Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky
Humanity has managed to exceed the speed of light exactly once. That astounding scientific achievement occurs at the very beginning of this episode of Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky when Jax walks back his plans to propose to Brittany, immediately after revealing his intentions to Sherri and Mamaw. “It’s an idea. I don’t know if that’s what I’m going to do. It’s a thing that could happen,” he tells the camera. Jax being democratically elected president of the United States of America is also a thing that could happen, but I think it’s safe to say that it will not. (Then again, we could do worse. We have done worse.)
The bonfire party rages on, with the couple taking shots alongside Brittany’s friends, all of whom are seemingly single moms. “Here’s to snakes and condoms, two things we don’t fuck with,” they cheer. I am deeply impressed by the number of drinking-themed chants these women know by heart. The next morning, a hungover Jax isn’t sure if Mamaw clocked the large group of loud people doing an extremely terrible job of hiding that they were sneaking drinks out of the backseat of a truck. Shockingly, she did, and doesn’t waste any time in confronting Jax and Brittany about breaking her no-booze-on-the-farm rule: “The only thing I want to ask you is who brought the alcohol.” Brittany blames her friends, as was their plan. Mamaw may be disappointed, but she’s forgiving, provided they feed the cows as their “punishment.”
Mamaw demonstrates how to summon the cattle to eat, calling out a word I can best render phonetically as “sookay,” or maybe “Sookie,” if Winchester, Kentucky, were closer to Bon Temps, Louisiana. She explains that this means “suck calf,” as in, “come suck.” Go figure! As Jax puts it, “There’s just so many things on this farm that mean so many different things.” He does conceive a genuine agricultural innovation when he suggests that — rather than moving each of the 40-pound bales individually — they toss hay to the cows from the back of a slow-moving truck. The points he earns for this are perhaps negated by the song he makes up while riding in the bed of the vehicle, clapping along: “Farmer Jax, he’s on his way / To be the farmer every day.” But the work suits him. “I’d rather shovel horse shit any day than muddle a drink at Sur. Because you feed these animals, there’s no complaining, there’s no bitching. They just eat and they’re happy,” he says. I want to point out that if you really are dissatisfied at work, there are a wide variety of professions that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between L.A. bartender and Kentucky farmer (tennis pro! Actuary! Elvis impersonator!), but I digress.
As a woman’s voice on the soundtrack sings, “We’re not in L.A. anymore” — I am 90 percent sure this is not a real song — Jax and Brittany chat with her older sister Tiffany. She’s a single mom to two sons, 12-year-old Brayden and 8-year-old Luke. To Jax, it’s awfully strange (downright hypocritical, even) how the religious, conservative folks he meets in Kentucky seem to nevertheless birth a great deal of children. Of course, he approaches this contradiction in the least sensitive way possible, asking Tiffany, “Was it tough having kids out of wedlock?” She answers, “Um …” then explains it was fine because the family supported her. “And my mom put me on birth control as soon as Tiffany got pregnant,” Brittany adds. As she and Tiffany groom a mini-horse, they chat about how her relationship with Jax is going. Brittany says they’d recently gone through a period of bickering, but now she feels much better. She’s confident he’s the one.
Meanwhile, Jax video-chats with Tom Schwartz and fills him in on life in ’Murica. Apparently, he and Brittany went to a buffalo farm yesterday — a no doubt memorable excursion that you and I are only hearing about right this moment, and of which we see only a ten-second flashback. (Come on, Bravo! You’ve got to give us the goods.) “I could see myself getting bored really easily here,” Jax tells Schwartz. I haven’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about, because he and Brittany are off to take her nephews for an exciting evening out at the local Applebee’s, which appears to be at about 15 percent capacity. Luke asks Jax what he likes about Brittany, even though he already has an idea. “I know one thing: her feet,” Luke says. Jax’s fondness for feet is a matter of public record, you see, and 8-year-olds are better at accessing the internet than any of us would like to believe. Brittany, who genuinely seems very good with kids (though her boyfriend sets a low bar), will be the “best mother ever,” Jax says. “She’s ready to be a mom. Question is: Am I ready to be a father? I don’t think it’s for me. Not yet, anyway. Not at this point in my life.” Brayden, for the record, thinks that’s for the best.
At Don’s house the next day, we’re teased with another brief clip of an outing that Jax and Brittany doesn’t bother to actually show us: They went “frogging” with her dad, a pursuit that apparently involves moseying around in a boat and trying to stab frogs with a spear. They were unsuccessful, but Don managed to catch some frogs that morning, which he has waiting for Jax in a large barrel. The vibe is a little bit like Annie Hall’s lobster scene, with Don delightedly filming on his phone as Jax reaches in and loses his nerve. Brittany, meanwhile, grabs two fistfuls of frog without hesitating.
Under the guise of needing his help to move a large wood-burning stove to clean the chimney (who hasn’t used that classic excuse?), Don corners Jax for a one-on-one Serious Talk. As Serious Talks go, it’s actually a pretty nice one. Don gives Jax’s relationship with his daughter his blessing: “If Brittany likes you as much as she’s telling us, it’s good enough for me.” He just wants to make sure they’re “going forward.” It’s here that the conversation takes a truly idiotic turn, even by Jax standards. He tells Don he wants to marry his daughter, but that he’s worried she’s losing “the Brittany spark.” What does that mean? Excellent question. “Lot of signs of being depressed, overeating, and sleeping in late,” he says. “I just want her to be happy with who she is, but I have to fix this problem before I ask her to marry me.” This seems wildly false, and an extremely dumb attempt to get out of committing. “I didn’t fall off a turnip truck just yesterday, you know, so no, I don’t buy that at all,” Don tells the camera.
For what it’s worth, Brittany is by all appearances her happy, well-adjusted, and unreasonably patient self. Even if she weren’t — even if that bubbliness were just a façade for the cameras — there would be few ways worse to support your girlfriend through her mental-health issues than by whining on national television about how they cramp your personal style. But as always, entertaining the idea that Jax might be telling the truth is giving him far too much credit. Actually, go ahead and tattoo that sentence somewhere on your body, Memento-style.