This show keeps getting better and better. I thought this week- "Push Comes To Shove"- was a tour de force for Reese Witherspoon, and maybe for Nicole Kidman too. They are just killing it on this show. They are taking these characters and just inhabiting them so well. I loved Madeline in the book, with her trademark wit and snark, but at the same time she's vulnerable- and Reese is just owning that. She gets that character. But it's not just Reese. Everyone on this show is gelling right now.
In many ways Monterey is a character of its own. Every week we start with the view over the coast and the Bixby Creek bridge, and this week is no exception. Madeline is listening to "This Feeling" by Alabama Shakes as she drives to a meeting with Nathan, her ex. The topic is of course Abigail, who has gone to live with Nathan and Bonnie. This encounter sets the tone for an amazing episode as Madeline and Nathan spar over the idea of having a couples' dinner together, to discuss the "parenting paradigm" re: Abigail. Nathan of course is not as clever as he thinks, mispronouncing the word chasm as chazum for crying out loud. Between this and Ed's later encounter with Bonnie at her studio, am I the only one who thinks this couples' dinner is, um, not a great idea?
The other big thing happening here is the controversy over the Avenue Q play. Renata Klein of course is trying to stop it, in no small part due to her antipathy for Madeline, and she appears to have the mayor in her corner. But Madeline has a trump card- Celeste. So many things cascade from Celeste's choice to get involved. She discovers she misses working, which sets off Perry the abusive husband, and she puts Renata in her place and appears to convince the mayor that it's not in his legal (or political) best interests to oppose the play.
"I mean, I think what draws a lot of people to Monterey is its progressiveness" and "I don't think we want to become synonymous with suppression and prior restraint."
Nicely done, and afterwards Madeline and Celeste share a moment. Maybe my favorite of the episode, where Celeste admits that being a mother isn't enough, she wants more. And Madeline agrees, honking her horn multiple times and screaming "I want more!" Even the director of the episode mentioned in the aftershow how amazing that scene was from his perspective. Like I said, they're killing it.
But... the consequences. Perry gets rough yet again - seriously this guy has a problem- but Celeste is part of the problem. They have a weird dynamic where he frightens her, hurts her- but it seems to turn her on too, in a twisted way. There's more to this story. But they are headed for a clash as she wants to go back to lawyering, and he wants nothing of the kind. And Madeline somehow finds (or thinks she finds) the guy who hurt Jane, so the question becomes what will Jane do? Between the hints of her going to look him up, and her target practice at a gun range, they seem to be hinting at trouble to come. But maybe because I've read the book I think that's misdirection- I think the problem is closer to home?
The other big news here. Madeline had an affair with the theater guy a year ago? Apparently there are feelings there, as he kisses her and she doesn't exactly... resist. As she tells Celeste "I mean, I might have kissed him back. It was like a reflex, you know? Somebody kisses you, you kiss them back." Oh, and "I might have grabbed his ass, I don't know."
"Stick that up your tight ass, bitch," courtesy of Madeline after Celeste's performance with the mayor.
Trivia night is apparently a thing. Madeline comes home to find Ed in Elvis mode and practicing. And our usual chorus of witnesses chime in.
"They came to Trivia Night with their game faces on."
"We're talking about viciously competitive people."
Is Ziggy being bullied also?