Another Period Review: “Dog Dinner Party” (1.08)

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<i>Another Period</i> Review: &#8220;Dog Dinner Party&#8221; (1.08)

In an episode that ended up involving Beatrice performing a “nervous breakdown incest striptease,” Dodo detoxing from morphine and a tale of a mid-summer elephant hanging, “Dog Dinner Party” actually ended up being much tamer than others this season. That doesn’t mean the laughs were absent, but rather the pacing slowed ever so slightly and things seemed less raucous in the Bellacourt household. In many ways, the episode set things up for the shit to really hit the fan next week as Another Period inches closer to its season finale.

When Frederick returns home from Washington with his new fiancée, the high and mighty socialite Celery Savoy (Missi Pyle), their visit acts as a catalyst of sorts for the three main Bellacourt women. In a morphine haze, Dodo mistakes Celery for a toilet and pees on her, much to everyone’s shock. Lillian immediately goes into damage control mode and throws a dog dinner party for Celery’s pet Dumpling to save the family’s social standing. Having admired Celery for 30 years even though she’s only 27, Lillian sees the engagement as a means to finally become best friends with the president of the Clambake Club. Beatrice, of course, doesn’t take the news well, since Celery’s presence purports an end to her incestuous bedroom romps with Frederick.

Thus the stage has been set for everything to go off the rails once again.

Although he may have first gone to Washington to make his relationship with his sister legal, Frederick has learned a senator’s limitations. As he explains to Beatrice, in one of the episode’s best lines, “Senators don’t make the laws, they just accept bribes from corporations.” When he insists they end their relationship, he inadvertently reveals just how long it’s gone on. Hint: A while. “You’re acting like a baby,” he tells her, “like the baby I first made love to.”

His decision being final, he leaves Beatrice with one thought, “We can’t stay babies forever.” Rather than follow his lead and grow up, however, Beatrice dazedly descends into days gone bye. Dressing like a child replete with pigtails, she stumbles downstairs to the party and luridly dances for Frederick. Much to everyone’s horror, she ends her performance by straddling him right in front of Celery. Once she’s been sent away, Frederick apologizes to Celery, citing his engagement as the reason he shouldn’t engage in such behavior only to have her raise an eyebrow and mention the more important reason, “Also she is your sister.”

When it appeared in the pilot, the nature of Frederick and Beatrice’s relationship at first seemed like shock value. Another Period relied heavily upon hyperbole in order to land laughs in its initial episodes, but it has since struck a witty balance between smart and silly. As a result, the running incest storyline became unexceptional, continuously failing to provoke any strong reaction on behalf of the Bellacourts or their servants. Frederick kept shtupping Beatrice and no one batted an eye. The show used the unnatural relationship to comment on both the way wealth and power warp people’s behaviors, desires and the like, as well as the period’s commonplace, albeit twisted, sexual practices. That much becomes even clearer when Dodo, in the throes of detox, examines pictures of her children hanging on the wall and remarks how each was a product of rape.

In one of the episode’s best bits, Lillian ventures downstairs to choose from several puppies Garfield has corralled. At the outset, her choice seems related to the dinner party she’s hosting for her dog Mayor Cutie and his guest Dumpling. Perhaps this puppy will join the other two? Of course not. Instead, Lillian selects a puppy for Garfield to kill and skin so Mayor Cutie has a fashionable cape for dinner. Garfield tries luring the puppy into a noose, which looks as ridiculous as it sounds. If you think that’s going too far, Another Period ups the bit by later cutting to Mayor Cutie sitting at the family’s massive dinner table wearing a very fake—but simultaneously hilarious—looking cape made out of the puppy. And before any animal lovers jump to conclusions about how killing puppies for their fur isn’t funny (yes, we’ve all seen 101 Dalmatians), the moment’s humor derives from the fact that a rich heiress at the turn of the century would feel it natural to kill puppies in order to better dress her own dog. Like so many moments this season, this too reveals the Bellacourts’ underlying monstrosity and the way their wealth absolves them of any wrongdoing.

Elsewhere, Chair squeals on Garfield for stealing one of the family’s towels—his precious Towel—and Peepers fires him. This particular storyline, like Beatrice’s breakdown, doesn’t reach any resolution and instead sets the stage for next week’s episode. It’s one of the few times the show has carried over a major story arc. In the Bellacourts’ world, where “eccentricity” isn’t just the name of an eau de parfum used for a lady’s nether regions, it will be curious to see just what the remaining two episodes bring.

Amanda Wicks is a writer specializing in comedy and music. She has also written for Consequence of Sound and The New York Observer. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.