Whenever someone mentions the decline of Weeds, I have only one image in my head, and that image is Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) riding a scooter away from the fire. This season starts with another soon-to-be iconic image.
The show’s original—and originally clever—premise was a recently widowed suburban mother who secretly turns to selling marijuana as a way to maintain the upper crust lifestyle she and her children are used to. Now in its seventh season, Weeds has become a very different show, as this season premiere shows.
As the seasons have gone on, Nancy has become less and less of an empathetic character. Her relations with her family have become hard to relate to, and her family has changed from a pristine suburban family with hidden secrets, to another generic crime family.
Along the way, the show has managed to maintain some of the sharp wit that brought it fame. Mary-Louise Parker is still a talented actress, and her big brown eyes can often convey more meaning than the scripted material. The development of the two child actors has also been a joy to watch, especially Alexander Gould, who really proved his acting chops last season as Nancy’s troubled child, Shane.
Though the show’s quality has declined, the writers have still produced incredibly shocking and engaging moments, especially in the series’ notorious cliffhanger season finales. Unfortunately, last season was distinctly lacking in big surprises and instead produced a disjointed narrative that changed settings seemingly on a whim. Previously each season had had one underlying theme, often tied to a location. Last season, the Botwins were nomads of sorts, and the show itself seemed lost.
This season started off on shaky ground. First, the show made a three year time jump to the future. We see the Copenhagen Botwins doing their thing. Shane grew facial hair and started dating a much older woman. Silas (Hunter Parrish) became a small-time model. Andy (Justin Kirk) and Doug (Kevin Nealon) created a tour business. All seems well.
However, soon Nancy is released. After a somewhat surprising passionate embrace, her prison roommate hands her a pair of oven gloves, which Nancy eventually uses to secure the means to her next phase in crime: a suitcase full of illegal weapons. I have to admit that the final moment of the episode delivered a shock reminiscent of the Weeds I used to know and love. We’ll see if the shock—and the new setting—are enough to bring Weeds back to at least a consistent level of quality.