[For Transparent “Grey Green Brown & Copper” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Grey Green Brown & Copper Maura has a love connection and reconciles her past; Ali discusses her future with Leslie, Josh seeks a father’s love in Buzz; Sarah ties up loose ends.

The season two finale episode of Transparent brings us to the other side of the Pfefferman life transitions with each the characters looking at life in a new way now. Josh deals with his buried feelings and finally finds a comfortable place to fall apart and get the empathy he needs. Ali brings together the past and present Pfeffermans and gets ready to move forward with a greater understanding of both. Sarah finds solace in a new weekly practice and begins to make peace with her past. Maura, meanwhile, finally visits her mother and introduces her true self only to find she’s accepted and had nothing to fear.

“Grey Green Brown & Copper” draws its title from a phase of the Pfefferman pool back when the three siblings were kids and going through that transitional period of tweens and adolescence on their way adulthood. Their family’s changes back parallel it’s current transition. What we mainly learn in season two is that it’s one thing to become an adult and quite another to actually grow up. For the Pfeffermans, as for most people, the latter transition serves as more challenging but at least the trio of siblings had each other. We especially feel their bond as they play tea party underwater in the pool. Water also reconciles the bond between Maura and her mother when in the last scene they watch the ocean tide together.

The episode opens on Vicki in a hotel room with Maura. She’s discussing her breast cancer and double mastectomy but her secure attitude reveals she’s over it at this point. Maura then asks if she’s comfortable sharing a room and Vicki says yes and that she’s NATO, not attached to outcome. Then they spoon on one of the double beds and fall asleep cuddling. When they awaken in the morning they smooch tenderly and then Vicki straddles Maura. The two have mind-blowing sex before Vicki collapses into Maura’s arms and they’re happy together. The couple then go to breakfast at a diner and Maura talks about visiting her mother. She feels terrible that it’s been three years since seeing her and decides it’s time to visit Rose.

In the next scene we see a flashback to melancholy Rose and her mother traveling by ship to America. Her mother hands her a large block of chocolate which Rose breaks open to find the pearl ring Gittel gave her inside. We know from the events of season two that this ring will always represent Gittel to Rose and is thus much more meaningful than just a pretty Pfefferman family heirloom.

Next we see Sarah and Ali swimming in the pool at Maura’s house, where Josh still lives, though alone now that Raquel moved out. It’s early morning and he wakes up, makes breakfast and, when he hears them splashing, joins his sisters. They swim and talk about how everything changed for their family one particular summer when they were kids and they suddenly stopped swimming in the pool. Apparently the pool guy quit that summer and then the pool filled with leaves for two years because nobody would scoop it. The bottom got all “Grey, Green, Brown and Copper” so much so that they could have gone sliding across it like a backyard slip n’ slide. But instead they avoided the pool and stopped hanging out together in the way they are right now. Then Sarah says she’s thinking about exploring her spiritual mojo but Josh tells her she can’t go to Raquel for that. After their swim and showering the three of them snuggle up next to each other in Josh’s bed to watch dumb TV. They talk about how it’s the first time in adulthood they’re all single at the same time. It brings them together in a way they haven’t been since the onset of Transparent. There’s real love in that bed. Then Ali sees the pearl ring on Josh’s nightstand and asks if she can have it. He’s happy to give it to her and she immediately puts it on a necklace around her neck. After this deep triad sibling connection scene the three Pfefferman kids each make a symbolic visit to someone significant in their personal story.

Ali goes to UCLA looking hot in a polka dot halter dress, the pearl ring around her neck, and glowing with newfound confidence. She visits Leslie who offers her a choice. Ali can either spend the next year as her student and teaching assistant or she can be her girlfriend but can’t be both. It’s up to her. Next we see Ali on a train with Maura apologizing for what happened at Idylwild. Then she says she’s thinking about studying with Leslie in the Fall and so we see where her choice regarding Leslie seems to be leaning. They go together to visit Rose and Maura’s nervous that her mother will be seeing her as a woman for the first time. When they finally get to Rose, Maura holds her hand and says, “It’s Morty but they call me Maura now,” and (just Maura’s luck) right then her sister Bri enters the room. But she doesn’t say anything and a silent moment passes between all of them as Rose notices the pearl ring hanging from Ali’s neck and takes it into her hand. She clearly recognizes it, a big deal because she’s had dementia for a long while. This brings them together in unified love for Rose because all are so happy just to see her experience a real connected moment with them.

Sarah visits Pony, whom she met at Idylwild and gets a paddle spanking that makes her smile and wriggle with delight. Then she pays using a credit card Pony swipes on her iPhone and they agree to meet again next week. Afterward Sarah visits Len, her ex husband and tries to make amends by giving him a brand new $485 eyeshadow palette just like the one she ruined and lifted from his girlfriend, Melanie. But Len asks if she’s got a gift receipt because Melanie left him. Sarah comforts Len and tells him she’s sorry and that Melanie’s wrong about Len “being boring”. It’s clear Sarah really means it. But then Sarah goes against Josh’s wishes and visits Raquel to ask if she has a minute to talk.

Speaking of Josh, he visits Buzz and they have a long talk over beers. Then Josh hears a sick duck and goes to it’s side. Buzz shows Josh how to help the duck by wrapping it in Josh’s jacket. and having Josh carry it on his shoulder like a baby into the condo where they fill a bathtub so it can swim and heal. They looking at the duck together and Josh confides that nothing’s adding up in his life. Buzz says he’s grieving the loss of his father. “Josh, your father died,” he explains and that it’s time mourn the loss. Buzz offers his shoulder for Josh and he weeps. It helps him. Josh has finally found his soft place to fall and maybe even a father figure to boot.

Then we revisit Rose and her mother in Los Angeles 1934. They track down the father who abandoned them in Berlin and their worst fears are realized. He’s remarried and has a new child. It’s evident that he had no intention of sending for them. In fact, he nastily accuses Rose’s mother, his “real” wife of being a failure because she couldn’t get Gershon to come with them. Then he tries to bribe Rose with offers of a book from a nearby shop, “You like to read, don’t you?”. The whole debacle sickens the two of them, along with us. They spit in his doorway on the way out. It might seem petty if he didn’t deserve worse.

In the last scene Maura, Ali, and Bri take Rose to the beach to look at the ocean and we see a flashback of when Maura was born. Rose’s mother worries in the waiting room and Rose’s husband keeps telling her to stop fretting. He’s got it all figured out. She says Rose didn’t even pick a name yet and he says that’s no problem because he already picked a name, Faye Pfefferman. Sounds like a movie star. She says what if it’s not a girl? And he says he knows it is because a father knows these things. Then Maura gets born and the doctor holds her up and says, “Congratulations, it’s a boy”. The last shot is of Maura’s happy face as she stands beside her mother and looks out at the ocean expanse before them. Her future is as limitless as the beautiful blue sea. We’re all pulling for you, Maura, and hoping you always feel beautiful while less and less blue.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Man on the Land” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Man on the Land Maura has a rude awakening; Sarah experiences liberation; Ali finds herself on a journey to the past.

The next-to-last Transparent episode “Man on the Land” revolves around the notions of danger and rescue. It’s not always the case that “we’re in danger because we knowingly pursued it” is the basic idea, but we can be rescued either way. The main example of danger at the Idylwild Festival for Womyn turns out to be Maura, who represents a reluctant rebel, though Ali and Sarah have their own individual experiences with danger as well. The Pfefferman three also have a sort of rescue and liberation event that changes each of them in a meaningful way.

In the first scene Maura, Ali, and Sarah enter the Idylwild Womyns Music Festival where Ali and Sarah feel immediately at home among the naked ladies, hippies, and womynkind of all sorts. They dance to the Indigo Girls singing Hammer and Nail and then settle down to some less-than-appetizing nutloaf for lunch. Next Ali and Sarah pursue each of their respective goals; Ali to hear Leslie read her poetry and Sarah to explore her intentions in a tent with “Chief Crying Bear”. Maura then investigates the Idylwild market and meets Vicki (the intriguing Anjelica Huston) while shopping for owl feather earrings. Vicki’s a cheese monger from Larchmont who assumes Maura’s a rebel because she’s at the festival where the policy is “women born women only”. Little does Vicki know that Maura’s pretty much the opposite of a rebel and the minute she finds this out her heart starts a-thumping and terror zips through Maura’s mouse-in-a-cathouse veins.

