Let’s start by saying that this one is the funniest yet. I laughed a lot about episode 4, “Potatoes”, even despite some of its tropes, but this one managed to do the same without them and right off the bat. I usually watch these in my clinic’s quiet room, and holy fuck am I glad I sat elsewhere this time, because about 3 minutes in I could not contain myself. And yet, because it’s Brett Goldstein’s writing, this episode also packs some heavy punches, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
“Oh, you smell like bad decisions.” – “Please, we all do.”
The cold open is the morning after last week’s party. Alice gets up and spots Sean outside her window, dissolving into “what the fuck”s when he makes eye contact. Liz is hungover, Derek is less so. “Please don’t say the thing that you always say when I drink too much.” – “Was it worth it?” – “Fuckhole.” (If you’re immediately thinking wow they always swear on the show, but this seems more excessive than usual, then you’re right – I didn’t count, but let’s just say, it’s another hallmark of the author). Paul wakes up still chewing his tie, asleep on the couch with a bag of Doritos on top of him. Gabby wakes up with Jimmy on top of her. They have the expected incredibly awkward conversation, giving Segel time for some the nude physical comedy he so oddly excels at (albeit without the memorable full frontal of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and the dialogue that made me snortlaugh into my FFP2 mask. I will never forgive Goldstein for connecting vaginas with Florida in my head, never, ever, especially because I love pussy and spend too much time in Orlando. What can I say, I handle humidity quite well, and they are hospitable down there. Heyo.
Gabby is equally thrilled by the comparison, but they also don’t have much more time to talk. They obviously don’t want Alice to realize they had sex, so Gabby has to pretend she slept in the guest room. They can be grateful Alice is a self-involved teenager (especially given her own Sean drama), because they are painfully obvious, and Paul, who has sauntered into the kitchen, still stoned, picks up on it immediately. The whole scene is another firework of jokes that all land; the perfect marriage of performers that gel well with each other and the right words for them to play with.
Meanwhile, Liz and Derek keep dealing with his impending retirement that clashes with her need for space. Bill Lawrence mentioned on his social media that that’s a speech Christa Miller has given him several times and that the editors made fun of him for rewatching it over and over again. I wonder if this will also develop into a bigger storyline and potential source of real relationship crisis, but I hope it won’t, because as is, it’s a wonderful, mundane conflict to have played out on TV. Especially because it gives space to both of them to assert their boundaries and needs, and we don’t see enough of that on screen.
Sean has less to do this week, but we learn that he struggles to find a job as a felon, and gets a nice scene with Liz. She encourages him to do what he enjoys, which is cooking – so he hosts a barbecue, resulting in one of the signature feel-good found-family scenes of Lawrence’s dramedies, underlined by Miller’s wonderful music supervision. She always finds the perfect upbeat, but slightly melancholic song; this time, it’s Sam Fender’s “Seventeen Going Under”. (Sidenote: Miller does short Instagram videos every week where she talks about her choices for each episode, they are definitely worth checking out!)
“You made a mistake. Everybody makes fucking mistakes, it’s not a big deal. Everybody just needs to forgive, and forget, and move the fuck on.”
Paul and his daughter at first get on well. She takes him to the neurologist and also picks up on the fact that they are into each other (still waiting for that plot-line to develop). We learn that Paul experiences freezing, the inability to walk when he wants to, because of his Parkinson’s. Naturally, it’s Chekov’s symptom that comes back at the worst moment, and it’s also a nice metaphor for his general inability to take a real step forward in his relationship with Meg who invites him to move in her. They have a big, nasty fight, just after they were beginning to reconnect with a tearjerker of a dancing scene, and she packs up and leaves. Since Ford will steal Goldstein’s supporting actor Emmy this season, at least he should get one for his writing here, so everyone wins.
“Safe dick” is a wonderful term for someone you sleep with that you know you will never have feelings for, but I also have a hunch that Gaby is lying to herself here – because well, how often does friends with benefits actually work, both in reality and in fiction? I do enjoy their friendship, and of course their shared past is difficult, but it’s also what connects them. I’m looking forward to see where the writers will go with it. Granted, if Jimmy keeps comparing his dick to Neil Diamond that issue might solve itself quickly, but on the other hand, he realizes he’s being selfish, and apologizes to her. Season 2 is already being written as we speak, so there’s plenty of potential here for the future – when both of them are ready for “anything even remotely real”. Gaby talks to Tia about the hook-up to alleviate her guilt, something Jimmy has trouble doing. He gets around to it at the end of this episode which unfortunately, Alice overhears, making it this week’s other cliffhanger.