Liza Miller is in a pickle. Her bond with Pauline is growing stronger by the day, which is great news for the novel meant to save Empirical Press, but not so great for the murky state of Liza and Charles’s relationship. After the punch heard ’round the world at the company picnic, Charles insisted that just because Pauline wants to reconcile doesn’t mean he reciprocates. He is all in on Liza! Alas, Liza reminds him it’s more complicated than that (more than he knows), and then takes the longest, saddest walk away from a guesthouse holding a shot at love to a table with leftover Asian slaw the world has ever witnessed.
Well, if a good portion of the audience isn’t happy with Liza’s refusal to really go for it with Charles, he isn’t thrilled either. In this week’s episode, the press release for Marriage Vacation is out and people are going crazy for it. So crazy, in fact, that they’d like to push up the publication date for a summer release. Charles has thoughts. Mostly grouchy ones. Before they go moving release dates, he wants to see what Pauline and Liza have been up to. Liza knows she’s in a sticky situation — even Diana reminds her that editing a tell-all about her boss is a make-or-break moment in her career — and Charles’s moodiness isn’t helping to calm her nerves.
During an extremely awkward meeting, things get heated as it becomes difficult for Charles to separate his life from the character based on him. (He said he loves Donna Tartt’s writing, not that he loves Donna Tartt, Pauline, gosh.) The guy also can’t be too thrilled that Pauline and Liza are becoming a real team. The book is in great shape, but Liza’s relationship with Charles? Not so much.
Before Liza and Pauline spend too much time thinking about Charles’s icy demeanor, Kelsey has a proposition: The ladies are going out. Lauren has invited them all to a networking event at the Nest, an exclusive NYC women’s club. One spin around that room and sales for Marriage Vacation will tick up — way up. No one can say no to that.
Kelsey is there to network, but the pickins are slim. Eventually, she bumps into a producer for Good Morning America. When she hears that Kelsey is the one publishing Marriage Vacation, she thinks this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She is very, very into the novel and the drama behind it. Kelsey’s excited to get a business card and a new contact out of it, but I’m wary this chick is going to get Kelsey in trouble at work again. Here’s hoping Kels is a little savvier this time around.
Meanwhile, Pauline has a questionable run-in at the Nest as well. The event is being sponsored by Pinx, a company that makes slimming period panties (otherwise known as a death trap) — and Pinx just so happens to be run by Louise, an old friend of Pauline’s. She is so thrilled to see Pauline back in New York, she’d like to throw her old pal a party. It’d be great exposure for both of them. Louise lays on about as much condescension as you imagine. Pauline practically begs Liza to join her at the party. She’ll be facing all of her old friends and she’ll need Liza as back up.
Louise’s cocktail party only reinforces Liza’s belief that she’s getting in the way of Pauline and Charles. She watches as Pauline glows once she realizes she doesn’t care what these friends think about her anymore. Her year spent writing this book has changed her life for the better. Liza also has to listen to Pauline praise Charles for being so brave. GET A ROOM, LADY. Which, actually, she might be doing. Pauline lets slip to Liza that she’s been talking to Charles about moving into their townhouse with her daughters. She also drops in a little intel about how Charles, at one point, was considering taking Liza off the book. That’s news to Liza. That’s news to all of us.
Speaking of news, Kelsey discovers something very interesting about her BFF. While schmoozing with the GMA producer during her second evening at the Nest, Kelsey catches a glimpse of a very disheveled-looking Lauren. She follows her friend into the restroom and demands to know what the what is going on, and why she’s wearing the same outfit she had on last night, only backward. The sad truth: Lauren got fired from her job and she’s been sleeping standing up in the closet at the Nest ever since. She wants to collect as many business cards as possible so that she can run off and start her own firm. She cannot be that girl who’s unemployed and living with her parents. (Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) Kelsey, like any good pal, lovingly tells Lauren to get a freakin’ grip. They’ll figure it out together. But for now, no more sleeping in closets at exclusive women’s clubs. Molly Bernard doesn’t get enough credit for the work she does as Lauren. The girl is crazy, but she is always a delight to watch.
Back at the cocktail party: In the middle of a very cute back-and-forth with Jay — yes, Jay’s back! — Liza sees Charles step outside and follows him. This conversation is intense, you guys. Liza tells Charles she knows about the townhouse and how he contemplated removing her from the book. Charles thinks Pauline talks too much. He also thinks that he and Liza would be making a mistake if they didn’t pursue a relationship. They’d be throwing something good away. HOLD THAT MAN, LIZA. He is begging to be held.
But Liza doesn’t. Instead, she finally reveals a big part of her hesitation. She doesn’t want to pick between Charles and Marriage Vacation, but this book would be huge — not just for Pauline or the company, but also for Liza. Now Charles gets it. Liza is choosing her career. This time, it’s Charles who walks away. Now, obviously he doesn’t know her whole deal, so his harshness has to be taken with a grain of salt. And although I am very much on #TeamCharles (and I take the fact that they haven’t gone fully there as an affront to me as a person), Liza should be choosing her career, right? She concocted this whole lie about her age in order to build a career, not meet a man.
As if the party couldn’t get any more emotionally damaging, Liza runs into Bob and Julia, Charles’s friends who know Liza as Caitlin’s mom. As she struggles to come up with a normal reason for being in Louise’s apartment, her “Old Beard” comes to her rescue. Yes, Jay pops up again — he also went to school with Bob — and explains that Liza is here with him. They’re dating. Liza and Jay flee from that party arm in arm … and Charles watches the whole thing.
What Charles doesn’t see, however, is Jay taking Liza up on her offer for dinner. He also doesn’t see Jay walk Liza home. And he certainly doesn’t catch Jay make an awkwardly charming play for a kiss and Liza kiss him back. Charles definitely didn’t see any of that, because if he did, we’d really need someone to hold that sad, hunky man.
In other sad, hunky man news: Josh learns that Clare won’t be staying in Brooklyn much longer. She isn’t getting a full-time job after her video-game internship, and without a work visa, she has to head back to the homeland. Clare has one week before returning to Ireland. You guys, I know Josh is sad and all, but if he marries this girl to keep her in the country, heads will roll.
It’s Trout Season
• Richard’s son is still wreaking havoc on Diana’s linen couch and life in general. She finally lays down the law with her boyfriend: He has one week to get Ethan an apartment. Also, he owes her lots and lots of time downstairs. If you catch my drift.
• Diana’s reaction when Richard tells her that Ethan is suffering too: “What, are my Turkish towels too lush?”
• I love that Diana just assumes she’s Liza’s mentor. Sutton Foster’s reaction to that moment is perfection. Seriously, I cannot wait until Diana learns of Liza’s secret. She’s totally going to be the last to know, right?