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S02.E12: Poker/Pokar

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Art grows concerned when Al gets hooked on playing poker, misses a class and is late for work. Also, Lizzie and Brett's relationship grows stronger, but she struggles with dating again for the first time in a few years, on the CBS Original series UNITED STATES OF AL, Thursday, Jan. 20 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+

 

 

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"Satan is building the two of us a garage right now!"
"What'd do?"

"Oh, come on!"

LOL :D. 

Ooh, I was wondering if that ending with Al and Riley would play out as it did. Hmmm. Shame that Riley's efforts didn't pay off quite the way he'd planned - I wonder if that means this storyline will come up again down the line. 'Cause between this, and the burgeoning relationship between Lizzie and Professor Williams, as well as Al's college studies, some of the issues they've touched on thus far this season regarding Riley and Al's recent struggles regarding their mental health issues and dealing with the fallout of what happened in Afghanistan, and whatnot, I feel like it's all going to come to a head somehow at some point as the season begins to wind down. Whatever's going to happen going forward, I'm hoping they'll come back to this storyline at some point, 'cause I'm curious how they'll resolve it, if they do.

I did love the whole thing with Riley trying to help Al as he did, with his unconventional methods :D. Both because it was funny and also because, well, shallow reasons :p (and on that note, I'm really appreciating how this show is taking any opportunity it can this season to put Al in a nice suit. That slow pan of him in the white suit during that weird dream of his was...very nice. Yes). 

And that really was a trippy dream. I like that even his mom appeared in it. I also like the idea that him getting hooked on poker may be tied to his need to have control over something. Given everything he's been dealing with lately, I can totally see that being the case. And it's especially interesting that he tried to justify his interest in the game by feeling it wasn't technically gambling. He's been so good about following his faith when it comes to all the vices out there thus far, it was only a matter of time before something tempted him to stray, even a little. So yeah. It'll be interesting to see what more they do with this, if anything.

On a different, and lighter, note, LOL, awwwww, Lizzie with the finger guns on her date, I got a good laugh out of that :p. Poor Lizzie. I do like how Williams handled that, though, and I do like how easygoing things seem to be between them thus far. Their banter and conversation when doing pottery was cute and fun. I totally get Lizzie not wanting to turn a fun hobby into work, but I do love her passion for her art, so it would be cool to see her get to do something more with that over time. I'm sure she could find plenty of fun, non-professional ways to do more with her art :). 

It's not surprising that Lizzie would have thoughts of Michael, either. That would be a bit weird and tough, and I'm glad she made it clear to Williams that she wants to take things slow. Wise decision. Like I said a couple episodes back, I don't know that I see this relationship beting a long-term thing, but I do hope that, even if it's brief, it plays out in a way that doesn't hurt her at all. 

I also love the whole thing with Williams' band. Rage Against the Dean. Ha :D. The bit with him and Lizzie and Hazel playing together at the end was cute and fun, and I loved Hazel getting so into it that she knocked all the buckets over. LOL. 

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Liking Lizzy and the teacher’s friendship a lot. She’s come along way from the heavily partying girl of early season 1.  
I could never stand Vanessa’s boyfriend when he was dating Penny in BBT, but he’s growing on me here.

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Al and Freddie are my favorite characters on the show right now.  Both actors know exactly what they're doing and I really enjoy their work.  Kripke (I mean, "Al's professor") is also a nice addition; funny and easy-going.  This episode was the first time I've had any interest in what Lizzie was up to on the show and it's because her new relationship is sweet and upbeat.

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12 hours ago, Packerbrewerbadger said:

I could never stand Vanessa’s boyfriend when he was dating Penny in BBT, but he’s growing on me here.

THAT's who he is! He was familiar but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I do like him here. 

13 hours ago, Annber03 said:

I don't know that I see this relationship beting a long-term thing, but I do hope that, even if it's brief, it plays out in a way that doesn't hurt her at all. 

I'd be fine with it being a long term thing because I don't want her and Al to get together. I like that they seem more like siblings than romantically inclined. Plus he seems to understand her, which is important. 

