"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dirty Sexy Money: The Lions

In this episode, the show's over-the-top moments were swapped for more dramatic ones. Far more time was spent on the murder mystery and affair plotlines than on the crazy antics of the Darlings, and the show still worked for me. "The Lions" shed light on the unique father-son relationships that exist within the Darling family. Letitia said that "we're all capable of everything," and this episode certainly proved that.

The scenes between Patrick and Tripp helped me understand Patrick's role within the Darling family and the show itself. At first it seemed like Patrick existed solely for the transsexual mistress plot, but there's much more to him. In the last episode, Jeremy talked about being a disappointment to his father, and this episode was Patrick's turn to worry about Tripp's expectations. Donald Sutherland's performance added a lot of depth to the character of Tripp. He doesn't want power for its own sake; rather, he wants the Darling family to shape the world in which they live. It's a little sad that Tripp thinks of his legacy only in public terms, though. Letitia was right when she said that Tripp confuses power with love.

This episode turned several of the show's characters into complex human beings, including the character of Carmelita. She went from a clingy mistress last week to a significant part of Patrick's life this week. Her advice to Patrick made me want to see more of her character. Carmelita genuinely loves Patrick, and I'm looking forward to the moment when she realizes that Patrick will never leave his wife for her.

I'm surprised (and glad) that Brian isn't just a one-note jerk. It took Nick forcing his hand to get Brian to take responsibility for Brian Jr. (or Gustav, the Swedish bullet train orphan), but at least he has a heart. Like Tripp, Brian seems to care about the legacy that he'll pass on to his only son.

So far, I think the writers have done a great job of mixing the humorous and dramatic elements of each character. Brian's cranky one-liners would have gotten old really fast if that was all that his character provided. I love that Brian initially talked to his kid in the same way he talks to everyone else. How long do you think it will take for Brian's family to figure out that Brian Jr. is his? He's not a great liar, after all (that Swedish orphan story was way too detailed).

The Juliet and Jeremy storyline was my least favorite part of this episode. The Natalie Klimpton drama definitely could have waited until next week, although I suppose it's important to keep the show light when murder and infidelity are in the mix. The actress playing Natalie isn't that interesting to me, which is unfortunate, since Natalie will be around for the next few episodes.

I would have expected Juliet's former BFF and current rival to have a lot more attitude, or at least a personality. Jeremy's attempts to hide the truth about Natalie from Juliet were pretty funny, though. It takes quite an imagination to come up with a lie about a Belgian chef brought in to cook for the UN.

As far as Dutch's murder goes, a few more pieces were added to the puzzle. Norman Exley cleared Brian of any wrongdoing (for now), but guessed that Tripp might have been involved in the plane crash. Nick got a peek at Tripp's journal, which included a doodle of a plane hitting the water with some words crossed out.

While I agree that Tripp is hiding something, he looked genuinely hurt when Nick accused him at the photo shoot. Then again, Donald Sutherland is such an incredible actor that he makes Tripp's behavior difficult to read. He could be pretending, and he could be innocent. He was quick to put Nick on the trail of Simon Elder, however. Perhaps there's some bad blood between Tripp and Simon.

The serious moments surrounding Letitia's affair with Dutch really balanced out the crazy photo shoot scenes. Jill Clayburgh and Donald Sutherland bring so much credibility to the show's dramatic side. Juliet and Jeremy make me laugh, but Letitia and Tripp make me think. I cannot believe that Tripp didn't know about the affair (it seems that way to me, anyway)--Letitia has been terrible at hiding her feelings for Dutch so far. She mentioned off-hand that Dutch was part of the family, and she even had one of their staff drive her to Dutch's grave (presumably).

The crushed look on Tripp's face when he figured out the combination of Dutch's briefcase was heartbreaking. I cannot say enough positive things about Donald Sutherland in this episode. Every little gesture and facial expression was perfect for the scene. Clayburgh and Sutherland are also extremely believable as a couple, whether they are talking about their children or their marriage.

So far, the show has found a good balance between touching drama and over-the-top comedy.

Funniest Darling moments:
  • "I want to be normal-sized and independent."
  • "She'll take you back if I have to shoot you at her with a cannon."
  • "She said that she's a free radical now, and you, of all people, would understand."
  • "He's my son. Get rid of him." Brian's note, written on the church's stationery.
  • "This nice, lonely lady is going to get you some cake."
  • "She put out your signature perfume without your name on it. And she stole your bangs."
  • "Jeremy called. He wants you to copyright some song he wrote with Justin Timberlake. He left it on your answering machine."

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