Old Adderall, many wigs, and an 8-bit Cantonese ghost are the key players in Awkwafina is Nora from Queens latest episode, Savage Valley. We’ve got the recap.
I always thought that people who said life is game were losers. Their own lives were in shambles and they just wanted to seem like they had answers. Hey, you have to convince yourself of a lie before you can make anyone else believe it. So, when devoted lottery players would double down on trademarked phrases like, you have to play to win, I would just sigh and rage on the inside. Then RPGs became super popular and enticingly simple. I would spend hours farming on games for shards of characters, abilities for characters, and food for characters. And then I realized life is a game. The losers were right all along. Anywho, that’s the headspace for this very funny episode of Awkwafina is Nora from Queens. “Savage Valley” was written by Emily Goldwyn (SMILF) and directed by Jamie Babbit (Russian Doll).
Nora (Awkwafina) needs to get her car out of car jail. That’s where it’s been since she slept in it while parked in a tow zone in the “Pilot.” But she’s also part of a global team that is in the midst of running raids in the massive multiplayer RPG Savage Valley. Nora’s teammates are both tweens. Thierry (Lucas Toll Luchsinger) and Kofi (Jason Kisare) may be in other countries, but they are very much with Nora every night in Savage Valley’s version of Discord. Due to the time zone difference, Nora is tuck playing all night.
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When Nora starts to slack at raiding, Kofi suggests that she take the popular American drug cocaine. Nora doesn’t have an 8 ball in her room, but she rummages around and unearths an expired bottle of Adderall. Because they’re expired, and, theoretically less potent, Nora takes two pills. It’s like she’s just taken a power up. Nora is imbibed with boundless energy.
Besides helping her pull her weight in Savage Valley, the Adderall helps Nora with her new job. Nora’s dad (BD Wong) gets her a job as an office assistant with family friend Nancy (Deborah S. Craig). She’s an overworked real estate agent who hasn’t had a break in years. Like, not a vacation break. We’re talking a 15-minute coffee break. Nancy specializes in hard to sell properties, which includes a death house that is haunted by a Cantonese ghost.
Twelve Punch Combo
At first, Nora uses her newfound energy to organize Nancy’s office. All paperwork is converted to spreadsheets, hard copies are filed, and a drawer of highlighters are purchased for highlighting purposes (the best purposes). As Nora continues to pop more pills, she farms more complicated tasks for both Savage Valley and Nancy. She learns HTML in 18 minutes, creates a lovely website for Nancy’s business, and posts all of her available properties on it. Nancy starts to get requests to view the properties by the dozens.
Dad and grandma (Lori Tan Chinn) are proud of Nora. She is thriving at a real job. And she’s making breakfast for her family instead of vice versa. Plus: the hair. It’s wigs. But, not just any wigs. Wigs that have been doctored by curling irons and carry more product than David Boreanez’s real hair during any point of the five-season run of Angel. That’s to match her role model: Nancy. Also, it’s like spending spare credits to dress up your avatar in a game. See? See how hard I’m pushing this comparison?! Don’t worry. The episode is well written and gets the same message across in a subtle way.
Nora’s aggression starts to come out more at her night job, Savage Valley. Thierry and Kofi don’t like how rough she’s getting with other players. Farming raids are starting to turn into pillaging pillages. There’s also a sense that Nancy’s office has become so automated by Nora that it doesn’t need Nancy to function. But, all of a sudden, like a debuff from a hidden character, Nora runs out of Adderall. She frantically tries to score more but ends up with something more powerful that causes hallucinations.
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Nora is tasked with cleaning the murder house for a viewing the next day. It looks like a crack house that was abandoned because it’s just that nasty. Nora shows up high on brain pills with a shopping cart full of cleaners, mops, and charisma. But the Adderall replacement starts to make her hallucinate. The screen turns to 8 bit and 16-bit computer characters. She is confronted by the Cantonese ghost. The fight looks like it’s going to be dope. Nora essentially slays the ghost, but it snapped back into reality by Nancy, who has shown up the couple for the viewing. Was Nora at the house all day and all night? Yikes. Her appearance and broom jousting makes Nancy express her disappointment in her.
If that wasn’t enough of a downer, Thierry and Kofi kick her off of their Savage Valley team. Nora went from a super productive millennial with a bustling work and play life to a jobless millennial with too much energy. That’s like a major symptom of generalized anxiety. Nora feels like a failure.
She shows up at Nancy’s the next morning expecting to be fired. And Nora is fired. But not because she screwed up. Nancy sold the scary property. She can now quit the business. Nora does get paid $379. That’s enough to free her car and inspire some pride. Her dad is still proud. He’s even prouder when Nora expresses her truth: she can’t work in an office. She needs to find work that she can believe in and be a part of. She doesn’t want the video game experience of completing tasks for credits that may or may not level you up higher in life’s game.
Did you enjoy this episode of Awkwafina is Nora from Queens? What’s your favorite online multiplayer game? Let’s discuss in the comments!