I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show handle the topic of prolonged separation quite this well, even though just about every TV character has moved cross-coasts at one point or another, leaving behind friends and relationships that strain and break in the process. In “Liberty Down,” we see what separation looks like in slow-motion, and with it, we realize how much better life would be for Mickey had Gus just listened to her desire to be alone in the first place.
Gus and Mickey eat breakfast together before he has to go to the airport to join Arya on set in Atlanta for a month. Mickey tells Gus she still feels weird about their fight the other day, and even though Gus wants to move through it, Mickey is worried about being apart from him. She doesn’t do well with separation. They come up with a plan: They’ll text and Gus will call to check in every day after work. The second he drives away, Mickey lights a cigarette.
She opens the gift Gus got for her: a copy of The Sun Also Rises. She shakes her head. Of course he’d give her Hemingway. Of course.
On day five of the separation, Arya is filming an intense action scene with some pretty terrible dialogue. Even though the assistant director, Tommy (hi, Randall Park! You’re great in everything!), wants an extra shot, Arya declares she’s done and walks off. Gus tries to buddy up to Tommy and the director, Victor, but his brown-nosing backfires.
Back in Los Angeles, Mickey (in yet another adorable outfit) fields a call from Gus. He initiates phone sex and is surprised when it works. Quick aside: In 2017, is anyone still having phone sex when FaceTime exists? Mickey gets to work on herself while Gus sets about making the hotel room ready for phone sex.
Day eight. Mickey attends a staff meeting about bringing on a sex podcaster named Stella. Erica tells Mickey to take Stella on a tour of the station. Meanwhile, Gus butts in on a conversation with the production team, and starts talking about islands in the Arctic circle. Tommy takes Gus aside and tells him not to try and pitch Victor his movie. He says Victor isn’t interested, even though Victor does seem to be interested.
Mickey introduces Stella to Dr. Greg, who immediately talks down to her. Mickey tells Stella that she had sex with Greg, but “it was a power move so it doesn’t count.”
Gus tells Steven he’s starting to run out of things to do in Atlanta. He tries to get Steven to hang out with him, but he makes an excuse and bails. Back in his hotel room, Gus calls Mickey. He’s been reading The Sun Also Rises, but she hasn’t, even though he clearly wants it to be like a two-person book club. Gus confesses to feeling homesick. Mickey, on the other hand, is doing well in his absence.
At an AA meeting, Mickey talks about feeling better about her recovery despite that tough visit from her dad. Later, she reads a book about overcoming addiction. Mickey, it seems, is doing well with the separation — after all, she’s said all along that time alone is what she really needs. Gus goes stir-crazy in his hotel room, frantically texting Mickey, who doesn’t respond right away. She’s making friends at AA and staying late at work. For all of Mickey’s concern about her separation issues, it seems like Gus is the one who should have been worried.
Day 15. Erica tells Mickey that Stella “wasn’t feeling the vibe” at Gravity. Mickey offers to try and get Stella onboard, and Erica tells her that if she can bring her in, the show is hers to produce. (Shout-out, once again, to what a gem Paula Pell is. I’d love to see her as the star of her own show. She’s always the best part of everything she pops up in.)
Tommy finds Gus hiding and texting. Apparently, Victor had a dream about Gus’s movie in the Arctic, so he wants Gus to come to New York to work on it. Gus’s excitement is decidedly tempered.
At AA, Mickey gets her 30-days-sober token and she looks proud of herself. She tells the woman next to her that she’s feeling good about sobriety this time. Mickey decides she has to actually work the steps for real, and she asks the woman next to her to be her sponsor. Mickey ignores Gus’s phone call and comes home to a handful of texts from Dustin, as well as a bouquet of roses from Gus. In the card, Gus wrote “30 roses for 30 days of sobriety — here’s to 30 more.” Mickey finds the card vaguely threatening, then goes to lay down.
Gus waits around for Mickey’s text, but when it finally comes, she says she’s going to sleep.
Day 17. Gus interrupts Tommy on set and tells him that he’s been in a new relationship, and being away from Mickey has been tough. He’s worried about going away to New York, away from Los Angeles. Tommy tells Gus he can ask Victor to work on the project over Skype. Tommy offers to help broker the deal at Victor’s trailer over lunch.
Gus arrives at Victor’s trailer, but Tommy hasn’t arrived yet. Since Victor doesn’t speak any English, Gus tries to do the meeting over Google Translate. Victor says, in English, “no Los Angeles,” and that they shouldn’t work together. Tommy arrives, and Gus accuses him of having set him up to piss off Victor. Gus tells Tommy, “Fuck you,” and leaves.
Back in L.A., Mickey tells Stella that she won’t want to be recording a podcast in her pajamas when she’s 40. She asks Stella to think about why she’s doing what she’s doing, then offers up her own story for Stella’s take. Doesn’t Gus going along with Mickey’s crazy mean he’s crazy, too? She promises she can make Stella’s show awesome.
Gus texts Mickey, but Mickey responds to Dustin instead. Gus goes ahead and Skypes Mickey. He tells her that he got her a plane ticket to come visit him in Atlanta. Mickey gets mad at him — he didn’t even ask her if she could make it. Gus is trying to prioritize their relationship, Mickey is furious that he said he couldn’t go to New York. “You don’t get points for something you decided was a sacrifice that I never asked you to do.”
They fight, and Mickey makes the most relevant point of the series so far: “We’ve both got problems, but I’m not afraid to admit it.” They decide not to talk.
Mickey texts Dustin. Buster isn’t doing well. She visits him at the vet to be there while Dustin puts him down. They hold each other as Buster lays on the table.
“Liberty Down” strikes a hopeful note for Mickey — what her life could be like, single and happy, focused only on her career and her sobriety — but ends with a reminder that her addiction to sex and love still looms large. Even with Gus out of the picture and everything else in her life going well, she still finds ways to feed her need for love. I wish she’d take some time to be single. Things with Dustin won’t end well.
As for Gus … well, to be honest, I really don’t care about Gus these days. Sorry, Love.