Wonderfalls: Muffin Buffalo

Object: Muffin Buffalo, Barrel Bear, Mounted Fish
Missions: “Keep ‘em here,” “Untied shoelace --- staple it,” and “Give the lady a chair”

‘Muffin Buffalo’ focuses on Jaye’s misadventures with her trailer park neighbors, including a former 300-pound shut-in (a.k.a., “mythical beast”) and a sweet older lady who bakes muffins. Jaye’s main mission seems to be to hide Mrs. Beattle’s disability checks --- even though Mrs. Beattle is on the verge of getting kicked out of the trailer park --- but this is pretty much the C-story in the episode. Jaye also has several smaller missions (saving a baby, preserving a former alcoholic’s sobriety), and she then takes it on herself to be nice to her former “prey” when she discovers he’s no longer an overweight mythical beast. The stories come together in the end when Pat goes on a muffin binge after Jaye spurns his advances, and inadvertently ends up reaching his target weight by overdosing on a non-caloric fat substitute that Mrs. Beattle uses in her recipe. Mrs. Beattle and Pat then plan to embark on a new business venture (he’ll be the Jared to her Subway) using all the money she’s unintentionally saved because Jaye was withholding her disability checks. And all is right with the world.

Aside from Mrs. Beattle and her titular muffin business, I really didn’t remember much about this episode. Nothing came back to me as I was re-watching it either; it felt like watching for the first time. All of which is pretty strange, considering this episode seems to represent an unconscious shift in Jaye’s attitude towards helping others. She’s still uncomfortable with the “nice heroine” image thrust on her by the talking objects (“Hey! Take that ‘thank you’ back! I didn’t earn it!”), but she clearly felt pretty guilty about holding Mrs. Beattle’s checks and was concerned when she thought Mrs. Beattle was missing. Then she took up the quest to reintroduce Pat to life without any prompting. “I guess I wasn’t forced to be nice to Fat Pat. Not really.” Her actions may have been selfishly motivated --- she wanted to assuage her guilt after Pat busted her for treating him like a subject on In Search of ... --- but it still represents progress. She doesn’t necessarily want people to think she’s a “baby saver” or “considerate of her fellow man,” but she’s no longer completely comfortable being thought of as an “evil bitch,” and she’s starting to develop an interest in helping others without being forced.

‘Muffin Buffalo’ also featured the continuing saga of Aaron trying to figure out what’s up with Jaye. The scenes in Dr. Ron’s office were a highlight of the episode, especially when he starts jotting down notes and begins to wonder if Aaron is schizophrenic. “Worried that your sister might be insane? Or that she’s not?” I also really loved the ridiculous string of events ---including the re-decapitation of the cow creamer and Aaron seeing the words “Cow Talk” in the partially obscured book titles --- that culminated in Aaron’s existential crisis at the restaurant. “I was fine when existence had no meaning. Meaninglessness in a universe that had no meaning? That I get. But meaninglessness in a universe that has meaning … what does it mean?” What’s a graduate theology student to do now?

Other Thoughts

Yea, Mahandra! Good to have you back. Always fun to have someone who knows and seems to appreciate “original flavor” Jaye.

We got lots of good bits with the extended Tyler family, including family game night and Jaye’s surprise lunch. Game night was especially amusing, with Sharon’s uber-competitive glee at finally doing well and Aaron generally making an ass of himself by trying to goad Jaye with the restored cow creamer and his drawing of a cow talking to a woman.

I also really enjoyed the little Jaye and Eric moments scattered throughout the episode. I can’t help getting all gooey when they look at each other with those shy smiles. Plus, I’m amused by Jaye’s continued efforts to straighten out Eric’s impression of her.

Jaye: “You’ve got the wrong idea about me. I’m not a baby saver.”
Eric: “Well, sure you are.”
Jaye: “I’m really not. Not unless there’s coercion, and even then, only if it’s convenient.”

But he won’t be swayed. “You have the wrong idea about you.” It’s so sweet that he just sees the good person within, despite all outward, anti-social appearances.

Jaye finding Fat Pat in her bed was a pretty horrifying moment. Awk-ward!

Jaye: “You got the wrong idea.”
Pat: “But our date! You were so interested. You introduced me to your family. I thought you were trying to impress me.”
Jaye: “You misunderstood. I don’t actually let people I’m trying to impress meet my family.”

Other passing bits I enjoyed: Sharon’s facial expressions during the family surprise at the gift shop and Jaye’s “tranny in the wheelchair” neighbor.

Quotes

Jaye: “What’s the point of living in a trailer park if you can’t take in the local color? And by that, I mean spy on the freaks.”
Aaron: (To himself( "We’re all spying on freaks tonight. (Louder) Talk to any cow creamers recently?”

Aaron: “If your portly chupacabra doesn’t emerge soon, I’ll be forced to go home and work on my dissertation.”
Jaye: “I don’t call him that anymore. He might be of Mexican descent. I don’t want to seem insensitive.”
Aaron: “What do you call him?”
Jaye: “Fat Pat. It was fat-squatch, but …”

Jaye: “I was feeling nostalgic. Fat Pat reminds me of a simpler time.”
Mahandra: “When you were more of a bitch?”
Jaye: “Or we could just say it was a simpler time and leave it at that.”

Dr. Ron: “Are you an atheist?”
Aaron: “As a theologian I find it irresponsible to define myself in those terms. But yeah.”
Dr. Ron: “A theologian who doesn’t believe in God?”
Aaron: “There are more of us than you think.”

Pat: “What were you doing in there? Harvesting hair from my shower drain for your pillows?”
Jaye: “No, I was just --- Eww!”

Eric (to Pat about Jaye): “If I had to order someone out of a catalog to be obsessed with me, it would probably be her.”

Jaye: “When did I become the nice one?”
Mahandra: “I was just asking myself the same thing.”

Darrin: “Do you really think your sister’s special lunch is the appropriate place for an existential crisis?”

Final Analysis: This one had its moments, but overall wasn’t as enjoyable (or memorable) as previous episodes.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

4 comments:

Marieke said...

Oh, how I love this show. I'm not sure if I ever thanked you for reviewing it, but I should have, so: Thank you! You made me watch a really good show.

I love Jaye, and the entire idea behind the show is incredibly cute :)
Love your reviews!

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks, Marieke! You did thank me for the reviews on a previous episode, but it is wonderful to hear again how much you love the show and are enjoying revisiting it. I've definitely enjoyed re-watching and writing about it. Such a fun and unique show. I still miss these characters.

Michelle said...

After watching it over and over again I still have to laugh about the scenes of 'game night'. The comments of Aaron, referring to the cow creamer were dead funny!

Fat Pat getting more and more excited about the game, saying stupid things. And the way all the other family members react on it, only the look on their faces. So funny!

The facial expressions are so strong, and I guess that's what I love about this kind of humor. The way they look when they say things.
Just as mentioned in the review about Sharon's facial expressions. All the characters have their moments.

ChrisB said...

While I enjoyed this episode and I liked the character development, I would prefer spending more time with the family, Mahandra and Eric. Having said that, there were several moments that made me laugh out loud, especially the chain reaction of things breaking in the psychiatrist's office. Not sure why, but that struck me as hilarious.