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'United States of Tara': Nothing like love

March 15, 2009 | 10:52 pm

Corbett_250 What does love look like? 

With only 30 minutes to explore the character and story arcs of not only Tara and her daily dose of alter personality, "Tara" also delves into a sensitive yet bold gay teenage son, a seemingly insensitive rebel daughter and a white knight of a husband.  The episode didn't pull any punches, starting off right away in the therapy session where Tara finds out that Max has discovered the name of the man (Tripp) he thinks is responsible for Tara's trauma in boarding school. 

Tara cuts short the session, storming outside to accuse Max of being a cowboy, always wanting to "ride into town and clean everything up.  I'm not your town."

And with that, Tara and Kate leave town on a road trip.

For a family whose goal is to face whatever surfaces sans meds, they certainly seem to run away a lot.  Tara and Kate end up at a random motel hosting a pharmaceutical convention across the street from a tattoo parlor.  Max tells Marshall, who is performing perhaps his first set of push-ups to get in shape for jock Jason, that he's gotta go do some "stuff."  "That's rather vague," says Marshall.  "Yup," and Max is off to deal with his problems at a bar with Neil, drinking and complaining about Tara calling him a "cowboy."  Neil convinces him that Tara was right, Max is a cowboy.  "Get out of here, and go (expletive) wrangle!"  And Max is off on his white horse again, trying to track down Tripp, despite what Tara has told Max about his need to fix her. 

Marshall is the first of the family to show some guts.  He does what any guy does and gets his date drunk.  Marshall and Jason have a drink while they watch a film for class, and then end up lying back on Marsh's bed, commiserating about and toasting "to mother issues."  Never one to miss such an obvious clue or an opportunity, Marshall makes his move after Jason falls asleep on his bed, leaning down to kiss him.  And as we hold our breath in one "eeks ... no!" moment, thankfully for Marshall's future confidence, Jason kisses him back. 

Meanwhile, having run away from her husband, Tara can't escape her alters.  T comes out to play after Kate tells off Tara, making it clear that their relationship is never going to be written about in a Hallmark card.  At home, Max is back, unsuccessful from his Tripp-finding mission, to realize that Marshall has it bad for Jason.  Max looks exhausted as he lays his head on the counter, gazing at his son.  "Nothing like love."

So what does love look like?  Like your daughter talking you out of an alter-moment and a "slut" tattoo.  Like a brave kid making a  move toward love.  And like a husband finally hearing his wife, as Max leaves Tara the message, "If you want me to stop digging, I'm done." 

I wish I could believe Max.  Do you?  Can he stop digging, fixing, wait for the truth to surface and learn to enjoy the ride?

-- Rebecca Snavely

Photo: John Corbett. Credit: Showtime