Togetherness Recap: Alex’s Hard Truth For Tina


Season 2 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating *****
Amanda Peet as Tina. Photo: HBO

Hello, friends! Some of you may know me from my Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta recaps. Well, now I’m talking over as the recapper for Togetherness, and I’m very, very excited. If you know and love this show, then you’re well aware that it paints portraits of people who constantly get in their own way, who don’t want to — or perhaps don’t realize they have to — do the work to save relationships, create the careers they want, and find their own happiness.

By the first season’s end, it seems like each character began maturing to different effect. Alex finally confessed his feelings to Tina, who rejected him because she’s scared. Michelle discovered a purpose outside of being a mother — the new charter school — and we can tell she hadn’t been that proud of herself in years. The only problem? She’s extremely attracted to David, the divorced father and councilman who has been helping with the school. And then there’s Brett. After being unhappy (and a little selfish, to be honest), he realizes that he wants to recommit himself to his life with Michelle. But is it too late?

It’s time to find out. The season premiere, “Hotels,” gives us plenty of hints, but doesn’t offer up any easy solutions. And that’s just the way I like it. Let’s discuss, shall we?

We begin right where we left off — well, musically, at least. We hear the same song, James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream,” which played when Michelle contemplated having an affair with the oh-so-sweet David the night they stayed at the same hotel after she kicked ass at the charter school committee meeting. Since this is HBO, we see a lot of thrustin’ and hear a lot of moaning, and if you’re watching this show with your parents right now, I feel sorry for you.

Anyway, we learn that Michelle and David aren’t consummating their relationship, but instead, Alex is having sex with his new girlfriend, Christy, in his movie trailer. Wow, okay. It seems that Alex has moved on from his Tina heartbreak. And not just sexually — he really, truly seems to be in much better spirits. He has someone who likes him as much as he likes her and can express that to him. He has gotten in shape, he’s much healthier, and he’s shooting a movie in New Orleans. His career is taking off, even if it is a cheesy vampire movie. This certainly beats unemployment and sleeping on Brett and Michelle’s couch. Alex’s behind was way too old to be doing that. All these changes are great for him, but the most important thing is that it’s his birthday, so the gang — Brett, Michelle, Tina, and the wonderfully oblivious Larry — come down to New Orleans to visit him.

Understandably, things are still a tad icy between Alex and Tina. Alex has been MIA, and you can tell Brett misses him. Aww, I love those two. The gang watches him act, and Tina laughs at how cheesy the movie is, and Brett is concerned at the subtle and not-so-nice way Alex treats the director. Hmm, maybe all this change ain’t so good after all? Brett might be pretty perceptive about Alex, but he is clueless about the guilt that’s wracked Michelle. As we learn in flashback, she did end up sleeping with David! She immediately regrets it, and then he goes back to his hotel room. A few moments later, Brett arrives at her door, confessing that he wants to save their relationship.

Very awkward, but at least Brett realized he needed stop sleepwalking through life with a woe-is-me attitude. With Michelle in full guilt mode, she meets up with Tina, who wants to buy Alex a present as a peace offering. After hanging for 2.2 seconds, Michelle blurts out that she slept with David and Teen tells her not to say anything about it to Brett. Look, I’m not pro-cheating or pro-lying, and I think that Tina majors in Making Bad Freakin’ Decisions at I’m a Shitshow University, but I’m included to agree that Michelle should not say anything to Brett. At least for the time being. Revealing this secret will lead to disaster.

Now, on to the night of Alex’s birthday dinner. Everyone is giving him gifts, and Tina realizes the gift that she bought isn’t good enough. Or, she doesn’t think it’s good enough. She might be correct: Brett and Michelle bought him a one-of-a-kind It’s a Wonderful Life poster with Jimmy Stewart’s signature. Gift-giving is not a competition, but holy hell, that is a really thoughtful and awesome present! Christy gets him a Spartan watch so they can sync their runs. See? It’s not about price; it’s about getting something that he will enjoy. Tina looks at her smallish gift bag and abruptly leaves the dinner. She runs back to the gift shop to buy a $4,200 compass from an old ship. It’s really heavy and cumbersome. When she presents it to Alex, he’s like, “…” Seriously, he’s like those ellipses I just typed. Oof. Tina, Tina, Tina.

Everyone decides to go bar-hopping, but not before Alex tries to send the giant compass back to his hotel. Tina is offended that he’s trying to ditch the item, so she takes it with them to the bar. On the way there, Brett and Alex start catching up. Brett is hopeful for his marriage; he’s really making an effort to step up. Cute! When they get to the first place, they’re all dancing while Tina awkwardly holds that dumb compass. Next up, karaoke. Brett and Michelle ditch to have some alone time. Meanwhile, Tina wants to do a duet of Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather & Lace” with Larry, but it ends up happening with Alex because Larry is in the bathroom. And yeah, that goes exactly where you think it will. She’s openly flirting with him, the chemistry between them is palpable, and the woman playing piano says they make a cute couple. So he leaves the stage, and Christy is visibly annoyed.

Back to Brett and Michelle. They go for a walk and he gives her a ring, then says that he won’t take her or the kids for granted anymore. He asks her to marry him again. UGH! Why couldn’t Brett do this last season? Oh man, I have a feeling this is going to end disastrously in the long run. We don’t get to see her answer, though, because we cut back to the hotel.

Tina finds Alex at the ice machine and tries to pal around like things aren’t royally screwy between them. Sigh. She wants to know why he didn’t like the compass (really?) and then suggests he’s changed for the worse because he’s gotten skinny (oh, really?!). She says that she told him the compass was expensive because she wants to fix things; she misses her best friend. GIRL! Alex ain’t trying to be your platonic best friend. He’s not here to text and hang and eat fro-yo. He pretty much tells her that, too, by letting her know she broke his heart. Tina knew that, right? Right? I think she did, but actually hearing the words makes it real. She says nothing and he leaves. But I know — I just know — that she’s love in with him. She just doesn’t think so. Oof. Tina, Tina, Tina.

All righty, what did you think of the premiere? Is there any chance that Tina and Alex can repair their relationship? Do you think that Michelle is going to fess up? Anyone feel bad for Christy? She certainly means well, but it seems like she’s going to be collateral damage, right? Let me know in the comments below.

Togetherness Recap: Alex’s Hard Truth