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15 hours ago, Annber03 said:

I did love the whole thing with Riley trying to help Al as he did, with his unconventional methods :D. Both because it was funny and also because, well, shallow reasons :p (and on that note, I'm really appreciating how this show is taking any opportunity it can this season to put Al in a nice suit. That slow pan of him in the white suit during that weird dream of his was...very nice. Yes). 

Al doesn't do it for me. Riley in a tank top makes me very happy. Now leaving the shallow end of the pool for other topics. 

15 hours ago, Annber03 said:

I also like the idea that him getting hooked on poker may be tied to his need to have control over something. Given everything he's been dealing with lately, I can totally see that being the case. And it's especially interesting that he tried to justify his interest in the game by feeling it wasn't technically gambling. He's been so good about following his faith when it comes to all the vices out there thus far, it was only a matter of time before something tempted him to stray, even a little. So yeah. It'll be interesting to see what more they do with this, if anything.

I think poker is a one time lapse. Getting hooked on poker is absolutely about control and finding an escape. I'm not sure where they are going with this, but I can't wait to see what happens. 

Lizze and Professor Williams were great. He isn't treating her like an overgrown lab rat/case study, but he understands what she's going through. He gets that grief is difficult but he wants to be with her and is willing to go at whatever pace she is comfortable with. He wants to be in a relationship with her and understands that has challenges. He's a sweet guy and I think they're great together. Also, I want to see Rage Against the Dean playing a show, or Lizzie watching them practice in a garage. 

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I fell off my chair with the workout scene. A colleague is a former special operations soldier and I could actually see him doing the snow thing, and getting the hose, with that same smile of a sociopath. 

Al's addiction is definitely dealing with the issues he's been facing, as well as a place he can feel great. As much as he more than pulls his weight, he is dependent on the Dugans for so much and that irks him. He wants to provide for his family more, he wants to settle down and marry, (he can't exactly have a wife living in the garage on a cot) and he feels helpless to help his family and country. Poker makes him feel empowered. 

I laughed at Al's mother yelling at him in the dream. Love it. Yup, It almost reminded 

I really like Lizzie and Williams. He respects her, banters with her so sweetly and really seems to adore and worship her. He's willing to be patient, he stimulates her intellectually, and he's no longer so cringey. I think it's a good match. 

 

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I have questions about Art's house. Did the kids live there growing up? Is it only 2 bedrooms? Does Hazel have her own room? Why don't they all move to a larger house? 

Edited by OlderThanDirt
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My guess is that there are three bedrooms: Art, Lizzie, and Hazel. Probably the room Hazel is in was her dad's room when he was a kid. After Riley and Vanessa got married, Riley moved in with Vanessa to the house next door. Now that he's back, and he and Vanessa are divorced, he moved into the garage so Hazel could have a room when she's with him, and so he could have some privacy/space. The garage is probably also bigger, which helps with accommodating both him and Al.

I like that they all live together. Families used to do that more, partly for financial reasons but also because they had a bond. They seem to get along really well. Maybe the business can't support as many households as well separately as together, so they have more money to spare by living together in the same house that's probably paid off by now, or maybe they just like being together. Maybe Lizzie never moved out because after her engagement her fiance was killed in action and she didn't want to be alone with her grief.

They don't really have a reason to move, and staying where they are means Vanessa still lives next door, which makes co-parenting easier. A bigger house might not serve them if Lizzie eventually gets married/moves out, also. Or if Riley gets more functional and doesn't need the support he has by living with his family. This way, the house stays in the family, Art isn't left alone as a widow, everybody's supportive of each other, and if they all move out Art won't have a house 10x the size a single person could handle.

 

Edited by possibilities
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I am really glad that they followed up with Lizzie and Professor Williams, they seem like a really sweet couple. They had really cute banter, he encouraged her artistic talents, and he was really understanding about taking things slow with her. It totally makes sense that dating would be rough for her, no matter how long its been since she lost her fiancé, but its great that she is willing to try. Also, Rage Against the Dean is an amazing name for a punk band made up of psychology professors. Please tell me we will get to see a show? 

I wonder if Al's dive into gambling will be a continuing issue? Al has been really good about sticking to his religious values, but with everything that has happened, I can see why he would slip. Gambling addictions tend to come from someone feeling a lack of control in their life, and after a year where Al felt like he was completely unable to help his family, even after saving his sister, I can see how he could get in too deep. That dream sequence was a real trip, especially when his mom showed up. "When did you learn English?" "Don't change the subject!" On a lot of sitcoms I would guess that the end was just a gag, but this show tends to take its characters more seriously then that. 

