'The United States Of Tara' Is CrackerJack! Re-Cap April 1, 2011
Tara’s first day back at college dawns, and Marshall is filming the events for posterity. Neil, asleep on the couch, wakes up to Charmaine’s demands for breakfast.
Neighbor Ted accompanies Tara to the campus, where they both see that they are much older than the average student. Tara’s first class, Abnormal Psychology with Professor Hatteras, has her nervous. As she enters the lecture hall, she transitions seamlessly into alter Dr Shoshonna Schomberg, who of course walks straight to the teacher’s desk to deliver the day’s lesson. She introduces herself as Prof Hatteras’ substitute while he tends to a patient in crisis, and assures the students they will be stimulated.
Max heads to OrgaLawn, his competitor, to confront boss Larry with taking all his clients. Larry assures Max that it’s the economy, and that he’s not poaching clients, the clients are coming to him. OrgaLawn is bigger and cheaper, the customers need the break. He then offers Max a job as field manager, saying he’ll get paid, and have benefits and steady work, if Max will sell his business to him.
Professor Hatteras arrives at the lecture, and hearing Tara/Shoshonna speak, tells her to “Go on.” But his arrival sends Shoshonna back to being Tara, and, shamefaced, she heads for the exit, with Hatteras teasing that he wants to know how she was going to teach them how to “collectively assure” themselves.
Marshall’s in film class, where the teacher assigns a project, and groups the three gay kids (plus ‘one kid in a halo brace’) into one study group. The teacher says he expects something special from their group, maybe a little ‘razzmatazz.’
Neil struggles to do yoga with Charmaine, as Charmaine cries that she is fat, gross, and hasn’t showered in days. When Neil and Charmaine make love against the piano, Kate surprises them (and herself) to their mutual horror.
Later that evening, Max tries to assuage Tara’s embarrassment over the scene in the lecture hall. She says she’s going to have to tell the Prof about her condition, and beg for forgiveness, and that Max has got to be brave as well. Max is worried about telling Neil, his friend and co-worker, that he’s out of a job. Max’s grandfather started their gardening business, and he’ll have to have his mother’s signature to actually sell the business. Kate interrupts the moment to ask her parents for money to travel to Japan, so that she can get a job teaching English. They say no, as they feel she needs to think the decision over. Kate tells Marshall about her plan, and it seems that she’s managed to sell Mr Hubbard’s car for the cash she needs to leave. He’s more concerned about his future. Kate can’t understand why everyone was so supportive of Tara’s decision to go back to school, but won’t help with hers.
Next morning at the college, Tara confronts Hatteras, and apologies for her alter’s behavior. He seems rather unperturbed, and asks her when she was diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder. She says it was the reason she dropped out of college the first time. He tells her she owes him … a paper. Breathing a sigh of relief, Tara gives him the paper and leaves the office.
As Marshall grumbles to Lionel about being lumped in with the other gay kids in their school, Lionel has a serious question to ask; are they together, and in love, based on the simple math of there not being many other options available? Marshall is unable to answer the question. Later, while filming a scene set in the late 19th century, the actors segue from a gentlemanly scene to a guns blazing, gore filled, duel a la Pulp Fiction, to give their teacher ‘razzmatazz.’
Neil is happily excited to receive a large check from Max, until he finds out it’s because Max is selling the company. Neil wants to know how he’s supposed to live with a check for $500., and a baby on the way, and tears up the check. That afternoon, Charmaine surprises Neil, who is setting up baby equipment, by appearing in a revealing outfit, and telling him they are completely alone. Neil, happy to service Charmaine’s sexual needs, chooses a very bad time to tell her about his job loss. She tells him he has to find another job, and that his career as a gardener is a factor in her not committing to him. Meeting up at the bowling alley, Neil asks Max to write him another check to replace the one torn up, but won’t apologize for their argument. Max says he tried to get Neil hired on as well, but was unsuccessful. The two end up in an argument that seems unresolvable.
Dr Hatteras arrives for the day’s class, and begins to lecture about Disassociate Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), Tara’s condition, mentioning Tara’s behavior the day before. What if D.I.D., a condition rarely diagnosed outside of North America, doesn’t really exist, he opines. What if it’s an excuse, a crutch that severely damaged people use to hide behind to avoid facing the reality of the pain they are feeling? Or is it a performance put on merely to get attention? He specifically ask Tara, putting her on the spot, for her opinion, but she can’t answer. After class, Tara confronts Hatteras, saying his words were inappropriate. He apologizes, but she wants boundaries set. He says if she can’t handle the heat, she should leave. He calls D.I.D. junk psychology, and as he denies its existence, she transitions into T, verbally abusing Hatteras and several students. His only response is to laugh that the transition is happening, right in front of his eyes. But he’ll see her Monday, whoever she is.
T lurches home, full of anger and stories about her day. Kate tries to find Tara within T, asking what happened to bring T out. T says that Hatteras twisted up Tara’s head, claiming that the alters aren’t real, and that it’s payback time. As Kate tries to stop T from driving the family car, T says that she and Tara are working together, and that Tara wants T to handle the situation. T punches Kate in the face and grabs the car keys. As Kate and T wrestle on the grass, Kate admits that she needs Tara to deal with college, and begs T to not take this opportunity away from Tara. Tara suddenly reappears. As they lie on the grass, Tara tells Kate to go to Japan, and they embrace.