Grace and Frankie Recap: The Birth Mother

Grace and Frankie

The Goodbyes
Season 2 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****
Sam Elliott as Phil, Jane Fonda as Grace.
Sam Elliott as Phil, Jane Fonda as Grace. Photo: Melissa Moseley/Netflix

Grace wakes up on her back patio the way all of us who love mustaches wish we could wake up: by staring at the face of Sam Elliott as he confesses his love. Before Grace can plant a smooch on him, he morphs into Frankie looking for her neti pot. All of her anxieties go to her nose.

Coyote is coming over with Bud and Sol to reveal some information. Frankie hopes it’s good news, y’know, to distract from the whole lube disaster. Meanwhile, Grace is riding Phil’s mustache in her mind’s eye, but she’s still torn on what to do. Phil’s wife, Elaine, is still out there, but Phil is a super guy. Frankie is characteristically not making Grace’s decision any easier. Grace begs her to be upfront, so Frankie reminds her that marriage vows are in sickness and in health. What Phil has proposed isn’t the right thing to do, no matter how hot that booty is.

Bud and Coyote sit down with their parents to let us know that change is all around them. “The ducks are molting,” Coyote says. He spills the news that he’s contacted his birth mother and she wants to meet him. She’s married to a doctor in Baton Rouge and she’s coming … tomorrow. For the first time in her life, Frankie isn’t a cauldron of emotions. She actually wants to meet Coyote’s birth mother.

When her boys leave, Frankie frantically scrubs the kitchen. What if Coyote’s birth mother is a climate-change denier or a natural blonde or something equally horrific! Grace assures Frankie that everything will be fine. Frankie says she needs a little divine assistance from the “Nordic god, Frigg,” a.k.a. Rene Russo from the Thor movies.

Meanwhile, Robert goes to the dog park with his friend and his horse. Robert’s friend is freeing him from his chamber of sadness, and also telling him that J. Crew has mandated that everyone half-tuck now. The things you miss out on when you’re not talking to your husband and hiding from the world! As Robert walks through the dog park with his friend, it’s full of charming, young, gay men. Robert is learning the gay social code: A simple “hi” means “I want to have sex with you.” Robert preempts any come-ons by turning to random men and saying, “No thank you, I’m not interested.” Unfortunately, that’s how most women have to operate in the world. Robert sees men making out on a bench. He is positively scandalized.

Back at the beach house, everyone preps for the arrival of the Birth Mother. Frankie is serving nuts out of her neti pot. Grace says she’s going to stay until the Birth Mother arrives, but really she’s just avoiding Phil. Grace has to break it off in-person because she is the very picture of manners. When I close my eyes to picture Miss Manners, I picture Grace. How often am I picturing Miss Manners? Often. Very often.

The doorbell rings and it’s Krystle, Coyote’s birth mother! She’s basically a cute southern version of Grace, complete with fun fashion pearls. She rushes to hug Grace assuming she’s Coyote’s adoptive mother. When Frankie goes to hug Krystle, she steps on her toes. That’s one. Krystle gives Frankie a baffling gift: A Jesus figurine playing soccer. What occasion is that appropriate for? No occasion, Krystle. Krystle apparently doesn’t have matters and asks what kind of Christians they are. The Bergsteins. Yikes.

She follows up that faux pas by asking how long Sol and Frankie have been married. There’s no way she could have known, but there’s a lot of history there. Sol bites the bullet and tells Krystle the whole story. Krystle asks if Grace is Frankie’s girl partner. Frankie brags that she’s dating a yam farmer. While prepping more snacks, Frankie swipes the Jesus figurine off the counter and breaks its head. She mends it with some hummus, then shoves it in the freezer. That’s two.

Grace stops by a church to ask for some guidance from the big man upstairs. She admits that she blamed God for her divorce, but she needs some strength because she doesn’t think she can walk away from Phil and that ‘stache. I imagine this will be in Jane Fonda’s Emmy consideration reel.

Robert and the horse take a seat near a handsome older gentleman named John, who remarks that the younger generation is so much freer. No kidding: John reveals that he was a priest who walked away from the priesthood after years.

Back at the beach house, Frankie notices that Coyote and Krystle both tug on their ears when they’re listening. She reacts to this sweet mother-son moment by hurling a Tabasco bottle at Krystle’s face to “pass it” to her. When Coyote rushes to get some ice, he notices the Jesus head in the freezer. That’s three and four. Coyote is furious with Frankie for not being honest about being uncomfortable with Krystle’s visit. When it’s time for Krystle to leave with a Band-Aid on her nose, Coyote expresses interest in meeting Krystle’s sons and husband. Krystle stops him: She never told her family about giving Coyote up for adoption. He represents a time in her life she doesn’t want her family to know about.

Frankie flips the hell out on Krystle. The Bergsteins opened up to her and she won’t do the same and if this was going to be a one-time meeting, she should have been upfront about it. Krystle can take her fun fashion pearls and get gone. Coyote apologizes to Frankie for putting her through the whole visit. Frankie admits that when she saw them together, she couldn’t deny Krystle’s influence in Coyote’s life. Coyote reassures Frankie that she always has been and always will be his mother.

Grace is waiting at a park for Phil. He asks if she will be leaving him again. She says yes. Oh Grace, you sweet, parrot-shirted dreamboat. Grace admits that once she went back to Robert after flirting with Phil, she shut down and never really felt that spark again. It was never the same; the timing was never right. As they walk to their cars, Grace uses her witty good-bye line way too early. Making the situation even more awkward, her car won’t start. Phil comes to her rescue and realizes that her car wasn’t in park.

Before Grace gets in her car again to drive away forever, Phil asks if this is really it. Grace starts to say yes, but stops herself and whispers, “No!” And then, she gives him the smooch to end all smooches.

Grace and Frankie Recap: The Birth Mother