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Classic Television Rundown: Nip/Tuck, Season One, Episode 6, "Megan O'Hara"

Nip/Tuck, Season One, Episode Six: "Megan O'Hara"
Written by Jennifer Salt

Directed by Craig Zisk
"If I don't feel it, I can't get past it - don't you see that?" -Megan
I could go on about how the year-end list-making kept me from writing regularly scheduled Nip/Tuck recaps, but Qualler's near-weekly updates on Six Feet Under would negate any half-hearted apology or excuse I'd be able to muster up here past the halfway mark now in January, so I won't even try. The truth is that this is a daunting task, trying to re-watch with a close analytical eye a show that I remember loving but only kinda like during these visits back to the past. And I've had trouble admitting that. However, I do aim to trudge through (obviously not as briskly as my blogging brethren) because while it takes a while to motivate myself to do this, when I am introduced all over again to characters like this episode's eponymous Megan O'Hara, I start reliving a roller coaster of TV emotions all over again, which is rewarding enough without all the nitpicking and critiquing that shall commence herein.

You see, Megan O'Hara's a pretty boring character. Then again, Sean McNamara isn't much of a thrill either: just an anxiety-ridden everyman who hates fun and seems to never realize when he's being a terrible husband, father, or best friend. So in that way, they're perfectly written for each other and it makes perfect sense why she's brought in (played by Julie Warner, possibly most well known as Chris Farley's love interest in Tommy Boy and most recently a regular on the Crash TV series) for a multi-episode arc so early in the show's run. And like they smartly did with Mrs. Grubman, they don't use her as the intro character and thrust her into the mix before any self-contained conflict is unsheathed, but rather wait until partway through the storyline and sneak her in, making it feel more natural.

So before we get to Megan, let's focus on the main thrusts provided in installment numero six of Nip/Tuck inaugural season. Starting with the rather drama-less client Ms. Berger, who simply wants to get rid of the superfluous flab after losing a hundred pounds the honest way so she can meet her online boyfriend, who sent her a picture of an attractive dude and told her he was a doctor, both of which must be true! Right? Hold on, because we don't get the unpredictable punchline of that story until the very end. For the moment she merely acts as a forced metaphor for Christian's problem: the age-old "don't judge a book by its cover" adage. Dealing with some neon pink graffiti vandalism on his car and boat, Sean helps implant the obvious: he's a prick to women, so it must be some past fling or one-night stand.

This search leads Nip/Tuck to bring not one, not two, but three past female characters back to the forefront, putting an end to one of them, hinting at a future for another, and bringing the third into the immediate fold. First he investigates Nanette Babcock, a mentally ill woman who freaked out at Christian for not wanting to give her liposuction, who we learn here, has committed suicide, which phases the man for all but two seconds. Then there's Gina, possibly the most interesting of Christian's love interests throughout the first season, whose second fiery shutdown of Christian's ego is just begging for her to come back later. And lastly, there's the first return of Kimber, who has finally landed a magazine cover as a model and whose fiance is the stereotypical ethnic criminal type and predictably comes into smash up Christian's office when he finds out him and Kimber are doing sexy things in the shower, just slightly obfuscating each others' genitals with their legs and steam.

Well it's probably not the dead one, and probably not the one he's taken to bang again, so it must be the crazy one, right? That's what Christian assumes anyway, especially when he sees Gina by his car in the parking garage one day, though she says she's just there to leave him a pamphlet about sex addiction therapy because she was feeling sorry for him, but as he merely reacts by berating and accusing her, she hypothesizes that the vandal won't stop until he changes. It's a nice melodramatic moment, but it goes by too quickly, because we go right back to Christian's meandering journey through future-exposition-ville or, worse, Sean's manufactured drama of the week, which somehow leads us to our titular character.

In a few ways, the grief that both Sean and Julia go through after their miscarried baby is actually very natural and welcome, even if it's heavy-handed at times. It gets its deserved focus in a tender scene where Matt discloses that he was hoping he'd get a little brother, but writer Jennifer Salt also smartly chooses not to dwell on it. Too bad it takes the usual Sean-as-self-centered-beast left-turn and leads him to decide he must get a vasectomy so he never experiences that kind of loss again. Luckily we're not subjected to too much of a fight between him and Julia about this because she's still too listless to care about things again, so we get something completely left-field instead: a new character that makes Sean stray.

Enter new patient Megan, whose recent post-chemo mastectomy has left her with a strange binary decision: get implants to satisfy her husband and save their marriage or do it completely for herself and leave her husband, realizing her marriage is broken. Apparently not getting the implants isn't an option, though it's hinted at during her initial consultation. She thinks she's being good enough not indulging in C-cups. Her dilemma distracts Sean from his own family enough that he ends up leaning in for a kiss, seemingly romanticizing her plight because he's a neurotic man attracted to situations that will spur his neuroses. It's a subtly clever conceit that will certainly up the soap factor, but the way they take to get there is silly (just because Megan ever-so-briefly and inexplicably sympathizes with Sean's vasectomy crisis, he goes straight to the smackers?) and upon this second viewing, demeans Julia's character, who deserves more play here before Sean royally screws things up with this new character.

Anyway, she's sticking around for the time being and hopefully I'll get my Julia fix soon. Because ultimately, this is a mediocre transitory episode setting up a new line of problems for the two leads to deal with. What gives it the "plus" in the grade below is the tiny Matt subplot, in which he tries to win his ex-girlfriend Vanessa's approval by agreeing to be the third wheel (in more ways than one) in a threesome with her and her newfound lesbian love, Ridley. It follows the predictable Chasing Amy beats, but at least it a) feels logical and b) isn't just done to introduce a new recurring character.

Grade: C+

Nip/Tuck is available to watch on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Other Memorable Quotes:
  • "Be yourself. You know you could look better." -Christian's hare-brained idea for an advertising slogan
  • "Suddenly the yearn for Uncle Christian makes perfect sense." -Christian, to Matt, after asking for advice about having a threesome
  • "I haven't felt this powerless since the 90s and some chick stuck her finger up my butt without notice." -Christian, on his expensive toys getting vandalized
  • "Don't be ashamed of those scars on your chest. You're just wearing on the outside what the rest of us wear on the inside." -Sean, to Megan, about her mastectomy

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  1. Blogger qualler | 10:54 AM |  

    Nice writeup, Chris. I do love Jessalyn Gilsig as Gina on this show -- she and Julian McNamera (Christian) have excellent chemistry, from what I recall.

    I just read that some new episode of "Glee", some plot twist is coming that Ryan Murphy admitted he did because he "got bored." Whatta douche. No doubt, soon the Carver will show up at Sue Sylvester's cheerio practice.

  2. Blogger chris | 3:09 PM |  

    Haha I will totally watch Glee if The Carver shows up. In fact, if a serial killer shows up at all, I will go back to watching Glee. You heard it here first, folks!

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