The Wife:

For a season finale of Nip/Tuck, this one was pretty tame, although it did pack a couple of interesting punches, the first of which is the out-of-nowhere revelation that Teddy is always late for stuff because she’s been leading a double life as Dixie, a Southern-fried anesthesiologist at a practice in Las Vegas, who successfully seduced her boss, got her to marry him, and then killed him by suffocating him while he sucked down some of that anesthetizing ether she’s so fond of convincing her romantic partners to take hits of during sex. This only spells bad things for Sean in the future, as he finally gave in at the end of the episode and took a fateful hit of the gas, alone in his practice after Christian’s nuptials.

I didn’t think Katee Sackhoff was signed on for more than just this season, but I guess she’ll have to return, because these ladies-want-Sean-dead storylines are pretty fucked up. There’s definitely been a change in Sean since they moved to L.A. In Miami, he was a broken man, tied to fucked up kids and a broken marriage to a woman he constantly smothered, but in L.A., there’s just been a string of women who cling to him, tell him they need him, and who convince him to do really bad things. He’s been with Eden, that actress with the eating disorder who shat herself in a hot tub and desperately wanted to be married, then there was stalker-agent Colleen Rose (who put him in a wheelchair), his student who literally infantilized him and now Teddy, who I am sure wants him dead as much as Colleen did. For such an upstanding doctor, Sean’s desperate need to be loved and needed sure gets him in a lot of trouble.

As for Christian, the patients of the week, two practicing vampires who nearly died drinking one another’s blood, vow to give up blood, even though they feel it gives them restorative powers and can prolong their lives, all of which gets Christian thinking about his limited time on this earth. Legend, the male of the pair, happens to be a vampire over on True Blood, so that was some interesting type-casting to see. After trying on Giselle’s discarded pop-on fangs, Christian finds a way to preserve his life: cryogenics. Once he grows near death, he asks Liz and Sean to call the cryo lab and have the technicians pick him up and freeze him, to be unthawed 20 years in the future when science has been able to cure him and he can reunite with his now-grown and very hot son Wilbur. (Seriously, adult cryogenic fantasy Wilbur was super hawtt.) Sean, Liz and Matt just laugh this off, which the ever-practical Sean asking Christian if he knows what 20 years in liquid nitrogen will do to his skin. (I imagine its similar to 20 years of tanning.) Regardless, Sean agrees to go with Christian to check out the cryo lab, where he discovers that his vision of eternal life isn’t quite what he’d thought, as he’ll have to share his pod with his “eternity roommate,” an old Jewish man, because the cryo lab is booked to capacity.

“Any time you spend on searching for immortality, you miss out on the little time you have left.” – Sean

He promises his friend that he’ll never really die anyway, because, like Horatio promises Hamlet, he will tell stories of Christian Troy until Sean himself can no longer tell stories. And so shall you hear of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts, indeed.

Meanwhile, Eden and Ram decide they don’t want Kimber in their happy threesome anymore because she’s old. Eden puts it so tactfully:

“You’re a relic and we want you out of our bed.”

As Kimber protests that just the other week her ex, Christian Troy, the famous plastic surgeon, told her she was perfect and that he wouldn’t change a hair on her bleached blond coif, Ram tells her that there’s a difference between looking good for your age and desperately clinging to being 22. With no meal ticket and no home, she drags Jenna over to Matt, Christian and Sean’s place and leaves here there, and Matt informs her that everything’s too busy with Christian’s wedding to have the baby around the house. Matt tries to make amends with her by asking her to move in with him in their own place, but Kimber is too distraught at the prospect of Christian marrying Liz to give a shit. Even when Matt tells her Christian’s dying, Kimber can’t fathom it. After all, Christian is supposed to be with her. He still values her. He still thinks she’s beautiful.

In full on scheming bitch mode, Kimber barges into MacNamara/Troy and tells Liz that she still loves Christian and wants to be with him. She promises Liz she’ll take care of Christian as he dies, but Liz calls her on her shit, knowing that she’s just looking for a meal ticket and a possible inheritance now that Christian’s been given six months to live and she doesn’t have a house.

Christian has a little trouble writing his vows in his office the night before his wedding, and he catches the vampires at his office, resorting once again to drinking blood. He tosses them a bag and tells them to leave, understanding how easy it is to grow addicted to the idea of immortality and the need for that fix. Then the wedding happens, and while that’s perfectly normal to toss into a season finale, I really didn’t expect the Cruz-Troy nuptials to happen so soon. Although, I probably should have, given that Christian is dying and all. Kimber shows up uninvited, waiting for her chance to object, but when the time comes, Matt screams at her to sit down, and she can’t bring herself to speak her mind, fleeing the church in tears as Christian and Liz kiss.

Again, can we all talk about how freakin' cute Wilbur is???

Again, can we all talk about how freakin' cute Wilbur is???

As the happy new family packs up to go on a group honeymoon in Italy, where Wilbur will most definitely eat spaghetti, Christian gets a call from his doctor. He at first refuses to listen, thinking that his oncologist is trying to encourage him to go through treatments rather than accepting his mortality, but the doctor proceeds to tell Christian that there was a mistake. A lab technician switched Christian’s results with another patient. His cancer is actually in remission, and he’s now free to enjoy a long, healthy life with his new bride. I can’t quite decide if the look on Christian’s face when he hears this news is immediate regret, or simple bewilderment. Maybe it’s both.

We’ll find out next season if Teddy goes on to attempt to murder Sean, and if Christian Troy becomes the asshole he is deep inside, leaving Liz heartbroken and Wilbur once again without a mommy. Man, that kid totally got me when he looks up at Liz, asking, “Can I call you mommy now?” For Wilbur’s sake, Christian, please stay with Liz! His really mommy got fucked off a building, Michelle left because she had to go steal organs – Liz cannot leave that poor boy, too!

That revelation is quite a doozy, but only because it leaves us open for the possibilities of next season. I prefer a season finale on this show to involve Magen calling me and leaving me a message like this:

“Ava’s a man. Ava. Is a man. Ava’s a man. Ava’s a man.”

Or even the amazingly weird season four finale that involved the entire cast lip synching to “The Brighter Discontent” by The Submarines. I like when this show pushes the envelope. In comparison to the other four seasons, this was the safest finale yet. I expect depth and ridiculousness from this show, and I’m happy when I get either, but I didn’t really get either in this episode. I hope for better things next season.

The Husband:

No, it wasn’t the normal Nip/Tuck ending, which are usually full of trannies, knives, men without penises or, as with s1, a bait-and-switch as gangbanger Escobar Gallardo gets stopped at the airport and arrested, as the newly constructed face Sean and Christian gave him just happened to be of somebody on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

But Nip/Tuck is approaching its final surgery – next season will be its last – and I’m glad that the show has reached a point of maturity (or what can be constituted as “maturity” for such a show as this) that it doesn’t feel the need to be all crazy cliffhanger-y anymore, but can tide us over with some character moments. This time, we have Christian faced with the new information that he’s not actually dying, and that his marriage, done specifically because he was dying, that created the new and kinder Christian Troy may not serve any purpose to his overall personality. Christian Troy has reverted to his old self before, but this newer, more mature Christian Troy may not. That’s a good enough cliffhanger for me.

