Culture / Entertainment

Transparent Episode 4 Recap: The Cabinet of Pfefferman Family Secrets

The episode opens in Ali’s apartment…on the floor in Ali’s apartment where Maura has just come out to Ali. Ali rubs Maura’s face like she is reading braille and smiles the smile of the supremely high and says, “You finally make sense to me.” It’s like a scene from a movie mashup of The Miracle Worker and Hair.


The room’s a wreck but she folded her napkin!


Maura tries to decide if Ali is just being Ali Weird or some other kind of weird. Ali asks, “What am I supposed to call you now?” End scene.

Josh is in bed having relations with Ali’s best friend and, the next morning, he has some cereal while Ali’s friend looks through his records. He really seems to have a thing for cereal.


Cereal Killer


can you buy Lyrica from canada Digression 1: I know I should really know her name but I can’t find her in the IMDB and I don’t want to rewatch all the episodes to see if someone calls her by name so I am just going to call her Ali’s best friend and we are all just going to have to live with it.

Ali’s best friend tells Josh she’ll add it to her Cabinet of Pfefferman Secrets, and he asks her to spill. She tells him Ali used to sell their mom’s valium in high school and then says she knows his babysitter took advantage of him when he was a teenager. He gets really defensive and says it was “rad,” and she says it was “gross.” Maybe someone needs to put a lock on the Cabinet of Pfefferman Secrets.

At Maura’s, Davina adds some hair to Maura’s hair to give it volume. I don’t know what these sort of things are called, and it took me 10 minutes to come up with “adds some hair to Maura’s.” Have you ever tried to talk about a thing without knowing what a thing is called? It’s hard. Davina then gives some tips on sitting, walking, and posture. Davina is kinda bossy, and Maura and I are peeved.

We then get a flashback to 1994. We see Mort check into a hotel under a fake name, but then we see Maura sitting in her room balancing a martini glass on her head.


You should see what I can do with a beach ball and a couple of trained seals.

A few minutes later, a friend comes out of the bathroom and says, “Hi. I’m Marcy.”


Bartlett for America

Maura says, “Hi. I’m Daphne Sparkles.” Marcy is not impressed and says her name sounds too “strippery” and calls her Maura instead.

Tammy arrives at Sarah’s, and Sarah asks her how Barb took the news of their imminent break up. Tammy tells her “It didn’t come up.” Uh oh. Tammy decides the best defense is a good offense so she tells Sarah she’s moving too fast like a “hummingbird with big boobs.”


Hi. My name is Tammy and I am really bad at dirty talk.

Tammy is no ornithologist, but she might be a great baker because she sure does like to knead those hummingboobs. The groping is interrupted by a text from Ali.

Sarah goes to Ali’s apartment, and Ali is freaking out about Maura coming out to her. Sarah says, “Were you high?” and Ali says, “I was basically trying to make out with dad.” So awful but also kinda true. They both say the whole situation is weird. Ali said that she renamed her dad “Moppa, like Mama and Poppa.” Sarah thinks that’s cute. Ali wants to know if Josh and their mom know, and Sarah says they don’t, and she can’t tell them because that would be outing Maura and that it a horrible, horrible thing like stripping someone naked and making them sit alone in the lunch room. That last part of the metaphor lost me but I can agree that outing is generally not a good practice. Ali is not feeling so hot after her night at the rocks and sits down in the chair and snuggles under a blanket and Sarah offers to rub her feet. Sarah tells Ali that she and Tammy were hanging out when Maura came in and surprised her. Ali wants to know if they are doing nasty things, and Sarah says they are in love and then, “She made me squirt.” Strangely, I’ve never seen that Hallmark card around Valentine’s Day. Ali doesn’t believe in female ejaculation and says, “That’s pee, Sarah.”  Ok – the way Ali says that line so flatly killed me. I had to pause the video to laugh because I was doing the gasping, squinty-eyed kind of laughing. I recovered enough to push play but then Sarah says it smells different than pee, “It smells like Pirates of the Caribbean rides.” What the hell? That is a terrible smell but so funny.


Do I smell a squirter?

Maura calls and says she’s downstairs. Ali forgot she made brunch plans.

Josh goes to Rita’s and asks if his parents knew that they were having sex back in the day and she says, “Everyone knew. We were in love.” Josh is clearly starting to have some doubts about the Rita situation but he does what Josh does when confused, he has sex.

Maura, Sarah, and Ali go to the mall and get makeovers. Maura is getting advice on toning. Sarah is getting dark and smoky eyes to look “hot.”


Thank god we’re not Ali.

Ali looks like she got the make up person who took a job at the mall after getting fired from his job at the funeral home.


Death becomes her.

