If in last week’s episode the over-riding theme was about the pressures both children and adults face nowadays, then this outing continues on that and cranks it up a couple of notches with the expectations we put on ourselves and the ones that are put on us.
This is wonderfully used in our titular patient of the week, Manya Mabika, a Somali woman who was genitally mutilated and seeks the surgeon’s help to rebuild her clitoris so she can experience sexual pleasure and Christian is more than willing to help her test out the results in that area. Fresh from her stint on Friends (and prior to appearances on CSI and 24), Aisha Tyler shows she’s more than capable in a dramatic and sensitive role in which Manya’s plight to feel not only sexual ecstacy but to have her own personal freedom and growth as a woman. It wasn’t Christian who actually gave her that experience, despite his best efforts but it was Liz’s advice to love herself before anyone else could do so. Manya’s own self-discovery also played a paramount role in how Sean decided to handle his own sexual woes.
In Season 1, we’ve seen Sean and Julia engage in unsatisfying sex but it’s only now when Sean catches Julia masturbating, the penny drops and he realises they have a problem. Besides the introduction of a very pivotal character, Julia’s lack of satisfaction also hit a wall named Christian. As much as she berates him for hurting her she still allows him to depend on her and it’s when fantasising about him during sex does she come. Although her and Sean are actually communicating much better, trouble still seems to be rearing it’s ugly head. There is their unsatisfying sex life, Christian, a certain paternity test we haven’t got the results of yet and of course …
Erica, who is another cause for concern. As Ava put it herself – she’s a bitch, may be with a few pointers but still a bitch. She may want the best for Julia but does she have to be so bloody patronising at the same time? I’m glad Julia took Ava’s advice and gave her the boot but I can’t help thinking if Erica’s words are foreshadowing for some bad stuff to happen this season. As for Ava, first off – great casting in Famke Janssen and secondly, can we have more of her, pretty please? Although she only appeared in two scenes, her presence was still very much felt long after they were over.
And speaking of felt, I knew things were going to get ugly between Christian and Gina but my gosh, I didn’t think it would happen so fast but the whole niceties with the two of them in the first half of the episode should’ve given it away for me. They were getting along like civilised human beings, Gina was even open about Christian adopting Wilbur and when he refused to plant her with another kid, she lost it. Christian was right when he refused her insane demand. Gina is an addict and her transition from sex to babies is just as unsettling and to almost prove she’s as crazy as she comes, we had Christian and Wilbur walking in on her own personal orgy. I can usually give Gina the benefit of the doubt but here even I’m stumped and bringing in Wilbur’s real daddy, James Sutherland really didn’t endear her either. Here’s to the ruthless custody fight that awaits us.
Also in “Manya Mabika”
Other patient of the week: Elias Perry, a sufferer from alopecia has a hair transplant.
Christian (to Wilbur): “Do you hear that, Wilbur? Mummy says you smell so bad that she’s closing down Fort Bush. Good job”.
Gina now has an apartment but apparently no income. Is or maybe was Christian paying the rent for her and Wilbur.
Sean: “I hope you at least fantasised about me”
Julia: “Of course, except you were younger, taller and looked like Jude Law”.
I can’t believe women in Somalia have to go through genital mutilation. I also found Christian’s disgust in the barbaric quite moving too. So he does like strong willed women after all?
Ava (re Erica): “She is a vampire. She’s attached herself to your neck and she’s sucking the life-force out of you”.
When Sean first met Ava, he thought she was Elias’ wife, yet without being introduced he later addressed her as Ms Moore.
Manya: “According to my mother I am immoral and unclean and have made myself vulnerable to disease, drug use and promiscuity”
Christian: “I got the same letter when I went away to college”.
Sean: “Mr Perry, I’m so glad you’re a man. At least I know my way around a penis”.
Matt didn’t appear in this episode and Annie’s gone walkabout. As for chronology, I haven’t got the slightest idea.
Gina: “Wilbur’s going to have a little brother with or without you”
Christian: “You are goddamn sick”.
Christian (re Wilbur): “He’s mine”
Erica: “I can see the resemblance”.
Standout music: “Collective For Changuito” by Amampondo and “More Than This” by Roxy Music.
Wow, this was a delight. Three episodes into the second season and while it may not be the most pivotal hour other than the introduction of Ava, “Manya Mabika” is without a doubt a truly standout instalment that wonderfully plays on sexuality and self-expression with impressive results.