Meanwhile Ali meets up with Leslie and they each announce they’re now single before Leslie finds out Ali took Maura to the festival and notifies her of the festival policy about “women born women only”. Ali registers immediately that she should track down Maura and Leslie asks if she can come along to help. Cue the sensual intrigue background grooves, baby. They put a note on a festival billboard telling Maura to meet them at the Sojourner Camp because Leslie says “There are lots of contraband hotdogs over there”. On the other side of the festival Sarah enters Crying Bear’s tent for the funniest part of this episode – Chief Crying Bear explains what the intentions tent is all about with a thick long island accent. “Some of you are here to mourn your murdered femininity. Some of you I know from my Drumming Away Racism group. We’re gonna go on a journey now where you’ll experience deep emotions; laughter and uncontrollable weeping is not uncommon…” Sarah excuses herself at that point muttering that she has the wrong tent. Then she sees a woman leading another on a leash and spanking her with a paddle. This mesmerizes Sarah and she follows them as if on a rein made of her deepest desires.

Waiting in line at the port-o-potty Maura gets a firsthand glimpse of the “women born women only” policy when the cleanup crew comes to take away the sewage from the potties and women around her start chanting, “Man on the Land,” in a strident manner that unnerves Maura. She asks someone about it and they explain that “it’s a penis alert so nobody gets triggered,” which sends Maura away from the potties in a panic. She finds Ali’s billboard note about Camp Sojourner and starts asking peeps where it is but nobody seems to know. Then the scene shifts to intercuts between an increasingly panicked searching Maura and an intrigued, glowing Sarah in pursuit of the woman with the paddle. Sarah eventually meets this mystery woman, Pony, and asks her about the whole leash dynamic. Pony explains that it’s a “play scene of consensual power exchange” and that was her “naughty doggy,” to which Sarah replies, “Woof”. Then she gets down and dirty with the spankings …nowhere near Camp Sojourner.

The sun goes down on Idylwild and Maura finally finds Ali at Camp Sojourner where she’s sits with Leslie and a group of the extremists who hold the “women born women only” policy particularly dear to their hearts. Some of them are even founders of the festival who chopped the trees and plowed the fields to clear the space for Idylwild. Maura says she wants to go but Leslie and Ali have her sit with them at the campfire to chill a bit first. Unfortunately this peaceful beginning quickly turns to discord when they discuss the policy and how penises are triggering because “we’ve all been raped” and they’re angry about Maura’s privilege. Yes, she suffered when a man but her pain and privilege are separate entities, they explain. So, Maura gets upset and leaves in a huff.

Ali picks up a lantern and heads out to find her Moppa while Maura investigates tents looking for the one Ali and Sarah took to sleep in while at Idylwild. But she gets more and more irritated by the entire affair as she fails tent after tent. Finally Maura gets loopy with the frustration at all of it and starts dancing around, tearing down tents, and singing the words “Man on the Land” until finally Vicki, whom she met at the owl earring booth, drives over to her and picks up Maura to take her away from Idylwild. She’s rescued. But really, it seems like Maura is saved from herself more than any real danger. Meanwhile Ali has a stoned experience that shifts her into the past. As she searches for her Moppa in the woods her feet are suddenly in the “Jew shoes” she talked about in her grad school application. During wartime female Jews were made to wear these ugly red and white shoes with bells on them so they could be heard coming from far away. Then Ali sees Rose and Gittel’s mother walking near her in the forest. Next we’re transported back to the 1933 Sex Institute where Nazis break down the doors, burn the research books, and hurt many of the members. Ali also sees this and stands by the bonfire of the Institute’s books where she holds Rose’s hand and together they watch as Nazis drag Gittel away. They cry. Afterward Ali seeks solace smooching with Leslie in the tent.

The danger represented in this episode isn’t real in the present day, though it certainly is for Gittel in 1933, something that, though it happened long ago, still touches this family today. Perhaps it’s this touchstone that puts the terror into Maura and brings her so much anxiety about not being welcome at Idylwild. Though it does seem likely that as a former member of the privileged group (men) this new feeling of being in the unwelcome category could have triggered her anxiety gene from the Epigenetics we learned about in the Cherry Blossom episode. No matter, though, Vicki rescues Maura in the end and she’s freed from danger, real or imagined. We know Sarah’s not in any real danger and that for her the danger titillates rather than terrifies. Her rescue comes when Sarah finally finds a way to explore this particular thrill in a consensual way where she feels understand. Ali learns about the danger her family endured during the war when she sees Gittel taken away by the Nazis and holds hands with the terrified Rose, her own grandmother. This experience coupled with alienating and upsetting her Moppa represent an emotional danger zone for Ali who then finds rescue in Leslie’s arms. So, all three Pfefferman women experience an individual form of danger, largely in their heads, but then find a tangible and real life rescue in a connection with another person. Could it be a coincidence that each rescuer/hero in “Man on the Land” is a woman”? We think not.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Oscillate” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]


Amazon.com Summary: Rose and Gittel face an ultimatum; Maura keeps learning; Josh is reckless; and Ali and Sarah get ready for Idylwild.

In this recapper’s opinion “Oscillate” wins the award for best Transparent episode because it’s so hilarious, poignant, and powerful. The Pfefferman story shines through to reach us on a level beyond what’s come before. Part of this arises out of the oscillation theme. In physics to oscillate is to “vary in magnitude or position in a regular manner around a central point,” and that’s what happens in this episode. It begins with a trio of female Pfeffermans, one of them trans, in Berlin 1933 as they prepare for a journey that will forever change them. The episode then concludes with a trio of female Pfeffermans, one of them trans, in modern day LA as they head out on a similarly significant trip. The hilarity of this episode doesn’t take anything away from its emotional weight and impact, an incredible feat for a half hour comedy and done with masterful beauty and grace. Also, we learn a new word with this episode, the sublime concept “Limerence” which envelopes the infatuation stage of puppy love. It’s the feeling you’ll likely have for the Pfeffermans by the end of “Oscillate,” even if you already adored them.

The episode opens on 1933 Berlin when Gittel and Rose bring money to their mother for visas to bring them all to the United States and find the father that abandoned their family. Their mother personifies embittered as she hunches grumpily over her lonely bowl of stew. She can’t quite understand what’s going on with Gittel, so her now-daughter former-son explains that she’s a transvestite and what that means. At one point later in the convo, Gittel tells her she should give Berlin a chance, she might learn to like it. To this their mother replies, “I think it’s a fantastic city …if it wasn’t for all the Germans living in it,” and then she talks about how she’s afraid of the turnstiles at the train. She heard, “they’re breaking women’s pelvises. Did they hear about Sheila? She had to give birth through her face,” and then at a party later Gittel gives Rose the huge pearl ring which will eventually be passed down to the LA Pfeffermans.

Then the story shifts to modern day LA where Josh is pump-pump-pumpin’ it up at crossfit. He gets a baller van for his band Fussy Puss with the intention of driving them “as far away from LA as possible,” but trouble is he can’t handle the driving once he gets out on the highway. Josh has to pull over for a mini breakdown and drenches the lead singer’s baby doll dress with his road rage tears. His character is symbolic herein because back in 1933 Berlin yet another Pfefferman won’t get on the road. Gittel is unwilling to join her mother and Rose for the trip to America because she can’t leave the institute for sexual research. It all just means too much to her. She cares so deeply the institute and is caught up in living out her dream identity as Gittel, the woman, rather than Gershon – the name on her US Visa. Josh cant move on to the next step in his life either but in his case it’s because he’s caught up in grieving the past and can’t even imagine who he’ll be moving forward.

Meanwhile Ali is still BSing our beloved sweetpea, Carrie Brownstein about “it not being about other people,” but not wanting to be tied down. Yeah, OK, Ali. Now it’s over between you, dumbass. You don’t know how great you had it with adorable Syd. We think you’re a moron. She’s funny and kind and cuter than a baby bunny! Then Ali visits Leslie to drop off her graduate school application and finds out Leslie only likes twenty one year olds, at least according to a neighbor who seems to sort of live at Leslie’s.

