Love Recap: Smoking Kills

Gillian Jacobs as Mickey. Photo: Suzanne Hanover/Netflix


Housesitting Season 2 Episode 9
Editor's Rating 4 stars

There are two arguments to be made about Love’s first big fight of the season: Either “Housesitting” is brilliant in the simplicity with which it approaches Gus and Mickey’s blowout, or it’s picked a frustratingly arbitrary moment to do what we’ve expected all season long. I’m going to side with Love on this one. Like most couples’ fights, the kitchen showdown between Mickey and Gus comes out of nowhere, having been built up over a handful of seemingly innocuous comments and moments. Breakups are rarely the stuff of sword-fights; more often, they’re a death by a thousand paper cuts.

Gus and Mickey enter a friend’s mansion that they’re housesitting. He immediately warmly greets the two dogs, Gordon and Peanut. She doesn’t seem to like dogs, which is basically the biggest of Mickey’s red flags so far. They tour the absolutely insane home before plopping down in front of the TV, where they’ll be watching Gus’s episode of Witchita the following night.

After some outdoor lawn-chair sex, Mickey asks Gus if she can pop one of his back zits. (This is a more serious proposal than marriage, I swear.) Gus tells Mickey that he’s self-conscious about his body but reluctantly agrees, much to Mickey’s delight.

One of the dogs starts barking inside, so the two of them go to walk the dogs around the fancy Beverly Hills neighborhood. Mickey lights a cigarette and Gus tells her that it’s weird to see her smoke there. Mickey asks if Gus hates that she smokes, and Gus asks if she’s trying to quit. It’s clear that Gus would like her to, but Mickey is already in AA and SLAA, and she doesn’t want to give up anything else.

Laying in the gorgeous master bedroom in pajamas she took from one of the house’s closets, Mickey goes through a family scrapbook and speculates about their lives. She tells Gus she’s always wanted to live in a house like this, and asks Gus if that’s lame. She doesn’t want to earn it; she just wants to have it. She tells Gus that she’d do it by marrying a rich guy who’s about to die, and Gus asks her if that’s anti-feminist. Mickey just wants to “live in a big house, read some books, and have a cat” — a pretty relaxed life. They argue about the merits of marrying rich, and Mickey falls asleep while Gus watches TV.

The next morning, Gus wakes up to a giant dog turd on the foyer rug. He calls Mickey downstairs and she cops to having let in the dogs. Mickey half-heartedly apologizes and Gus cleans it up before their friends arrive for their Witchita party. Sid and Jeff are the first to arrive, and the couples split up, guys and girls style. Sid bums a cigarette from Mickey, and Mickey tells Sid that she’s worried she is Gus’s “fixer-upper.” Sid counters that he might be legitimately trying to help her, but Mickey feels that he’s being condescending.

More people arrive for the party, and Gus is grilled by Kevin about how much time he’s been spending with Mickey. Gus is excited about how complicated Mickey is: “She’s like a puzzle, and I love puzzles.” Besides, he’s going out of town for a while on the movie with Arya, so he’s just trying to get in some quality time.

Bertie and Mickey try on Linda’s clothes. Bertie tells Mickey she didn’t invite Randy, then worries about the prospect that Gus might have invited him. She says things have been strained between them. She also, hilariously and accurately, describes Linda’s aesthetic as “great at dinner parties but a little bit racist.”

Witchita is about to start, so everyone gathers around the downstairs flatscreen TV. Gus’s “story by” credit comes up and the crowd cheers. When Heidi appears onscreen, though, Mickey leads the charge in jeering at her to “stay off Gus’s dick.”

Andy Dick arrives — remember the Andy Dick conversation from season one? — and pulls Mickey aside to discuss AA stuff. Gus keeps the episode running while Mickey goes to be a support system for her friend.

Bertie gets a text and goes to the door to find Randy at the door. Gus told Randy about the party and he was upset he didn’t know about it. Bertie tells Randy she missed him, and he comes inside.

Gus gets increasingly antsy that Mickey hasn’t returned. Onscreen, Heidi is pushed to her death, and the gathered eastside hipsters laugh in derision. (I write that like I’m above it, but let’s be real, I’d love to hate-watch Witchita.) Someone lets one of the dogs in and he eats chocolate, causing him to barf all over the rug. Len kicks over a glass of wine. Everyone decides to leave.

When Mickey finally comes downstairs, she and Gus immediately get into a fight. She tells him that Witchita wasn’t as important as talking to Andy, and he tells her that she shouldn’t have missed his episode. Mickey accuses Gus of monitoring her, and wonders if he’d be this anal-retentive if they lived together. Gus says Mickey just wants to be ignored by a rich old guy and left alone because that’s what she’s used to, since she hates being treated nicely. Mickey can’t find her cigarettes, decides that Gus hid them, and smashes a $2,000 crystal bowl on the floor. She storms off, and they sleep in separate bedrooms.

Kevin comes down to the kitchen with a girl from the party, having apparently crashed and smashed there last night. (Oh God. That rhyming joke was gross, but I had to. I’m sorry.) Mickey comes downstairs, fully dressed, packed, and ready to leave. She and Gus apologize to each other, and he tries to leave with her. Mickey tells him it’s better if they talk the next day.

Presented with the opportunity to glimpse into their future — one in which they let dogs in and out of the house, sleep in the same bed every night, and invite their coupled-up friends over for TV viewing parties — Mickey and Gus immediately become the worst versions of themselves. Maybe they’re testing each other, wondering if the other will still want to stick around during the day-in, day-out aspects of a relationship. Or maybe they’re just experiencing what any half-observant viewer has seen all along, that they’re inherently incompatible. The episode seems to ask, if not outright answer: With both Gus and Mickey functioning at their least decent, who’s in the wrong here?

Personally, I blame Andy Dick.

Love Recap: Smoking Kills