Recaps for Enlightened

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Season finale review: 'Enlightened' - 'Agent of Change'

HitFix's Alan Sepinwall reviews "Agent of Change," the season finale of HBO's "Enlightened," starring Laura Dern and created by Mike White. //

Review: 'Enlightened' - 'The Ghost Is Seen'

HitFix's Alan Sepinwall reviews "The Ghost Is Seen," the February 10 episode of HBO's "Enlightened," in which Mike White and Molly Shannon shine in a Tyler-centric episode. //

Enlightened Recap: Straight to the Top

"You've changed, you've changed, you really have," Levi tells Amy at the start of this, the season one finale of Enlightened (which may or may not be renewed for a second season). It's a powerful few words from a sweaty, strung-out ex-husband, huddled in a chair in Amy's bedroom at three in the morning on a random weeknight. But God, he's right! And the reason he's here, having broken down the door to Helen's house in his desperation, might have something to do with the fact that in order to finally recognize he needed help, he needed someone like Amy to show him what a person who has gone to rehab and come back better actually looks like. Levi said back in the rafting trip episode that he doesn't want to be saved, and it followed that Amy did much more witnessing than acting or reacting in Levi's life since.  It worked. Not that things are perfect now. In fact, as she's kneeling there, serene and saintly, listening to Levi as he accepts rehab as the answer, she says, "You don't know how happy I am." Classic Amy choice; definitely not the right thing to say. Levi, all wet and gross and exhausted, his face buried in his hands, scoffs, and says, "Well, I'm glad you're happy. Because I want to die." Read More... //

'Enlightened' - 'Burn It Down': Hack attack

HitFix's Alan Sepinwall reviews the first season of HBO's "Enlightened," the half-hour drama starring Laura Dern as a corporate executive adrift after time spent at a spiritual retreat. //

Enlightened Recap: Mom’s-Eye View

In a generous twist, the penultimate episode of this season of Enlightened takes us outside Amy’s head and inside her mother Helen’s. It’s an extraordinary thing. Switching perspectives from our self-involved heroine is a useful way to, among other things, remember how self-involved our heroine is. But this shift in point of view does a lot more, actually changing the whole pace and atmosphere of the show. We’ve seen glimpses of Helen’s world before — the quiet, the loneliness, the rose garden, the sunsets. But these glimpses have almost always been interrupted by Amy, by a reaction from Amy, or by Amy’s sudden arrival home from work. And they’ve also been interrupted by Helen’s reactions to Amy, who often elicits some pretty sharp, impatient, and cold words from her mother. The two live like an old married couple, so used to each other that respect has been replaced with impatience, exchanges limited to sharp questions and quibbles. Helen’s dog, it goes without saying, gets more love than Amy does. Read More... //

Enlightened Recap: Occupy Abaddonn

This program arose from two things: Mike White’s interest in telling a story about a mental breakdown, inspired by his own experience, and Laura Dern’s interest in telling a story about activism, inspired by the 2008 Obama campaign. That the United States in the fall of 2011 has also been the setting for an activist movement on a scale not seen in many, many moons means that Dern’s idea makes even more sense and is suddenly more embraceable. Plus, White and Dern are melding their visions in a way that is actually working. This eighth episode deals with activism the most, and abandons the obnoxious and catty and self-righteous aspects of having a cause, like those witnessed during Krista’s baby shower a few episodes back. Amy’s display about WAA then was out of control, because no one wants someone else’s cause shoved in their face, especially in a setting like that. And yet a certain amount of push is required for people to realize that a cause is worth doing something about, either for someone else’s benefit or for their own. There’s a time and a place: that was the lesson last time, and now Amy seems a little more clear on what’s needed to make other people get involved. But still, not completely clear. For her, the time is now. Read More... //

Enlightened Recap: Monkey Men

Near the end of this episode, Amy is in Tyler’s car, talking about herself again. "Are you looking for something that’s missing?" she asks herself out loud, wondering why she’d gone over to Levi’s house in the middle of the night at the beginning of the episode. She’s trying to explain to Tyler that she rejected his unexpected and awkward late-night advances at Cogentiva the day before partly because she’s still not over her ex. But then, in a pivotal line, she asks, "Why does something always have to be missing?" Something is technically not present — romantic love — but is it really "missing"? In this episode, Amy challenges herself to stop thinking of voids, to appreciate what does exist, to appreciate it so much that there is no real room for anything else. She had been doing this anyway. What set her temporarily off course was a prescient bad dream about searching for Levi in her mother’s house during a party attended by almost everyone she knows. After the dream, she calls Levi and goes over to his house, she’s "always welcome" there, but all they do is cuddle. Perhaps that’s the end of that. But then the next day, talking to Krista about setting up Dougie with someone, to get Dougie off her back, Krista suggests that it’s Amy who needs to be set up. Amy is miffed. "Don’t you want some love in your life?" Krista asks. "Don’t I have love in my life?" Amy responds. "I don’t know, do you?" Read More... //

