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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Tell Me You Love Me: "Episode 9"

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Image for article titled Tell Me You Love Me: "Episode 9"

Both The Sopranos and Buffy The Vampire Slayer had a few seasons in which the penultimate episode contained the developments typically expected of a season finale. We get a little of that here as well in an episode that's, by Tell Me You Love Me standards, shock-filled. Dave develops introspection, maybe for the first time in his life, and suddenly sees that his marriage has nowhere to go. Both Carolyn and Palek decide they need to walk away from something–for Carolyn it's her job, for Palek his marriage. Jamie looks at the future and sees herself drunk and alone.

It's a grim turn for all the characters who now have only one episode left to find the happy endings they've been looking for Dr. May to guide them toward. None of them look like they're going to reach them. Should we blame Dr. May? I'm inclined to say no. She may have inspired Jamie to shatter her ex-fiancé in the middle of a session, pointed out problems that Dave and Katy didn't even know they had, and done little to keep Carolyn and Palek together but she's left each in better touch with him or herself and in my limited understanding of therapy that's a big part of the job.

Still, it seems odd that this couples counselor would keep her reputation if her therapy ended the relationships of all her clients. Would you go to an eye doctor that blinded his patients? Of course, I probably shouldn't jump to conclusions. Dave and Katy and Carolyn and Palek might still patch it up. Maybe even Nick and Jamie will work past her anxieties. But it's not looking good.

Some nice scenes this week, especially Jamie and Dave's sessions with Dr. May. I really underestimated Michelle Borth in early episodes and Tim DeKay made his character's somewhat inexplicable problems make sense. But I didn't buy Dr. May's scene with the Silver Fox Husband. The question Dave asked was just too basic to her job to befuddle her.

But that might have something to do with my not buying SFH as a character. Who is this man who makes lovely, nutritious meals, forgives past infidelities (and practically encourages future infidelities), offers sensitive counsel, and fucks like a donkey? In a series otherwise filled with complicated, three-dimensional characters he seems to have stepped off the cover of a Harlequin series targeted at septuagenarians.

I announced myself as being firmly on Team Carolyn a few weeks ago but I felt for Palek this week. Not only does he have to contend with his reluctance to become a dad, he has to worry about mold–which lowers the value of his house while supplying a too-obvious metaphor for his marriage–and he's got a wife who treats having to pick him up at the hospital as more pain in the ass than cause for alarm.

Apart from speculating how this season will end, I don't think I've got much more to say about this episode, which felt like the series working at its best. So let's meet back here next week to talk about the whole of this relationship-dramas-can-have-graphic-sex-scenes experiment when it's all over but the afterglow.

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

- So Katy can just call and set up a job interview for the next day? Clearly no one involved in this show has applied for a job lately.

- At least Mason knows what she does best.

- If Dave and Katy get divorced, she'd better let him keep the TiVo.