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‘Downward Dog’ S1 Ep 6 review: Not old, just older

Martin and Nan’s latest existential crisis centers on aging. On his first birthday (7th in dog years), Martin’s main goal is to have the ultimate nap. When Jenn crashes his party with a puppy in tow, he is suddenly confronted by his own mortality. Similarly, Jenn and Nan go out to blow off some steam and face a bitter reality: they aren’t so young and carefree anymore. Is it depressing to dwell on how much we’re aging? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be. Maybe we’d all feel better about birthdays if we had Bon Jovi’s philosophy: We’re ” not old – just older.”

In “Old,” Martin sets out to take the best nap of his entire life. He has the perfect position figured out (it’s poetic, really) and isn’t even worried about aging like all the other dogs. He sets realistic expectations for himself, like building a sweater fort. Just when he thinks nothing can go wrong on his big day, Nan gets a phone call from Jenn asking to crash at her place.

Nan is frustrated after her fight with Jason. She lashed out at him after he nearly put Martin’s life in jeopardy. Hey, she had a right. He could’ve gotten her baby killed all because he was distracted by a virtual reality video game. She’s been calling him ever since and apologizing, but he’s giving her the silent treatment. Things get extra awkward when he drives Jenn over, drops her bag off at the door and walks away without acknowledging Nan. Ouch!

Relationships are messy all around. Jenn is staying with Nan because she had a fight with her fiance, Dan. Throughout the season we’ve seen her complex and sometimes confusing passive-aggressive relationship with him. When he gifts her with a puppy, she bolts and needs some space to think.  Maybe things are moving faster than Jenn wants. A puppy is kind of like the first step to starting a family and having a baby. It’s just too much too soon.

Jenn finds a box of Nan’s childhood belongings, which her father sent over in attempt to be “dad-like.” She pops in a DVD of when Nan was 7 years old. We see her playing on the beach with a dog and her parents. Nan walks in and immediately turns it off. This is not the time. She’s not ready do go down this road. Jenn wants to stay home and mope, but Nan has a better idea: They should self-medicate with alcohol at the Muddy Slutty…like they did in their 20s. When they head out, Nan entrusts the puppy into Martin’s care.

As expected, Martin is not having it with this puppy. The little guy is invading his person space, playing with his toys, and worst of all, interfering with his goal to nap. He’s also making him feel old, but he’s in total denial about it. Martin’s not staring death in the face or anything, he’s just pissed because the puppy ruined his plans. In classic Martin form, our egotistical protagonist is actually proud of his behavior with the puppy.

In theory, Martin believes he could eat the puppy if he wants to, but he doesn’t. Instead, he takes care of the little guy. The puppy ruins his nap and is “literally physically assaulting” (playing) with him, but Martin still lets him win. He even lets the puppy have Lobster Jimmy. Once his patience wears out, he steps out for fresh air.  He has some soul-searching to do and so does Nan.

The girls’ outing isn’t going as planned. Instead of feeling better, they’re feeling old. Especially when the bartender thinks they’re on a mom’s night out. For some reason, one’s perception of age changes after turning 30 (we learn that Nan is 31). They look around at all the silly kids at the bar and Jenn realizes they need a change of venue. Nan suggests bike sharing, so they go for a ride. After getting heckled by a passersby, Jenn hits the brakes and says this is not why she turned to her friend.

Jenn is upset at Nan for not being the kind of pampering and indulgent friend she needs right now. Nan apologizes and explains how the DVD was a video her dad shot the day before her mother left. Seeing it struck a nerve, but that doesn’t excuse her behavior. Awww, poor Nan! I think Jenn can cut her some slack. The haunting DVD, plus Jason’s cold shoulder adds up to a lot of messy feelings. Just as they get on the same page, storm clouds begin rolling in.

Meanwhile, Martin is taking deep breaths and trying to calm himself down in the yard. He thinks he could take his perfect nap outside, but then it starts to rain. He really can’t catch a break on his birthday and that’s when his mortality hits him. Spending time with the puppy makes him feel even closer to death. The puppy has a lifetime of toys ahead of him, but Lobster Jimmy may be it for Martin. Wow that is bleak. He can be a real buzz kill sometimes. Time to mix some chill pills in with his kibble.

Martin has reached his breaking point. If the puppy can’t “keep his ugly little paws to himself” and wants Lobster Jimmy, then “he can go to hell,” which just happens to be located under the house. Yeah, “the pit of despair” is just the basement, but you have to admit, basements can be pretty creepy. Martin sets his trap and tosses Lobster Jimmy downstairs, so that the puppy rolls down the steps. This way it’ll look like the puppy got there accidentally while they were playing.

He is so conniving! The puppy pathetically paws at the step and whimpers when he can’t get back up. Martin coldly walks away, hoping he will finally take the perfect nap. What?! No! Martin, how could you?!!! Such a conniving and terrible thing to do. For shame! That’s pretty childish behavior for someone who’s starting to feel old, don’t you think?

Elsewhere, Nan and Jenn begin to realize that age is relative and life is what you make of it. A chance encounter with Deejay Devine (Nichelle Nichols) proves that you will never feel old if you remain young at heart. After watching her belt out an oldie but a goodie like a diva, Nan and Jenn thank her for being their new hero. She informs them that she only started singing at age 79 after her husband died and she stopped feeling sorry for herself. Now she’s 86 years old and she’s never been better. Way to preach and teach! Age is just a number and dwelling doesn’t ever do us any good. Luckily, Martin learns a similar lesson back at home.

