I started reading “Dear Abby” as a kid, back with the original Dear Abby, and I’m pretty sure that one of her credos was this: If you have a stupid, momentary marital indiscretion, keep it to yourself. The guilt may be tearing you up inside, but that’s your punishment. Telling your spouse is only going to make you feel better and will likely tear their world apart—for no reason. So I was totally on Tina’s side last week with Michelle never telling Brett about David. But Brett and Michelle being the touchy-feely people that they are, we could have predicted that Michelle would have to blurt it all out. Surprised it happened so soon, though.
The family scene at the “Welcome Home” banner was so sweet, I’m infuriated at Michelle for blowing it all for a moment of honesty. Especially when we compare the hawt sex scene in this episode versus the sex scene in last season’s episode two (“Handcuffs”), when Michelle got inspired by 50 Shades and slapped Brett’s genitalia so hard he had to use a kids’ icepack. When the two of them talk about how far they’ve come, we could really plot it out over the course of last season. The Brett and Michelle who escape their friends’ drama to go off and have sex at their own party is an entirely different couple than the one we saw last year.
So when Brett exclaims about how happy he is at the end of the episode, we believe him. And when he talks about no secrets, and how the two of them can overcome anything, we can see how Michelle might look at that as a tiny porthole to squeeze her secret through. Just the expression on Mark Duplass’ face during the confession was amazing. I’m afraid it might throw these two in troubled waters again, but at least it should still be fascinating to watch.
Speaking of troubled waters… I love how this episode opens with Tina trying to figure out whether or not she should go to the party, when it turns out that she really shouldn’t have gone to the party. When I talked to Steve Zissis and Amanda Peet before the season (I know, it keeps coming up), they both alluded that this season was really going to be Tina’s season. Well, Peet hinted, Zissis pretty much stated it. And give or take a marital confession, this was really Tina’s episode. Her behavior is so out of control and cringe-worthy, Larry David himself would caution her to take it down a notch: It turned into one of those episodes that makes me wonder where the comedy is in this sitcom. This episode portrays much more devastation than hilarity. There was a funny moment when the movie game goes around at a totally normal clip until Tina gets saddled with “Corbin Bernsen.” I for one also couldn’t tell you what other movie he was in besides Major League. Ginger Gonzaga is pulling off a brilliant performance, because on one level Christy could just be slightly clueless, and on the other, as malevolent as Tina seems to think she is. I mean, “I love that you’re still just in it at your age” is pretty pointed.
But even though Tina tries to go after Christy, turns out that’s not who she’s really mad at. When Alex goes out to confront her (“Hey, drunk girl!”), Tina goes off and gets downright violent, but some insight rises out of that drunken stupor, so that what she’s saying kind of makes sense. Alex has lost a lot of the vulnerability that he had last year. His attempt to make a case for playing an Eastern-European somnambulant instead of a Russian vampire (okay, that was pretty funny) indicated just how far-removed he’s become from his former day-to-day reality. (And really, after sleeping on couches, if someone’s offering five or six figures, I’m sure anyone would put on the fake fangs again.)
But Tina has very few people in her life: Remember, she recently moved to California from Houston, and outside of her sister, she only has her boyfriend Larry, who’s off paying poker with Tom Hanks. (Peter Gallagher’s shrug after “Tom Hanks,” “Oh, him,” was a thing of absolute beauty.) As a former party girl, Tina is caught in this limbo of not being able to leave that old life behind, but not being able to pull it off anymore (I read in another review an upcoming line to Tina, something like: “You’re not hot enough anymore to still be this much of a bitch”).
So somewhere along the line, Alex turned into her best friend. But he’s changed so much, Tina’s best friend isn’t there anymore. It’s like the loss of a whole person. So of course she lashes out. She does it in a wholly inappropriate and destructive manner, but what she’s saying rings true; her rage is fueled by grief.
Look at the difference between Brett and Tina and the way they treat Alex. Brett, with his unwavering support, knows that his friend is being a bit of a tool right now, but is certain he’ll come around eventually. Tina throws a drunken tantrum and still doesn’t get she wants. Alex is right ahout her as well. She needs to grow up: Crashing that car was a new low point. Tina’s transformation may be the most compelling part of the whole season, and another thing to look forward to next week.
- David was first pegged as this good guy, but he’s really kind of a sleaze. Respecting someone’s marriage does not mean sleeping with them, and if someone is systematically avoiding you after that, you at least need to respect that.
- Togetherness power rankings: No one’s looking really good here, frankly. I have to pull in some ringers. So I woud say:
- Larry: Playing poker with Tom Hanks, keeping away from all the other bullshit.
- Christy: Possibly provoking her boyfriend’s ex-crush, she still comes off as the adorable sane one.
- Alex: Tipping his toe into douchiness, but his compassion for Tina, even after all the things she said to him, shows that the old Alex is still in there somewhere.
- Brett and Michelle: Michelle’s infidelity may have upset this couple’s new solidity, but I bet they can repair it.
- Tina: Has reached such a low point, there should really be at least twenty other places between Tina and everybody else.