Next we see Maura at the LA LGBT center signing up for volunteer work on the trauma helpline talking with suicidal teens. Then she tries to make peace with Davina who’s there doing yoga. Afterward she practices a hotline call with Shea at Sal’s kitchen table and seems like she has a lot to learn about comforting the suicidal. But then Shea shares how she often gets those feelings and has since high school. At this revelation Maura rises to the challenge and offers true comfort with warm, encouraging words that really help Shea and make her feel loved. So, Maura grows and connects with her trans sisters more and more as she starts to come into herself as a woman. Maura evolves in beautiful and moving ways when she connects with others. Shea tells Maura, “You’re such a good Mom,” and puts her head on Maura’s shoulder.

Then we see Ali and Sarah visit Shelly at her condo to find that it’s been completely transformed from a bitter ol’ hag’s den into a Malibu pleasure palace. Thanks to Buzz’s influence the condo now has a fancy Japanese toilet, plants, and a streamlined ease because Shelly tossed away everything that “didn’t bring her joy”. But it’s not just the condo that’s changed. Ali and Sarah don’t even recognize this sexually invigorated, enthusiastic, and plant-watering Shelly. She even cleaned the bathroom! This is when Sarah explains that Shelly is “in Limerence,” the first bloom of puppy love. It makes you clean grout, empty out your garage, and make margaritas all while beaming like a glorious blossom basking in the summer sun. The whole experience brings Ali and Sarah closer, much like how the meeting with their mother in the first scene bonds Gittel and Rose. Sarah and Ali decide to go to the Idylwild womyns music festival together now that Syd isn’t gonna go with Ali. So, they’re off to buy camping equipment and prep for their road trip into the forest. But first Maura comes for a visit and shows them how she got her re-gendered baby photos and the trio all sit together for a peek into childhood Maura. Maura says how she wishes she’d grown up a woman because then she’d be with her daughters at Idylwild… so they decide to bring her along.

The last scene captures Ali, Sarah, and Maura in the car on their way to the womyn’s festival. We hear the Indigo Girls on the car stereo singing “Closer to Fine” while Ali and Sarah belt out the lyrics banging their heads and having an amazing time. In the backseat Maura does her best to sing along and though she may not know all the words she’s certainly along for the ride and her interjections of lyrics are as truly hilarious as her giant bare feet propped in between Ali and Sarah. So, the female family trios of the past and today “Oscillate” around each life-altering journey as they attempt to understand each other while bringing us laughter and each other so much love that it can be felt through Pfefferman generations.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “The Book of Life” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
The Book of Life Yom Kippur brings atonement to the Pfeffermans as Sarah attempts an amends to Tammy, Maura struggles to communicate with Davina, and Josh tries to make peace with Raquel. This all culminates at Syd and Ali’s while they’re deep in a spiritual crisis of their own.

The wonder of “The Book of Life” is real, baby. This episode charges forth like fun electricity in a wire for many reasons. Numero uno is the remarkable and joyful addition of a new character the “Jewish Santa” Buzz, who Shelly falls for upon sight. Everyone who meets Buzz gets a similar love surge because he’s delightful, all heart, and just what the Pfeffermans need on this day of atonement. It’s Yom Kippur and that means they fast until sundown and make amends for wrongdoings as well. Then at the end of the day there’s a blessing and a big feast as all is forgiven. This forgiveness is signified by getting your name put into God’s “Book of Life” a sort of ginormous “Yellow Pages for those who atoned”. Your name in the book grants you another year alive so it’s a pretty major deal.

The Pfefferman Yom Kippur kicks off with Sarah at Tammy’s work attempting an apology. But it seems Tammy has entered the critical second stage of relationship grieving, Brutal Sarcasm, and Sarah’s sincerity falls on walking-away ears. The whole scenario puts Sarah in such a foul mood that she spends the rest of her fasting day toking it up with Doctor Pot and screwing him on the love seat in his office. Yes, he’s really a doctor with an office and everything. Then Sarah gets “too high” and a little flaky while he’s going down on her. She rants about how she wants all these things he’s not doing sexually, no offense. And Doctor Pot (probably because he’s Doctor Pothead) reacts with such a calm and chill affect that it’s clear he’s really not offended at all. He gets it that this is all about Sarah and her issues. Time for Dr. Pot to give up on the whole Sarah shebangs shebangs and time for Sarah to hit the Yom Kippur feast party Ali and Syd are throwing for the Pfeffermans.

Meanwhile Ali and Syd are at odds because Ali responds to Syd’s questions about her night with Leslie with queer theory textbook lingo instead of being real and talking like a partner. Syd says, “Listen to yourself. You’ve been queer for like thirty seconds,” but Ali isn’t listening because she’s on some weird “open brave” high brought on by her recent trek into lesbianism. Or maybe, more realistically, Ali’s just hot for teacher and can’t admit that she’s not really cut out to be a good girlfriend right now. Luckily, though, Ali easily hosts her family and Syd’s for a fantastic Yom Kippur feast, even giving a heartfelt blessing in Raquel’s absence.

Speaking of Raquel, Josh attends synagogue with Shelly and awkwardly approaches Raquel in her back office just to say his mom bought tickets in July and to warn her he’d be in the audience. Raquel’s deadpan with, “Duly noted,” so Josh’s nerves crank up a notch and he says he’s also just wondering where they stand and what to tell his family. Raquel replies, “We’re over,” and the great ship that was all of Josh’s love and hope floating and chugging along on a steamboat sea voyage sinks like a lead boulder. He’s done for the day. The irony here pounds like big bass drum because Josh is usually the happy sprite in the family while Shelly plays the bitter Betty role. But it’s Shelly’s turn to giggle all day because she meets the glorious Buzz at the synagogue door and becomes instantly smitten. He’s flirty and sweet, talking right to Shelly’s heart in exactly her language. It’s a dream come true for a battered old shrew.

Meanwhile Maura gets a taste of what it’s like to be a woman around Sal. He comes into her room early in the morning when she’s just waking up and makes plastic surgery recommendations for her transition. Sal says he’ll be happy to help with whatever she needs and then as he leaves adds, “Maura you still got some good years left,” in that patronizing tone every woman on earth has heard a zillion times. But it’s all new to Maura who’s indignant that Sal was “talking about her body”. Sal is pretty gross the way he talks to her but Maura doesn’t handle it gracefully either. She brings it up to Davina right away. Instead of focusing on herself and how she can learn to manage and maybe eschew this sort of nasty macho man talk about one’s private spaces, Maura goes on the offense and says Davina could do much better than Sal. Davina’s reaction wins the award for the best part of Maura’s episode storyline because Davina doesn’t play, baby. She knows who she is and takes no shit. If Maura doesn’t like Sal maybe she should find a new place to stay, Davina says. It really brings out the beauty in Davina to see her stand strong and tell it like it is. You gotta love her. Maura learns that her life may not match many of the transwomen she encounters but she still needs their support and friendship. So, it’s a whole new world for her, this transition, not just a whole new identity.

In the final phase of “The Book of Life” the Pfeffermans come together at Syd and Ali’s for the feast after fasting all day. Shelly and Buzz ride the elevator up to the apartment with Maura and it’s clear Shelly’s already quite taken with Buzz. She introduces him with a list of his accomplishments and says he used to be an astronaut. Then Buzz explains that, actually, he was merely an attorney for NASA on a single patent case… but he does own a rock from the moon. They all have a chuckle over that and then Buzz asks,”So, how do you gals know each other?” At the feast table Ali gives a spontaneous blessing preamble about “The Book of Life” which warms the cockles of all except, of course, the giggling stoned Sarah. When it’s then noted that Raquel isn’t there to do the blessing Buzz steps in and does it perfectly, further impressing the already adoring Shelly. At the third mention of Raquel’s absence, when people murmur that maybe Josh isn’t eating because he’s waiting for her, he makes an announcement. They broke up. The baby wasn’t viable. It’s over. His news hits the table like a deadbolt’s thick thud after a door slam. And then the wailing begins from the end of the table. Shelly weeps that it’s her fault for mentioning the baby and the evil eye at Sarah’s wedding. She killed the baby. She is bereft. This understandably pisses off Josh who’s like, “This isn’t about you,” but then Buzz activates his lovable Buzz powers to save the day. He puts his arm warmly around Shelly and says exactly what she needs to hear. “My mother was just like you with the kina horas and the evil eyes and the spit spit spit and you know what? It’s all just bullshit. Good stuff happens. Bad stuff happens,” he’s what this family needs in this moment. He really is the Jewish Santa Claus. Then Buzz tells her he’ll drive her home after dinner and that’s it for Shelly, she’s head over heels. A man her age who can drive at night? She’ll never let him go.

