Big news, Younger fans: There is hand-holding in this episode! Well, arm-grasping and then hand-holding, which actually might be even better. Yes, Liza and Kelsey appear to make one tiny step toward reconciliation and all it took was a minor medical emergency. I’m not saying Kelsey is anywhere near ready to forgive her one-time BFF, but this hand-holding signals some hope.
It’s a big deal because at the start of “Forged in Fire,” there is no hope. There is negative hope. Kelsey is adamant in freezing Liza out. It’s a big misstep, if only because who else will tell her that the collar/shirt combo she’s wearing is completely bonkers? Alas, she’s just sitting in her morning meeting looking like a crazy. The good news is that in that same morning meeting, Charles informs the ladies that Millennial has been invited to a super-VIP publishing retreat called Bonfire. It’s all about the future of the industry, plus getting drunk and screwing in the woods. Sounds productive!
It also sounds pretty fun, you know, if you’re not headed out into the woods of Maine with the person who hates you most in the world. Kelsey won’t even look at Liza’s research for the panel they’re speaking on! That’s just cold, girl.
Liza doesn’t even know the half of it. When Charles calls Kelsey and Diana into his office to discuss giving Liza a promotion — because they work closest with her and also I’m pretty sure they’re the only employees at Empirical — Kelsey quickly puts the kibosh on Charles’s plan to give Liza more responsibility at Millennial. She wants someone with more experience. Even Charles and Diana are taken aback.
Diana quickly hustles Liza out the door to lunch to let her know that she needs to make amends with Kelsey. She would hate to see a grudge get in the way of Liza’s career. She also offers to be a sounding board. Aw, you guys, Diana really cares about Liza! I mean, not too much: Before Liza can reveal the truth about her fight with Kelsey, Diana spots Richard’s ex-wife and moves on to her own drama. It’s a short, wonderful scene that oozes perfect comedic timing. Diana and Liza 4Eva!
Anyway, Liza and Kelsey head into the woods. There is no Wi-Fi, only networking and debauchery. From what I can gather, Bonfire is basically a sex camp for book nerds. Also, a hologram named Boomer is there? Just go with it, this episode is awesome.
It’s great for both the shenanigans — Kelsey comes back from a night in a stranger’s bunk and sasses Liza for giving her grief all while one of her boobs is out, and Liza barfs in a plant — but also great because if the season is all about the Liza-Kelsey relationship, this episode is the pinnacle. The entire thing hinges on the layers of friendship Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff have built into their characters and they really shine here. Kelsey, obviously hurt, keeps pushing Liza to live up to her lie and embrace Millennial’s young, fun spirit (young and fun means “do more shots”). Eventually, Liza gets so fed up (and so drunk), she gives her business card to the editor from Macmillan Publishing who’s been trying to recruit her for their new Gen Y imprint. She’s interested. Their anger and frustration with each other is easy to buy.
(A quick sidenote: The rival publishing gentleman is played by Aasif Mandvi, and I hope we see him again. In a game of literary Marry-Smush-Kill, he chooses to kill Virginia Woolf, smush Jane Austen, and marry Charlotte Brontë. Perfect answer.)
Even easier to believe than Liza and Kelsey’s anger is that these two people could drop all of the drama when things get serious. That’s exactly what happens as they drive out of the woods into the land of reception and Liza sees that she has frantic calls and texts from her daughter, Caitlin. It turns out Caitlin’s appendix burst and she had to go into emergency surgery. The two sit together at the airport as Liza waits for news, and when Caitlin finally calls after she wakes up safe and sound, Liza reaches for Kelsey to stay with her as she talks to her daughter. Kelsey gets to see Liza’s motivation for choosing to lie, and she gets a look at the real Liza: a mama bear, a handler of crises, a caring, loving, “money is no object when it comes to your health” kind of gal. Really, she is the same Liza who Kelsey has known all along, just, you know, older.
It may not be enough to completely save their friendship (only time will do that), but it is enough to soften Kelsey to the point that she meets with Charles again and tells him she’s changed her mind — Liza deserves a promotion and a raise, even if it means taking away some of Kelsey’s salary. See what I mean? That’s a big ol’ pile of hope right there.
While the girls are off taking tiny baby steps toward healing, some new drama arises back in Brooklyn. Maggie offers to do Liza a solid and return all of Josh’s things so Liza doesn’t have to see him. Of course, the meeting spot Maggie chooses is the coffee shop that employs her crush-slash-assistant Montana. Turns out she’s Josh’s type, too: straight, with sexy hair. Before a girl can even chug an iced latte, Josh and Montana are in bed together. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if no one really knew about it, but Montana reports for work the next day sporting Josh’s leather jacket — the one Maggie just returned to him. So Maggie knows exactly what’s going on.
Hey, Maggie may be jealous and fearful of Liza’s reaction, but it’s a much less angsty situation than if Josh started hooking up with the other blonde he was ogling in this episode. Don’t think we didn’t catch you sneaking a peek (but, like, not in a creepy way) at Kelsey as she got undressed for the shower, sir! The only question is, did he brush off whatever feelings he had in that moment because he truly wasn’t interested, or because he knows how complicated it would be?
It’s Trout Season
• Diana’s excitement at sitting next to Rod Stewart while dining at Sushi Nakazawa is all of us. “I assume it means he lives in the Village.”
• Most people who have their boyfriend’s ex-wife laugh in their face upon meeting would pack it up and go home. Not our Diana. She confronts Richard’s ex only to find out she laughed because Richard ended their marriage so that he could date models. I like my Trout sassy with a hint of bitch, but seeing her tiny vulnerability before she questions Richard is what makes Diana more than just a caricature.
• Diana’s response when Richard tells her that he did, in fact, end up meeting someone beautiful, both inside and out: “I only care about out.”