He’s been so busy obsessing over how the puppy sabotaged his birthday nap and has been consumed by this newfound fear of aging. After he circles and settles down for the perfect nap, Martin can’t shake the puppy’s sad and helpless whimpers. He chooses to be a “hero” and confronts two great fears at once: he faces his fear of aging/death by braving the basement and protecting the adorable puppy. Phew! If Martin didn’t fix it, I was going to hold a grudge.

Nan and Jenn return home to find Martin and the puppy snuggled up together at the foot of the stairs. Awww! Martin recalls the dream he had in which he found a sky-high mountain of toys (cool graphics courtesy of Samm Hodges). He sees a small pile of toys at the foot of the mountain and realizes that he will only play with or experience a tiny fraction of what exists. This dude gets too deep for me sometimes. Just play with your toys, cuddle with Nan and have some fun, Martin. Leave the worrying to humans…Speaking of which, the ladies have made some progress after an enlightening day.

Jenn dashed out on Dan because he got her a puppy. What does that say about a person? Nan believes it means “we’re all just baby adults and we have no idea what we’re doing with life.” That’s true. We’re going to feel that way throughout our lives, no matter how old we get because there are always new and frightening experiences to be had. For Deejay Devine it was taking the stage in the twilight of her life. However, Nan and Jenn don’t have to wait that long. Sometimes all we need is a nudge in the right direction.

Jenn reveals that Nan had a positive influence on Jason because he just enrolled in community college. The slacker is starting to get his act together. He isn’t the only one in need of stepping-up. Nan thinks it’s time for Jenn to stop running away from that grown-up conversation with Dan. She takes another cue from Deejay Devine and admits it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. She hasn’t seen her dad in three years, so about time she watches that DVD.

Nan tears up while watching the video. She sees her mother, Ellen, pushing her father away when his shifts the camera’s focus onto her. Afterwards, she calls her dad. Maybe this is the start of Nan’s much-needed healing. It must be difficult to grow up knowing your mom walked out on your family. That just sucks. It’s obvious that this was a big deal for Nan. Hopefully, we’ll find out where it goes for her from here.

At the end of the day, Martin’s birthday wish comes true. He has the best nap of his life while nestled on the couch with Nan, Jenn and the puppy. Now, if only he could shake those creepy nightmares featuring Pepper the evil cat. “You’re gonna die” is a song that will continue haunting me. shudders That cat is scarier than the pit of despair!

What did you think of “Old”? Did dwelling on age depress you or did you learn some lessons along with Nan and Martin? What your favorite moments? Did one of Martin’s Musings strike a chord with you? Share your thoughts below!

Unfortunately, ABC cancelled the show and will air the final two episodes back-to-back on Tuesday, June 27 at 10/9c. However, fans have a campaign in the works. Find out how you can help us get #MoreDD here.

Martin’s Musings

  • “I don’t really get hung up on numbers, because, like, instead, every year, I set a really specific goal for myself.”
  • “And someday, like, yeah, someday I might confront my fear of the, you know, actual pit of despair, that lies under my house. But this year, for my birthday, I have one plan — I’m gonna take the best nap of my entire life.”
  • “I feel like literally nothing can go wrong.”
  • “Like what did I possibly do to deserve this thing coming into my home?”
  • “I think most people hate puppies because they’re tired of the glorification of youth culture. Or, like, the fact that they have their entire lives in front of them and don’t have to care for their life partners as they cry about the same guy for six years.”
  • “…puppies aren’t staring death in the face very time they lay awake at night. But that’s not me, like, not at all. I just want my nap.”
  • “I’m a sensitive guy…But at the same time, I’m not going to let that puppy ruin my nap…I’m just [bleepin] not.”
  • “I could’ve ate him. Like, of course, I would never — I would never do that. I’m just saying, like, that — like, that was an option.”
  • “Maybe 7 isn’t just, like, a number.  Like, maybe I’m not so chill about getting older, okay? Like, that puppy — he has his youth, he has his beauty, like, he has a whole lifetime of toys in front of him, and this could be one of the last toys I ever get. …if that puppy wants Lobster Jimmy, he can go to hell.”
  • “One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is to never, ever give up on your goals, even if your obstacle happens to be, like, you know, like, a tiny, fluffy, little puppy.”
  • “The real key to a great nap is the circling.”
  • “The second part of the story, like, the important part — is that today, I became a hero, cause I chose to confront my fear of aging and I confronted the gathering inevitability of my own death. I even confronted my fear of that basement, and I saved that stupid, incredibly cute, super-adorable, little puppy.”
  • About his Toy Mountain dream: “…It struck me: ‘Oh, my God. These are all the toys I will ever play with.’ …all I will experience is, like, a tiny, tiny fraction of what exists. The thought just paralyzed me.”
  • “…I’ve only got a handful of toys and, like…only a handful of years. But the thing is, like, I have this year.”
  • “Today, I’m turning 7, and that might not mean a lot to some people and maybe I don’t have all that many years left, but, like, that’s fine.  Because today — like, today is worth it. Like, I’m here right now, and I have all this in front of me. And I mean…today I had the best nap of my whole, entire life.”

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