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October 9, 2015

'United States of Tara' Season 3, Episode 4 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Apr 19th 2011 8:00AM
Toni Collette['United States of Tara' - 'Wheels']

Farewell to the United States of Tara -- long live the king! This week, our heroine took a big step forward in terms of asserting her independence, and made the unexpected decision to draw up a contract with her alters in order to keep a little control, setting up a sort of timeshare agreement for her body so that they'd stop hijacking it for joyrides whenever the mood struck them.

Many actors note how difficult it is to play opposite one version of themselves, so it's a true testament to Toni Collette's well-established skill that she managed to shoot a scene with all the alters interacting while still managing to keep them all distinct and responding to each other in a believable way. I can't even fathom the technical difficulty that must've been involved in the conference scene, let alone how long it must've taken to film. Collette and the 'United States of Tara' production team always make it look so effortless, we take for granted how much work goes on behind the scenes.

It's not surprising that Tara felt compelled to take some control -- her home life seemed to be spiraling rapidly into chaos this week. First, Charmaine refused to let her hold little Cassandra (AKA "Wheels"); then Max had a meltdown over his wife's increasingly erratic state.

Max is certainly having a hard time this season -- and we're only four episodes in! From his loopy mom and his daddy issues to his loopy wife and his new, soul-destroying job for Orgalawn, it's no wonder he's feeling a little tetchy. (Did anyone else notice that his name-tag read Greg Maxson instead of Max Gregson? Ouch.)

Ever since Marshall questioned last week whether Max might someday leave his family, I was waiting for an argument in which Tara used his father's abandonment against him, but that didn't lessen the sting. The hurt on John Corbett's face in that moment was like a punch in the gut, even before his note-perfect delivery of "because I love you." The cast was certainly firing on all cylinders this week.

Equally hurtful -- but just as necessary -- was Charmaine's decision to keep Tara out of her daughter's life. As cruel as that decision was, especially when the audience is predisposed to sympathize with Tara, it was hard to argue with Charmaine's logic: Tara doesn't know what her alters might do, or how they might treat the baby. Sure, Alice would be an awesome babysitter, but T could quite easily leave the kid on a park bench, and that's a risk that no mother would be comfortable taking.

It's great to see 'Tara' using Eddie Izzard's wonderful Dr. Hattaras sparingly but smartly. It would be all too easy for a show to saturate the episodes with a memorable character when they have such a talented guest star at their disposal, but by integrating him slowly, he never wears out his welcome. Izzard had some of the most memorable lines of the night ("How am I supposed to be f***ing zen when a mysterious poo is sitting in my garden of enlightenment? ... Mysterious poos really freak me out," may be my favorite), but he was also integral to the impactful final scene, which is pivotal for Tara's continued character development.

Kate is also in line for a little character development. Her flight attendant spirit guide reappeared to offer her more pearls of wisdom (such as this gem: "The Big O is life -- you can fake your way through it, but what's the point?") and set her on her own path to fulfillment through the power of aviation. She also shared a heartfelt talk about her potential with Tara, which I always appreciate, because Tara is so often not herself and Kate is so often hiding behind humor or indifference that it's nice to see them both being real with each other.

Marshall, on the other hand, got some ménage à trois action and not much else, although his continued insecurity about his family's stability will grow into something more meaningful as the season progresses.

'United States of Tara' airs Mondays at 10:30PM ET on Showtime.

What was your favorite moment from this week's episode? Do you think Kate will succeed in her quest to be a flight attendant? Do you think Dr. Hattaras might change his mind about Tara's condition after her display? Share your thoughts below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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