I think that creator Ryan Murphy doesn’t want the program, as it goes into its final year, to simply be “that silly plastic surgery show with all the sex,” but instead really live up to its thematic ideals that makes it exist in the first place – that these doctors, who have spent their careers trying to make others perfect, can’t seem to be perfect themselves no matter how hard they try. And now that Sean is turning into Christian (i.e. a drug-taking sex maniac with no true family ties) and Christian is turning into Sean (a responsible family man, we have them approaching a crossroads, and we will finally get an answer next year as to who these men will eventually settle on being.

So no, I’m not disappointed at all by the finale. I’m actually very proud of the show. Good job.

The Wife:

Oh, Pussylips, so nice to see you again!

This time, Allegra Calderello turns up at McNamara/Troy at the behest of her husband, Manny, who is dying of prostate cancer and wants his Allegra to get some rejuvenating plastic surgery so that she can find another man to take care of her after he’s gone. I feel badly for Allegra anytime she speaks, as she’s a woman without voice and without authority over her own body. Manny is incredibly old fashioned, but layers his insults of his wife’s appearance and demeanor with something approximating genuine feeling for her. He loves her, yes, but he does it in the oddest of ways by telling her that she’s not attractive enough to survive in the world without him and that, without him, she still needs a man to survive.

Although she certainly needs a man about as much as a fish needs a bicycle, Liz moves forward with her wedding plans with Christian, even calling her mother to share the news and participate in the greatest tradition known to Cruz women: wearing grandmama’s vintage wedding gown. Only Liz doesn’t fit into grandmama’s gown because her breasts are too large. Christian tells her he can buy her a new gown, but Liz instead wants to book a reduction (you know, the one she didn’t get earlier) to honor her mom’s wishes.



Just as Manny prepares Allegra to find a replacement for him, Christian starts shopping for a replacement for the Troy half of McNamara/Troy, landing on Logan Traper, a surgeon of renown who loves Christian’s interior decorating and reminds me very much of Christian, but much creepier. Much creepier. This theme of choosing one’s earthly replacement reminds me very much of the Ana storyline over on HBO’s Big Love. When Barb’s cancer returns, she starts to think that she needs to have some say in creating the family she will be with in the celestial kingdom, and she desperately wants Ana to be part of that family as a validation of her polygamist lifestyle. Ana would be the only person in her marriage other than Bill that she actually chose, as Nicki and Margie were both forced upon her. With Manny, he continues his odd expression of love for his wife in a somewhat selfish way, dolling her up so he can help choose her next mate, like some last-ditch effort to do good by her. Christian, instead, chooses a friend and partner for Sean who is as similar to the man Christian used to be as possible, to make Sean’s transition easier.

But of course, all of these things go slightly awry. Over on Big Love, Ana stays married to the family for about a day before demanding a divorce. Manny Calderello starts parading suitors in to see his wife just hours after she enters the recovery room, pimping her out to the local butcher in their Florida retirement community. Ever shy, Allegra is horribly offended by this, as is the attending Sean. And as for Christian’s replacement, well, it turns out that he fucks furniture.

For as helpful as Logan is in helping Sean plan Christian’s bachelor party, he suffers from “object” sexuality, a feeling that he can have intimate, fulfilling relationships with objects just as well as people, which makes it extremely difficult for him to resist the siren call to fuck Christian’s vintage green couch, which is exactly what he gets caught doing, resulting in his expulsion from the practice. To wit:

“People aren’t like furniture. They’re not so easy to replace.” – Sean, followed by a scene of Logan fucking Sean’s operating table

Finally understanding how he had wronged his wife, Manny apologizes and tells Allegra that from now until the day he dies, he will only give her the best, which to him means that instead of trying to play matchmaker with the town butcher, he should give her the gift of a suitor in his late 50s who looks like a combination of Mad Men‘s Sal and Chris Noth. Clearly, this is a man more worthy of sweet little Allegra, but, like Barb Henrickson, I guess Manny just wants to make sure he has a say in what kind of man should make his wife happy, so he can continue to run her life from beyond the grave. She will never be free of this man.

As for Liz, Christian leaves her breasts a little larger than she would have liked, which makes her upset, until he buys her a brand-new wedding gown, further driving a rift between Liz and her mother that only deepens at Liz’s bridal shower with all of her lesbian friends. A gift of All-Clad pans with a lifetime guarantee causes Liz to break down, admitting to her mother and her friends that Christian has cancer and that she won’t have much time with him. Insensitively, Liz’s mom says that this makes sense to her, so Liz tells her mom off for always calling her ugly and hating her sexuality. She tosses her mother out of her house, and out of her wedding. Which is all well and good, because Liz’s mom has to keep Hurley from getting arrested. Or something.

This fight with her mother makes Liz realize that, as a married woman, she doesn’t need her hurtful mother anymore, because she’s replacing her old family with her new one, forming a beautiful and melancholy tableau as she and Christian hug Wilbur to them. Meanwhile, Sean sits alone, watching old videos of the good times he, Christian and Julia had in med school, weighted with the knowledge that soon, his best friend won’t be around anymore. As Teddy sneaks up behind him, he utters, “I feel like I’m losing everyone,” to which she promises that she won’t leave him. (Unlike the end of the last episode, I guess.)

While this episode wasn’t nearly as rich as its predecessor, I think it admirably propelled these stories forward, while still giving us some traditional Nip/Tuck oddity in Logan Traper’s couch-fucking. Still, it felt a little stagnant and a little light, which seems odd, considering it’s the penultimate episode in this season. I guess we won’t be getting an “Ava’s a man!” kind of finale this year.

The Husband:

That’s right – this episode has couch-fucking. Take that, Parents Television Council! Suck on that, you hypocritical, unconstitutional bastards! Or do you only get angry when women are objectified, and ignore male-on-couch action?

The Wife:

Two big themes in this week’s episode, both of which find their roots in the patient of the week: Budi Subri, a fictionalized version of Indonesia’s famous “Tree Man,” who grew cutaneous horns and warts all over his hands and feet due to an immunodeficiency desire and some bacteria that found its way into a cut on his leg. Sadly, I just deleted a program called My Shocking Story which has a feature on the real Tree Man to make room for other stuff on my DVR, but I’ll embed a video so you can see how attentive the Nip/Tuck makeup artists were in recreating Dede’s afflictions on the fictional Budi Subri.

Having Subri come to McNamara/Troy for pro bono work leads Sean and Christian into meditations on the phrase “warts and all” and asks how much control we have over our own bodies, which so far has been my favorite conceit of the season.

Teddy is still around, trying to convince Sean to let loose and shirk his responsibilities by taking him to Opaque for some dining in the dark which turns into sex in public, and convincing him to have sex with her in an open house, which, in order to avoid an embarrassing situation, leads to his eventual purchase of said house. They then head out to the desert to do some crazy shamanistic shit that, if done right, involves the “murder of the ego.”

In Sean’s fever dream, he sees Budi Subri, whom he had operated on to remove most of the calcified growths earlier in the episode, only Subri’s growths have returned. Subri tells Sean that he is paralyzed and then Sean hallucinates himself growing roots and becoming more tree like than the tree man actually is. Sean has a flashback to this experience during Subri’s second surgery, where he sees leaves falling in the OR, surrounded by a rain of Teddy’s freakish laughter.

