Portlandia Recap: “Brunch Village”
“We are a peaceful organization, but at this time this makes me very warlike. So help me God I will jump from head to head using your skulls as stepping stones into the river that is the street.”
For its season two finale, Portlandia broke from its usual minutia-obsessed perspective and instead gave us an all-cast grand finale in the form of a long line for a chance to try marionberry pancakes at Portland’s hottest new brunch spot Fisherman’s Porch. Fred and Carrie’s wait in line parallels the forever-desperate-for-spontaneity Peter and Nance, and they’re all backed up by a Where’s Waldo of season two supporting characters like Ronald D. Moore (from “One Moore Episode”), musical duo Sonny & Angel (from “10th Anniversary”), hunky biker Ehren McGhehey (from “Motorcycle”), and of course the Feminist Bookstore ladies, who prove their militancy when they turn hoses on the brunch line camped out in front of their store.
After his hilarious Portland anthem last week, Kyle MachLachlan was welcome with his return as the mayor, this time to embark on his adventure to meet Fred and Carrie for brunch. He gets stuck on the Hawthorne Bridge then switches to his navigation-equipped kayak to reach them in time. The two wait for him surrounded by camped-out patron-hopefuls and a boy who runs from one end of the line to the other catching jippers and selling $6 bottles of water and are tricked out of line by Ed Begley Jr., who plays an aging hipster pharmacist trying to jump on the brunch business bandwagon with specials like the “Cup o’Joe and Side o’Dough” in between scraping gum off their table, and of course, it ends up being the very place the mayor wanted to meet them for lunch in the first place, not Fisherman’s Porch.
Whether or not we’ve seen too much of the feminist trigger-happy Toni and Candace this season, their storefront freakout with the brunch line-occupiers was my favorite part of the episode — if for nothing else, just to see them explode into action over their store entrance being blocked. It made for some great self-righteous lines, like when Toni yells “This is no longer a safe space for women!” and Candace erupts into a warning to the people in line: “I’m going to take a sip of tea but spit a little bit of it into every one of your mouths … Burn me once with tea, shame on me. Burn you twice in your mouth, shame on everybody involved!”
Meanwhile, Peter and Nance get into a tiff while they’re waiting in line and Peter can’t decide what he wants to order, flip-flopping from the fruit plate to pancakes to frittata options on the menu. Nance calls his indecisiveness a huge turn-off and tells him “I want you to want something” before leaving the line to get a sweater from the car under condition that Peter makes up his mind by the time she comes back. When she tries to push her way back to her spot in line, Nance gets pulled off by armed guards (one played by Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols) to a post-apocalyptic camp at the end of the line, where anti-brunch line-cutter rebel leader (played by Tim Robbins with a serious wig and lip/nose piercings) tortures her with a brunch of strawberry Pop Tarts.
Despite Nance’s kidnapping, the couple finally ends up at at Fisherman’s Porch after Peter finally cowboys up, spurred by the hearing of their name finally called by the hostess far away at the entrance to the restaurant. But after all their persnickety menu-gazing, the two both end up ordering the trendy marionberry pancakes and revert back to their nerdy passive schmoozing before even leaving the restaurant, filled up with enough self-satisfaction to go back to life as usual until the next mandolin festival or other hotspot write-up in the paper. But at least they’ve found their own happy sense of impulsiveness whereas Fred and Carrie are left following a helmet-wearing mayor back back to the drug store for a gourmet helping of Joes ‘n Doughs.
While I was a little bummed that the finale didn’t leave us with a cool new catchphrase or hipster anthem music video, there’s something sweetly appropriate about watching Fred and Carrie end their second season walking down a sidewalk littered with the coffee cup and paper bag remnants of an epic afternoon brunch line. It looks like Portlandia is beginning to stitch together a world where these two are living on every corner, working in every store, and starting (or at least following) every latest trend. And who knows what the hour-long “Brunch Village” director’s cut will reveal when it runs on IFC in July, or what we’ll learn from the Portlandia book copenned by Fred and Carrie coming in November? This season’s not truly over until we get all that bonus goodness. My fingers are crossed for a little more Nina and Lance, but hopefully they’ll come back with a whole new season next year.
Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.