Buckle up, “Transparent” fans. The Pfeffermans are back.
Hot off of a successful (very Jewish) turn at the Emmys, the show’s entire third season dropped on Amazon Prime last night—and it’s just as quietly glorious as we left it.
We’re brought back into the series with an opening shot of Rabbi Raquel, who is practicing her Passover sermon in front of an empty synagogue.
“You’re going to make a break for freedom, you will not be a slave anymore,” she says. “You get out of bed, you grab your things, your run outside, and then there you are. Free.”
We see her walking through a forest, surrounded by nature looking, indeed, free.
Then we cut to Maura. Oh Maura. On the surface, everything is going great. She’s in a committed relationship with Vicki (Anjelica Huston), her family is fully accepting of her and she’s excited to be working at the LGBT crisis call center. And yet, she tells her friend Davina, she’s not happy.
Up until that point, we soon learn, the call center Maura volunteers at mostly consists of fielding hangs ups and gabbing around a box of donuts.
Then, she gets a call from Elizah. The teen is trans, in distress and mentions killing herself. Maura is clearly not equipped for the phone call, nervously trying out the canned responses written by the center.
“That sounds difficult,” she starts.
“Difficult? That’s a good f—ing word for it.” Elizah replies.
Maura attempts a breathing exercise, before the teen, crying, hangs up on her.
What follows is Maura’s very unpleasant search for Elizah. After getting a tip off on the teen’s location, Maura embarks on a disastrous trip through a winding, fluorescent-lit shopping mall.
First, she accidentally offends a group of trans women, by asking if they might know Elizah from the “streets.” This is the second time during the series premiere that the show points out Maura’s race and privilege. Earlier on, Elizah, who is African-American and lives in South LA, scoffs at the idea of Maura knowing anything about growing up in the circumstances she has.
They feel like small, purposeful nods from the show’s writers.
Then, Maura’s shoe breaks. She gets assistance from two local shoe sellers (hello great, small cameos from Lena Waithe (“Master of None”) and J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”).
Side note. Very few shows can take a moment like a broken shoe, and a prolonged discussion about scotch tape, and make it riveting television. So many kudos for that.
It’s been a rough day for Maura, and she goes to drink a gateroade from a local store, before realizing she has lost her wallet and can’t pay for it. Then things get fuzzy. She spots Elizah, gets stopped by a mall cop for stealing, and then faints.
In a full circle moment, she wakes up to seeing Elizah holding her hand, looking concerned. Paramedics want to take Maura to the county hospital but she protests. “No, no. You can’t take me to county. You have to take me to Cedars-Sinai. I’m Jewish. My last name is Pfefferman.”
The episode ends with Raquel challenging her audience that there might not be such a thing as a miracle, or of the sea parting. That you might have to be your own miracle, your own Messiah.
And that’s it for episode one, which ranks as possibly one of the most anti-climatic, yet somehow completely engaging, episodes of television I’ve seen in a long time.
Happy binge watching!
Thea Glassman is a Multimedia Fellow at the Forward. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @theakglassman.