Later, Teddy comes back to the office (having gone missing for three days since Liz’s return) and invites Sean to fuck her on an operating table while on nitrous in a room full of candles. Sean turns the machine off and refuses to do dangerous things with Teddy anymore because that very notion of concern and responsibility that she hates about him is exactly what makes him who he is. Teddy refuses to be with Sean as himself, and she walks out, unable to love him “warts and all.”

“A rolling stone gathers no moss and, baby, you’ve got a lot of moss.” – Teddy

As for Christian, he discovers at his 12-week check-up that his tumor has spread to a point where no amount of operation or treatment will save him. He is given six months to a year to live, but refuses to participate in any drug courses or further treatments, trying to accept his death on his own terms, which of course means stealing a ton of drugs from the McNamara/Troy dispensary just in case he should want to truly take control of the thing that’s taking control of his body and end his own life.

Budi Subri, warts and all.

Budi Subri, warts and all.

But it’s the Tree Man who changes Christian’s mind about suicide. He hears Subri shuffling across the floor in his room and checks in on him, reminding him that he shouldn’t be trying to walk yet, given how atrophied his muscles are from years of inactivity. Subri tells Christian that he just couldn’t help himself, as the whole time he’s lived with his thorny appendages, he’s dreamed of the day he could walk across the room, pick up the remote control, press a button and turn on the television. This is the first time in a long time he has felt human. Christian asks if Subri had ever though of taking his own life, which Subri explains:

“As a Hindu, I believe that even in this inhuman body, I am the true expression of God.”

All he wants and has ever wanted is to find a woman who can love him, literally, warts and all.

Inspired by the Tree Man, Christian heads to Miami with a big freakin’ diamond ring to propose to Liz and bring her home. Sean is sure that Christian will break Liz’s heart again, but feigns happiness anyway.

“Liz is the only woman I’ve ever been with that forces me to stop being a dick.” – Christian

After a few days back at McNamara/Troy, Liz notices all the drugs missing from the dispensary and accuses Teddy of stealing them. Christian confesses to her that he took them because:

“I was contemplating suicide, and then I changed my mind and asked you to marry me instead.”

Liz immediately knows that Christian’s cancer has returned and demands to know why he didn’t tell her, why he wouldn’t let her know what her first year of marriage would be like, given the limited amount of life Christian Troy has left. Angry, she returns his ring, accusing him of only wanting to marry her so that she would help him die.

Eventually, Christian tells Sean that his cancer has returned, and Sean can’t comprehend why Christian wouldn’t fight to stay alive with treatment, but Christian explains that he’d rather not spend the last months on his life in hospitals – he’d rather be living.

“You didn’t have to get married to make sure you wouldn’t die alone.” – Sean

The next time Christian checks on Budi Subri, Subri’s mood is no longer what it was. Like Christian’s cancer, the growths on his legs have returned. As both men realize they cannot control what’s happening to their bodies, Subri cries and Christian, movingly, removes his surgical glove and takes Subri’s hand, making him the only person to touch Subri in such a human way in a long time, and probably the only person to touch him like that for a long time to come.

Subri: I had such hope.

Christian: I did, too.

But even with his last remaining bit of hope dashed, Liz returned to Christian and tells him she’ll marry him anyway, for better or for worse, proverbial warts and all.

I’m less interested in the “warts and all” trope of this episode and more in the richness found in the unstoppable diseases that inhabit Christian and Subri’s bodies. Death, of course, is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that the weight of mortality is any less heavy and foreboding. And in a narrative about plastic surgery where the body is fixed and reshaped and consistently taken out of its natural state, there’s something very powerfully frightening in the fact that Subri and Christian’s bodies literally defy external control. A cancer, which, for all intents and purposes, is what Subri has (although, not, you know, really), is something that turns the body against itself, forcing cells to grow unchecked until they take over their host. Sometimes, it can be controlled, but it always leaves its mark. I had a melanoma removed from my arm last summer, leaving me with a two inch gash in my flesh that will always be there. Christian may have been able to replace the site of his wound, but cancers are not always visible on the skin, like my melanoma or Subri’s cutaneous horns. They are internal, unseen and silently horrible. A disease can be fought and won, but it’s very hard to destroy a disease that is the host itself.

Of all the grotesque things Nip/Tuck exposes us to as viewers, we always take comfort in the fact that the skin will heal and that whatever additions or subtractions the team at McNamara/Troy make to the bodies of their patients will be absorbed by their host bodies and become part of them – or naturalize. It’s hard to take comfort in the body itself becoming foreign, from the inside out, and that’s why I think Christian’s cancer storyline is one of the best and most richly thematic stories Nip/Tuck has introduced, probably since the introduction of Connor “Lobster Baby” McNamara.

The Husband:

What I was planning on writing just happened to be my wife’s last two paragraphs, so I’ll just ask that you re-read them and really let the words sink in. It is certainly the best and most emotional stuff Nip/Tuck has dealt with as far as character drama, that a man who has spent so much time perfecting his outside is now uncontrollably rotting inside. People give this show shit for being disgusting for disgusting’s sake, but it’s a far smarter show than a lot of people realize. It just also happens to include Cagney from Cagney & Lacey murdering a CAA by stuffing him as if he were a teddy bear, and a male serial disfigurer without a penis. You can have your cake and eat it too, you know.

The Wife:

What is Nip/Tuck if not a show about literal and metaphorical dick-sucking? And by dick-sucking, I mean auto-erotica, self-love, even vanity. A plastic surgery clinic is the perfect place to explore the conceit of self-love, as Sean and Christian have basically made a living putting collagen and fake breasts into women who can only love themselves if their bodies look a certain way. They encourage people to love themselves, even if that love is only self-serving and temporary . . . like sucking your own dick.

Okay, I don’t know if that metaphor is entirely exacting, but I’m going to roll with it, as the Patient of the Week, Manny Skerritt, was a yogi who could literally suck his own dick, a man whose plight yielded some really funny lines, but also served as the organizing metaphor for this episode. Manny is not only extremely flexible, but also well-endowed. In his own words:

“I’ve got a tyrannosaurus prick.”

Once he discovered the ability to self-fellate, the obsession to do so consumed his entire life. He no longer leaves the house, holds down a job or has real relationships:

“No, I mean I spend all day in my apartment with my penis in my mouth . . . I can’t hold down a job, and forget relationships because no one can get me off as good as I can.”

While Manny sucks his own dick in a very literal sense, Kimber does so by pimping her darling little Jenna out to creepy baby modeling agencies under the tutelage of mega-managers The Steves, who turn babies into stars by asking their mommies to correct their children’s slightest imperfections with restalyn, collagen and botox – a premise so utterly absurd that the metaphor for dick-sucking here is obvious. For many, their self-worth is defined by the success of their children, so having a gorgeous, money-making baby inflates her sense of success and self-worth. She’s only valuable if the fruit of her lions is valuable; as Jenna is a continuation of the being known as Kimber. And, naturally, in the ultimate display of self-fellating, Kimber chooses to dress baby Jenna up as her mini-me. So Kimber, being told that Jenna won’t make the big bucks unless her “thin, villainous lips” (inherited from Julia) are corrected, asks Christian to give his granddaughter a little collagen plumper.

