Blunt Talk strength this season has mostly come from allowing Patrick Stewart’s Walter Blunt to be the heart of the show and having the majority of the plot derive from him. As this debut season has progressed, we’ve seen the minor character’s stories grow to become increasingly more important and worthy of more screen time. “Meth or No Meth, You Still Gotta Floss,” the best episode of Blunt Talk so far, reinforces how strong the secondary characters have become, by letting Walter sit on the sidelines, and allowing the emotional resonance to come from his coworkers, helping them grow in the process.
Rosalie goes on a search for Teddy, who has disappeared, which Rosalie refuses to believe could be the beginnings of dementia. At its core, this story is incredibly sad, with Walter trying to get Rosalie to understand the level at which Teddy might be sinking, even as the two of them are able to still be funny, switching seats in a car when Walter gets pulled over, or talking with the owner of a rundown motel used by meth heads.
And when “Meth or No Meth…” does get into the emotional moments, it works especially well, much like last week’s reunion between Walter and his son. Walter and Rosalie’s heartfelt discussion about Teddy’s worsening condition is beautiful, especially when we see how Teddy had been prior to his current situation, in supporting Walter and his show. When the pair finally do find Teddy, Walter lays in his own bed as he watches Rosalie spoon Teddy, in the spot usually reserved for Walter. While it might seem like Walter is self-centered and wants all the attention on him, what with a manservant and all, he’s always willing to get out of the spotlight to help the ones around him. As he tells Rosalie, she’s more important to him than “Blunt Talk” is.
Back at the office, for the first time in five years, Walter relegates hosting duties to someone else. Jim might not seem like the best candidate, but he did tell Walter that he wants to follow in his footsteps. Once again, Walter proves that he does care about his employees and listens to what they want and need.
This new temporary hosting position is actually exactly what Jim needs at this moment—a confidence booster to help him move forward after the loneliness and the admittance of his hoarding problem. I’ve mentioned before that Blunt Talk is basically about individuals with their own problems, who would likely succeed with the help of others. That is exactly what we get with “Meth or No Meth.” Harry immediately gives his services to Jim, helping him clean up, providing him with some much needed booze and of course the ritual of pre-show flogging.
But “Meth or No Meth…” also gives us the first major hints of something between Jim and Celia, after slight winks that they were heading in this direction. When Jim runs in fear at the idea of hosting the show, Harry makes sure that Jim and Celia spoon, since it’s always worked for Walter and Rosalie. With Jim calmed down, he makes it to the air, but starts to freak out once again. However, all it takes is a few reassuring words from Celia to get him through the broadcast. There’s a sweetness between these two and near the end, we also see there could be the beginnings of a romantic relationship between them, after Jim longingly looks at Celia’s… feet. Still, for the first time for these two, they find excellence in themselves, through the trust and understanding they have between each other.
In other reviews, I’ve seen Blunt Talk compared to Enlightened, which never quite made sense to me until now. “Meth or No Meth…” is a fantastic combination of humor and pathos, with characters that excel when reliant on each other. “Meth or No Meth…” is Blunt Talk’s finest episode, displaying how this series is constantly evolving its characters, giving them opportunities to grow and build on each other in truly exciting and surprising ways.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.