'Weeds' Gets Existential With Rabbi Dave

The Showtime hit dramedy, “Weeds,” returned for its eighth and final season yesterday, starting off with a bang. Literally.

Fans of the show will recall that it finished last year with a cliffhanger: a rifle aimed at protagonist Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker). Would Nancy be shot? Would the assassin switch to another target before pulling the trigger? Or was it all a dream sequence?

Image: Jordin Althaus/Showtime

Nancy was indeed the target — no surprise there — but, though seriously wounded, survived. Presumably, she’ll be around for at least 12 more episodes. What was interesting about the premiere was not so much the reveal, which Showtime hyped by begging reporters not to write about it, but an interesting existential conversation between brother-in-law Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk) and a rabbi.

For those unfamiliar with the series, created and largely written by Jewish writer Jenji Kohan, Nancy is the widow of Judah Botwin, who died of a heart attack shortly before the series began. Nancy took conversion classes, though she never officially converted. In order to support her family, she starts to sell marijuana, has a child with a Mexican drug lord and goes to jail. She is joined in these adventures by her two sons, Andy and a shady friend, Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon).

Botwin’s conversation with the rabbi, who identifies himself just as Dave, takes place in the cafeteria of the hospital where Nancy lies in a medically induced coma.

At first, Andy thinks the rabbi is gay and trying to pick him up.

It’s rare in pop culture for a rabbi to be presented in non-comedic way, or without an exaggerated Yiddish accent. In the scene here, however, the rabbi is presented sympathetically, as an understanding and funny guy. The Jewish relationship with God has hardly ever been presented so simply, yet eloquently.

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