Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
This is the Weeds we used to know and love. The past few seasons have been spotty, and this season’s first few episodes have been touch-and-go, but “Fingers Only Meat Banquet” is a bona fide classic in the making.
This episode flawlessly integrates all of the main cast, weaving together the sometimes disparate storylines into a cohesive whole. Doug (Kevin Nealon) has troubles at his office, where Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) now works. Nancy and her attorney (Martin Short) fly to California, with Silas (Hunter Parrish) in tow, for a custody hearing. Shane (Alexander Gould) pays for the tickets with his student loan money.
There’s more than just those plot arcs, though. This episode is stuffed with different character narratives, as well as opportunities for growth and future problems. The last scene is a great kicker too–a huge payoff for loyal fans.
Critics have turned their backs on Nancy these past few seasons. She started off as a caring suburban housewife who was forced to turn to drugs to support her children. Later, her reckless streak and manipulative nature made her less and less emotionally likeable. The past few seasons have shown again and again how flawed Nancy is as a mother.
However, it’s important to note that, despite her flaws, Nancy never loses sight of her priorities. She is always fiercely protective of her sons, and this episode sees a return to the characterization of Nancy as a maternal figure. Silas has been openly resentful of his mother this season, yet Nancy chooses to bring him as a character witness in the custody trial for Stevie. During this process, Silas comes to terms with his mother as a human being. He gives a touching speech to the judge, but also to the audience, who is likely used to years of judging Nancy.
While Silas is convincing the judge, Nancy has a confrontation with her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her brother-in-law (Mel Fair), and a neighborhood security officer. Scott, the brother-in-law is sympathetic to Nancy, but fears his wife. The security officer has a surprisingly large role for a bit part. I’m pretty sure we’ll see at least one of these men play a pivotal role later in the season. Nonetheless, this episode sets up the conflict well, with Nancy practically in tears when unable to see her son.
Back in New York…
–Doug finds out that his company has been reporting false figures for a while now. His boss (NAME) implies that Doug should continue the practice, which kills Doug’s usual relaxed vibe.
–Shane finally enrolls in college, bribing his way into a Criminal Justice class. Figures.
–Andy (Justin Kirk) breaks up with Maxeen (Lindsay Sloane) after finding himself uncomfortable with the prospect of dating a woman whose husband has terminal cancer.
Lest we forget, Nancy is still missing a weed supply, which brings us to the fantastic closing sequence. The director focuses on Silas and Nancy driving in an unknown area, with the judge’s convenient voiceover suggesting Nancy pursue a return to basics, a return to her roots and the things and people that surrounded her when she was a “good mother.”
And then we see Heylia James (Tonye Patano). Boom.