24. It’s the number of hours in a day, and the number of episodes in a season of 24 because each episode is meant to represent one hour of the day. And, for some reason, it’s the size of Up All Night’s inaugural season. Because why have 22 of something when you can have 24 of it? I think I read that in a fortune cookie once.
I say all this as an apology for my delinquency last week. After the 22nd episode aired, I figured Up All Night was over for the season for two reasons: (1) The ending, with Chris and Reagan in bed trying really hard to be mad at one another for some legitimately truant behavior, was really nice, and summed up the saccharine, message-lite season really well. And (2) What other show would have the nerve to do 24 episodes of — [checks schedule] oh, looks like The Office has 24 this season, too. Never mind.
I’m glad Up All Night went the full double dozen, because “The Proposals” was pretty freakin’ sweet, an episode that partially mitigated my belief that Up All Night is full of as much drama as my turn as Mr. Kringelein in my high school production of Gypsy. Last week’s “Hey Jealousy” allowed the supporting characters to let their freak flags fly high, using Chris and Reagan mostly as set pieces to accentuate Ava and Shayna’s meltdown in the middle of their 10K. Last night they got plenty of time to take center stage, flaunting all the things that make them an enviable couple, even if they do seem a little too perfect sometimes.
We opened on an anniversary dinner, but Gene and Terry’s, who took their awkwardness to a whole new level by inviting the Brinkleys to crash their special occasion without even offering to pay. They got to talking about the Brinkleys’ engagement, and suddenly we’re transported back eight years to their favorite bar, Will Arnett sporting a mustache to show time had indeed passed. Reagan, hearing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on the jukebox, was inspired by Chris’s profession of love and proposed right there on the spot. Then, because this is TV, we saw Chris’s reenactment of the events. He had a ring in his pocket and was getting ready to pop the question when a sloppy-drunk Reagan beat him to it. Sad times. And … opening credits! (It’s impossible to linger on any emotion when that big band horn section comes ablarin’.)
Chris and Reagan spent most of the episode apart, which built momentum for their grand reunion at the end. Reagan’s engagement ring slipped off her finger, so she went around to all the places she’d been over the last day hoping it would turn up. This included the hemorrhoid cream aisle at the local pharmacy, the ball pit at Amy’s favorite play place, and the dirty-diaper bag that’d been stacking up so high you’d think the smell would have overtaken the entire house by this point. As usual, the people she encountered and inconvenienced along the way don’t pay her much mind. I’m not quite sure Reagan’s searching scenes needed to be all that comedically heightened outside of what she was already doing, but that’s between Emily Spivey and God (Ava).
As a last resort, Reagan visited Chris’s grandmother to retrieve her other earring and turn it into a duplicate ring so Chris would be none the wiser. This was the woman who offered $250 for Reagan to call it off on their wedding night, so naturally it ended with Reagan prying it off Gammi’s ear while she slept. Waking up and realizing what just happened, Gammi saw these actions as those inspired by true love and happily gave up the earring — and probably started antiquing on eBay for the perfect gift for her new favorite granddaughter-in-law. Again, no real drama on Up All Night, but no matter! We’re getting to the good stuff!
Chris had no idea this was going on because he was too busy being distracted by Ava. She was growing fearful in her house alone, so she called Chris over to investigate a mysterious pool toy that looked like a severed arm, then demanded he do chore after chore until he wore himself out and fell asleep on her couch. He awoke the next morning and walked in on a naked Ava who demanded he immediately break even and disrobe; but through the hoohah blurriness, he found Kevin’s old clothes and realized Ava might not be over Mr. I-almost-forgot-he-was-on-this-show. So he set out to find him and bring him back.
Kevin and Ava’s re-ignition was like watching their entire relationship in fast forward. Kevin showed up at Ava’s office ready to make amends, and she wanted nothing to do with him. So he engaged in some hostile line dancing until Chris and Julian were able to talk some sense into him. Next, Julian dragged Ava to Class — a bar in an abandoned Sylvan Learning Center — where Kevin confessed his feelings and begged for one more chance. The two retired to Ava’s apartment to drink wine, Kevin got down on one knee to propose, and Ava had the clairvoyance to realize this wasn’t what she wanted. They needed to just hang out and keep things as they were for a while, like two old folks in Gammi’s nursing home who just like playing Cribbage with one another and why’s there gotta be more to it than that?
Of course, the core element of Up All Night that constantly gets ignored is Amy. Sure the Brinkleys have a kid, but they talk about having one way more than we actually see them engage with her. Call it “difficult logistics of shooting with a child” or “child labor” or “who’s Amy?” But “The Proposals” proved Amy didn’t have to literally be in the frame for her to play a part in the proceedings. Back at their favorite bar, the Brinkleys were psyching themselves up for separate proposals, unaware of what the other had planned. Chris left to put their favorite song on the jukebox, and Reagan readied her own ring. Then, history repeated. Chris told Reagan he loved her and started trying to pry something from his pocket. This time, though, Reagan was way less intoxicated and actually paid attention to what was about to happen. And what happened? Well, Up All Night is edgy enough to air at 9:30 p.m. but not so edgy that NBC would threaten to cancel it and Subway would have to swoop in and rescue it. So … FLASH MOB. Soon everyone at the bar was singing some Bonnie Tyler, Chris and Reagan were crying, and Up All Night had its sweetest moment of the season — and not the fake stuff, either.
Then Ava and Kevin showed up, shots were dispensed, and the Brinkleys lived out the wild sides that we’ve seen promised in the show’s opening credits. Only this time they had massive hangovers the next day. Eight years changes more than just your facial hair.