Raines: Reconstructing Alice

“We’re all mad here, aren’t we?”
“I don’t know, Alice. Maybe we are.”

The more reviews I write about this show, the angrier I get that it was canceled.

Frequent guest star of many things Laurie Metcalf appears this week as Alice, a homeless woman with a mysterious stock portfolio. While our first two victims, Sandy Boudreaux and Julio Santiago were interesting characters, Alice is the first victim who really causes Raines to examine himself, his life, and the possible implications of his hallucinations.

Raines relates to Alice in a way that really bothers him. He sees her and her brethren living on the street and knows that he isn’t too far away from ending up as one of them. Dr. Kohl points out to Raines that homeless people represent what we fear most. They’re rejected from society, ignored, forgotten, or despised. Needless to say, Raines does not want to end up like Alice.

Frustrating Raines further is the fact that there is no concrete reason Alice ended up on the street. From her son’s information, it’s clear she had some mental problems, but what was it that finally caused her to abandon her family and move to Los Angeles to set up housekeeping in a cardboard box? Raines relaxes some when he temporarily believes that Alice did what she did out of grief over her son and husband. If that were the case, not only is there a definitive answer to the question ‘Why?’ but it is a situation Raines can be assured of avoiding. He has no spouse and no children.

Raines’s opinion of Alice can be charted with relative accuracy in how he imagines her. She begins the episode in her homeless person wear only to transition to a series of demeaning costumes (the French maid and the parts store employee, although they are demeaning in different ways). Once he realizes that Alice was a victim of identity theft, he allows her to wear something normal. After her son shows up and Raines learns the truth, Alice is back in her initial outfit until her funeral when Raines finally forgives her and lets her go.

The funeral is just a beautiful scene. I love that Alice’s son tells Raines that they should do whatever they usually do with homeless people for her. I don’t know for sure, but I kind of doubt every anonymous homeless person in LA gets their ashes spread at a place emotionally significant for them by the cop who worked tirelessly to solve their murder. It was heartbreaking but understandable that Alice’s son did not attend her makeshift funeral. Mickey Russo, her ex-boyfriend, does attend, which is quite touching.

Another standout moment of the episode was the ‘Mad Tea Party.’ Raines, drinking alone while hallucinating he is at a tea party with a recently murdered homeless woman is one of the more disturbing scenes the show attempted. Until now, Raines’s hallucinations have been presented as rather harmless, even comical. This makes it clear: Raines is not healthy and might be headed into danger.

Bits and Pieces

The show is centered in Venice again this week. Ocean Park, which is between Venice and Santa Monica, is mentioned, and Kitman’s car is found in Westchester, which is near LAX.

This episode contains the first mentions of Raines’s insomnia and of his ex-wife.

Raines makes another reference to Raymond Chandler. This time it’s The Big Sleep, one of Chandler’s best known works.

Blink and you’ll miss ‘em: Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel & Oates, Much Ado About Nothing) plays Tammy, Traeger’s assistant; Jim Parrack (Hoyt Fortenberry from True Blood) plays Alice’s son.

I haven’t yet mentioned how much I like the voiceovers. I’m not a big fan of the format in general (as Abed says, it’s sort of a crutch), but in Goldblum’s voice, they sort of class up the joint.


Asshole: “A million five to buy in this neighborhood. Look who’ve I got for neighbors.”
Raines: “The homeless?”
Asshole: “I pay through the nose for ocean view and clean air. They get the same thing for free.”
If there were karma in the world, that man would be killed by something falling from space.

Alice: “I’d like to see what you’d look like after a few years on the street.”
Raines: “We keep talking like this, you’re gonna get your wish.”

Raines: “What did you do, play the stock market?”
Alice: “How do you think I got where I am today?”

Dr. Kohl: “Can you imagine her there?”
Raines: “No.”
Alice: “Liar!”

Raines: “What happened to you? How’d you get like this? Picking at dumpsters? Living on the street? It’s, uh, disgusting. It’s annoying. You know, I know that times can be tough. Bad things happen. Kinda want to escape. You have mental challenges, mental quirks. Wanna go a little crazy. Hey, join the club. Who doesn’t? But, what, it’s not your fault? ‘It’s not my responsibility. It’s unavoidable.’ Next thing you’re gonna tell me, it’s a disease. Everything’s a disease. Everything’s a disease. I can’t stop eating. I can’t stop thinking. Is there no such thing as self control? Is there no willpower? Don’t put your so called problems on display. Have some dignity. Cut it out.”
I don’t agree, but this speech stuck with me for quite a while.

Lance: “Look, I don’t think women should use their bodies as weapons, but...”
Raines: “But it works. I got the scars to prove it.”

Captain: “Feed your greed?”
Raines: “That’d look good monogrammed on your smoking jacket. Right over the pocket, I think.”

Traeger: “I hired her ‘cause she was gorgeous. Who knew she was smart too?”

Alice: “I still think Traeger did it. Kitman’s just a patsy.”

Raines: “Lee Oswald was a patsy. Kitman’s a suspect.”

Alice: “Isn’t it funny how some crazy people end up on the street and some end up on TV?”

three and a half out of four French maid costumes
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


Billie Doux said...

If there were karma in the world, that man would be killed by something falling from space. You and me both.

Laurie Metcalf was wonderful and I hadn't noticed but you're right about her progression of costumes. The scene that got to me, though, was that Mad Hatter dinner party. I thought, OMG, this isn't just a cute twist. He's really going nuts. He's going to end up committed if he doesn't tell his beautiful Madeleine Stowe of a therapist the truth and get help.

ChrisB said...

A touching episode. My heart broke a little bit during the tea party. How terrifying it must be to truly suspect you are on the edge of madness.