Nip/Tuck

Season 2 Episode 3

Manya Mabika

2
Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jul 06, 2004 on FX
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  • Aisha Tyler's breakout role. Episode summary in review.

    7.0
    This episode certainly had a few developments, including the introduction of Ava Moore, but guest star Aisha Tyler carries the episode. I didn't even recognize her at first when I saw the previews, but this appearance provided many opportunities. After this, she landed recurring roles on 24 and CSI. She credited this episode for helping her career. Even watching the teaser scene shows that she can do drama.

    Who thought Aisha Tyler had it in her? The actress, known previously for comedy, plays the titular Manya, an African model who was the victim of a violent female circumcision. Even a vague description made me cringe. Any cutting near that area for either gender makes me uncomfortable. It's hard to believe stuff like this still happens in the world, but it would be naïve not to believe it does.

    Christian and Sean offer an experimental procedure, wherein they take some of the skin off one of her toes, and use it to create a new clitoris. In the break room they argue over who will perform the surgery. Christian argues that his many partners make him the best candidate, but Sean argues that it needs to work too in addition to looking nice.

    Liz walks in, chiding them for not looking at Manya's condition from a human perspective. Throughout the episode, Liz's view contrasts with Sean and Christian's. The doctors have trouble seeing this aside from a medical perspective, but as the hour goes on, they learn a little bit more and Manya is healed with the help of Liz after her surgery.

    The day of Manya's surgery, Gina bursts into Christian's apartment with a soiled Wilbur. She's hysterically storming into the bathroom to clean herself off, leaving Christian to clean the baby. He takes to it, washing Wilbur while cracking jokes. This pleases Gina enough to ask Christian if he would father another baby. Christian doesn't want one, but he does want to legally become Wilbur's dad.

    Sean and Julia start the day passionately making love. They finish and Sean heads into the shower. Unbeknownst to Sean, Julia faked it and pleasures herself while Sean's in the shower. He catches her and she confesses that she's been having trouble achieving orgasms. Of course, this makes Sean unsure about Manya's surgery if he is that clueless about the clitoris.

    Both men gather to work on Manya with different mindsets. Christian is coming off a high from being the father to Wilbur. For a man as narcissistic as Christian, fatherhood has been a blessing. He's now seeing that something other than himself matters and it makes him a better man. Cleaning up a stained carpet is a pleasure because Wilbur gets a kick out of it. It's hard to imagine Christian behaving this way otherwise.

    Sean is reluctant to operate on Manya following the episode with Julia. How can he equip his patient with a functioning clitoris when he himself is clueless about his wife's? Christian advises that Sean try some different techniques to please her. It still doesn't ease his uncertainty over how this procedure will go or his understanding of women. Christian boosts his confidence by reminding him that they're trying to give her a shot at what the butchers took from her. It's enough to get Sean into the OR. They tie off one of Manya's toes and cut it off. This tip is then placed in Manya's private area. One thing they never explain is what they plan to do with her foot. Losing a toe would require some rehabilitation or a replacement. However, genital reconstruction is so big that everything else seems insignificant.

    Christian meets with Gina and Wilbur to discuss his adoption plans. Gina believes that Christian will go through with fathering another child, but he still refuses. He believes that Gina's addictive personality has shifted. She's filling that hole (no pun intended) with babies instead of sex. This turns Gina hostile, and she storms off with Wilbur in tow. Christian follows her to her apartment. There he threatens to cut off Gina from his support. She agrees to let him see Wilbur, but has a look that implies she has a plan.

    Sean sees an opportunity to help his wife when a patient, Elias, comes in regarding his alopecia. The hairless man is apprehensive about the procedure, but the woman he's with assures him to do it because it is something he wants. This woman is none other than "life coach" Ava Moore, played by Famke Janssen. Our initial impression is that she just wants to build other people's confidence with new age psychology. Elias certainly could use it since his condition has affected his self-esteem. This care for her patients sets the audience off guard for what she is underneath.

