Rake: “Bigamist” (Episode 1.05)

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Rake: “Bigamist” (Episode 1.05)

For a lawyer forced to reckon each week with whatever moral failure his client represents, Keegan’s been running really badly. In his short screen career, he’s progressed from “Serial Killer” to “Cancer” to “Cannibal” (somehow passing through Amish country on the way). But finally Kee’s found a client with whose primary sin he’s truly simpatico: bigamy. Whether he’s really into Big Love or just a lot of little ones, Kee certainly likes to spread it around.

He’s having a hard time finding any takers lately, though, with Mikki putting him firmly in his place as an ex-client and Maddy sharing her garden with new lover Bruce. Secretary Leanne’s hard up too, with her elusively named boyfriend scooting off to Scotland for the foreseeable. But chef Alberto (Michael Imperioli of The Soprano, rocking a manly ponytail) has no trouble pulling more than his share of beautiful women. Trouble is, he’s the marrying kind and doesn’t know when to say when.

(Incidentally, for those keeping score on Rake’s food fetish, Kee for the second straight episode isn’t paid in edibles. However, since his client is a chef, he is in effect getting paid by food. Works for me.)

Alberto’s wives, from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica, can’t get enough either. Though outraged, they both cling to Alberto. “How could love be a crime?” he asks, with operatic ardor. Kee can’t help but admire a guy who’s made two marriages work when he couldn’t handle one—his squabble with Bruce just landing him in deeper manure with Maddy. Kee’s fallen so far romantically that he can’t even buy sex anymore, though Mikki readmits him to her good graces long enough to fend off former client Clay, who angrily refuses to accept her retirement.

Alberto’s a doting father, too, though the episode strangely misses the chance to compare those avidly attended swim lessons and soccer games with Kee’s caring but erratic attention to his son. He does try to get in touch with Finn (to suggest he quit taking lessons from his English teacher) but can’t get him to return his calls, and that futility may be the point.

Meanwhile, monogamous marital misery abounds in this episode. In instructive contrast to the love flowing between Alberto and his wives, the lawyer and judge on the case, who are newly divorced, actively loathe each other. Scarlet and Ben also are on the rocks, or at least Scarlet is. She gets a DUI after having a martini or three (on the way back from where with whom, exactly?). Kee gets her off the hook—not incidentally, by leveraging his flirtation with the apparently not-so-happily-wed mayor’s wife—but Scarlet confesses she’s reached her limit. When you’re tapping Kee as marriage counselor (quite apart from the fact Scarlet’s still hung up on him), you know you’re in trouble. Ben’s similar-sounding confession almost draws Kee into disclosing Scarlet’s secret, but he covers up just in time.

To his credit, Kee fixes much more than he breaks in this episode, playing Mr. Lonelyhearts to everyone despite his own romantic troubles. The best scene finds Kee solving the Clay problem with subtlety where fisticuffs failed. His present of a sex toy-like tropical tchotchke (a Balinese God of Plenty—and then some), looks like it could perk up the marriage while reminding Clay that he has a lot to lose, too.

Kee may be well out of the relationship game given the current state of play, but he’s still desperate to find somebody. Ironically, the only woman truly devoted to him, who understands commitment enough to throw him a bone on Valentine’s Day, is stalker Margaret. “Sorry I missed you the other night,” she purrs over the phone, alluding to their unconsummated vehicular rendezvous. Her Valentine’s Day gift shows she knows her guy, who can’t resist (against his better judgment) opening what looks like cigars, but her heart in a box isn’t half as sweet as it sounds. At least she didn’t go for the Samberg/Timberlake version of a romantic present…

Kee gives good lawyer this time around, but unfortunately for Alberto, being third time lucky in the marriage department costs him the case. For all his transgressions, though, his wives will still love him when he gets out of jail; poor Kee, on the other hand, performs mitzvahs left and right, but can’t get no love. Even Mikki, his demoiselle in distress, won’t bite on a Valentine’s dinner pitched as a straight pity date. Eating Italian alone, a tramp with no lady, Kee’s heart’s in the right place, wrong time.

Andrew Westney is a Charlotte-based writer and journalist currently reviewing Rake and Helix for Paste. You can (and should!) follow him on Twitter.