Wednesday, June 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'Brockmire' - Brockmire's Friends and Family Stage an Intervention for Him in 'Caught in a Rundown'

IFC's Brockmire - Episode 2.07 "Caught in a Rundown"

After Jim ends up in the hospital, Charles has an intervention to stop Brockmire's destructive habits. In attendance are a rag-tag group of friends and enemies from Brockmire's past. Jim meets a dangerous new friend.

It's not surprising in the slightest that many of Brockmire's friends and family have organized interventions for him in the past. It is shocking to see how many people are willing to come to try knocking some sense into him this time. It's an important story that highlights who from Brockmire's past shows up and who doesn't. It plays into the conventions of this kind of story by having Brockmire commenting on the normal plot beats. He knows that the people will sit around in a circle where everyone will individually speak about what Brockmire's drinking means to them. He's expecting it to be emotional but not change his opinion at all. Then, Jules will pop out and she will say something that really hits Brockmire deep - maybe to the point where he is willing to be sober for a little while. And yet, that's exactly what makes this episode so special. Jules doesn't show up for Brockmire's intervention. Charles did reach out to her knowing that Brockmire had such a huge impact on her life. They were essentially soulmates who wanted to spend as much time together as possible. But the last time they spoke, it ended in such heartbreak because Jules knew she could no longer indulge in Brockmire and his vices. He simply didn't want the same things that she did. And so, she chooses not to show up for him because that betrayal clearly cut deep. On one hand, it makes sense why she doesn't show up based on her previous trip to New Orleans. On the other hand though, it's disappointing because it's yet another episode without Amanda Peet in this terrific role. Jules really is the only person who could get Brockmire to stop drinking. At least that was probably the initial thought heading into this episode. That previous and loving connection could fuel Brockmire's decision-making process. And yet, she is a functioning alcoholic as well. So, it's probably for the best that she isn't here. She may not be able to see the damage and horror of Brockmire's drinking because she suffers from the same disease and doesn't wish to quit right now. It's a very complicated situation. As such, it makes it seem that the only way that Brockmire will actually get sober is if he wants to be sober. He has to be the one to make that decision after actively listening to all of his friends and family speak.

All of this starts because Brockmire ends up in the hospital after weeks of blackout partying and sex. He wakes up to the news that he now has two strains of chlamydia. That's in addition to the string of gonorrhea he already has. It's clear that he isn't taking care of his body anymore. He has always been overly dependent on alcohol and drugs to make it through the day. Charles even supported these habits too. He had the evidence that proved that Brockmire was better at his job when he was high. It was a way to calm his nerves and enjoy that he could offer the kind of commentary everyone needed in that moment. And yet, it was because of his drinking and his need to say something inappropriate that he lost all of these opportunities to announce games in the major leagues. He was too drunk after walking in on Lucy and her orgy when he first ruined his career. He was also drunk when he confronted Art during his retirement game just an episode ago. Brockmire needs to show the world that he is not some stuck-up white guy with privilege. He has experienced the world and has a great respect for all types of people. He wanted people to know that he only got this job because Art was actually a racist who couldn't pass the torch down to Raj. Brockmire speaking up about that ruined this final game and once again destroyed his chance of being able to call in the major leagues. As such, there is no longer any reason for him to be sober at all. Life is simply easier and more fun when he is drunk and high all of the time. He has truly hit his rock bottom. He no longer has Jules in his life. His dream is once again dead. And now, Charles has walked away to start his own professional podcasting business. They all still clearly care about Brockmire. But he has been so dependent on those relationships for so long. It is just better for him to just wander the world getting drunk and not really caring about any of the activities he gets into.

Brockmire becomes so destructive here. If he continues this type of behavior, he is going to die. The doctors are already marveling at all of the conditions he is currently suffering from. Of course, they are mostly amused by the scurvy instead of the STDs. For them, stuff like chlamydia and gonorrhea are common in this line of work. But actually seeing scurvy outside of a textbook is incredibly rare these days because people largely know how to treat it and avoid it in the first place. They get their laughs at Brockmire's expense. But his doctor does warn Charles that Brockmire's body is essentially shutting down. He needs to be monitored very closely because he could die at any moment. Instead of listening to that advice, Brockmire simply steals some champagne from the next room over and escapes to go live life in New Orleans once more. It's an eye-opening moment for Charles as well. He has lost Brockmire so many times over the course of the series. He can turn around and Brockmire can vanish on him. And yet, he knows Brockmire's normal schedule. He knows the places in the city that he likes to frequent. As such, it's not difficult to find Brockmire. Charles has a lot of experience with that as well. Sure, it's odd to stage an intervention for someone in a bar. However, it's one of the few locations where Charles and company know where Brockmire will be. They are expecting him to show up. As such, they can easily just use the space for this meeting to tell Brockmire what he really needs to hear right now. It's just such a fascinating collection of people to get that message through to Brockmire. Charles has gotten Jean, Lucy, Uribe, Raj and Joe Buck to show up for this intervention. Of course, Joe Buck is just video chatting into the event because he is too busy calling a game. It's still a collection of people who love Brockmire. But it's also clear that they aren't the best in actually getting through to him.