In the final scene Josh goes to a supermarket solo and starts crazy binging on the deli slices and bread in an out-of-control frenzy of self loathing reminiscent of Meredith Baxter Birney’s Lifetime Original bulimia movie. He shoves that food in faster than he can possibly chew. There’s no love in gluten, Josh – haven’t you heard?

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Bulnerable” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Bulnerable Ali seeks graduate application advice from Leslie; Josh unravels with more terrible news; Sarah explores sexual fantasies; and Maura helps Davina prepare for Sal’s return from prison.

After the requisite weepiness of the previous episode, “Mee Maw”, “Bulnerable” starts off with an emotional bang as Josh angrily confronts Shelly for knowing about Colton all these past seventeen years. But Shelly stays in poor-me-mode and neglects responsibility with, “I forgot,” and “I was all alone!” along with a number of other creative diversions from involvement in her own child and grandchild’s life. Sarah sits by watching and horrorstruck until she can stand it no longer and leaves to shower off the familiar residue of Pfefferman parental neglect.

Meanwhile Ali frets over her grad school admissions essay and decides to ask Leslie for advice. When she visits, Leslie’s home is like a trip into vaginaland. There are nude women covering every inch of her home in photos, paintings, sculptures, and even on the computer screen Leslie’s watching. Ali’s arrival interrupts her watching vintage lesbian porn as Leslie selects a background visual for her next poetry reading at the Idlewild Festival. When Leslie finally leaves the porn behind and focuses on Ali they drink wine, smoke pot, and flirt in a hot tub. You know, like you do at all your grad school interviews… But then there’s a startling shift when Ali says she’s thirty three and just came out as gay a few months ago. Leslie then slams the clam shut and asks if Ali has met her cats. She’s suddenly exhausted and ready to go to bed, alone. Ali’s only consolation is that she’s got cats all over her on the couch to keep her warm through the night. But before you get all sad for Ali keep in mind that Syd’s waiting at home for her; all wrapped up like cutest Carrie Browstein burrito you can imagine and as clueless as a girlfriend can be about what Ali’s doing right now.

Josh and Raquel contend with real challenges when they visit the doctor because Raquel has hives and finds out she’s lost the baby. Afterward she wants to try again right away and Josh is hesitant, saying he wants to just take a breath and wait a bit. Given that this is literally the day after Colton just left, his reaction isn’t exactly a stunner. But it does, understandably, crush Raquel who wants a baby with her fiancé, not such an unusual request from someone who seemed pregnant only hours before anyway. But Josh is certain he wants to wait. In fact, that night he goes out to a party and gets trashed celebrating the new Fussy Puss album and a plan with his production partner to create their very own label. High and happy Josh stumbles home late that night to find that Raquel has left and seems unlikely to return. She left his family heirloom ring in the middle of their bed and took all her shit. Sigh. Oh, Joshy, baby. It’s back to the drawing board of love for you.

Sarah does her best to lift herself out of lonely loveless doldrums with a visit to Doctor Pot at his apartment. She yelps them some delivery and they promptly get down to sexytime mood solutions. Oh yeah. Sarah tells him about her Mr. Irons fantasy and he agrees to play the role of disciplinarian. Dr. Pot starts off awkward, though, with an unfortunate use of Julia Child’s voice. And if that scene doesn’t send you off the couch in fits of laughter… perhaps nothing ever will. You’re dead inside, dude. Dr. Pot’s hilarious inflection then shifts Sarah’s attention to notice her phone ringing and she makes the classic mistake of answering her mother’s call. Turns out Shelly, who’s babysitting Sarah’s kids, is losing her shit on the job. Sarah has to get home and mother her mother, who never was much of one anyway. Once there Sarah asks Shelly why she offers to babysit when she hates it so much (not to mention how terrible she is at it) to which Shelly snarks, “Because all my friends do it for their grandkids,” then she blubbers and breaks down. Shelly tells Sarah that Maura left her and this she’s now alone again. It’s pity party time as Shelly rests her head first on Sarah’s cold shoulder and then her lap. All Sarah can do is sip her white wine and wish she were somewhere else, preferably with a guy that has a huge bong, or dong, or both.

Maura experiences her own brand of loneliness in “Bulnerable” as she helps Davina prepare for Sal’s release from prison. They all live in Sal’s house, after all so the trio want him to feel welcomed home and make him a lasagne with Shea’s help. They layer noodles, cheese, sauce, and basil while they talk about T blockers (“T” for testosterone) and the residual effects Maura may experience. Through this conversation we find out that Davina prefers not to use T blockers because she still likes to get regular erections – especially now that Sal’s going to be back in the saddle. So, the three of them represent three different stages of transgender. Shea transitioned completely and has a fully functional vagina, Davina has breasts and many feminine features but retains a functioning penis, and Maura is working toward something between these two states.

When Davina returns with Sal they’ve already eaten chicken in a bucket and just want to go upstairs for some quality nookie time so the thank yous and your welcomes with Shea and Maura are brief. “That was abrupt,” says Shea. Then in the last scene of “Bulnerable” Maura joins Sal and Davina for a bit of TV in the living room and they talk about love and sexual preferences. Sal declares himself “trans amorous,” a term Shea introduced a few episodes ago and Maura says she “loves women and always has,” which we sort of already knew but it’s nice to have it completely clear and out on the table like this. An interesting aspect of all this dialogue between them is that we start to see signs that although Maura wants to be a woman and dearly loves them, she doesn’t particularly like being treated like one. She’s not accustomed to it, for one. It seems like maybe Maura thought the recent treatment she’s endured was entirely because she’s trans. But she’s now realizing that women are indeed treated differently from men, trans or not. In the last shot of the episode Maura turns off the light all alone as the soft tones of Davina and Sal’s sweet lovey dovey whispers in the next room echo through her.

“Bulnerable” feels like the longing of unrequited love the whole way through. It’s an episode about wanting what we can’t have and some of the ways that plays out. Sarah’s got it up the wazoo with mother issues and a lustful desire for discipline. While Ali just seems to want she can’t have (Leslie) mainly because it’s unattainable. Having Leslie would also put her in the “youthful” category and we know from season one that Ali doesn’t want to grow up. Josh and Raquel were both longing for a unified family only one episode ago. But Raquel just turned away Colton and so now it’s Josh who turns away from a new baby and they are thus back to back in the present – walking away from each other and pointed in opposite directions of longing. And then there’s Maura, longing to be a woman while floating between worlds. This is why it’s her process is called transitioning. She’s in transition and learns about all the different ways she could go through the choices and preferences of her new friends. It’s a whirlwind and right there at the center of the beautiful storm is the love her friend Davina has with Sal. It’s not exactly the kind of love Maura wants but love is love and Maura longs for it. We’re all the same, after all, no matter what state we’re in. All of us are just looking for love. In other words, “Bulnerable”.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Mee Maw” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Mee Maw Maura re-imagines her past, Colton’s adoptive family visits, Josh faces a tough decision, and Sarah tries to change.

Season two of Transparent engages episode after episode of “this changes everything” events and none more so that this game changer: “Mee Maw”. We’re right in the middle of the season and the Pfeffermans are going through major changes. Sarah and Ali head down a collision course with comical characters, including each other. Meanwhile Maura and Josh confront their deepest fears and end up with life-altering choices. The story ends up in a completely altered world from where it began with an unknown road ahead.

The episode opens as Ali and Sarah get nude massages at a spa and talk about what it means to be a lesbian. The convo ends when Ali says she can’t have emotional intimacy with someone who hasn’t suffered under patriarchy and Sarah concludes Ali must be a lesbian because she herself couldn’t care less about patriarchy. So, Sarah’s clearly questioning whether she’s gay at this point. Later in the episode she says, “What does it mean to be gay, really?” so this is where her mind circles through the episode. In the next scene Colton awakens Josh and Raquel to tell them his adoptive parents are driving their mobile home here to meet them, in fact, they’ll be arriving today, in fact real soon. They can call his father Pastor Gene and his mother’s name is Blossie. Nervous tizzified Josh has Raquel wear a Pfefferman family heirloom ring as a place-holder for the upcoming engagement ring because, “these are conservative people,” and although Raquel hates the idea, she finally acquiesces to cool his jets. She also, rightly so, says why should we care what they think of us? “we’re good people and he’s lucky to stay with us”. Josh retorts that he thinks she means they’re lucky to have Colton. But both things can be true – no? It seems like a fight but doesn’t have to be.

