Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Loot 2x03 Recap: "Vengeance Falls" (Family Drama) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Vengeance Falls”
Original Airdate: April 10, 2024

This week’s Loot focuses on Nicholas, and it’s the perfect opportunity for Joel Kim Booster’s comedic and emotional talents to shine. (Relatedly, go watch his film Fire Island on Hulu if you haven’t yet. I’ll wait.)

“Vengeance Falls” is the name of a provocative play that Nicholas was cast in and is incredibly excited about. The episode opens with Molly running lines of dialogue with him while asking who he invited to see his play. When he makes an excuse about not inviting his parents, Molly takes it upon herself to invite them on Nicholas’ behalf. It doesn’t go well: he butchers his lines in the play on purpose because he doesn’t want his conservative Midwestern parents to feel uncomfortable. But in the end, everyone feels uncomfortable anyway.

The fact that Nicholas censors himself and his life around his parents is paralleled by the awkwardness they feel about being out of their comfort zone around him. They don’t dramatically fight but that’s almost worse — instead of connecting, they stick to surface level conversations with the things they’re not saying to one another bubbling just underneath every comment (they do not understand his choice to be an actor; he refuses to return to Indiana to farm). Molly tries her hardest to praise Nicholas and to get some sort of enthusiastic reaction or approval from his parents. Molly would even have been fine with some sort of minor enthusiasm. But with every praise of Nicholas, his parents change the subject; and with every subject change about their Indiana town, Nicholas gets more and more irritated.

When Molly confronts him about his relationship with his parents, Nicholas asserts that his relationship with them is just fine... if they don’t stray from approved, safe, surface level topics. They don’t approve or understand why he moved away and is pursuing acting. Molly tells Nicholas that his attitude isn’t healthy and that he should put in the emotional work with them — just like she is by being alone and self-sufficient. But Nicolas astutely points out that Molly actually doesn’t often put in work to be alone. She has teams of people who do things for her, including him; she’s never truly alone. This leads to a minor fight in which Molly very defiantly tells Nicholas that she can be alone — without the help of anyone who works for her.

Molly actually does pretty well with this, until a smoke detector begins chirping its low battery alert and she can’t figure out how to get it to stop. She tries everything, eventually ripping it off the wall, throwing it into her safe, and then accidentally locking herself in her panic room. (And in a hilarious turn of events, the alarm on the wall in the panic room also begins chirping.) Nicholas shows up after an alert tips him off that the panic room is locked and Molly confesses that she feels embarrassed about not being able to do things by herself. But Nicholas praises her for the fact that even when she doesn’t get it right, at least she’s trying. And he admits that she was right about his parents — they don’t talk about their emotions or feelings and instead repress both.

The two embrace and Molly emphasizes that she’ll always be there for Nicholas. It’s a sweet, quiet little moment between the two that is so subtle and well-acted by Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster. And it’s also the exact thing Nicholas needs to hear in order to go to the hotel where his parents are staying and extend an invitation for them to have dinner with them at a local diner. Though the conversation doesn’t immediately fix all of their issues, it’s a little step forward — Nicholas is vulnerable about his acting job in a commercial and his parents agree to go out to dinner.

From what Joel Kim Booster has shared about his own upbringing being raised by his adoptive white evangelical parents, this week’s Loot storyline really parallels his own story. Joel’s performance is so good in this episode because he’s lived a similar story to Nicholas, and it’s that kind of longing for love and understanding that makes it both an incredibly specific story and also an intensely universal one.


Elsewhere, in what is perhaps the silliest storyline that this show does that falls quite squarely into my bucket of interests, Howard suspects that Sofia is a Swiftie and decides to try his hardest throughout the entire episode to uncover the truth (while she just tries to get him to do a PowerPoint assignment he was supposed to do). Eventually after lying about it, Sofia tells Howard that she is, indeed, a fan of the pop artist, showing him where she hides her Taylor Swift vinyls in the cases of other artists. 

Sofia admits that she hides her love for Taylor Swift because she is a young Afro-Latina woman navigating a leadership role. She doesn’t want to give the world any reason to question her authority and unfortunately, being a vocal Swiftie would possibly make people think less of her or take her less seriously. So she hides her vinyls and her excitement in order to try and navigate the world. And it sadly makes sense that she would feel the need to do this. Howard admits that he never thought about it from that perspective before.

But to Howard, this news just makes her more relatable to him. He already saw her as someone to look up to and admire — a fact that he earnestly tells her in this episode — and now, even though she will still hide her love of Taylor Swift from the world, she has a way to connect with him. Howard tells her that he spent eight years working alongside her and feels like he does not really know her. You can see that Sofia is slightly taken aback by that comment. But there is truth there: she keeps her life so private and hidden typically, and it’s sweet to see her start to open up to others this season. Sharing a mutual love of Taylor Swift with Howard was a nice little way to do just that. And the episode ends with them preparing to listen to the Midnights vinyl together while swapping Swiftie theories.

And that’s all for this week’s Loot! What did you think of “Vengeance Falls”?

Notes & Quotes:

  • “Every time I read the script, I have more questions. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?”
  • “I listen to podcasts about systemic racism and urban decay.”
  • “That’s not mine. I’m holding it for a friend. Her name is Dakota. ... She is white.”
  • “No one has a great aunt. They only exist when you’re trying to get out of work or a term paper.”
  • Who did the funnier storyline with an incessantly beeping smoke detector: Phoebe Buffay in Friends or Molly Wells in Loot?


Post a Comment