Nip/Tuck – Recap – Episode 3-2

Reviewer: Tim Stevens

I gave Nip/Tuck a hard time last week for lacking subtlety with their use of symbolism. I owe them an apology. Somehow, in the interim between last season and this one, I forget that that is what they always do. They can do it a bit more artfully than last week though. In other words, you don’t think “Oh, this is another metaphor” every time one pops up but can wait for the end of the episode to acknowledge that fact. This week, they reached that plateau. Unfortunately, the pacing did manage to come along for the ride, falling a bit slack this week.

Getting back to the old school this week opens with the famous “what don’t you like about yourself.” This time, however, the woman across the desk is a bit taken aback by the question. After some awkward question and answer it turns out that she is not there for herself at all, but rather Kiki. Kiki is, of course, wait for it…a gorilla with a scar on her mug. Apparently, in mating, this could be a dangerous thing, leading Kiki to be rejected, beaten, or even killed by her mate. Despite the woman’s insistence on Kiki’s importance (she can sign several thousand words and understands English) and the need for her to mate to see if she can pass these traits on, Doctors McNamara and Troy reject the work. Don’t worry though, kids, Liz is on the case. After much badgering and a tour of the zoo, Troy gets convinced and accepts the case.

While the office is more fun than a barrel of monkeys (or apes, as it was), Matt McNamara, he of unsettling Michael Jackson-esque looks and dubious parentage, dreams of his great love, life coach Ava. It is, how do you say, a sexy dream. Inspired, Mich—err—Matt heads over to her former abode to find the other ticket to Paris so he can return to his lady love and, instead, finds her dead son, Adrian. Yay for maggots and unpleasant decomposition!

As Matt is making like the kid who got stuck with the sticker prize in his box of Cracker Jacks instead of the decoder ring, his “dad” Sean is consulting with a gang member named Marlon with an assist from new partner Quentin. Things get a bit ugly when Quentin goes on about what people from Cuba do when they get here (it amounts to taking drugs, being criminals, and reproducing) until the surprisingly articulate OG puts the doc in his place. Marlon is looking to turn a corner, get a real job, and go straight. Before he can do that though, he needs his tattoos removed, especially the “tear for every kill” motif he has going on his face. We can only assume this will be pro bono work because a.) it’s too damn expensive for a guy without a job to pay for and b.) Sean gets called away to the police station.

Turns out that Matt isn’t all bad and takes the information about the corpse to the police. There’s a brief interrogation wherein Matt reveals that he was hoping to get everyone to just leave him alone by running away after his “lady” love. Sean doesn’t like the sound of that and thus outs Ava’s transsexual status. Matt, predictably, flips and shouts, “Whatever I love, you have to destroy,” before storming out. Julia is similarly displeased and the two have a brief tête-à-tête about involving one another in parental decisions. Julia is in favor, Sean, not so much.

Matt returns home because of a hankering for the “jesus juice” (that’s wine, in case you didn’t know) and he and Sean have a rather awkward conversation about oral sex and dudes. Clearly Matt is not doing so well with the whole sort of kind of slept with a guy thing.

The advice gets better for him from Erica, his grandmother. They do bong hits together and she deposits such wisdom on him as “when you’re young there are no mistakes, only research,” and “Do you want a safe life or an authentic one?” It’s good advice, but you just know that Matt’s gonna mess it up somehow.

Despite the tattoo removal, Marlon’s job falls through and he is forced to look for other work. “Conventional jobs” all ask if he’s been convicted of a crime which is a Catch-22. If he tells the truth, he won’t get the job. If he doesn’t, he violates his parole. Even an old woman looking for a dog walker rejects him. He begs Sean for work, but the doctor has no good news on that front as they are legally forbidden to hire any former felons.

As predicted, Matt takes Granny’s advice perhaps a little too far and jumps right into the deep end of the pool. He makes like smooth criminal, drinking apple martinis and sitting around in the local transgender scene. Eventually, a particularly manish possible lady meets his gaze and comes on over. The night apparently goes well from their because they end up back at the transsexual’s home. Everything’s hot and heavy until, shock shock, horror horror, it turns out she’s endowed. Matt loses it and uses she/he for a punching bag, clearly lashing out at Ava through this proxy. The victim tries to get him to stop, apologizing and telling him that, “I thought you were once of us.” With that hair, those cheekbones, and those lashes, can you blame her?

Matt reacts to the whole situation the only way that a pretty man can. He “mans” himself up by shaving his head. I shave my head too, but I have to tell you that I never get that cool guitar riff or those jump cuts while I’m doing it. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Anyway, the result: less Michael, still not less creepy.

The next day, in the midst of a liposuction (my vote for grossest thing they do on the show…it always manages to turn my stomach), Christian and Sean get the bad news. Even though the scar was no longer visible, Kiki’s potential mate Koomba “sensed” it, probably because the zoo put them together too soon after the operation. Koomba attacked and killed her and the world lost one of its magnificent talking gorillas. Presumably that one from the movie Congo is still alive and well and demanding “apple drink” somewhere.

Continuing in the theme of brutal beatings, both Matt and Marlon find themselves on the receiving end of them. Matt’s victim from the night before got together some friends and found him as he left school. I’ve gotta give it up for the transsexual scene in Miami. They are AWESOME detectives. They find Matt’s high school the day after his crime? Presumably there is more than one high school in the area, but these guys already have it worked out in about twelve hours. That’s impressive.

Marlon, meanwhile, is found by his former gang mates who did a considerable number on his as well. As the show closes, Sean returns to his office to find a man with a shave head waiting. Thinking it is newly bald son, Sean calls out to him. The person turns and it is actually Marlon, looking quite badly beaten and a bit mutilated where his tear tattoos once were.

See, this episode is a good example of what I mean by “more artful.” Obviously, Kiki’s beating= Matt’s transsexual’s beating= Marlon’s beating. However, the way the episode is staggered each incident foreshadowing the next one in line. The name of the game is a species attacking one of its own for something being “off”: Kiki’s scar, Matt’s transsexual still in the midst of her gender reassignment, Marlon’s tattoo removal, but by structuring the story better than last week, each incident builds to the next as opposed to simply outing it.