TRANSPARENT recap: "The Book of Life"

It was Yom Kipper, the holiest day of the year.  The day to ask for forgiveness from those you have offended and confess your sins so as to write your name in the Book of Life so that you may live during the coming year.  It was a day of atonement during which you fasted until you went to a dinner to break the fast.

For the Pfeffermans this was a tough Yom Kipper.  Their self-centered natures got the best of them and their relationships suffered yet again. Sarah, Josh and Maura got what can only be described as drop the mic moments in response to their somewhat prideful statements to others.  Maura wiped out her friendship with Davina.  Josh was definitively told it was over by Rachel. Sarah was denied what she sought at every turn.  Ali tettered on the edge of destruction of her relationship with Syd.  Ironically enough, the only winner was the most self-centered of them all, Shelly.


It's sorta like Halloween

Sarah entered Tammy’s place of work and waited in the lobby.  Tammy entered as Sarah said, “hi,” and Tammy only half in jest said, “security.”  Sarah had come to atone for the awful self-interested way she had treated Tammy, who had seemed to only want to build a life with Sarah, which she rejected quite harshly.  Thanks to the mothering, which Shelly expected from Sarah at the end of the last episode; Sarah had come to realize what her problem was, “I wasn’t parented.”  Tammy mockingly replied and referred to the orphanage that Sarah had been raised in in the Palisades.  “I wasn’t mothered,” continued Sarah, “I have been looking to fill that missing mother love….We’re here to take care of each other and I didn’t take care of you.  And I am sorry.”  Tammy wanted to know why was Sarah doing this now.  Sarah answered Yom Kipper.  It was when you went around to say your sorry to those who you had harmed and sought to absolve yourself.  Tammy managed a small grin and said, “Cool.  I don’t want your apology.  Happy Yom Kipper,” and walked out.  This left Sarah protesting that she was suppose to ask for forgiveness three times and she only got in two.


Bong time and hard sex

Sarah’s next stop was the marijuana doc’s office where they were sharing his private stock.  He asked if he was her doctor or her lover.  Sarah demurred that she did not like that word, “lover.”  They began to sprawl on the sofa.  Later in the episode, they were rejoined, as Sarah complained that she just was not feeling it.  “I want it harder,” she said.  The doc offered he was just trying to give her pleasure.  Sarah insisted that she did not want that.  “I want you to take it.”  I want you to rape me, she continued, but do it gently.  The doc stopped and suggested she talk to his friend Gary, who was into kinky stuff.  Sarah objected that that was not her and then felt the pressure of the day.  “I’m suppose to be fasting.”  She left and would reappear at the dinner.


500cc in the titty area

Maura was relaxing in the turret when Sal appeared with a swamp cooler to make it more comfortable for Maura.  The problem being he got personal about Maura’s transition, which was a do not ask territory.  A transperson may chose to tell you about such things, but as a rule do not ask.  What hormones was she on?  Maura answered and Sal approved, “that sounds about right for a start.”  Which was followed by , “what are you thinking about for facial feminization wise.”   Sal followed that with a litany of facial surgeries that she should consider.   He also suggested that she not do more than 500cc of breast augmentation because, that was not her. He then offered that he had helped Shea and she was gorgeous.  “A fucking work of art, I felt like fucking Michaelangelo.  I wanted to sign my name on her ass.”  He assured Maura he would be happy to help because, “you still got some good years left.”


Mind your own goddamn business

Maura came on to the front porch with two cups of coffee to join Davina.  Maura’s inquisition began with asking about if Davina thought “it was odd that she hadn’t met his family.”  Followed by Maura asking about if Sal asked Davina about her body and that Sal had talked about Maura’s body.  Then came the final blow,.  Maura self confidently advised that Davina could do much better than Sal.  Davina then laid out what can be a sore point between the Caitlyn Jenners of the world and those who do not have the same advantages. 

“My God, who do you think you are talking to?  I’m going to tell you one thing—mind your own Goddamn business.  You have no right!  I don’t have your family.  I don’t have your money.”  Davina then laid out her life and what she needed,

“I’m a 53 year old ex-prostitute, HIV+, transwoman with a dick.  And I know what I want and I know what I need….And if Sal is bothering you this much.  You should probably sleep somewhere else.”

(I cheered.) Maura sniffed and adjusted her glasses. 

The second mic of the episode just dropped.  First for Sarah, now for Maura.  They were just stunned that everything wasn’t about how they felt.  Maura was last seen feeding bread to ducks as she waited to go to the dinner.


Are you my third husband?

Josh and his mom, Shelly, were waiting in line to enter the Temple, while she complained, as usual.  Finally they made it to the top of the stairs where they met the greeter, Buzz.  Skipping over her asking about getting a senior discount, Buzz jovially asked if they were “brother and sister.”  Shelly quickly laughed and responded, “are you my third husband?”  The discussion continued as she told Buzz that Josh was engaged to the Rabbi.  Josh excused himself.