Then the shit hits the fan fast when Pastor Gene and Blossie find out the Pfeffermans are Jewish. The condescending bite of their pathetic attempt at a polite reaction creates an uncrossable canyon right there in the living room between the two families. Blossie and Gene are each incredibly, unknowingly offensive in their own special way. But the crevasse just keeps getting bigger with the Pfeffermans as they then learn about Raquel’s pregnancy, insist that Rita be deeply involved in Colton’s life, and then accuse Josh of abandoning Colton. At this critical moment Maura (the Mee Maw referred to in this episode’s title) interrupts to confess that she and Shelly did indeed know about Rita’s pregnancy and, in fact, made a large donation to Pastor Gene’s church to pay Rita’s medical bills. Josh, having just found out about Colton a few weeks ago, dives into tailspin territory with Raquel in a back bedroom. He rants about how everything would be different in his life if only his parents hadn’t lied to him and Raquel responds that everything would have been different if Rita hadn’t molested him. This sets Josh off the rocker completely and he shrieks at her that he was in love with Rita and thus it wasn’t molestation. Again, he can’t see how both things could be true. He could have loved Rita AND the fact that he was a child at the time also made it molestation – which is the truth of the matter. But Raquel doesn’t have time to address this because Colton is at the door with a mind blowing question for Josh. It seems Pastor Gene and Blossie have fired up the Winnebago and want Colton to come back with them. So, he asks if he should go with them or stay. Josh’s tailspin now spirals into the Tazmanian Devil zone. He doesn’t know what to do. Colton gives him a moment to think it through and he asks Raquel what to do. She says this whole thing stresses her out and these feelings can’t be good for the baby.

Meanwhile Sarah attends the life coach session she won at the school gala auction in the “Cherry Blossoms” episode. But the flaky coach fills the session with irritating catchphrases and phony sincerity that bend the experience into an annoyance rather than inspiration for Sarah. So, afterward she calls up Josh’s pot dealer/doctor guy and gets some joints – like ya do. The doc has the hots for her and wants to get a drink with Sarah, even if she’s gay like Josh says but Sarah turns him down. Instead she gets high and eats a burger in her car, completely ignoring his advice about candles, pillows and listening to Sade in lotus position. Funny part is that the pot dealer doc probably helped and inspired Sarah about a hundred times more than the life coach ever could. Ali and Syd have playful and funny banter while Ali wears a strap-on, then they attend a Full Moon Ritual evening hosted by Leslie Mackinaw and her followers. Young ladies hang all over Leslie, blissed-out from toes to eyeballs. At one point Syd asks Leslie what she’s teaching and she says, “Well I don’t really teach. I talk about things that matter to me with people who are ready,” classic grad school non-hierarchical power structure rhetoric. But it doesn’t make it OK to sleep with your students, Leslie. No matter how much you believe your own BS.

As “Mee Maw” winds down Maura goes back to tell Shelly that she told Josh everything about Rita and the money they gave to the church seventeen years ago. Then when Shelly tries to turn it into the two of them bonding over schnapps and coffee Maura says she’s gotta go. “This isn’t working. We’re broken. You know that,” so, Shelly’s pissed about being rejected yet again. But no matter; Maura packs her stuff and goes.

Speaking of going, Colton stands by the Winnebago in the dark because it’s night now and asks Josh if he’s certain he really wants him to leave. “If you want me to stay just say so,” and everything in Colton’s eyes begs Josh to say so. It’s even clear Josh wants to say it. But the heartbreak wave peaks between them when Josh glances at Raquel in desperation and she merely looks down, immovable. Colton’s brother and sister sing a haunting hymn from inside the Winnebago –Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up… higher and higher… and he shall lift you up and the song fills the story, replacing dialogue between Josh and Raquel and revealing how truly humbled they are in that moment. Standing there in the dark is their goodbye to a whole life they’d been planning for a family that included beloved Colton. The poignance of this scene points to how all of us are at the mercy of circumstances and timing. Some things are out of our control no matter how hard we try. We see it in how no matter how good and generous and kind Colton was, it just wasn’t going to work. And the same holds true for Shelly and Maura. Shelly yells at Maura for making her feel like she’s not good enough but that’s not really the issue. No matter how wonderful Shelly was, it just wasn’t going to work out. Maura just realized it first is all. Look forward to more laughs in the next episode and hopefully you’ve got some tissues on hand in the meantime.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Cherry Blossoms” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Cherry Blossoms Josh bonds with Colton; Sarah feels more like an outsider; Ali and Syd visit Grandma Rose; Maura seeks autonomy.

The episode “Cherry Blossoms” blooms with Pfefferman shenanigans. They’re all crankypants McGees by its end and for good reason, there’s a lot awry in the Pfefferman world and it’s even starting to feel haunted. Josh and Raquel now must contend with Rita – a loony witchy ghost from Josh’s past. Sarah’s got Len and Tammy in her haunted house, and the ghost of Maura’s marriage is all up in her business every flipping minute. The episode’s title refers to a scientific study regarding ghosts in DNA. Recently the NY Times, and other publications, ran an article about a study done with rabbits who were shocked while smelling cherry blossoms. It turned out that they passed on that trauma to their children through DNA. The children and grandchildren of those shocked bunnies were all terrified of cherry blossoms even though they never experienced any shocks firsthand and weren’t even born yet when their forefather bunnies did. This area of study is called Epigenetics and was later shown to apply to the descendants of Holocaust survivors, which the Pfeffermans are. Thus, the real Pfefferman ghosts are deep within and when you think about it… that’s not even a little bit surprising.

Just like in the last episode, “Cherry Blossoms” begins with Maura awakening and though she’s not hungover this time, there’s still plenty of crankass to go around. Shelly is all up in Maura’s buttcrack from the millisecond she arises with a zillion questions and the, “Don’t think I don’t notice you coming… going… out all night,” too. She sets off bitchy nagging wife alarm bells all over that elderly condo development. Then at drop off Sarah deals with similar feelings of familial burden when school spirit week wreaks its ugly head upon her along with the gala, happening that very night. Meanwhile at Josh and Raquel’s Colton mentions to them that he’s a little worried about Rita because “lately something hasn’t been sitting right”. So, Pfefferman danger signals are blaring loud in several incarnations as the episode begins.

Next we see Maura discuss future plans for her body with a doctor who immediately starts her on a low dose testosterone blocker and then the intriguing questions arise. Sexually active? Yes, though more would be better. Top or bottom? Ummmm… why? Then the doctor says Testosterone blockers can hinder erections, a setback in the conversational flow but Maura forges forth as the doc asks the next one. Does she want breasts? “Two please,” replies Maura. Gender reassignment surgery? But this last one’s a real stumper and Maura will have to get back to the doctor on it later.

Ali and Syd visit Grandma Rose in the elderly home and although a bit out of it, Rose seems happy to see Ali. She keeps saying “Gershon” to her, as if Ali is this person and later in the episode we find out that Gershon was Rose’s trans brother from her life in 1930s Berlin. It was Gershon who we saw in the first episode, like a ghost in a glorious red dress behind Ali on the terrace. Ali doesn’t look that much like Gershon but she does have the same enthusiastic zest for life and they both have a buoyant bubble of joy about them. This must be what Rose recognizes. Unfortunately, Ali hasn’t yet discovered Gershon at this point in the story and initially just attributes Rose’s comment to dementia.

