Review of Episode 10 after the jump. Previous reviews can be found here.
Something occurred to me while watching tonight's episode of The Game: the writers do a lot of things really well, but plotting isn't one of them.
So much of this season has been about watching critical parts of the story two and three scenes or even episodes too late. The writers either assume that we don't need motivation for everything or they assume that withholding motivation creates dramatic tension and intrigue.
Neither assumption is correct. Withholding motivation creates confusion in the audience and inconsistency in characterization. Malik wouldn't have seemed quite so out of control if we had seen how he was feeling left behind by everyone else before he started acting out – or at least concurrently. Kelly's weird investment in the reality show might have made sense if we had seen how she felt lost without the world of the Sabers sooner.
But the writers want us to accept wildly uncharacteristic behavior and think that introducing motivation for it after the behavior has confused or angered us will justify that behavior. But it simply doesn't work that way.
Knowing now that Parker's husband is a total asshole doesn't actually help me understand why she acted like a sociopath last week. Especially since she seemed totally reasonable as the person who convinces Malik to go to rehab a few episodes before that. I can't really empathize with her now because she was so totally unlikeable last week for reasons that were not explained at the time. It just seems convenient that her husband is an asshole rather than true motivation. It just gives the writers a way to advance Malik's story at the expense of the Parker character.
Michael Beach (who plays the Sabers' owner and Parker's husband) excels at playing a special kind of chump, but even here he just seems cartoonish. The scene where he embarrasses Parker offered Good a nice moment of great physical acting trying to compose herself at the end of that scene, but it didn't really make me sympathize with Parker at all. And so I didn't really care when Malik talked her out of blackmailing him and was just annoyed when she blows his spot up at the end of the episode. It is all just tedious.
But, of course, not as tedious as the completely ridiculous "Tasha can't tell anyone she broke up with Donte" story. Nothing in this story made sense, other than the way Tee Tee resumes his role as the voice of sanity in this entire show and plays The Fool making fun of everything the other characters do.
But am I really supposed to believe that Melanie and Derwin so love Donte and Tasha together that they'd throw him a big ass birthday party? Am I really supposed to believe that Melanie so thinks that Donte is the one that she would tell Tasha it would be a "monstrous level catastrophe" if they broke up? Really? Based on what exactly? We don't even know what the hell the man does.
I will say that I think Terrance J is doing about the best he can. He has charisma, but there is no character here for him to really play. He has good chemistry with Wendy Racquel Robinson and they managed to create some nice moments in that last scene together. But their relationship was simply not well-developed at all. Robinson's crack comic timing and some nice moments with Barry Floyd kept the storyline mildly amusing on an enjoyment level, but as a story it just didn't work at all.
Robinson deserves better. The show should really have found a way to work more of this storyline in to develop it over the course of the season. I don't necessarily have a problem with the notion of Tasha with a younger man, it's just that it went from kissy kissy to him tellin' her how to run her life to break up before they even bothered to tell us what he does with his own life.
Which brings me back to my point about plotting. The show really should have plotted these stories out over the course of the 13-episode order much better. There is no reason the Malik story should be dragging on as long as it is and dominating the season, just as there is no reason for how much short shrift Tasha's storyline has gotten or the fact that Pooch Hall hasn't had anything to do since Episode 5. I'm willing to bet that some of the way the episodes were written had to do with the contracts for Coby Bell and Brittany Daniel, who are recurring, but still the show is wildly uneven this season in a way that is just sloppy.
Couple of other thoughts:
- The opening scene with Malik and Tee Tee was really quite nice. It was funny and heartfelt in a very subtle way. It was also the first real conversation that these two men have ever really had, I think. Nicely done.
- Some good jokes though not as many good ones as last week. I particularly liked Tasha calling Tee Tee "Billy Goat Gruff" and "Leroy Jenkins." Tee Tee referencing "The Greatest Love of All" and telling Tasha: "You are marvelously ignorant. That is not a compliment" were also hilarious.
- I liked the "oh shrimp" line from both Tasha and Malik. Worked as a joke and as a way of showing how similar they are as mother and son.
- I understand that Brittany Daniel and Coby Bell are recurring stars, but having the characters completely write their existence out of their lives just seems ridiculous. I don't think we need for Melanie and Tasha to talk about how Melanie must fill in for Kelly. At least not in this way. But that's purely a fan comment, not so much a writing issue. Mara Brock Akil really needs to ensure that all six actors are regulars next year. Shooting during Coby Bell's hiatus from Burn Notice would be the first way to make that work. This season is proof that the show simply doesn't work without all six actors.
- Melanie's weave (or is it a wig) is really distracting. I miss the "dancing and emphasizing" haircut.
What did y'all think?