Season 1, Episode 7: “Kintsugi”
Directed by Minkie Spiro
Written by Jas Waters
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Cookie” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Philliam” – click here
The Japanese version of Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time is the same as the one starring Jeff (Jim Carrey). Except one Mr. Pickles-San passes the Pickle tie on down the line, like a traditional passing of the torch. And the new Pickles-San (Louis Ozawa Changchien) headed for America, to shadow the real Mr. Pickles and learn the craft.
Jeff and Will (Cole Allen) are on a plane together headed for Los Angeles. Along for the ride is Vivian (Ginger Gonzaga) via iPad, hanging around Jeff’s neck. She gets a seaside view, too. Toyco has sent father and son on a little trip— one upside to Jeff having his face reproduced across the world. He’s there to do some recording for the toy line. He’s not overly impressed with their capitalist perspective.
At home, Deirdre (Catherine Keener) and her husband Scott (Bernard White) have an analogous chat about being “strictly a clarinet family,” when they’re not talking about Maddy’s (Juliet Morris) music lessons, but actually about dad’s having sex with a dude on the side for a while.
“… and I don’t know if they’ll see it as a god or gremlin.”
In the studio again, Jeff teaches lessons on “Allahu Akbar” a.k.a Takbir and “the Trail of Tears,” his “veiled Marxism” and other issues, from depression to having friends outside your own race to give you a more balanced view on life. Things at Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time are getting heavy. This drives Seb (Frank Langella) nuts. Behind the scenes, Deirdre also has her opinions, using the new Pickles-San to bounce her thoughts off. She feels she only exists “for other people,” like she can’t be her own person.
Jeff and Jill (Judy Greer) aren’t doing so bad lately, now that he’s trying to move on. He finds out Vivian is in remission, which means things are changing. She’s of course glad to keep on living, while Jeff’s thrilled not to have to say goodbye to her like he’d been planning. Later, everybody gets together for a family gathering, along with Vivian following her good news diagnosis. Jeff and Peter (Justin Kirk) actually have a genuine conversation that’s not full of antagonism and shattered egos.
At the table, Jeff talks about Vivian wanting to go to Honduras together, which initiates the family’s wishes to take a giant trip. Everybody gets a little out of hand, especially considering Vivian actually wants to go alone. Ouch! The revelation for Jeff hits particularly hard given everyone’s there to witness it. Vivian’s starting her life over, and Jeff represents “cancer and death” to her rather than solely being the man who helped her through those dark days. Jeff accepts things, but the family doesn’t, not even Jill or Peter. Everybody proceeds to run her out of there with a “Fuck you.”
In the meantime, it’s Christmas! And that means parents fighting over toys, such as the new Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time doll. It’s a rich American tradition to try and kill your neighbours over cheap plastic turned into a product your kids JUST HAVE TO HAVE OR THEY WILL PERISH. In the studio, Jeff’s feeling worse than ever, trying to push through taping another segment. He’s feeling partly hurt, partly guilty for feeling hurt when he should also feel happy Vivian isn’t dying. But it can’t be easy to be thrown away like that.
Deirdre’s discovering Pickles-San is a good friend. He gives her a classic shadow puppet play, based on their real lives. He has to use his penis for one of the puppets, and that’s where things get awkward, after Scott turns up to see the show himself. No worse than a little girl seeing her father get jerked off by another dude in the driveway.
Jeff picks himself up, brushes himself off, and on goes the show. He also uses his own money to pay off Vivian’s medical bills, as some last grand gesture. Only this may be the last straw of kindness in him forcing itself out. After that comes a fit of rage. He destroys his office in anger, smashing his own face on the TV. How long can Mr. Pickles continue and Jeff remain subdued in there with his real emotions suppressed? Not long more.
One of my favourite episodes, given the comedy and the drama have both gotten to same dark level fully. “Philliam” is next.