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'United States of Tara': Being apart is not an option

April 5, 2009 | 10:30 pm

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Everyone had a part to play in the jam-packed season finale of "Tara."  Everyone, that is, except Gimme.  I expected to see all the alters come out for the finale.  I expected to see it happen when Tara faced Trip, the man everyone thinks responsible for the dissociation of Tara.  Though I wasn't sure how they'd come out, I wasn't too surprised to learn that Tara's alters had been around long before Trip "took advantage" of her, as he so lightly described the trauma.  Granted, he was sitting in front of his wife, Judy, who came prepared for the face-off with a picnic of Sunny D and chocolate-chippers. 

When Trip so casually says "See ya, T," it all comes together and all falls apart.  The easy answer Tara had hoped for was not to be found in that particular hospital rec room.  And necessarily so for a second (and third and fourth?) season of the show. Soon the room was filled with all her alters, T claiming responsibility for the drunken night, Buck saying he wasn't allowed out to deal with the situation, and Alice coming out once safely back in Dr. Holden's office. 

"I don't know where Tara's gone," Alice says, trying to resume control over the chaotic situation. "I told you, there's no Tara. ... She's weak, and she needs me." Just when I was afraid that the season finale cliffhanger was going to be that we'll get all-Alice, all the time, I heard that hint of desperation in Alice's voice, and sure enough Tara comes back, looking thoroughly exhausted from the experience.  

And if delving into Tara's sexual trauma was not enough, the episode gives Charmaine, Marshall and Kate plenty of time to show us a little more of their characters.  Just as an eavesdropping Charmaine hears her new man, Nick (Matthew Del Negro), describe his relationship with Charmaine as "authentic," she hits send on a mind-game text message ("Hi") to Neil. I get the feeling Charmaine will play an important part in Tara's trauma history.  As much as she's wont to judge Tara ("My sister's meeting with her rapist, so we're just, you know, hanging out"), Charmaine's pretty messed up.  "I can't believe how normal you are," she tells Marshall.  "I can't believe you're so damaged you think I'm normal," Marshall replies.  Bingo.

Just as Kate thinks she might get a settlement and a Vespa out of Barnaby's for her boss Gene's inappropriate behavior, she learns her lesson.  Never show a phone photo to HR that shows you complicit in the act.  And never leave the door unlocked.  Gene finds his way into the living room, where's he's sipping on his soda, waiting to inform Kate that he was fired, but none of that matters.  "I'd lose anything to be with you.  I love you ... I knew I would never be the same, as a manager or a man. ... Being apart is not an option.  I know I can't live without you." 

When Kate escapes to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and another soda for the eerily calm creep in her living room, I'm almost positive she's going for a large knife.  Apparently I've watched one too many movie-of-the-week stalker stories.  Kate grabs the keys to the car and takes off, leaving Gene patiently waiting for his Sierra Mist and planning their lifetime of happiness.  

Marshall's moment comes after hearing that the love of his life was spotted with a girl. He realized that Kate was right when she said T/Tara's makeout session with bisexual-boytoy Jason was to protect Marshall.  I'm not sure I agree with that, but I was happy to see it be enough for Marshall to forgive his mom and go support her at the hospital when she was at her most fearful.  He is the most self-aware kid I have ever seen, telling his mom without any hesitation or hedging, "I forgive you, Mom.  And I love you."  After the alter mayhem, Tara checks herself out, and they head home.

Seated like a perfect TV family around the dinner table, conversation is strained as there are still too many secrets and things left unsaid.  What better place to let it all out than the bowling alley?  As Max and Tara watch Marshall coach Kate with tips he learned from Buck, Tara leans into Max.  "You know, it could get worse before it gets better."  The camera pulls back to reveal T, Alice and Buck hanging out around the family.  And with that, we're set for season two.  Maybe where we'll see Gimme again.  

-- Rebecca Snavely

Photo: Brie Larson, left, and Toni Collette. Credit: Showtime

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