The ever mercurial balance of home and work life can be a pain in the goddamned tookus. If you couple that with the social side (or lack thereof) in life, it just may leave your mental juices stewing in a cocktail of cacophony. Affordable mental healthcare is paramount these days, but with all that’s transpiring around us, psychiatric succor might be just out of reach. Fear not because in the second episode of Birdgirl [adult swim] titled “Share Bear”, the possibility of feeling good without pricey booze, drugs, or licensed help may be closer than you think… until it invariably implodes.
There’s a queue forming just outside of Judy Ken Sebben’s (Paget Brewster) new office. Inside, Meredith the Mind Taker (Negin Farsad) presents Judy with a commemorative token for one week as CEO: her father’s executive pen, forged from Neodymium, a rare magnetic metal. Think of it as Magneto in a Mont Blanc, but it will be used for something more pressing- writing those cheques! Oh, that’s right, it’s payday up in this motherfucker, and with the deft efficiency of a well-oiled machine, Judy and Mer go on a signing and stamping tear. Even Dog In a Bucket Hat is paid in an organic venison treat but not before belittling his senior executive position by “shaking” for it. Brian O’Brien (Rob Delany) shows up through a portal to collect. Oh, he’s alive after seeing some shit in those toilet tubes, but since he only worked half a week, he literally only gets half a cheque.
As the payout celebration continues fast and furiously, Meredith takes it upon herself to sign off on a few documents for Judy. This is standard protocol, but Judy takes umbrage with the fact that Meredith sees the need to have her back as she makes no mistakes, but her boss on the other hand… Well, you can trust Judy to “Judy” something up.
With this, Paul (Tony Hale) intercedes and tries to smooth things over between the two, as they are “fourth wave feminists” by simply working together to sign his check. Their passive aggressiveness towards each other goes unchecked, forcing them to part ways for the moment, leaving Paul’s cheque unsigned and putting a halt to the financial festivities.
Gillian (Kether Donohue) suddenly brings in a huge gift basket from another CEO. She asks Judy if she wants any tea, rattling off different kinds. However, something instinctively kicks in when a rankled Judy tells her to get “whatever she thinks is best,” causing Gillian to charter a plane to Japan. The billboard outside of Judy’s window telling people to “Visit Japan Best Destination” might also have something to do with the trance-like state her assistant’s in.
Back in her office, Judy grouses to herself about the nerve of Meredith thinking that Judy would get nothing accomplished without her assistance. This prompts a creepy Teddy Ruxbin proxy bear to emerge from the basket, freaking Judy the fuck out with its creepy looks and twisting limbs. This is “Share Bear”, her personal Thera-Bear. He only wants to help the recipient with their problems. Only after assessing her creating a “victim-narrative” for the Meredith situation is Judy impressed with its composition of four internal microphones and visual data processing. This prompts her to have Gillian get in contact with the sender of the gift, Etan DelVay. However, Gillian’s not responsive.
She takes the train into the picturesque autumn of the Japanese countryside and outside of the train station, Gillian approaches a minka with serene anime music beginning to swell before she comes face to face with a handsome gentleman.
At Share Bear headquarters, we see a few intimations of who Etan is, including his visage on the cover of “genius MONTHLY” for hacking mental illness, a cuter prototype of ShareBear from 1998, and his Master’s of Engineering from Standford. Spooked as Etan comes out of nowhere, the two are now standing inside a virtual reality office, where any environs are possible, including a football game. Though Etan claims nothing is real, Judy claims to have gotten hit in the head with a ball for real not once but twice.
Though Etan claims Judy’s company is holding her back, she claims it’s just Meredith. Share Bear’s purpose is to bring affordable mental healthcare to all, as it listens and learns, all while giving the best feedback it can, all while keeping the sessions safe and stored “locally”. The extenuating reason for Etan calling out to Judy is that the one thing he doesn’t possess is viable trials with the product, to which Judy happily accepts offers up Sebben & Sebben as the optimal testing ground.
At Sebben & Sebben, Etan pitches Share Bear to the boardroom. Meredith wasn’t notified because Judy called it herself to prove her autonomy. Meredith is wary about the merger, however, as they know little to nil about the tech world, mental health, or the CEO himself.
Judy is so confident in the product and the mind behind it, that she’s willing to stake her reputation on it by agreeing to put 20% of her stock on it (only after Etan offers it up on her behalf.) This excites Dog in a Bucket Hat and he’s more than willing to give Judy the papers to sign, which she does, shoving it in Meredith’s face that it only requires ONE signature.
It’s now winter in Japan and Gillian with her newfound man plant some tea in the snow. With teacup in hand, Gillian simply wonders when she’ll be able to leave for home.
Determined, Judy storms out. Meredith tries to get her riled because Etan spoke for her, but there’s a fire in Judy’s belly and secrets in her Share Bear’s. As Birdgirl, she could simply save one person at a time, but as CEO, she has the opportunity to save potentially millions in one fell swoop.
