Divorce Recap: The Farting Robot


Weekend Plans
Season 1 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating *****
Thomas Haden Church as Robert.
Thomas Haden Church as Robert. Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Over lunch, Robert mansplains Apocalypse Now to … Cathy! As in, Cathy “We Almost Had an Affair But Then 9/11” DiMassio! The idea of trying to jump back into the dating pool with the longtime friend you almost banged might be the saddest divorced-dude thing ever, although squatting in an unfinished house is a close second.

It comes as no surprise that Cathy has moved on. In fact, her hotel proposition to Robert 14 years ago was so embarrassing she never even told her therapist. She storms out; he slips his wedding ring back on.

Robert tries again with his favorite smiley Starbucks barista, until she drops the requisite “my boyfriend” after two-plus minutes of allowing a rando to flirt with you — although with Robert, it’s more like flirting at you. From there, the barista happily flashes an engagement ring. He proceeds to accuse her of leading him on with her … um, friendly disposition. Woof. We are walking one hell of a dangerous line with Robert and women. This time, he’s a little more fazed than he was by Cathy’s rejection. “Go cook some milk,” he mumbles, and trudges away.

Meanwhile, Max the attorney informs Frances that Robert’s contracting business is a pile of worthless dog shit that’s left the Dufresnes broke. She’s absolutely blindsided. “Deeply in debt?” she asks. “Or cash-poor?” The former, he says. “But both.” Unwilling to accept the truth, she jumps to her feet and insists that this is all a trick. Robert must be hiding his real wealth in some offshore bank account! After all, he was on Wall Street for a decade! He knows how to handle money! The idea that Frances was unaware of their financial issues is sadly believable; less believable is her being unaware that Robert is dumb enough to cause those issues. (It’s frankly amazing that the lights were ever on in their house.) Max assures her that they’ve got more cards to play, and his parting suggestion is that she keep a cool head. Instead, she books it to his squatter home — which really should’ve been the first red flag that Robert was in debt — where she smashes a brick through the window and puts a hose through it.

In a department store, Robert learns that bachelors look different now than they did in his heyday. This is a world of Warby Parker glasses and Euro-cut suits, about which he asks the salesman dubiously: “Are you sure this is for a dude?” He runs into Dallas. They trade some barbs. He wins this round by telling her that Cole will run away and she’ll be all alone. She gets teary, and Robert admits, “Sorry, I’m just lonely.” “Join the club,” she replies. If they end up having hate sex, I will dieeeee.

Diane and Frances watch the future Dufresne Gallery get repainted. Diane tosses off, “This block is a notorious boneyard for small businesses.” Are these cutting little remarks thoughtless or intentional? There’s a hell of a lot of both flying around, but Diane’s occasional outbursts of animosity toward Frances — usually Nick-related — have been sewn in from the start. Maybe she just likes to stir things up. After all, her next move is breaking the news to Frances about Fun Space.

There’ll be a golf course! And they’ll be worth millions! As often is the case in families where the mom is the primary breadwinner, Robert only cares about sinking money into the long game, and Frances is more focused on the here and now. “You bought a split-level that was the site of a triple homicide,” she points out. “Allegedly!” he snaps. She flies off the handle with a lacerating speech about the things she hates the most about him, including a “farting robot” routine. He sits there stunned for a moment — then he does the robot voice and she lunges for him. They’re interrupted by Lila cheerfully saying it’s time for cake. What appeared to be a seedy bar where the two could hash it out is actually a nice dinner to celebrate Tom’s birthday.

A put-upon Robert vents to Silvercreek, who — surprise! — is still a nasty misogynist. He represents Robert’s financial future, but also his id. What Robert needs, he says, is to go out and “slay some serious pussy.” (You know, the kind of pussy that talks about Camus at dinner parties!) Spray tan, Crossfit, Paul Smith … appropriately enough, the only thing he actually approves on Robert is Frances’s hated mustache.

Unfortunately, Max is showing sudden and extreme signs of senility. Turns out he had a stroke, but just a mini-stroke! No big deal. To Frances, it is. He insists that they proceed with the Robert (or Richard, or Ronald) face-off, but once they do, Tony says he never received copies of Frances’s assets or pay stubs. As Max loses focus and fumbles, Frances gets increasingly anxious, and afterward suggests that the stroke had more of an impact than he thinks. “That was a performance, my dear.” Frances is relieved until a moment later, when he ushers her into the break room instead of the elevator.

A local mom, Janice, chats Robert up outside the kids’ school. She admires his commitment to dropping off the kids, then asks if he lost weight, and then they’re having sex. Janice dips immediately afterward. Robert hides in the bathroom, overwhelmed by his new freedom. He heads to Frances’s place to drop the kids back off and she immediately knows something’s up. He confirms that he slept with someone else, rubbing it in just a little.

Frances: “Are you telling me this to hurt me?”

Robert: “Probably. But I knew that it wouldn’t. And that’s the worst part.”

Getting some put things in perspective for Robert. It was such an alien experience to him that Frances’s more long-term affair seems even more unfathomable: “How could you do that 34 times with him? And then come home to me. And fake your way through conversation, and through dinner with the kids. Through sex with me.”

He’s honest and honestly hurt in this moment, miles from the alpha male Silvercreek pushes him to be. (And who Robert probably thinks he is most of the time.) Frances holds her ground, reminding him that she may have betrayed their marriage physically, but he betrayed it financially. Which is fair. They end on a stalemate. Again.

Other Notes:

  • That Max scene is roooough, no matter how fluctuating his executive function is.
  • Frances’s wardrobe keeps getting better, and I know the clothes make sense for the character, but Sharon’s outfits in Catastrophe were on a whole other level and I miss them.
  • Cole to Dallas, emerging from a dressing room in a beige grandpa sweater: “Mom, can we get out of here? I look like fucking Judd Hirsch.”
  • I’ll be honest, Robert’s farting-robot thing elicited a literal LOL from me, but I’m not married to the dude.

Divorce Recap: The Farting Robot