Everything that fans knew was coming, and then some—that's what last night's How To Make It In America episode, "The Friction," the second season's penultimate half-hour, delivered. The hit HBO series is on a roll this year, and now that we're in the home-stretch it's time for the shit to hit the fan. Let's see where the episode left everybody standing before the second season's finale, set to air this upcoming Sunday (Still only eight episodes a season, HBO? What gives?).
"It's not about the money."
Is it better to play the game or to stand on your own two feet? That's the heavy question at the heart of tonight's main story, which finds the Frankenburgs, Nancy and Yosi (Gina Gershon and Nick Chinlund), at the center of a big, right-on-time-for-the-finale schism between Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk). Last week brought about the temptation and now we have the catch: Yosi wants the boys to license him the brand name so he can pervert it with the ostentatious new logo CRISP: BY YOSI. The boys would go from captains of their own ship to his employees, but oh the money they will make.
Ben's already tasted the forbidden fruit (i.e., Nancy) multiple times, and it only takes a little bit of Nancy whispering in his ear to convince him to sign away CRISP's soul. Combine his Nancy thirst with his wallet's thirst and you have Ben wondering aloud to Cam, "What's in a name, anyway?" Give Yosi CRISP, take the money, and come up with something bigger and better on the side, this time with fatter wallets and stronger connections. Cam is having none of that and the two end the episode in a bad place. Will Ben direct his loyalty toward Cam or the cougar? Hopefully the revelation that it was Nancy's idea and not Gadzooks to pair CRISP with Yosi will get Ben's spidey sense tingling.
Cam Is The Worst Cousin Ever
In a nifty piece of plot convergence, Rene's (Luis Guzman) standoff with Everton (Eriq LaSalle) and the Caribbean League dovetails nicely with Cam's thirst, Domingo's (Kid Cudi) stupidity, and Kappo's (Eddie Kaye Thomas) naivete, all making for one spectacular mess by episode's end. Rene and his goons are hitting the pavement to track down the source of the unauthorized Rasta Monsta weed spray, a mission made more urgent by VertAmerica's plans to take Wilfredo and Rasta Monsta on a nationwide tour...if they can prove the company isn't a drug front.
When Cam finds out that Rene's aware of the spray, he goes straight to Domingo, who has made and sold enough to "keep the entire NYU class of 2012 high for three months." We're still wondering how Domingo can be so clueless and ignorant as to put an established brand logo on marijuana spray (good thing the clients didn't take to Smoke-a-Cola or he'd be facing one hell of a lawsuit), but then he and Cam go and hatch an even stupider plan.
Cam needs money to both convince Ben to reject Yosi and still deliver to the Gadzooks girls. So he whips up a plan with Domingo to sell the sprays out of state at UMASS for a huge score. Firstly, drugs across state lines: idiotic. Secondly, that "he didn't say we can't sell them elsewhere" is the kind of pathetically flimsy loophole that Vanessa used to justify sneaking out to parties on The Cosby Show. Cam and Rene aren't the closest of cousins but playing with his company like that is greasy.
They don't get the chance, however, because Pusha T (sharing a scene with Cudi no less—we see you G.O.O.D. Music!) and a shotgun-wielding friend roll up on their Rasta Monsta truck on behalf of the Caribbean league and steal the sprays as collateral. You know you guys fucked up, right?
Rachel Hits Rock Bottom
This week, the Wayward Rachel Enlightenment tour took an inevitable turn for the worse, with not one, not two, but three embarrassingly degrading scenes, any of which is reason enough for her (Lake Bell) to go home and wonder where her life went wrong.
First there's her firing, which everyone except her saw coming a mile away. The scene isn't quite as memorable as it could've been given how hilariously icy her boss, Robyn (Julie Claire), can be, but it was a decent enough send-off for the memorable guest star ("Go see Karen Bender in Legal. She's gonna tell you that you're fired. Cute shoes."). Then a shroom trip with bad influence Neanderthal Tim (James Ransone) leads to an ass-whopping from his jealous girlfriend. "She's just a girl I felt sorry for." Ouch.
But wait, there's more. Rachel, still tripping, goes to a deli without putting her clothes back on and gets into a funny—for us, at least, but pathetic for her—argument with the store-owner because he refuses to give her crazy-looking ass free soup. That's right, Rachel can't even spring for $3 noodles because she left her wallet and all her clothes back at the sauna. God only knows how she got back to Manhattan. Hopefully when the drugs wear off Rach will realize it's time to get her act together. That probably means bad news for Domingo, but right now he has bigger problems.
-- Rene's girl Debbie is pregnant. We still could care less about Debbie, but it does add an extra sense of urgency to Rene's business dealings, and thusly his standoff with Everton.
-- Kappo's headed to the Big, well, Medium House. That scene where Rene and his goons cruelly tell him some prison horror stories was great.
-- Yosi isn't even making the hoodies in the right, high-quality expensive Japanese cotton. "Eh, it's close enough." Hilarious delivery by Nick Chinlund.