It’s been a while since You’re the Worst gave us a banger of an episode like this: wall-to-wall jokes, along with lists, insults, and bizarro-profane descriptions courtesy of Britain’s next great and terrible novelist, Jimmy Shive-Overly. I admire YTW for its ability to go dark, but it’s been ages since we’ve seen an episode willing to be this light, and it felt so good to be back.
Like many an aging friend crew before them, our foursome has stayed just a bit too long at the fair. Lindsay and Edgar’s valiant effort to come up with a worthy Sunday Funday activity — nude beach, turtle races, sex trampoline — feel desperate. Gretchen surveys the scene, then calls it: Sunday Funday is “played out,” even for these hipsters. Jimmy’s response: “Oh no! They’ve corporatized your cloying, fabricated, feckless drinking holiday? Is nothing pure anymore?” If you heard that and thought, Wait a second, Jimmy LOVES fabricating reasons to be drinking and has never had qualms about fecklessness before, you, my friends, predicted the lovely undercurrent of the episode. Jimmy, resident Sunday Funday hater, gets an absurd amount of joy from the (brilliant, hyperbolic riff on a real) scavenger hunt to Gretchen’s white whale of a speakeasy. Seeing Jimmy blossom with each inane, convoluted clue that comes his way is like watching Ron Swanson giggle with glee at Leslie’s impossible scavenger hunts.
Gretchen insists they seek out, as Jimmy not-inaccurately describes it, “the worst thing to happen to bars since internet jukeboxes and big ice cubes,” because she had depression and therefore really needs it. (I love that Gretchen was torn up about her relatively manageable condition but bumbled on, willfully oblivious to Edgar’s devastating, debilitating PTSD.) Jimmy agrees, so long as he doesn’t have to “solve any riddles,” and then of course he leaps at the opportunity to use his knowledge of HTML and the Dewey Decimal system to get them to their first stop: the library, where a gross dude is using the free Wi-Fi to watch porn and masturbate. Also, they find a book that leads them to something about ragtime, and who do they know that knows anything about ragtime?
Sam! ALL episodes should include Sam and his guys. Not just all episodes of You’re the Worst, either. All episodes of all the shows. Imagine the damage Sam would do on Stranger Things. Picture Honey Nutz on Jane the Virgin, finally finding the true love that eludes him here. Think of Shitstain on The Americans. I’m honestly not sure what he would do there, but I’m open to suggestions. Sam is thrilled by the power of his “bigifier” — “godDAMN these pixels look big as shit!” — and Shitstain is thrilled because he just eloped with Jacqueline. Honey Nutz is TOTALLY FINE so don’t worry about him.
Sam identifies the sheet music as a song called “Happy Toes,” which changes from major to minor key midway through. “It’s like ‘Happy Toes’ and then it switches to ‘Sad Toes,’” he offers. This leads the gang, naturally, to a sketchy-looking foot clinic. (Sam declines the invitation to join the adventure: “I am frightened by puzzles and general trickery.”)
The escalation of the hunt is real magic, starting from its low-to-moderate implausibility to straight-up, there’s-no-way-in-hell-this-could-happen territory. Outside the foot clinic, to use a technical term of art, shit gets real: Gretchen harasses a man in a suit who drops his briefcase; a special code dialed into a pay phone produces a key; the abandoned briefcase, when unlocked, contains a photo of the group from the library. (As Jimmy puts it: “The masturbating man’s computer took the photo.”) Edgar has a real Dorothy — as in Oz, not his girlfriend — moment, thinking this means that “we’re the bar, the bar is inside us!” But there’s too much airtime left for that sentimental noise.
Lindsay and Gretchen’s low-grade tiff blows up into a real fight by the middle of the episode, with Gretchen furious at Lindsay for bitching about a marriage she refuses to invest in (or bail on) and Lindsay tired of being called out on the aforementioned failure. Lindsay keeps mentioning Paul, though, and after three name drops, Gretchen summons him. (“BEETLEJUICE, BITCH.”) Paul, who recognizes their next clue as an old railroad map, shows up with bubble tea and a sad little engineering hat.
In Chinatown, Lindsay and Edgar have this beautiful heart-to-heart that makes me nostalgic for season one, when their friendship got more attention. When was the last time we saw Lindsay this genuinely happy for someone else? Her smile at the realization that Edgar is unbothered by firecrackers is so sweet. Edgar returns the favor by telling Lindsay, point-blank, that she should “try the thing you’re most afraid of.” Lindsay: “You mean ask Paul to try to accommodate my needs within the confines of my marriage?” That she takes this legitimately stunning moment of self-awareness and turns around to tell Paul she needs to be able to have sex with other people is … still not promising for her marriage! But you know, baby steps. Like the baby inside of Lindsay. That apparently she is still carrying to term.
This is followed by a gorgeous sequence in which Edgar puts on his Joe Biden shades and lets his friends shoot firecrackers directly at him. Seems dangerous, but sure. Immersion therapy!
The episode hits its absurdist climax when the gang break into what appears, by all accounts, to be a random family’s house — “No families are that happy,” Jimmy insists, convincing everyone to rush back inside. “They’re actors!” he screams. They tear the place apart, get arrested, and land in prison … only to find that their prison toilet is ACTUALLY ATTACHED TO A SECRET REVOLVING WALL-DOOR THAT LEADS TO THE SPEAKEASY. Our victors are welcomed to “a night like no other.”
The best part of all that insanity? The speakeasy is lame and two Manhattans set Gretchen back $42. Speakeasies are lame. I appreciate that, even as this episode abandons reality for the heightened fantasy land of Sunday Funday, such an essential truth remains. And now Gretchen knows, the way you can feel nostalgic for a moment while it’s still happening, they’ll never Sunday Funday again.
The Worst: Speakeasies, now and forever.
Runners-up: Lindsay’s understanding of the Dewey Decimal system (“you boop with your pen?”), trying to fix a broken marriage with a one-sided adultery arrangement, grabbing someone’s ice cream in your fist just to fuck with them, old men who masturbate in libraries.
A Few Good Things: The way Sam pronounces “trickery,” immersion therapy, how Gretchen got banned from so many bars, Edgar learning that marijuana helps in a way that his other meds did not, Jimmy singing “Happy Toes.”