Tyler’s lived an isolated adult life. As he says in the opening of ‘A Ghost Is Seen’, there are advantages to his lonely lifestyle: “no love to lose, or burdern to be.” Things are simple – with the lone complication of his adult life, something he refuses to to talk about (Julie_Bitch, who comes up in conversation briefly in the episode). But Enlightened is not a show about people being the same: its’s about change and growth, what happens when an idea or a hope becomes something we can reach out and touch. For Tyler, it comes in the form of Elieen, the executive assistant to the man him, Dougie, and Amy are trying to take down.
Written by Mike White and directed by Flight of the Conchords co-creator James Bobin, ‘A Ghost Is Seen’ is not just an episode about the big plan to take down Abaddonn. It’s the catalyst for everything in the episode, and incidentally, it makes the events of the episode more tragic: the closer and closer Tyler and Eileen get, the more useful their relationship becomes useful to Amy’s plan. It makes Tyler’s personal epiphanies that much heavier: at the end of the day, he didn’t really care about taking down Abaddonn (he certainly wouldn’t have done any of it without Amy’s not-so-gentle nudging). The reasons he went along with her plan was to connect with another human being - a plan that led him to Eileen, the woman he was looking for in the first place.
And then he’s been “seen”, and all of a sudden, life is different. “Something has changed”, as he says. He has to be a gentlemen, he has to wonder about what he was missing before… a whole rush of emotions he all but forgot about. And just like that, “the ghost is seen” and he begins to care. The worst regret we can have about our lives is not to live it, to spend our times in a plain white apartment downloading music and not having anyone to share it with.
The Tyler/Eileen scenes are not only a highlight of the season, but the series as a whole: the awkward way they open up their damaged selves to each other is amazing to watch, in part because Molly Shannon and Mike White knock it out of the park in all their scenes. For the first time in his life, Tyler actually feels like the pearl in the sand he talks about in the opening – somebody finds him, brushes him off a little, and begins to appreciate who he really is. It makes for a beautiful, haunting closing scene when Tyler and Eileen share a sweet little morning phone call, while Amy’s in the background, swinging around the papers that her and Dougie stole of Eileen’s hard drive while Tyler was sharing music with her (the digital representation of making a connection and “sharing” something with someone).
Enlightened‘s been on quite a roll in the second season, a trend that continues in ‘A Ghost Is Seen’, which steps away from Amy’s delusions for a bit and takes a good, long look at a man who’d not only been forgotten by the world around him, but by himself. Another beautiful, meditative half hour for one of television’s best shows.
- Dougie’s suggestion to help Tyler with his confidence: “why don’t you get a spray tan… you’re white as fuck.”
- Amy has completely stopped doing work, and is basically spilling the beans to everyone she talks to. She’s so fucking self righteous – it makes me so uncomfortable, its mesmerizing.
- I love Tyler’s reactions to Amy’s crazy plans: “Are you fucking nuts?”
- I have to say this again: Molly Shannon is stunning in this episode.