    Her confidence and ability to help her client provokes Sean to ask for her services. Ava agrees and later asks Julia some questions. Erica, in the room, criticizes Ava's style, bringing up her credentials. However, Ava is quick to point out Erica's shoddy analogy, which is the writers' way of showing us that she isn't just a quack. Knowing defeat, Erica stabs a piece of fruit and leaves. Ava advises that Julia needs to get her mother out of her life because she is a vampire. Ava is right. All her mother does is make her feel inferior about her life.

    Christian checks up on Manya, who is healing well. She's eager to have sex. He tries to help her have realistic expectations, but Manya isn't as in the dark as he believes. Though she hasn't had an orgasm, she still feels when she caresses her body. She sees Christian as a healer and trusts him to make love to her.

    Apparently, Sean and Christian bought their sheets at a bogo sale because both of them have sex with their respective partners on the same type of sheets. Either that or they did it on the same bed. Let's try not to think about the latter. Both situations play out similarly. Despite their efforts, the women can't be satisfied. While this happens, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" plays. I'm not going to criticize Marvin, but this song has been featured in so many love scenes that it takes away from the scene itself.

    As they're about to operate on Elias, the men talk about their experiences from the previous night. Christian's confidence doesn't waver even when Sean tells him that they can't tell if a woman's having an orgasm. They can make the physical appearance look great, but pleasure is a different place. Sean's thankful that day that they're operating on a man, something he knows.

    Christian and Troy examine Manya's clitoris, checking to see if she is responding the stimulation. Manya looks uncomfortable through the whole thing. The doctors focus heavily on the product instead of the woman it belongs to. Liz steps in and asks to speak to her privately. Alone, she tells Manya that to feel pleasure from others she must first know how to please herself. After getting the "circuitry" to work, she tells Sean that Manya wants to see him.

    Liz and Christian talk about Manya. She was initially disgusted that he slept with Manya, but she doesn't hold it against him because she asked for it. This goodwill doesn't exist for long when Christian suggests that he couldn't pleasure Manya because she was a lesbian. Christian can't comprehend not being a perfect lover. Instead, he merely explains it away for his ego's sake.

    Manya cries softly in her hospital bed. Sean asks if anything is wrong. She isn't crying out of sadness. She's crying because the orgasm was a release. After ten years, she finally experienced pleasure beyond her imagination. It was so beautiful, so liberating, that she feels whole again and able to forgive those responsible for mutilating her. The moment was like "God waking up inside of her". This simile touches Sean.

    Christian and Wilbur arrive at Gina's apartment early, only to find a sketchy man leaving. As they approach he bedroom door, another guy walks out. Christian goes in alone to see her having sex with a third man. Gina has been sleeping with multiple partners in succession because the more sperm inside her, the more competitive they become to fertilize an egg. Despite his womanizing, he can't stand to see it to this extent and threatens to sue for custody of Wilbur.

    At the McNamara's, Christian asks Julia to be the maternal caretaker of Wilbur. In this conversation about fatherhood, Julia gives Christian a look that confirms what many people have believed. Erica enters and makes some critical comments about how they're treating Wilbur. Julia doesn't budge from her decision and agrees to help Christian. Unfortunately, Gina has decided to play hardball by finding Wilbur's real father.

    Later she confronts her daughter about Julia's feelings. Erica knows that she is in love with Christian and has been as long as they've known each other. Julia takes Ava's advice and stands up to her mother, demanding that she leave. Her departure allows Julia to have the sexual satisfaction she's been missing, but she's gotten it by fantasizing that she's with Christian.

    Again, Aisha Tyler's performance carries the episode since the overall arc doesn't progress as much as it does in subsequent episodes. We do get glimpses from the arrival of Ava Moore and the departure of Erica from the McNamara household. However, Manya's ordeal is what's really compelling.
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