Season 1, Episode 4: “Bye, Mom”
Directed by Jake Schreier
Written by Mike Vukadinovich
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Every Pain Needs a Name” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The New You” – click here
In a field, a couple workers talk about Jean-Paul Sartre and the belief in God. One of them believes there’s no use succumbing to a higher power, because, like the cucumber, we return to the dirt. “Existence is discovery,” he says. We move from the field to the factory, where the workers lament their jobs. Then the cucumbers become pickles, they move to the store. Some people eat them. Others throw jars at peoples houses.
Jeff (Jim Carrey) seems to be ready to date now that he and Vivian (Ginger Gonzaga) are together, though he realises it’s short term, given she’s on her way to death. But it’s possible he might’ve been getting ahead of himself by going to tell Jill (Judy Greer) about it. He’s beyond happy about this new relationship, even if he’s not getting a text back from Vivian.
At the same time, Deirdre (Catherine Keener) worries about her brother, and, in turn, the show. Seb (Frank Langella) continues pushing his capitalist agenda onto his daughter, playing on her insecurities. He’s already outsourcing Mr. Pickles to Vietnam. He asks his daughter: “Build me a Jeff.”
While Jeff’s concerned about the text he isn’t getting he’s also scared kids might possibly get dangerous ideas from his television show, brought on by Shaina saying her life was saved by the show. In his mind this equates to it could “take a life,” too. Seb guarantees his son this would never happen because they’re a puppet show. Afterwards, a hilarious scene brings us back to 1992 where a young black kid tells his mom he’s off to “Pickle Barrel Falls” just like the opening of Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time where Mr. Pickles goes over a waterfall with a homemade parachute. It doesn’t turn out well for the boy, though we’re not privy to the aftermath.
Jeff tells his sister, very honestly, how he was with Vivian sexually and “loved her in the pussy.” This made me literally spit out a drink— thanks Jim Carrey, you nearly ruined my keyboard! Deirdre gives her brother advice about the text message, and it’s clear Vivian is most likely purposely not replying to him, she probably doesn’t want to get close to anyone when she only has little time to live.
Kids have heard on the “dark web” that Jeff was actually a brutal military man years before. There are rumours he’s killed all kinds of people. So, he uses this to scare one of Will’s (Cole Allen) pot smoking buddies. He finds his son, trying to get help with his cellphone. This takes Jeff to a store, where he sadly tries getting someone to fix his phone because he’s sure it’s broken— Will sweetly diverts the depressing attention away from his father. There’s also mention of a second number on his account, which Will hears. His dad says it belongs to the guy who hit the vehicle the day Phil died. Whoa. Wonder how it’ll affect Jill’s relationship to Jeff if she hears about that.
“Hate doesn’t punish who you think it does”
At home, Deirdre lies in bed with Scott (Bernard White), who finally tries telling the truth about himself to his wife. She knows what he’s trying to say. She simply doesn’t want to let their family fall apart, already sick with worry about her daughter and what a divorce would do to her. All this forces her towards making the new Jeff, an image for them to sell as a marketable tool. At work, Jeff finds his sister working on the big giant head looking exactly like his face. Uncanny stuff. Deirdre laments not being able to protect him like it was when they were younger, and particularly before the worst tragedy of his life, losing a child. All this may only push him further into a worrisome psychological state.
That night, Jill goes to see Jeff. She finds him continually lost in his memories. She’s also angry at him for paying bills for the guy who killed their son, unable to comprehend why he would do such a thing, and, worse, not tell her about it. The Mr. Pickles in Jeff makes him feel compassion for anybody and everybody. Jill can’t bring herself to do that. This is when he begins seeing his wife genuinely doesn’t love him anymore, as well. Jill tells him the man he’s paying bills for is fleecing him, that he doesn’t actually have an injury. She takes this time to also school him on the hard truth of Vivian not returning his text. One big ouch of a scene. Except right after, Jeff does get a reply— her phone was broken. Maybe there’s hope amongst all the nihilism. Jill hasn’t entirely moved on like she pretends, either. She sometimes sleeps in the top bunk above her still living son, just as Phil would if he were alive.
There’s also a light of hope in the house we saw the jar of pickles get thrown at earlier, where the boy who went over the falls all those years ago is now a man, walking with a cane but alive and well. Because the barrel floated with the parachute sheet. Because sometimes – just sometimes – magic things happen in real life. Perhaps Jeff’s living half between reality and half between an idyllic place isn’t all bad.
This was the most beautiful episode of Kidding. Father Gore loves the dark comedy, so much. It’s nice to see another side to the series, finding the sweetness in the bitter. Carrey’s acting is phenomenal and this show is helping to show his tremendous talents. “The New You” is next time.