Sarah and Ali let Maura buy them a bunch of expensive beauty supplies and then they all need to go to the bathroom. Maura hesitates outside the women’s bathroom, but Sarah grabs her hand and leads her in. Ali goes first and Maura and Sarah wait in line. Sarah says something to Maura but calls her “Dad” and two girls start talking about them. The girls’ mother comes out of a stall and they tell her there is a man in there and point to Maura. The woman says that they are in the women’s bathroom and Sarah says, “Yeah, we’re aware what it is.” The woman then says, “Your dad is a pervert!” and Sarah brings it, “You are a fucking cunt!”


Nobody puts Maura in a corner.

Here’s the thing…Sarah is uptight, intense, and needy, and I have not been sure how I feel about her. But, in this scene, I fell in love with her because I love fierce loyalty so much, especially when when it comes with a sharp tongue. I vote Sarah Most Likely to Win a Bar Brawl. I’d love to watch.

They leave the bathroom and part ways in the parking garage. Sarah asks Maura if she’s okay, and she says she will be. Next we see Maura like this…so very not okay…


Blue period

I loved this shot because it was so intense and blue and melancholy and then we find out it’s blue because Maura is in a porta potty on the side of the road somewhere, and it’s heartbreaking.

Ali and Sarah go back into the mall so that Ali can return all her beauty supplies for cash, and Sarah gets a call from Tammy canceling their plans.

Maura goes home and her neighbors are having a loud party, and she bangs on the wall asking them to be quiet, and then she calls the building manager who is at the party next door, and then she just loses it, banging on the wall and screaming at the guys next door, even calling them “faggots” at one point.

Frontera Digression 2: This is a sad scene so I would like to talk about Skittles now. Can we talk about Skittles? I miss tasting the rainbow when the green of the rainbow was lime not green apple. I want to give Maura some Skittles. I would even pick out the green ones for her. I wouldn’t eat them for her…just pick them out and maybe hide them in a potted plant.

Ali goes to a barbershop and gets her hair cut short. Then, she goes home and takes a bath and washes all her funereal makeup off.

Sarah goes to Tammy because she hasn’t stalked her yet this episode. Sarah tells her she left her husband for her, and Tammy says that she never asked her to do that. Sarah mentions that, during their first sexcapade, Tammy said that she wanted to “fuck her everyday for the rest of my life.” Tammy says, “People say shit when they’re fucking!” This is true, and Tammy was talking crazy that night. Remember the flying cars and all that? Sarah asks, “Do you love me?” and Tammy says, “Yes.” So Sarah tells Tammy to go in the house and tell Barb about her.

Josh drops by to see Ali, and she tells him to check in with their dad. She asks about the glitter girl and the baby and he tells her that’s all over. He notices her hair and says, “You look like a fucking punk rock broccoli.”


I don’t really see the resemblance.

Ali and Josh are obviously both feeling pensive, and Ali puts on some music and then says, “I really need you to dance with me.” And they dance together awkwardly, and I find myself liking these insane, flawed characters more and more.

Rating: 4 out of 5 broccolis

Favorite Line: Ali’s line wins, “That’s pee, Sarah.”

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  1. I loved this episode so very much. OMG, Ali’s friend Carrie Brownstein and she’s magnificent! I thought I might need to duel you in defense of her honor. But you way redeemed yourself with the Depp photo caption (the line killed me too) and the photoshopping, so we’re good. I can’t believe how this episode covered so much ground but also hit soooo many moody notes. Just so good. That hotel scene was everything, and those little details like Maura’s name say so much (like about how hard it is to express gender without getting caught in the constructs of our culture’s weird extremes of gender, and about Maura’s sense of self) with so little. I really struggle with Josh, though. I feel intellectual empathy for him, but he is just almost insufferable. Tammy, though. All hail Tammy!

    • Deborah Goldstein says:

      I’m going out on a limb and assume that Vikki didn’t know Carrie’s character’s name, which is Syd Feldman, as opposed to her real life name. I’d like to see the duel, in any event.

      I might have to duel you over Tammy – and not because I want to get with her. I can’t decide if she’s a lesbian caricature or just West Coast cool that doesn’t translate to East Coast anxious.

  2. Yes, Ali’s friend is awesome. I really like her. And I struggle with Josh too but when he and Ali dance awkwardly at the end, I felt something for him for the first time. They are all so broken. I also loved the scene when Maura loses it and yells “faggots” at the guys next door because identity is so complicated and the threads that tie the LGBT community together can seem so fragile at times. And Tammy? Come on, Shane Lynch is the best moniker for her. She is the perfect mash up of the exaggeration of Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester and the queer cool of Kate Moennig’s Shane McCutcheon.

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