Just when One Mississippi starts to spin its wheels, its fifth episode proves just unpredictable enough to keep things interesting. The show finally seems to understand its characters, and while I wish it were clearer from the outset, “How ‘Bout Now, How ‘Bout Right Now,” does the audience the service of being clear about how, exactly, it views Tig and family.
Tig arrives at the studio and flirts with Kate, who reveals that she has a boyfriend. Tig is surprised and a little disappointed, but soldiers on to do her radio show. She starts to tell the story of a game she used to play with her friends called “How ‘Bout Now, How ‘Bout Right Now,” in which you had to do something fun immediately after someone said the magic words. Kate interrupts Tig to say the story doesn’t really speak to her because she doesn’t like people who pride themselves on spontaneity. This twist — that Kate maybe totally sucks — is fun and pretty unexpected. And it would serve Tig right for leaving Brooke.
Speaking of, Tig and Brooke apparently genuinely broke up. Bill still seems incredibly concerned about his daughter-in-law, insisting that she and Remy come home for dinner. Tig has plans with the hot reporter, Jessie, whose apartment is full of pictures she painted of herself and Bea Arthur. Jessie wants to have sex with Tig, but Tig isn’t comfortable with her body yet. Confronted with the scars, Jessie declares Tig “so fucking sexy” and they proceed to hook up. Later, they go for a walk and Jessie steals some chocolate off a stranger’s porch. When the owner of the house comes out, Jessie convinces him that she’s a doctor and she’s treating a diabetic Tig.
Meanwhile on the Civil War reenactment battlefield, Remy lends a hand to a fake-injured soldier, and Vicky, the nurse who flirted with him at the Mardi Gras party, steps in to help. After the injured soldiers come “back to life,” they realize they are both going to the post-battle party that night. Back at the family house, Tig hasn’t shown up for the nice dinner Bill cooked. Remy tries to force conversation but Bill is a cold fish, conversationally speaking, visibly upset that Tig stood him up. Rather than continuing to force conversation, Remy leaves dinner early to go to the party, where he and Vicky flirt over facts about toasting in medieval times. Vicky reveals that she knows her nickname used to be “Vicky the Keg.” She forgives Remy for bullying her, because she understands that bullies are just compensating for things happening in their own lives, but it’s clear Remy hadn’t done the work on himself that she has on herself. Remy tries to kiss her, and she summarily rejects him.
While getting snow cones with Jessie, Tig runs into her biological father’s son, Dominic, who is break-dancing near the snow-cone stand, which he built himself. As Jessie drives them home, Tig realizes she still has to deal with the boxes that Brooke left her. She explains her situation to Jessie, who seems nervous that a new fling wants commitment.
When Tig comes home, Bill gives her a full-fledged disappointed-dad monologue. After the molestation argument at the parade, Bill had wanted to “mend fences” over dinner, but Tig doesn’t seem interested in mending anything. “You don’t seem to comprehend the impact all of this has had and continues to have on my life and Remy,” she says. Bill seems content to stay in the dark, so Tig lashes out and tells him about Dalton. Bill shocks Tig and Remy when he admits that he knew about the affair, about Dalton, about everything, but he was devoted to their family: “Marriage, Tig, is a commitment. I was devoted to your mother and to you and your brother. The three of you were my responsibility.” Bill defends himself, saying that they had no idea what was happening under their roof. Tig flashes back to a memory of her mother trying to force her to say good-bye to her grandfather. Teenage Tig tells Caroline what’s been going on and Caroline registers shock, although it’s unclear what she did afterward.
Later, Tig texts Jessie to tell her about the fight with Bill. Jessie doesn’t text her back. If this plot is making room for Brooke’s return, that would be a bold move. Remy takes Vicky out for coffee and apologizes; Vicky tells him it’s never too late to change. She tries to get him to attend church, and tells him how much religion has changed her life.
That night, Jessie blows off the Ferron concert she and Tig planned to attend together. As Tig listens, alone, processing what she’s hearing by herself, we fade to credits.
I’m a fan of One Mississippi leaning into Tig’s selfish behavior. True, it comes from a place of self-preservation — and I really like that the show doesn’t try to sanctify Tig because she’s a survivor of both cancer and sexual abuse — but she knows better and chooses not to be better. Her cruelty to others is impulsive. The way she abruptly breaks up with Brooke, for example, or the venom with which she hurls the “revelation” of Caroline’s second family at Bill. In showcasing this kind of behavior, “How ‘Bout Now” brings Tig’s flaws into focus as, well, flaws. Before this episode, the show treated her misdeeds as quirks, the toothless cousins of flaws. And by having Vicky swiftly take down Remy, it seems to reinforce the idea that an unfortunate past does not justify hurtfulness or bullying.
One Mississippi is exploring interesting territory, even though I continue to think it should have been a movie instead of a series. We’ve got only one episode left for everything to get wrapped up. It’s been an uneven journey, but I’m hopeful the end will justify the means.