TV Recap: Dietland – I’m Ready …

Dietland
“Plum Tuckered” (Episode 105)
June 25, 2018

The fuse that was lit by Kitty at the end of last week’s episode (check out our recap here) explodes tonight … in all the wrong ways.

How far can you push someone before they snap? Before they break?  Tonight’s Dietland gives us our answer … an emotionally raw hour for Plum AND for Kitty, let’s not waste another moment.

Our recap & review of “Plum Tuckered” begins … after the jump (Spoilers Beware)!

“Stella’s Snatch – Own a Piece (of Stella Cross).” We open with Plum talking about how Stella Cross (often mentioned but not yet seen in this show) is cashing in on her vagina while Plum hasn’t even looked at her own.  But, more on that later.

Plum’s Apartment.  We are into the new phase of the New Baptist Plan – the dating phase alluded to last week. Plum’s first arranged date brings flowers but ends the date at her door — not what he was expecting. *sigh*

Calliope House. The next day, Plum sits with Verena to rehash the evening prior.  This is the exact kind of experience Plum was expecting so, well done Verena for enforcing her fears.  Moving on though, Plum says she’ll continue but on two conditions – all future dates begin in public (this seems like the sensible thing from the beginning) and also, Plum wants Verena to give the dates an expectation of Plum’s weight.  Verena agrees and then shifts gears – she asks Plum her general impression of the New Baptist Plan thus far. “Eye opening,” is Plum’s immediate response and she goes so far as to say she was considering postponing her surgery (she didn’t realize how radical a procedure it was).

On the street, Plum is singing a different tune with Dominic – she vows to get that surgery no matter what.  She asks Dom his opinion on the surgery and he bobs and weaves successfully, never actually answering the question. He does share with her an anecdote that his sister wanted a boob job after having kids and everyone was against it. She had it anyway and loves her new boobs. So, that’s helpful I guess? In a way?  Maybe not.  Plum tries probing Dominic for his views on getting married and having kids but he again, sidesteps it like its a minefield.

Plum then turns the conversation to her second date coming up tonight – this one with a human rights activist named Aiden.  She urges Dominic to act like a cop and take notes in case she should wind up recruited by a terrorist organization that’s into “big gals.”  He doesn’t think these dates are much in the grand scheme of Jennifer but he IS interested in Plum trying to get to know the “real” Verena – she’s got deep pockets and would be an interesting connection to Jennifer.

Photo: AMC

UNN.  As a way of explaining the “why” of Jennifer since they still can’t answer the “who,” Cheryl introduces Kitty as her guest on “Murphy’s Law” (that’s the name of Cheryl’s show apparently — not sure if I just hadn’t paid attention to that previously). Kitty explains that her decision to publish the Jennifer Manifesto on the Austen Media women’s publications was an easy one to make — you see, Kitty really identified with Jennifer’s anger and so, it was less about Jennifer’s threats and more about wanting to give voice to the simmering anger the Jennifer movement represents in all women. Can we be surprised that its turned violent?

Title Card Sequence.

Desmin Borgen as Aiden, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

When we come back, Plum is waiting for her next date and watching Kitty’s interview on her phone. You can see her take joy in Kitty using Plum’s line about how Kitty’s girls are feeling less alone because of Jennifer and how that is significant.  Aiden (Desmin Borges) shows up and is all awkward and nervous and making bad jokes and he’s immediately endearing to Plum.  He tells her he has no expectations.

Austen Media.  After the show, Cheryl comments to Kitty that she came out hard in favor of Jennifer and asks if Stanley really understood what he was letting Kitty do?  Kitty responds that subscriptions are through the roof in a meteoric kind of way and its really a dream come true.  Cheryl is a bit dumbfounded that her friend is really just in this for the good business it represents and warns that Kitty has given these “terrorists” a thumb’s up and when men have had enough – it’ll be a full on war of the sexes (with Kitty in the middle, she implies but doesn’t say).

Kitty accuses Cheryl of being dramatic and in any case, hasn’t Cheryl ever fantasized about pulling the trigger on a man who got ahead simply by virtue of being a man? Cheryl says thinking about it is different than actually doing it and Kitty quickly steps in to say she isn’t actually “doing” anything either.

“I’m finding MY voice and if that proves profitable, all the better.” – Kitty

Kitty may be dressing this up as simply good business but she has REAL anger simmering underneath her … more on that later.

