Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky
It’s a cold day in hell, but a pleasant one in Kentucky: Jax and Brittany are off to her mom’s church. Brittany believes it’s very important that they bring up their future (and, with every passing episode of Jax and Brittany, increasingly hypothetical) kids with religion. Jax was raised Catholic, then attended a Lutheran church. He’s a veteran of both church camp and youth group. (Parents, take note: Church camp plus youth group is the recipe for raising a future Jax Taylor.) For the last four years, Sherri has been attending the Lighthouse, a good name for a lighthouse, if not a great name for a church. It’s nondenominational (a descriptor I usually associate with, like, extremely chill Unitarians), but with a strong flavor of Pentecostal.
Like Jax, I grew up Catholic. Our church services primarily involve genuflecting and silently hating yourself, but the Lighthouse is something very different. The congregation is into it, expressing their devotion through a lot of shouting, arm-raising, clapping, standing, swaying, yelling, crying, flailing, and speaking in tongues. Jax is freaked out. Afterward, he’s honest with Mamaw and Sherri about how put off he was by their fellow churchgoers’ intensity. Mamaw puts it bluntly, “You have a choice: heaven, or the other place.” (Great advertising for sister NBCUniversal property The Good Place, Mamaw!) Well, Jax does believe in heaven, and he’s pretty sure he’ll get in. Smell ya later, organized religion!
On the seventh day (in Kentucky), he hunted. Jax joins Brittany’s dad and her brother Austin, who seizes the opportunity to douse him in animal pee, for a coyote-hunting expedition on a family friend’s farm. There’s one minor hitch, though: Jax is not allowed to shoot a gun because he’s still on probation, a fact he conveniently failed to mention to the gang until now. Sure, whatever. Jax and Brittany’s halfhearted, borderline intelligence-insulting brand of reality-TV kayfabe is really starting to wear on me. He explains his extremely butch crime: shoplifting sunglasses while on vacation in Hawaii. Unarmed, and kneeling behind hay bales to watch for their prey, Jax does the following: 1) refuses to shut up, despite the fact that they’re all supposed to be whispering, 2) asks for beer, of which there is none, and 3) mistakes cows for coyotes. “After just a few minutes, I knew the coyotes were going to be very safe that day,” Don tells the camera.
Meanwhile, three generations of Cartwright-Turner women sit down to snack on beer cheese, the beloved regional cheese spread that is rapidly becoming my favorite character on Jax and Brittany. Finally, the rumors Jax has been spreading to just about anyone who will listen (i.e. her parents, her best friends, and the aforementioned cows) about his girlfriend being depressed and losing her “sparkle” get back to Brittany. Um, what? She gets homesick sometimes, that’s it — and she’s upset that Jax would suggest otherwise. In a confessional, Don correctly speculates that Jax’s “concern” for Brittany is really more of an excuse for him to get out of marrying her.
Jax, Brittany, and her gal pals head out to a local bar. There they share a “fishbowl,” essentially a massive Long Island iced tea that comes with a mini souvenir shark and more straws than there are citizens of Winchester, Kentucky. Brittany grows annoyed with Jax as he trashes the church service and, in particular, one sure-to-be-Emmy-nominated parishioner who spoke in tongues. “There was a demonic child in front of us screaming,” Jax explains to Cara and Ashley with his trademark sensitivity.
Brittany’s ex-boyfriend Aaron just so happens to arrive (pure serendipity, the kind I’m sure production had nothing to do with!) and she gives him a warm hello. Jax is less excited to see him. His assessment: “I think he’s taller than I am, but I don’t think he’s bigger than I am.” Brittany and Aaron catch up outside. They didn’t have a bad relationship, she explains, but their fights got really ugly. She was living with Aaron when she met Jax in Vegas, but promptly returned to tell him she met someone else and that she was moving out. Now, he says he’s glad she’s doing well and really seems to mean it. That’s nice!
Just as Aaron and Brittany are wrapping up their pleasant chat, a drunk and jealous Jax sits down beside them to embarrass all parties, especially himself. “I don’t want to make anything kind of weird, awkward, that’s not the kind of guy I am … that being said, is everything okay?” he asks. “I just don’t want any problems.” This, after Brittany happily befriended pretty much every woman Jax has ever had sex with, which has made for a time-consuming social life. Jax offers to buy Aaron a drink and he asks for Patrón. Jax returns with shots of something brown, which — unless they’re, I don’t know, XO Cafe? — are almost definitely not Patrón.
Slurring his words, Jax takes Brittany aside to make her promise she’s over Aaron. She does, then wisely takes this moment to confront him about why he’s telling everyone in her life that she’s depressed, despite the fact that she’s plainly not depressed. Brittany is not making nearly enough of a big deal of this, talking to him in the same exasperated but not exactly angry tone I’d expect her to use to scold him for leaving all the kitchen cabinets open. Jax, of course (of course, of course, of course), doubles down on his bad behavior, insisting to Brittany’s face that she is in fact unhappy. Brittany replies that she is happy. Jax counters that she isn’t. Well, if you want Brittany to become unhappy, this sure seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy.