Crossing the Stream: Part 35 - "Santa Clarita Diet" Sn 1, Ep 6

Bless me, reader, for I have sinned. I have eaten of the leftover holiday chocolates that my boss keeps out in a candy dish. I've been putting creamers in my coffee. And I have been eating pizza, and hot dogs, and greasy chorizo with eggs. I'm all out of control.

It's fine, because my day-to-day still consists pretty thoroughly of more vegetables, fruit, and mushrooms now than it ever has. And soda pop is a line that I only cross once in a blue moon. But I think I have the answer to why I'm bound to the plateau and Have only managed to lose a pound and a half this week. I wasn't even viewing these slip-ups as forbidden, my brain is so good at rationalizing and just plain blacking out any of my initial rules. I'm on the plateau because there's chocolate here. And fat. I could give up anything in my life if it were necessary...except perhaps greasy, fatty meats.

I have to get back on the wagon, because now I have a visit to my doctor coming up. It's been a few years since seeing my no-nonsense, former military physician Dr. Kim, and I'm excited to show him my progress. But I'm also nervous about having the conversation, and I don't know if I'll be able to ask what my weight should be. I'm still going to be obese, by BMI standards at least. But there's something about me that values the numbers anyway.

"Santa Clarita Diet" Season 1, Episode 6 - "Attention to Detail"

"I've got a new kill poncho! It's pink, because...why not?"
A barbecue is something of a time-honored social contract (as is an e-vite at this point). It makes perfect sense that this show's story of perfect little houses on the hillside would get to this point, with all the secret seedy underbelly of the cul-de-sac on perfect display without anyone acknowledging how creepily artificial it all looks to an outsider. It's as insidious as the royal court on "Game of Thrones," only with a lot more farcical stakes. Alondra and Lisa have kind of become the show's secret weapon for rapid-fire dialogue and comedic over-sharing. They, along with Sheila, paint such a lurid picture of suburban affluence with their warped self-perspectives. It was kind of sweet that Alondra's advice regarding Joel's "bowling" problem sounded practical and empathetic enough to potentially be effective.

Dan's even super-aggro about the use of bone meal to nurture the root structure of roses. Even though I was looking for more subtle characterization of Dan, in order to justify his new role as the main adversary on the show, it was apparent that Fresco and Co. have done a bang-up job in creating a character who I would cheer at them being wanged in the head by a shovel.

Eric and Abby trying very hard to get past their awkward moment with some mischief is an okay use of both characters, but also using it as a segue into a new plot development is far smarter. Though we know that Dan is corrupt thanks to his using Joel as a personal assassin, the secret closet full of cash and drugs is still something of a surprise. Not many cops that bent would have the level of self-righteousness that hangs around him like a cloud of dust around Pigpen. Dan struck me during the first few episodes as far too doofy to be a criminal mastermind, but it might be a case of his just lacking in emotional intelligence (like, say, not understanding the irony of Joel's "I knocked on the door and no one answered so I just walked in like an asshole" callback to the previous episode). When it's revealed that the "sex trafficker" targeted by Dan is merely Bob, Lisa's side-dude, that's certainly less of a surprise, but I'm glad that so much dialogue spent on Lisa's dalliances actually pays off plot-wise.

The real standout aspects of this episode, though, are the same ones that have me eager to watch each episode: the marriage dynamic between our leads. Just as with "The Americans," the central relationship is the strongest example of why this show is better than the sum of its parts. The vague hints at Joel's continued rationalizations and his putting Sheila's hunger ahead of his moral conflict with murder finally hit a wall now that he has been tested and found wanting in his nervous freeze-up against Loki. Sheila assures Joel that while he's not a killer, she loves him for who he is and not who he thinks he ought to be. Over the course of the episode, their complicated third partnership (after marriage and real estate) finally gets a better definition when they find independently that Joel's emotional and logistical support has a definite value. This is this show firing on all cylinders. This is something every good marriage should go through. Not the murder and cannibalism, mind you, but the roles inhabited by each partner that make life together easier. For starters, even with a gaggle of weirdos holding him hostage and knocking him out, Joel retrieved that damn pen. Sheila might have to do all the killing, but it's Joel who is going to prevent them from being caught.

So, when it comes time for Joel to take a stand against Dan's freewheeling use of his leverage against his neighbor (which, by the by, is pretty shaky leverage when you consider how unlikely it is that Dan could turn in the Hammonds without compromising all of his own shenanigans), there's a properly crafted build-up to the cathartic swinging of the shovel. The only way it could have been more satisfying is if Eric had done it.

Random Notes:

The tracking shot into Loki's tossed apartment, under the couch, and up to the real estate logo on the wayward ballpoint pen is a cute visual storytelling bit, the kind that helps to elevate this show above the network-sitcom status with which I've been curmudgeonly saddling it.

"We've been friends now for forty-eight hours, so I feel I can make a suggestion: maybe don't be a dick to everyone, including your stepson."

A branch of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy or Kevin Bacon's hat from Tremors? Which would you spend stolen illicit money on?

Drew Barrymore's gasp when she inadvertently honks her car horn almost made me fall off my damn bike.

Rating: A-


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