Wednesday, August 24, 2016

REVIEW: 'Another Period' - Beatrice's Attempts to Save Lillian Have Lethal Consequences in 'Lillian is Dead'

Comedy Central's Another Period - Episode 2.11 "Lillian is Dead"

The Commodore faces some hard truths about his finances. Blanche goes into labor. Lillian goes on an epic drinking binge.

Another Period just wrapped another strong season. This year was perhaps a bit more erratic than the first one was. It was hindered a little bit by actor availability - especially with Paget Brewster, Christina Hendricks, Jason Ritter and Brett Gelman. Those characters are so strong and funny that their absences were really noticed. And yet, Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome are so phenomenal in the lead roles as well. The show did lean on them more this year which resulted in some truly memorable episodes. "Lillian is Dead" doesn't quite reach the same highs as the rest of this season did. Last week's episode seemingly did a much better job of wrapping the season up. As a finale, "Lillian is Dead" mostly just offers some further resolution on a handful of stories that really didn't need it all that much. Blanche's pregnancy was never all that engaging of a storyline. Hortense and Bertram were just fine with getting married and riding off into the sunset together. The Bellacourts got their money back because of Hortense's marriage. Dodo was humiliated but able to get the abbey that she wanted. There wasn't a whole lot of actual plot that this finale needed to address. So, it's just a little bit too awkward trying to come up with situations for its characters.

Beatrice becoming a nun has been a really amusing storyline over the last few episodes. She escaped in order to free herself from her sinful life with Frederick at the manor. She survived because she found religion. She's now trying to force that onto others as well. The show has been really insightful with its takedown of religion. It's been really funny too. But it also comes across as genuine. Beatrice may be simple and gullible but she really wants Lillian to be in heaven with her. They both have been terrible people who've done some pretty despicable things. And yet, Beatrice still believes Heaven is an option for them as long as they change their ways now and ask for forgiveness. That's difficult for Lillian because her fiancé died before finishing their wedding. Hortense swooped in and became the savior for the family. Lillian no longer has any importance at all. She's drowning her sorrows in as much alcohol as she can find. As she puts it, "alcohol trumps judgment." That's a really funny line as it's delivered here. But it also showcases just how broken down and defeated Lillian is right now. She doesn't want to listen to anything that Beatrice has to say - which lays the groundwork for their conflict here.

Lillian has fled to a bar. She's surrounded herself with men she wouldn't normally associate with. She just wants to get drunk and forget about everything that has happened to her. Beatrice doesn't want that for her. She wants Lillian to embrace her past mistakes, ask for forgiveness and find the light like she has. Of course, it's not that simple. Despite her newfound enlightenment, Beatrice is still Beatrice. She brings an ax into the bar and basically destroys the place in the hopes of rescuing Lillian. That's just a really fantastic sequence. It all culminates in Lillian being pushed, hitting her head and seemingly dying from those injuries. Death is what gets Beatrice to question everything she has been told about religion. She believes she can ask for forgiveness and Lillian will be brought back to life. It's not that simple. Except it totally is in the end. All it takes to revive Lillian is to put some money in her face. That's what brings her back to life. She loves money more than anything else. So of course, Beatrice destroying the church and sending money everywhere wakes Lillian up. It's so completely ridiculous that it totally works. Beatrice doesn't know if she had free will with these actions that brought Lillian back to her. She doesn't know if she did them or if it was God answering her prayers. But it's enough to reset the status quo. It brings Beatrice and Lillian back together. They are resolved that they only have each other, money and Bellacourt Manor.

