What does it actually take to make a relationship work? The dumb-dumbs of You're the Worst aren't the best people to ask, but they seem to be reckoning with a few classic coupling questions: What failings can you accept in another person? And when you've said a really hurtful thing, can you ever take it back? Can you ever recover to the point that it's like you never said it in the first place?
For Gretchen and Jimmy, the big cons on their pro-con lists are what threaten to unravel everything. For Edgar and Dorothy, it's Dorothy's insecurity curdling into some low-key racism: "You know I'm happy for you! I mean, shit, I'm a liberal. God knows I should applaud when an underrepresented voice gets heard." For Lindsay and Paul, it's the slow realization that he thinks she is a real-deal moron who was careless with his heart. (And life!) Want to place bets on which of these couples will make it through the season unscathed? I don't have high hopes for any of them.
Gretchen wakes to Jimmy yelling scenes from his erotic novel into her face, a scene in which "a warm rain lashing down like sweat flinging off a groupie's bouncing tit!" She rightfully objects: "It's like being molested by an audio book."
Jimmy, naturally, was up all night lashing out at Gretchen's claim that he would never be successful. Like many a novelist before him, he managed to crank out a bunch of pages fueled by spite alone. Gretchen takes back her "mega-harsh" thing, but Jimmy declines to do the same. He completely sticks by his belief that he can't have kids with her. "You have dropped eight iPhones in the last year. Child-rearing requires skill." One, isn't that an Onion story? And two, I love Gretchen's hyperbolic, feminism-on-crack reaction to how gendered Jimmy's insult is: "Am I living with a Gamergater?!"
At first, it seems like Edgar and Dorothy are going to pull through. He apologizes for being a dick at the wedding and she insists she really does want him to be successful — but Dorothy's acceptance that she can't succeed in the field of her choice combined with the aforementioned micro-aggression all but kills any hope for the future. I can't believe she actually said, "I don't even see race." Dorothy, girl. (I enjoyed Jimmy's response to their "I'm the more marginalized person in the room" battle: "I'm an immigrant! The true villain is the white American male.") Dorothy reveals that she is "the downest I have ever been" and Edgar, in a well-intentioned move that is so going to backfire, lies about getting staffed on a show and pretends the "work call" was just about the gym.
Meanwhile, Paul and Lindsay let it all out, and I'm not just saying that to reference the fact that Lindsay spends much of the episode naked or strategically wrapped in blankets. You're the Worst is an odd place for a debate about what it means when a married woman gets an abortion on the sly, but Lindsay keeps repeating "my body, my choice" to Paul like it's a magic spell. "That's why Margaret Thatcher went to prison." Honestly, I am amazed that Lindsay even knew that the fetus was "just a bunch of cells." I would have thought she was picturing, like, a little Polly Pocket in there. The girl knows her science! You know, sometimes.
Lindsay makes a whole lot of false equivalences — "You use your niceness to stifle me and then you make me feel guilty," and "YOU STABBED ME," and "We both do things we regret," — but she makes one key point: Paul knew the score when he married her. He let himself believe he could force her to be someone she wasn't, and that they could will themselves into a wonderful life because he wanted a family. And now he doesn't even have Osmosis Jones. I am excited to see Paul emerge as a villain, especially since his soft spot for Lindsay is no more.
These fights are so well choreographed, right down to the arrival of a text from Becca and Vernon announcing the birth of their daughter. For the time being, eavesdropping on everyone else's demise seems to be enough to hold Jimmy and Gretchen together. But still, he keeps saying the kinds of things that ought to set off alarm bells, like, "Sometimes I look at you and think, how did this person get in my house?" Oof. They finally explode over Jimmy's characteristic ripping apart of everything Gretchen says, even her fantasies. Gretchen puts it together that the judgy voice of her mother may be silenced, but Jimmy's relentless criticism is still blaring in her brain.
Gretchen is tough, obviously, but at least she seems to be trying. She goes to therapy. She articulates how she feels. Compare that to Jimmy, who can't stifle whatever vicious thing he's thinking. He will sacrifice anything — including the happiness of whomever is around him — to land what he thinks is the perfect heckle, that brutal, cutting witticism. And for what? Does he really need to tear into Gretchen's fantasy home décor? She sees Jimmy for exactly who he is — a man "whose personality unmakes itself anytime something bad happens" — and she's still pretty accepting of his flaws. Or was.
By the end, Gretchen and Jimmy's fight is the ugliest of the three, with Jimmy lashing out at Gretchen for playing her clinical depression like a trump card and Gretchen floating the theory that only one person in a relationship can be broken at a time. Just as she allows herself to say that their whole deal "may be impossible," he tries to dress the fight up like it's all okay, in his nihilist way: Everything fails! All human effort ends in failure! Which means … maybe they're succeeding? Because they tried?
Not the world's best pitch, Jimmy. The only thing that saves these two, at least for the night, is Gretchen's sudden awareness that Jimmy's book is about incest. But even though they smoked like 8,000 cigarettes and even though Gretchen is really feeling Jimmy's incest-erotica, they both know they haven't solved their problems. I can't imagine these guys surviving to next season. Can you?
The worst: When both people realize a relationship isn't working but no one wants to be the one to end it.
Runners-up: Dorothy driving drunk because "it's easy, just like paying a video game," a "colonial bros and nava-hos" theme party, Dorothy's agent telling her to gain 20 pounds so she could "at least audition to be the kooky aunt," that insecure vampire character, stabbing your husband (can't say that enough), shattering your phone.
A few good things: The specificity of Gretchen's fantasy ("Sometimes, we talk about adopting a kid from a third-world country, but we never do it."), how Paul refers to cigarettes as "the devil's tobacco."