“The Comeback” debuted its second episode of Season 2 on HBO and with it, brought back an old character from the first season.
Episode 2 opened with Valerie (Lisa Kudrow) making a video blog announcing to all of her fans that she’s been cast in an HBO series. As she’s speaking, her husband Mark (Damian Young) walks into the room and we pick up his distain for her casting right where we left off last week.
“Why are you telling people that you’re doing that show?” he asks. “We talked about that.”
“OK, to be fair, you said ‘No f’ing way’ and then left the room,” she replied. “You left the listening circle.”
Valerie tries to convince Mark that doing the show is a good step for her career because there’s nothing more prestigious than being on an HBO series. One of the things that worked best about this episode, and that consistently works about Valerie, is that she has a clear understanding that HBO is so special, but seems to have no clue why HBO is so special. She mentions the network’s award winning show “Mad Men,” which is actually an AMC show that HBO passed on. While walking down the network's halls with her camera crew, she goes poster-to-poster spewing incorrect facts about the HBO's prized history including “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City” and, the incorrectly titled, “New Girls” starring Leila Durham.
After the show had fun playing with its meta elements, the plot moved forward when Valerie called a meeting with HBO executives to discuss “Seeing Red."
HBO agrees to use her footage as behind-the-scenes web content, but Valerie will have to cut her current film crew in favor of a union-approved one. Luckily, she’s more than happy to cut her amateurs back to film school. Unfortunately for Valerie, one of the executives was a fan of “The Comeback” and wants her to bring back her old producer, Jane Benson. Fans will remember this character from Season 1 as the producer who controled the cameras that we see Valeries' story though.
Played by Laura Silverman, older sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, Jane is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who is already disenfranchised with Hollywood -- She goes as far as to use her award as a doorstop. She’s quick to remind everyone that the accolade doesn’t mean anything since it couldn’t get her funding for her next project. That’s how Valerie is finally able to get Jane to agree to return to her spunky reality TV nightmare.
“I mean, I’m sorry but all I hear you say is ‘I don’t have money to do the things that I really want to do,’ and I’m here offering you money to do those things, and a do over with me,” Valerie argues. With that, she has her producer back.
Valerie is finally ready to take on the responsibility and acclaim that come with starring in an HBO series. Her first step is attending the Golden Globes. To prepare her, the network arranges an appointment with celebrity stylist Brad Goreski.
World’s collide when Valerie’s film crew clashes with Goreski’s, who is filming a show of his own. After an uncomfortable two-take greeting, Goreski offers Valerie a feathered dress that she later claims makes her “look like I fell asleep in a bird sanctuary.”
Still, the professional stylist is able to convince her with the slightly back handed statement: “You know what I love about this one is that it’s so modern, and I’d love to see you in something modern for a change.”
The scene was awkward and fun but ultimately led to a non-moment before cutting away to the day of the Golden Globes. Mark and Valerie arrived only to learn that HBO has only invited them to a viewing suite – not the actual ceremony. They entered to find a cavalcade of uncomfortable characters, including women who may or may not be “Russian whotes.” Joining the cavalcade is Paulie G (Lance Barber), who inquires about the cameras and asks the fun question we’ve all been asking since Season 2 was announced:
“What is this? ‘The Comeback’ Comeback?”
The two have a tense exchange where Valerie puts on her typical front and tells him that she’s going to do her best to bring his idea to life.
“Well I hope you can do better than that,” he says with a biting nonchalance.
The episode ends with Paulie G apologizing for his flippant remark before leaving the viewing suit. Even Valerie realizes that the viewing suite is a worse way to watch the awards than her own home. After staggering their exit with Paulie G, she and Mark leave the party laughing at their unfortunate situation.
The second episode of “The Comeback’s” return pulled at a lot of threads. It played its meta tricks with HBO, dove into Valerie’s relationship with her husband, played catch up with season one character Jane and jabbed at Valerie’s relationship with self-admitted drug addict Paulie G.
Episode 2 was very dense with stray plotlines. However, Kudrow proved that, through Valerie, she could juggle a bevy of scenes that carry both emotional and comedic weight without dropping a single ball.
“The Comeback” airs Sunday nights on HBO at 10 p.m. EST.