Wednesday, May 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'Brockmire' - Jules Visits Brockmire in New Orleans for a Memorable Night in 'Make-Up Game'

IFC's Brockmire - Episode 2.05 "Make-Up Game"

Jules visits Jim, who gives her a tour of New Orleans. They reconnect for an evening.

In its second season, Brockmire chose to be very different from the eight episodes it produced last year. Brockmire has found new success professionally which has only further compounded his personal problems. The show took him out of one location to plant him into a new city that only further indulged in his various addictions. But of course, the most significant difference between the two seasons was the absence of Amanda Peet as Jules. She was such a vital component of the first season. The show made the audience invested in the relationship between Brockmire and Jules right away. They were two kindred spirits who could match each other completely with their addictions and vices. It was fun watching them solve problems together even though it was often their own behavior that created those problems in the first place. Brockmire left for New Orleans because he was a selfish man with a selfish desire to make it back into the major leagues of baseball announcing. He ultimately saw Jules and Morristown as nothing more than a stepping stone back to the career he once had. He needed to start this journey somewhere. Jules was willing to give him a chance when no one else would because she was counting on success just as much as she was. She desperately needed the Frackers to have a winning season that was ultimately profitable for the company. That's what she needed because she invested so much money into the team. She was caught off guard by her relationship with Brockmire. But it was always played as a sincere and genuine connection. That's why it was so devastating when he cast her aside to chase his dream and why it was so understandable when she slammed the door in his face when he returned to her with the clarity that he made a huge mistake. Jules' absence has been a significant plot point this season because the story has focused on Brockmire without that strong relationship and tether to his life. It's focused on just how far he could sink without the love of a strong woman who understood and reciprocated everything he felt in this world. It's been a fascinating story. But it also becomes even more powerful when Jules does show up again to show Brockmire just how destructive this life can still be.

Jules and Brockmire may have only had a successful relationship while in Morristown. It was the specific location and time in their lives that made their relationship work. Brockmire wasn't willing to keep it going once he got this job offer that could lead to him calling games in the major leagues again. He was working to achieve that goal. He was willing to bring Jules along on that journey as well. She enjoyed meeting his former colleagues who could make some calls and create new opportunities for him in his career. Joe Buck still likes Brockmire enough to do favors for him. Brockmire did get this tryout in New Orleans for the minor leagues. But he took the job without thinking about how it would affect his relationship with Jules. He had a choice. He could stay in Morristown and live happily with her but without a more promising career. Or he could move on up the ladder to chase his own dreams while living his flame behind in Pennsylvania. He didn't even think to consult Jules about the decision he had to make. He just made it and didn't even present a way for the two of them to continue seeing each other. This season has pointed out just how smart this decision may have been for Brockmire. He is more successful now than he has been in a long time. And yet, his success as a baseball announcer and his success as the host of a podcast didn't really align. They are two separate aspects of his life. It has always felt like podcasting is the more lucrative career for him at this point in his life. It may be time for him to retire his dream of calling games in the major leagues again. He has refused to do so even though it could restore what he actually wants in this life with Jules. But it's also clear that the damage has already been done and she wouldn't just take him back so easily because he has fallen in love with new corners of the world as well.

It's so startling to see Jules just show up in New Orleans for Brockmire's latest podcast recording session. She returns as a changed woman as well. She has been able to build momentum for the team in Morristown even without Brockmire's help. She has this new business investment pitch for her in Colombia as well. Things are going well for her professionally. And yet, she chooses to seek Brockmire out when she has a layover in New Orleans. She visits this set of his mostly just to see the magic happen. She has been listening to the podcast ever since he left. In fact, she may have a better understanding of the things he has said onstage than Brockmire does. She is a fan of his work. She still appreciates him in that regard even though he has been a horrible boyfriend to her. This episode kicks off with Brockmire needing to talk about the one that got away for his podcast. It seems like such a profound subject that will inevitably lead him to Jules. He'll talk about their relationship onstage while she is actually there. He may notice her and even try to include her in the recording session. But that's not what ultimately occurs. He instead makes a joke and then just goes into a long story that doesn't seem to touch on Jules at all. That shows that these conversations on the podcast may not actually be that deep. Brockmire wishes to present himself as someone with a nuanced and in-depth understanding of the world. But he may have just lived a crazy life with unbelievable stories to share. He is no closer to figuring out what he wants out of life than he was when he first met Jules. It's a surprise to him too when she knocks on his door after the show. It leads into this epic story that shows just how easily they can fall back into their old patterns. They can still easily connect with each other through drugs, alcohol and sex. They can still match each other in that regard even though Brockmire has had much more practice and stamina at hitting the streets of New Orleans.

