Spoilers will follow...
Over the course of seven seasons, Nancy Botwin's self-centered recklessness has destroyed many a life. In the Season 6 finale, Nancy undertook her most selfless act and turned herself into the authorities (ironically for one of the few crimes in the show she hadn't committed) to ensure the safety of her family. But by the end of Season 7, it was clear that Nancy's time in prison had failed to rehabilitate her. When Andy asked Nancy what she learnt in prison, her answer was "try again, fail better" -- a sentiment that foreshadows her fate in the Season 7 finale, "Do Her/Don't Do Her." After finally reuniting her family unit at the end of Season 7, proclaiming to her sister, Jill Price-Gray, that she'd been given a do-over, Nancy was shot in the head by a sniper hiding in the bushes. And so Season 7 ended.
The Season 8 premiere, "Messy," picks up moments after Season 7 ended with Nancy being rushed to the hospital, where she remains for the rest of the episode in a medically induced coma. By the end of the episode it becomes clear why it makes sense for this to be the final season of the show. Throughout the show, nothing has helped rehabilitate Nancy from her danger-seeking, criminalistics ways. Not the threat of death, her son becoming a murderer, a three-year stint in prison or losing custody of her son. Dumb luck has always saved her from every predicament, no matter how big or small, and Nancy has escaped every punishment for her misgivings -- even surviving being shot in the head. At the end of "Messy," a comatose Nancy begins seizing in her hospital bed and another patient's visitor dubs this karma after being inconvenienced one too many times (vagina weight!) by the Botwin clan throughout the episode. And therein lies the theme of this season: karma. After all, if the human world has failed time and again to punish/rehabilitate Nancy Botwin, maybe karma is all that's left.
What's more, it is also implied Nancy needs to pay for the influence she has exerted on those around her. Whether it be Jill throwing her vagina weight at Nancy's bedridden neighbor, Doug eating their food or her shooter making Nancy's neighbor's visitor spill her drink, it is clear her selfishness has spread to those around her. When the visitor sees Nancy's seizure as karma she isn't referring to Nancy's mountain of past selfish acts, she's merely referring to the little acts of selfishness committed by the Botwin's clan. Nancy's toxicity hasn't just turned those closest to her into criminals; it's also turned them into selfish human beings. Just like her. After years of acknowledging how damaging Nancy is to those around her, Season 8 looks to be the season Weeds finally calls Nancy out on her culpability. And if it begins with her being shot in the head, I can only imagine where it will end in thirteen episodes time.
In a recent interview, creator Jenji Kohan promised spirituality would be this season's central theme. Karma isn't the only hint we have of this in the premiere. First, Jill jests that if Nancy survives being shot in the head -- after everything she's done -- there truly is no God. And as we know, Nancy will of course live.
This is compounded by a conversation Andy later has with a rabbi, where they discuss the karmic justice of Nancy living, the existence of God and the need for easy clean-cut answers. At this stage it's hard to tell, but by the time Season 8 ends I expect this conversation to have provided a lot of foreshadowing for what's to come. The other great thing this conversation achieves is that it sets Andy on a different journey. Spending most of last season on the periphery of the action, this season promises to have Andy finally try and seek independence from Nancy. He's admitted he doesn't know who he is or what his purpose is when he's outside of Nancy's orbit and hopefully acknowledging this will be Andy's first step to becoming his own man. That is unless he uses Jill as a Nancy-substitute. It wouldn't be the first time.
As you can tell, I liked this episode a lot. Other things I liked include Nancy's slurs to the paramedic as she was taken to hospital. Between the snark, the satirical commentary, hitting on the paramedic and defending Silas, the few lines of dialogue given to Nancy this episode managed to reflect all the major facets of her personality. And the graphic shots of Nancy's face covered in blood as she attempted to flirt with the paramedic were uniquely horrific and made the experience of watching the premiere feel all the more uneasy.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Nancy's sister was great this episode and I hope she sticks around for the rest of the season. As an antagonist a la Season 7, Jill annoyed me. As a more likeable parallel to Nancy, I like her a lot. Her presence takes the edge off losing Celia. I think she brings a fun energy to the show. I look forward to seeing Jill and Nancy share more scenes together. And if Celia's rumored return comes to fruition, I think it'll be hilarious to see the two bounce off each other, bonding over their dislike of Nancy.
Loved seeing Jill pack a photo of Judah to take to Nancy in the hospital, too. Not only was it a nice callback to the earlier seasons but the fact Nancy still has his photo helps humanize her a lot more. It also fuels my theory that Nancy's crazy life has been her way of distracting herself from his death for the last seven seasons.
Many predicted that Tim Scottson shot Nancy and so his reveal wasn't a huge surprise. But that doesn't matter. I never cared who did it; I only ever cared about the thematic ramifications of the reveal. And Tim's involvement feeds into the theme of karma. Nancy has harmed many people in her wake, some directly and others not so directly. Tim lost his father and then his father's pension money as an indirect result of Nancy's actions. The fact that he's a character from the first three seasons only underscores the fact she's exerted a poisonous influence for a very long time.
Finally, I think the song choices in Weeds are genius. I love how the songs played over the end credits often shed a different light on an episode and the use of "Dear God" in the premiere was no different.
I'm hoping to review more -- if not all -- episodes this season here on The Huffington Post and on my blog at Intercut.org. Hope you stick around!
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