Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What I’m Watching: Transparent (Season Premiere)

Transparent: Season 3, Episode 1 “Elizah” (B+)

Fresh off another Emmy win for actor Jeffrey Tambor and another directing trophy for creator Jill Soloway, who triumphantly called to “topple the patriarchy,” this show is back less than a week later with its entire season. As usual, I’ll be taking it one week at a time, stretching the third season out through the end of November. This opening installment was a typically involved, powerful look at characters, featuring just one of the Pfeffermans and a somewhat unexpected appearance from Rabbi Raquel, who introduced the episode by practicing her Passover sermon and spending time in nature, anchoring the thematic content. Maura woke up happy from a truly wonderful night spent together with Vicki, experiencing an emotion that she hadn’t ever really felt. That led to her going in to the hotline with plenty of energy, and she wasn’t at all prepared for a real situation like Elizah. After a rough start, she got into a good rhythm, but going to look for her and asking others if they knew her from the streets represented an unhealthy investment in one particular case. The mood of the episode was jolted when she broke her shoe and then happened upon two people with masking tape and shoe advice who happened to play by J.B. Smoove, better known as Leon from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and Denisa Lena Waithe, who plays Denise on “Master of None.” Those two comedic guest stars caught me off guard, and were definitely odd choices in a scene leading up to Maura stealing the Gatorade, being defended by Elizah after she finally found her, and then passing out because of the stress of the situation and the fumes from the nail salon. Calling out to be taken to a particular Jewish hospital was a melancholy ending that showed just how out of control she truly was. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the Pfeffermans are up to, and I’m sure this is going to be a very transformative season.