Birthday Party (Part 2)
Photo: Anne Marie Fox/HBO
Wow, okay. You knew Camping was headed toward some unlikely pairings in its final installment, but much of what goes down in the season finale is, for better or worse, a legitimate surprise.
Maybe I’m overthinking this but, Is Jandice basically Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Causing mischief in the woods, giving people potions — er, drugs — that cause drama? I mean, honestly, she’s the one who sets everything in motion; without her, Kathryn’s awful camping trip would have gone as planned and everything would’ve stayed at status quo. But with Jandice bopping about through the forest and messing with everyone’s lives, people, maybe, end up better than where they started? (Well, except for Miguel, who ends up giving a dude he hates a blow job and then driving home alone.) It’s really hard to tell, since everyone is pretty terrible.
What are some of the things Jandice does to rile people up in this finale, you ask? Well, let’s see. For some reason, she still so badly wants to have a relationship with Kathryn, and attempts to help the woman through her issues with Walt by giving her a homemade tattoo of Walt’s name. She only makes it halfway through before the two get in an argument, leaving Kathryn seething and branded with “WA.” She then hides out in a bathroom until Joe and Miguel find her and she manipulates them into giving each other blow jobs. And then she wanders out into the forest and comes upon Walt, who has just run away from Kathryn, trying to will herself to want to have sex with him. Jandice decides she’d like to give that sweet man the best birthday gift of his life, and they have very short-lived sex on a rock.
But she’s not done yet. Jandice returns to the barn and finds Kathryn there alone. She taunts her about her “WA” tattoo and that’s when Kathryn has finally had enough Jandice. She’s letting all of the pent-up rage out. The Wrath of Kath is back. The two women have an all-out fight across the barn, there’s lots of hay and pulling of hair involved, until Kathryn gets on top of Jandice and starts repeatedly punching her in the face. She only stops because Walt stumbles in. When Jandice finally gets up, she isn’t mad — not at all. She thinks it’s great! Kathryn felt something real and let it out. That angry, strong roller-derby girl from years ago is still alive and well. “You are not broken, sister. I showed you who you are,” Jandice tells Kathryn while bleeding all over her face. Kathryn has her power back.
And then Harry falls through the roof of the barn and the party’s officially over. As it typically goes with camping trips. Or, does it? Honestly, I’ve never been camping.
Jandice may be onto something with Kathryn, though. The next morning Kathryn wakes up and seems somewhat at peace. She isn’t micromanaging everyone’s departure. She’s not mad that Nina-Joy took off in the night on Braylen’s motorcycle. (She told George that she wanted him back, but he decided he deserved more — so Welsh pentameter it is for N.J.) She doesn’t get upset when Carleen tells her — not in a mean way, mind you — that she doesn’t think it’s necessary to do their scheduled calls anymore. When Kathryn sees Walt carrying all of their bags, like he did on their way in, she grabs a bunch of them from him. And then, in the car ride home, when Walt yells out that he “fucked Jandice,” she doesn’t get all Kathryn McSorley-Jodell on him. She cries a little and then holds his hand, and they continue driving.
I don’t know, you guys. Are we saying this is what their marriage needed, what Kathryn needed? Did she really earn a redemption arc? The show doesn’t entirely pull that off, as much as it does try to hammer it home. If you had told me that by the end of the season I’d be happy to see Kathryn and Walt holding hands, facing a real obstacle in a real way, I would’ve never believed you. But here we are! I just wish Camping had figured out what kind of show it wanted to be from the beginning.
Let’s be honest, guys: The true hero of this series is Harry. Oh, Harry. A very high, out-of-sorts Kathryn comes to collect her son in the middle of the night, but Harry can see it’s not a good idea. Instead, she has Kathryn lie on her lap and she tells a very lovely, heartbreaking story about her first love dying when she was a teenager and how Harry thought it would kill her, but every day she woke up and wasn’t dead. It took ten years of that for her to realize that she was more than not dead, she was alive, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s such a gorgeous little speech, and paired with her earnest, tearful good-bye with Orvis, it all makes me wish this show belonged to Harry.
Oh, and Jandice and Harry end up sleeping together and deciding that Jandice should stay there for a while. Honestly, that feels about right.
—Justice for Carleen! She does seem more self-assured, especially when it comes to confrontations with Kathryn and Joe, but I wanted more for Carleen, our “beautiful ruler of the realm.” Instead, she sort of makes up with Joe and decides that she’s taking him directly to rehab. She isn’t messing around this time.
—Am I the only one kind of wanting Carleen and Walt to hook up? I thought we were close when they were in Walt’s tent together talking about ending Kathryn’s Reign of Terror (“Are we going to kill her?” Carleen asks, still very high), but no dice.
—Hey, at least Sol gets a nice relationship out of it. She and her townie friend hook up in her tent and the next morning part ways, promising to Snapchat each other.
—Jandice laments that if she had stayed home this weekend she’d be a certified tanning-bed operator by now. Honestly, Jandy, that sounds like a way better deal than this camping trip.
—“I love you more than anyone, Harry,” Orvis tells her when he has to leave. Same kid, same.