collectors at the start of the episode. Nucky wrongly suspects Lucky Luciano, who laughs off Nucky’s ineffectual power play. Lucky’s been ignoring his assignment to take out Jimmy Darmody, preferring instead the intimate company of Jillian Darmody, who he claims is the first woman to put “lead in his pencil” in years. Arnold Rothstein, impatient with the delay, disabuses Lucky of the notion that she is Darmody’s wife, but the look on Lucky’s face is one more of bemusement than rage.
In Chicago, Jimmy and Al Capone uneasily navigate their deepening alliance, with Capone playing the insecure, unhinged yardbird to Jimmy’s slick and steady tactician. Capone earns Jimmy’s sympathy (or is it pity?) when Jimmy learns that Al’s son is deaf, and the two rattle each other about their respective tours of duty (Jimmy’s all too real, Al’s grossly exaggerated). Jimmy gets all the credit for the elaborately staged execution of Charlie Sheridan and his Irish gang, which avenges Pearl’s tragic face-slashing and positions Johnny Torrio’s crew as the unrivaled lords of Greektown.
In case there was any question that Agent Van Alden is a creepy, sexually repressed ticking time bomb, the episode’s final self-flagellation scene sealed it. For more reasons than one, we really didn’t need to see that.