Next we see Josh and Colton surf and bond like bros at the beach where Josh offers to have Rita over for dinner in order to appease Colton’s worries about his birthmother. Sarah turns to Rabbi Raquel for advice about her frayed nerves at school and after easing her mind a bit, Raquel confides that she’s worried about Rita imposing into her family life. Sarah understands and they bond in empathy for each other. But the next time we see Sarah she’s at the school gala again spiraling down a toilet of misgivings. Len and his lovely, sweet, and gorgeous girlfriend Melanie ask Sarah about the shadow palette she destroyed and Len mentions that it was $485. Sarah begs off after making note that Melanie has beautiful eyes and it must be “because she has all the colors”. Adorned with a bucket of raffle tickets to sell, Sarah’s not the best saleswomen and ends up buying nineteen of them to make the requisite goal. Right after this Tammy finds her and drags her to a classroom to make out. Just as Sarah puts an end to the smooches, enraging Tammy, they call her name as raffle winner. She wins a ginormous TV and then a life coach session that she’s terrifically resistant to accept as Tammy shrieks about how the raffle is “SO fixed” in her drunken, rejected outrage. So, Sarah ends up reluctantly taking the life coach session and exiting, head-down-defeated. In the last scene she microwaves a frozen dinner naked in her sad and tiny new apartment. Sarah eats her frozen dinner off a paper towel leaned against the kitchen counter totally nude. It’s the ultimate image of loneliness, the adult version of a child in the fetal position.

Speaking of lonely, Maura goes out on her own to a tapas bar in an attempt at autonomy and hits on a cute lawyer who sits down near her at the bar. They’re friendly and it’s rolling along like Donkey Kong until Ms. Hot Lawyer notices that Maura’s transgender. Then she gets awkward, wriggly and turned off; thus refusing Maura’s offer to share some tapas. Lawyer lady says she needs to move to a table where she can spread out and work. Offended Maura leaves and makes a point to let the lawyer know that she’s aware that it was her transgender identity that turned her off. She heads home where Maura knows she’ll be accepted but knows it’s not really where she belongs.

Then Rita shows up for dinnertime with Josh, Raquel and Colton. She introduces herself with, “I would have brought a bottle but I was too busy,” and we’ve got a hint into the nature of Rita. A woman who complains of black mold at her crusty hippie house and insists that Josh must come look at it. He says it sounds like Rita needs a professional for a job like that but she, “can’t have strangers in the house because then I’ll have to clean it,” Whoah, Rita. Sounds like you’re struggling with something a bit more serious than imaginary black mold. But then things get super duper disturbing when Rita mumbles the lyrics to Sly and the Family Stone’s It’s a Family Affair and then sings in a tinny off key nightmare of shrill that sets one’s teeth into grind mode. It’s creeptacular. Josh demands that Rita stop and then offers dessert as he and Raquel rise from the table in horrified unison. As they exit the dining room, oblivious Rita says she’ll take the leftover pizza home thanks, “just box it up”. In the kitchen and now out of earshot, Josh promises Raquel she’ll never have to go through this again. It was just this one time visit with Rita – for Colton.

Then finally we take a brilliant trip to the past that’s only been a glimmer of a tease in the previous three episodes. Grandma Rose (as a child) visits her brother, Gershon at the Institute for Sexual Research in 1933 Berlin where he works and lives as a woman. Here Gershon uses the name Gittel, seems completely comfortable and happy. The institute serves as safe haven for LGBTs as well as a research facility and hospital. Rose welcomes Gittel’s offer of chocolate and sits down with her to eat and chat. She tells Gittel the family needs money. Their father abandoned them and moved to the US with no word of his location or intentions. So, their mother insists they get visas and take the trip to hunt him down.

After this scene Ali does research for her graduate school application essay at the library with Syd. She learns about inherited trauma DNA research – the “Cherry Blossoms” study. Ali tells Syd about the Epigenetics as we start to see that there’s the connection to their family and this inherited trauma DNA. Their Jewish family lived in Berlin at the onset of the Nazi rise to power with a transgender patriarchal family member. It’s a haunting portrait of Epigenetics in action.

Next we see Maura and Shelly sit down after dinner for a little TV on a couch that feels more like irritation alley. Maura snarks at Shelly to stop asking what channel she wants and, “make yourself happy”. It’s evident that Maura’s annoyed because she doesn’t want Shelly or this marriage anymore. Just like how Sarah got pissy at the Gala because she didn’t want Tammy. Maura and Sarah both want a change but aren’t sure exactly what needs to change or even how to figure that out. The one thing they both know for certain is they can’t stand being with each of their last lesbian partners, Shelly and Tammy respectively. Perhaps this is how inherited trauma plays out for the Pfeffermans. They know what makes them uncomfortable but finding sustainable comfort is more challenging. Of course plenty of things give them comfort in the short term, like Sarah’s affair with Tammy, but the prospect of a lifetime with her was terrifying rather than any kind of comfort. The challenging part is that unlike ghosts, Shelly and Tammy are right here right now and in their faces. They question, they demand and they won’t shut up or back down. Maura and Sarah have to find the ghostbusters deep within to extract themselves from these haunted relationships. One thing we know about the Pfeffermans, they’re survivors and they’ll find a way to get through this. We’re the lucky ones who get to watch as it all unfolds and past meets present in the evolving Pfefferman family.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “New World Coming” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
New World ComingJosh and Raquel welcome Colton to their home; Maura takes Ali to UCLA; Sarah has a run-in with Len and Barb.

The episode “New World Coming” isn’t just about what happens when a transgender character changes their clothes and hairstyle while the world watches. It’s about the world inside too. Maura sheds her old “Morty” self and still has to deal with being recognized as Morty and dealing with the consequences of living with Morty’s past as she creates a new future for herself. So, on one level it’s an episode about new beginnings but with every fresh start there’s also an accompaniment ending. That brings us to Sarah, of course as she starts over solo once again and struggles with her own brand of backlash.

The episode opens as Maura literally wakes up in a new world after her night out at the club. She slept over at her friend, Davina’s house. Their gorgeous friend Shea joins them in the kitchen talking about her pussy got ravaged she got the night before – it’s a “wounded soldier,” she says. Maura perks up that Shea, who also used to be a man has a “real pussy” so she asks about it. Shea tells her about how she’s fully transitioned and has a “pussy pussy” now that cost her 15K, an intriguing thought to Maura.

Next we see Sarah-in-sunglasses drop off the kids at school where she wonders about gossip mongers including Barb, (Tig Notaro) one of Tammy’s other ex wives, who’s also a school parent. Sarah attempts to bond with her but Barb gives her the brutal brush off with the added dagger, “I’m sorry if my boundary is your trigger,” so she’s not the least bit empathetic. In the next scene Josh takes Colton to his former high school and they bond like bros. They banter about sexy-in-school hijinx, knowing girls biblically, and all that other totally normal father/son school registration day stuff. While they register Colton in the school office Josh reminisces about some real characters from the former administration, including a rigid disciplinarian, Mr. Irons who marched the halls like the Iron Giant, slamming a paddle into his palm. Turns out all they need is Colton’s legal guardian signatures on his paperwork and he’s good to go.

At a parallel school scenario, Maura takes Ali to UCLA where she taught political science when she was Morty. Here they encounter Leslie Mackinaw, a feminist poet and critic who’s now head of the UCLA Gender Studies Department. Leslie remembers Maura as Morty from when they were both students at Berkeley – but about as fondly as Josh remembers Mr. irons. At Berkeley Morty was part of an editorial board for the school’s political paper. The board blocked all women from becoming board members, Leslie included. She and her “sisters” applied ten years in a row and faced rejection every year until they began burning effigies of the bastard board members. In all those years the only woman the board ever admitted had to endure constantly ogled ginormous breasts. All this information about when she was Morty now in hand, Maura apologizes to Leslie but it’s clearly moot at this point. Meanwhile, across the table, Ali grows smitten with Leslie, who’s one of those charismatic older peeps; magnetic to younger folk – Bill Clinton with a vagina.

Then Sarah trespasses on her former home with Len even though it’s not her day. She lets herself into the house claiming she just needs to get her yoga mat. Barb happens to be in the backyard with Len watching their kids play together. This, along with some snarky tone action, alienates Sarah so she heads into the house “to grab her yoga mat” but in the process spies Melanie’s bag of stuff in Len’s bedroom. Melanie is Len’s new girlfriend and apparently a big fan of eyeshadow. Sarah finds a ginormous palette of shadows in every imaginable color among Melanie’s stuff. After gazing at it she slams the palette shut a bit too abruptly. This mistake that creates a giant mess on the floor and also ruins the palette. To cover her tracks Sarah covers the huge smudge stain on the rug with Melanie’s bag and puts the palette in her own bag before skedaddling out of the house.

