High Maintenance recap: A knife and a straw

Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Darrell Thorne.photo: David Russell
Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Darrell Thorne.photo: David Russell /
High Maintenance recap
Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Ben Sinclair. photo: David Russell /

A familiar face pops up on High Maintenance as worlds collide in a fortuitous way.

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A defected Hasid, a Russian woman, and a drag queen walk into a bodega. It’s not a joke, it’s the premise of the latest High Maintenance.

High Maintenance delights in illustrating the inevitable connections between strangers in a giant city. In “Derech”, it draws a line between two oft stereotyped groups while smashing preconceived notions about both. As per ushe, the Guy is the common thread between the two main stories going on in the episode, but he’s pretty much at the fringes of the focus this week as the narrative builds to a life-changing encounter on a dirty bodega floor.

We first meet Baruch (Luzer Twersky) as he’s recovering from a night out. He’s a Hasidic Jew who has defected from his community, and he’s looking to live a more modern life. The trappings of a rebellious teenager are strewn about the apartment. Everything is a mess, there’s nothing but junk food for sustenance, and as soon as he’s alone, he pops on some porn.

The previous night, Baruch met a “shiksa” writer who he’s planning on hanging out with again that evening. Once he’s done spanking it, he texts her to make sure they’re still on. Of course, fans of High Maintenance probably sniffed out the culture vulture Anja’s return even before her name appeared on Baruch’s text thread. True to her portrayal in last season’s “Selfie” episode, Anja (Ismenia Mendes) hasn’t changed much. She’s a story vampire who cares only about the superficial. And now she’s working for VICE to boot, so her intrusive curiosity has an air of authority to it now. Ugh.

Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Luzer Twersky, Natia Dune.photo: David Russell
Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Luzer Twersky, Natia Dune.photo: David Russell /

Before Anja goes to meet up with Baruch, she stocks up on weed. Unsure why the Guy still delivers to her after she posted his bizz all over Instagram, but one thing we do know about him is that he’s pretty forgiving. He’s all business with her, and when he exits her apartment, he seems relieved. Except someone else has chained their bike to his, locking it in place. Crap. Stranded, he decides to take an Uber.

Surprise! His driver is Abdullah (Abdullah Saeed) back from the web series. (Side Note: He makes a brief appearance in episode “Brad Pitts”.) Since we last saw him, Abdullah has shaved, cleaned up, and made himself presentable for the world of taxi driving. The Guy almost doesn’t recognize him, but once he does, the two start to chat… and smoke, of course.

The two dudes decide that Abdullah will be the Guy’s personal chauffeur for the evening. When there’s no passengers, they hot box the car with a vape pen and chow down on gummies, and when there are passengers, they’re so baked that they kind of forget there are passengers.

While the Guy is having a great time tootling around the city with his long lost buddy, Anja has arrived at Baruch’s apartment. She quickly gets reprimanded for trying to take a picture – there are two lesbian women there who aren’t totally “out” of their respective communities – but she insists on taking a selfie with Baruch anyway. Oh, dude, you know that’s ending up on Scary Bradshaw’s ‘gram fo sho.

Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Machine Dazzle, Darrell Thorne.photo: David Russell
Episode 10 (season 2, episode 4), debut 2/9/18: Machine Dazzle, Darrell Thorne.photo: David Russell /

Elsewhere, the Guy delivers to a group of drag queens prepping for a show. One of the guys is a man we briefly saw shaving earlier in the episode. As the Guy checks out all the fun costume stuff in the dressing room, he surmises that it’s, “like a weird room in Nic Cage’s house.” This leads to a delightfully fluid conversation about pop-culture. The group of men move from talking about Nicolas Cage to Leaving Las Vegas to Elisabeth Shue’s best role (you were right, sparkle guy, it’s Adventures in Babysitting). They end up riffing on a Siri search, singing the new hit single “What are you up to Elisabeth Shue?” Just try to get it out of your head. It’s catchy af.

Everyone is happy and jiving behind the scenes at the club, and, coincidentally, it’s the same club that Anja brings Baruch to after the party at his apartment has broken up. They dance for a bit, and Baruch’s wild moves attract a Russian lady over from the sidelines. They groove for a song, and then take a break. Anja seems glad that her companion has found someone else, and she promptly goes off to sloppily make out with another dude. Anja is kind of the worst.

The club closes, and Baruch and his new friend Marina, united by their love of black clothing, decide to go grab a bite. They’re headed to pay for their sandwiches when the silvery drag queen walks into the store. Baruch can’t wait to eat his tuna bagel and starts wolfing it down even before they get to the cash register. His enthusiasm for his sandwich almost kills him, however, because he starts choking. Marina isn’t sure what to do, so she starts crying out for help. The drag queen runs up from the back, and calmly declares he’s a doctor. He asks for a knife and a straw and proceeds to perform an emergency tracheotomy on Baruch.

It’s a difficult scene to watch as he takes the small knife and makes a small incision in Baruch’s windpipe. He pushes his body paint covered finger – so much glitter! – into the incision and then inserts the straw. Crisis averted.

Related Story: High Maintenance Recap: Housing Crisis

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • What is Elisabeth Shue up to you, you ask? Shue was on CSI for three years from 2012 – 2015, and was recently in the film Battle of the Sexes, but you all know we’re just waiting for that Adventures in Babysitting remake. Don’t f*ck with the babysitter, y’all.
  • There’s sooooo much cheap junk food in Baruch’s apartment. Do defected Hasids eat so much crap or is it a young 20-something boy thing?
  • Love the Ikea bag that the doctor carries all his costume stuff around in. Durable, roomy, and easy to carry, Ikea bags are the best.
  • The coda to this episode is a delightful extended cut of the Guy, in full drag attire, suspended on moon-shaped scaffolding, spinning around in the middle of a packed club. If I were Ben Sinclair, this would totally be the screensaver on my computer.

‘High Maintenance’ airs Fridays at 11/10c on HBO.