WEEDS “Bags” Review

WEEDS "Bags" Season 7 Episode 1 (1)

WEEDS “Bags” Season 7 Episode 1 – This is the first Showtime original series to make it to season 7. It was the first in the line of subversive dark comedies that defied the genre. It was the first of a series of female anti-hero protagonists. Nancy Botwin would soon by followed by the likes of Tara Gregson and Jackie Peyton. The first two seasons were stellar stuff, followed by a severe decline in quality.

Then last season, the sixth, the show underwent some creative changes. Jenji Kohan, showrunner and creator, breathed fresh life into a stale series which ended with one of the best episodes I’ve seen of the show.

The shit Nancy has put her kids through, the things she’s made them into, should make me hate her. But Kohan never tries to make us like Nancy, and Mary Louise Parker has infused the character with such a curious mix of vulnerability and strength so that it made the season finale, as Nancy finally turns herself into the authorities to allow Silas and Shane to flee to Copenhagen, a great episode. It would have served excellently as a series finale. It probably should have served as the series finale. But season seven, at least as fast as the first episode goes, shows that Kohan still has some tricks up her sleeves.

The series jumps ahead three years, with the Botwin men (and Doug) in Copenhagen, having put together a rather comfortable life. Silas is a model, Andy is a tour guide, Doug is selling t-shirts, and Shane is sleeping with a marionette performer. Stevie, Nancy’s son, is a toddler living with her sister, referring to Nancy as “aunt” and so far there’s no sign of Esteban.

Meanwhile, Nancy has just been released from prison. Her cellmate sends her off with a kiss and some oven mitts. I thought the relationship between the cellmate and Nancy was an interesting turn: it has less, I think, to do with their sexual orientation, and more to do with their survival and adaptability skills. The cellmate is in prison for dousing her boyfriend with kerosene and setting him on fire, while Nancy is there for manslaughter. On the outside they were straight, on the inside they do what they can to survive. Three years (or a life sentence) is a long time to go without touching another human.

Nancy is not a terrible person. She’s a bad mother, but not intentionally so. Just as Shane is not a sadist, he’s just very much his mother’s son. When he learns that she’s been released from prison, it’s interesting that he is the first person (the only person really) to book a plane ticket to the States. Silas is more reluctant, and Andy and Doug are just happy to go with the flow.

One of the things I’ve noticed about Weeds and another of Showtime’s other very successful series, Dexter, is that the latter is filled with exposition insofar as at all times we are privy to Dexter’s most inner thoughts. But, as the steam room scene illustrated, we rarely know what’s going on in Nancy’s head. It was obvious she was trying to get rid of the woman, but why? Why does Nancy do what she does? Kohan resists exposition, and we’re left to grapple with Mary Louise Parker’s brilliant facial expression.

Which is often more than enough. As she lifts the case filled with weapons, who knows what is going through her mind. But she’s cradling it like she should be cradling Stevie. She’s a terrible mother, but she’s a joy to watch.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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