Meanwhile Maura visits her transgender support group. One of the other trans women talks about how many times when men are disrespectful or thoughtless to trans women it’s because they’re in the closet, transphobic, or homophobic. Maura reinforces this idea sharing about when she was Morty and hurt Leslie as well as all the other female applicants to the editorial board of the paper. It’s a revelation for her that hiding the Maura part of herself contributed to her unknowingly hurting those who represented that hidden part – women like Leslie. This is a running theme in Transparent and, really, life itself. When a person is hurtful it’s usually because they’re hurting and often also completely oblivious to both sides of the whole painful scenario.

After Maura’s poignant scene we see Josh and Rabbi Raquel in their kitchen where she makes it clear she wants to get engaged soon with their baby on the way and a temple full of people who see her blossoming belly and no ring on the finger. Right after this Josh discusses how to propose with the band and producers at the studio where his band Fussy Puss sings a song called New World Coming. At the end of their convo Josh lights up with just how he’s gonna do it, obviously excited, but doesn’t share the idea – it’s that good. Speaking of good, Ali is out with Syd again for a night of fun and bowling. She reads some of Leslie Mackinaw’s poetry only to find out she’s damn good. The bowling lesbians already know Leslie’s work and Ali reads some particularly titillating passages as surrounding women nibble, lick, and fondle each other at every turn of the alley. But then it’s Sarah who gets off in the next scene. She’s picturing Mr. Irons from high school that we learned about earlier. In Sarah’s imagination he’s smacking her naughty bum and she’s excited to the point of ecstatic bliss. After she orgasms Sarah looks glum, slumped down in a hard-back chair alone in her drab and dark apartment. It seems that fantasy came and went just as quickly as she did.

Josh comes home from work that night to find a nervous Raquel in a pretty dress on her knees proposing marriage. He gets mad. She doesn’t trust him. He had this. Right away Raquel realizes her mistake. Josh’s greatest fear is that he’ll be considered unreliable yet here she is proving she thinks just that of him. She tries to apologize but the breech is a canyon between them. Something just broke. It’s unclear if they’ll come back together. On the other hand, in the final scene Ali and Syd are headed down the opposite road; naked and whispering in bed all smoochy and wrapped around each other in the pale lamplight.

“New World Coming” breaks into refreshing territory with each Pfefferman changing direction into a new place that feels surprising and yet also inevitable. Maura starts to see her struggles aren’t just with a judgmental outside world but also within herself. They say it’s an inside job for a reason, after all. Speaking of which, Sarah’s unconscious seems to be telling her she needs to reign it in a bit and perhaps consider a more disciplined approach to life now that she’s solo. Meanwhile there’s trouble in partnership paradise as we see a fissure develop between Josh and his beloved Raquel. Of course she doesn’t trust him, look what he did in just the very last episode, breaking their pact to wait before telling anyone about the baby. Yet when Josh says, “You don’t trust me,” our hearts break along with his. He was so full of hope and who doesn’t adore amazing Raquel? But without trust they’re doomed. Heartbreaking for sweet always-the-little-boy Joshy. And then there’s Ai. We saw this coming with the hairdo, of course. Not too many straight women sport the Foghorn Leghorn look by choice, after all. But with her just-reunited best friend, Syd? It’s either a lifelong love in the making or tragedy right around the bend for this particular New World Coming – no middle ground here.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump Josh holds a pool party for his new band Fussy Puss; the Pfefferman siblings are caught off guard when Maura and Shelly arrive at the party together; Ali reconnects with her old friend Syd; Sarah’s past catches up with her.

This episode circles around the power of couples along with the backlash when pairs break off into two solo singletons. Sometimes duos reunite, even if just temporarily, and create a new stronger pair. Sometimes not. It’s clear from the exchanges in “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” that these relative magnetized and wet mop relations among the Pfeffermans and their loves are either about mutuality or lack thereof. Whether a couple are in loving or fighting mode the phrase, it takes two to tango isn’t just a cliché, it’s also some serious truth, baby.

The most interesting duos in the episode are more parallel than couple, though. For instance, Shelly and Sarah. Suddenly single, the two are mirror images in some ways, even if just in the terrified recesses of Sarah’s deepest fearful brain folds. It’s an age old story, a middle-aged woman afraid of becoming her mother. But because it’s part of such a fresh narrative, it somehow resonates like all new territory here. Another interesting parallel lies between Ali and Maura. Both seek their greatest expression of self and struggle with how far the landscape reaches before them. The possibilities seem endless and nether is sure where they belong but both seem determined to unravel some sort of authentic self – if there really is such a thing.

The episode opens on a depressed Sarah, her eyes eclipsed into shadow, unkempt middle-age lady hair, and the pouting posture of adolescence. She listens to Len’s recriminations and new rules from the divorce mediation advisor for splitting custody of the kids. Though she’s checked out and he’s still pissed, they agree to the terms and afterward Sarah looks for a new apartment to keep her side of the deal.

Next we see a trio of scenes that capture key moments in the other Pfefferman family members’ lives right then. Ali gazes at a planetarium galaxy of stars and learns that they are a map of the past and our multitudinous origins. It’s a beautiful, simple and true insight. Perfect. Raquel and Josh see the heartbeat of their baby on sonogram and snuggle in excitement. Meanwhile at Shelly’s pond-side condo, Maura digs through her storage truck parked outside to pick what she can wear to Josh’s imminent pool party. Shelly helps her with warmth and love. Outward appearances point to a happy couple. Bug what we’re really seeing is a happy Shelly and a grateful Maura, who simply feels indebted to Shelly.

Next Ali visits her buddy Syd (Carrie Brownstein), the one she pushed aside in season one when Syd declared amorous feeling for an uninterested Ali. It was platonic or nothing in Ali/Syd town back then but things have changed. Ali has an amusing new hairstyle and wants to be friends again. Syd’s happy to oblige as long as she’s allowed to mock the hairdo first. Then Josh picks up his son Colton from Rita and finds out his long lost son’s considering staying in LA for his upcoming senior year in high school. As a refresher on Colton – He visited for the summer after finding out Rita was his birth mother and Josh his birth father, a fact exposed at the end of season one when Josh found out for the first time too. Rita, who’d been his babysitter, never told Josh she’d had his baby and then gave it up for adoption. So, Colton is all new to the Pfefferman clan. He’s a sweet kid, Middle America to the bone, and clearly raised in a good home where Jesus is king and dinner was meatloaf and mashed potatoes most nights.

Then we see Maura and Shelly in the bathroom and it turns out “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” is code for a specific sexual encounter between them which Shelly asks for and Maura obliges. Shelly’s in bathtub bliss and Maura, though seemingly happy to bring Shelly to her glittercloud of passionate yelps, has zero desire for Shelly to return the favor. The next scene brings us to Josh’s pool party where the trio of siblings discuss their sense of Maura and Shelly maybe becoming a couple again. It’s just a feeling but one about which they can only think, “ew.” Sarah still looks like depressed wreckage – now clad in an enormous beach coverup. They decide to put out cake leftover from Sammy and Tammy’s wedding even though Josh protests because he’s a fancy producer and catered this bitch. Maura and Shelly then arrive at the party to immediately face their kids asking if they are now “a lesbian couple.” This irritates Maura, who presumes that Shelly told them about their Flicky Flicky encounter. Shelly didn’t but the line is already drawn in Maura’s mind.

The party is a smash thus far. Sexy peeps in bikinis abound. Booze flows free. Sarah and Shelly get their solo-single-now-and-proud drunk on. Ali’s a bit glum but still channeling 1933 Berlin – delivering us powerful historical Pfefferman family past imagery while she swims deep underwater in the pool. Then Josh’s newest discovery, the band Fussy Puss plays and they’re mind-blowing “money money baby baby” good. Their song stays with you long after the episode ends even though we don’t hear the whole thing. That’s because Tammy crashes the party and interrupts the wonder of Fussy Puss. She’s raging in classic heartbroken ex style – drunk in a tank top and crazed with rantings of being a warrior and that Sarah will be sorry, etc. She throws the cake from their wedding into the pool and puts a mad damper on what had been a rockin’ good time. Afterward Raquel and Josh talk about how much they wanted to protect Colton during the party; how he’s part of their lives now and they already love him. This draws them closer to each other.