But it's all just building to such a heartbreaking ending that shows that Brockmire and Jules still want different things out of their lives right now. She is happy to spend time with him in New Orleans. Morristown will still be her home. She will still live there. But she's willing to spend part of the year in New Orleans with Brockmire in order to keep things going. This is the kind of relationship they could have had if Brockmire actually talked with her before taking this new job. However, this offer is also corrupted by Brockmire once again making a decision about his future without consulting Jules first. Of course, he doesn't have to involve her in the decision-making process of whether he can accept the new opportunity in Atlanta that puts him one step closer to the major leagues again. He has been in a competition with Raj for this entire season so far. And now, a decision has been made. It happens so early in the season as well. That proves that the show isn't interested in resting on its laurels at all. It is still moving quickly through the trials and tribulations of Brockmire's career. He thought this job was out of his reach after seeing Raj's popularity. And yet, Whitney calls him to say that he's been given the job regardless of what the numbers say. The higher ups still want to be in business with Jim Brockmire. It just means he won't be in New Orleans anymore despite just giving Jules the pitch that it could be a fun city for them to spend time together in. It's such a destructive blow because it's Brockmire making a choice out of what he wants. He wants a successful career and to have some kind of relationship with Jules. He's perfectly content seeing her once a month for a bender of alcohol and sex in a new city. To him, that is the perfect relationship because it cuts out all of the mundane bullshit. But Jules wants the mundane bullshit in addition to all of the crazy sex and drinking. She wants that kind of stability. This just further presents the case that Brockmire is simply not a good and healthy boyfriend for her right now.

In fact, Jules sees Brockmire as nothing more than a benign tumor that can't be removed. She tried desperately to cut him out of her life completely. She wanted to just move on and forget that Brockmire ever came to Morristown. She was unable to do so because the feelings just kept creeping back in. She's still been paying attention to his career from afar. She will probably still listen to his podcast after this latest fight as well. Again, it's hard for her to leave this relationship behind entirely. And yet, she must push Brockmire away because he's looking for something completely different than what she is offering. He wants a meaningful connection. He tried to mimic the relationship that they had when he first came to New Orleans. He only dated people his own age who actually wanted something real. It never worked out because he simply couldn't replace Jules. As such, he has just been on one epic bender of one-night stands to still fulfill his sexual desires. He has such a love and appreciation for sex. There is so much that he wishes to do in bed. But he can't make a lasting commitment. He is jumping around from city to city and from girl to girl. The only stable aspect of his life is Charles who has just attached himself to him because of the success it has brought to him as well. This season has proven that their codependent relationship is actually beneficial to both of them. Right now, it is working. It's something they both see as appealing. It may not last forever. It may just be a dynamic of momentary peace and success. But it works for them. The same is no longer true of Jules and Brockmire simply because there is too much distance in their lives. It's not the same as it was which is devastating to Brockmire. And yet, he is quickly called out for not really selling the bullshit he is saying with his complete convictions. He meets a woman who is living life with no expectations for consequences. She is so cruel and destructive. But it's mostly eye-opening to Brockmire that he has not yet reached that lowest valley of despair. However, it seems very likely that he'll reach it soon which may further compromise his new job opportunities and relationships.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Make-Up Game" was written by Annie Mebane and directed by Maurice Marable.
  • This episode also creates such a huge question about Jules' future appearances on the show. Right now, it seems like she has been betrayed by Brockmire twice because he got her hopes up only to quickly destroy them. She may not want to fall into that pattern again. The attraction is still there. But she may no longer wish to chase it. As such, that could really limit the amount of time she is actually seen without the show seeming like it is just inserting her into the narrative because she's a great character.
  • It seems inevitable that the woman Brockmire meets in the bar after all of this with Jules will return at some point. I say that because she is played by Emmy winner Carrie Preston. This seems like such a dark but funny character for her to play. That makes me very excited because she's such a fantastic actresses. She may pull Brockmire even further into the darkness. And yet, that's also the exact trajectory of the story this season.
  • Brockmire doesn't tell Charles that Jules is in town and that he's spending the night with her. He would just rather go out and have that adventure to see if there is the chance of them rekindling their spark. They do but they aren't able to avoid Charles forever. He was bound to see them at the bar. He needed to give Brockmire the update about the job. But it's also so funny to see him happy about the potential of his two friends getting back together. He definitely ships them.
  • Brockmire went to Morristown earlier this season. And yet, he chose not to stay around and see what changes Jules was able to make. He just abandoned her again because he thought it was pretty clear that that's what she wanted. And now, she is just able to share the changes that have happened. Dale died in a meth fire. Brockmire always expected that to happen. But Jules also got the team to change its name - even though it's not much better than the Frackers.
  • It's also so amusing that Jules is much more intrigued by Brockmire's newfound knowledge about the New Orleans bar scene and culture than his understanding of graveyards and why bodies are buried above ground here. It mostly presents as a way for him to seem smart even though the women he's sharing these details with don't care in the slightest because they have their own problems and desires to worry about.