Nip/Tuck Trips During Its Stroll Down Memory Lane

Wow, the final nine episodes of Nip/Tuck. You'd think this consistently off-the-wall show would be pulling out all the stops. What was the deal with last night's episode, then? Violent—I can handle that. Offensive—it's been done. But boring? This close to the series finale, that's just unforgivable.

I'll give the show a little credit for an interesting case. The patient, Dan Daly, suffered from Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by an excess of uric acid that results in violent outbursts and self-mutilation. Daly had chewed his lips off, which was about as horrific as you'd imagine, and he wanted a fresh start with a new (kissable!) pair. I felt bad for Daly, even after he stabbed Sean with a pen—actually, I was kind of cheering him on at that point. I didn't even mind the very obvious metaphor for self-destruction, because—let's face it—Sean and Christian are two of the most self-destructive characters we've ever seen on TV.

Care to guess where the episode lost me?

The flashbacks. The silly blue-tinted flashbacks revealing... nothing we didn't already know. Sean worked hard and studied in college. Christian had sex with a couple hundred co-eds. And? This was pretty well established in the first season—maybe even the first episode. Why did I need to see Christian introducing Sean to Sean's future wife Julia? It had already been referred to countless times. A bit late for showing and not telling, don't you think?

Sean's trips down memory lane were caused by his alma mater bestowing the prestigious Albert Poland Award on the McNamara-Troy team. Sean wondered how such an important award could be given to plastic surgeons—was he forgetting all the procedures that he and his partner pioneered and perfected? Sean and Christian have done plenty of "good" work. Why would Sean overlook that?

Maybe because he has an especially selective memory, and a self-serving interpretation of events. I hated how quickly he blamed Christian for all his problems—especially after Sean managed, in the very same episode, to have loud airplane sex and get in trouble with Homeland Security. But the show tried to force us into Sean's point of view by returning to the black-and-white dynamic of the first season: Sean is the good guy and Christian is the irredeemable monster. And indeed, Christian was pretty awful throughout the episode, knocking up the office decorator, smoking weed with college freshmen, and (it was eventually revealed) buying the Albert Poland Award with a $200,000 donation.

We've been watching Nip/Tuck for too many seasons to accept such a one-dimensional version of Christian. Besides, Sean has always had his own problems, most of which have nothing to do with his partner. (Remember Sean's anger-management issues? They certainly surfaced in this episode, which had him smashing the wall and his award with a sledgehammer.) OK, I'll concede that I enjoyed the homoerotic tension between the two. The scene in which a college-age Sean tended to Christian's injured bare ass in their dorm room was particularly amusing. But those moments were, regrettably, few and far between.

This was filler, and I expect better from an episode written by show creator Ryan Murphy. The only relevant (read: plot-advancing) aspects of the episode involved Christian's relationship with Kimber. Surprise, surprise, he's already cheating on his new bride. You know what would have been really shocking? Fidelity.

What did you think of the episode? Can Nip/Tuck still surprise us, or will the final episodes all be this run-of-the-mill?

Follow writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

Comments (1)
Jan 08, 2010
I can't agree about this black and white world that you're writing about - Sean was quite an ass in this episode (you mentioned the airplane sex yourself) and I still could think that Christian had some good intentions behind all this.
also, for me, this episode has shown the relationship of Sean and Christian in a new dimention, showing how much Christian needed Sean, that he knew about it and he did everything to keep him near - let's face it - he didn't copy the paper to get a better note - he did it so that Sean wouldn't go to Harvard and leave him behind

Like on Facebook