Sometimes you just gotta get away. A family trip is good for the soul, whether it be to the beach, to the mountains or, in the case of the Botwins, to a carnival in Montana. A trip can be refreshing, allowing you to press the “reset” button. “Pinwheels and Whiligigs” did just that for Weeds. After all burning down a suburb, giving birth to the son of a kingpin, murdering a member of the Mexican political elite, running, assuming phony identities and running some more can be exhausting. (I know, those of you who haven’t kept up are asking yourselves “This is the show about the mom who sells weed, right?”
On the lam again, with Esteban’s henchmen temporarily out of commission and a trail of chaos in their wake, the Botwin clan (apparently still using their assumed name, the Newmans) decide to make a stop on their way East. Traveling through Montana, they come across an advertisement for a carnival and Nancy decides that spending the day there would be a good way to remember Judah, a roller-coaster designer. (Did we know that was what Judah did for a living?) Her real motivation, however, seems to be giving Shane one last chance to embrace his childhood.
Shane, of course, couldn’t care less about the rides or the midway games. He is more interested in bonding with his mother over their history of violence. “We’re the same,” he tells her and despite her protestations, she seems to agree. I take issue with this, though. The two are not the same. Shane has been a troubled, at times disturbed, kid for the entire stretch of the show. The desire to take a life came from somewhere inside of him, while Nancy’s violence has always been committed out of necessity, a reaction to external forces. Her biggest sin has been allowing every situation to spiral so incredibly out of control. Weeds is a show about the consequences of really bad decisions, and to position Nancy alongside Shane, as a person carrying some kind of darkness within them, in a way lets her off the hook for those decisions.
The trip to the fair is of course too little, too late. Shane has already crossed a line that there is not coming back from. “Its my job to make sure you don’t turn into a psychopath,” Nancy says. Well I guess she isn’t much better at that job than she was at selling weed. Shane has been a psychopath ever since sexy pictures of his mom enticed him to treat his body like an amusement park, and probably even before that. She didn’t come down on hard on him when she found the pictures and her reaction, or lack thereof, to this whole Pilar/croquet mallet situation has been startling. Here’s a tip, Nance. You don’t want your kid to turn into a pyscho? How about not treating a murder like a missed curfew.
While Shane and Nancy have a much needed mother-son day, Andy and Silas are doing a little male-bonding of their own. The dudes enter a “butter sculpting contest” that turns out, to their chagrin, to be a challenge to see who can eat the biggest chunk of a life-sized bust of a famous Montanan (e.i. Phil Jackson and Joe Montana) made entirely of butter. Like any competitor worth his salt knows, there’s only one way to ensure maximum performance; P.E.D.’s. And what better way to prepare for an eating competition than a fat joint? Loosened up, Silas vents a little bit to Andy, telling him “”I don’t wanna end up like mom and Shane,” and spills the beans about his plans to return to college. Andy is starting to feel a real kinship for Silas, he sees a lot of himself in him. (I would love a spin-off where Silas goes to college and Andy is the creepy, 17th-year senior RA who shamelessly hits on the freshman girls and dispenses odd-ball life lessons to the clueless freshmen guys. Doug could be an ethics professor. Oh, the possibilities…)
Going into the butter sculpture contest Andy was the odds on favorite between the Botwin boy’s, but Silas again proves to be the sole member of the family able to accomplish something without the use of subterfuge or bodily harm. He is still pounding spoonfuls of butter when Andy’s face is buried in a trashcan puking. Despite winning the contest, for tax purposes the Newman’s can’t collect their valuable prize without providing a valid Social Security number. And just like that, they are back on the road; a family drifting across a continent in search of (another) new beginning.