“Whistle While You Work” S1 / E9
- B Community Grade
If you've made it this far into Web Therapy, it means you've been able to do a very impressive thing: Deal with Lisa Kudrow's Fiona Wallace character. It's no small feat, given her penchant for a high-pitched, high society type voice. Recent episodes have veered so far into silly that it’s been easy to forgive the grating character that roots the show, but on tonight's longwinded episode, it was tough.
There's no shortage of action going on for Wallace and her budding Web Therapy business, at long last. It took her marriage falling apart and the financial collapse of her former employer (and current benefactor) Lachman Brothers to finally set the ball in motion, but now, there's a certain excitement to Fiona's current dealings. In one minute, she's snipping at her new assistant Jerome (freshly laid off from VISA for supplying Fiona with her husband's credit card files) after he asks to be paid and then is having a cleavage-bared, flirty "session" with her former employer, Robert Lachman (played by Steven Weber) in the next turn.
Unfortunately, the Robert-Fiona relationship really eats things up in an exhausting kind of way. Their relationship has long been hinted at over the course of the show, and while the dynamic between the two is fun, it's certainly no reason to devote almost the entire episode to their exchanges. Namely, he wants Fiona to lie to the SEC and explain a made-up medical condition—addictive risk-taking—to those involved in the criminal investigation of his company's financial wrongdoings.
Even the most basic student of theater or improv knows the basic rule of avoiding having two people just standing and talking, and in an episode like tonight's, whoa! is that lesson ringing in your head. The exchanges between Robert and Fiona are incredibly loooong and indulgent, with little more to look at than the two chat boxes appearing on Fiona's computer desktop. In moments like this, you'd give anything for someone to open a door or just go to a sink and turn on a faucet mid-sentence, anything, really, to make these two, static talking heads feel active and engaged with the world around them. Instead, it feels like exactly what it is: actors playing pretend in a space, indulging themselves and barely moving things forward plot-wise.
Speaking of, it looks like things have gotten pretty rough for Robert, as Fiona has dubbed him “The Most Infamous Man In America,” thanks to the intense SEC investigation going on. He's under house arrest but having a blast, apparently, by letting his newfound notoriety go to his head. He's even emboldened enough to open the gates on flirting with Fiona, promising her book and infomercial deals should she comply with his fudging of the truth.
But before she can fall in step, she becomes a target of his SEC investigation because of having been on his payroll at one time. In typical Fiona fashion, she wiggles her way right out of the jam by screwing over whoever was closest in the moment, and, in this case, it's Robert. In a hot second, it turns out Fiona has become proud whistleblower in exchange for not being prosecuted. Naturally, Robert is not particularly happy, calling himself "a man scorned" and promising vengeance.
Meanwhile, she's too preoccupied thinking about her book deal on the horizon. The episode ends with her typing in bed and only getting as far as titling the first chapter, "I Am Born," before jumping down the word doc to begin creating fake author endorsement quotes. She's having so much fun typing up complimentary lies from people like Erin Brokovich ("A Modern Day Joan of Arc… or Me"—Erin Brockovich) and Truman Capote that she becomes somewhat endearing, yet again. It's still hard to feel too excited about where the next turn in her desperate business dealings may go.