In the wake of the Tammy tidal wave sad sack Sarah drives home her intoxicated mother. Parked outside the condo she watches Shelly traverse the pond’s stone steps with drunken trepidation, poised on the precipice of a belly flop at any minute. We see in Sarah’s face that this is her greatest fear for her own future – to be balanced on a precarious edge with nobody to catch her. Meanwhile Maura goes off to party with her trans friends at a club of gorgeous dancers and music that makes her heart swell and whole body sway. She’s home. Ali also heads out for fun with friends, showing up at Syd’s apartment to booze it up and hang with the homegirls. The two of them are each happy, at last. Ali has moved a little closer to her particular pairing (with Syd) like a magnet while Maura moving farther away from hers – to leave Shelly in wet mop territory.

The pairings and parallels in this episode on the surface appear to be about broken romances. But, as usual, Transparent breaks through that surface so we see deeper. This is all about parent-child parallels deep down. Josh and Colton are the most obvious example but also Sarah/Shelly and Ali/Maura tell this story of pairing and unpairing. The episode asks where we go when we break off from romantic love. Then it answers that we look to our parents and either flee in revulsion from what we find – Sarah, or embrace the parts that feel like a good fit and move forward as Ali does. Truth is the path back to love probably lies somewhere in the middle. It does seem like Josh’s warm welcome to Colton with an open heart along with his and Raquel’s shared willingness to include Colton in their family increases the connection between them. We could all learn a bit about love from this generous act and attitude. It’s a little reminder that love isn’t always just about Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Kina Hora” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Kina Hora Transparent returns with Sarah and Tammy’s big white wedding; Maura and Ali are visited by ghosts from the past; Josh and Rabbi Raquel can’t hide their big news.

If you are unfamiliar with season one of Transparent you must stop reading this right now, log onto amazon.com and watch it. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200. It’s truly great TV and not just for breaking new ground on gender identity and related issues. Transparent is one of those rarities that feels like art; an amalgam of inventive writing, vivid characterizations, and it’s also bust-a-gut funny. The world established in season one unwraps an incredibly specific family package with unique challenges but also feels like every family that ever existed because it’s such an exquisite gift – their conversations and experiences are really happening somewhere out there right now. It’s every day in Los Angeles on this show, with no angels or devils here – just real people we already know and love.

Quick refresher on who’s who:

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (born Morton Pfefferman), who in season one finally opens up to her family about always identifying as a woman.
Amy Landecker as Sarah Pfefferman, the oldest child of Maura, married with two children. In season one she leaves her husband for Tammy (Melora Hardin), a woman she fell in love with in college.
Jay Duplass as Joshua “Josh” Pfefferman, Maura’s middle child. A successful music producer who has troubled relationships with women throughout season one until meeting true love, Rabbi Raquel.
Gaby Hoffmann as Alexandra “Ali” Pfefferman, the youngest of Maura’s kids and perpetually unemployed. She spends season one relishing her immaturity and living a life of full-blown hedonism.
Judith Light as Shelly Pfefferman, Maura’s ex-wife and the mother of Sarah, Josh, and Ali. She’s been aware of Maura’s feelings as a woman inside a man’s body for years.

Season two opens with “Kina Hora” AKA the evil eye at a Pfefferman family photo session for Sarah and Tammy’s wedding. Their clueless photographer drops an anti semitic comment and then refers to Maura as “sir”. It’s a concise scene but still reveals the whole world of season two with a mere snowglobe shake of a moment in the family… and it even looks like a snowglobe with all those white-wearing family members fluttering about in various stages of wedding angst. Dramatic and amusing dynamics cross the screen in a magically choreographed dance. Each interaction plays out a microcosm of the season’s macro themes: Jewish identity, family history and evolution, gender identity, and unity. It’s a fun tableau and classic brilliant Soloway*, delving into deep issues even as we laugh our asses off at how real it feels.

Right after the awkward Pfefferman family photo Josh is clearly over the moon because his lady love, Rabbi Raquel, just found out she’s pregnant. Of course, being Josh, he blows the joy into bits when he makes the critical error of telling Ali. It’s not a mistake because Ali’s so terrible or anything. In fact she’s changed quite a bit since season one when she was a veritable wreck. Now Ali’s the fount of Pfefferman communication and a well of empathic comfort to all. This plays out to the hilt at the wedding and reception. In fact, she even connects us, the audience, with their family’s past, channeling all the way back to 1933 Berlin Pfefferman family history. Ali doesn’t understand or even see this growth in herself. We know this when she tells Josh she’s, “just a guest at the wedding” even though it’s evident she’s much more; telling everyone where to sit, greeting guests, and keeping the kids at bay. Of course, Ali also passes along the news of Rabbi Raquel’s pregnancy too. She tells Sarah, the saddest bride in the West, who’s got so much black eye makeup it appears she’s gone goth. But this works thematically because of Sarah’s swirling sack of misery inside. Another mistake Ali made in all of her connective and empathic ways was inviting Maura’s estranged sister, Bri to the wedding. She’s “a filing cabinet with a hairdo” who’s on record as anti-gay, though currently attending a lesbian wedding, with a judgy, puckered face and nothing nice to say.

Maura wears Ray Bans framed in delicate lavender and stands strong under Bri’s watchful gaze. There’s a perfect moment when she poses for Bri to “get a good look at her” and Maura holds herself with unbridled dignity. It’s a proud moment and we’re happy for Maura, even if Bri can’t be. Unfortunately, this wedding isn’t about happy, though. Although gorgeous on the surface and teaming with celebrity cameos, few attendees are happy. The bride Sarah least of all. Her point of view on the ceremony feels like those moments when you first realize you’re getting sick. Woozy, Unreal. Nothing makes sense. The world is spinning. Then a hilarious moment when Sarah sees a banner plane fly above, “We buy ugly houses.com,” and it turns into a horror show in her mind, screaming, flailing, death, etc. But that was all in her head and then it’s reception time. At that point a dazed Sarah passes along the news of Rabbi Raquel’s pregnancy to Shelly who runs with it and makes an announcement during the biggest part of the celebration – the chair lifting dance of joy. This, of course, arouses the curious ire of Raquel who thought they were keeping the baby a secret until the pregnancy had a bit more time behind it, common practice for the newly pregnant. She and Josh had agreed on this.

Then poor sad bride Sarah wakes out of her daze and weeps in the bathroom out back. She didn’t want to marry Tammy. She hates Tammy. Etcetera. Ali comforts her and the always-flustered Josh brings Rabbi Raquel in to help. Turns out Raquel provides true answers and assistance. When Sarah bemoans that she doesn’t want to be married Raquel tells her she hasn’t turned in the marriage license paperwork yet so they’re not yet officially stamped married. The wedding itself, Raquel explains, is just a ritual, a pageant, expensive theater and nothing more. Sarah is saved. Still sad… but saved. Tammy embraces her on the dance floor and it’s clear on Sarah’s face that she’s just not that into this whole deal.

Before Bri leaves the reception Maura tells her sister she wants to go visit their Mom and receives a tirade of venom from Bri about sparing their mother the trouble of facing her son, now daughter. Maura finds comfort in Shelly’s arms about it later as Josh tries to apologize to Rabbi Raquel, Sarah breaks the news to Tammy, and Ali channels the ghost of her transgender ancestor from Berlin 1933. They’re all in hotel rooms right next to each other but at the same time also seem to exist in worlds separated by a million miles. All the characters are in white and the rooms are white washed too. The sole source of color in the entire final panning shot of “Kina Hora” is at the very end when we see the transgender Pfefferman ancestor in a deck chair behind Ali, decked out in a gorgeous red dress.

Thus season two is off to the races with the Pfeffermans thrown back into conflict. They struggle with the world around them and each other but more than any other entity these characters battle internally. When it all comes down to it there aren’t truly injurious external enemies in Pfefferman lives. Sure, at times it seems they’re surrounded by ignorant a-holes but such small minds are easily ignored. The real dangers lie deep inside the Pfefferman psyche because these deeply embedded demons must be faced. But we can be certain this family will sure as hell try to avoid them at every narrative turn, making them all the more a glorious blend of fun and poignance to watch.

–Katherine Recap

* Jill Soloway, the brilliant creator, writer, exec producer, and director of Transparent.