"Public Relations" S1 / E4
- B- Community Grade
After really getting off the rails in episode three, Web Therapy returned this week with some major charm, thanks completely to Jane Lynch. Only a few episodes in, the show itself has become less and less enjoyable with every week, making it look like the transition from tiny webisodes to fully fleshed-out show might not have been a great move. But after returning to a sillier, more improv-inspired feel for episode four, it might just suffer from being a bit manic.
In a smart move, Lynch's character Claire Dudek appears at the top of the episode, as one of Fiona's new clients. She's a high-ranking executive at a reputable PR company who has been forced into therapy thanks to an impending lawsuit from slamming a paperweight down on the hand of a "subordinate." And if that didn't give enough away about her character, we see that she's an extremely busy workaholic who hasn't "taken a leisurely dump in the last ten years" thanks to her hectic schedule. Naturally, Fiona sees the opportunity in building a relationship with Claire and potentially becoming one of her PR clients but realizes it will take some finessing, especially because Claire is immediately off-put by Fiona's slow-paced, sing-songy manner.
There's a quick reveal of Fiona on the phone with her mysterious old coworker Jeremy who's finally contributed to her new company with a big check for $50,000 from Lochman Brothers. The buildup to Jeremy's eventual on-camera reveal is certainly being played out slowwwwly, which is interesting because it's been hard to really care very much about who this person from Fiona's past is after so many minuscule tidbits of information have been dropped. We're supposed to be on the edge of our seat with curiosity. Even after we learn the two still have some kind of strange semi-sexual exchange going on after he asks her to describe what she's wearing over the phone, it's hard to care.
By far the best scene of the episode is Claire's complete and total freakout. She unwisely takes poor advice from Fiona on how to smooth over the whole paperweight fiasco at the office and, as punishment, has her accounts taken away from her. More importantly, though, she loses her shit and it's marvelous. Few people can play delightfully angry in the way Jane Lynch can and even in the confines of this tiny character on this shaky show, she's a total wonder to watch. She kicks around the office, thrusts a full bucket of Red Vines at her computer, smashes everything in her sight and starts lighting matches, all while shrieking "dang nabbit!" It's awesome.
But she's no fool and realizes immediately that Fiona set her up to be suddenly more available at work and able to take her on as a new client. Claire's quick chess moves has her calmly announcing she's bought up every website and patent related to the term "web therapy" and plans to leverage the rights to Fiona's budding company in exchange for positive therapy reviews at her work. Not to be outdone, Fiona return with a clever move of having recorded all their exchanges, including Claire's in-office meltdown and on-camera bribery. She wants to be Claire's client and is willing to go with a 90-10 profit split. In a nice alpha female exchange, the two decide they're a nice match and agree to go into business together, each benefiting nicely from the exchange.
The end of the episode tacks on a lighting-quick scene with Fiona's husband Kip which feels entirely too short and makes you wish for Victor Garber's presence to be felt more during the show. Fiona goes on to meet her two newest clients, a porn star and her boyfriend struggling with her intimidating "success" as a businesswoman. Oof. Just when the show seems to be focusing on the funny — hilarious performers and focused characters like Lynch's — they fall right back into cartoony territory with porn stars and eyeroll-inducing plots developments. Here's hoping they at least keep Lynch on board long enough to make up for all that with a few wildly loose scenes like her wondrous office meltdown.