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Love can’t break its habits in “The Long D”

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(Screenshot: Netflix)
(Screenshot: Netflix)
B

Love

“The Long D”

Season 2 , Episode 11

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Both “Liberty Down” and “The Long D” find Mickey and Gus moving in opposite directions, and there’s a whiplash quality to the two of them together. In the first, it’s Mickey who is on the road to enlightenment; in the second, it’s Gus. Mickey’s frustration means her old, destructive habits make a damning reappearance, just as Gus finally gains some self-awareness. The brutal sequence midway through the episode hammers this point home: Gus sits at an Al-Anon meeting, listening to people tell stories about caring for their friends and family struggling with addiction. Then we cut back to Mickey, in the throes of pleasure with Dustin, having skipped out on a SLAA meeting to spend time with him. We’re witnessing a betrayal, yes, but also a regression.

“The Long D” is about habits, and how people become habits for one another. Take Bertie, for instance. Thrown into crisis when her shopping cart gets hit by a car in a grocery story parking lot, she decides to dump Randy. It plays out in the most awkward way possible, with Randy’s brother emerging from the bathroom mid-break-up and subsequently begging her to take his sibling back. But it turns out those pleas were not in vain, because by the end of the episode she’s in bed with Randy, looking disgusted as he talks about her “smell.” We don’t see the circumstances leading up to their reunion, but we assume it was a mix of Bertie’s sympathy and Randy’s desperation that led to sex.

Gus’ problem throughout the series is that he has been totally oblivious to his own failings, convinced that he’s always in the right. But that finally comes to bite him in the ass here. After Mickey rejects his plane ticket, his loneliness is so palpable that a family invites him to join their table at a diner. He thinks he may have finally found company when Arya’s dad Steven invites himself over, but Steven just really wants a place to do cocaine with an extra. Even in his own room Gus is isolated, and ends the night puking by himself.

But that’s not even his lowest point, the one that finally provokes a change. He gets kicked off the set of Arya’s movie. Ambition is one thing, understanding the time and the place for such ambition is quite another. Gus seemingly believes that, although he’s just a tutor, he’s entitled to the attention of a director of a big budget action film. In a way, his bratty workplace actions only illuminate his equally petulant way of dealing with Mickey. He exists in a world in which he never questions that he could be the one at fault for anything going wrong in his life. That is, until a half-hearted attempt at visiting a church leads him to an Al-Anon meeting. As he hears how other people deal with the addicts in their lives with compassion, there’s visible shame on his face. It’s perhaps the beginning of a new Gus, but he’ll be coming back to the old Mickey.

At Al-Anon Gus says that Mickey is an alcoholic. He doesn’t, however, mention that she’s a sex and love addict. That‘s subtly indicative. He’s been reluctant to take that admission from her seriously. He thinks he’s a stable force in her life, but intense devotion after only two months of spending time together—an infancy in dating years—doesn’t seem like it’s it.

Even as Mickey starts to take up with he ex, she isn’t content to move on from Gus. She calls him just minutes after leaving Dustin’s place, in part, to assuage her own guilt, asking if he’s been “fucking a bunch of actresses.” (She wants to believe it’s a joke. It’s not.) Though she’s right to note that his tone becomes patronizing on the call, we begin to see Mickey’s cruel side begin to emerge. Later, she lashes out at Bertie for daring to question Dustin’s impromptu artichoke drop-by.

At this point, we have no idea what a healthy life would look like for Mickey, and it’s clear she doesn’t either. While she’s seemed to find fulfillment in her progress at work, during a discussion with Dustin she talks about her dreams of being a stay-at-home mom. Is that what she really wants? And does she see Gus, with his Midwestern niceness, as a path to that? Is that why she texts him almost as soon as he touches down in Los Angeles? Like in “Liberty Down,” “The Long D” ends on a music cue that perfectly represents the moment. As the notification pops up, the sounds of The Bird And The Bee’s “Again & Again” are heard. It’s a repetitive song but thse two are in a repetitive cycle. What do they say about old habits?

Stray observations

  • I know about as much as Gus probably does about sex and love addiction, but even just looking at SLAA’s website was helpful in understanding Mickey’s character.
  • I think Love is doing really interesting things with the careers of much ridiculed performers like Andy Dick and David Spade, but Steven’s wild night in Gus’ hotel room was just too much of digression for me.
  • Bertie just wanted to make a selfish/shellfish joke when she let go of her cart. She’s is the best.
  • Bertie’s way of wallowing is listening to Les Miserables and drinking red wine: I have never identified with a character more.
  • That’s it for my time with Love. Molly will handle the season finale.