Culture / Media

Transparent Recap Episode 9: Looking Up

The episode opens while we look down on poor Ed. He is attached to an oxygen tank looking chalky and lifeless. Maura and Shelly discuss options. While Maura advocates putting Ed in a home, Shelly dances around the fact that she may have looked into other possibilities. “I Googled,” she admits. “Sometimes I do some Googling.” I feel for Shelly. I hope I never have to Google “How and when to unplug your spouse.”

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Mort is confessing to Shelly. There was a conference, but he didn’t attend. Shelly tries to wrap her head around the concept of cross-dressing camp. Mort tries his best to present a picture of normalcy – that there is nothing sinister about straight men dancing in dresses. Shelly is not buying it. “Awww, dancing,” she says sarcastically with her arms waving in the air and not in the waving like you just don’t care kind of way. Her arms are waving more in the Jewish emphatic way that indicates that words are not enough. It’s not exactly American Sign Language– more like Jewish Sign Language, JSL.

emphatic sarcasm


Mort then tells her that wives come and that he’d love to share the experience with her. She buries her head in her hands, and it is clear that Shelly will not be accompanying Mort to cross-dressing camp.

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Sarah is regretfully dumping her weed into the toilet at Tammy’s insistence. Tammy explains that she is an addict and that even though she had an issue with cocaine, drugs are drugs and the pot has to go. Sarah suggests donating it to kids going through chemo or something. Tammy does not appreciate Sarah’s charitable side.

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Bianca thanks Josh for letting her stay at his place now that she has been fired as Sarah and Tammy’s summer girl. Bianca asks if he likes huevos rancheros. It’s her specialty, and she wants to whip up some gratitude eggs for him. Instead of saying, “Why don’t I just give you some cash for a hotel so that we don’t end up doing anything I’ll regret later,” Josh says, “Ok, cool.” Josh, you’re such a putz.

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Ed wakes up, and we hear Maura and Shelly in the living room. After a discussion about food, which Jews talk about like non-Jews talk about the weather, Shelly asks Maura if she still wants to date women now that she’s a woman. Maura says, “Yes. Shelly, it’s still me.” “So you’re a lesbian,” she adds, but before Maura can reply she says, “So we got gay married before it was fashionable.” And they both have a chuckle.

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Sarah shows up at what is now Len’s house to drop off the kids for the weekend. Sarah complains to Len that Tammy made her flush all her weed. Len wants to know when she started smoking weed, and Sarah says, “That was since I stressed out after this guy came to Shabbat and threatened all these women with a knife.” But it’s all in fun as they both laugh about that asshole with the knife. Len points out that Sarah never got high with him as if maybe they should have. Sarah tells him that it does calm her down and that she uses this crazy pen thing, and that’s when Len whips his own pot-pen out of his pocket. She does not say, “I thought you were just glad to see me,” but she should have. They laugh. Oh how they laugh. Are they the poster children for amicable divorces or might there be some old feelings surfacing? Time will tell.

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Rabbi Raquel finds Josh sitting at the bottom of a staircase in her synagogue. He wants to talk to her, but she makes it clear that she’s got places to go, people to see, and assholes to avoid (though not in those words). Josh apologizes for leaving Raquel stranded after she made him a nice dinner to celebrate and commiserate Maura’s singing debut.

Raquel says she has to teach a class, and Josh says he’s going to wait for her and sits back down at the bottom of the staircase. We want to believe that he’s capable of mensch-hood, but he’s just that guy who always makes bad choices, so we don’t know what to think.

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Ali tells Syd about the freaky experience at Dale’s house and about how the house looked totally different the next time she saw it. She doesn’t even know why she was there. Syd knows why, and she explains that Ali was there to learn. She goes on to say that in preschool, her mom cut out letters for her to hold because she was a tactile learner. But Ali is a vaginal learner. She’s got to stick stuff in there to understand it.

At this point in the recap, I may have taken a break to experiment with an alternate type of learning. Turns out, I may also be a vaginal learner. Who knew?

Syd and Ali talk about things you can understand by putting them up your vagina. Ali does not care for Syd’s example of the Statue of Liberty, though. Ouch.


