Welcome to a new season of Love! I promise to keep my expression of distaste for Gus to a minimum. Paul Rust seems delightful, but Gus … okay, before we get into it, we need to talk about Gus.
It is my sincere hope that Love is the story of how Mickey ultimately gets her life together and either ends up alone or finds a better guy. Not that Mickey’s such a catch herself at this point — the show has gone out of its way to prove that — but her keen awareness of her flaws puts her light-years ahead of Gus.
Thanks to years of indie movies about hapless, sensitive white guys and their quirky savior girlfriends, Gus has been taught to believe that he is the protagonist in his world. All flaws are fun and wacky; all upsets are just challenges from the universe on his way to achieving lasting happiness. Gus thinks he’s the wide-eyed wallflower who gets the girl in the end. He does not deserve Mickey, and Mickey deserves to be left alone. Mickey is flawed; Gus is loathsome. I am 80 percent sure Love recognizes this.
Season two picks up exactly where season one ends, with Gus kissing Mickey in the parking lot of a convenience store moments after she confesses that she’s an addict. Mickey reacts appropriately, by telling Gus that he must not have heard what she just said. She’s an addict, she wants to be alone for a year, and she’s not in a position to be with anyone. Unrelenting Gus, however, insists on getting in her car so they can go somewhere to talk.
Back at Mickey’s place — I like Mickey’s home décor exactly as much as I dislike Gus, by the way — he tries to press the issue and “unpack” what it is she really wants. Mickey stands by what she said: She just wants to be alone. Gus is about to leave when they overhear Bertie having sex with Randy.
When Bertie and Randy take a bone break (let’s coin that term here, now), they have an uncomfortable run-in with Gus and Mickey in the living room. To avoid hearing any more about Bertie’s copulatory vocalizations (’sup, Sex at Dawn), Gus and Mickey go to grab something to eat, at which point the conversation returns to her sex-and-love addiction.
Mickey reiterates that she wants to take a year off from sex and love to get a handle on her addiction. Gus apologizes for having been a dick — and the “whole Heidi thing” — then explains that he isn’t used to being the subject of female attention. Ugh, yawn. Gus, please stop being such a softboy jagweed.
Softboy jagweed though he may be, Mickey’s interest is undeniable. As she drops him off at his apartment, she tells him she still wants to be friends. Also, she says has to pee, so Gus invites her upstairs to use his restroom. It seems that Mickey had hoped this might happen, since she readily admitted to her bathroom needs and later did pretty intense apartment lingering — BUT GUYS — BUT please understand that this is the worst trick in the book. Let this be a lesson to you, reader: Never let a dude come up and use your bathroom, and never go up to a dude’s apartment to use his. Post-bathroom sad-puppy eyes will follow when you kick him out or leave his apartment.
Anyway. Mickey lingers, and Gus ends up admitting that he wasn’t as much of a loser in high school as he seems like he might have been. In fact, he was homecoming king. This makes a lot of sense, given the Gus we’ve come to know and strongly dislike. He was never the underdog, you see. He just acts like one when he’s not handed everything he’s ever wanted on a silver platter.
(Speaking of home décor — we were, I promise, a second ago! — it’s worth noting that Gus lives amongst the rented furniture of his temporary housing, while Mickey’s shabby-chic apartment seems to be all her. Frank and Allen have the exact same apartment as Gus, but they but made it their own. Gus just goes with what he’s given, I guess, expecting that things will change for him. Talk about, quite literally, owning what’s yours.)
A sudden police lockdown at the Springwood pushes Mickey and Gus into Frank and Allen’s apartment while they hide out from a possible drug bust and/or serial killer. Soon enough, Mickey is desperately plotting her escape. It’s clear that whatever desire she had for a hangout with Gus has evaporated. She’s totally done. As Gus tells it, though, they are equally trying not to hook up and equally finding it difficult to avoid. Mickey, meanwhile, would rather search for her car through a telescope than sit on the ground with him. She decides to make her way past the police and to the road, but Gus won’t let her go alone.
In other words, she has made her feelings and intentions clear, but he refuses to listen or let her go. This episode sets an uncomfortable tone for the series, as far as hints not being taken. Gus’s inability to just let Mickey be on her own, both in the long and short term, is creepy and toxic.
During the getaway, Mickey and Gus are spotted by the police and Gus is caught. She runs back to try and help him in a scene that is surely trying to be funny but, given my lack of patience with Gus, is just honestly exhausting.
With that eventually resolved, Mickey asks if she can crash and ends up sleeping over with Gus. They lie in bed and decide it’s a bad idea to kiss.
All in all, this isn’t a bad episode of Love, which is precisely why it’s so hard to watch. Love isn’t a cringe comedy as much as it is just one long cringe. An episode like this one, hinging as it does on coercion and coincidence, is best watched through fingers, with occasional breaks to look away from the train wreck.
This season is going to be totally brutal, isn’t it?