Wednesday, September 14, 2016

REVIEW: 'One Mississippi' - Tig Makes a Major Decision About Her Future in 'New Contact'

Amazon's One Mississippi - Episode 1.06 "New Contact"

Tig returns to Los Angeles and discovers that life has moved on without her. Encounters with friends, an ex-girlfriend, and coworkers all lead her to a crossroads, where a life-altering decision must be made.

"New Contact" includes more fantasy elements than any previous episode of One Mississippi. The world that Tig wants to be living in or fears she's living in clash with her actual reality. It shows the kinds of emotions she wants to release despite real-life not being that easy. These sequences have become a part of the show even though the repressed and stunted nature of this family has been the main driver of action. They are moments that liven the episodes up a little bit. They help the audience dig deeper into the psyche of Tig. But more importantly, it allows her to liberate herself a little bit. Sometimes the fantasy helps her find comfort or peace with the tragic or uncertain details of her life. Sometimes the fantasy prepares her for the worst so she's ready and willing to accept the happiness that's actually happening to her. These moments are fun but also make the emotions that come out later on even more powerful. There's a reason there is more of them in the finale. They help highlight the intense journey Tig has been on this season. Lots of things have changed. But many have changed for the better.

Tig is finally ready to return to Los Angeles. She is confident that her family has finally addressed everything that was ailing their dynamics. There is no longer any secrets held between her, Remy and Bill. They were able to confront each other about those issues. They were able to respect what the other person had to say. They found peace in the situation. It doesn't make the circumstances of their lives any easier. Traumatic things happened to all of them. They aren't all suddenly better because they talked things through with each other. But they are at peace with their lives. The emotions that dictate their actions are no longer murky. In the beginning, no one knew how to feel in the wake of Caroline's death. The narrative of the show embraced the differences everyone has in grieving such a major loss. Those differences highlight how disjointed this family has alway been. They were united in location but not emotionally. They embraced just enough for Tig to be willing to return to Los Angeles.

And yet, Los Angeles no longer feels like home to Tig. It has never been to her in the context of this show. She spent one scene in Los Angeles before this episode. And that was in a studio telling a story about the stuffed animals her grandmother used to give her. The season has had plenty of those moments. And more importantly, Tig's connection to her show and her material got even stronger because of her life in Mississippi and the emotional realizations she was coming to. She knows how difficult it is to finally make the jump back to a regular life in Los Angeles. It's a scary prospect. She always had the intention of returning. She has left many times this season already but always found a reason to stay in Mississippi. But now, there is no clear reason - beyond there needing to be a show next season. And yet, the show takes a much more introspective approach to that detail. Life has continued without Tig in Los Angeles. It's a harsh reality of death and grieving. It's an emotional and uncertain time for the family left behind. But the world does not stop. It never stops. It keeps on moving. We as human beings just have to find a way back onto the ride.

There's a mess waiting for Tig back in Los Angeles as well. That's where Brooke is. Tig ended things abruptly and without much reason. She broke things off because she had a feeling that they weren't working out. Brooke was there for Tig throughout her scary cancer treatments. She almost died twice and Brooke was there for her. And yet, Tig's time in Mississippi has forced her to realize that she isn't the same kind of person as Brooke. That's not an inherently bad thing. Who really wants to be with someone who is completely identical to them in every way? That would get boring very quickly. Differences can be exciting and just as scary. Brooke is very different from any other character on the show. She has often come across as a bit more vapid, regular Hollywood type. She follows the health regimens of celebrities and visits psychics regularly. That's not a lifestyle that Tig would be a part of. And yet, she adapted to it for her relationship. And now, she's owning up to the fact that she ended things poorly. Brooke has a right to be mad at her. She accepts the apology though. Plus, she shows Tig that the world kept moving without her. Brooke already has a new girlfriend. An old fling from summer camp who she's reconnected with. It shows that Brooke has a type. But it also means she has the potential for happiness as well. She doesn't need to be bogged down by Tig any longer.

However, all of this means Tig is all alone when it comes to her cancer checkup. The fears and anxieties of that appointment come creeping up. She has no one to support her. She's just crashing at a friend's place until she can get a new apartment. Brooke has moved on. Her job wants her to co-host her show with her fill-in who she cannot stand. That leads to her quitting her job and facing an uncertain future. Things could only get worse if the cancer is back and spread to more of her body. That's what she believes happens. She believes her cancer is so bad it gets a special award. But her cancer is not that special. It has been an important and defining characteristic for her this entire season. But there's no big reveal here. The cancer is still gone and she's healthy. It's a huge moment that she wants to share with her mother. And yet, she can't. She can no longer do that. All she has is Bill and Remy. They are her family. Her life changed in Mississippi. But perhaps that's a very good thing for her future.

Tig and Bill are now talking to each other. Bill understands that he doesn't always listen to Tig or care about her feelings. But he really does care about her. He may not legally be her father anymore but she is still his daughter. He loves her so immensely. He's overwhelmed with emotion when she calls. He's so happy that she is happy. That is the best news she could have possibly delivered. He spent a lot of time worried about her health while she was in town. He helped her with the c-diff but that was hardly a strong bonding experience. They lashed out at each other after all. He blamed her for losing Bonkers while she blamed him for her molestation. They reached an understanding before she left. But now, Bill learns that it was Girlie who let Bonkers out to ward away evil spirits. And Tig no longer blames Bill for what happened to her. Sure, she's questioning what she's going to do with her life. She has nothing in Los Angeles. But she has everything in Mississippi. It's not surprising at all that she makes the journey back there to close out the season. She's planning on staying and starting a regular radio show in the open slot Kate mentioned. That's a purpose. But more importantly, she accepts that Bill loves her and can only show it in his own special way. He's not overjoyed to see her when she returns. He's just worried about her leaving the door open and potentially letting his new cat, Spike, out. And yet, she now realizes that that means he loves her. That's an understanding she didn't get before. But now, she does. It's so wonderful to see that happen too.

Some more thoughts:
  • "New Contact" was written by Melissa Blake and directed by Shira Piven.
  • Tig's radio show really produced a number of great moments this season. Tig Notaro is a masterful storyteller. So when she just sits down and tells a story in great detail, it's amazing and transfixing to watch. She really is such a great performer.
  • Kyle is the friend who's letting Tig crash with him while she's searching for a new apartment. He uses her cancer in order to get a prime parking spot at the airport too. Sure, it's manipulative to use the security guard like that. But also, he deserved it for feeling the need to share the story of his sister's lame cancer scare.
  • Mick has always been overly invested about Tig, Remy and Bill. They are the family he never knew. That was his choice. But he's more outwardly emotional than any of them. So of course, he feels bad about Bonkers and makes Ding Dong bring over a replacement.
  • It's taken a lot for Bill to move on from Bonkers. He never wanted to stop looking. He can't just replace him. And yet, when that new cat arrives, he takes on the responsibility to train it and get it on the schedule that he likes.
  • Remy's story mostly peaked in the fifth episode. Here, he's just looking out of the backseat window at a church wondering if religion can really help him with his problems like Vicky said it would. Guess, we have to wait to see if he goes for it.
  • Tig and Kate's friendship has been great. Kate is right in saying that their goodbyes are never really goodbye. Hopefully, there is even more of their interactions in a potential second season.
  • So far, Amazon hasn't said anything official about a second season for the show. I hope that it returns. This was a pretty terrific first season. I want to dig even deeper into this family unit. I also understand it can be a niche show that's hard to turn a profit. We'll just have to keep on waiting and hoping for the best.

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