Saturday, November 17, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kominsky Method' - Norman Reaches a Breaking Point with His Daughter in 'Chapter 4: A Kegel Squeaks'

Netflix's The Kominsky Method - Episode 1.04 "Chapter 4: A Kegel Squeaks"

Sandy and Norman turn to each other for support as Sandy waits for his test results and tension between Norman and Phoebe ramps up.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's The Kominsky Method.

"Chapter 4: A Kegel Squeaks" was written by Chuck Lorre, Al Higgins & David Javerbaum and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller

How long is Sandy going to be waiting for his test results? He was told that it would take a couple of days. And yes, there is plenty of comedy that can come from the anxiety of waiting. He doesn't know if it's going to come back with good or bad news. But instead, the show mostly opts to tell the same story with Sandy. He is frequently going to the bathroom. He is growing increasingly more frustrated with it as well. But again, it's a story that only really works when he is talking to Norman about it. That dynamic is just so relaxed. When Mindy, Lisa or any of his students are wondering about his health, it seems so forced and unnecessary. Yes, it's important for people like Mindy and Lisa who have a close personal relationship with Sandy to be worried. But Sandy doesn't want to talk about it with any of them. That's the more traditional aspect of this story though. He's a proud and stubborn man who doesn't want to admit that he is aging and has to do things a little differently now. As such, Norman is a comforting presence because he is a little older and has already dealt with these issues in the past. Sure, he has plenty of drama happening in his life that he is way too old to still be dealing with. But when he is hanging out with Sandy, it's just a sweet and relaxed time. They can request very specific slices of meat at the grocery store and they can contemplate what sounds their kegels would make. Those moments are amusing and belong specifically to this show. That's such an important quality because it makes these characters more grounded and believable. Of course, not every moment of this friendship works. Norman complaining about not knowing how to use the chip in his credit card isn't all that original. Nor is the moment where they freak out about Phoebe floating face down in the pool. That moment really just builds up the suspense. It plays as if Phoebe is just taunting the people in her life with fears that she could be dying at any moment as well. That's very real and scary for Norman because his wife just died. He still isn't coping with that. He maintains having conversations with her. Eileen mostly pops up to offer some kind of advice for how to handle Phoebe. But she mostly just disagrees with whatever Norman has said or done. Norman is clearly holding onto the past. That's not an inherently bad thing either. It's very difficult for him to get rid of anything that Eileen had. He doesn't want to empty her closet yet. It's full of expensive clothing that no one is ever going to wear again. He feels weird about donating it to the poor. It doesn't seem like items they could use. Of course, that's ridiculous. Any donation could be beneficial to someone out there. Instead, this story peaks with Phoebe deciding to take a purse and shoes herself. Norman freaks out mostly because he knows how much they cost and assumes that Phoebe will sell them for drugs. He is so afraid that Phoebe will always be drunk or high. That's how he thinks of her after a lifetime of disappointment. And now, it has reached a new breaking point with him throwing her out of the house. She doesn't even do anything wrong. And yet, this action has the potential to carry some extreme consequences to it as well because she no longer has her father to support her. Instead, he reaches out to Sandy to tell him what happened and that he shouldn't indulge her either.