If there are two certainties we can count on life, one is never knowing who will answer your craigslist ad, and the second is that love can blind out the uglier parts of life and relationships (and not always in a good way). Both of these ideas play out in interesting ways in ‘The Case of the Lonely White Dove’, which features the weakest detective case of the series thus far, stumbling through the Russian mobster story, but surrounds it with some hilarious moments for George and revealing ones for Suzanne.
Through the first four episodes, we didn’t get much of Suzanne at all, and the few scenes she had were earmarked by her constant whining towards Jonathon about his lifestyle. ‘The Case of the Lonely White Dove’ finally puts that frustration into some context by bringing her into the fold for Jonathon’s work-related (but romance-focused) trip out to Brighton Beach. By putting her in the same scenery as Jonathon and giving them scenes to interact, we get a lot of background on their relationship, the uglier parts of which come out in the cab ride home once the evening turns sour.
We finally get to see Jonathon through Suzanne’s eyes: he’s indecisive and selfish, something that’s been alluded to earlier, but really on full display here. He promised her for years to take her out to Brighton Beach one day, but couldn’t be bothered by the ‘long subway ride’. The only reason he invites her this time is because he’s out there on a case, tracking down a bar singer for a Russian ex-con. What begins as excitement in Suzanne’s eyes when he calls her for the date, slowly dulls when she realizes he hasn’t changed: the only reason he brought here there was to serve his own purposes, a terrible reminder of why she left him in the first place.
The case itself turns out to be the most dangerous one thus far. Dimitri, a former member of the Russian mob, returns home from prison looking for a women fell in love with the night before he left. It all involves Russian mobsters and an elaborate set-up by Dimitri’s former crew and girlfriend for what appears to be him ratting out her brother (something not explicitly stated, but heavily alluded to). The lone twist of the story falls quite flat, because in all honesty, it’s not that interesting (the singer changes her name every year, always keeping with the theme of a lonely bird species), and the rest of the scenes just feature everyone drinking vodka (which apparently you get if you order white wine in a Russian club), lots of leather and heavy accents, and a half-hearted attempt to tie Dimitri and Jonathon together at the end.
It’s not terrible, but there’s no real sense of excitement or accomplishment from the case – even in the pilot when he doesn’t really solve anything, the hotel scenes made the case quirky enough to work – and the Brighton Beach setting really only proves useful in terms of establishing the failed relationship between Jonathon and Suzanne a bit better (even though we’re still not getting a lot of who Suzanne is herself, just her reactions to Jonathon).
Obviously the highlight of the episode is George Christopher, whose magazine is struggling, losing nearly half of its women audience in the process. George’s therapist suggests he try bi-sexuality, a proposition George Christopher seriously contemplates as a way to solve his business problems. Of course, his attempts to follow through aren’t as successful, although he ends up learning a great deal from the male escort (a great little cameo from Weeds‘s Romany Malco) about how being in touch with femininity doesn’t mean being gay: it just means you need to stop defining yourself in masculine and feminine, and just do whatever the fuck you want with your life (an important lesson all of us could learn to some degree).
Unfortunately, the gay jokes and Russian mob plots don’t mesh well together, and it leaves the episode feeling like its only connected when Jonathon and George are talking over the phone, heavy on the quirk but not so rounded when it comes to some of the great thematic structures of the first four episodes. It still had its funny moments (the Lawrence Olivier bit was fucking brilliant), but overall, a dissonant episode of Bored to Death, a small misstep in what’s been an entertaining first season thus far.
- I didn’t talk about the Ray story in this episode because it merely rehashed what we already know: Ray lives vicariously through his comic work, and his relationship with Leah is going through serious emotional and intimacy issues. Nothing really entertaining here: I thought the hero drawing with the massive cock was a little too gaudy for a show that works so great in subtleties.
- who would’ve thought tossing brass knuckles would be effective?
- even though it doesn’t really tie into anything, the last shot of the male escort, George, and Jonathon watching The Inspector General (a Danny Kaye musical from the 1940s adapted from a Russian play) was a nice little shot.
- isn’t it funny how cavalier the thought of post-break up sex is in the 21st century? As Ray points out, it’s almost expected in this day and age.
What did you think of ‘The Case of the Missing White Dove?’ Leave your thoughts/comments below, and stop back next week for ‘The Case of the Beautiful Blackmailer’, where Ray, George, and Jonathon all hit a case together for the first time. Thanks for reading!