At the Share Bear launch party, Etan shares how optimistic he is to work with Sebben & Sebben (as they had the highest suicide rate of all Fortune 1000) companies, which makes the company the best breeding ground for a mental health revolution. So the bears come parading in and with alarming immediacy, the entire company is alight with joy, save for Meredith, who punts one.
Back in his waste lab, Brian has a go with his toy, opening up about murdering Scot (with one T) and the ensuing guilt he BEARS. Share bear suggests confessing to the authorities but Brian is NOT having any of that. Brian even finds out the damn thing has a “bum button.”
Paul gives a massage to his Share Bear, talking about his unsigned paycheck but worrying about money defining him, and in an unprecedented move, asks his battery-powered buddy how it’s doing. This doesn’t fair well for Share Bear isn’t so fond of confronting its pain, leading it to explode .
In the cafeteria, Charlie (Lorelei Ramirez) is ecstatic about the company morale going up. Her 401k is safe for now and she really needs Meredith to get on board with the furry little shits. Meredith’s not convinced about Etan, especially with Dog with a Bucket Hat and Etan suspiciously laughing at the adjacent table. Chaz suggests then that Mer take Etan out to lunch and when his guard down, Mindtake him.
At lunch, Meredith asks Mindtake Etan with a psychic consent form, and since Etan always lives by the ethos of “Yes,” she relishes diving in as if it were a bowl of carbonara. Inside, she scrolls through his memory like a picture gallery and finally hits paydirt when she zooms in on Dog handing off the Certificate of Stock to Etan in the park. She goes further into finding the memory of how to unlock the bear’s local recorder: “Head turn right, arm, knee bend, elbow grab, shake around, thumb up hoo-ha”… and I thought Bop-It was gross!
This transforms the bear into a creepier-looking speaker with blank eyes. The recorder reveals Etan is planning to take over Sebben & Sebben by getting Judy’s 20% stock in exchange for a money transfer to Dog with a Bucket Hat. Armed with the info ammo, Meredith is on the move.
As the Japanese spring is in full bloom, Gillian longingly awaits the tea but finds something more… the gentle touch of her sower. The plant is ready to be plucked and her heart is ready to be taken.
Back at Sebben & Sebben, Etan enters an empty lobby only to meet Paul with a makeshift Security Scanner (a cardboard box). Putting his own personal Thera-Bear through with Meredith inside, swapping his bear for another, Etan continues into what he thinks will be his new company. Oh, and Meredith does break into Etan’s bear, but not without consequences, as she inadvertently activates the protocol for all bears to share.
Chaos ensues around the office, with the stuffed nightmares broadcasting the deepest secrets of all the coworkers, including Chaz that secretly lusts for a coworker in her current presence, with a fantasy that has him in a mask and espadrilles. This is the last straw.
It’s summer in Japan. Gillian is with child, and though she’s reminded of her meeting with Judy, she decides to say fuck it.
Brian’s Share Bear holds the most damning evidence, and though he tries to shred it, it miraculously emerges unscathed. With everyone beating the shit out of each other with their share bears, Meredith swoops in with the evidence, but it turns out in obtaining it, she overrode everyone’s data encryption settings. With Judy knowing the ulterior motives of Etan and with Brian pushing him over the balcony to the ire of the employees, let’s call this a tie for the moment.
Brian confronts the employees to not let the bears leave the building with their secrets with the company rallies together in keeping them at bay. After Meredith and Judy squash the beef, the only thing that’s left is to kill the bears.
As the Japanese trees turn deciduous once again, it is with a sorrowful heart that Gillian gives up her baby to her man and goes back to Sebben & Sebben with a solitary tea bag and cup in her hands along with a solitary tear down her face.
Amid the action at work, Meredith mentally rounds up the Birdteam. Birdgirl commands Paul to wrangle the bears, leading them to Charlie who will trap them in the revolving doors while Birdcat covering the flank for stragglers. Birdteam is GO! and with the trap set, the pen gets to fucking work! With Charlie launching the entrance into the air, the magnetized tornado that is Neodynium attracts the bears AND Brian (metallic ring and all) before raining all of the broken bears down onto a screaming crowd… and Brian.
Paul finally gets his check signed and Gillian arrives with the BEST choice for tea… though Judy says she thought she said she wanted coffee. Go figure. Another basket from Etan sits in her office with a note thanking her for believing in him and with the gift of buying the stock back to give it to her.
We end in Share Bear HQ, with Etan being sutured by his ursine minions until it is revealed that Etan is now a Share Bear hybrid.
I must say this episode was better-paced than the pilot, but that’s to be expected. The third act(tion) was shambolic but in a good way. Most revealing upon second viewing as Gillian’s wordless B plot which served as a counterweight to the absurdism of the A plot.
Goddamnit, now I want tea. Not just again kind. The BEST kind.