I Am Cait Returns with a Fascinating, Feisty Premiere

03/06/2016 AT 09:00 PM EST

Season 2 of E!'s reality series I Am Cait starts with a fascinatingly thorny chapter in Caitlyn Jenner's education as a woman. "Boy," she says, "this gets heavy" – and it does, although Jenner's tone in that moment falls on an indeterminate point between fascination and disinclination.

Spoiler warning: For all who have not seen the latest episode of I Am Cait, specific plot details will be revealed ahead.

Jenner and her mentor-friends (including writer Jennifer Finney Boylan and actress Candis Cayne) head out from Malibu on a kind of comfy whistle-stop tour in a very nice bus – they're all stoked to see the Grand Canyon! – but of course this is an allegorical journey too. The mentors want to make sure Jenner, 66, is heading in the right direction as a trans woman.

They try to get Jenner to open up about her sexuality, or her ideas about it, in terms of orientation and attraction – whether she gravitates toward men or women. Well, she says, she isn't interested in being a lesbian, having already accumulated three wives as Bruce. As to men, she says she can imagine a relationship in which the man behaves with what might be called a commanding deference – opening doors, for instance.



This may say more about Jenner's notions of femininity than about sexuality. It also suggests that Jenner is too practiced in the art of the television interview to give away any more than she damn well pleases until she's ready to do so.

RELATED VIDEO: The Caitlyn Jenner Story – from Olympic Icon to Transgender Hero


The best part of the hour involves the mentors trying to reason Jenner out of her belief in old-school Republicanism. She is obstinate. Republicans, she tells them, are libertarians who are most concerned about a strong economy. They just want everyone, including transgender people, gainfully employed. And she doesn't like Hillary Clinton. ("She could care less about women. She cares about herself.") No no no, say the mentors, reacting with the horrified unity of a Greek chorus.

It's a good thing they weren't around for her Advocate interview. There Jenner said she admires Republican nominee Ted Cruz and even jokingly floated the idea that she could advise a President Cruz on trans issues. (In fact, responding to that interview, Boylan wrote on her blog that she considered leaving the show over Jenner's conservatism.)

But does Jenner's gender identity mean she also has to sacrifice the political principles she acquired when she was still named Bruce? If, like many Americans, she thinks first and foremost in terms of money (which she has earned a lot of) and not in terms of social policy?

It will take more than a bus trip to talk through these issues. Possibly a trip to Mars. But let's all stay on the road.

I Am Cait airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on E!
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