Friday, September 26, 2014

REVIEW: 'Transparent' - Maura Reveals Herself to Sarah While Ali Battles a Flock of Geese in 'The Letting Go'

Amazon's Transparent - Episode 1.02 "The Letting Go"

Maura embraces her new journey, but nothing about life as a woman is easy - making friends, finding a new community, and above all, coming out to her children. Sarah introduces her husband to her ex-girlfriend Tammy. Josh pays a visit to his ex-babysitter Rita, as Ali gets closer to her trainer.

The only way "The Letting Go" could and should have opened was picking up the second after the pilot ended - with Maura walking in on Sarah and Tammy and having to explain what she was wearing. It's an incredibly strong opening scene. It's the most honest and open Maura has ever been with her daughter. She's letting her into this world that for so long only she has known about. And Sarah is so confused. To her, this is her father whom she loves. It's difficult for her to think that he will now be dressing up as a woman for now on. And yet, that's precisely who Maura is. A brave and confident woman. It's awkward having Tammy in the scene as well - but she is incredibly supportive of Maura. She knows that most have taken a lot of courage to say and she did it. As Maura later shares with her group, one down and two to go.

Even though coming out is difficult, it's also a very freeing experience for Maura. It's a celebratory moment. She makes a new friend in Alexandra Billings' Davina and she highlights how this is only the beginning of Maura's journey. "In five years, not one person from your family will still be in your life." That's scary to think about. For Maura, her three kids have always been there. She opens up to Maura and it feels great because she is finally being herself. But she really doesn't know how Sarah is dealing with it all. She could just be internalizing and not be okay with it.

But Sarah is taking it well. It's confusing for sure. It only further complicates her bond and feelings with Tammy. Neither can sleep at night and they just go at it in the minivan - where Sarah promptly explodes everywhere out of satisfaction. That causes a further schism with Len that only grows more pronounced once she shares the tale of seeing her father the other day. To Len, Maura has always been a little off and creepy. That's a very rude thing to bluntly say. She is still Sarah's father and she will be incredibly protective of her. She'll protect her secret until the time is right to tell both Josh and Ali.

Meanwhile, Josh and Ali are both dealing with their own problems. Josh has gotten his artist/lover pregnant and she wants an abortion. Just like Maura says, he's into the now. He gets wrapped up in the idea of having a child and marrying this woman. She's not having any of it. She just wants to make good music with this guy. She doesn't want to commit and settle down in some cabin somewhere. Her "ew" to the Holocaust basically showcases how seriously she takes everything about him.

Conversely, Ali can't seem to land on anything. She ended the pilot trying to bring some discipline into her life by hiring a personal trainer. She wanted to improve the way she lives life. She cuts out dairy and picks up tofu - although she drops some while being attack by geese (which was one of the funnier bits from the series so far). And yet, she's risking that relationship by also sleeping with the guy. That just seems like a precarious situation - especially whenever she's just hanging out with both him and his roommate.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Letting Go" was written and directed by Jill Soloway.
  • Outside of the hair, I don't think Jeffrey Tambor looks all that much younger in the flashback sequences. However, I'm glad they are here because they only further show how long Maura has had to hide and be afraid of this part of her life. And in reaction to that, being a somewhat distant father.
  • Judith Light really is kinda perfect as Shelly, the grandmother of the show who loves talking, routine and showing affection.
  • That's Tig Notaro as Tammy's wife, Barb. I'm looking forward to seeing how that character will be important - considering it's a blink and you miss it cameo in this episode.
  • Everything is under water!