Second Date Dinner. Aiden and Plum are having a stimulating conversation in line with Aiden’s human rights activism and he’s impressed with her having a brain. From a third party seat, this seems like a solid date is being had.  Plum shifts the conversation to Jennifer and Aiden is quick to agree with her that their methods are insane … even if their message is on point.  Plum says that not all men are animals and Aiden scores date points by saying, “I hope not.” This was a Plum test of viability and even I can see Aiden has passed with the right answers.

“I hope I’m a good guy. I try to be.” – Aiden

Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Plum admits that he seems pretty okay so far. Feeling comfortable, Aiden confesses that he’s never dated “a woman like you” … meaning larger woman.  He says he was going to cancel straight away but decided to not make a snap judgment and is happy he didn’t. Plum wasn’t what he expected. Her guard fully up, she makes a too loud “get a bucket” Monty Python reference but quickly back tracks when she realizes that he was trying to be a good guy here.  They seemingly move past the awkward moment and she excuses herself to the Ladies Room.  As she goes, Aiden tells her “Monty Python was the shit.” He’s not wrong.

Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

On the way to the bathroom, some mean girls snark that Plum must be Aiden’s mom and Plum, feeling good about herself for once, heads to their table to educate them that he’s actually her date (the “, bitches” is implied but unsaid).  Plum quickly primps in the mirror and you can see she is thinking this date is moving on to a second stop.

However, when she returns to the table, she finds a “Dear John” note from Aiden in which he admits that maybe, he’s actually NOT a good guy.  He says he is “SO sorry” (emphasis is his). What a fucktwat douche nozzle.  My God man, the basic requirement of the date was basically over – why bail then?!?   Anyway, with the restaurant staring at her (okay, its just the mean girls she told off earlier), Plum finishes her drink and makes a beeline out of the restaurant (of course, knocking over a chair which does make the restaurant stare at her). We see an animation of potted plant wilting as she passes and we’re officially 0-2 on dates.  Whelp! Commercials.

Calliope House. When we return, Verena is deep probing Plum on her feelings about being stood up DURING a date.  Plum … Plum has some anger here. Also, this is horrible advertising for Plum to not have the weight loss surgery. Verena couldn’t give two fucks about the surgery one way or another – this confuses Plum. Isn’t Verena all about “fat acceptance” and dieting is murder,” blah blah blah.

** Not a defense of Verena here because honestly, she may end up being a Jennifer Kingpin, but Plum has significant blinders on when it comes to Verena’s words and herself vis a vis the weight loss surgery. Its all black and white for Plum and everything she hears is processed either as  “pro-surgery and a better Plum (these two are linked without question)” or “against Plum and wanting her to be fat and unhappy.”

Verena calls Plum’s words an over-simplification.  She’s trying to get Plum to see a gray area — to accept herself, however she is, in whatever body type she is.

“What I wish for you is a better connection with yourself; whatever shape you end up.” – Verena

Sensing the conversation spiraling, Verena redirects Plum back to how she felt after Aiden left?  “I felt humiliated.” What Plum is really feeling is anger … at herself. For letting her guard down. She tells Verena having her guard up and protecting herself is “everything.”  She continues her rant ending with the statement that not even Jennifer could make people cool with someone like Plum … “not that I think you’re them” Plum finishes sheepishly.   Verena tells her that Marlowe shared Plum’s … concerns about Jennifer and Verena but Plum says she’s totally cool now – definitely doesn’t think Calliope House is a front for Jennifer.

Outside in the hallway, Plum begins taking pictures of hanging photos on the wall which have Verena and presumably famous people in them.  Sana catches her and admonishes her about no technology in Calliope House but Kitty is saved from any more awkwardness by a call from the office.

Julianna Margulies as Kitty, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Austen Media. Kitty welcomes Plum into her office and is exuding excitement. She tasks Plum with writing a piece (in Kitty’s voice) expanding on what she talked about on Murphy’s Law — about her decision to run the manifesto and how she supports the conversation it has started.  “Do you see what I see Plum?” Kitty tells Plum she wants her girls to know Kitty has their back.  Turning to Plum herself, Kitty says that she always saw Plum as an outlier but this is a time for outliers now and also compliments her for trying to make an effort (“you even look slimmer”).  Kitty finishes by telling Plum she sees a future for her, maybe her own byline – maybe even an office.

Third Date.  Plum waits at a bar but the third date never even shows.  Gah, where the fuck is Verena finding these guys?!?

Photo: AMC

The next day, we’re in a cemetery where two maintenance men find none other Stella Cross, dead and arranged on a platform, done up in full funeral pyre wear.  Tucked under her arms is a porno DVD and a dildo maybe? On her head is a crown of thorns that spells, JENNIFER. One of the workers drops his cigarette and the entire pyre goes up in flames (also catching one of the workers in the conflagration). The whole thing is really disturbing.

