When last we saw the crew, Nancy was on a Segway, deserting the prefab house she’d drenched in lighter fluid; her “accountant,” Doug, was singing folk ditties about fires and rivers to a gymnasium of displaced suburbanites; and the town of Agrestic was burning to the ground. Now, as Weeds returns for a fourth season, ashes fall from the sky (tasting like “loss — and muffins,” according to Doug), and Nancy and her boys hotfoot it to a beach town on the Mexican border, thereby inaugurating the young season’s drug-smuggling plotline.
Nancy’s miserable frenemy Celia is in jail for crimes she barely committed. Doug, Dean (Celia’s paraplegic ex), and Sanjay (“the gay Indian”) have offered her up, pooh-poohing the idea that Nancy Botwin, mother and widower, would ever have a hand in the most lucrative drug business in town. (For all of Celia’s petty, hypocritical faults, we’re not sure how to feel about this malicious framing.)
While Celia is being picked over, Nancy shares caramel popcorn with Uncle Andy, Silas, and Shane (who has clearly gotten older) at a pit stop on the way to Ren Mar. There, they plan to take shelter with her dead husband's “bubby” — who turns out to be hooked up to a feeding tube, lying on a pink cot, and occasionally gurgling. Bubby's caretaker is Nancy’s father-in-law, a crass gambler and boxed-wine guzzler who calls Nancy “not Francie” in honor of the perfect Jewish woman their son did not marry. Andy hates him, and Silas and Shane don’t even know who he is, but he reminds us that these characters do actually come from somewhere. (About Nancy’s background we only know that she spent summers off from school sipping expensive drinks by a pool. We like these peeks into the formative times of our sparkly, impious crew.)
Pain-in-the-ass father-in-law notwithstanding, Nancy’s as nonchalant as ever, as if her meds have been upped. She seems to have given everything up to the universe — her house, her friends, even her kids — except the drugs. She’s all business now. Last season’s pesky questions (how terrible is it, really, that the man who loved her died to save her stash or that her preteen son knows that she's one of the biggest drug dealers in town?) have taken a backseat. “I'm a fucking drug dealer. There, I said it out loud,” she announced in the third season’s finale. Now, whatever sprinklings of shame she had last season are quickly dissipating.
This truly is midsummer madness, tragic and comic: a broken family on the run, a dying woman spouting wisdom, a comic duo toasting the wicked demise of their ex-mistress, an ex-mistress repenting in the face of her wicked demise, and a handful of neglected children relishing the life of petty crime and revenge that lies ahead. —Emma Pearse