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by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Weeds


(Showtime, Mondays, 10 pm)





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he climax of Weeds' second season was so shocking I had to re-watch it to make sure I didn't miss something. A standoff? Seriously? Season One ended with our drug dealer mom Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) realizing she'd just slept with a DEA agent, exposing all sorts of existential anguish. Season Two's cliffhanger is something as trite as fear of death? That's some CSI: Miami nonsense.





How could a show so deft at poking around inside the suburban mind -- at exposing its consumptive absurdity -- end with such a clich & eacute;? The season had done a particularly good job of whipping humor and pathos into an airy trip through the bog of early middle age. How could it fall so flat?





The writers were going for satire, that's why. Rather than the opposing factions having guns trained on each other, the writers decided to have the two big black men and three big Armenian men all point their guns at the cute little white lady. That way, it's like they're pointing the guns at the TV audience - at us - at Suburbia itself!





Boring.





Parker, bless her soul, did the best she could with the extended scene. Her eyes glassed up. Her voice squeaked. She managed a milquetoast defiance that struck the right chord. This smart, sad, half-crazy woman doesn't like the idea of being told what to do, but she realizes she's out of options, so she lobs sass like toy grenades. Parker was brilliant, but the scene fell flat.





The larger cliffhanger, then, was whether this minor stumble (one bad episode against 23 good ones) would turn into an all-out plummet.





It didn't, thankfully. Last week's premiere smartly diffused the situation by getting Nancy out of the house. Then the writers created a far worse situation by taking from her both the pot and her partner. This week, she begins to come to grips with her new circumstances. It gets kinda dark.





Then it gets lonely. Weeds will slide into September showing the various characters going their separate ways, leaving Nancy -- faced with consequences she can't bat her eyelids out of -- no option but reality. She gets an actual job. Ultimately, right at the end of Episode Four, she'll break the only hard and fast rule she had left. In doing so, she throws everyone who hasn't deserted her into harm's way.





So yeah, for the next three weeks at least, Weeds is still remarkably good TV.





TiVo-Worthy


The Kill Point


A group of ex-Marines led by Mr. Wolf (John Leguizamo) robs a bank, and it's up to former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg to stop him. Schlocky, violent and totally tailored for the average mixed-martial-arts-loving Spike viewer, The Kill Point is a lame stab at heist grit. Series finale. (Spike, Sunday, 9 pm)





Army Wives


The hit series about the spousal politics of military base life just got picked up for a second season. Kim Delaney ain't no Dana, but this is easily the best thing on Lifetime and the only reason to watch it, frankly. Personally, I'm more of an Oxygen man.... (Lifetime, Sunday, 10 pm)





God's Warriors


Part Three of an investigative trilogy by Christiane Amanpour examining the rise of fundamentalism in the world's major monotheistic religions. If you missed Tuesday's look at right-wing Judaism and Wednesday's treatment of militant Islam, you won't want to miss tonight's topic: conservative Christianity. Keep your eyes peeled for re-broadcasts. (CNN, Wednesday and Thursday, 9 pm)

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