Christian clearly refuses to do this, because he may be a bastard, but he’s not so unethical that he would perform an elective cosmetic procedure on an 18-month-old child. Sean urges Christian to meet with The Steves to find out what doctors they use so that those baby-injecting freaks can be put out of business, but when he meets them, he grows weary of their “lazy” managerial style and announces that from now on, he will be baby Jenna’s manager.

Yet more dick-sucking occurs when former Hearts & Scalpels star Aidan Stone returns with a script called “Deadly Tightrope: The Sean McNamara Story,” which he intends to produce, direct and star in if Sean will sell him the rights to his life story. This is dick-sucking for Sean, yes, but more so for Aidan, who desperately needs to stage a comeback after being fired from Hearts & Scalpels (and replaced with Sean) when he made a sex tape with underaged Eden Lord in his trailer. He needs this project. People keep replacing him with Ricky Schroeder.

“This is my Dances With Wolves, man!” – Aidan

Aidan has everything in place already: Morgan Fairchild wants to star as Colleen Rose and Lifetime wants to produce the script as a TV movie, but Sean is not happy with certain changes in the script. Though it’s hilarious to see Bradley Cooper in bed with Morgan Fairchild-as-Sharon Gless, Sean never slept with Colleen. Sean’s not a spy. And Colleen didn’t kill Christian (who in the movie, Aidan intended to cast as far less attractive than Sean, possibly a little pudgy and balding).

Sean: You killed Christian?

Aidan: I didn’t know what to do with his character anymore.

(Honestly, I think that last statement is the exact attitude the writers took when they killed off Olivia, a fact that still hasn’t been dealt with, despite the need to detail it in the 3-minute long recap at the top of this episode!)

(Husband Note: My best explanation? The fact that Portia de Rossi is now on ABC’s mid-season replacement Better Off Ted.)

In a final plot point for this episode, Sean asks Christian to let him take over the hiring of Liz’s replacement, fearing Christian will only pick someone who has big tits and, lo and behold, give blowjobs freely. Sean, however, ends up hiring Dr. Teddy Rowe (Katee “Starbuck” Sackhoff), a super-fine bad girl who rides Harleys, lives fast and plans to die young, but still finished first in her class at UCLA. Teddy (a name that calls to mind Colleen’s human bear stuffing, I think) doesn’t care much for rules and this carefree attitude resonates with Sean’s id, causing him to do some very self-gratifying acts . . . like taking a picture next to Manny Skerritt’s superdick, and potentially fucking over the entire practice in so doing.

I think there’s a part of Sean that can only love himself when women define the kind of man he should be. Just as Colleen, his freaky stalker-agent-nonlover, fed Sean’s considerable prickish ego by telling him he was God’s gift to television soap operas and plastic surgery, Teddy appeals to the part of Sean that wants to feel that special about himself all the time. She brings out the dick in him, that’s for sure.

After refusing Aidan’s offer, Aidan drops by to talk to the recently size-reduced Manny Skerritt and tells him that he saw Sean and Teddy take a photo of the anesthetized man’s dick. He suggests that Manny sue, and offers to hook him up with a good lawyer, if Manny can show him how to literally suck his own dick. (You know, just in case that vanity project doesn’t work out.)

Look, I'm just not that into you, okay? I'd rather suck my own dick, thanks.

Look, I'm just not that into you, okay? I'd rather suck my own dick, thanks.

Christian, fresh off several baby modeling rejections because of those “thin, villainous lips,” is almost ready to save baby Jenna’s already flagging career by plumping her baby pout to the size of Angelina Jolie’s, but just as he draws the needle toward his granddaughter’s face, he can’t bring himself to give her the injection. He walks out, but unfortunately leaves the needle in plain view of crazy-ass Kimber, who doesn’t hesitate for a second to stuff her baby’s lips full of that oh-so-natural collagen filler, thus reuniting her with The Steves and her “career,” which, let’s face it, will probably be over by the time she learns to talk. (Although, she’s a meth baby, so that could be a little bit.)

There really is something wrong with the world when your career as a baby model is over simply because your thin lips somehow detract from your allover cuteness. I mean, I was a former pageant kid, and even I am freaked out by a certain pageant-loving mom I saw on an episode of Wife Swap who puts her daughter, Baby Kayla, through manicures, pedicures and, yes, even hair bleaching just so her daughter will conform to standards of beauty established by pageant judges. The manicures and pedicures are weird, yes, but not harmful, unlike baby hair-bleaching, which I think is probably just as bad for your child as baby collagen injections. I guess we really do live in a world with no innocence, if self-fellating is necessary for babies, too.

Christian is completely incensed to hear about Manny’s lawsuit threat and he tries to fire Teddy, but she suggests that McNamara/Troy simply offer Manny an out-of-court payout to drop the suit and tells Christian that she deleted all the evidence from her digital camera. Had Aidan not intervened, there should have been no harm, no foul. This pisses off Christian, and he refuses to talk to Sean back at their shared apartment . . . until Matt bursts in and randomly stabs his biological dad with a sterile hypodermic needle. Matty accuses Christian of injecting baby Jenna with collagen, which he vehemently denies. The three McNamara/Troy men huddle around a conference call with Kimber, who is already reaping the benefits of being Baby Burburry’s mommy by spending her daughter’s hard-earned money. Kimber tells them that she gave Jenna the injections because Christian was too chicken to do it and that she’ll take the fall for it, saving the practice from any implications of misconduct. This conversation leads to a couple of choice lines from Matt:

“Kimber, alleycats who dump their litters in gutters make better mothers than you.”

And, to Christian:

“I’m sorry I stabbed you.”

Back at the office, Teddy goads Sean into taking Aidan’s $350K life-rights offer, convincing him that the money will give him the ability to move out of Christian’s apartment, get his own place and do a bunch of really fun things that he’s always wanted to do but never had the money to do. And then she totally puts the moves on him.

Aidan later turns up at McNamara/Troy with a broken neck, which he claims is because of a car accident he and Patrick Dempsey (Patty Demps, as he calls him) sustained from hitting an ice patch on Sunset, but Christian is sure stems from a different source:

“You broke your neck trying to sick your dick, didn’t you?”

He asks them to cover the scars he’ll have on his forehead when his neckbrace is removed, and, while they’re at it, to add a couple of extra inches to his dick . . . so he won’t fall off his bed and break his neck again the next time he tries to suck it.

In surgery, Sean decides to snap a photo of Aidan’s penis, which Linda describes as being so small that it’s “like two blueberries and a cocktail weenie,” just in case he should need to blackmail Aidan about the script to “Deadly Tightrope: The Sean McNamara Story,” which he plans to further rewrite during his recovery time. We know he plans to take out the entire Julia plot, which makes me wonder: will Nip/Tuck follow suit and continue to ignore further developments in Julia’s storyline? I don’t know how I’d feel about that.

After his foray into blackmail, Sean and Teddy ride off on her hog into the hills of Los Angeles, whereas Christian returns to help an incompetent Kimber even out the filler in his granddaughter’s lips, an act he doesn’t feel good about, which is beautifully underscored by some dissonant xylophone and piano music that served to make the whole baby Jenna storyline very creepy.

This was certainly not one of Nip/Tuck’s deepest or creepiest episodes, but it was in form as one of the funniest this season. I was into it, and I honestly doubt I’ll ever be able to use the phrase “dick-sucking” in an article so many times ever again.

