Transparent: “Kina Hora” Season 2 Premiere Review

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Over a week early, Amazon is teasing us with the return of their critically lauded series Transparent. Luckily, the tease is the full season two premiere, and its the show’s best episode to date.

After far too long a break from the Pfeffermans, “Kina Hora” opens with a photo session before Sarah and Tammy’s wedding. The whole family is dragged into the picture for a scene where the dialogue doesn’t even seem to be written. The actors just take turns improving lines that so perfectly capture their characters in such a small, mundane moment. I kept waiting for the scene to be too long, but its surprising length was one of the biggest delights of this premiere. In a matter of just a few minutes, Transparent shows us everything we missed over the last 14 months. The Pfeffermans are as dysfunctional as they come on TV, but they’re also unbelievably warm.

The episode then flawlessly moves to the perspective of Sarah, who realizes as she walks down the aisle that there’s no part of her that really wants to be with Tammy. The reception that follows is painfully awkward. Naturally, Sarah isn’t the only Pfefferman in crisis. Maura’s homophobic sister is present, forcing her to confront her family who are at least partially unaware of Maura’s new life. Then there’s Josh, who can’t help but tell Ali that Raquel is pregnant, which leads to the whole party finding out.

The way Jill Holloway weaves these plot threads around each other, intersecting them at just the right moments, is masterful. “Kina Hora” is first and foremost about how the Pfeffermans how the family gets in their own way with helping each other but that they still manage to do it anyway. Perhaps most powerful of the family dynamic is that of the three siblings, who collect to pull Sarah out of a marriage she suddenly doesn’t want. Once a solution is found, the kids go back to the party to dance with their parents. In this moment, different characters are feeling joy and sadness, but whatever it is, they’re going to dance through, as awkwardly as they can I might add.

The final shot of the episode pans across the block of rooms the family has for the wedding, slowly resolving the individual plot threads while setting up the next nine episodes. If you’re not crying when Shelly kisses Maura and tells her she’s beautiful, Transparent may not be for you. For this moment, after the lyrical yet brutal combination of comedy and tragedy that preceded it, is why this show struck such a chord last year. In the year where love finally won, the Pfeffermans are here to show us what that means. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • The entire look of this episode was stunning. The way the white wedding attire complimented both the green field and the dark interior of the party was visually striking. And that final spectacular pan was everything.
  • The final shot showed Syd sitting outside Ali’s room. I doubt she was actually there, but it sets the tone for where Ali is likely going to go in season two in a very interesting way.
  • How about that flashback to a gay wedding in 1930s Germany? Little touches like this make Transparent feel like such a celebration of everything LGBTQ (and all the other letters that have yet to be popularized) culture has to offer.
  • You’re reading this review because Amazon released the premiere over a week ahead of time (the rest will arrive on Dec. 11). This will be the only episodic review of Transparent season two and we will cover it as we do all our streaming series. That is, one season review that engulfs all episodes made available at once.

By Matt Dougherty

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