Enlightened, Season 2

What Happens if Amy Wins?
Talking television.
Feb. 17 2013 10:00 PM

Enlightened, Season 2

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Can Amy survive her dreams coming true?

Luke Wilson as Levi Callow and Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe.
Luke Wilson as Levi Callow and Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe.

Photo by Lacey Terrell/HBO

Every week, Jeffrey Bloomer will have an IM conversation with a different fan of Enlightened. This week, he rehashes episode 2.6 with Miriam Krule, a Slate copy editor.

Jeff: So do you have a new boyfriend or what, Miriam?

Miriam: I really can’t talk about this with you, Jeff. Seriously though, I hope Amy doesn’t, because I'm a Levi fan and was so glad to see him come back from rehab. This episode had such a different tone than the rest of the season—even series—and I was trying to put my finger on why. Then I realized it was because, for the first time, everything seems to be going well for Amy. But, like, genuinely great—everything she wants, everything she wanted, is happening. It's not just in her head anymore.

Jeff: I was so happy Helen cut through the shit and just asked Amy what was going on with her. But you're absolutely right: Amy is closing in on nirvana. Levi returns, wants Amy back, and even offers to try to heal her biggest scar, her miscarriage. She finally sleeps with Jeff, because that needed to happen. And she is about to slay her corporate monsters.

At the same time, we've never seen her more vulnerable. Naturally, now that her fantasies are beginning to become real, she has no idea what to do. The panic attack she has in front of Helen continued the show's recent tradition of making me bawl my eyes out.

Miriam: I have to confess that I'm not a big Enlightened crier, but that moment in her room with her mother was probably the closest I’ve come to tears. People talk about the discomfort they get from watching the show, but this felt like the one true, authentic release of emotions we’ve seen from Amy.  

That said, the high-five Dougie gave Amy was a bit much for me, though—like some kind of calm before the storm? I think Jeff and his article are going to be the source of her necessary downfall. It would be fitting for the thing that might save Amy to be the thing that drags her down deeper.

Jeff: Why is her downfall necessary? I think one of the secret keys to Enlightened is realizing Amy is kind of right about everything, she just works overtime to make it seem like she's a kook.

And not that this is exactly a love triangle, but do you think Levi is really Amy’s salvation? Do you think he's "fixed," as he says? Or do you think Jeff's quasi-revolutionary posturing is too seductive?

Miriam: The oversimplified version, in my mind, is that Levi is who she wants to be with, whereas Jeff is the person she wants to want to be with. But then Levi comes back seeming pretty excellent. She doesn't know about what went down in rehab until now because he never sent that letter. When he told Amy “life is beautiful" and then threw that baseball with perfect form, I swooned. 

Back to your question about the downfall being necessary: For me, that's part of the point. The struggle is what Amy wants, what she needs. The hardships are her motivation, and when she seems to be getting everything, she's so overwhelmed—and not by happiness.

Jeff: Yes, Levi, swoon. You’re right about Amy being so consumed and motivated by the struggle that she doesn't know what to do without one. But I hope the diagnosis isn't chronic. Maybe we're just seeing growing pains while learns how to be happy again. It could happen!

I also have my own theory why Jeff might not work out: I think he's Amy dressed up in big-city-intellectual clothes. The "tyranny is over!” line is kind of a giveaway. He certainly talks the talk better than Amy ever could, but I'm not sure that his rallying cry against the faceless corporate menace is any more sophisticated than Amy's.

Miriam: Well, he’s successful Amy, which is a huge difference. He's who Amy thinks she wants to be. But isn’t he exactly who every liberal-minded college sophomore wants to be? And is that so bad?

Jeff: I suppose not. I shouldn't roll my eyes so quickly. Perhaps it's another case of Amy (or in this case, Jeff) being in the right, just in the most annoying, self-serving way possible. I mean, "It's like the Wikileaks of Abaddon! You're Julian Assange!" Shut up, Jeff.

Miriam: Exactly. The only real voice of reason is Tyler, whose vindictive side is perhaps more entertaining, though less endearing, than his I-love-Molly Shannon side.

Jeff: Yes, I agree. I'm sad his unhinged inner demon hasn’t manifested on anyone else. Molly Shannon melts another heart. That said, can he please stop second-guessing this thing already, FFS? Yeah, he kind of used Eileen in the beginning, but he needs to just deal with it. Let's hope the show never sees reason to have Eileen figure out the origins of their relationship. I see no point in going down that path.

Miriam: Wait, are you saying you don't want to unhinged Eileen join forces with unhinged Tyler? The second I saw Molly Shannon I got excited for an epic breakdown to rival Amy's.

Jeff: Do I want to see that? For sure. But she's so well adjusted! She is like the anti-Amy in a way, pure of soul and intention but not a self-absorbed jerk.

Miriam: It's true. As much as I love Wet Hot American Summer, it's nice to see she's moved on. Which seems to be the general gist of this episode: a more adult and responsible group of people. Levi, Dougie, Amy, even Tyler in a way.

Jeff: Ha, well, Dougie did belt out "Kiss my black ass!" at one point. Some things don't change, nor should they. I think it's time to go wipe my misty eyes and go prepare for the coming storm.  

Miriam: OK, I’m just gonna hang here and catch the sunset.

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

Miriam Krule is a Slate assistant editor.

 

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