Monday, November 18, 2013

REVIEW: 'Mom' Pushes Bonnie Off the Wagon in 'Zombies and Cobb Salad' and Creates Its Best Episode Yet

CBS' Mom - Episode 1.09 Zombies and Cobb Salad

When Bonnie loses her job and struggles to keep her life together, Christy tries to get her back on track with help from Marjorie (Mimi Kennedy) and Regina (Octavia Spencer).

This is my first time reviewing Mom since its pilot. However, I have been keeping up with it week-to-week. Most of the time I catch it the same night a new episodes airs (after I'm finished reviewing Sleepy Hollow and The Blacklist). With The Blacklist taking the week off and Mom tackling a pretty big story, I figured this would be as good a time as any to check back in on the freshman comedy.

Mom is such a weirdly plotted show. It's different and odd but I enjoy it. Anna Faris' Christy is such a strong center for the show. I find it amusing how every episode basically focuses on one plot - usually centered around her. And then she just goes from location to location interacting with the rest of the cast, who get to have some funny lines and then swiftly exit. The only B-story Mom has ever really done is that one time Bonnie tried teaching Roscoe card games. And when it did that, it really felt off. So, Mom's structure is pretty indicative to its identity. I appreciate knowing what you want to be doing at such an early stage in its run.

At the center of "Zombies and Cobb Salad," Bonnie loses her job and then starts drinking again. And it's probably the first instance of a story that I understood immediately based on these characters. Bonnie often is over-the-top and ridiculous but I never feel like she goes one-note or cartoony. And that's all because of Allison Janney. In lesser hands, that character would have been really grating. Janney gives her heart and a humanity. Because of that layer to the performance, this story lands well emotionally. I fully believe that she would try hiding the pain with jokes and then with drinking. And then, she would cause a scene at Christy's work just to prove a point.

But from Christy's point-of-view, Bonnie falling off the wagon is just like everything else she's had to put up with with her mom. She apologizes for every mistake she's ever made to Christy but the frequency of those apologizes makes Christy skeptically of Bonnie ever really changing. This episode really wants us to feel that Bonnie will indeed change and become a better person and mother to Christy. And yet, it will take action and not words in order to prove that she really did change. That's a gradual evolution and one that I'm surprised and excited that Mom is so confident in tackling so early in its run.

Some more thoughts:
  • I've warmed-up to Spencer Daniels. But I still only want him in small doses. The pink pants joke was pretty funny though.
  • I still hate Nate Corddry. I have no clue on his larger significance to the show other than being a character to populate Christy's workplace. I do enjoy that he has become just a physical punching bad in the last few episodes.
  • I'm still anxiously awaiting the show to do something bigger with French Stewart. He just makes inappropriate jokes and snickers in one scene each episode.
  • Mimi Kennedy and Octavia Spencer were wonderful guest characters here. I love the moment of earnest during Kennedy's speech about her past. I was largely confused by Spencer's first episode but she got a lot of laughs from me tonight.
  • Someone tackling Bonnie was a great running gag for the episode.