“Shrooms” works much in the same way actual shrooms do: All of a sudden, what once seemed boring is filled with finely realized, swirling details, and everything seems brighter than it did before. To be honest, I’m still reeling from having watched an episode in which I really … liked … Gus? I KNOW! Let’s get to it.
Gus arrives at Mickey’s and kisses her seconds after walking through the door. They flip through her menus to decide what to order, and that’s when Mickey comes across her old drug box. Edibles, ecstasy, coke … she obviously can’t use any of it and offers it to Gus. He asks if she’s tempted to use again and she confesses that she shouldn’t be keeping it around. She throws out her drugs in front of Gus, and then tours her apartment, putting all the hidden pills and paraphernalia in the trash.
After pulling a bag of shrooms out of her freezer, Gus admits he’s never done them. Bertie arrives at home and rouses Randy from his nap — apparently he had been there all along. (He likes Bertie and Mickey’s place a lot more than his own.) Bertie asks Mickey if she can have the shrooms for herself and Randy, and Mickey suggests that they do them with Gus while she sober-babysits.
Gus is scared, and Mickey’s pep talk doesn’t help him much. He then says he doesn’t know if he’s comfortable doing drugs in front of her. She promises that it won’t be a trigger for her, and convinces him that she’ll trust him more if he does shrooms. He says that’s how he feels about not being able to trust people who haven’t seen Die Hard, which it quickly becomes apparent that Mickey hasn’t.
Gus, Bertie, and Randy all eat peanut-butter sandwiches with the shrooms. A while later, they still aren’t feeling anything, so Mickey gets them up and dancing. The shrooms finally hit and Randy confesses to Gus that Mickey and Bertie’s nice apartment is giving him an existential crisis about what he’s doing with his life. He and Gus psych each other out about how they’ve reached the part of the movie of their lives where something new should be happening, but nothing is happening …
Meanwhile, a tripped-out Bertie tells Mickey her theory that all anyone on the Earth ever wants is to be warm. She asks Mickey to write this down, because, as she brilliantly puts it, “My brain’s not friends with my hands right now.”
The group heads outside, where Mickey watches her three stoned friends and Bertie demonstrates a pretty solid American accent. Randy is one of those agitated, “let me corner you and tell you my very upsetting ideas” high people, whereas Gus is more of the “let’s stay friends forever” ilk. He and Bertie decide to move a table together, since they met moving a dresser and “that felt good.”
Mickey considers taking shrooms, but Gus is too high to properly argue with her. Instead, he eats the mushroom she was going to take so that she won’t do it. It is dumb but, in its own way, quite romantic.
A coyote appears in the backyard, and Randy tries to communicate with it. When the coyote runs, Randy chases after it. Like a pack of zombies, Bertie, Gus, and Mickey trudge after him. Randy is convinced that the coyote can show him his destiny. Of course, the stress is starting to turn Bertie’s trip a little darker, but luckily the coyote stops at a house just as the running is starting to make Gus feel sick. Unluckily, Randy has decided that this particular house is his destiny, and he decides to break in. Gus, Bertie, and Mickey also enter to retrieve him.
When the owner of the house arrives, Gus attempts to pick Randy up and out of the bed. Gus shakes him into some type of shroom-inflected sense, and they amble back up the road home.
Later, Gus is sobering up and tells Mickey he learned that it’s really fun to do drugs. They talk about how they pull and push each other closer to the ledge. Gus tries on Mickey’s swimsuit and then gushes about how pretty she is. (VISUAL METAPHOR ALERT!) She tries to tell him that he’s beautiful, but he won’t hear it. He knows he’s not beautiful. But she likes his face anyway. Mickey asks if he thinks she’s a fuck up, and he says no — he admires her courage and “beautiful soul.” In Mickey’s room, she and Gus watch Die Hard for her first time.
In less romantic news, Randy tells Bertie he doesn’t think the drugs were very strong, and then tells her to let him sleep or he may have to kill her. So, either he’s still very very high or he just has homicidal tendencies.
Hey, what do you know! I found this episode totally endearing! Gus makes some pretty solid choices and acts like a human being capable of taking ownership of his behavior and action to help others! What I like most about the episode was not just that it kept Gus and Mickey together, but that it furthered their relationship in interesting ways, and, most important, it presented a compelling case for why we should want these two characters together. Love often seems like a show about two people who really need alone time to do some soul searching. But in “Shrooms,” we see why exactly these two might actually be good for each other. Gus needs a little more adventure, Mickey needs a little more boring, and they both need someone who sees them as beautiful.
An episode like “Shrooms” pushes Love in the right direction. The show I’d like to see steps back from the world-building around Gus and Mickey and instead works on creating the world between Gus and Mickey. There’s plenty of interesting material to explore in that space — much more interesting than Mickey’s radio office or the set of Witchita — and watching these sweet, drama-free moments play out is a total treat.