When we last saw Gretchen, she was sobbing. Like, a lot. Like maybe hysterically, if we are willing to untether the word hysterically from its sexist connotations, and just allow for the fact that Gretchen snuck out of Jimmy’s house in the middle of the night to bawl alone in her car.
What I think You’re the Worst does better than almost any comedy going — if you exclude the sketch-style stuff like Inside Amy Schumer — is darkness. Not comedy-dark, like some silly, slapstick thing. But real, no-shit, “I didn’t know it was a school” darkness. And I’m glad that this thing with Gretchen didn’t turn out to be a quirk or some throwaway thing. There’s the surface-level “you’re the worst” of Gretchen and Jimmy being vicious, unforgiving, and borderline-undateable people, but then there’s the thing underneath, the thing that makes them that way. We know Jimmy has some insecurities to work out, his writer ego and his disappointed-dad issues, and we spent a little time with Gretchen’s parents last season. But this puts everything else she’s done, and her zero-fucks-given attitude, in perspective. Sometimes she doesn’t care because she chemically, mentally does not have the will to care, and she self-destructs and spontaneously combusts and drinks too much. And she even eventually tells Jimmy about it. He looks a little overwhelmed at the whole thing, but he hugs her pretty damn hard.
But first! I must go back to the beginning: The best running joke of the episode, clearly, is that Jimmy has never seen The Lion King and believes the man who taught him “the Swahili phrase 'Hakuna Matata'” is the only source of that information, and also that the saying couldn’t really mean “no worries for the rest of your days” because, as he tells Gretchen, “the East Africans live very much in the moment, so it's not a guarantee of smooth sailing forever. That's just childish.”
Gretchen, Jimmy, Edgar, and Dorothy — “theater girl” or “rando” will also suffice — are trapped in Jimmy’s house all day because the marathon has made L.A. an even hotter mess of traffic than it usually is. Gretchen attempts to escape by suggesting they walk somewhere; everyone bursts out laughing because Los Angeles. Gretchen empties half a bottle of vodka into her bloody Mary. Yeah, it’s going to be a dark day.
In other news, there is a mouse in Jimmy’s house! No one is bothered by this, really, but Jimmy. He is horrified. He cancels breakfast! “Due to your staggering apathy about living with the actual cause of the plague itself, I will be busy evicting this mouse!”
Look, once upon a time, when I was but an undergrad living in Philadelphia, I, too, had a mouse in my house. Mice, actually. In multiple houses. And here is a neat trick that I learned: Name your mouse. Naming your mouse will give you a sense of control, and it will also allow you to convince yourself that you only have one mouse, not — as is more likely the case — a mischief of mice. (I named my mouse Penelope. During the day she was so friendly! But at night, bitch unraveled everything.)
Gretchen handles this by continuing to drink, and also by dancing to a song no one else can hear.
Edgar wants to know what everyone thinks of Dorothy, and they’re already doing that couple thing of sitting with their bodies touching in every possible combination — hand on knee, arm around shoulders, like some kind of performative-relationship version of Twister — and irritating everyone around them. Jimmy points out that Edgar should not care whether or not anyone likes Dorothy. “Gretchen's a lunatic of whom I should be profoundly ashamed, and yet I'm not. That maniac goes out in the middle of the night to cry in her car, and I'm like, live and let live.” Jimmy is in denial.
Meanwhile, Lindsay and Vernon arrive. Neither one can stand being around Becca anymore. Lindsay is annoyed that Becca makes her put down the seat to pee. Vernon is so over how Becca is always “talking about how she's harnessing the very power of life itself” and is “just milking this shit so she can be a 24/7 snack monster and Jabba all over the place.” Oh, and won’t have sex with him anymore.
Sidebar: Why does Vernon think giving Lindsay money will make anyone feel better? Does he not know about that time Don Draper gave his secretary a weird Christmas bonus after having sex with her the night of the office holiday party? Vernon, stop watching Arliss and catch up!
Gretchen, dancing, hears another diss track from her clients and realizes aloud that she might get fired. “Whatever, jobs are dumb.” Uh-oh.
An interlude: Jimmy tries to attack the mouse with a croquet mallet like some kind of Heather Chandler. It’s just that he had mice in his childhood home. And everyone called him “mouseboy.” Lindsay and Dorothy have a great, quick battle, wherein I am impressed with Dorothy’s cutting “he literally never mentioned you” and equally proud of Lindsay’s “he’s kind of my backup side bitch.” But I am VERY concerned about how Dorothy is Harriet the Spy–ing this impromptu get-together, and I fear for what will happen when those notes turn into her one-woman YouTube play.
And then Gretchen explodes. Or implodes. Can you explode and implode at the same time? She tears apart everyone: Lindsay is “still obsessed with her soft ex-husband,” Dorothy is doing “improv, the lowest form of comedy. That whole school of yours is just a bunch of actors so janky-looking, no one will write lines for them.” Oh, and Dorothy is “a tweener: not hot enough to be the lead and not fat enough to be the funny friend.” Then she lets Jimmy have it, though this is surprisingly not too harsh, it’s just about how he has self-pity and non-problems.
Gretchen calls Jimmy’s home “an emotional black hole” and reveals what we’ve sort of known in the back of our minds all along: She only moved in because of that vibrator fire (there will be a lawsuit!), and she wishes she could drive away.
Here I am so impressed with Lindsay — who I have mocked many a time before — for not being juvenile about the very mean things Gretchen just said to her, and instead seeing through the bombast to the real problem. She knows what’s going on; she’s seen it before. And she gives Gretchen genuinely good advice: “If anyone is going to be okay with who you are, it's Jimmy. You guys went into this both knowing you're total creeps. Don't start keeping secrets now.”
The mouse is supposedly sent to his death in a shoebox called “Rocket Ship to Heaven,” taped to the exhaust pipe of the car, but then we see another mouse skittering around the garage, so.
Gretchen confesses to Jimmy that she is clinically depressed and always has been, and “it strikes me whenever, I have no idea why, and I'm sorry I never told you, but it's totally fine.”
As Kahleed always says, that’s the circle of life.
The worst: Dorothy’s “avacadon’t” Vines
Runners-up: The condition of Dorothy, Vernon’s 92-year-old patient who just died (“osteoperosis, her entire skeleton was basically liquefied”), sophomore year when Gretchen wore the same Hoobastank T-shirt three weeks in a row and only ate Special K red berries, Dorothy’s eulogy that is nothing but cheese puns.
A few good things: A dog wearing a little bandana so he looks like a cowboy, that moment when Dorothy asks Lindsay if that’s her real voice, Jimmy’s dream about going on a road trip with Gretchen and Janis Joplin.