Tuesday, February 19, 2013

HBO Enlightened “All I Ever Wanted” #16 Be Careful What You Wish For

by Catherine Giordano

HBO’s “Enlightened” just gets better and better--the show is so insightful, so emotional, so revealing about the foibles of its characters. Episode #16 (aired February 17, 2013) is titled “All I Ever Wanted.” A great title—it led me to title this review “Be Careful What You Wish For.”  You know how sometimes you want something and you finally realize it is never going to happen so you start wanting something else, something better, and then you get it, but then you also get the thing you wanted in the first place, but you pass on it because now you have this better thing, only maybe this better thing will slip through your grasp and you will have nothing.  If so, you can understand Amy Jellicoe’s position. Actually, this scenario might describe quite a few of the characters on “Enlightened.”

Amy arrives as Jeff’s apartment, vibrating with happiness and breathless excitement. Jeff tells her that they have struck “freaking gold.”  (He uses language a little stronger than “freaking.”) He’s so pleased with the incriminating Abaddonn emails that she has brought him, emails that are like gold to a exposé-writing journalist that he says, “I could freaking kiss you.”  Then he does kiss her. Then he kisses her again.  Then they both pull away, and they both start talking very animatedly at the same time.

Amy is so thrilled because she feels like she is on the precipice of an exciting new life.  She is going to become part of Jeff’s exciting world of travel and fame and knowing all the movers and shakers of their community.   

Jeff is excited because maybe he will move up a notch or two in the journalism world.  He doesn’t feel that the newspaper he currently works for is paying him a “living wage.”

Amy and Jeff go to a restaurant for dinner and Jeff tells Amy about his divorce back in 2007. His marriage ended because “she wanted kids and dogs and I wanted adventure.  These things make your world smaller. I’d rather be single.”  

Adventure!  I can almost see Amy’s pulse start to race. Amy wants adventure; she does not want a hum-drum life. “What if you found someone who wanted the same things as you,” she asks. Jeff takes this as a rhetorical question.

Later, when they are back at Jeff’s apartment, Jeff asks her, “Do you want to stay over.”  It was exactly how Tyler asked Eileen to begin their sexual relationship. I’m glad I’m out of the dating world if this is how things are done today. Where is the romance?  Where is the passion? These men might have been asking their ladies if they wanted a Coke.

Amy goes all coy, and asks “What do you mean?” (Maybe she has noted the lack of romance also?) He kisses her, and says again “Do you want to stay over?” Ambiguity is removed. Amy wants to stay over. They make sweet love.

Amy feels that she is finally going to get the things she wants from life.  She thinks, “It is like I have manifested it.” (Do you hear the echo of her New Age-y rehab stay?).
The next day Amy calls Jeff and suggests dinner.  Jeff starts to beg off, but then agrees.  Amy asks him to pick her up at her home. I think I can see that Amy has a very different idea of their relationship than Jeff does. Does he want what Amy wants?

Jeff, initially excited by the prospect of a big story—something he has always wanted—is starting to get cold feet. This story is so big; there will be political repercussions. Jeff is under a lot of pressure. He’s feeling a little unsure now that he has gotten the story he has always wanted.

Amy is at home getting ready for her date when the doorbell rings. Amy thinks that it is Jeff arriving early. She is startled when she opens the door and it is Levi, her ex-husband, returned from rehab. He’s come straight from the airport to see Amy. Amy wants to get him out of the house—he can’t be there when Jeff arrives, so she suggests a walk.

Levi declares himself cured of his addictions. “I want to live. I want a life. With you. I can be the person you have always wanted me to be.” He tells her that he wants to have children with her.

Amy is very conflicted and upset by the unexpected arrival of Levi. She tells him that she has a dinner to go to. She needs time to think. She runs away from Levi. When she gets home, she finds Jeff sitting with her mother. Her mother has explained Amy’s absence saying that Amy just went out for a little walk. Amy’s mom wants something for Amy. What she definitely does not want is Levi. She has never liked Levi. Like Amy she is impressed with Jeff--this nice, handsome, successful man—a good catch for Amy.

Amy rushes into her bed room and her mother follows.  She breaks down sobbing. “I think I am having a panic attack.” They are sitting on Amy’s bed—Amy’s mother is sitting slightly behind her. Her mother wants to hug Amy, but hesitates with her hands in hovering over Amy’s shoulders.  Finally, she goes for it.  She hugs Amy.  Despite the estranged, often antagonistic relationship between them, Amy does not rebuff her.

She finally pulls herself together and leaves with Jeff.  As they drive away, Levi, who is standing on the corner near Amy’s house, sees them together. He knows that he may have achieved sobriety, but he may have lost Amy.

This is the “I-don’t-know-what-to-tell-you” moment of the episode for me. I imagine that I am Amy’s confidant.  (I even imagine that I am Amy.) What advice will I give Amy?

Jeff is exciting, but Jeff is an unknown and has made no commitment. Levi is a known and has made a total commitment. But Levi has been a disappointment in the past. Has he really changed? And even if he has changed, there will not be excitement and adventure with Levi. Both men have something that Amy wants. Both men have the potential to disappoint her.

How does that old song from my youth go. “Did you ever have to make up your mind? Pick up on one and leave the other behind.”

Did you ever get what you want and then you are not sure you want it anymore? Amy must decide between two men. Jeff must decide between two career paths. Take a chance on the new?  Take a chance on the old? Either way, you are taking a chance.  If you make a choice that doesn’t work out the way you want it to, there is no going back.

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Amy reads a letter that Levi gives to her when he unexpectedly shows up at her house back from rehab.