Photo: AMC

Calliope House. Plum arrives for her meeting with Verena but Sana meets her at the door and turns away — no meetings today.

Austen Media. Down in the Beauty Cellar, Julia weeps uncontrollably as the news reports about the grisly death of porn star turned entrepreneur, Stella Cross. We learn the burned cemetery worker is in critical condition … so one and maybe two deaths will be coming from this act.

The Cafe.  Stephen tries to get the lowdown on Date Three but plum is all “he stood me up.” Stephen wants to blame Verena but Plum blames men – its just how it is … the only guys that go for her are chubby chasers and fetishists.  This is so bleak.  Stephen interrupts the convo because the Stella Cross news is hitting the airwaves on the ever present TV in the Cafe.  This is the first Plum heard of it – she also didn’t realize that Stella Cross was a porn star – she only knew her as a model who sold “jeans and stuff.” Even the gay guy is like, “WHAT?!?”

**Okay, I am going to get my show gripe out of the way now.  There is NO WAY a woman as intelligent as Plum doesn’t know Stella Cross’s porn star beginnings. I get its important for the story that she discover her history for the piece she is tasked to write BUT, we know that Stanley was involved with Stella at some point so on that point alone, Plum would have come across her because there is no way Plum doesn’t know every minute piece of Kitty-lore that’s out there and Stanley and Stella being together, certainly counts as Kitty-lore.  Also, for as big a name as Stella Cross is – I think we’ve heard her name in virtually every episode, it would be general knowledge – just as it is for Stephen, the GAY guy who presumably does not watch Stella Cross porn?!? End of Rant.**

Eladio calls and tells Plum plans have changed – Kitty now wants a piece on Stella.  Diving into the Stella Cross-verse is eye opening for Plum as she claims to never have known about her porn background *sigh*.   Seems that Stella wasn’t just a porn actress buy the poster child for the sub-genre “porn rape culture” that exists on the internet.  A group such as Jennifer can easily be seen to identify Stella Cross as single-handedly normalizing  sexual violence against women as a method of sexual gratification. She also sold jeans and makeup.

Later on, Plum asks Dominic if he knows that “rape porn is a thing.” Dominic, AGAIN, dodges the question (motherfucker, answer a goddamn question directly sometime). She keeps questioning then and he sidesteps all of it. Moving on, Plum is more and more concerned about her safety at Calliope House. Dominic says she doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. BUT, he’s got her back (which he knows is code for – stay at Calliope House).  He changes topics by asking her about her dates but, before they can get into it, Verena calls. Commercials.

Austen Media.  You KNOW shits getting serious because Checked Out Stanley has entered Austen Media’s offices.  The seas part as he makes his way to Kitty’s office.

“You went on television and aligned us with terrorists, Kitty … They killed Stella Cross.” – Stanley

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Stanley takes a breath before losing his cool. He says its on him because he thought she was ready to lead but … nope.  Stanley tells her that “I’m afraid we’re looking at a regime change.” He’s so one note chill, I can see why Kitty lost her mind when he stopped fighting. Its maddening listening to him speak in his monotones.

Calliope House.  Verena apologizes for not meeting earlier and talk moves to Jennifer.  Plum says she’s writing a piece on them for Kitty (NOTE: this definitely seems to get Verena’s attention) and mentions that Jennifer may be “undermining their message with this kind of violence.” On the other hand, Plum says, the anger expressed by the Manifesto is well placed and on point. Do we become like the perpetrators if we resort to their methods is Verena’s counter argument to that …

Enough of that, likes talk about Date Three. Plum asks Verena where she is finding the (horrible horrible) men? They’ve been dentist’s recommendations, which made me laugh for some reason.  One date left, how are you feeling, Verena asks?  Like i want to get it over is Plum’s very honest answer. Plum’s only request — we really sell how huge Plum is – let there be no room for expectations … *sigh*

Austen Media. In the Beauty cellar, Kitty is venting to Julia about being simply “management” (this includes, no more “Dear Kitty”). Julia makes the (ill received) argument that perhaps this is good for Kitty to be less visible — she’ll be safer. Then Julia breaks down into tears and GAH, Kitty can’t even with this emotion.  She leaves Julia to cry in her Stella Cross-induced tears.

Back up in Kitty’s rearranged office (she’s destroyed literally everything in the office and its amazing), Plum hands in her Stella Cross piece and tries to thank Kitty for the opportunity to write it.  Kitty, who has lit a cigarette in this devastation of an office, sets her anger on Plum and really fucking cuts into her.