Then Ali notices a record (as in a vinyl disc where music was once recorded, children) and says that she and Josh used to listen to that album all the time. Syd tells her that she knows because it’s actually Josh’s record. Ali tries to absorb this new information about her brother and best friend sharing records, but she doesn’t seem to get it. Maybe she needs to shove both of them up her vagina.

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Sarah and Len are high. They’re laughing and chatting and then Len says he’s got to get ready for his date with Melanie Torres, his assistant. Sarah is outraged. “Oh my god, that’s disgusting! You’ve been sharing an office with her for four years and the whole time you’ve just been thinking about tossing it in her?” And Len says, “But I didn’t. That’s the important part.”

Len is the good guy in this scenario who didn’t cheat versus Sarah who tossed around on him. She may realize this too so she changes the subject slightly. “What are her tits like?” she asks. At first, Len refuses to play this game, but Sarah persists until Len shares that they’re small-ish. Sarah wants to know if hers were too overwhelming for him and he says, “Yeah. Our main problem was that your tits were too big for me.” And then he reassures her that nobody beats her tits. So sweet. I’m going to use that line in my next anniversary card. I think it’ll go over great.

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Sarah tells Len that “Tammy LOVES these mammer jammers!” and Len confesses that Tammy and he agree on two things– both of her tits. Oh how they laugh. Must be the weed …or simmering reconciliation.

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Raquel is in Josh’s house, and they are deep in conversation when Bianca shows up to get the sweater she left in the bathroom. Raquel is understandably confused and suspicious. After Bianca leaves, Josh tries to explain why there is a very attractive young woman crashing at his house, but everything out of his mouth sounds like crap–his sister’s new girlfriend’s ex’s step-daughter? Really??

There is arguing and then yelling and close talking and kissing and then sex.

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Ali has metaphorically pulled Syd and Josh out of her vagina and realizes that they are fucking each other. Ali is angry with Syd but Syd is not so sorry. She tells Ali that Ali makes her feel bad all the time. Turns out, Syd has had confusing feelings for Ali since the 8th grade, and Ali has never noticed. Ali does not try to shove anything else up her vagina. She just leaves. It’s possible something is still wedged up there, however.

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Maura is fully dressed in the bedroom and tells Shelly that she can finally look up and see her as she really is. Shelly is stunned. Maura tries to explain that she is still the same person and that she loves Shelly, but it’s all too much for her. “I can’t. I’m done.” She crosses her hands over each other in a born-to-hand-jive-motion, which is JSL for ganug, which is Yiddish for enough.

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Tammy is moving new chairs into the living room and asks Sarah what she thinks. Sarah is significantly less enthusiastic about the chairs than Tammy but eventually convinces her that she loves the chairs. We, however, are not convinced.

Sarah tells Tammy about Len dating Melanie and says that dating your assistant is so cliché and complains that his new girlfriend and her disabled son are going to take Len away from the kids. Tammy picks up on her jealousy. Sarah insists that she’s just venting. Tammy sits on her new chair, puts her hand on her head in superior pose and says, “I know a little something about being jealous because people have been jealous of me my entire life.” Tammy gives her the same look I give her which is a combination of amusement and revulsion.

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Josh and Raquel are sweet-talking after their afternoon delight. They talk about staying in bed all day, ordering food, and watching dumb movies, a standard post-coital itinerary.

Then Josh hears the dulcet tones of a Bianca singing and he springs up to follow his ears to the living room. Bianca is listening to music with her headphones on and doesn’t notice him staring at her.

Josh says, “You didn’t tell me you could sing” loudly enough for her to hear. Bianca points out that he never asked. He smiles and strokes his beard with satisfaction. Perhaps he’s found the next greatest thing. Oh, and there’s Raquel, too.

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Sarah, Josh, and Ali have been summoned to Shelly and Ed’s apartment. They assume Ed is about to die. Upon arrival, Maura offers them Arnold Palmers, and the kids wonder what she’s doing there. Maura tells them “I came over because I was feeling kind of down. Seems my kids abandoned me at a critical moment in my journey so I thought that I would visit your mom whom I trust.” Maura is referring to that one time …at Trans Got Talent…when the lights came up and the chairs were empty. The kids tell her that they were there and Sarah tells her she was great. She references the wigs and make up and the eyelashes, which seems to be enough proof and praise for Maura to forgive.