Edited by tennisgurl
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Oh, Al. I hope this is the tipping point for him to realize he needs to talk to a professional. Love Lizzie and the Professor though I have mixed feelings about him being around Hazel already, because if (when?) it ends Hazel will have lost someone fun in her life. The living room jam session was life and I totally want to see Rage Against the Dean preform. 

More Al in a suit, more Al and Riley in boxers and a tank top. Please and thank you.

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I found the ending flat and unresolved.

I'm assuming that Al is still hooked on gambling !?!?

I love the teacher and Lizzie but i still think end game is Lizzie and Al.

What i don't get is Al and Riley have been back what? At least a year or more? Why have they not converted the garage into 2 bedrooms and a small living space instead of them sleeping on cots?  They are contractors.

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On 1/21/2022 at 8:05 AM, joanne3482 said:

THAT's who he is! He was familiar but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I do like him here. 

I forgot about Kripke, but I remembered his as the Dad, Jimmy DiMeo, on Speechless.

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On 1/21/2022 at 2:56 PM, OlderThanDirt said:

I have questions about Art's house. Did the kids live there growing up? Is it only 2 bedrooms? Does Hazel have her own room? Why don't they all move to a larger house? 

I had the same question.  Don't most homes in Ohio (where the show is set) have basements?  If so, wouldn't that be a better alternative to Al and Riley living in the garage?  It gets very cold in the Midwest so it would be a poor choice as the garage door doesn't even have a thermal barrier.  And yes, I understand it's just on a soundstage in California.  I guess it saves the production company the cost of building and furnishing a separate basement set. 

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58 minutes ago, NativeHoustonian said:

I had the same question.  Don't most homes in Ohio (where the show is set) have basements?  If so, wouldn't that be a better alternative to Al and Riley living in the garage?  It gets very cold in the Midwest so it would be a poor choice as the garage door doesn't even have a thermal barrier.  And yes, I understand it's just on a soundstage in California.  I guess it saves the production company the cost of building and furnishing a separate basement set. 

I believe they live in Columbus, and, yes, the majority of houses there would have a basement.  And, presuming that Art lived there for quite a while, it would be likely that that basement would have been converted into additonal living space by now.  I live in Ohio and most people in my neighborhood have turned at least a portion of the basement into a family room, TV room, game room or similar.  When I first saw the show, I also wondered why Al and Riley would be living in the garage and not the basement.  My basement has tile floors, drywall, a large sectional sofa and a big screen TV.  Typical for the area and a much nicer living space than the garage.

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1 hour ago, NativeHoustonian said:

 And yes, I understand it's just on a soundstage in California.  I guess it saves the production company the cost of building and furnishing a separate basement set. 

Even if it is a soundstage in California, the production company would have to built a furnish a set for Al and Riley's shared bedroom whether it was going to be in the basement or the garage. I don't think making it a garage as opposed to a basement would have saved money. The shared living space for Al and Riley was going to be another space for the production company to build and furnish. 

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For some reason, my DVR didn't record the two most recent episodes. 

Yes, please to more Riley working out, wearing silkies and a sleeveless t-shirt.

I am not liking Lizzie and the professor at all. I find him creepy, not charming, and I don't see any sort of chemistry between them. I'm not sure of the actors' ages, but he just seems too old for her. 

I'm kind of surprised at the way they ended the episode, with no real resolution and Al still hooked on gambling.

 

 

Edited by SmithW6079
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13 hours ago, SmithW6079 said:

I'm not sure of the actors' ages, but he just seems to old for her. 

John Ross Bowie is 50 and Elizabeth Alderfer is 36. Not the best, not the worst. It took me a bit to see Professor Brett as his own person and not Kripkie (who was skeevy) but Professor Brett 110% came across as creepy and a problematic in this episode.

13 hours ago, SmithW6079 said:

I'm kind of surprised at the way they ended the episode, with no real resolution and Al still hooked on gambling.

Same. I hope it was left unresolved because it's going to be a part of Al's story arc and not due to lazy writing.

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