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In Episode 3 of Season 4 ("Open House"), Marie is wandering around a house looking at spoons. The realtor spots her and then the following conversation happens:

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REALTOR: Hi. Can I answer any questions?
MARIE: Oh! Spoons...
REALTOR: Yes, the owner is quite the collector. Aren't they something? One for each of the 50 states.
MARIE: Well... Puerto Rico is technically a territory.
REALTOR: (surprised) Huh!
MARIE: You know, maybe they were thinking, "some day!".
Both laugh

I know it's an extremely minor thing, and the conversation itself is meaningless within the scope of the whole show, but can anyone explain to me what happened here?

What point is Marie making? Why is the Realtor surprised? I'm pretty sure everyone knows that Puerto Rico isn't a state(!), so what's going on?

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There are 54 spoons in that display but there are 6 US territories, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Marinas, and the UMI's, not to mention DC... :P –  Nick T Jul 28 '13 at 18:34
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1 Answer

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I'm sure it is deliberate. The realtor comments that there is at least one commemorative spoon for each of the 50 states. Marie's response is not out of the blue, but instead indicates that she noticed one of the spoons was from Puerto Rico rather than from a state. Rather than just say, "hey, that one isn't from a state like you said they were," she is a bit more passive aggressive in her response (while still being playfully banal) -- she's in essence undermining the realtor's knowledge of the house owner's collection by pointing out that it's not technically a collection consisting solely of US state spoons.

In the larger sense, I might even argue it's not a meaningless conversation at all. It helps build up the story arc of Marie trying to deal with Hank's depression from being home-bound. He won't let her take care of him, and belittles her at every turn, especially when it comes to his own collections, so as she goes from house to house pretending to be different people, she can escape being Hank's wife for a little bit of time. She can be Tori or Charlotte or whatever other alias she chooses ... someone who knows about Puerto Rico or who has a different job ... and the kleptomania that goes along with it (from this house, she takes one of the spoons, correct? Maybe it's the one from Puerto Rico) shows how she wants to hold on to the remnants of these other imaginary lives.

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Thanks! Yes, I'm sure it wasn't completely meaningless, but I was anticipating comments along the lines of "Who cares?" and "It's doesn't mean anything!", so I thought I'd try and cut them off before they could whine :) –  Django Reinhardt Dec 22 '12 at 11:04
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