Casual Recap: Distressed Assets


The Magpie
Season 2 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating *****
Tommy Dewey as Alex.
Tommy Dewey as Alex. Photo: Hulu

Now we’re really getting somewhere! In “The Magpie,” Casual’s second season gains more momentum in a big way.

We open with Laura, Valerie, and Alex in their separate bedrooms, and then watch as Sarah leaves for her post-engagement-party walk of shame. That morning, Alex is very pleased with himself, and when Laura presses him for more information, he just refers to Sarah as “someone in need.” Laura also knows how rewarding it is to help others, having just given Spencer his first threesome the previous night. They’re both proud of what they believe to be good deeds; they’ve never seemed more alike. Valerie, however, isn’t as lucky or charitable.

She goes into work, still disappointed about the Jack debacle, to find a patient furious at her for being late. When she asks Jennifer to grab dinner, Jennifer is distant and reluctantly agrees to lunch instead, making sure to mention that she knows Jack “had a really good time.” Valerie is desperate for more details, but leaves it at that to protect her budding friendship with Jennifer.

At school, Spencer runs into Laura and Aubrey … and tries to propose a second threesome. When Aubrey notices Laura flirting, though, she shuts it down fast. (As she tells Spencer, “Make-a-Wish Foundation is closed for business.”) Laura sees that Aubrey is jealous, and probably recognizes that it’s time for them to acknowledge their relationship, but instead she chooses to say nothing.

When Alex shows up at the office, everyone is surprisingly sympathetic, and he even finds a bottle of whiskey waiting for him at his desk. What’s going on here? When Jordan approaches Alex, he even apologizes! He realizes that it’s “really easy to misinterpret things,” and although Alex prepares himself for the worst, Jordan tries to bury the hatchet. Alex is incredibly lucky, yet he’s still undoubtedly disappointed that he missed some gallant chance to fight for Sarah. As soon as Jordan leaves his office, he texts her.

Later in the day during a session, Valerie believes her patient, Anthony, is having a breakthrough, but in fact, he’s breaking up with her. He wants to discontinue their sessions. Just when Valerie thought she was being useful, she’s laid low, feeling more powerless than ever. Immediately afterward, Valerie discovers that Jennifer cancelled on lunch, and Leia comes to the rescue.

Valerie explains what went wrong with her date, but Leia insists that she should have confirmed, since “people who just show up places are generally unstable.” After listening to Leia, Valerie decides to text Jack, and finally begins to feel more in control. Maybe.

At school, Laura spots Spencer sitting alone, and texts him a flirty one-liner: “Dead yet?” They make plans to hang out in Laura’s hot tub, and she invites Aubrey as well. Aubrey’s hurt that the threesome wasn’t a one-time thing, but decides to join away so that she won’t be left out. Laura isn’t completely oblivious, but she’s not spurred to action. It seems like she’s hoping that if she doesn’t address her relationship with Aubrey, it will just go away on its own.

While Laura waits to be picked up at school, Aubrey attempts to make plans where they can be alone. When she doesn’t pay attention, Aubrey kisses her in front of Valerie, forcing her to finally react. Valerie is stunned: She isn’t sure how to approach this new development, but when Laura gets into the car, she only responds by asking, “Why is everyone obsessed with self-destruction?” They discuss her situation with Aubrey, and Valerie is shocked that Laura can feel so emotionally detached. And yes, she’s blind to how this all relates to her situation with Jack.

Back at home, Alex tries to convince Sarah to move on. But Sarah didn’t forget how their relationship ended last time, and she’s hesitant to leave Jordan. Of course, they still end up sleeping together and Valerie watches Sarah leave. When Valerie confronts Alex, he’s unconcerned, but Valerie knows it will end badly. Alex coolly tells her to take care of her own relationships, and they both know that delving any deeper into their volatile relationship will have much worse consequences.

At school, Laura runs into Aubrey but isn’t brave enough to confront her, so instead she disinvites her to the hot tub, claiming she needs to be with her family. We see that Spencer is still invited; Laura has decidedly moved on. By choosing Spencer, she continues to value the physical over the emotional, but with Alex and Valerie as her only role models, it isn’t entirely her fault.

By the end of the day, Jack finally responds to Valerie’s text, and she goes over to see him. First, she grills him to find out if he has a secret family, but once they set some ground rules — rule number one: no disappearing — Valerie decides to stay the night.

At work, Alex isn’t as lucky as last time. He finds Jordan in his office, talking about how he got into the business and his passion for “distressed assets.” Soon it’s clear that he knows what Alex did, and vows he will burn his company to the ground. To be fair, Alex wasn’t being careful and the confrontation was inevitable, but still. Alex has damaged his company and must find a way to fix it.

When he sits at the bar later that night, he meets Patrick from Oregon, a stranger willing to speak to just about anyone. Although Alex isn’t in the mood for talking, he’s forced to listen to Patrick’s story about following his dreams. To Alex, it’s infuriating. Here is a seemingly oblivious man building a life for himself, while Alex is destroying his own. He returns home defeated, only to find Sarah waiting for him in his bedroom with her bags packed. He appears more shocked than relieved, as if this is his chance to start over. But as we see Valerie and Laura building new relationships in their bedrooms, Alex seems more lost than ever.

Casual Recap: Distressed Assets