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Apparently Scientology has just zoomed by Kabbalah in the race to be crowned most scandalously hip belief. Sure, there was the Tom Cruise show of last year, but that was only leading up to the coronation. Having a Scientology storyline included in television’s most scandalous show, “Nip/Tuck“–now that’s a crowning achievement.

Centering on the Miami plastic surgery office of Drs. Sean McNamara and Christian Troy, “Nip/Tuck” is the kind of show where a story arch about Sean and Christian just doing a simple nose job would be shocking, simply shocking, to the show’s viewers, who expect the salacious and scandalous, which are the norm for this FX network hit: Serial killers with no penises, mother-daughter threesomes, face cream made out of sperm, human organ trafficking, and lots and lots of nudity.

The Scientology subplot is sandwiched in and given much less airtime than the others. (Is Christian really gay and in love with Sean? And, if so why is he having sex with his married boss who’s being blackmailed?) But it is just as tasty.

This season, Kimber–Christian’s ex-fiance and and an ex-porn star–has discovered Scientology and is bringing Matt McNamara into the fold. Matt is Sean’s adopted son, but his biological father is actually Christian Troy.

While we’ve been getting hints and glimmers of the Scientology storyline, last night’s episode was a reward for those patiently waiting for something to develop. It was sprinkled with Scientology speak–Kimber mentions Thetans at one point, and the episode also references the “Detox,” a combination of large doses of vitamins and sauna done to rid bodies of toxins and other chemicals, such as the anti-depressants Matt was on last season.

Even though Matt’s grades are up since joining the Church of Scientology, Sean and Julia (his mother) and Christian, are deeply worried. And superficial Christian doesn’t fail to come through by saying: “It’s humiliating for him, for us.” Of course, he may simply be reacting to the fact that Matt has already told Christian that he must cut him out of his life, since Christian is a “Suppressive Person”–according to Scientology, a person who impedes the progress of a practitioner.

Sean and Christian try to bribe Matt into returning to the family fold with a shiny black Porsche. And while he has dreams of the very sexy Kimber, whom he has a crush on, being impressed with the car, she instead chastizes him, saying that his choice of materialism means he’s not ready for real spiritual growth.

Kimber and Matt head back to his parents with another member of the Church to remove Matt’s belongings and move him to a center. Christian and Sean stage an intervention/abduction, but it goes awry.

Of course, this whole subplot couldn’t have been done without the help of Cruise. Prior to Cruise’s bizarre antics, writers of all ilks stayed away from the topic, due to the Church of Scientology’s legendary litigiousness. But Tom’s “The Today Show” interview and the subsequent back-and-forth with Brooke Shields over post-partum depression opened the religion up to criticism and “Nip/Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy and his team ran with it.

What they’ve come up with is riveting stuff–and realistic, at least for a show that could usually be described as plastic.

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