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

Who is winning the Divorce wars?

Illustration for article titled Who is winning the Divorce wars?

The battle isn’t done immediately when a couple decides to part: We get over people eventually, but it takes a while. Until then, there’s the immediate contest of who’s “winning” the breakup: i.e., who seems to be living the better life now that the relationship has ended.

After his awkward flirtation attempts last episode, Robert takes a surprising turn for the better, though we don’t find out until the end of the episode the injectable reason for that turn: Taking a tip from Tony Silvercreek, Robert’s got himself hooked up with some extra testosterone. Until that reveal, we think Robert’s buoyancy is coming from a more spiritual place: God, as the episode title indicates. Wherever this energy is coming from, it’s great to see Robert hanging out with the kids at the archery range, taking them to church, and enthusiastically cheering on Frances when she gets her dream job offer from Sotheby’s. As always, Thomas Haden Church amiably rises to the occasion of Robert’s many moods, so that here Robert’s as cheerful as we’ve ever seen him.

But about that dream job offer: Why would Frances jeopardize it just to make sure Robert didn’t get any of the money? Especially after the painful financial reveals of last episode. It’s still worth more than what she’s making now, with the added advantage of being something that she would really love doing? Parker as Frances has a way of stumbling into these scenarios that perhaps are supposed to be charming. Instead, they just inspire sad head-shaking that a grown-ass person wouldn’t know to get the hell of out of a house after you’ve sworn in front of somebody’s kids to use their phone, or not to ambush your new employers that haven’t even officially hired you yet just to keep your soon-to-be-ex’s paws off of your salary. It seems petty. But I am about as far from a financial wizard as anyone can be, so maybe I’m missing something. Yes, it would suck to have Robert take a chunk of her salary, but that’s happening anyway, with the current job that she hates. Wouldn’t missing out on that dream job be worse?

To her credit, Frances knows she’s blown it almost instantly, so that when she calls her (now former) friend to withdraw her application, it’s clear that Sotheby’s has already decided not only to find someone else, but to go with an entirely different recruitment firm to find that person. Frances not only lost the job, she lost a major account for her current job. Ouch.

The post-breakup status pattern is kind of like this karmic see-saw. Frances and Robert both start off the episode trying to move on in a positive way: Frances by cleaning out Robert’s office, and Robert by working out. Frances’ positive efforts result in her job offer and a new reading room; Robert’s in a great day with the kids, and some new friends at church, even with his wildly inappropriate storytelling. But in trying to keep something from Robert, Frances only winds up defeating herself. In his weird altercation with Julian, Robert offers forgiveness, but also succeeds in what I believe he set out to do, which is to scare the shit out of Julian with that gun.

Frances is deep in the woods about how she and Robert are supposed to feel about each other. When he says “I’m really thrilled for you” about the job offer, she can only stammer, ”Why?” I really don’t think Robert, even with Tony’s backing, is savvy enough to realize that Frances’ new job might be a windfall for him. In his testosterone-filed state, he just wants to be happy for everyone. Frances still isn’t even sure how to be happy for herself.


Divorce brings with it a giant daily dose of negativity, so learning how to rise above that even a little bit is a challenge. For Robert, that solution comes from a box. For Frances, it’s her new reading space; it’s moving the snake; it’s finally, finally, taking her wedding rings off, as she recognizes how much she and Robert both need to move on with their lives.

Stray observations

  • Honestly, in a husband folder entitled “business forms,” pictures of Julia Roberts from Erin Brockovich are about the mildest items you could expect to find. Also hilarious.
  • Why are the kids running around to the archery range and church when Frances is at work? Shouldn’t they be in school? And if it’s the weekend, why is Frances calling from her office? If it’s a winter break situation, one throwaway line would have cleared that up.
  • “He never even believed in those pants!”
  • I really feel for Dallas. She has got to let go of her kid and get on with her own life. And even her hangouts with friends have that “therapy session” air.
  • I know that the Julian encounters really make no sense in adherence to the larger plot, but I’m still always glad to see Jemaine Clement show up.
  • Another throwaway scene was Diane and Nick in the bathtub, but I believe it was meant to show how far away the two still are emotionally, even after that hasty post-shooting reconciliation.
  • Today in Sex And The City hookups: Remembering that Talia Balsam’s husband. John Slattery, was the “golden shower” politician from the start of season three.
  • Favorite Haden Church line deliveries, part one: “The big guy is God.”
  • Favorite Haden Church line deliveries, part two: “That sounds really cozy!”
  • That’s another classic ’70s outfit kicking off the episode: The Marshall Tucker Band’s cheerful “This Ol’ Cowboy”: “So I don’t want you to think / That you’re the first one / To leave me out here on my own / Cause this ain’t gonna be the first time / This ol’ cowboy spent the night alone.” It isn’t even that they’re doing ’70s FM radio songs; the show is pulling deep cuts from ’70s FM radio.