Love is a frustrating show. It makes quite a compelling case for its own existence, but after two seasons, it hasn’t really made a decent case for its central couple. In TV, if not in real life, it’s hard to buy into a relationship if it seems like someone else out there might be a better fit. The strongest case for Gus and Mickey is that they are inexorably drawn to each other, flaw to flaw, for whatever reason. Why Gus is drawn to Mickey — beautiful, chaotic Mickey — is clear, but that she is drawn to him is the stuff only of Judd Apatow movies. Or, I guess, Judd Apatow–produced Netflix series.
We open on Dustin in therapy — thank God someone in this show is seeing a therapist, even if it’s apparently not a great one — and the language he uses about Mickey is beyond troubling. He’s “entitled to be in a relationship” with her? That’s deeply toxic thinking. That said, Gus wasn’t thinking about Mickey much differently.
Erica tells Mickey that Stella’s deal is closed. She’s excited, and even Dr. Greg gives Mickey props for her hard work. Greg tries to get Mickey to open up to him about how she’s feeling, and she reluctantly tells him about what’s going on with Gus and Dustin. Greg says he can’t give Mickey any advice because she’s “a fucking nightmare.”
At Gus’s apartment, his gathered friends celebrate his return from Atlanta with a jam out to a theme song for The Cider House Rules. Later that night, Gus and Randy talk through his situation with Mickey. He feels that he handled things really well, and now Mickey’s texting him to see him again. Meanwhile, Randy tells Gus that Bertie thought he was giving her space, but he was actually getting ready to kill himself after she broke up with him. Then, Randy asks Gus to borrow money. As the party’s winding down, two of Gus’s friends spill that they saw Mickey on a hike the other day … with another guy.
Gus and Mickey meet up at a coffee shop, and things are tense. They don’t have much to say to each other, but Gus eventually comes out with an apology and tells Mickey that he went to an AA meeting. This seems to help things between them, but Mickey gets a text from Dustin, and whether or not Gus notices what it says, he certainly notices that she flips her phone over. (Life tip: Always turn off the “show message preview” option. Always.) Mickey invites Gus over to her place that weekend before kissing him and telling him that she missed him.
Later at Dustin’s place, Mickey tries to end things. She says it’s moving too fast and she’s not ready. When Mickey goes to leave, Dustin gets angry. He tells her that Gus will never make her happy, and that she wants to be unhappy. Dustin once again calls Mickey a whore, and she leaves, telling him that it’s all the same. It really is.
Mickey apologizes to Bertie for having put her in an uncomfortable situation. Bertie tells Mickey she shouldn’t have judged her, especially when she’s hooking up with Randy. (Has she finally realized that he is a full-on loser? Seems like it.) Mickey tells Bertie that people go back to what’s painful because it’s comfortable, and it’s hard to get comfortable being happy. Mickey tells Bertie that she ended things with Dustin, but says she won’t tell Gus about it. After all, it’s a moral grey area, isn’t it?
Bertie, the world’s worst liar, gets flustered when Gus arrives a moment later. He notices Dustin’s wine stain on the rug, then Mickey promises Gus that she wasn’t drinking. They go to Mickey’s room and she apologizes for how she acted when Gus was in Atlanta, blaming it on the separation anxiety. She then asks Gus what he’s always wanted to do in bed but has always been too nervous to ask for, saying she’d want to do that for him.
The next morning, Mickey wakes up to a barrage of texts from Dustin: He wants to talk to her and that he’s coming over. Mickey tries to rush Gus out of the apartment, and she convinces him to go paddle boating with her. Her phone buzzes that Dustin will be at her place in 15 minutes. They make it out in time, but Dustin shows up anyway — and Bertie answers the door. An anxious Bertie agrees to go look for a jacket Dustin says he lost, and he uses the opportunity to text Mickey from Bertie’s phone. (Another life tip: Always use a passcode on your phone.) Mickey texts “Bertie” back her location, and Dustin leaves to go find her.
Oh man, will this season end with a paddle-boat chase?
Shoot, no such luck. Ah well.
A very un-Love shot pulls out to reveal Dustin watching Gus and Mickey, jealously, from the side of the lake. He follows them to a farmer’s market, and Mickey tries to keep Dustin away from Gus. She runs, attempting to lose Dustin in the crowd. It’s a strange sequence, like something cut and pasted from a different show. It’s especially bizarre given the serious stakes of Dustin catching up to them. I didn’t dislike it — it’s just an odd choice for a show that supposedly trades in hyper-realism. The scene even ends with Mickey tipping over a fruit stand.
Dustin shows up at Gus’s apartment building, asking around for him. Dustin runs into Chris, who directs him to Gus’s unit. Dustin barges in while Gus is out at the vending machine, saying he won’t leave until he and Mickey talk. He says he’s trying to fight for Mickey, even though Mickey doesn’t want him to. She says she doesn’t want someone who’s going to fight for her, and Dustin says she doesn’t know what she wants. Gus arrives back, and Mickey tries to get rid of Dustin. She tells Gus she needs to tell him something, and she blurts out the last thing either of them expected to hear: She wants to be in a relationship with him. She wants it to be exclusive.
A Beck cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” plays. It is maybe the only song guaranteed to choke me up everytime I hear it. Mickey and Gus kiss. Dustin crosses back through the living room and walks out the front door.
Although that closing sequence is quite moving, I still don’t buy Mickey and Gus as a couple. I still don’t think Mickey should be in a relationship. I’m still unclear on what it is, exactly, Love is trying to say about its eponymous feeling. But thinking about Love did distract me from thinking about my own mortality for a short while, and maybe that’s all it was ever trying to do.
Best of luck to Gus and Mickey. They’re going to need it.