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.

The Wife:

I had a conversation with my friend Drew over Facebook this morning about the weirdly uneven storytelling in last night’s episode. This was a three-patient episode, with three stories in it that felt somewhat rushed. Nip/Tuck has given us multiple patient stories before, but, usually, they’re a little better balanced between two patients whose stories last for the entire episode, rather than what occurred last night:

Jennifer Coolidge’s Candy Richards came back, after having discovered her African-American heritage, and has decided to reinvent herself as rap/hip-hop artist Hot Coco. After spewing what I believe was a largely improvised list of reasons she knows she’s black (example: she has always loved chicken and waffles), she asks Sean and Christian to give her butt implants. She has her surgery and then completely disappears. For what it’s worth, though, during the surgery, the team listens to Coco’s new single “Yo Stank Bitch,” and we get to see the entirety of the music video, which is priceless, especially because it contains the phrase, “Whadja do? Smuggle garlic in your cooch?” (Husband Note: I equally like the new term “Dubba Deez.”)

Olivia, meanwhile, wants plastic surgery so she can look ten years younger before moving to New York to teach at NYU’s medical program. Although this is an inherent contradiction because she teaches Eastern medicine, she feels like she’s aged ten years and has the surgery despite Julia’s protestations. And then, after a freaky little hallucination where Sean imagines Olivia begging him to kill her on the table, she goes into cardiac arrest during surgery and dies somewhere off screen, presumably with her forehead still hanging off her face.

At his breast cancer support group, Christian meets Roxy St. James, a totally hot lady who lost both her mother and her sister to breast cancer and irrationally fears that she, too, will die from the disease, even though tests to see if she’s a carrier for the cancer gene continually show up negative. After some totally sweet cancer-survivor sex, she asks Christian to perform her double mastectomy. He signs on for it, but then listens to Liz’s misgivings about performing such a radical, irreversible surgery on someone who seems to be mentally unstable. “You can’t cut the fear out of you by taking off her breasts,” she warns. And then the greatest thing I’ve EVER SEEN ON TELEVISION HAPPENS: After waking up from her “surgery” totally distraught that she still has breasts, Roxy later barges into McNamara/Troy, asks the receptionist for an open outlet, plugs in an electric turkey carver AND SLICES OFF HER OWN BREAST IN FRONT OF A WAITING ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE. I wish the interwebs had a clip of that, but for now, I can only give you the seduction scene she has with Christian:

After watching that scene, I went to bed last night proclaiming that this episode was a tour de force, a return to form for Nip/Tuck. This episode was funny, not just because of Coco, but because Christian’s banter was some of the best it’s ever been. This episode was totally disgusting and weird, what with Sean’s open-faced Olivia hallucination and the self-breast augmentation. Sean was as needy a giant man child as he’s ever been, especially when he tries to get Julia to stay in L.A. by passionately kissing her, as though one passionate kiss is going to erase the fact that she remembers the fact that their marriage failed. And yet the episode was still tempered with a couple of superficially deep thoughts about keeping one’s scars and furthered the deepening relationship between Christian and Liz.

But for all of those things I really liked about it, it was uneven in terms of storytelling. Coco’s plot and Roxy’s plot could have each had their own episodes, although if this episode had decided to balance the two of their stories, it could have worked out a little bit better. At the very least, while the women’s stories and desires are unrelated, I think that having the two of them share an episode would have at least balanced out the concept of ornamentation vs. purposeful disfigurement. It was an odd choice to leap into her plot so quickly, with only one minor protest from Sean about how asking to become more ethnic in appearance by getting butt implants and wearing gold teeth is one step away from putting shoe polish on and performing in blackface. There was a much better execution of this dilemma back in season three, when Matt starts dating Neo-Nazi Brittany Snow and she rightfully questions McNamara/Troy’s policies regarding ethnicizing surgeries. Ariel (Snow) wonders why its okay for people to have their features made to look more white, including through skin bleaching procedures (one of which Ariel herself will test out), when it isn’t okay to have one’s features made to look more black. Sean balks at her accusation that his surgical practices are racist and homogenizing, even though, in essence, she’s right. Plastic surgery is about homogenization. (Although in another episode, Sean willingly agrees to add a slight slant to a patient’s eye so that his bride-to-be’s Asian parents will be more willing to accept him.) But rather than dwell on that dilemma again, Christian reminds Sean that they’re surgeons, and if a white lady who didn’t think she was black wanted butt implants, they’d do it. So in the scope of minutes, they agree to Coco’s surgery, perform it and are entirely done with her.

Roxy’s plot was probably the only one of the three surgeries in this episode that was fairly well-paced, although, considering how psycho this lady is, I would have been happy to see more of her. The writers could certainly have done more with her story, but I think the climax of Roxy St. James makes up for any inadequacies in her narrative. People mutilating themselves with turkey carving knives? That is precisely why I watch Nip/Tuck. I certainly haven’t seen something that outrageously grotesque in a long time, and that scene alone is a tour de force. At the cancer support group, Christian callously told the women there that it’s only natural for their husbands to be disgusted by their scars, failing to understand why they wouldn’t get their chests reconstructed. “Any woman who chooses disfigurement,” he says, “chooses to be a victim.” No one is a great illustrator of this point that Roxy. There was nothing physically wrong with her at all, but she intentionally chose to mutilate her body. Having lost her mother and sister to breast cancer, she was already a victim of the disease although her own body never made her suffer. And for Roxy, there was no other way to be. I think there’s a lot of richness in this plot, and it poses a lot of questions about how we read the disfigured female body. That’s me mentally bookmarking this episode for later research.

Moving, on though, there’s one plot that just didn’t make sense in this episode at all, and that’s Olivia’s. It’s clear that this was just a way to get Olivia out of the show, and to establish the negative relationship between Sean and Julia that has driven the show for so long. Sean and Julia just don’t work when Julia’s working from a tabula rasa, so something needed to happen to make their relationship volatile again. And that thing had to be Olivia’s death. When she’s pronounced dead, Julia rails against Sean for intentionally killing her lover to try and get her back, but the autopsy later reveals that Olivia had neglected to tell the staff at McNamara/Troy that she was on anti-depressants (another thing that contradicts with her Eastern medical practices), effectively resigning herself to death via surgery. However, other than the spectre of her dead self that we see when Olivia looks in the mirror with her plastic surgery roadmap marked on her face, we had no idea that this character was going through this at all. Her death is a development that came out of nowhere, a machination to move the plot along. And that kind of sucks. Even Eden, who has been busy making porn in Europe (i.e. working with far less attractive script material over on 90210) dropped by to claim her mother’s ashes and couldn’t adequately explain why Olivia wanted to die. Taking advantage of Julia’s amnesia, Eden tells her that Olivia had been depressed for the last six months because she had been drinking, and shot Julia by accident, thus actually erasing the blame from the person who pulled the trigger: Eden Lord. Then Eden tosses Olivia’s ashes on Julia and Sean, a gesture which says, “Here! Take my mother! Please!”

I don’t understand anything about this plot at all. There had to have been a better way to deal with this, because while I’m willing to believe a lot of stuff, I am not willing to believe that Portia DiRossi would ever need plastic surgery. None of it makes any sense. And I’m going to choose to believe that Eden shot herself like I thought she did at the end of the first half of season 5, because that makes much more sense than her continued career in EuroPorn. After all, being on 90210 is like being dead anyway.

