Check out my review of Episode 6 after the jump. Previous reviews here.
This week's episode is an interesting one. As pure entertainment, it works. It is probably, on balance, the most consistently funny episode of the season so far. It features terrific work by all six principal actors. And it's very well-paced, important since the episode balances three stories.
But the stories are where the problems lie. If you look even a little closely at what is actually goin on onscreen, some of what occurs this week just doesn't work on a story-level. And that's because so much of it is built on shaky foundation established in the season premiere.
Let's get the Malik story out of the way because I've discussed it in previous reviews before so we don't have to dwell for long. Bottom line – at this point, we need to know what the fuck precipitated Malik's issues. The show keeps kicking the can down the road. The writers seem to think the spectacle of this story is sufficient enough that we don't have to know why this story is occurring. They are wrong.
The last scene where Jason and Derwin convinced Malik to go back to rehab was well-written and incredibly well-played, but all I kept thinking was: "what the fuck is wrong with Malik?" The characters don't even know what is goin on with Malik. Jason and Derwin even say in that last scene that they have no idea what is bothering Malik. Shouldn't someone – six episodes in – know? It would have been nice to hear in that moment, from Malik as he's breakin' down what the real issue is. It was the perfect opportunity. But we didn't get it. I just can't get emotionally invested in Malik's story – as well-acted as it is, particularly in this episode – without knowing why I am supposed to be invested.
The Tasha-Donte story was the least successful for me, because I have a real problem with what this story is conveying. I'm sure there are people out there who loved seeing a brother tell a sister that he's a good man for putting up with her bullshit. Except, I don't know that Donte is a good man. Donte is not a fully developed character. He's just a 24 year old who we are told is reponsible, who we are told is a good man, and who we are told to accept as a man who can "straighten Tasha out."
But since we don't know what he does, or his background, or his bank account, presumably his just being a man is sufficient enough to run Tasha's life. I'm just not feeling that subtext at all. I think it's dangerous and offensive – and it's a kind of narrative shorthand that is just lazy writing.
Sure – Tasha's behavior is ridiculous at times and running off to see Rick Fox without telling Donte is a big no-no, but Donte's reaction – though underplayed nicely by Terrance J – is just melodramatic.
And now this relationship is over. I don't even care because the show didn't let me get to know Donte enough to care.
Good thing we had the "Kelly is lost without the Sunbeams" story, which worked on every level. It was believable, well-written, funny, and it was resolved in a believable way. Kelly really is the one character who is now completely unconnected to this world and, having spent so much time in that world, it made sense that she would hang on for dear life. The Sunbeams was also her only other identity outside of her marriage to Jason and to lose that as a result of divorcing Jason had to be traumatizing. Brittany Daniel brought the right amount of pathos to her usual manic energy in her scenes that really sold the emotional undercurrents of the story.
That said, the writers do have a real challenge with the Kelly Pitts character. She is not a part of this world anymore and they could actually write her out of the show and still tell the main stories. But Brittany Daniel really is an integral part of the ensemble and it would be ill-advised to get rid of her. Mara Brock Akil will have to find a way to connect her to the other characters and service the character in a way that fully utilizes Daniel's strengths.
The reality show though is not that story. In a way, it does makes sense. Kelly Pitts is a white trash girl who married her way into the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I could see how a character like that would do a reality show to maintain her lifestyle. But Kelly, though comfortable with money, never seemed to be driven by money. She was reasonably level-headed and down-to-earth. She was never written as cheap or desperate so her behavior now as a reality show star is just completely out of character and grating and, ultimately, quite insulting to the character and to Daniel.
It is not that I don't believe that Kelly Pitts would make the choice to do a reality show, it's that the way the story is playing out erases all of the qualities about Kelly that are endearing. It makes her into a caricature of a reality show star that is just an instance of the writers trying to be current and trendy and ruining a perfectly great character in order to do it.
That said, Kelly felt more like the Kelly we know and love in this episode. And the show was better for it.
But like I said at the top of the review, this was a pretty good episode and it really does seem like the show has regained its footing for the most part. Any lingering issues really are just a result of the stories that they started in the messy season premiere. It is entirely possible – especially given how well-written these last two episodes are – that the show can get back to its Season Three greatness once these stories all run their course.
Ok, enough of my yakking. You guys have read all of my reviews and are watching the show.
What do you think about The Game Season 4 at this point?
Good review. I think that it’s SLOWLY getting better. Still a lot of loopholes, and I totally agree with what you said about the Donte character. I didn’t like the relationship, and it is because of what you stated, we as viewers just don’t “know” him. I have a feeling that the relationship may not be over though..I want it to be, but something tells me more will unfold. The scene with the guys in the bathroom was good, but I was a little put off when Malik locked himself in the stall. I was waiting for him to pour his heart out and explain what was going on, but it didnt happen. He just came out of the stall silent. Very weird. Hopefully we will find out soon what’s going on with him. And is it just me or is Melanie’s role as the Sunbeam leader a little off?? Its like a Kelly-wannabe. But then again, Melanie has succumbed to her new lifestyle, so maybe thats why we see her like this. I’m not sure if I am liking it yet. Looking forward to next week’s blog.
I like Melanie as Sunbeam president actually. I think it has great comic and dramatic potential, both for her and for Kelly. But I do think the show should explain why she’s not practicing medicine. I could see her thinking that she couldn’t do both, but the show just has to help us understand how Season 1 Melanie got to this Season 4 Melanie.
I agree on how Melanie’s character kind of came off as a wanna be Kelly Pitts. At first it did seem off to me but then I started to remember how Melanie started off hating the sunbeams and storming out of meetings to now taking Kelly’s spot as President, like who would have thought, that made it kind of cool. I didn’t like the whole Tasha and Dante scene, it was real stupid, but then again I never agreed with putting them two together anyway. I was really hoping Rick Fox would have showed up to dinner, might have gotten to see some passion from Ms Mack finally. I hope the writers do not bring Dante back, I can’t imagine how they would spin this. I hope Kelly Pitts isn’t written off the show, her only link technically to the football world would be through brit brat since Jason is her father of course…so maybe the writers can start working on some plots there (just bring the old brittney back). The Malik scene was whack however well played out like you said, I wish Malik’s character would have truly spilled out his guts to jason and derwin so we can see what’s really going on because I think it is deeper than just jealously over derwin being the new franchise player.
who knows what the last song was called when malik was getting out of derwins car to go back to rehab?
Yes, I think that would def help a lot if we could see how that transition occurred. Good point.