Thursday, February 25, 2016

REVIEW: 'Mom' - Christy, Bonnie, Jill & Wendy Head to Canada for an Adventure in 'Sticky Hands and a Walk on the Wild Side'

CBS' Mom - Episode 3.13 "Sticky Hands and a Walk on the Wild Side"

Christy, Jill and Wendy find themselves in a sticky situation when they agree to help Bonnie smuggle an illegal substance across the Canadian border.

Last week's episode of Mom ended on the devastating reveal that Jody had died from an overdose. It was a very unexpected twist that completely rocked the main characters to their core. Some time has passed at the start of "Sticky Hands and a Walk on the Wild Side." Marjorie has returned from her honeymoon and learned about Jody's death. But the emotions are still very raw as everyone is trying to figure out how exactly to move forward with their lives knowing that this person that they loved is no longer a part of it. Death has been no stranger to this show. It's been a little over a year since Alvin passed away and Bonnie relapsed. But Jody's death hits so hard because it's so deeply connected to the disease that all of this women are struggling with. Addiction is deadly. This twist has reminded all of them just how serious all of this really is. That exploration of emotion in this episode is really powerful and makes this one of the best episodes the show has ever produced.

So much of the emotional weight of this episode falls onto Anna Faris as Christy. She absolutely nails all of it too. Allison Janney rightfully gets a ton of attention and acclaim for her performance on this show. For the first two seasons, she was the only person to get nominated for an Emmy - which is so baffling considering just how well executed the series has been on both a creative and technical level. And yet, Faris rightfully deserves some recognition as well. She has been terrific all season long with both the humorous bits and the emotionally devastating ones. She's the one who goes on such a major emotional journey throughout this episode as she attempts to deal with Jody's death. It's phenomenal to watch too. Should she get nominated for Emmy this year, this would make a very fine submission tape.

In the beginning, Christy is really struggling. She's really questioning the program. She's been relying on the group more and more but she hasn't been getting anything out of it recently. She needs some way to make sense of what all has just happened. She's been able to keep it together. But she is still feeling so many different emotions by Jody's death. She believed she was doing the right thing in keeping the news from Marjorie so that she could enjoy her honeymoon. That decision has created tension between the friends. Christy is lost right now and shouldn't be alone. She truly blames herself for what happened to Jody because she was too busy with Anya to answer Jody's call when she needed it the most. That's going to be something she struggles with for the rest of her life. Everyone in the group is struggling with these emotions. But Christy also had such a close connection to Jody. She gave this young woman so much love and it still amounted to nothing but death.

Bonnie presents the group with an opportunity to get their minds off of Jody for a little while. She has a former colleague with a business plan of smuggling maple syrup from Canada for a profit. It allows the group of friends a chance to leave their lives for a little while. They don't need to be alone right now. If they were alone, they would continue to wallow in their emotions and get no closer to actually dealing with these horrible feelings. They needed this getaway to Canada. Sure, it's to do a felony. They could easily get caught by the border patrol and face quite a bit of legal trouble. But the payoff is good and desperately needed right now. All four of the girls needed this change. It's very good for them. At first, they just want to shove all of their emotions about Jody aside. They want this to just be a fun trip - including healthy snacks, bathroom breaks on the side of the road, singing, and listening to an erotic novel. It's a lot of fun. It allows them to experience emotions that aren't sad or depressing.

Of course, all of the emotions of Jody's death do come up to the surface eventually. But it's also presented as a good thing too. Because they all get worked up into an emotional state over this loss, they are waved through the border without a close inspection. They are successful in this business venture because they were willing to let some of these painful emotions out. It still doesn't help Christy deal with her internal struggle of ignoring Jody's final call. But it gets them through this mission with relative ease. This is an experience that bonds the group together. The meetings weren't helping any of them. This trip did so much for the healing process. They relied on each other in ways that helped them get through this tragic experience. It's beautiful and very emotional to watch. It's meaningful when Christy pulls over and needs to have a makeshift meeting. She needs to see the value in her still being alive when Jody is gone. It's a powerful monologue that Faris delivers wonderfully. She is heartbroken and needs to find a way to give her life meaning again. She is surrounded by close friends. They are all feeling the exact same thing. They are in this together. They can support each other. Even Marjorie isn't absent from the group for very long. She forgives Christy by the end of the hour. The healing process still has a long way to go. But now, these women are doing better than they were. They will still miss Jody. But they are more committed than ever before to stay sober for the rest of their lives because they don't know if they'll get another chance in this life. They shouldn't blow all of that potential away just because they are emotional wrecks right now. They realize that and are able to move on. That's a powerful message in this episode. One that is told in both funny and emotional beats. And that continues to be so impressive on this show.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Sticky Hands and a Walk on the Wild Side" was directed by James Widdoes with story by Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky & Susan McMartin and teleplay by Nick Bakay, Warren Bell & Anne Flett-Giordano.
  • It was so important that the show reminded the audience of just how poorly Bonnie dealt with death the last time it happened. She had a tragic downward spiral after Alvin died that lead to her getting arrested. But it's a good thing that that happened because now she's committed to not letting it happen again despite death once again affecting her life.
  • Marjorie did have a great honeymoon with Victor in Alaska. She returned and processed Jody's death by channeling all of her emotions into anger at Christy for not telling her when it happened. She realizes that was wrong offscreen. But her apologizing to Christy in the end was a great scene too.
  • The physical comedy with the barrel of maple syrup was strong - even though I realized they should have brought the vehicle to the barrel instead of the other way around before they did. That didn't take away too much of the humor though. Plus, Wendy getting the strength to lift it into the vehicle in the end was a solid moment.
  • How did no one in the van not notice that Jill was documenting this entire trip and posting it on Instagram? But that didn't cause too many problems and was good for a couple of jokes.
  • Christy and Bonnie have gotten closer this season but Christy refuses to get horny in front of her mother - until the awkward silence forces her to put the erotic novel back on. And of course, Christy would want to critique it for its unrealistic tendencies.
  • Was this the first time the main characters have recited the Serenity Prayer? I think it is but I'm not completely sure. It was still a powerful moment though that really highlighted the big emotions happening in that scene.