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Bored to Death Recap: Super Ray’s Cock

While last week’s episode celebrated the weirdness of Bored to Death’s central characters, “I Keep Taking Baths Like Lady MacBeth” was a trip through the funhouse mirror that is the rest of the world. A therapist who specializes in helping platonic friends rebuild bridges by having them massage her feet? Sure, why not? And better yet, let’s get Sarah Silverman to play her. George’s vocal coach suggests they smoke pot within two minutes of meeting him, sleeps with him, turns on a lava-lamp-type projection and dances up on a table while wearing a flapper dress? The only thing better would be if the show got Ted Danson’s real-life wife to play her. Oh, they did? Awesome. This show introduces new characters with a bang and leverages every possible comedic aspect of its recurring ones.

Take Louis Green, a peripheral character in seasons one and two, taking on the role of Jonathan’s literary nemesis. For a while, he was a one-note character who’d show up, say something menacing about writing a “Talk of the Town” profile in The New Yorker, then vanish. The more he caught glimpses into Jonathan’s exploits, the more he grew curious and critical. He was still painted into a corner as a character, only a larger corner this time; now he could say menacing things about Jonathan’s professional life and his personal one. Last night brought an unexpected amount of compassion to the proceedings: Louis Green lives his life as an outsider looking in as those he cares about openly disrespect him. He’s sad and loveless, having waited nearly 40 years in solitude to find someone who truly understands him. After the events of last night, he’s going to have to wait a little more.

This season of Bored to Death has heavily invested in Green, culminating in his work at Richard & Sons. He has nowhere to turn, and Richard Antrem has taken him in under the stipulation that he bus tables without complaint. Jonathan, desperate for a way back into George’s good graces, roughs up a low-level employee at Richard & Sons to learn that Green’s the one who has been getting the produce every night, the stuff that backs up Antrem’s claim that all goods at his restaurant come from within a 50-mile radius of Manhattan.

Having noticed Green and Antrem’s relationship from afar — Green’s need to impress — Jonathan decides the best course of action is to tail him on one of his nightly produce runs to a secret Harlem grocery store, have Ray, still in George’s good graces, call George to join them, then present the evidence sure to cement the three of them back together. Yes, to gain a friend, he has to leverage another friend and the sad emotions of a frenemy, but as the therapist had pointed out earlier in the episode (when he and George had attempted to go to friend counseling), Jonathan is a “pathological codependent people-pleaser.” This is just more of the “pathological codependent” part showing itself. Earlier even, before he and Ray were tailing Green, Jonathan had asked Ray to go into Richard & Sons to plant a tracking device on Green, a task he posits would be easy considering the two of them “did time together” a few episodes ago, even for a few seconds. This requires Ray to tug at Green’s heartstrings, and for Zach Galifianakis and John Hodgman to kiss on the lips. Green is being totally manipulated by Ray, who feels terrible about what he’s done. Yes, Jonathan also got one of his own friends to do some manipulating of his own, and Louis now falsely believes he has an honest shot with Ray.

It’s not the only thing weighing on Ray’s conscience. He had turned to Josephine, played by Olympia Dukakis, because he and Leah were having problems working their relationship out. Leah is the center of her universe, with Ray orbiting as the doting Park Slope mom. In Josephine’s universe, though, Ray is the center — or so he thinks. Because at first, it’s bliss. She doesn’t care that he’s a huge pothead, and when Ray screws her while stoned, he feels like he’s having sex with all her past selves, like a “harem, only one senior citizen.” It’s secretive and it’s glorious, and for once Ray has some control over how things are progressing. The problem is that it’s just not working. Ray clearly wants someone who’s going to be nurturing, but part of him clearly gets off on the unpredictability of being controlled, like a prisoner (aren’t we all … ). So when Leah’s cold to him, sure, he’s going to resent her; but the second she shows any compassion, he’s ready to come running back, tail between his legs. In last night’s episode, it happens when Leah decides to Google Super Ray, admire his wonderful penis drawings, come home during lunch, and blow Ray while the girls watch TV upstairs. In Ray’s world, everything is heightened, so this one act of selflessness toward him causes his world to start spinning, and he confides in Josephine that he can no longer live with the guilt of taking a woman on the side. “You have to live with the guilt,” she replies. Ray is the only good thing she has left. They embrace in a lush garden. The cycle continues.

Poor Ray, and poor Louis Green, falling victim to a surprisingly intricate plot concocted by Jonathan. Were he not such a desperate people-pleaser, Jonathan would border on evil after last night’s episode. After all, he has very big eyes and a propensity for high-energy shopping cart chases.

But back to the guest stars, because as if Olympia Dukakis, Mary Steenburgen, John Hodgman, Sarah Silverman, and Oliver Platt (whose character claims to be in the dark about Green’s secret produce runs, but we all know the truth) weren’t enough, last night saw the return of Patton Oswalt as Howard Baker, gadget salesman. He yet again supplies the machinery to make Jonathan’s exploits possible — all on George’s account, of course — and displays an eagerness to watch his handiwork be employed. Clearly he wants a piece of the action, a glimpse of the world where flappers and foot massages are the norm. He doesn’t have to look far.