Photos: Chris Haston/NBC

Last episode, Will & Grace dove into Will’s emotional baggage with his ex. This week, we take a look at Jack’s stunted emotional past with help from some painful Karen flashbacks. It’s nice that the show is drawing on its characters’ considerable history, even if calling some of these progressions baby steps would be generous.

For Jack, in particular, his party boy lifestyle may be drawing to a close. We’ve rarely seen him with a date for very long, and as this season has pointed out so far, he’s reaching the age where weekends will mean less clubbing and more lake retreats (if we’re lucky). Much as I worry that this is part of the show’s long-con to eventually pair up Will and Jack, it’s an opportune time for the show to broach the latter’s considerable intimacy issues. Drew’s coming out to his wife takes a back seat to Jack opening himself up emotionally (as the diva himself is the first to point out). It’s also a nice move of the show to have Drew’s announcement received with nothing but positivity everyone from his wife to his mother and his cop co-workers. But tapping into Jack beyond his clown persona could be much more valuable for Will & Grace in the long run.

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As Jack’s best friend, it’s also effective to have Karen as an instrument in this revelation, but as much as I was looking forward to the flashbacks of baby Karen, I found them pretty disturbing. Again, we don’t know about Karen beyond her tie to Rosario and her marriage to a fat, rich, unseen husband, so looks into just what made Karen the way she is could be fascinating. But given that her mother gave her her first drink and dragged her along from stepfather to stepfather, those glimpses were pretty sad as well as revelatory. That pain enables Karen to help her friend and his friend come to terms with the truth about themselves; it would be nice to see Karen reach some revelations herself in future episodes.

It’s too bad that the episode’s other plot lacked the other’s subtlety: Will and Grace feuding over the QVC spot is about as subtle as freight train riding right off of a bridge. Somehow I feel bad laughing at the uber-feminist segment director, but honestly, it was pretty funny (Will’s perplexed reasoning: “My penis has done nothing to you!”) But Will and Grace at war is a setup we’ve seen several times before, a knock against the two of them working together in the first place. We know that Grace is going to mess things up and Will is going to to be too tightly wound; we know the two will realize in the end that they need each other. Same message, different arena, but it’s interesting that even the QVC viewing audience recognized them for what they really are: permanent life partners.

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Stray observations

  • Why didn’t Will and Grace just team up for the QVC shoot in the first place? Argh, this show.
  • I hope we get to see more of Mackenzie Marsh as Angela, because she was delightful.
  • Grace By Grace Adler Designs reminds me of nothing but Bassett For Angela By Angela Bassett:

  • “I do not understand talking.”
  • “I know I kept saying it’s not gonna happen, but that’s what I said on election night and look what happened there.” Same, Will.
  • My brain chocolate is Hallmark movies, so I appreciated all the Lisa Rinna references.
  • Grace’s sheets are $384 for a flat and fitted sheet and two pillowcases and a duvet cover? Where’s the value in that? The number of sold sets going down impressively mimicked the QVC though.
  • She-nanigans is a pretty awesome name for the improv troupe.
  • This week in “Do I hate Grace’s outfit as much as Karen would?”: Yep, especially that weird, unflattering smock shirt at the beginning of the episode. The mermaid dress at the QVC shoot was pretty except for those horrible gold bow-tied appliques. As usual, Karen wins all the fashion accolades with that blue jacket and the animal-print trim.
  • Antidote episode: One of the very few other times Jack really had a boyfriend was Dave Foley as Stuart in season six, in episodes like “Looking For Mr. Good Enough,” number 14.
  • Next episode: See you after the Olympics!

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