I’m a Virgo S1E3: Paco Rabanne

After seeing and hearing about him in the margins, we get a closer look at Walton Goggins’ Hero, as he flies over an eviction protest Jones is leading. He comes across neither as a noble Superman or a grim Batman, but instead a humorless middle school principal, who’s a stickler for the rules and takes a dim view of his charges, as evidenced by his slogan: “Get Your Mind Right, Half-Wits!”

Cootie is at least doing well — he’s on a date with Flora. He doesn’t really know how to talk to girls, but she’s patient with him, as she’s clearly interested, although it’s hard to tell how much of that is genuine romantic interest and how much is understandable fascination with the sheltered giant. And Cootie still looks up to The Hero; he’s naive enough to believe in justice as an abstract concept, without any real idea of how, in practice, it gets applied more harshly to people who look like him.

As we saw last week, Flora has grander ambitions than Bing Bang Burger, she’s an aspiring chef who wants to bring cheap, nutritious food to the masses, but working in a fast food joint is the only way available to her to take a step closer to that dream. She follows their dinner date — the only non-fast-food restaurant Cootie’s ever been in — with a second dinner at a buffet.

We also see Flora’s hyperspeed from her perspective. Cootie stops mid-word, as does everyone else in the buffet, while she listlessly takes another bite of food. She’s used to it. “I’m not fast, you’re just slow.” We see a series of flashbacks, of time slowing down around her as her parents misdiagnose her issue as convulsions, seizures, autism, until she finally starts writing them letters, and teaching herself to slow down her speech so she can communicate with them. 

The montage includes a quick shot of her hugging her frozen, glassy-eyed, uncomprehending parents which is quietly heartbreaking. They have no idea what to do to help her, but they’re clearly doting parents even when their daughter is a complete mystery to them. Eventually, years of dealing with that mystery splits them up, although by that point Flora can slow down enough to understand them, and can read between the lines well enough to know that she’s the one who pushed them apart. So maybe her interest in Cootie stems from both of them being outsiders who spent their childhoods cut off from other people. She’s just further along in acclimating to society than he is. 

Meanwhile, Cootie’s mom, LaFrancine, is helping Jones with her anti-eviction activism, but they clash over philosophy. Jones just wants to help people where she can; LaFrancine wants to burn it all down and build a better world from the ashes. Jones has to stand up for her left-wing bona fides — she does want to overthrow capitalism, but democratically, from the ground up. LaFrancine thinks that’s a waste of time, and wants to strike one, decisive blow. Based on the foreshadowing we’ve gotten at the end of the first two episodes, that no doubt involves her giant son.

The giant son in question, however, is focused on his second date with Flora. Felix gets it into his head that a second date so soon after the first means Cootie’s going to get laid, (“Next day, sex day!”), which makes thoroughly inexperienced Cootie nervous enough. But he’s also got a rash from the clothes he has to wear at his modeling job. YouTube suggests putting garlic paste on the rash, and he uses so much cologne it leaves a fog throughout the house (while his dad makes up a “Get out of my cologne” song from the other room.) 

None of that seems to bother Flora on their second date (which is mercifully outdoors). She takes Cootie to the docks, and impresses him by rapidly banging two shipping containers until the vibration produces a mindblowing bass note. Not a typical romcom date, but it’s weird and sweet in equal measure, which fits these two perfectly.

Felix was also correct about next day sex day, although Flora pulls out a notebook in which she’s calculated the probable outcomes of this date and concluded that sleeping with Cootie was the most positive outcome. Because time moves much more slowly for her, she has a lot of it in which to overthink things. This is two dates in two days for Cootie (three if you count the two dinners), but to Flora it probably feels like weeks since she’s seen him.

Between the politics and romance, Virgo still has room for silliness, like a sequence where Cootie’s friend Scat bikes down the sidewalk through a Simpsons-like parade of obstacles, ending in a deliberately-fake-looking jump through the air that gives him enough time to light a cigarette and take a selfie. But it turns dark very quickly. He crashes his bike, ends up with a piece of metal sticking out of his abdomen, and gets turned away from the hospital for not having insurance. The unsympathetic receptionist suggests a county hospital two bus routes away. We leave Scat passed out at a bus stop halfway there, soaked in his own blood.

By a stroke of incredible luck, Felix drives by and rescues him, speeding to the other hospital, but Scat doesn’t make it out of the parking lot without collapsing. Scat dies twenty feet from the emergency room doors, as Felix frantically calls for help that only comes too late.

Stray thoughts:
• Paco Rabanne was a Spanish fashion designer who used unconventional materials like metal and plastic in his futuristic designs. The title might be a reference to Cootie’s rash-causing outfit (which might have significance going forward or might just be a quick sight gag), or simply a tribute, as Rabanne passed away in February. 

• It can be hard to know what to include and what to leave out in these reviews, because every detail here ends up being important. Before his bike ride, Scat stops by a comic book shop to buy a gift for Cootie. On the TV is another episode of the existentially bleak cartoon the kids were watching last week — a weatherman’s meditation on mortality and lives that never got to experience love feels like an out-of-nowhere moment the show stops to accommodate, but Scat hears the monologue again in his head in the final moments.

• The comic book shop owner also gives Scat a bootleg copy of a lost episode of that same cartoon, which was banned for causing severe emotional distress in viewers. It’s not clear whether Scat dropped it at some point, or whether we’ll see it again.

• The contrast of an older activist who wants to burn it all down against a younger activist who wants a more organic approach is interesting, as that age dynamic is usually reversed. In our experience, people don’t get more conservative with age, but they do get more pragmatic.

• Between the two dinner dates, Oakland’s lucky to have plenty of restaurants with very high ceilings.