Ali versus Frazier. Tyson versus Holyfield. Josh versus Charles. In “The Incident at Pound Ridge,” Younger gives us a matchup for the ages. It’s one we’ve all been waiting for since Josh caught Liza and Charles kissing in the Hamptons and called off his big romantic marriage proposal. Thanks to the annual Empirical Press company picnic, we finally get to see what happens when Liza’s two guys are put in a room together. Or, like, a gorgeous, sprawling backyard. Either way, there is some major tension and it is begging to be released.
Let’s get ready to rumble … in a super-handsome sort of way.
Ah yes, it’s that time of year when all the Empirical employees and authors gather at Charles’s gorgeous mansion for some grub (this year, there’ll be Asian slaw!), beverages on the boss, and potato-sack races. Most people look forward to a little time away from the office, but our dear Liza probably just wants to survive it and move on. There are two major reasons this picnic will provide a most-awkward Saturday for our heroine, and their names are Pauline and Josh.
Pauline is still treating Liza as more of a gossipy girlfriend than an editor. Charles lets slip to his friend Bob (remember Bob? His daughter is Caitlin’s roommate, so you know that connection is going to blow up soon) that there’s a new woman in his life. You guys, Charles is so smitten with Liza I can barely stand it (except I can, because #TeamCharles). Of course, Bob immediately tells his wife, who tells Pauline, who vents to Liza that the idea of Charles moving on is making her crazy. Liza tries to draw some boundaries as an editor, but it’s getting increasingly difficult.
The hardest part of the entire Pauline situation is that, aside from the fact that she’s legitimately trying to win her husband back with a book, she seems great! If they had met under different circumstances, Pauline and Liza would be friends. Instead, Liza has to repeatedly lie to Pauline’s face. While at the company picnic, it’s Pauline who gives Liza a tour of Charles’s house, the house that Pauline spent two years helping to build. Liza has to stand there and listen to Pauline wistfully recall mornings out on the veranda with Charles, and how upsetting it is to find that he has removed all of her photos. It’s only a matter of time before Pauline figures out that it’s Liza who Charles has fallen for, and when she does, you can bet Pauline will be wishing she had been right about Charles dating a hot, young yoga instructor. A hot, young yoga instructor would make things much simpler for everyone.
Yet, as awkward as it is to hang out with Pauline as she desperately tries to cling to whatever is left of her family, the more problematic picnic guest is Josh.
Josh is having a wild few days. First, he finally gets to take Clare, his Irish dream girl (doesn’t every guy in Brooklyn want to date a bartender slash video-game designer?) on their first proper date for some of Brooklyn’s finest Mexican cuisine. It’s a choice he will sorely regret. The date starts off great … but ends with Josh having to submerge his entire penis in a carton of yogurt. Bad things happen when your girlfriend’s hands have recently been around a bowl of extra-hot jalapeños.
One case of jalapeño dick aside, Josh gets some good news from Kelsey: Millennial wants to sign him to design an adult coloring book featuring his tattoos. The $10,000 advance sounds awesome (is this the fastest book deal in the history of book deals?), but the glad-handing with Charles at the company picnic … not so much. Unfortunately, Kelsey practically mandates it. Clare, who is apparently not worried AT ALL about the fact that Josh was going to propose to his last girlfriend (whom he still occasionally sees), encourages Josh to attend the party to help him move on.
And so, Josh does. Everything seems like it’s going just fine — Josh even shakes Charles’s hand — until we get to the potato-sack race. It’s always the damned potato-sack race. When Charles accidentally knocks Josh over as they near the finish line, Josh gets up and punches Charles in the face. This is alarming for many reasons, but mainly because Charles’s jawline is a piece of artwork that should never be harmed. Do you hear me, Josh? DO. NOT. TOUCH. THE. FACE.
Kelsey can’t believe what she just witnessed. That punch cost Josh $10,000! According to him, though, it was worth every penny. He and his jalapeño dick are feeling much, much better.
Liza runs after Charles to check on his face, er, his well-being. Charles realizes that Josh must have seen that Hamptons kiss, and he can’t be mad about Josh’s reaction. The man even takes getting punched in the face like a gentleman. Liza tends to his wound, which obviously means they start ferociously making out. Charles wants Liza to spend the night (!!), but she turns him down. Even though Charles’s feelings are the same as they were before Pauline walked back into his life, Liza knows this isn’t right (because of Pauline, but also because of, you know, the mountain of lies on which she sits). She leaves that handsome injured tree of a man just standing there like a dummy.
Kelsey, like any normal human being, wants to know what the hell is going on with Josh. Liza fills her friend in on the real reason Josh put the brakes on his proposal and the two broke up. Kelsey is not amused. She warns Liza that sleeping with the boss would be trouble for all of them. Well, except for the audience who deserves to see Liza and Charles sleep together after all of the longing we’ve been put through. Seriously, guys, this back-and-forth with Charles is getting infuriating.
It’s Trout Season
• Diana’s idea to spice things up for the company picnic is to introduce Asian slaw to the spread. Never change, Trout.
• On Liza helping out Josh: “You set him up with a girl and a job? Later, we have to have a talk about how not to be a doormat.”
• Diana spends the entire picnic trying to assure Pauline that nothing has or will ever happen between her and Charles (“I mean, there’s tension, naturally.”). The thought has obviously never once crossed Pauline’s mind.
• Diana Trout eating a corn dog is my everything.