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Up in Smoke: The Fourth Season Premiere of "Weeds"

Ah, how the time has flown. When we last saw Weeds' Nancy Botwin, she had set fire to her own house as Agrestic burned to the ground; it was a figurative transformation for pot-dealer Nancy and a cleansing of sorts as she erased the stuff that defined her suburban existence. Where would she and the kids (not to mention Andy) end up now that her carefully laid plans had gone up in smoke quite literally?

Cut to next week's hilariously wicked fourth season opener for Weeds ("Mother Thinks The Birds Are After Her"), which premieres on Monday on Showtime. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the first two fantastic episodes of the fourth season, which comprise a new beginning of sorts for the extended Botwin clan. Leaving behind Agrestic (and on the lam for the discovery of the grow house), Nancy and the kids drive aimlessly until she stumbles onto a temporary solution: they'll head south to the Mexican border and the small beach town of Ren Mar, where Shane and Silas' great-grandmother has a house.

It's a plan that work have worked except for one thing: Bubbie is nearly catatonic and hooked up a host of machines that are keeping her alive and her son (Andy and Judah's father) Lenny (guest star Albert Brooks) has moved in to the house in order to care for his ailing mother. Naturally, things never work out for Nancy (otherwise there wouldn't be a series) and Lenny absolutely despises Nancy and always has: he prefers to call her Not-Francie rather than by her given name as a constant reminder that Judah should have married the saintly opthamologist rather than the shiksa Nancy. So it's that sort of a family reunion. But she's not alone in her misery. No, Lenny seems to hate his son Andy just as much as he loathes Nancy and calls him a thief (claiming he stole $20,000 from him) and Not-Judah. As for the kids, Silas gives himself a new haircut and Shane gets stuck looking after Bubbie while Lenny heads to the track.

The shift in location has opened up the series in a significant way. I wasn't a fan of the sub-par third season, which seemed to get way off track with drive-by shootings and military maneuvers and already feel like Season Four is off to a good start that has driven Weeds back on track, as it were. As for the matter of which supporting characters make it into the fourth season, there's no sign of Heylia and Conrad but Celia, Isabelle, Doug, Sanjay, and Dean all play a large role in the proceedings, even while they are still in Agrestic. The use of separate locations likely plays a part in alleviating Mary Louise Parker's workload and also works as a narrative device. While Nancy goes skipping off to the beach after the fire, the others are left to clean up the mess... and point fingers of accusation against Celia for the grow house. Celia is a convenient scapegoat for the entire operation (she did own the house where the drugs were being grown) and is thrown to the wolves in prison. If you never thought you'd see the day where Celia is painted and made up to look like a hooker with a black eye, think again.

Ultimately, the two episodes comprise a new beginning and new direction for Weeds, one that pushes Nancy to take larger and larger risks as she tries to get rich from her partnership with the sociopathic Guillermo and forces her to confront the ghost of her dead husband via his family. It's an exciting new journey for these characters and I am intrigued to see just where it's going. I doubt that Lenny will let them stay there for very long so I wonder if the series' creator Jenji Kohan will let the Botwins put down some new roots before they are cast out onto the road again. I for one love the new beach setting, with its Mexican border wall and air of transience (not to mention the fantastic scene with Parker's Nancy waiting an interminable time to cross the border and, um, using her latte cup as a Jane-on-the-go), and hope that it opens up some new dynamic and compelling storytelling for the series in its fourth year.

In the meantime, I can't wait to see how Celia enacts her revenge on Nancy and what the new Ren Mar setting means for Dean and Doug's continued partnership with Nancy. All this and a deal with the devil in the form of Guillermo for Nancy? It's going to be one hot summer for Weeds.

Weeds launches Monday night at 10 pm on Showtime.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Million Dollar Password (CBS); My Name is Earl/Last Comic Standing (NBC; 8:30-10 pm); Smallville (CW); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (FOX)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Supernatural (CW); So You Think You Dance (FOX)

10 pm: Swingtown (CBS); Fear Itself (NBC)

What I'll Be TiVo'ing:

9 pm: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List on Bravo.

Okay, I know, I know, but I find her acerbic overeagerness somehow calming. On tonight's fourth season premiere, Kathy hosts a New Year's Eve show with Anderson Cooper.

10 pm: Swingtown.

I wasn't crazy about the first episode but I am willing to at least give it a second chance. On tonight's episode ("Love Will Find a Way"), Bruce celebrates an amazing day by attending a party with Susan and the Deckers at the Playboy Club.


Anonymous said…
Jace - no summary of the top chef finale?
Anonymous said…
Jace just got married yesterday. He obviously pre wrote a bunch of things but I am still hoping that a Top Chef post will materialize....
Anonymous said…
glad you liked the first two!

Albert Brooks is just....brilliant.

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