Shelly wants to get back to the topic at hand, which is to say goodbye to Ed while they “ease him into the next transition.” Ali is horrified because Ed is still alive and fine as far as she’s concerned. Shelly begs to differ. She details the suffering that she endures while Ed “blinks, pisses, and shits.” Ali argues that it’s not up to her to decide when Ed dies, which opens the door for Shelly to admonish all them for not being there to help throughout his demise. She says that HE (meaning Maura) is the only one who comes over at which point Maura corrects the pronoun. Shelly ignores her and goes on to talk about what a lonely existence it is cleaning up after Ed and that only HE comes. This time, Maura corrects her and Shelly corrects herself. “SHE takes care of me!” By Georgina, I think she’s got it!

Sarah suggests they call the rabbi to get an outsider to help advise them. Josh offers to text her, and Sarah wants to know why he has the rabbi’s number.

Josh: We’ve been hanging out. We’re hanging out.

Shelly: Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Are you fucking the rabbi??

Sarah: The rabbi?

Shelly: You’re fucking the rabbi.

Ali: You’re fucking the rabbi?!?

And they sound as if they’re about to break out into song. OH MY GOD that would be amazing!! You heard it here first, people–Transparent the Musical, featuring the toe-tapping hit, “He’s Fucking the Rabbi.”

Shelly and Sarah are quietly celebrating the news while Ali is pulling the hair out of her head because she is still trying to deal with Josh and Syd fucking and Shelly trying to kill Ed. She shoots up from her seat and makes a quick exit.

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Sarah and Josh come outside to talk to Ali. Sarah tries to explain that they’re trying to help, but Ali yells at her for trying to kill Ed. Sarah gives up and leaves, but Josh wants to figure out what’s going on and asks her why she’s being an asshole. She tells him that she knows that he and Syd have been fucking. Josh is sorry and tries to convince Ali that it’s no big deal because it’s over and besides he’s in love with Raquel. But Ali thinks it’s a big deal because Syd is her best friend and couldn’t care less about Josh’s latest love interest. I feel for Ali. Her best friend and her brother betrayed her, and now everyone wants to kill Ed, and I want to know if anyone can find her somebody to love.

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Back in the apartment, Shelly explains that enough Percocet will do the trick. Then Maura adds that they’ll have a wonderful shiva.

Ed suddenly wakes up, and he stares at the ceiling fan while his family plots his death and shiva in the next room. He gets out of bed while Shelly and Sarah discuss who will bring the mustard to the shiva. Ed is not interested in condiments except that he’s making a break for it, leaves the apartment and hopes that no one will ketchup with him. You see what I did there?

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The three young siblings are on the sofa while a younger, much less chalky Ed is talking to them about his friend Harry Finkelstein. He’s got a joke, and Shelly can’t wait for them to hear it.

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“So my friend Harry Finkelstein went to the doctor’s the other day to pick up his wife’s blood test results. The nurse said there was a terrible mistake at the lab. There were two Mrs. Finkelsteins. One Mrs. Finkelstein’s results came back positive for Alzheimer’s. The other Mrs. Finkelstein tested positive for the clap. Harry says. ‘Why don’t you take another test?’ The nurse says, ‘The insurance won’t cover that.’ Harry says, ‘My wife either has Alzheimer’s or VD. What the hell am I supposed to do?’ The nurse says, ‘Drop her off in Burbank. If she finds her way home, don’t sleep with her.’”

Shelly laughs out loud and says, “He tells a mean joke!”

“Not too mean,” Ed says. “Just a joke. I’m just here to make you happy.” He kisses Shelly’s hand and raises his drink for a toast. “L’chaim,” he says. To life.

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Such a nice way to remember a man before you kill him, don’t you agree? The next episode is the last of Season One. Will Josh fuck up his relationship with Raquel? What else will Ali shove up her vagina? WHO will bring the mustard to the shiva? Tune in next week for the recap.

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  1. “He’s fucking the rabbi!” is sure to be a hit song. I predict a Tony award!

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