Christian Troy, you're the only man for me. And I mean that.

Christian Troy, you're the only man for me. And I mean that.

Outside of the patients, this episode did have one really great thing going for it, and that’s the continued trajectory of Liz and Christian’s budding relationship. Liz continues to experience her sexual identity crisis, wondering if men were the answer to why, after living as a lesbian for 20 years, she never found the right girl to settle down with. Christian suggests that they sleep together again as a scientific way of seeing if it’s just his cock that has “mystical powers” over Liz. Instead, she goes on a date with Bizarro Christian, an anesthesiologist who dresses and looks like a less wealthy version of the man with the mystical penis. She later tells Christian, as they sit and read the newspaper together in an adorable scene that made for a nice counterpart to human turkey carving, that Stephen’s penis also had mystical powers, but later admits that she lied about this, telling him that he’s the only man she likes. Christian, too, admits that the depth of their relationship is stronger than either of them realized, and he and Liz walk hand in hand to his bedroom.

Drew told me that he felt like this was the only plot that really got proper attention in last night’s episode, but still felt that Christian and Liz’s relationship rang a little false to him. I disagree with that last point – I think that Christian and Liz have always had a teasing, playful relationship that would evolve into something like what they currently have, and I’m willing to believe that his cancer was the catalyst for that transformation. She’s totally the opposite of everything Christian says he wants in a woman, but I think that’s one of the reasons why they work. I’m interested to see how their relationship will play out over the remainder of this season.

Without the Olivia stuff, this could have been a much stronger episode. It would have still been uneven, but not, say, lopsided like you’d just cut one of your breasts off with an electric turkey carver.

The Wife:

This week, Nip/Tuck returned to its usual form, beginning with a consult by the members of McNamara/Troy, including their new addition, Raj. The patient is Gene Shelly, a mildly androgynous ranchhand who is upset at not being viewed as male. His partner, Tracy, and he are often viewed as sisters, which irritates them both. Christian offers immediately to do Gene’s masculinization surgery, but Gene is worried about the entire team’s qualifications, considering Christian’s cancer, Sean’s partial paralysis and Raj’s, well, age. Regardless, Sean assures Gene that he is in very capable hands.

At home, Christian is beginning to experience the drawbacks of chemotherapy – you get better, but you vomit a whole lot and you feel and look like shit. Liz has taken up the mantle as his caretaker, perhaps a little more than Christian would like. She’s babying him, rubbing his back and fluffing his pillows, which is the only way she really knows how to take care of someone. It’s what she did for Sofia Lopez during her gender reassignment surgery.

“What are you doing? I don’t need a mommy! I don’t want a mommy! Stop being my mommy!” – Christian

As for Sean, he’s still working through physical therapy, taking time out of the chair to play with young Connor on the days that he has visits. Julia is impressed with how adeptly Sean can get in and out of his chair. She’s still with Olivia and still working on remembering things before Eden shot her. She remembers her childhood. She remembers her relationship with Sean. But she doesn’t remember the shooting. She tells Sean that she still doesn’t understand why he lied to her and told her they were together, but, despite that hesitation, she actually seems like she’s, for once in her life, really happy. Nip/Tuck has this habit of making some of its characters into entirely different people with each new season. (Kimber would probably be the best example of this.) Although this is technically not a new season, Julia really seems like she’s been entirely rewritten. She’s no longer angry and embittered beneath her perfect surface. She seems rather pacified and calm, not unlike those mannequins in the show’s opening sequence. As a result of this newfound Zen-like state, Julia feels some sympathy for Sean. She wants to reach out to Sean and care for him, offering to cook him dinner on the nights that Olivia works late.

Oh, youre a man. Well, thats honestly not what I expected.

Oh, you're a man. Well, that's honestly not what I expected.

At the office, Christian and Raj operate on Gene Shelly while Sean supervises. Raj, ever tactless and presumptuous, tells Christian that soon it will be him on the slab with Raj inserting the pectoral implants. Christian is angered that Raj would assume he’d be doing Christian’s reconstruction, when it was Sean he had asked. The agitation in combination with chemo and hormone therapy make Christian vomit, which he does so neatly into a kidney-shaped pan. I like knowing that Christian Troy is just as good at throwing up neatly into odd-shaped vessels as I am. I once threw up in a crème brûlée bowl at a pub in Vegas. I think I could take him in a vomiting into odd receptacles competition.

The next day, Kimber comes over to Christian’s house just as he is about to send Wilbur to play with his nanny’s son for the evening. Kimber refuses to let Christian hold Jenna or even watch her while Kimber heads out to get her oh-so-important massage, not wanting Jenna to “catch” anything from Christian, as though tit cancer is contagious. Seems like, in grand Nip/Tuck tradition, Kimber is a completely different person than she was in the previous season, now moving on from being “porn-again” to becoming, possibly, the most wretched human being I’ve ever seen on this how. Kimber goes on to talk about how being a mother is far more being stressful than having cancer, which Christian, hoping to get a pity fuck, tries to exploit by bringing up the fact that Eden has been living with Kimber and Ram. Wait a minute, what? I thought Eden Lord was dead. I thought she shot herself after shooting Julia. What the fuck do you mean she’s living with Kimber and Ram, happily continuing the fuck-fest they’d started before Julia’s accident? Did I miss something? Am I completely misremembering the first half of this season? Granted, even if Eden is living with Ram and Kimber, we likely will never see her again, unless 90210 gets canceled and AnnaLynne McCord can return to playing a character that’s actually evil and awesome. Anyway, Kimber is ready to pity-fuck Christian, until she sees his chest divot and laughs. She can’t help it, she says, claiming that the cancer is exactly what Christian Troy deserves for spending his life casually fucking women and leaving them with numerous emotional scars. His disease, she says, is karma coming back to him. That’s just vile. I mean, Christian may have fucked a woman with a bag over her head, but in no way can I see the Universe punishing him with cancer for those offensive acts. That might be the most vile thing I’ve ever heard on this show, and Nip/Tuck is filled with many unsavory notions. (Also, Kimber, that’s just not how cancer works.)

While Christian’s disease seems to be a complete turn off to people, Sean’s infirmity has only improved his sex life. The student he’s sleeping with gives him routine head after class as a way of thanking him for teaching her how to give better consultations with clients. Being a doctor in an actual practice also seems to have improved Raj’s sex life quite a bit. The camera cuts immediately from Sean’s blowjob to Raj, seemingly masturbating, being walked in on Christian. From below the camera rises Tracy. Christian is furious that Raj has put McNamara/Troy in danger of a huge lawsuit from recovering Gene, but Gene rises from his bed to assure Christian that he wanted Tracy to go down on Raj, as they do this kind of thing all the time. I guess there really isn’t much to do on the ranch but ride and . . . uh . . . ride?

