“The L Word” Recaps: Episode 6.05 “Litmus Test”

Weaving a tangled web — As Tina and Alice verbally mastermind their caper, we watch it unfold. First, Shane asks Niki to attempt a seduction. Niki happily agrees — a bit too happily. Then pretend-manager Jenny (with coaching from Tina) calls Dylan to arrange a meeting with Niki at the Hit club. The hilarity of the phone-call scene includes Tina air-drawing glasses to convey Soderbergh and Jenny saying, “[Niki] is young. She likes to party. And she is a whippersnapper. What are you gonna do?”

Whippersnapper?! Get off my lawn, you rascally varmint, you! This show has aged us so rapidly, we’re curmudgeonly old men.

The other funny thing about the scene is Dylan’s T-shirt. What is wrong with it? She looks like she’s wearing a onesie.

The last step in the setup is for Dylan to call Helena and make sure it’s OK with her if she meets Niki at Hit. She does, and it is, and that’s it — the trap has been set, and now it’s up to Dylan to decide whether to take the Niki-shaped bait.

A different kind of trap — Later that day at Chez Shenny (which is back to being a two-bedroom house), Jenny and Shane kiss and cuddle on the bed and discuss the Dylan scheme. Jenny didn’t realize Shane was involved, and she isn’t thrilled to hear that Shane has had some contact with Niki.

As Jenny processes this, Shane brushes her teeth. Have you noticed that Shane is sponsored by the ADA? That jacket in the attic is actually covered with ADA logos.

Jenny: You can’t … you can’t do that.
Shane: Do what?
Jenny: You can’t see Niki. I forbid it.
Shane: You forbid it?

Ah gah. That is the best way to drive someone away, Jenny: you’ve truly mastered the art of losing friends and alienating people.

Between sloshes and spits, Shane insists that there’s nothing going on between her and Niki. But Jenny simply doesn’t trust Shane. She keeps needling and pushing and trying to control the free spirit she supposedly loves.

Shane: Jen, you can’t forbid me to see someone. I’m not 12.

It’s kind of weird that Shane calls Jenny “Jen.” Nobody else does that, do they? Maybe it’s a sort of subconscious substitution: it rhymes with “hen.” Shane is Jenpecked.

Jenny: I’m not being unreasonable. OK? When I think of the two of you together, it does make me really uncomfortable. And you said that you wanted our relationship to be different from all the other relationships you’ve had, right?
Shane: Mm-hmm.
Jenny: So we both need to make some changes, right? Which should be pretty easy, right? Unless you still have feelings for her.
Shane: What … I mean, I don’t get it. What language do I have to tell this to you in, so you’ll get that I do not have any feelings for Niki?

Come on, Shane. You know the answer to that: try speaking manatee!

Jenny just won’t stop, so Shane finally has to stop her.

Jenny: Then it shouldn’t be difficult never to speak to her again.
Shane: [exasperated and angry] You know, you gotta back off.

This scares Jenny, so she apologizes: “I’m wrong and I should trust you.” Shane claims this was all she wanted to hear, but I think she might also enjoy hearing something like, “Also, I’m delusional and off my meds, so I’m going to find myself a shrink right now.”

Alas, it’s quite the opposite. As they go their separate directions down a hallway, Jenny calls Shane back.

Shane: What?
Jenny: [peeking around the corner and waving like a little kid] Hi!

The national loony level has been elevated to orange, Shane! Report any suspicious packages to your … well, never mind. Nobody can help you now.