Enlightened, Season 2

Amy Dreams of Sweet Victory
Talking television.
Jan. 24 2013 3:07 PM

Enlightened, Season 2

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Amy’s wild vision of taking down Abaddon.

Four unmarked vehicles pull up, and a decked-out posse of police with fabulous wigs marches out in unison. They head toward some familiar corporate towers trailed by a grim-faced blonde in a pretty yellow dress. As they enter the buildings and breach the executive suite, a corporate secretary lets out a zealous shriek, recoiling from her glass perch as if she’s about to meet a divine end.

The uproarious sequence is another dream plucked from Amy’s spry subconscious and made into a warped little short film all its own. It’s both Amy’s latest self-tribute—a hilariously exalted view of her eventual triumph—and a handy distillation of the anxieties that continue to grip her in constant doubt. Her dream’s new-age Black Power stylings are so zany, so Amy, that it almost seems mean to point out how deluded and creepy they are. Besides, the tribal chants pulsing through the whole sequence are inspired enough that you kind of wish they scored your dreams, too. The only thing more alarming and oddly thrilling than watching Amy’s worldview play out is diving directly into her brain.

Meditative voice-over sessions bookend each episode of Enlightened, and they’ve become one of its signatures—trippy, pious asides that have evolved as the series goes along. They are especially welcome this season, as thriller elements begin to dictate longer bits of plot to keep Amy and Tyler’s sleepy corporate espionage alive. But her actual late-night imaginings tend to cut closer to the bone: a hazy party in the office that doubles as a parade of humiliations, or an imagined play-by-play of an envied co-worker’s sex life. Amy’s vision of taking down the office is the show’s most blissed-out reverie yet, ending with a crying, pregnant Krista in handcuffs, begging Amy for mercy as the police drag her downstairs. Nope. The elevator slams shut. Goodbye.

Amy wakes up, naturally, looking exhausted and worn out. As cathartic as the vision is, it sets up the contradictory guilt she feels about ruining the lives she quietly envies. Even as Tyler finally crushes a cruel superior with amusing satisfaction, she is bizarrely heartbroken. The sequence ultimately points to the great, sad irony of Amy’s quest: Even if she brings Abaddon down, her victory would inevitably be an empty one. For what does Amy have if she doesn’t have Abaddon to burn down?

Jeffrey Bloomer is a Slate assistant editor focused on video. Follow him on Twitter.

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