Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gus and Mickey (and Love) reach a crossroads in a pivotal episode

Illustration for article titled Gus and Mickey (and Love) reach a crossroads in a pivotal episode

We’re at the midpoint of Love’s first season and “Forced Hiatus” is very much a turning point episode. Gus faces a massive life change, while Mickey has some intense realizations about herself, and each of these moments will clearly have consequences as the series continues its second half. It’s telling that, once again, Mickey and Gus are kept apart for this episode as they experience major life changes, especially after they’ve had this traditional rom-com day together. In the previous episode, they go to the beach, they get their feet wet and they ask each other basic questions like how many siblings they have. But here, they have no contact, almost as if they’re acting out the rift that is sure to follow.

The changes in Gus’ professional life, precipitated by the title of the episode, are bound to have great affect on his personal life as well. Wichita has its order cut short, which is essentially a death knell for the series, and it puts Arya at a crossroads. She’s torn between her two parents — David Spade is quite good playing her smarmy failed actor dad; who would have guessed he’d be so good at being a dick? — who want different things for their daughter, neither of them are in her best interest. Her dad wants the tentpole action flick, guaranteeing a franchise-sized payday, while her mother prefers the indie with its attendant critical acclaim and the career longevity that could potentially bring. Arya, on the other hand, wants to be a kid. She loses it: Why does she hang out with thirty-year-olds when she should be smoking and kissing boys?

I consistently enjoy Iris Apatow as Arya, who hides her wounds underneath a refusal to wear the right dress (“C’mon, I pay you. You could do at least one thing.” “Besides educate you.” “That’s obviously not working.”). As I said in my review of “While You Were Sleeping,” I prefer the episodes where Gus and MIckey are together in part of because Gus’ professional life can be an ineffective diversion. But “Forced Hiatus” felt entirely connected to the central thread of the story. He lucks into this incredible opportunity — two consecutive jobs with Arya on two different movie sets — and thinks he’s being the good guy by standing up for Arya but doesn’t fully protect her from her parent’s manipulation. Gus leaves the set of Wichita as Arya’s character talks about the journey she’s about to go on to avenge her fictional cousin’s death. It’s a little on the nose for what’s to come but Wichita’s overwrought tone reconciles that to a certain degree.

Mickey’s plotline is more internal, as she, Bertie and Randy head to Topanga and Mickey figures out that she’s the shithead that she’s trying to protect her roommate from. Randy (Mike Mitchell) borrows money from Bertie for rent, which sets Mickey off. He’s not allowed to do that to the sweet and innocent Bertie (who is not actually that sweet or innocent as more of herself is revealed), she decides because, as Bertie puts it, things with her and Gus are going well so she’s a relationship expert. Mickey looks down on Randy. He’s a slovenly freeloader with an odd (and sometimes disturbing) aggressive streak (Mitchell was pretty great in this episode, both funny and menacing). When she questions his life choices by relating to him — she too has scammed guys into paying her rent — it becomes much more obvious that she’s her own Randy. He doesn’t have a job, but that’s not his fault, that’s because no job have dropped magically in his lap. Mickey, in previously ignoring the severity of her addictions, was essentially doing the same thing. Her life was a disaster but, of course, that wasn’t her fault, or the booze’s fault, or her bad relationship decision’s fault. When Randy calls Bertie and tell her he’s going to give back her check, he’s standing in front of the ATM. He knows he’s going to cash the check, but he gets to justify it to himself by saying he offered to give it back.

Randy says something particularly prescient to Mickey when they have their heart-to-heart. She’s so freaked that she’s going to fuck up her relationship with Gus, but what if it’s Gus that fucks everything up? There’s something ominous about Gus’ career diversions that will take him away from Mickey, but Randy also takes away Mickey’s accountability away, and what she needs is accountability. What if it’s Gus that fucks up? It’s how Mickey defines that pseudo-advice that will help define the rest of her relationship with Gus, and by extension the season.

Stray observations

  • Dream show: Kevin (Jordan Rock) and Bertie start dating have their own spinoff sitcom where Kev’s parfait business really takes off and Bertie gets to leave her deadend marketing job for, like, underwater basket weave or something else weird that she would like.
  • “Goddamnit man, I wish I had a little white girl to hang out with.”
  • Once again, David Spade was such an excellently terrible person: “She can be intimidating,” Gus says about his soon-to-be-ex-wife. “Yeah, she’s a cunt.” Or, when he’s hands Gus his parfait cup and says, “Can I give you this?” as if he’s an employee.
  • “I have an awesome personality. People tell me that all the time. They say Randy, Your personality fucking rocks man.”
  • “Please, I can sell these little funeral clothes to kids.”