Brockmire doesn't believe he needs to change his behavior at all. Instead of listening to his friends and family stage this intervention, he just fires back at their own obsessive behavior that makes their insight on this subject completely moot. He doesn't know why he should listen to a group of people who also have their fair share of problems going on. Lucy tells Brockmire that he should actually be grateful for their marriage ending because it gave him the freedom to indulge in all of these vices of his completely. He challenges that by saying that she is obsessively looking for sex every second of every day. Jean doesn't want to bury another member of her family any time soon - especially someone whom she actually likes. And yet, Brockmire again can contest that she just likes to control everyone and feel superior to everyone because she has suffered and survived so much already. Meanwhile, Uribe basically didn't understand the assignment when it came time for him to speak. That doesn't matter though because Brockmire can counter that Uribe wants as many children as he can possibly have even though he has too many right now to ever be a genuine father. It's then amusing when Raj takes this opportunity to flip Brockmire off by flaunting his new job calling games in the majors in his face. Raj has still managed to find a way to emerge victorious in this competition. It's through that boastfulness that Brockmire comes around on liking Raj again. But that fuels his desire to be liked at all times. And then, there is Joe Buck who wants to say something sincere and genuine but the connection keeps going in and out. Plus, he is also busy calling a game which only makes Brockmire's point for him in saying that Joe Buck feels the need to be seen no matter where it is at.

Unsurprisingly, it's Charles' big speech to Brockmire that seems to strike a chord. There is nothing inherently bad that Brockmire can say about Charles. His friend has been through so much with him. He has supported Brockmire throughout all of the highs and lows of his attempt to rebuild his career. He valued their codependent relationship because they both needed something from the other. Brockmire needed someone to keep him sober and focused on his daily schedule while Charles needed someone to launch a podcast. Their relationship could still be beneficial if they keep the podcast going. That would ensure they stay in each other's lives. But it's also clear that Charles has built something for himself during his time in New Orleans. Brockmire has maintained a sense of being a visitor in this city. He has had many adventures but he doesn't want to be tied down to any particular place just yet. He still wants to be exploring the world. He won't let anyone tell him otherwise. He can't attack Charles the same way that he attacks everyone else at the intervention because Charles is actually a good guy who is genuinely doing something very productive with his life. That's what makes it so nasty when Brockmire ultimately betrays that bond as well. Charles is completely in the right by saying that he won't do the podcast or speak to Brockmire again unless he is sober. Brockmire just takes that as an assault and decides to fling untrue statements towards Charles that could play into all of his worst fears about what his parents are always saying about him. It's such a destructive moment. It's Brockmire essentially pushing everyone he cares about away. They all came here to support him and get him the help he needs. Charles found him a place in a sober living community. But instead, Brockmire is choosing to continue to indulge in alcohol and drugs. He reaches out to the women from the bar who told him he hadn't hit rock bottom yet. And she introduces him to either cocaine or meth. That's an ominous tease heading into the finale. And one that promises to be so destructive to Brockmire's already crumbling life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Caught in a Rundown" was written by Jason Belleville and directed by Maurice Marable.
  • Brockmire is completely surprised that the room at the hospital is evenly split between those who think he was in the right versus Art. He expects that kind of racism to exist in some very deep ways in the South. But he wasn't expecting it from these very highly intelligent people. And yet, that's a biting criticism of this country and our constant bafflement at just how racist we still are in so many ways.
  • Carrie Preston has only appeared as this mysterious woman during the final minutes of two episodes. As such, I'm fully expecting her to have a big showcase story in the finale. Otherwise, it would seem like a waste of casting her in that role. She has won an Emmy after all! And yet, that leaves me very excited because it's clear that she is going to pull some very dark and sinister things out of Brockmire. Stuff he didn't even know he had within him.
  • It's also just a great joke that Brockmire is fixated on the lack of food during this latest intervention. He has been through enough of this to know just how long he should stick around as a sign of respect for the hard work the people involved put into the plan. Here, it seems like all Charles did was get all of these people to this bar in New Orleans. That's still a big deal. But Brockmire is expecting more than just some plain bagels as well.
  • It is heartbreaking to listen to Jean talk about how many days she has been sober and each day needing to make the choice to keep living that way. She has seen what this disease has done to her father and brother. She risks losing Brockmire too soon. And yet, it's horrifying to watch him secretly drinking while listening in on these personal expressions of love. Of course, how did he manage to sneak that into the room in the first place?
  • Brockmire is afraid to get sober because he attributes drinking with getting him everything he has ever cared about in this world. It has been the foundational aspect of so many of his achievements and relationships. But it would also be so completely interesting for the show to truly embrace a sober Brockmire. The audience has seen the destruction and the chaos. Now, it would be fascinating to see him try to rebuild his life all over again by making that significant change.