The Wife:

After last week’s thematic failure, Nip/Tuck decided to produce a much more focused episode about the relationships between elder caregivers and child-like figures in their care. Chiefly, Sean’s relationship with Matty and Raj’s relationship with his father (as well as Sean’s fatherly attitude toward Raj) are framed by the Patient of the Week Ricky Wells, an 18-year-old seeking to look older so that people stop assuming his wife, who is roughly twice his age, is his mother. But they’re more than just a cougar tale, because Ricky’s wife Carrie May used to be his teacher. She taught him in second grade and he really struck a chord with her, and when he turned up in her 7th grade classroom some years later, she fell in love with the boy. Although she and Ricky view one another as soul mates, the eyes of the law didn’t see it that way and Carrie May was hauled off to prison on two counts of statutory rape. She was out in six months for good behavior, but then got caught fucking Ricky in the back of her car and had to serve her full sentence. Upon her release, Ricky asked to have the no-contact ban lifted in order for them to continue their relationship as legal adults. It should come as no surprise that the events of this story are identical to those of Mary Kay Latorneau. And like Mary Kay, Carrie May is carrying Ricky’s child, the person for whom he really wants to look older, so that no one will think his son is his little brother.

Matt struggles with his decision to follow in his father’s footsteps, fearing that dropping out of his medical classes will be just another tally in his long list of disappointments. Even with Sean’s help, Matt just doesn’t seem to have the determination to succeed, which is, of course, the very thing that has made Raj a plastic surgeon in residence at 17. As Sean and Raj prepare for Christian’s reconstruction, Raj’s father shows up to watch his son in action. Sean lets Raj show off to his dad by letting him close Christian’s sutures while he goes to talk to Matt, who has decided to drop organic chemistry because he can’t do well in the class and care for his daughter at the same time. Sean tries to assure his son that if he was able to manage going to school and being a father, Matt should be able to do so as well, adding yet another chip to Matt’s already heavy shoulders.

After the surgery, Raj’s father tells him that he didn’t simply come to L.A. to be proud of his son, but for his son the surgeon to perform a penile enhancement surgery on him. The very idea of this makes Raj uncomfortable, as it should anyone. Raj tries to get out of this by saying he’s offered to spend his week tutoring Matt, but his father won’t hear of it, claiming that it would be insulting to have anyone but the person he drove so hard to succeed perform the surgery. It was, after all, the mighty power of his own lingam that gave Raj his life. For this debt, Raj owes his father an even mightier lingam.

Oh, father, I'd really prefer not to do that.

Oh, father, I'd really prefer not to do that.

Seeing how uncomfortable this situation has made Raj in combination with Matt missing a tutoring session, Sean offers to take Raj out for dinner. Here, he gets a second chance to have a son, one who turned out more the way he would have desired. He introduces Raj to chicken wings and gives him his first taste of beer, offering him fatherly advice about Raj’s potential to be a great surgeon and beaming with undue pride about how determined Raj is. Matt arrives home in the middle of all this to find Raj isn’t there, and he is immediately disheartened when he calls and offers to meet them at the bar, but they refuse to accept his self-invitation.

Meanwhile, Christian, fresh off his pectoral reconstruction, has completely reverted back to his old ways. Even though Liz has been trying really hard to be everything he needs and wants (taking fellatio classes, for instance) and getting all dolled up so that he’ll want her, he’s out whoring around with floozies galore. Liz comes home and catches him in the act, and his whore du jour immediately assumes that Liz is Christian’s mother. He plays along with the ruse, but still kicks the girl out. Liz tells Christian that she never expected him to be monogamous with her, but she doesn’t appreciate him rubbing it in her face after she spent all the time and effort to look hot as hell for their dinner date that evening. Only slightly moved by Liz’s argument, Christian insists that she still let him take her to dinner. Later, when his implant becomes dislodged, he runs to Liz, but she refuses to be his caretaker anymore, assuring him that they can fix it in the morning at the office, especially because she’s got to get back in bed with the adorable lesbian she brought home, feeling that if Christian can philander, so, too, should she. The best part of this scene, for me, was that Liz answered the door by telling Christian that she’s actually been awake and was only pretending to be asleep, harking back to that sleep-rape-fucking incident that got the two of them into this whole relationship in the first place.

