How good was this episode? I’m smitten with just about every second of it. Gretchen has been devastated, confused, unmoored, and lost, but nothing is as gorgeous as watching this girl be furious.
She starts her day in the bed of douchey director Ty, who maybe really likes her in his own bizarro way, because he kept all her old stuff in a box this whole time. (So that’s where her passport’s been!) Ty does his morning routine of brunch, yoga, and crossword jams and Gretchen is invited once she showers. “Oooh, I can’t make it,” she says, attempting to flake in her perfect late-millennial whine. He is unconvinced. “It’s downstairs.”
Maybe Gretchen would have bailed, but Lindsay — who is really showing up as a best friend lately — isn’t too distracted by Edgar to send an all-caps, emoji-filled warning text: JIMMY’S BACK.
I think it’s hilarious that this episode is called “Odysseus,” since while Odysseus was making his leisurely way back to Ithaca, his wife — a.k.a. someone he actually married after he said he wanted to marry her, a very cool kind of commitment that Jimmy knows nothing about — was completely devoted to him, fending off suitors who were throwing themselves at her with stealth and trickery. Jimmy wishes he were Odysseus. He probably envisions himself as a returning hero of some kind, which he is not.
Jimmy walks in on Edgar and Lindsay having sex, as they are wont to do nowadays, and has the gall to be horrified. Lindsay tells Jimmy he’d be better off not going to the girls’ apartment, which is “where they used to hide Cambodian boat people. It’s a whole thing.” But the real reason he shouldn’t stop by, she lies, is because Gretchen’s doing amazing and Jimmy can’t handle it. “Do you really want to see how much better she’s doing without you?”
Edgar and Lindsay retreat to her apartment to have sex and rage against Jimmy — “You can’t just go straight Richard Simmons on fools and expect them to be fine when you reappear without explanation. WHO DOES THAT?” — when, speak of the erotic incest novelist, Jimmy shows up! Of course he did after explicitly being told not to. Lindsay comes clean about Gretchen’s misery and warns Jimmy, “Stay away from her or I will MURDER YOU. I will. I’ve done it before.” I completely believe her.
A moment for Jimmy’s utter lack of self-awareness, which never ceases to stun me. Does he really, honestly think that Gretchen wants him to swing by unannounced? No matter what she’s doing or her current quality of life, given how they left things — once more with feeling, DUDE ABANDONED HER IMMEDIATELY AFTER PROPOSING — she is not going to be about that reunite-cute. Did his time in the AARP RV colony teach him nothing? Has he self-reflected not a whit? Jimmy thinks the correct move in this scenario is to text Gretchen “brunch?”
Little does Jimmy know Gretchen is already at brunch, which looks like Lululemon held a cult summit for people who believe in intermittent fasting and tactile-kinesthetic learning styles. In her miniskirt and booties, Gretchen did not dress for fitness. She finds a friend of Ty’s hiding out in the wine cellar, ranting about how Gavin Rossdale made this whole crew do AA — “I didn’t bang your nanny, bro! Why do we all have to be punished?” — and in a fairly gross twist, he refers to Gretchen simply as a “Ty girl.” You’d think Gretchen telling him off would be the end of it, but Ty, adding some legitimacy to my theory that some of his feelings for her are genuine, insists she’s too drunk to drive home and has this wine cellar guardian give her a lift.
They wind up watching sad karaoke together so this guy can neg her all day, I guess. “It’s always the same as soon as I’m with a Ty girl,” says this person who is apparently entertained enough by Gretchen to spend the day supervising (and participating in) her debauchery, but prickish enough to insult her to her face the entire time. When Gretchen explains that this is not her first time at the Ty rodeo, her driver/date responds with this cool compliment: “Either he really likes you or you’re super messed up!” Gretchen, her voice a perfect hybrid of pep and nihilism, replies, “I like to think both.”
Holding out hope that she is not completely alone in the universe, she asks this guy if he’s ever had a day that evolves, almost without effort, into “a cascade of bad decisions” until you reach the point where you’re like, “Welp, might as well burn down the whole town tonight!”
He has not. But they have sex anyway.
Confirming everything I already believed about his personality, this bro barely waits until Gretchen slides back to her side of the backseat before being all, hey, Ty’s my friend, I don’t really know if this can be a thing. Gretchen acts aggressively unbothered — “Regret texts usually come later in the night, but sure, we can do this face-to-face” — but she’s clearly feeling all kinds of disgusted, dismissed, and drained. Then she opens her phone to see her text thread with Jimmy. Those dots appear. Those excruciating drafting dots. And then … nothing. This is why you draft your important, emotional text messages in the Notes app and not in the body of the text itself! These hapless Angelenos are such amateurs.
Gretchen responds to Jimmy’s noncommunication by rightfully storming into his house. I wrote in my notes, “Please kick him in the balls,” but I’m glad she didn’t because her choice is so much more brutal: She stands on a ledge to be taller than him and shout-screams, “HEY, DOT, DOT, DOT” right in Jimmy’s face. Then she runs out, and Jimmy follows her home.
With Edgar and Lindsay watching, Jimmy and Gretchen finally have their first real interaction since Jimmy blew everything up. He almost apologizes like a person with a conscience might do, telling her that he is “deeply, deeply sorry for what I did,” but of course he is incapable of not both-sides-ing her and he adds, “But you did say family.”
What I love about what comes next — aside from Gretchen’s perfect last beat — is that I was initially afraid that Gretchen was being genuine. That’s how tonally perfect Aya Cash’s performance is. But watch it back again and you’ll see that underneath Gretchen’s breathless apology — “You got scared because you asked me to be your wife, and I said yes, and then I used the word family?” — is righteous fury.
Jimmy, oblivious as ever and believing, beyond all common sense, that everything between the two of them is totally cool now, thinks this is a great time to pivot to his novel. Does Gretchen want to see the galley? Sure! She holds out her arms, he tosses the book at her, and her arms stay frozen in place. The book hits the ground with a thwack. Gretchen’s teeth tighten in her fake smile. She is triumphant.
“This is fine,” Jimmy says to no one, as a literal garbage fire erupts behind him.
The worst: Still Jimmy, though Ty’s wine-cellar friend is a close second.
Runners-up: Getting in a fight at Standing Rock with Matt McGorry about who is more woke, Edgar forgiving Jimmy in all of two minutes even though Jimmy doesn’t deserve it, having nothing but a Del Taco napkin for post-sex cleanup, referring to someone you’re currently drinking with as “tragic taco girl.”
A few good things: Breakfast ramen and Edgar’s line about being “alone with all her scentless pillows and all the friends she lost in the war.” Also, points to the writers for having Jimmy repeat that mantra of the selfish man who thinks he’s such a good guy, “I just wanted to tell you my truth.”