Matt helps Sean with his physical therapy in part of his grand effort to stop being a total douchebag. The physical therapist wants Sean to try to walk from the parallel bars to his chair, but Sean refuses. His therapist knows Sean has the physical capabilities to walk again, but is simply holding himself back. When Sean falls, Matt fires the therapist, finding his methods too cruel. This leads to another dual sex scene, this time with Sean’s student giving him a bath, carrying him to bed and then shaving his pubic hair, which is, frankly, just fucking weird. Christian, meanwhile, has called for a hooker, feeling that paying for sex is the only way he’s going to be able to release the negative energy Gene and Tracy accused him of harboring. The hooker, Kitty, is not what Christian expected and, after she asks him if he has AIDS, he doesn’t want to pay for her services, despite her amazing sales pitch:

“I’m here. I have a vagina – a pretty good one, at that – and for 300 bucks, I’ll let you put your dick in it.”

When Christian turns her down, she’s determined to get her money from his wallet, citing a no-refunds policy. When he tries to stop her, she beats him with a lamp and steals his medication. Broken and beaten, Christian calls the only person he has left: Liz. Much like Sean’s girlfriend, Liz takes care of Christian, only unlike the previous caregiving scene, he actively encourages her to baby him. He wants his back rubbed after he throws up and his pillows fluffed. In pain, Christian asks Liz to stay until he falls asleep. She does, but falls asleep herself, waking up when a sleeping Christian’s roaming hands find her body. The sleep-groping turns into sleep-fucking, which I was going to call sleep-raping, except that Liz seemed to want to be with Christian in that moment in which they were both vulnerable. I had mixed feelings about this scene. At first it was rather shocking, but then turned into something kind of sweet as Liz, for once, was pleasured by a man – a man she once found to be the epitome of heternormative masculinity. There was something very sweet in seeing how close these two characters have become. But then it got a little creepy again when, in the aftermath, the expression on Liz’s face was ambivalent and worried. And it got even creepier the next day when Raj outs Christian and Liz’s tryst during Christian’s breast implant consult and Christian tells Liz he was awake the whole time, a fact which angers Liz considerably, for obvious reasons. I still, by the way, am unsure how I feel about that revelation, especially because, by the light of day, Christian has returned to his steadfast machismo, bragging to Raj and Sean about how he made her climax repeatedly during the sleep-fuck-rape.

Sean returns, again, to his student’s bed, only to be turned into an adult baby (complete with a man-sized diaper), an act which rightly forces him to forget his fear of walking and actually do it – standing up in a diaper to kick the girl out. This is the exact moment, however, that Julia decided to drop by and cook Sean dinner but, astonished by what she had just seen and assuming Sean has been faking his injury so that people would pity him, she leaves before he notices she was even there. This apparently angers Matt so much when he hears it that he punches a wall, coming to Christian with his mother to get his hand cleaned up and to tell Christian about Sean’s big secret. In a nod to Sean being completely infantilized during sex play by his student, Matt calls Sean a “big baby,” constantly needing people to take care of him. Christian tells Matt and Julia that he’ll talk to Sean about it himself.

At McNamara/Troy, Raj discovers that Tracy is actually a transwoman when he sees her peeing next to him at a urinal. I love this frank and honest exchange between the two of them:

Raj: You have a penis.
Tracy: Yup. It goes with my balls. But it doesn’t make me any less of a woman.

Finding out that Tracy is biologically male Raj to question his sexuality. He seeks advice from Liz, the show’s resident lesbian-until-that-sleep-rape-fuck-incident, asking her what is pretty much the best question I’ve ever heard:

“Liz Cruz, why do you choose to rub vaginas with your own sex?”

Liz and Raj go on to have a very earnest conversation about definitions of sexuality, in which she ultimately advises that sexuality isn’t a thing that should really be labeled. Labels, she says, “are for cans of tuna, not people.” I also liked this scene a lot because Nip/Tuck has never shied away from discussing the spectrum of sexuality, and, aside from Lisa Edelstein’s role as transgendered Cindy McCauliff on the 2000-2001 season of Ally McBeal, it was one of the first shows on television to expressly deal with gender reassignment and transgender issues. The show has had several transgender characters, the first of which was Sofia Lopez, which whom Liz had a brief flirtation during her multi-episode arc in season one. Liz questioned her sexuality then, wondering what it meant to be attracted to a woman who was biologically male, and Sofia did, too, as she did not identify as a lesbian, but, rather, as a straight woman born in a male body. Here, Liz questions what it means to actually feel something for Christian, looking past the constructions of his gender and falling, in some way, for the person that he is. For as brutal as Nip/Tuck can sometimes be, it also really does a great job of looking at complicated issues while satirizing our image-obsessed society. As Liz discusses her confused feelings for Christian, Raj becomes my hero when he tells Liz that he thinks she is beautiful, no matter what she tries to be, lesbian or straight or something in between without a label. I really love Raj, so much, after this conversation. Earlier, I thought he was a presumptuous asshole, but now I want to hug him.

After hearing about Sean’s range of motion from Matt and Julia, Christian comes home to confront him. Sean is working out, standing on his own two feet, but returns to the chair when he hears a key in the door. Before Christian can begin to discuss any of what’s on his mind, Sean assumes he is upset because Sean isn’t performing Christian’s reconstructive surgery. He apologizes to his friend and roommate and promises him that he’s doing to best he can given his limitations. Christian tells his friend to stay in that chair as long as he needs to, suddenly realizing just how many people Sean has had to take care of throughout his life – especially Christian himself. In the chair, for once, people have to look out for Sean. But later that day, when the chemo and too much Scotch make Christian sick, it is Sean who stands by Christian’s side to rub his back and care for him. Emphasis on “stands. ”

I don’t think Christian will be nearly as upset as Julia and Matt about Sean’s recovery, as I think he is aware that his roommate is not the same kind of person he is and wouldn’t have been faking it the whole time. Sean may be kind of a bastard, but he isn’t selfish. I just hope he doesn’t give up teaching. I’ve really enjoyed seeing him have a space of power akin to Christian’s power space of the bedroom.

The Wife:

Nip/Tuck is disgusting, outrageous and bawdy as all hell. For these reasons, it is probably one of my favorite shows on television. Academically, I’m interested in representations of the body, so a show about plastic surgery, cutting and the relationships between the deep and the superficial, the skin and the organs, the body and its abject and the boundary territory of the skin is wholly appealing to me. “Ronnie Chase” picks up where the Big Crazy Cliffhanger from the first half of this strike-shortened season, with Sean McNamara bleeding to death on the floor of his surgery, his daughter Annie still on the table. But rather than launch straight into a new series of events, writer/creator Ryan Murphy takes us back and makes us watch that entire terrifying scene again, but this time with new explicit details.

Barred from the premises of McNamara/Troy, Colleen Rose managed to sneak past the guards by donning a disguise and bandaging her face as though she recently had a face lift. Through a series of small near-encounters, she successfully evades both Liz and Christian and makes her way into Sean’s surgery unseen, brutally stabbing him with the sharpest kitchen knife she was able to find in the McNamara/Troy break room. Sean, fearing for Annie’s life, still hooked up to anesthesia, drags himself across the floor to turn his machines off, which would leave Annie stable, but Colleen drags him back into her arms, suddenly becoming completely unhinged and realizing that she’s done a terrible thing to her favorite cookie. She drags Sean’s body out of surgery and through the hallways of McNamara/Troy, leaving a snail-like trail of blood in her wake. Liz returns to the surgery to find Sean missing and, noticing Annie’s vitals are crazy out of whack, goes to turn them off, but slips in the massive pool of blood on the floor. She calls out for Christian, who is able to help her stabilize Annie in time. Christian follows the trail of blood to Sean’s office, where he finds the door locked and has to resort to trying to kick the thing in because of his broken arm. Inside, Sean pleads with Colleen to call an ambulance lest he bleeds to death, but she cannot comprehend. When he realizes that she has left the knife by his side, he asks her to keep her hands on his chest to monitor his heartbeat . . . and then he stabs her just before Christian can kick in the door. This series of events was so much more awesome than I could have even anticipated.