In general, I liked how Liz and Christian’s plot fit into the overall theme of caregivers and child-figures. It wasn’t a spot-on-obvious perversion of the standard like the Ricky and Carrie May story, nor was it as exacting as the three father-son arcs played out with Raj, his father, Sean and Matt, but it did fit the theme. Really, what Christian has always wanted from Liz was more of a mother figure than a lover, and it was nice work on the part of Brad Fulchuk for subtly recapitulating this notion when Christian’s lover assumes Liz is, in fact, his actual mother, and again when he goes running to her in the middle of the night because of his implant moving around. The idea of having his reclaimed masculinity interrupted is, in essence, a nightmare that he needs a maternal figure to comfort him from. But Liz isn’t into being someone’s mommy unless it’s Wilbur, so she rejects Christians nighttime cry for help, and quits the practice entirely, just as Raj’s rather later rejects his son when he finds out that it was Raj’s inferior sutures that caused Christian’s implant to move, leading him to physically assault his son and back out of the penile enhancement surgery altogether.

Later, Matt and Raj get together to smoke out and share stories about the pressures they’ve received from their fathers. The rejection by his father makes Raj feel like a failure, but also shows him just another reason why he should never have tried so hard to please his father in the first place. Being a top surgeon was never his dream; it was his father’s dream for him. But Raj is so far mired in living the life someone else wanted him to have, that he believes the only way he might be able to escape is to cut off his hands. He begs Matt to slam his hand in the car door, egging Matt on with a brilliantly written and brilliantly performed monologue about Matt’s failures as a son and as a human being. Matt does this for Raj, only moments after the two boys bond over their weird sexual experiences with transgendered individuals and how hard it is to be a doctor’s son.

At McNamara/Troy, Sean announces that he was able to reattach most of Raj’s severed nerves, but that he will never again regain full use of his hand. He wonders how it was even possible for Raj to slam the door that hard on his own hand and Matt, suddenly realizing that the boy he thought was stealing his father from him was more like himself than he ever knew, says,

“If you’re desperate enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to be heard.”

What a perfect statement to summarize Matt’s entire fucking existence, so desperate for someone to love him and pay attention to him that he dated a neo-Nazi, a transgendered woman, a Porn-again Scientologist and, eventually, fucked his own sister – not to mention the time he survived a meth lab fire. In his quest to gain his father’s approval, he realizes that emulating Sean as a doctor isn’t right for him, but perhaps emulating his dad’s stint playing a doctor on TV might be a better way to go. Here’s hoping that, somehow, Matt ends up in porn again. Maybe First Time Fairies, maybe not.

As for Ricky Wells, it was pretty clear to me that when Carrie May saw his newly aged face that she no longer loved him, even though I thought he kinda looked like a combination of Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist and Errol Flynn, so I was not at all surprised to see Ricky come home, brightly announcing his amazing two copier sales as though he were walking straight out of a Frank Capra movie (which made for a wonderful transition from Matt’s announcement that he has decided to go into acting instead of doctoring), to find his wife in bed with his younger brother. Once a pedophile, always a pedophile, I guess.

The Husband:

While the second episode of this…half-of-a-season…was far too dour for my tastes, and last week’s third episode was a little to silly to tell a proper story, this week we finally found the balance between the silly, ribald stuff and the devastating, cruel and overwrought drama. I still think Raj was way too impulsive to simply throw away his entire career just because of some daddy issues, but I loved his monologue and especially loved the way the actor (Adhir Kalyan) delivered it. He has risen very high since last year’s canceled CW sitcom Aliens In America, and I hope to see him in some major film roles soon enough.