I love how much mileage Happy Endings is getting out of Max’s limo purchase! In addition to be a consistently great visual gag, the limo represents the show’s gradual shift from the insulated, self-contained episodes of the first season to the second season’s more rooted plotlines, which lead to some very satisfying callbacks. If the roots Happy Endings decides to put down all happens to look like a vintage 1980s limousine, then so much the better.
Penny continues to soldier on through her on-going Year of Penny, despite her lack of mans and a missed raise. Luckily Jane has listened to the wisdom of our modern-day messiahs Oprah and Jenny McCarthy, and suggests Penny start a vision board. Of course this means Max has to make one too, since he is definitely not going to be left out this time. “Remember when you guys went apple picking and found Ricki Lake’s wallet?,” he whimpers. “I still carry it,” Penny recalls wistfully.
For my money, the vision board scene was one of my favorite of the series and further proof that the show is continuing on its upward chuckle trajectory. Max starts copying Penny’s goals out of laziness, before frantically picking out items from a magazine to prove that he wasn’t. “I want a whisker basket!,” he blurts, holding up a magazine ad for a wicker bassinet. Brad arrives home to complain about his humorless boss Mr. Forristal who constantly has food on his face (The Daily Show’s Larry Whitmore), and ranch-dressing-covered Max argues that Brad is honor bound to tell his boss about his mess mouth. The two then begin a beautifully long bit in which Brad tries to direct Max to the cake frosting (or whatever) he has smeared on his mug, only to have Max wipe on more and more foodstuffs around and around his face until he is coated in a thick layer of goo. I could have watched them go on for 15 minutes. I could have watched them go on for 15 hours.
Later, when Penny’s goals don’t immediately start manifesting themselves (even Max found a soiled basket in the alley where he gets his teeth whitened!), neurotic sweetheart Jane does what comes naturally: create a series of secret schemes to get Penny’s dreams to come true without her knowing who’s responsible, and develop stress eczema doing it.”You realize you’re not the universe, right?,” Alex asks, horrified.
By pure chance Mr. Forristal takes a liking to Max’s limo, and by proxy Brad, after he gives Brad a lift to work. All seems to be going well until Max reveals, against Brad’s explicit instructions, just how much food is always on Mr. Forristal’s face. It’s a lot! Somewhat predictably Mr. Forristal adopts Max as his new favorite go-to guy and sends out Brad to chauffeur Mrs. Forristal around for the 6 hours needed to finish Water for Elephant on tape. Brad and Max eventually find themselves at each other’s throats over the favoritism, when Brad rips on Max’s deadbeat living situation. “That is not a air mattress, it’s a very high-end poll float,” Max informs him, before admitting that okay, maybe, yes, his instincts aren’t always the best. “I once ate a winning lottery ticket,” he says brightly.
Meanwhile Dave has found Molly, a new girlfriend willing to futz with his “downstairs goatee,” and the gang has politely agreed not to immediately hate her. The cut-to of everyone booing Dave’s last ex to her face was one of the episode’s laugh out loud moments for me. The second was Molly hurling her coat onto the side table before verbally dressing down each and everyone of Dave’s friends for their boney whiteness, their jelly bellies, and, of course, Penny’s “desperation” board. Listing the things he hates most in the world to Brad, Max hisses “Her, cooked green peppers, than back to you, champ.”
Alex eventually spills the beans about Jane’s cosmic meddling, though Penny probably would have figured it out when her dreams of 2 tickets to Greece and 5 lbs of muscle magically appeared as one ticket to a local production of Grease 2 and a 5-pound bag of mussels. That being said, there is no way Jane would accidentally sent a faux-letter from Penny’s dead aunt. Say what you want about her, the woman does her research. Luckily for Brad’s career, Max “misread a moment” with Mr. Forristal and goes in for a smooch, but not before praising Brad’s kindness and intelligence. I think you can definitively say that, whatever the opposite of a Phylicia Rashad would be, this episode is it. No offense to Ms. Rashad.