Love Recap: Mall Rats


Forced Hiatus
Season 2 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating *****
Paul Rust as Gus. Photo: Suzanne Hanover/Netflix

Who woulda guessed it? Love is a much better show when things happen and some of those things are funny and some are sad but they’re all borne out of action and character conflict!

We open on Heidi’s Witchita death scene, which is finally being reshot. Susan announces that the episode order for the show has been cut due to low ratings. She reassures the crew that this is not a cancellation, just a forced hiatus. One of the cast members tells Gus that he’s never been on a show that’s come back from a forced hiatus. Gus is perversely happy — this means he wrote the series finale! The rest of the crew aren’t so happy to be losing their jobs.

Bertie lends Randy money — with a chirpy happiness that Randy is actually able to ask for help — but as Mickey listens to their interaction, she seems less sure that this is a good idea. Especially when she comes home to find Randy hanging out on the couch by himself. Mickey and Bertie have to go return clothes at the mall together, and Randy is ready to invite himself along. Mickey learns that Randy has never had a job, and tries to suss out how he supports himself.

Gus tries to get Arya to focus, but, just then, Arya’s parents enter the scene. Her dad, Steven (David Spade), tells her that there are some disagreements about what Arya should do during her forced hiatus: Steven wants her to work on Liberty Down, a big-budget action movie, but her mom, Denise (Dawn Forrester), wants her to do an indie drama called Lowlands. It’s telling that neither one hopes that she’ll use the hiatus to, you know, go back to school or hang out with friends or something.

At the mall, Mickey confronts Bertie about her slacker boyfriend. She asks if it’s getting serious, and Bertie says she’s trying not to think about it. Mickey brings up the fact that Randy talked a lot about killing people while on shrooms, which Bertie agrees is scary, but she nevertheless chooses to blame it on the mushrooms. When Bertie asks what makes Mickey think Randy can’t take care of himself — and what makes her so much of a relationship expert — Mickey leaves the conversation.

Meanwhile, Kevin is back on set catering at Witchita, looking for another gig. Gus is pretty confident that he’ll be brought on as Arya’s tutor for her next project. Steven takes Gus aside and tells him that he never really wanted Arya to be an actress, but Liberty Down would have her set for life. He’s obviously trying to get Gus on his side so he can help convince Arya to pick the big-budget film. He also confesses to Gus that he and Denise are getting divorced, and he’s worried that he won’t have any say in Arya’s future.

Bertie has to go into work, which leaves Mickey stranded at the mall with Randy. At the Container Store, Randy puts a filing cabinet on his credit card. Mickey eyes his check from Bertie suspiciously.

Back at the Witchita set, Denise pulls Gus into her trailer and tells him the divorce news that Steven already shared, then tells him a little too much about their sex life. Denise hands Gus the screenplays for Lowlands and Liberty Down, asking him to read them both and give Arya his opinion on which one to do.

At the mall, Mickey tells Randy that she knows Bertie lent him money. He tells her it was $850 for his rent. But he keeps trying to buy expensive things. Mickey accuses Randy of scamming her, and she knows it because she’s done the same thing. To prove getting a real job isn’t as easy as Mickey makes it seem, Randy wheels his filing cabinet into a children’s store and asks if they’re hiring. When the guy behind the counter says they’re not, he loses his shit and starts knocking stuff all over the store.

On set, Gus sits down with Arya and asks her how she’s doing. She tells him she’s always hated Wicthita and then reveals what she’d most like to do next. It’s not Lowlands, and not Liberty Down: She just wants be a normal kid instead of hanging out with 50-year-olds all day. Arya sees through Gus, too: He wants her to work so he’ll have a job. Gus tells her that he’ll support whatever choice she makes. Arya knows she has to work or her parents will go bankrupt, and they’ll be mad if she tells them she doesn’t want to work anymore, so she convinces Gus to tell them for her.

Randy and Mickey finally make it to the dining terrace, where Randy samples everything. He tells Mickey he genuinely likes Bertie, and he borrowed her money because he knew he’d ruin things with her eventually anyway. Mickey confesses that she’s nervous about destroying her relationship, too. Randy gives Mickey the check Bertie gave him and asks her to give it back. Mickey tells him he deserves it.

Gus and Arya walk in on Denise and Steven arguing. Gus tells them that Arya wants to take a break from acting. The parents seem okay with it at first, but then it disintegrates into arguing again. Arya tells them she knows they’re getting divorced, then decides that she’ll do both projects and Gus can come with her. Gus seems relieved, despite himself.

At work, Bertie is told that the co-worker she’s covering for isn’t sick at all, just playing hooky. Bertie’s co-worker tells her that she always says yes to things, and Bertie finally snaps. She storms out.

Mickey gets in an Uber and Randy decides to stay at the mall. When Bertie comes home, Randy calls her to tell her he feels bad about taking that check. He then asks if he can come over, and Bertie tells him she’d rather be alone. Randy cashes the check. Alone, Bertie lights a pensive cigarette.

Arya films her last scene on Witchita as Gus leaves the set and Mickey rides home in the Uber.

I really enjoyed “Forced Hiatus.” As an episode, it builds conflict well and finds interesting ways to resolve those conflicts. It vividly illustrates the bad cycles its characters are stuck in without feeling bad and cyclical itself. Sure, I didn’t 100 percent buy Bertie snapping like that, and her final scene was a bit unearned, but Bertie’s always been sharper than others have given her credit for. I don’t think she’s a pushover; she’s just selectively trusting. If Randy is running a scam, he’s doing a good job of it.

On the whole, “Forced Hiatus” turns the focus to relationships less healthy than Gus and Mickey’s, while reminding us why they make healthier decisions by virtue of their distance from each other. It’s more evidence that they both know what the right things are, but what’s yet to be seen is whether or not they can actually follow through on that knowledge.

Love Recap: Mall Rats