Four months after the incident, Sean has been teaching plastic surgery and, while he still remains a partner at McNamara/Troy, he is hesitant to return to surgery. The accident has left him wheelchair-bound, and he refuses to return to work until he knows his hands will be as good as they once were, refusing, even, to perform a breast reduction on Liz, despite her insistence that he and Christian do the surgery together. I loved the scenes of Sean teaching his plastic surgery class. For once, it seems like he’s found a place where he has real power. Viewers of Nip/Tuck know that the dynamic in the Christian/Sean relationship for the first 4 seasons relied on the fact that Sean was the more talented surgeon, but Christian was the image of perfection that brought in all of their Miami clients. After the move to L.A., things changed. Sean suddenly became a television star, getting a recurring role on the medical soap Hearts & Scapels and Christian, unaware of what to do with himself without his reign as the face of McNamara/Troy resorted to becoming a gigolo on the side. Until they got to L.A., Sean was always positioned as inferior to Christian in terms of masculine prowess, but in the classroom, I think Sean becomes more like Christian – powerful, virile and authoritative. Despite the fact that his body is severely damaged, Sean finally seems to have found his voice in the classroom.

With Christian handling the consult for Liz’s breast reduction solo, he discovers a lump in her breast, which leads her through a quick and dizzying mammogram and diagnosis process. Liz doesn’t have breast cancer, it turns out, but rather hard fibrous breast tissue, a result of drinking too much diet soda and coffee. Christian then admits that he also has a lump in his breast tissue, which he always assumed was a burst sweat gland from wailing on his pecs so much, but might just be fibrous because of the coffee-fueled diet. Liz’s oncologist encourages him to get his breast tissue checked anyway, as men do indeed develop breast cancer. Christian, however, does not fare from such a pleasant diagnosis as Liz. He has stage two “tit cancer,” a prospect which challenges the machismo he’s spent his whole life cultivating. Awaiting his diagnosis, he asks Liz if Tennessee Williams, who was openly gay, died of breast cancer. He didn’t, Liz replies, but Richard Roundtree did.

“Shaft had tit cancer?” – Christian

The breast cancer diagnosis upsets Christian deeply. Not only does he think he’s going to die because, as a doctor, he knows what stage two means, but because he’s been diagnosed with a disease that complicates his notions of masculinity. (For those who haven’t had a cancer experience, stage two cancers are considered locally advanced, which isn’t horrible, but means that its more difficult for doctors to be certain that they’ve removed the entirety of a tumor. The margins between stage two and stage three aren’t very wide.) Christian thinks it’s impossible for hyper-masculine men to die of what he dubs a pussy disease – something he won’t allow to be “taken out” by. The fact that Sean allowed a pesky 17-year-old resident from his plastic surgery class to observe Christian in an earlobe reconstruction surgery, constantly questioning Christian’s technique (and therefore his masculinity), drives him batshit insane. (Note to all plug-earring aficionados: don’t go past 00 gauge or this surgery will happen to you should you ever decide to take your plugs out!)

Jesus, Liz, I cant have tit cancer!

Jesus, Liz, I can't have tit cancer!

Matt, meanwhile, has given up first time fairies porn and meth labs and dating Israeli burn victims and banging his half-sister and has decided to help his father through his physical therapy. As Matt helps Sean through his hour of walking with the aid of parallel bars, he tells his father that he’s decided to enroll at Santa Monica College in heavy science and anatomy courses, hoping to transfer to UCLA pre-med in two years and “go the doctor route,” setting in motion the events we know to be true from Sean’s fever-dream “Connor McNamara, 2026.” Sean is extremely proud of his son’s newfound interest in no longer having the most fucked-up sex life I’ve ever seen on TV (there was a great recap of these events at the beginning of the sister-fucking episode) and making something of himself, but Christian is still really angry about that whole sister-fucking thing. After Matt leaves for class, Sean and Christian have a “who’s more pitiful” fight in which Christian reveals to his friend that he does, indeed, have tit cancer. Suddenly sympathetic, Sean tells Christian that, while its fine to be worried as a doctor, Sean knows from the very real dream that was “Connor McNamara, 2026” that in the future, both McNamara and Troy were very much alive and very much happy. Christian, Sean notes, looked like Ricardo Montalban and had a wife on each arm. (That is indeed what Future Christian looked like.) This information is mildly comforting to Christian, but he still heads out to drown his sorrows at a bar.

Sean meets him there later and the two damaged men manage to pick up some hot dates and take them back home. Sean has some ridiculously hot wheelchair sex with a blonde 15 years his junior, while Christian gets a pity fuck out of a lonely brunette. All is going well for Christian until he starts squeezing his partner’s breasts too hard, turning sex-play into a doctor’s visit when he suggests that she get a mammogram. She is offended because she thinks this mean’s he’s calling her old (since we ladies don’t start getting routine mammograms until we hit 40), but I think he’s just being overly cautious. Self-exams are important, friends. Early detection is your best hope against cancer, so if someone you’re fucking tells you that you have a lump, you don’t get offended. You make a fucking doctor’s appointment. Worried about his future, Christian asks Liz to take care of Wilbur should anything happen to him, which Liz agrees to. As a friend, she assures Christian that nothing will happen to him, but as a doctor, she agrees it’s a good idea to get his affairs in order.

This episode ended with some very powerful images of wounded masculinity, as Sean wakes from a dream-state (into another dream-state) and walks to the bathroom, past his wheelchair, to stand in the mirror and examine his numerous stab wounds. Christian, meanwhile, returns from his cancer extraction and stands before the bathroom mirror, unwrapping his dressing to reveal his once perfect chest, now dark, scarred and concave – something now missing from a place he was once so full of pride for. I think this scene is particularly relevant in light of the bedroom scenes that took place only minutes prior. Sean may be more physically damaged than his friend, but somehow that damage has made him more masculine than he ever was before. His wounds are manly wounds, stab wounds – wounds that have a story of survival and the heart of a fighter behind them. In some ways, they transcend the idea of being wounds. And then there’s Christian, once so mired in perfection, and now ruined, in many ways feminized. His wound does not add to his masculine character, but detracts from it. He is missing a part of himself physically, but that physical loss has damaged him further on a psychological level. The sunken hole in his pectoral muscle is merely a physical manifestation of that psychological condition.

I can’t wait for more of this season. I want to see the perfect image of Christian shatter further and, hopefully, rebuild. I want to see more of this new, virile Sean. My husband and I have often poked fun at the fact that some of Nip/Tuck‘s characters are never the same from season to season – Matt and Kimber, mainly – but Christian and Sean have always been the same people, just evolving and changing in a really natural way that suits who they are and who they will become. Mostly, I just can’t wait to write about it. Sean and Christian seem like they’re going to be some excellent figures for my continued research as this season progresses.