We're over

Josh entered Rachel’s office and explained he just wanted to let her know he was there.  He then pulled the door closed a bit and continued, “I’m confused.  What am I suppose to tell my family?”  As you will recall at the end of the last episode he returned home to find his engagement ring lying on their bed and Rachel was gone.  Rachel basically said that what he told his family was up to him, “Buddy.”   Then flatly, “we’re over.”  Mic moment number 3.


We have sinned against you

Josh and Shelly were at the service as the cantor and rabbi chanted, ‘we have sinned against you….”  This was followed by a rhythmic thumping of the chest with the right hand in a fist by all of those present.  The focus was on Josh.  The thumping became harder and louder as Josh clearly began to loose it.  He left and went to the front steps.  He looked toward heaven and then slumped on the steps.  His self-centered nature had done him in again.


Good yontif

Ali and Syd were hosting the dinner to end the holiday at Syd’s loft.  Here the Pfefferman clan would gather to end Yom Kipper and their atonements.  So far, everyone has been mostly a failure at this, so now it was Ali’s turn.  In the last episode you had hung out with Leslie and spent the night.  Syd was still mad at Ali for doing that, especially because she had not told her that she was going to do that.  Ali played the “the heteronormative thing” card, as in to blame her was heteronormative.  Ali pled, “we can make up our own rules.”  We can be “open” and “brave” by rejecting their values and being free.  When the episode returned to them a bit later, they were setting out the food.  Had Syd bought Ali’s plea?  No.  “Ali, I’m freaking out right now.  I’m getting that PTSD feeling I had with Josh.  I need to know.  Are you with me or not?”  You will recall that Syd had previouosly had a relationship with Josh that ended badly as she discovered that it was all about Josh.  Ali now played the “just trying to be honest” card about what she needed and felt.  At this point Syd’s parents, the Feldmans arrived, “Good Yontif” was spoken as they entered with a huge casserole.  Now all that was needed were the rest of the guests.


The gathering of the Pfefferman clan

The stage for the arrival of the other tensions was being set at the big feast to break the fast.  Syd was already clearly disconcerted.   Soon Josh would arrive to announce to Ali that their mom was coming with Buzz, “the Jewish Santa Claus.”   Ali announced Josh’s big news about the baby and the impending marriage to

Rabbi Rachel.  Josh disappeared as best he could.  Meanwhile, Maura, Buzz and Shelly were getting on the elevator to join the party.  After a stilted exchange between Mura and Shelly, a jovial Buzz wanted to know, “so, how do you gals know each other?”  All were silent.  As they entered the flat, Shelly gleefully bragged that Buzz had been an astronaut.  Buzz quickly corrected that he had been an attorney for NASA on a patent case.  (Sorry, I cannot resist this, “some astronaut, am I right?”  But, that was the world of Shelly.)

Well, everyone was there except Rabbi Rachel.  “Do we have to wait?”  No, everyone takes a seat amidst a commotion by Shelly about where she was seated, and a stoned Sarah.  Ali stood at the head of the table and said that she had been “exploring her Jewishness.”  And as she understood the holiday its purpose was to atone so that you could live another year.  Shelly immediately announced, “all apologies accepted.”  Then Ali told everyone to hold a bagel “aloft” and then they were to chant the appropriate prayer.  Buzz seemed to be the only one totally sure what that might be.  Then it was dig in to the food.

Josh sat looking despondent.  Maura asked if he wanted a different bagel.  Someone asked, “where’s the Rabbi?” 

Josh was finally forced to announce, “she’s not coming.  We broke up and there is no baby…it’s fine.”  He then continued that for him it was “a new beginning.” 

This confession was followed by the cacophonous wailing of a moaning Shelly, that was to make it about her.  She started,

“I got drunk at the wedding (the one that didn’t happen for Sarah and Tammy) and I told everybody” about the engagement and the baby. 

Josh spoke sternly, “Mom.  It is not about you!  It is not about ….” 

Shelly continued to moan and said, “I brought the evil eye and I killed the baby.”

Buzz began to comfort Shelly and assured her this was just superstition.

Josh spoke again, “Mom, just eat, please.”

Maura reached out to Josh, “Josh, Josh.  It’s ok to be sad.  It’s sad.”

Then Josh shot back in a cold, flat tone, “I don’t need your permission.”  You could almost hear the umbilical cord snap.

“OK,  Hon,” replied Maura.

The wailing, sobbing Shelly began again.  “I’m always afraid I’m going to die.  I’m going to make somebody die.”

“You’re not that powerful.  Let me take you home,” Buzz said.

Suddenly Shelly brightened up, “you drive at night?” 

You have to be of a certain age to appreciate the declaration of freedom that this was.  Someone who can drive at night when so many your age have night vision probvlems.  So, Shelly had won again.

Soon everyone was leaving and Syd and Ali began to clean up in silence.  The final scene was Josh in a grocery store on his “new beginning” when he suddenly began to compulsively eat deli meat.  The Pfeffermans had left a trail of shattered and teetering relationships, except for Shelly who seemed to have landed on her feet with a driver to boot.




See also:

TRANSPARENT recap: "Bulnerable" (season 2 episode 6)

TRANSPARENT recap: "The Book of Life" (season 2 episode 7)

TRANSPARENT recap: "Oscillate" (season 2 episod 8)




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