“My gut instinct was write [about Plum]. What were you before me? Nothing. Writing for free on some blog? I made you. And this is the thanks I get.  Do you know what I went through to get here? What I really went through?  I sucked a lot of dick. The actual dick was a picnic compared to the assholes I had to flatter and humor and cater to, while the whole Goddamn time I was smarter and better at the job, but I did it. ” – Kitty

Kitty did this all to get to the day when Stanley would give her free reign; he would say he trusts her.  And once there, what did Kitty do? She listened to Plum.  Plum sputters that she never .. that Kitty chose … these are all unfinished thoughts and Kitty even agrees that Kitty made her own choices BUT, Plum sold her on a version of herself that she wasn’t real. No, Kitty sees the real Plum, she says.

“A basement dwelling malcontent with an ax to grind.”

Plum defends herself that that isn’t a fair assessment and Kitty again, says, maybe but life isn’t fair. Then she fires Plum.  Plum isn’t ready to go so she starts cleaning Kitty’s office.  She tells Kitty she loves her job AND Kitty has inspired her – she’s having her bypass surgery so she can be more like Kitty for goodness sakes. She just wants to be a writer.

“Suck my dick, Plum.” – Kitty

Commercials.

Drew Gehling as Jack, Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Last Date.  We return to Plum waiting by some food trucks for her final date. Jack arrives and begins with lots of compliments.  Spoilers – he’s into “big girls” and says he is not attracted to skinny women.  Plum’s guard is way up because compliments don’t happen to her … He recommends they get some food truck burgers and she turns into it hard.  It goes from her enjoying herself, being able to eat food she enjoys without being self-conscious to really awkward when he essentially tries shoving food down her mouth, even after she’s made it clear she’s full.

Joy Nash as Plum – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

He makes trying to feed her a sexual thing and gets fucking weird and she (rightly) tells him off. She also tells him his face is a “three, four tops”, which is an awesome line.

“You’re a creep and a user. You should climb back into the slimy little cut cage you came from. Pervert. Screw you … Jack.” – Plum

As Plum delivers this epic dressing down, Jack is struck by lightning and evaporates into a dust pile and its amazing.  Plum has broken free and her anger is now driving her car.  She’s embracing her basement dwelling malcontent-ness.  Drenched from rain, Plum is tucking into an amazing looking hot dog (dirty water dogs in Manhattan are the BEST  hot dogs in the world), when a typical Manhattan-ite bumps into her causing her hot dog to splatter on him.  He calls her a “fatass” and man, did he pick the wrong night to say that to Plum.  She shoves the remainder of the hot dog into his chest and lets out a war cry. which is exactly when the asshole punches her in the face.

Adam Rothenberg as Dominic – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Dominic, who has been following her this entire time, punches the guy out and helps her up.  Cut to a few minutes later and Dominic’s cop friend has arrived to arrest the bum. Because she’s not stupid, she realizes that Dominic isn’t actually a cop.  When she calls him on it, he confesses his soul.  He was a detective but now he’s a PI that Kitty hired.  Also, he’s married and has two kids. For her part, Plum takes this all in  and simply walks away.  As we see her walking out of Times Square, the camera pans up to the jumbotron and we see Leeta’s picture with a caption that identifies her as the “Face of Jenifer? and “Fugitive on the run” underneath that … ruh roh!

Plum, face all bruised and beaten, walks to Calliope House. When Verena opens the door, Plum enters and simply tells Verena, “I’m ready.” And Scene!

Thoughts. You can only bend and bend and bend so far. Eventually, you’re going to snap. Tonight, we saw Kitty AND Plum reach their breaking points. Kitty -after chasing the Jennifer angle as a smart business sense, sees it all go up in smoke with Stella Cross’s murder. Plum, faced with horrible date after horrible date, has literally been beaten to the ground.  And, each in their own way, has said, NO MORE. Plum, with that final scene, is throwing in full tilt with Calliope House and whatever they are up to (if anything) and Kitty?  Well, no one believes that Kitty is going to go quietly into that good night.

Quick note before we leave, Julianna Margulies’ monologue while Plum stares dumbfounded is maybe the strongest work I have ever seen from her and should be her Emmy reel submission.  With every word she spat out, you feel all of the pent up emotion Kitty never lets herself actually experience (probably bad for skin lines) and her words are laced with poison and anger. And it was absolutely delicious to watch. More of that, Kitty. Please and thank you.

 

One thought on “TV Recap: Dietland – I’m Ready …”

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