This is SUCH a good episode! At least, I think so. I hope I encouraged some of you to watch it, and I hope you got a lot out of it.
Something The Golden Girls never forgot is that 3 of it’s 4 leads were widows. Yes, they had wacky adventures, and they went on dates, but there was a lingering loss in their lives. You can have a comedy with depth, the best comedies have depth. And the reason we keep going back and watching this show and laughing at it, is because it teaches us to laugh in the face of, well, death.
These 4 women were survivors of death, dealing with the death of lovers, friends, siblings, etc. And they were in the last phase of their own lives, the next step for themselves was death. Which I guess is what makes them have adventures? Why not date bad men, or give an impassioned speech, or go to a murder mystery weekend? There’s nothing else coming, there’s no path for a future.
And that’s what this episode straddles. On the one hand, we have the Dorothy plot in which Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner fall ridiculously in love with her and fight over her. And on the other hand, we have the Blanche plot in which she struggles with her feelings for her dead husband.
It’s also just a brilliant episode construction. We start out with a funny but odd episode in which Blanche’s dead husband reappears and says he faked his death. Blanche struggles with anger at him for leaving her, denial that she cares at all, and at first wants to pretend this isn’t happening. But her fellow widows, Rose and Sophia, help her see what a blessing this is, that any time with the man she loves is a miracle. I guess some interesting conversations in there, and some fun watching Blanche fight with her husband and remember their youth, but overall what the heck? He faked his death??? That’s so STRANGE!!!!
And then it ends with Blanche waking up. And Rue McClanahan quickly acts out the emotions of shock coming out of the dream, laughter at how silly it was, and then turning to reach over for her husband and tell him and sudden terrible sorrow as she realizes he isn’t there. Silly Blanche and her silly husband coming back, it was just a dream. A terrible grief dream in which her mind tries to come up with a reason for it not being true. This is Blanche, the man-made woman, the one who doesn’t seem to care about anything, and here is a little glimpse at the deep pain behind every moment of her life.
Ending there would have been fine, a bit of an odd episode, but it was all a dream, okay, we can forget it. What brings it to another level is the choose to have the other 3 women come in. They heard Blanche in her sleep and were worried. And all Dorothy has to say is “Blanche had her dream again” and they all immediately understand and are ready to support her. This isn’t a one off, this isn’t something strange in their lives, their friendship revolves around all these little secret pains that they have shared with each other. This isn’t an episode about Blanche’s grief, this is an episode about how Blanche’s grief is a part of the daily lives of all 4 women.
Anyway, what did you think? Those of you who watched it? Why do you think it is such a powerful episode? Is it the performances? The humor? The twist at the end?
Or do you think it was a miss-fire, the mixture of depth and humor was too strange?