Wednesday, December 23, 2015

REVIEW: 'Transparent' - Maura is Comforted by a New Friend & Finally Visits Her Mother in 'Grey Green Brown & Copper'

Amazon's Transparent - Episode 2.10 "Grey Green Brown & Copper"

Maura experiences an unforeseen love connection and reconciles with her lineage - in the past and the present. Ali discusses her academic future with Leslie. Josh seeks a father's love in Buzz. Sarah tries to tie up loose ends.

Another season of Transparent has come to a close with a final image of multiple generations of the Pfefferman family coming together. This time it comes as Maura visits her mother, Rose, for the first time in three years and the first time since her transition. It's a moment this season has been building towards and it's such a heartbreaking final beat for the year. The audience has so much understanding of what this moment means for all three generations of women in the room. The audience understands the significance of Rose seeing Maura as the woman she was always suppose to be and reaching out for Gittel's ring that is currently hanging around Ali's neck. But it also showcases the great divide between the generations as they aren't able to openly talk about their history and the pain that has symbolically been passed down from generation to generation. As wonderful as that concluding moment watching the sunset is, it continues to show just how deep the divide is amongst the characters. And that is immensely beautiful despite the tragic. It's exactly what makes this ending so powerful and moving.

Maura, Ali and Sarah all left the Idyllwild Music Festival changed. For Ali, that came with a new outlook on life after she and Leslie finally hooked up. It's one that complicates their situation further should they want to explore what a relationship could be. But it's enough to signal that Ali has finally committed to a path. For Sarah, she finally has found a way to release all of her pain through her newly developed spanking fetish. She now has a weekly appointment with Pony to spank her. It's an action that allows Sarah to truly give herself to this unique pleasure. But it also allows her to move forward with her life for the first time since she blew it all up back in the season premiere. These changes for the siblings still have the potential to go wrong in so many ways. They are still self-interested Pfeffermans destined to hurt the people that they love. Sarah also wants to explore more about Judaism and immediately reaches out to Raquel even though Josh tells her not to. And then, Ali is forced to choose between being Leslie's student or girlfriend. A choice that could easily lead to more tension in her relationship with Maura.

Speaking of Maura, she has spent this entire season trying to become more comfortable in her new body at the same time as the people she loves are becoming comfortable with her transition. At age 70, she has lived a life of doing things a certain way. It has been difficult for her to embrace the change that comes with this major transition and not revert back to her old patterns that are much more comfortable to her. It's something she has really struggled with this season. She has made some major mistakes. She has alienated her family and created a divide in her friendship with Davina. She embraced the chance to go to this music festival with her daughters in the hopes of finally being the mother they deserved. It ended in tragedy once she realized how her presence could really aggravate the people at this celebration. It seemed like no matter what Maura did, she was never completely comfortable with who she was even though she has been living her truth for awhile now. She is still learning what that actually means.

And yet, Maura does get some comfort in this finale. She leaves the festival in the embrace of new friend, Vicki. She's a patient woman who is willing to take things slow with Maura - even though they get intimate very quickly after meeting each other. They share a room at a run-down hotel. It's a truly magical scene where Maura truly opens up with her body for the first time since her transition. It's not perfect. She's scared and unsure of what to do. Vicki is able to comfort her. First by letting Maura be the little spoon and later when she's willing to accommodate to Maura's needs as this is still totally new to her. Vicki reveals her own body to Maura. It's damaged as well. She has the scares from a mastectomy. And yet, she's still beautiful. Maura is still unsure of her body and what to do with it in this type of situation. But that doesn't keep these two from connecting in a truly meaningful way. In fact, Vicki seems like a perfect companion for Maura. She is willing to be patient as Maura builds her confidence but she also maintains boundaries so that they can wonderfully explore what this connection is in a real and honest way. That's incredibly beautiful and sets up an interesting dynamic for the next season.

As Maura is gaining more confidence with her body, Josh is finally able to mourn the loss of his father. Josh hasn't been doing too well after the complete destruction of the family unit he rushed into. He did all of that just in order to avoid dealing with his real emotions on a number of sensitive topics. He has been self-destructive as of late though. He is able to bond with his sisters in the old family pool. They reminisce over how this pool is symbolic of the death of their family. But it also shows how playful and changed the siblings have become lately. Sarah and Ali have committed to new paths. Josh does too and it emerges from an unlikely place. Josh visits his mother for some reason but instead spends the afternoon talking with Buzz, who is able to provide fatherly love in a way that Maura never could as Mort. Buzz is a man who values Josh's opinion and wants to make sure that he's happy. Not in some purely arbitrary way but in a way that actually sets Josh up for a fulfilling life of his own making. It's through Buzz's guidance that Josh is truly able to express his emotions in a truly mature way. When they tend to an injured duck, Josh is like a kid holding his arms out afraid that he might hurt the creature. Buzz is the father doing his best to connect with his son. Shelly has rushed into this relationship. But that doesn't mean Buzz can't be a good influence for her kids. In fact, he does a great job talking with Josh. Josh lets out his emotions and is finally able to grieve the death of his father. It's a compelling way to look at the current situation. Maura still lingers in Josh's life able to explain the actions of Mort. But this release also signals Josh letting go of all of that animosity and tension. Hopefully, that will lead to a more rewarding relationship between parent and child in the third season.

Even the flashbacks reach a tragic but really poignant conclusion in this finale, Rose and Yetta have the painful trip across the ocean. They land in Los Angeles ready to be reunited with Rose's father only to realize that he has started a new family in America without them. It's a devastating realization for both of them. It's simply another instance of men completely ruining Rose's life. Her father has abandoned her. The Nazi soldiers destroyed any chance of Gittel being happy. And later, she finds herself married to a man who likes to explain things to Yetta and who wants to name his daughter "Fay Pfefferman" simply because it has a movie star quality to it. As Rose is giving birth to Mort, it's sad to her that she has just given birth to another male in this world who will likely use his power in order to manipulate the women around him. And now, all of these years later, Maura is finally comfortable being the woman she was suppose to be. And yet, it's too late. Maura and Rose can't talk about the pain of the past or the history they share regarding what this means for the future. It's tragic that the final words for the season are "Congratulations, it's a boy!" But that also seems very fitting. It's the kind of ending that brings about complications. After all of these years waiting, Maura is now living her true self and becoming more comfortable with what it means. She can't get back those years without her mother in her life. But now, she and the family can be together even though they may never be able to truly understand each other. That's a fascinating dichotomy to end the season on. It's beautiful but incredible heartbreaking.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Grey Green Brown & Copper" was written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster and directed by Andrea Arnold.
  • Maura warns Ali about the potential dangers of getting too close to Leslie as both a teacher and a lover. Though it seems pretty unlikely that Ali will listen considering the newfound confidence and femininity she got from their one sexual encounter.
  • Why in the world would Raquel willingly let a Pfefferman back into her life knowing just how chaotic all of their lives are? She must be a really good and faithful Rabbi then.
  • It's slightly disappointing hat Shelly doesn't appear at all. And yet, she really wasn't necessary in those scenes at her condo. Plus, the last glimpse of her this year was one of pure happiness for her.
  • Ali, Sarah and Josh also take note that this is the first time in a long time that they've all been single at the same time. In fact, they may be better together than with other people. And yet, that clearly doesn't keep them from hurting one another.
  • As I've mentioned a couple times above, the show has been renewed for a third season. I can't wait to see how more complicated the lives of the Pfeffermans can get. This finale sets up interesting details for the future. The most exciting is probably Maura's relationship with Vicki. This show can be tough to watch at times but it's also so emotionally rewarding as well. That's what makes it brilliant. 

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.