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September 3, 2015

'United States of Tara' Season 3, Episode 1 (Season Premiere) Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Mar 29th 2011 6:30AM
Toni Collette['United States of Tara' - '...youwillnotwin...']

Few shows currently on television -- network or cable -- have a quirkier premise than Showtime's 'United States of Tara,' the familial dramedy centered around a woman, her husband and kids, and her multiple personalities.

We last saw the Gregson clan back in June 2010 (no wonder I've been in withdrawal!), at a typically eventful almost-wedding. It's been a long nine months, but this show is always worth the wait. The season opened on a slightly more successful social event -- a Labor Day barbecue -- but despite outward appearances, not much has changed. Charmaine is pretty much ready to pop with Neil's illegitimate lovechild, Kate's still a brat, Marshall's still involved with Lionel, and Tara's still going AWOL at inopportune moments when one of her alters hijacks her body for kicks.

This time around, Buck was behind the wheel (or handlebars), apparently on an epic quest to track down Tara and Charmaine's long-lost and apparently abusive brother, Bryce. As sensible as rolling up to a stranger's house and pointing a gun at their head is, Buck came up empty (lucky for Bryce), but did manage to score himself a speeding ticket instead.

Though the alters are never far from the surface, this episode was definitely more concerned with Tara's desire to return to school, since she apparently dropped out of college the first time around after an attempted suicide. If transitioning at a spa looked stressful, you know that inevitably transitioning in front of a classroom full of people is going to be even more humiliating.

Luckily, Tara's psychology professor is being played by the erudite and ever-entertaining Eddie Izzard, working his real accent and a disdainful glower with great aplomb. He's snarky enough to add a little more spice to the season, and I get the impression that he won't be quite as accommodating as he seemed this week in later episodes.

His essay certainly caused Tara plenty of drama -- after procrastinating all episode, when our hapless heroine finally sat down to write, her subconsciousness reacted fairly violently -- my heart was pounding when she took the letter opener to her wrist. Luckily, since Tara achieved co-consciousness last season, the rest of her alters were able to come to her aid. Not only do these kinds of scenes highlight both the show's technical prowess and Toni Collette's impressive range, they also provide a satisfying payoff within the story, with the alters taking care of Tara like a prize-fighter's handlers might, helping to keep her on track (well, all of them except T, anyway). I'm sure Shoshana's appearance will prove invaluable in helping Tara survive her psychology class.

Charmaine, meanwhile, was still being insufferable and self-centered, as is her wont, and that selfishness is only magnified by her pregnancy hormones. Her ego was clearly bruised by being abandoned at the altar by dreamy Nick last season, and while she seemed content to treat long-suffering Neil like an errand boy this week, she's obviously still holding out hope that a more handsome, successful mate will saunter along and give her the fairytale ending she and her Urban Duchess tiaras are dreaming of.

Still, even though she turned down Neil's proposal, she did concede the couch, so that's a step in the right direction. I'm fairly sure she'll change her mind about her 'two girls and a baby' fantasy with Kate as soon as the baby actually comes, since kids don't exactly get easier to manage once they're out of the womb.

Marshall and Kate were both attempting to grow up (although Kate's evolution seemed, as usual, a little superficial and unplanned) and I was highly amused by her spiel at the job interview -- right up until it was derailed by her ill-advised cake adventure. Poor Marshall seems to be stuck in a relationship that's so progressive, it's actually stifling him, since Lionel decided that he doesn't like the words "love" or "boyfriend" (or "vagina," though that's kind of a no-brainer).

I'm not sure that their decision to go halves on a beautiful camera baby called Orlando is the wisest move, but Marshall generally seems like the most sensible and self-sufficient member of the Gregson family, so I hope he'll move on to a boyfriend who actually likes being called a boyfriend sometime soon.

'United States of Tara' airs Mondays, 10.30PM ET on Showtime.

What was your favorite moment in the 'Tara' season premiere? Are you excited to see what Eddie Izzard brings to the show? Share your thoughts below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA.

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