Baskets 3.9 Recap: Martha Has Man Trouble On Her 50th Birthday

by Gary Catig

It’s Christmas time and Ken is waiting for his flight back to Denver. He’s still upset that he disappointed Christine and is wondering about their relationship. Having been in a similar position in his previous relationships, he knows that if he goes home it will truly be over. He decides not to board his plane and goes back to Bakersfield to fight for the woman he loves.
[**Spoilers for 3.9 Ahead!]
Thanksgiving was a bad time for Christine as it was the first after her mother’s passing.  Christmas is even worse with the added drama of both Ken and Dale. She’s trying to take her mind off of things by going Christmas tree shopping, but since it is so last minute, the pickings are slim. She and Chip decide to buy an artificial one at Costco.
While there, they pay Martha a visit at work. They learn that her birthday is coming up and it’s her big 5-0. She doesn’t have anything big planned though since her boyfriend, the shepherd, has to work that night at the family restaurant. Chip, who’s been working on his empathy, doesn’t want his friend to spend her special day by herself. He and his mother plan a surprise party at the restaurant the shepherd will be working at. It’s killing two birds with one stone as Martha will have her party and spend it with her man. Plus, Chip thinks it will be an excellent opportunity to debut his new clown persona, Dill Pickles.
Chip has the responsibility of bringing Martha to the party. When he visits her apartment, he sees a different side of her. She’s all dolled up posing provocatively with a flower in her mouth. Obviously, she was expecting someone else despite saying otherwise. Chip brings the celebrant to the venue blindfolded. When Martha finally sees where she is, she is instantly uneasy.
Martha takes Chip aside and confesses the true reason why she’s so uncomfortable.  Apparently, the shepherd is married and that she is a mistress instead of a girlfriend. Not only that, but the wife works at the restaurant they’re currently in. She’s going to need her friend’s help to get her out of this messy situation.
Meanwhile, Ken pays the Baskets home a visit, but no one is there since they’re at the birthday celebration. Luckily for him, the neighbor is able to tell him where Christine is. When he arrives at the restaurant, he calls Chip to help him out with his mom. The two meet in the bathroom so Chip can get into character. When Ken learns that Dill is a caricature of his brother Dale, he warns Chip that it is a bad idea. Dale left because of the pressure of running the business. If he sees Dill Pickles, he’ll never come back.
Christine has one last birthday surprise for Martha. She inquires about the shepherd inadvertently telling his wife how he has thing going with the birthday girl. When the restaurant staff come out to sing “Happy Birthday”, the shepherd’s wife throws champagne into Martha’s face. Chip chases after his friend and apologizes for what happened.
As Chip takes Martha home, she admits that she had a romantic rendezvous with her other man, the trucker. When they do meet up, it is only briefly as she breaks it off with him as well.  She’s 50 now and not a young girl. She doesn’t have time to chase other guys when she knows the relationship isn’t meant to be.
After a pep talk from Chip, Ken finally goes to talk to Christine. As the two reconcile, Dale finally comes home with the news that he’s engaged. It seems all he needed was a little time away from the family since he seems back to normal. He doesn’t mention his litigation and even kisses his mom as he enters the home.
Martha’s short lived polyamorous lifestyle was very eye opening for her. First, she learned how to be more outgoing, actually taking chances and putting herself out there in order to become more familiar with the shepherd and the trucker.  Although she didn’t end up with either, at least she knows now what she wants from a serious relationship. She understands that it wasn’t meant to be and maybe that’s why she isn’t so down that she lost them. After all, besides having champagne thrown on her, this was probably her best birthday ever.
Similarly, Chip experienced some maturation. Most of the episode, he was only focused on premiering his new clown character. Even at the expense of Martha, who was celebrating a birthday. He came to his senses and realized he was being selfish since it wasn’t his special day. Only if he came to this realization sooner, maybe Martha wouldn’t have had champagne in her face.
Interesting episode notes:

  • In addition to being awesome, Christine has super strength since she was able to stuff a Christmas tree into a garbage can by herself, bare handed.
  • Martha’s coworkers don’t even know who she is because they sang “Happy Birthday” to the wrong person.
  • Though she is 50, Martha still receives Dolls for Christmas from her parents

Baskets airs Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm on FX.

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