Season 1 Episode 6

Barrel Bear

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Oct 27, 2004 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • We’re bobbing along in our barrel

    In which Jaye and Mahandra have a row. Or a row. Whatever.

    We begin with Alex telling Jaye to lose the ‘tude and buckle down to some hard work. “There’ll always be a place for you here at Wonderfalls”, he tells Jaye, much to her horror. Such is the mouthbreather’s mind-numbing tiresomeness, Jaye prefers to listen to the barrel bear who tells her to “give it back” just as an OAP is throwing a quarter into the fountain, leading once again to some water-feature coin related shenanigans.

    At first, this episode seems to be about the sorrow of old people; the 15 minutes of celebrity becoming the faded fame, before the descent into obscurity. Perhaps especially true for women, as their fame tends to be not about what they do but what they *are*. And particularly true in the case of Millie Marcus who may have been famous in 1924, but isn’t now and - as it turns out - wasn’t the actual first US woman to go over the falls and survive; that was fat plain boring old Vivian, who didn’t have enough charisma to carry off being a celeb. She just wasn’t pretty enough.

    Which is galling for Mahandra, since Millie is her heroine (Mahandra’s dad is the guy who pushes corpses out of the river) and therein lies her and Jaye’s argument. Mahandra wants the glare and fizz of celebrity and legend to remain intact; Jaye, who’s starting to relate to Vivian - stuck in life’s currents and destined (so she thinks) to remain all her life in Niagara Falls - wants to reveal the truth.

    Another person unsure of his place in NiFa (as no-one calls it) is cute bartender Eric. He may refer to Eric who lives in New Jersey and is married to Heidi as another person, but he’s still saving ansaphone messages from his wife, despite telling Jaye that he’s “totally available”.

    He sits on the fence in the Mahandra and Millie vs Jaye and Vivian argument, seeing that “the unscrupulous publicity hound who lied and slept her way to the top” is a quintessential American tale of endeavour and achievement (you can be anything that you want to be), but also that it’s a fabrication – Millie is famous for being famous, she didn’t actually achieve anything *but* fame. He is torn. He helps Mahandra whilst having a yen for Jaye but argues with her about her actions. He only comes together at the end when he chucks Other Eric’s phone into the Falls and tries once again to be at one with himself and his new life (but couldn’t there have been a better way to do it without the chemicals killing the poor fish!?)

    Mahandra and Jaye’s argument hots up as Jaye decides to help Vivian, not (just) because the animals told her to, but because she sees the fraudulent unfairness of the situation. As Mahandra is used to Jaye doing, well, nothing, she can only see it as a slight on herself. Vivian has become phlegmatic however; she knows the truth, Millie knows the truth, it doesn’t really matter if the world doesn’t - a fact that goads Millie into trying to do what she never did and which leads to the first of only two deaths on Wonderfalls as Millie dies of a heart attack after the stress of *almost* going over. Which ties things up quite neatly, Vivian gets to pretend to be Millie - she becomes as fraudulent as her and finally leaves NF to go on her world tour without the legend ever being revealed as a fake. Both Vivian and Millie are saved. Millie finally gets to over the galls in the barrel bear’s barrel – as ashes. A pretty American ending. And Jaye and Mahandra make up, although Mahandra still thinks Jaye is a liar.

    Postscript: The best joke in the episode is of course at Sharon’s expense. She and Darren are members of CLAW: Concerned Ladies of America West (East Coast Branch), which promotes “achievements and morality in family life in public policy”. Which is highly amusing since a) Darren is not really a lady and b) Sharon’s lesbianism is probably at odds with CLAW’s aims (“how long have you been using the Republican Party as a lesbian dating service?” Jaye asks her sister as Sharon chats up the woman who went out with Joey and then Ross in Friends).
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