M-Chuck hasn't had an easy life. She grew up in a rough part of Boston, overwhelmed by the shadow of her prodigiously talented brother, clueless as to who her father was and very much smothered by her single mom's uniquely intense mode of mothering. That's all unraveling now, as Mary Charles hops from one bar and one-night stand to the next, looking for love in all the wrong places, as it were. Her hellish search comes to a head while receiving Earth-shattering oral sex from a stealthy hooker atop a restroom sink. (Hey, at least she didn't wind up getting busted like David in Six Feet Under.) This, mere days — if not hours — after stumbling into a booze-soaked liaison with her neighbor and encountering the woman's young daughter as she sprinted out the door.
Dr. Roycroft's advice about holding out for love rather than settling on casual hookups might be therapy 101, but sometimes sitting on the couch is all about hearing an objective outsider articulate your inner inklings out loud. That kind of affirmation, along with a bit of initiative and the trusted confidence of an in-law like Missy, can put a lost soul like M-Chuck on the path to healing. It wouldn't be a leap to assume she and Cassie are ready to clear the air, and if that confrontation looks anything like Missy and Reggie's about black-on-black affirmative action or Missy and Eka's over the right to practice controversial tribal rituals, then it will be a doozy.
Unfortunately, Cassie doesn't have much to say in "The Guests," and not merely in the flashback to her first time on Dr. Roycroft's couch. She's more or less persona non grata this week, as are Jimmy, Missy (her one exchange with M-Chuck notwithstanding), and, if we're counting, Squeeze. Even Chen is a no-show, save his name-brand jet that Cam and Reggie borrow to fly to Dealer Joe's wedding in Boston. That's a heavy burden for the Calloway and Vaughn cousins (actually, what is M-Chuck's last name?), aided by a patchwork of pop-up guest stars. It might typically amount to a "very special episode," which "The Guests" nearly is. Insomuch as 25 minutes of comedy that features aurally graphic lesbian lovemaking could be considered trite.
Tonight's episode, really, is a defining one for Survivor's Remorse, despite not being its funniest or most unpredictable. It's likely the show's creators knew well ahead of audiences that Starz was re-upping it for season four, so the time was right to expand on its title's intent. "The Guests" is the equivalent of an LP's title track, and now they can move on to the deep cuts. M-Chuck's coming-of-character moment is still to come, of course, but Cam's journey to Dealer Joe's wedding is his crucial confrontation. (Hey, it's a process.) And the takeaway, as Reggie sums up in so many words, is that he and Cam survived — and there should be no remorse.
"The Guests" is about getting real. It's about Reggie empathizing with Cam, but needing to make it plain that, "You know why people don't go home again? Because it's fucking stupid." It's about M-Chuck being able to say for herself that Cassie's imprint has left her feeling like love means "crushing your spirit before somebody else gets a chance to do it." Hell, even Dirty gets deep: In two scenes, he evolves from comic relief to reflection of Cam's reality, admonishing his superstar friend for coming back to where he no longer belongs.
The unifying theme — exemplified by Joe's angling for Cam's social-media shout-outs and M-Chuck's bargaining with a prostitute for her dignity — is that bettering oneself can often be a negotiation, and almost always a sacrifice. All of which is food for thought, but man, it would have been a lot funnier if Cassie, Chen, or Jimmy had chimed in.
Apart From All That:
- Is Allison gonna get a big episode soon or what?
- "Plumber Joe" had to have been a funny reference to this guy, right?
- True, Cam, one cannot make "new old friends." But old friends are assholes.
- In case you were wondering who played Janine.
- And, in case Dealer Joe looked familiar: The actor, Marcus Henderson, played the harrowing part of Big Sid in Django Unchained.
- Funny how just as Missy grew to like Atlanta, Cam's feeling misty for Boston.
- Is "fucky" common Boston slang?
- Dealer Joe's dad is a dick.
- Cam's outshining at the wedding is a bit out of character.
- Hey, you can't end every episode with a heightened confrontation.