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‘Tell Me You Love Me’: Worst Sex Yet!

Courtesy of HBO

The difficulty in recapping Tell Me You Love Me is that, well, nothing happens. Last night's episode, in fact, was defined by what didn't happen. Carolyn didn't get pregnant. (Still.) Hugo didn't take Jaime back. Palek didn't tell Carolyn about the cute salesgirl he was flirting with. And Dave and Katie didn't have sex. (Still.)

Jaime did have sex, with some creepy sous-chef type who looked like a refugee extra from the short-lived Fox series Kitchen Confidential. In a series that explores, and occasionally revels in, bad sex, this was the worst yet. The sous-chef slammed away while Jaime seemed to be mentally solving a crossword puzzle she'd abandoned earlier. When Chef Grunts-A-Lot was finished, he pulled on his goofy chef pants (maybe they were tear-aways) and kind of slunk off, without so much as a "Thanks, buddy" or "Have a good one." At least we were spared the sight of either of them slipping on a pair of Crocs.

Meanwhile, Carolyn and Palek continued to spin their wheels, stylishly. That house! Those clothes! Those chilly silences between them! Some people find Sonya Walger's Carolyn off-putting (*cough* Nussbaum), but we find her fascinating. Most "strong" women on TV are CSI automatons, who demonstrate their "intelligence" through a robotic monotone and their hair in a bun. Carolyn seems both sharp-elbowed and vulnerable, bright and brittle, and totally confounded by the one thing in her life she can't achieve through force of will.

But back to the couple we can all love: Sexless Dave and Katie. Dave had a breakthrough of sorts (he joined Katie at therapy) and a breakdown of sorts (he finally opened up about the boner-deflating drudgery of domestic life). This whole therapy scene was the show at its best — or, if you don't like the show, its worst. Rather than well-scripted repartee, we got awkward silences, stammering uncertainty, and, finally, the outburst. In other words, exactly what you might expect, should you be able to eavesdrop on a couple in therapy, and in trouble. —Adam Sternbergh

Earlier: Is ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ Just Pinter With Dildos? Sternbergh and Nussbaum Debate