Of course, Bellacourt Manor is no longer secure for them. Throughout the finale, it's a big deal that Lillian may be dying. It's something that plays out across the second half of the episode. It's not until the money comes into play that there is any hope of her being revived. And yet, there is a major death in this finale. Hortense and Bertram die when they crash into a tree following their wedding. At first, it was teased by Bertram's eyesight once again failing. He took his bandages off too soon just to see what Hortense looked like. He still drove as Hortense found the eye drops and put them on his eyes just so he could see again. It was a tense moment but they survived. That wasn't what doomed them as a couple. That instead came from Bertram suddenly changing his view of Hortense. He liked that she was a strong and independent woman while she was single. But now, he believes she should conform to the societal norms of a married woman. It doesn't matter that she's barren. Now, she can only have kids and manage the family at home. This sudden shift is enough for Hortense to violently cause the accident that kills both of them. It's a stark moment for the show. And yet, it is a little difficult to care about them. Hortense has always been ridiculed by her family because of her appearance. But the show itself really struggled with her this season. The recasting did the character no favors. Lauren Flans was just too stiff and one-note compared to the dimension Lauren Ash had last season. So, it makes it difficult to see Hortense's actions here as a noble character decision. Instead, they play as something that complicates the rest of her family's lives.

Because of Hortense and Bertram's deaths, the Commodore doesn't get all the money this marriage would have provided. Money is all this family cares about. And now, they don't have any of it. That forces the true colors to come out with many of the characters. It's revealed that Chair really was in all of this just for the money. She seduced the Commodore just to become part of a wealthy family. She pushed Dodo out just to take control over everything at Bellacourt Manor. Last week's duel was a comedic highlight for the entire series. In the end, Chair took pity on Dodo and gave her the abbey. But now, that decision really comes back to hurt the entire family. Money was so tight in the first place because Dodo gave away so much of it to charity. And now, she has reclaimed all of it by getting those charities to shut down and funnel money back to the abbey. So, Dodo ends the season on top. She celebrates by sleeping with Father Black Donahue while Peepers watches. It's a bittersweet moment. She's happy while Peepers is miserable. That seems like their destiny as two characters whose lives are constantly intertwined. Meanwhile, Beatrice and Lillian return from their adventure at the bar and church hoping to be reunited with their wealthy lifestyle. They have no idea foreclosure is waiting for them once they return. And yet, it does seem evident that they are on the precipice of fame. That's what they've always wanted and have struggled to obtain. Harriet Tubman returns to declare them as the new faces of feminism. They are hardly worthy of that title. They only destroyed the bar because of their own personal vendettas. But this really could be the opportunity they need to make something of themselves. However, they are completely oblivious to this reveal. They are just two heiresses returning to their wealthy estate. They don't know their actions have changed anything. So, they'll likely continue being pompous airheads moving forward - to the delight and amusement of the audience.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Lillian is Dead" was written by Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome & Jeremy Konner and directed by Jeremy Konner.
  • No Hamish, Victor, Albert or Frederick at all in this finale. Plus, Garfield is only seen briefly as he takes Lillian to the bar. That's disappointing. This show is frequently at its best when it lets all of these hilarious characters of the ensemble bounce off each other.
  • Lillian wanting to go to a place where no one knew her name was a solid bar sitcom joke last week. But here, the bartender saying punchlines followed by laughter and sitcom music was a little too much. It was grating and didn't have much purpose.
  • Blanche does deliver her baby. But she does so alone. Dr. Goldberg is too busy observing the sabbath to help. He'll make an exception for hitting her but not delivering her baby. That's messed up but also a solid joke.
  • Plus, Blanche only gets a seven second maternity leave. Anything longer than that will lead to her being immediately replaced. She doesn't even have the time to name her son. He's just laying there in the servant's quarters to the befuddlement of anyone who walks by.
  • Nothing really happened with Garfield and Flobelle's flirtation. That's surprising. It was set up as an intriguing potential story earlier this season. And then, just nothing ever came out of it.
  • Comedy Central renewed Another Period for a third season before this one even got started. So, the network obviously has a lot of love for it. That's good because the ratings aren't so strong. But again, I really enjoy its unique style of humor and can't wait to see what messed up situations Beatrice and Lillian get into next.