Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Forgiving bombs & betrayals

Nip/Tuck has never shied away from a touchy subjects, and last night was definitely no exception. Using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a backdrop for a multi-thematic purpose is a dangerous proposition, especially when it's juxtaposed with some of plastic surgery's inherent vanity (ie, large breasts). Mad Men's Maggie Siff (pictured) does an excellent job giving her Israeli bomb survivor character (named Rachel, again) enough levity to survive a zany secondary plot anchored by the return of Rosie O'Donnell's Dawn Budge character.

The first theme explored was the idea of being an unwilling host to your enemy. Rachel discovers her body is riddled with human shrapnel - pieces of her suicide bombers' teeth and bone fragments, a bomber who's land was similarly an unwilling host to Israel. Meanwhile, Sean is playing host to Julia and Christian's affair -- Sean even imagines himself strapped to a bomb upon finding them together -- a visual which pushed a touchy metaphor perhaps too far. In the Freddy/Dawn subplot, the bomb metaphor was also used, but here it at least had the good taste to keep it more obtuse. Freddy finally admitting he was gay is the bomb here, and we didn't need a visual to infer it -- although Liz telling Freddy to 'explode, let it out sky high' was a tad on the nose.

The other major theme here was forgiveness, with Rachel attempting to heal herself by 'forgiving the unforgivable,' and making peace with her bomber by sending the remains to his parents. Sean, marveling at her bravery, decides to follow suit and make an uneasy peace with Christian.* Likewise, Dawn forgives her 'motordyke,' owing it to misplaced anger over playing host to Freddy's coming out party. It's apples to oranges again, though, I'm afraid.

Musically, there was a Judeo-Arab conflict going on as well, with songs from Iranian-born singer Azam Ali and her band Niyaz which meld Persian traditions with the modernity of Western culture. The episode ends with the song "Forgiveness Hymns" by the Israeli/Moroccan Yoel Ben-Simhon, which is based on the 'El Nora Alila' hymn written by Moshe Ibn Ezra (1089-1164,) a Sephardic poet who lived in Spain and in Rome. Ben-Simhon sings in Hebrew, but plays it Moroccan style, merging the Jewish and Arabic together peacefully. Here is where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict metaphor truly works.

Playlist: Nip/Tuck - Ep5.09
1. "La Serena" - Azam Ali - Sean operates on Rachel while imagining the suicide bomber describe the attack, then later when Sean walks in on Julia and Christian
2. "Dunya" - Niyaz - Sean and Christian perform Rachel’s shrapnel-removal surgery
3. "Destination Calabra" - Alex Guadino (YouTube) - Freddy and Dawn describe how she got run over by a motorcyle
4. "Forgiveness Hymns" - Yoel Ben-Simhon - Sean stitches up Christian, Rachel's facial reconstructive surgery
Compiled by Avalon at

*But not before hiring Christian's baby mama Gina (Jessalyn Gilsig) on as a secretary. Gilsig's Gina is back at Nip/Tuck at exactly the moment her character Shelley (Mrs. Coach's sister) leaves Friday Night Lights, and both just got their Real Estate licenses, oddly enough. Wonder what hell Gina's going to put Christian through.

Previously: Nine Circles of Hell (Episode 5.07)


MJAPA said...

I like the Rachel character, but from the moment she walked on screen I've been afraid they were going to miraculously 'fix her' and she will come out a flawless looking model. It is impossible to completely fix a person who has been burned that badly. You can come close, but scars will always show. I mean, it isn't like the show is believable anyhow, but that would be the one step too far for me this season.

drake leLane said...

I'm pretty sure after a few surgeries she'll look something like this.