This Kidding review contains spoilers.
Kidding Episode 7
If Kintsugi is repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, then we need to create a word for the way that Jeff’s broken psyche has been haphazardly assembled, barely being held in shape by flimsy masking tape. For a minute, it looked like maybe the broken pieces had been fused back together; sure, the material on Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time may be getting increasingly bizarre for a children’s show, but Jeff seemed content with the metamorphosis, bonding with Will, taking the constraints of his current arrangement with Jill in stride, and bravely jumping in feet first with Vivian. Maybe Seb’s concerns about the direction of the show were still valid, but at least Jeff seemed happy.
The good spirits looked like they’d only continue after Vivian was giving a positive diagnosis, being informed that her cancer had gone into remission. Now the impending doom waiting for him with Vivian looked to be erased and the two could continue their blossoming connection. But the speed in which they were rushing through their relationship due to Vivian’s cancer outlook ended up backfiring, allowing Vivian to see that Jeff only made sense as a part of her life when she believed that she wouldn’t be getting better. With the whole world now in front of her, Vivian tells Jeff that her future plans don’t involve him and that he has to be left behind with that trying time in Vivian’s life.
The fact that Jeff has to hear about all of this in front of his whole family at Thanksgiving dinner is brutal, but in typical Jeff fashion, he takes the moment on the chin and tries to frame it as a positive thing, like he’s happy for Vivian. The crushing feeling is only alleviated by the entire extended Pickles clan screaming “Fuck you!” at Vivian until she leaves. Kidding always does a great job of undercutting its most devastating beats with something absurd or silly, and this may be the best example yet. At the episode close, Jeff finally lets the darkness enfold him and he has a violent outburst, destroying Seb’s office. In the past, Jeff blowing of steam like this seemed productive, but here, it’s like he’s reached the rock bottom we all assumed he’d hit if Vivian would have passed.
Jeff’s material this week was only the second most interesting thing happening on Kidding. Finally, Dierdre is given the screen time she deserves. Her and Scott appear to be on the mend, even if they skirt around their issues instead of tackling them head on. They hilariously use the coded language of piano and clarinet to discuss Scott’s infidelity and for him to assure Dierdre that his exploration of his sexuality was only a phase and that it won’t happen again. They get on a good foot just in time for the new Pickles-san, the Japanese version of Mr. Pickles, to come stay as a houseguest in order to study Jeff and his show.
Pickles-san is the perfect encapsulation of Kidding’s strange world and off-beat sense of humor. He claims to not be able to speak English well, however, when he’s using a puppet, he can speak English fluently. Using puppets, Deirdre is finally able to open up to Pickles-san. She talks about how she only exists through other people, which in a way works to address and erase the criticism of her character not having a life of her own so far. She also details how she doesn’t know how to want things for herself, and how she’s struggling in a family that only knows how to love her from afar. The heart to heart endears Pickles-san to Deirdre, but when she goes to act on her feelings late one evening, Pickles-san stops her with a puppet show parable about why she shouldn’t give in to feelings of infidelity. The whole scene would be sweet if Pickles-san wasn’t moving one of the puppets with his penis, which Scott walks in to see exclaiming “What the actual fuck!” Another classic Kidding undercut.
Even though “Kintsugi” starts off in a way that makes it seem that all of our characters are getting to a better place, the episode ends with things feeling more unstable than ever. It will likely come to a head when Jeff has to appear on live TV for the NYC Christmas Tree lighting. Surely Jeff’s talk about Native American genocide, depression, food deserts, and Marxism will lead to Seb doing everything in his power to keep Jeff off of TV, but in the state that Jeff is in now, I don’t think there’s much at this point that could stop him.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.
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