‘The L Word’ Season Premiere: The Unbearable Symbolism of the Swimming Pool

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"Just take a deep breath ... no, I haven't seen your Whole Foods bag anywhere." Photo: Courtesy HBO

We've always hoped that Ilene Chaiken was in on the gag, that she sees The L Word for what it really is: made-for-TV lesbian pulp. But then, there’s “Long Night's Journey Into Day,” the title of this, the final season’s premiere. A Eugene O'Neill reference? Honey, it’s time to wake up from your dream sequence. Still, what's more sensational than someone being killed for her Sapphic sins?

Floating On
Jenny is dead. Murdered! (But you knew this.) Bette and Tina's house — Jenny having drowned in their pool — is a crime scene. Has any swimming pool, short of the one in Caddyshack, had such metaphoric significance? In The L Word’s first episode of, it was in these same Cali-blue waters that Jenny spied Shane getting down with another lass, causing Jenny's dormant dyke DNA to start replicating. (Chaiken clearly has a thing for backyard aquatics, judging from her star turn in this Catherine Opie portrait that just made its way through the Guggenheim.)

We stay at the crime scene just long enough for a cop — played by Lucy Lawless! — to ask some questions. (Chug here for your Spot the Nineties Lesbian Icon drinking game. Speaking of: Don't expect Gina Gershon any time soon, but know that Elizabeth Berkley is slated to show up next week.) Shane and Bette, both wet, model some fluffy robes; everyone else just looks gobstruck. We then time-travel back three months, to the wrap party for Lez Girls. Jenny has just caught Shane doing a face plant into Nikki's crotch, Tina discovers that a new hetero-normative ending is being stitched onto the movie to please the studio suits, and Tasha and Alice are bickering about the state of their relationship in the wake of Alice admitting her recent crush on a random clothing designer.

Is the murder mystery going to send The L Word out with a bang or a bust? This plot point could merely move things along swiftly and efficiently, forgoing all art. Then again, the only art on this show has usually come courtesy of Bette Porter's gallery forays.

Hookups
• Tasha takes off to stay at a friend's place, and Alice follows. Turns out it’s the Home For Wayward L Word Characters. We see that Papi, who throws down keys for Tasha, is making it with the long-lost Gabby Deveaux. Our hopes that Carmen would pop out of the closet and Lara the sexy chef would be cooking in the kitchen are not realized.

•Jenny calls Nikki over in the middle of the night for what Nikki thinks is make-up sex. After a tumble in the sheets, Jenny reveals her motive: to humiliate Nikki by calling their dalliance a mere “showmance” (which Brody Jenner knows a thing or two about).

Processing
• Tasha and Alice talk about … about … zzzzzz.

• From the Confusing for Straight Folks Dept.: When Jenny accuses Shane of “fucking” her girlfriend, Nikki denies this, saying, “Jenny, she only ate me out.”

• Helena and Kit, who have gotten their new nightclub off the ground, decide on “Hit” as a name. Definitely better than SheBar, and it adds the scent of a smoking gun …

• Shane is kicked out of her house share with Jenny, and, like all Hollywood homeless, she schleps her possessions from hot spot to hot spot in a Whole Foods shopping bag.

•Molly comes looking for Shane to tell her that she doesn't care what her mother thinks, and that Shane is the one for her. Jenny then snitches on Shane, and sad Molly gives her Shane's Fonz jacket to pass along — with a special note in the pocket professing her love. Jenny puts the coat and letter in the same attic space where she hides her soul.

• Tina and Bette tussle over the moral ramifications of Shane’s cheating (surprise! Bette comes to her defense) and then make up when Bette pledges monogamy to Tina over a wheezing baby Angelica.