'Camping' review episode 2: The camp goes to town and things get politically insensitive while Kathryn works herself up
With the second episode, 'Camping' uses contemporary political elements to make the characters take a stance. And now Jandice is clearly in Kathyrn's bad books.
Creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's HBO show 'Camping' has taken its much-desired turn by bringing several contemporary elements to the table. While the first episode had chiefly concentrated on introducing the characters and the dilapidated relationship that they share, episode 2 'Going to Town' has given us a glimpse into the dynamics between the characters and what happens when one begins to share politically incorrect statements.
Episode 2 begins with a game of rugby football where the gang has teamed up to fight each other and strike the highest score. Kathryn (played by Jennifer Garner) is on the top of the game with her quick sprints and organized skills, and on the other hand, Jandice (played by Juliette Lewis) crashes into the field with all her might. So much so that she manages to push Orvis (played by Duncan Joiner), Kathryn and Walt's (played by David Tennant) son. Kathryn is immediately taken aback by the act, and it takes her almost no time to snap at Jandice who walks away when she realizes that her apology is not accepted.
What happens next puts a lot of things under perspective. While Kathryn and Walt, along with Harry (played by Bridget Everett) take Orvis to the nearest hospital the rest of the gang is led on by Jandice to join her for a round of jelly-donut shots. Things take a pretty unexpected turn when the gang lands up at the bar. While the scene is particularly important for the series, it has also clearly defined that alcohol is not for everyone, especially Joe (played by Chris Sullivan). After having their drinks, the gang gets into an intoxicated state where they can no more hold themselves back from being who they really are- that is, the intolerant group who are trying hard to be nice to each other.
As Jandice and Miguel leave to explore the town, Joe joins Nina-Joy at the bar who helps him grab a pint of bourbon. However, Joe who is not really in his sense anymore ends up saying a few things to Joy which might be considered to be politically incorrect by many. For an instance, he addresses Joy as "little chocolate". Being the calm and composed character that she is, Joy doesn't react to it immediately but later on confides in her husband, George (played by Brett Gelman) who is immediately taken off-guard. Joy tries to calm him down by claiming that although it might be a little offensive, it is still alright because a lot of her friends send her black emojis as well.
George, who too is not is the right sense of mind, charges at Joe when they bang into each other near the washroom. George snaps at Joe claiming that using black emojis and calling his wife chocolate was "f******" offensive". George almost breaks down when he asserts that it was because of people like Joe that the country has broken down into a race-war. Dunham has always been the satirist of contemporary issues, and with a character like Joe who would likely take the whole "race-war" to a different level, she has projected the fact that sometimes discrimination is all in the head.
Considering the person that Joe is, and his prominent affection for his wife Carleen (played by Ione Skye), he probably never wanted to insult Joy by calling her that. He was probably only fooling around the bar, and just tried having a conversation with the woman who is also his friend. None of this can justify George's apparent rage towards Joe who nothing but apologetic for the little stunt that he has pulled. This particular scene truly adds a flavor to the show and has once again proven that 'Camping' isn't just about Kathryn and her frustration but it also about the ordinary people who are equally ruffled by the consistent mention of "political-(in)correctness" in everything that they say.
While the second episode has very subtly put forward the present political climate of the country, it has also highlighted a very vulnerable part of Kathryn. As a mother, Kathryn always has been overly concerned about her son and everything he does. However, she takes things to a different level when she takes Orvis to the hospital, who is clearly not injured in any way. Although the doctors keep insisting upon taking the boy back home, Kathryn isn't ready to give up without knowing for sure that her son is "totally fine". Kathryn's paranoia with her son's injury is the proven result of her own trauma with physical ailments. A part of her anxiety also stems from the fact that no one at camp has bothered to check in on them on how she is handling the situation. The necessity to be seen and recognized is far more at this time.
She even tries to diagnose herself to check if all the pressure has led to any kind of disturbance in her body. She later lies down with her son, waiting to be discharged. In all of this, Kathryn indulges into a kind of monologue where she confesses to her son that she has been trying very hard to make the weekend work for Walt's birthday but if something happens to her, she won't be able to carry out things the way she had planned for them. This is probably for the first time, that we see Kathryn being vulnerable and honest about the way she is. She isn't necessarily a bad woman, just very cautious about everything and could sometimes be a little over-the-top with her tendency to be caring.
Kathryn explains to Orvis that everything she does is always for Orvis and his father, Walt, who himself is pretty convinced that Kathryn is not really as bad as people think her to be. Even while speaking with Harry at the hospital, he explains that she has certain issues of her own and she tries hard to cope with that. Walt's dialogue acts as a reflection on Dunham's condition of chronic illness about which the actor/creator has spoken extensively. Kathryn being drawn upon Dunham herself suffers from the similar chronic pain which is the result of the hysterectomy that she had. Probably all of that together makes Kathryn a difficult person to be with.
The second episode has proven that while the show is being speculated to be just a 'Girls' grown-up version, it has its own set of crisis for the characters. Each character is carrying a story of his/her own which together give 'Camping' its objective perspective.