“United States of Tara” mini-cap: Alice unchained

Sometimes, so much happens in an episode of United States of Tara that I can’t believe the show is only a half hour. This week, the aftermath of the tornado that weaved through the Gregson’s neighborhood was more turbulent than the storm itself.

Before we get into what happened, though, a gift:

Never, ever doubt that I love you.

Tara, after strolling down the street for parts unknown at the end of the last episode, wakes up in a cemetery, a few feet from next-door-neighbor Hubbard’s tombstone.

We still aren’t sure exactly what connection Tara has to Hubbard — just that something about his house made her alters reappear after a few months of peace. We get another clue this week, when Lynda P. Frazier comes to the Gregson house to borrow a projector and discovers a portrait of Hubbard in Tara’s stack of artwork.

Tara doesn’t remember painting it, but the sight of it causes Alice to emerge for a moment. She says, “I wish I knew why it was so important to him that we all went away.” She’s not talking about Hubbard; still, the portrait was a trigger. And interestingly, Alice was in control for just a few seconds. I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of quick back-and-forth before.

The portrait also presents an opportunity for Tara to bond with Lynda.

This connection does not make Kate happy. Lynda has become her BFF and she feels that, once again, Tara is interfering with her life. And she’s a bit disappointed that comic con attendees were not all that interested in Princess Valhalla. (Props to the props department for all the plugs for the return of Larry Marder‘s awesome comic Beanworld.)

Meanwhile, Marshall is still trying to break up with Courtney.

Nice girl.

Max’s main concern is more immediate: a Family Services representative is coming to interview the family to see if the kids are in a safe home — the result of Max’s unfortunate incarceration. He is panicked. The house is a wreck from the tornado; Tara is MIA, then when she does come home she brings Lynda; Kate is her usual angry self; and Marshall is in his room jerking off to a cell phone picture of a hunky guy.

Of course, right before the social worker is scheduled to arrive, all hell breaks loose. Alice shows up to confront Max about trying to poison her and the other alters with Tara’s pills. (She says she got a postcard from T, who is living on the streets in Seattle as a “gutter punk.”)

Courtney picks that moment to get the message that Marshall isn’t interested and brings him a box of mementos symbolizing all the “lies” he told her during their relationship. Marshall, in turn, picks that moment to find his words — and to unleash his personal storm.

He tells Courtney that he could never love her because he’s embarrassed for her. He kept quiet because he has learned, while dealing with a sister who is not as cool as she thinks she is, an aunt who is a narcissist and a father who needs to realize that his mom’s disease “will bury us,” to keep his mouth shut. It’s a horrifying moment for the whole family because of the truth of it all.

The horror triggers another alter. This time, Gimme, who screams through the house just as the social worker pulls up.

The façade convinces the social worker that all is well which, really, is kind of unfortunate. Not that I want the kids taken away, but this family is about to explode.

What did you think of this week’s Tara? Where do you think the season is headed?