Friday, August 30, 2013

Dead Like Me, Season 2, Episode 1: Send in the Clown

First episode of a new season – and that means a recap. Actually, it’s a pretty good recap, nicely summing everything up elegantly. Worries for this season? Season 1 was left with no plot hooks and a fairly weak overarching plot itself – I wonder where this season will go and whether the separate episodes can be interesting enough in their own right

We open in the Waffle House and George reading the Obituaries – the Reaper Sports pages – and feeling bitter when people live even to be 50; given her own very young death. At least it was very well reported – she asks Daisy and Mason if there’s was (Mason no – drug death in the 60s wasn’t newsworthy and Daisy’s death was buried since it happened on the set of Gone with the Wind). This leads, because of Daisy, to a conversation of the many men Daisy slept with and questioning of why George died a virgin (George’s reasons don’t impress Daisy). And Mason realises since he’s knocked off the booze & drugs he’s suddenly attracting more attention (aha, season 2 is jettisoning the bizarre fiction that Callum Blue is not hot).

Rube arrives with the assignment including multiple deaths at a farmer’s market (and a discussion about what constitutes a “disaster”. 7 deaths and under is a “crying shame”. I do love their banter). To the Farmer’s Market and the usual game of tracking down exactly who is going to die and putting the Reaper touch on them. Throw in some highly dubious but partially challenged racial banter, a discarded cigarette, a graveling and a gas leak and Booooom. George feels especially bad because she Reaped a flower seller who gave her a flower just before being Reaped. George flees the scene – especially since the disaster zone resembles her own death too much.

Back at the Waffle House, Mason is revelling in his newly awakened taste buds after being sober and drug free for the first time on 40 years. And Roxy has an insightfully cutting note about Daisy and her demeanour and why it doesn’t work on Roxy.

And at the Las household, family life is rocky and Joy continues to try and understand and bond with Reggie.  And a reminder from George that Rube hates her stalking her family – as she returns to the Waffle House, still disturbed and short tempered and guilty; leaving her flower and breakfast going to work (after Rube walks out from more tales of Daisy’s “star fucking” days).

George heads into work – actually relieved since it’s a job where she won’t be dealing with life and death. She has to deal with Delores – and bad news, training the bosses inept nephew Brennan. Well, apparently bad news but the consolation prize is that he’s easy on the eyes. Time for training and, yes, Brennan is not very intelligent. Also, George is pretty creepy when she finds a guy hot. She also gets jealous over other women paying attention to him (already claiming him as her boyfriend) and Delores advises her against office romance – that she’s young and has her whole life to meet someone. Ouch. As George says – she’s a virgin with a death certificate, what is she waiting for?

But she slices her finger off in the shredder staring and Brennan – thankfully a minor issue for a Reaper, though it does allow her to play woozy and fall into his arms when she sees another woman looking at him. From there she kisses him – watched by Delores.

Cue the whole office watching her and Delores desperately trying to advise her to be more careful – and gives her a promotion! More hours, more pay – and no more time with Brennan. She goes to Brennan and breaks off their date.

Back to the Las household – with Joy and Clancy in couples therapy and Joy has sharpened her knives for this one. It seems rather unproductive but is immensely amusing. Of course, the counsellor doesn’t seem to be very helpful either – basically advising Joy to “let sleeping dogs lie” and not bring up the things that are annoying her (admittedly “he eats noisily” may not be the most important disclosed information out there). And ends with a gay joke about the counsellor. Wonderful.

After therapy, Clancy asks Joy if she wants to be married to him. She says she doesn’t. Which means going to Reggie to tell her about the separation which starts well but quickly derails with Joy’s fury over Clancy’s cheating and Clancy lashing back accusing Joy of driving George out.


We get to see Roxy’s workplace! With lots of snark from her fellow traffic warnings and instructions from on high to stop mouthing off to the public –or pulling guns in Roxy’s case. Daisy catches up with Roxy while she’s working and is astonished that Roxy has been prevented from mouthing off. But she does get to vent by clotheslining a kid harassing a disabled woman (the disabled woman beat both kids handily but, alas, was killed in an accident and was Daisy’s reap) impressing a cop.

And Mason and Rube have to deal with KIDS. Hordes and hordes of kids. And it’s hard to find who to Reap among frustrated parents already threatening murder. Mason has to be a clown – which he is not a fan of and is most inappropriate to the kids (and to one of the women, though Rube catches him on it); and we have an insight of Rube’s kid issues, since he was a father before he died. And Mason has to reap the little 6 year old girl’s doting daddy – on her birthday. Said dad is traumatically upset to realise this is how his lovely daughter will remember her birthday – ouch ouch and more ouch

Is it just me or does this episode have a lot of gut-punch moments?

George, feeling down, heads to the Waffle House with Roxy to not help her feel better (Roxy’s joined the police academy. Fear her people, fear. Daisy isn’t a fan) and Rube talks to George about her promotion; how it may be taking on too much for her. She’s not open to advice

With all the gut punches this episode, we get a big depressing montage of depressed people. And Mason falls off the wagon and George returns home to find Daisy has brought her flower home for her. George is still snarky and even cruel to Daisy; who lays down a very good and very needed smack down and goes to bed after saying “I’m sorry you were so young when you died.”

She puts the flower on her grave and reflects on how she feels she betrayed herself

I love the banter on Dead like Me between the Reapers – which is why I always love the Waffle House scenes when there’s no drama going on. They bounce off each other well. Especially when they add in almost callous seeming summations about death (like how many people have to die before they consider the event a disaster – yes, it’s callous. But they deal with death every day! It’s the same kind of callous humour you get from, say, pathologists).

Joy remains one of my favourite characters – just little scenes like her happiness that she never found George smoking pot, but at the same time kind of sad because she didn’t get out there and really have experiences. Joy and Clancy together is both a joy of Joy’s snark – and the realistic cringeworthiness of their relationship crashing and burning

George continues to climb through her issues and thing she missed before she died – though why she couldn’t have explored boys without snarling at “that slut” over her wannabe boyfriend.

This episode pretty much was classic Dead Like Me, setting up everyone, what everyone did, why and who they are as well as the general themes of snark and poignancy.  But it did have a harder, sharper edge to the death which makes me wonder if this is a new theme.