Enlightened Recap: Doodles of Flowers

The thing about casting: It can be so surprising that it makes the production in question even more comforting than it already is, being fictional and colorful and, in the case of Enlightened , relatable. When Robin Wright’s wise and beautiful face shows up at the beginning of this week’s episode, we are as excited as Amy is — just that she’s here, but also in anticipation of what she will do while here. Wright plays Sandy, whom Amy met at the treatment center in Hawaii. Sandy is in town to teach a yoga intensive, and Amy insists that she stay with Amy at her mother’s house. It turns out Sandy has become something of a healer since her own breakdown, which was caused by a longtime, high-stress job as a government speechwriter. Now Sandy has that lovely, subtly bronzed glow of the truly at peace, or just comparatively at peace. But Amy isn’t at all knocked down when Sandy swans in with advice on low-acid diets and a knack for getting reticent, repressed types like Amy’s mom and Levi to open up to her, seeming so ahead in the recovery process, somehow better at it. But there are hints of strain, tremors from below, from the very start of the episode. Read More... //

Enlightened Recap: Shadows Under the Water

It’s business as usual in the fourth episode of Enlightened : We’ve been made uncomfortable. Rom-com moments are followed by a higher quantity of tearjerker-drama moments. Brief peace is interrupted. Bouts of energy and enthusiasm are answered with despair and rage. Luke Wilson’s Levi comes back on the scene to join Amy on an impromptu river-rafting trip, only to ruin the whole thing by bringing a stash of drugs with him. But don’t blame the writers for this grievous twist. Blame the characters. Of course Levi brought drugs on the trip. He’s an addict. What better way to convey addiction than to be realistic about it? To suggest that it may be impossible for Levi to ever accept help. To suggest that, for Levi, being out in nature, away from Los Angeles, is great, but being on drugs out in nature is even better. To convey through Luke Wilson’s onscreen pain and desperation that this state of mind is not so hard to understand. We go there with him. Or, at the very least, we go with Amy to her place of pain, lying on the bed in the murky dawn light of the motel room, watching Levi come down from a coke-and-beer cocktail. This is the result of Amy dumping Levi's drugs in the river and Levi having to go buy new ones, and Amy coming with him, because the weekend is still about them. But what is Amy trying to achieve here? Read More... //

Enlightened Recap: The Haves and Have-Nots

It was certainly sly about it, but this week eventually became the best episode of Enlightened so far. The way things were going, I wasn’t expecting we’d get a searing examination of working (or non-working) life in contemporary America, a depressing look at what we often have to do to stay above water, how normal we have to try to seem, how isolating work can be, how lonely we have to pretend we’re not. Corporate life, yes, that’s been covered here. Unfulfilling work, too. But this week went deeper than that. To put it another way, maybe Amy was on her way to being one of the one percent, but she’s now firmly in the 99 camp, and not just because she was forced to be. Things do start off, as before, at a seeping pace, with another voice-over from Amy that moves so soothingly and metronomically that we can only assume we’re being let in on a new morning, pre-descent-into-Abaddonn meditation ritual. But this time, Amy isn’t giving us an uplifting mantra or bright-eyed plans for the future, as in the previous two weeks. Instead, she’s saying something dark and honest: Sometimes, "late at night," she begins, "visited by dread and shame, I lie in bed and think of somebody else’s life." We join Amy as she travels in her imagination through her former assistant Krista’s life. The camera plays along, showing Amy watching as Krista shares a lighthearted conversation with her husband while cooking dinner; showing Amy standing in their bedroom in her PJs while Krista and her husband have sex; Amy watching as Krista opens gifts at her baby shower, surrounded by loving family and friends; and so on. "I imagine the love that they’re getting," Amy continues, "and the relief that comes from being really known, the private pleasures they share, the friends they have, and the pressures they don’t. Their sense of importance, the satisfaction of their work … " //