TV Club

Enlightened recap: Season 2, Episode 5, “The Ghost Is Seen,” reviewed.

Can Mike White please direct an episode of Girls?

Photo courtesy of HBO

Every week, Jeffrey Bloomer will have an IM conversation with a different fan of Enlightened. This week, he rehashes episode 2.5 with Molly Oswaks, a freelance writer and editor.

Jeff Bloomer: Busy episode: Dougie officially got Amy the dirt she needs, and Tyler got … a girlfriend? We need to dive in there first. I pegged Tyler a few weeks ago as the show’s unlikely hero, so I was more than pleased that we took a sweet, sad little dive into his head this week. How heartbreaking was his monologue about how he doesn’t mind being a “ghost”?

Molly Oswaks: Absolutely heartbreaking. I was especially moved by the hidden pearls: “Some pearls are never found. They hide under the sand on the ocean floor. No one knows they’re there, but the pearl knows.” I really love that they’ve been devoting these sort of episodes to the supporting characters—first Levi in rehab, and now tender little Tyler.

Jeff: Yes, and the show has somehow shaped these little vignettes into transformational moments for the characters. In rehab we saw Levi move past his addiction, if decidedly on his own terms, and here we saw Tyler—haltingly, and somewhat absurdly—forge real intimacy with Eileen. It’s really nice to see Molly Shannon join the show; she’s an old favorite of White’s from the lone feature he directed, Year of the Dog. But since there is a two-week timetable the show has set up before the basement department is put down, does that mean this relationship formed over … three days? For someone so invisible, he fleshed out awfully quickly.

Molly: Well, as Tyler told Eileen, his last relationship ended because the woman didn’t even think it was a relationship to begin with. I think it’s appropriate for Tyler’s new romance with Eileen to follow an unconventional time table. I mean, this guy is so clearly starved for intimacy and companionship—and Eileen reveals herself to be rather fragile, too. I am so rooting for them, albeit anxiously.

Jeff: Me too! And yes, how sad that Tyler’s last liaison was with julie_bitch. Eileen clearly said that all she wanted was a guy who is willing to level with her, and Tyler is certainly that. He proceeds anxiously, like you: “The ghost is scared” now, he says.

Molly: It felt very middle school to me, too—right down to Tyler bragging about however many hundreds of thousands of pirated MP3s he has. Aren’t you dying to take a look at his iTunes library?

Jeff: Tyler’s I DOWNLOAD MUSIC ILLEGALLY line would probably work on me, even now. Too adorable. But this episode was not the total Tyler lovefest I initially expected—we also got a delightful glimpse into Dougie’s early days on Team Jellicoe. It was priceless to see Amy sprawled out lazily on his couch to the collected horror of the office. And it was also a reminder of how fluid and surprising this show can be—as it turns out, Dougie really is pretty bright, and he capably unearths the dirt on the CEO with one well-timed mission.

Molly: Yes! Shoeless Amy lolling on Dougie’s sofa was perfect. So too was the scene when Amy excitedly thrusts a big ’ol bear hug on Dougie—the shot taken from outside his glass box of an office, showing how weird it all looks to the rest of his employees. I’m glad Dougie’s on board, because, yes, he is bright and skilled in ways that are proving valuable to Amy’s cause. But I smell trouble.

Jeff: Dougie is smart, but he is a brogrammer and a dork on top of that. That was the funny part of the sequence in the Abaddon gym where both he and Tyler try to court Eileen—though he looks surprisingly fetching in gym clothes, Dougie was just as much of an awkward nerd as Tyler, even if his persistence paid off.

Molly: Right, and the scene at the bar. Which opens with Tyler and Dougie playing some game on one of those touchscreen bar gaming monitors. They are both hapless nerds when we peel all the rest away. Dougie’s face when Amy explains that Eileen is, in fact, interested in Tyler—it’s so in character, in a way I hope we get to see more. His vulnerable side.

Sidenote: Amy’s gaucho pants.

Jeff: I’ve been meaning to mention Amy’s look. The attention to detail with everything else in this show makes me think her stripes and spring dresses aren’t an accident.

Molly: The way she dresses is as off kilter as the way she interacts with people socially. She doesn’t do it wrong—she’s friendly, means well, etc.—but it always seems a little … off. Girlfriend always manages to look put together, but also a little dated or too young. She either looks like a little girl at a tea party, or she wears a strong statement item like those gauchos (!).

Jeff: Ha, I figured that was the case. She’s contending with 15 years of corporate casual, in her defense. Quickly, I want to nod back to last week, when my chat partner Bryan suggested that Amy’s utter cluelessness had been taken too far. I tried to qualify that, but her suggestion this week that they snake through the pipes to get into the CEO’s office set of alarms for me. And maybe those ridiculous pants should have, too. Do you think he’s right?

Molly: So glad you brought this up. She says they should do it “like in the movies.” Really? It may just be Amy being Amy, getting wrapped up in her big Abaddon scheme du jour. That’s sort of who she is. It does seem like another instance of her naïveté being taken to the extreme, though. Then again, the hacking is really just as extreme, right? Except it’s all digital and behind a computer, so it doesn’t appear as strange?

Jeff: That’s true—it all wrapped up pretty tidily for them, as if backroom dealings with Congress are a matter of having a Gmail account off the corporate grid. I guess I’m willing to let it go because the details of the operation bore me.

Molly: Fair.

Jeff: One last thing: I was not surprised to find this exceedingly sweet, fanciful episode was directed by James Bobin, the nonactor creator of Flight of the Conchords. It’s nice to see his creative ethos still alive on HBO. If this does turn out to be the final season of Enlightened, maybe we can get Mike White to direct an episode of Girls next year? I can only imagine what he’d do with that gang.

Molly: Wait, do you think it will be the end?

Jeff: Given the continued ratings struggles, I suspect this may be it for them, which is a shame—once the scheme finally reaches its fuse, Amy would finally be untethered, opening a whole new realm of scary/awesome possibilities. Alas.

Molly: Alas, indeed.

Jeff: Let’s hope our Ghost stays alive.