How can Gretchen sabotage a good thing? Let us count the ways — in French! Because it’s “international night,” a legitimately cute thing that Boone does with his daughter wherein all participants learn a few facts about a country, do a presentation, and then everyone eats takeout from the winner nation. As opportunities to win the heart of a child and also not be a screw-up go, this one is pretty entry-level. But Gretchen, oh Gretchen, somehow decides that it’s a good idea to turn the whole PG, kid-focused activity into a weird little sexcapade with her boyfriend. This, even though she has made it quite clear that she wants more face time with Olivia. Uh, okay!
Before we get to the dinner, a detour for her work: Gretchen, miraculously still employed, wants to set Sam and the guys up with Ben Folds. (YTW has a whole Ben Folds thing that, to be honest with you, I don’t entirely get.) She insists the collaboration will be huge for them: “I don’t want to just throw out the phrase ‘plays over the Grey’s Anatomy credits,’ but, yeah.” Ben arrives, asks for a drink by saying he’d like some alcohol, and immediately goes off the rails. Sam is intrigued — after all, Ben’s been a fan since “Pussy on Swole” — and agrees to meet up at the studio the next night. When Ben eventually arrives, he is still on the bender he started at drinks that day and tries to play the table like a piano.
That night, during Olivia’s adorable and informative presentation on Poland … Gretchen laughs at her. It’s all very mean and aggressively stupid. Does she honestly think Boone is going to be on board with her saying things like, “Spoiler alert, this bitch is toast” about his daughter? When it’s Gretchen’s turn, she talks in this breathy voice about how the president of France is “a Benetton model who bangs his mom-wife” and then she starts doing a sexy striptease while lip syncing to French music. It’s all very Megan does “Zou Bisou Bisou,” but even more humiliating and misguided. Boone makes her stop when she’s halfway to lingerie and instead of being like, “Oh, of course, this is horrifically inappropriate considering the context, you wanted me to bond with your child and instead I’m acting like a complete moron,” Gretchen flips out. “I’M NOT EVEN DONE YET. I HAVE A WHOLE THING WITH A BAGUETTE. THIS IS BULLSHIT.”
Gretchen has the emotional maturity of a muppet and definitely shouldn’t be dating a man with a child. Considering everything we’ve seen with Boone and his one pretty solid character trait — he takes his responsibility for Olivia seriously — this seems like the sort of thing he would break up with her over. But I guess because the show needs Gretchen to be the person who ruins everything instead of letting Boone dump her first, he is instead very understanding of her tantrum.
“Just be yourself,” he advises her, which is … horrible advice! Seriously, the worst advice. That was Gretchen being herself. All of these dumb-dumbs are hopeless. Later, for literally no plausible reason whatsoever, Olivia hugs Gretchen good-bye.
Meanwhile, Jimmy’s book is finally on the New York Times bestseller list for mass market paperback fiction and he is ecstatic. Being on the Amazon list “is like winning a Daytime Emmy,” he says, and he’s not wrong. He decides he wants to be on this NPR game show for dweebs, Tip of my Tongue, because he’s friendly with the host and “impressing him would be the ideal way to show I can write a hot wanker but still have the request of a noted literary critic.”
Lindsay attends this show for reasons unclear — is she not Team Gretchen in this breakup? Why is she showing up for Jimmy at all? Shouldn’t she be trying to Gone Girl him or something? — and, in a deeply misguided effort to live out her new pledge of “helping people,” tells the host that Jimmy thinks he dresses like shit. (Lindsay’s idea of being helpful is basically Cher Horowitz-lite.) Naturally, the host is offended and takes it out on Jimmy, humiliating him in front of however many people listen to this program.
Jimmy loses the “Limerick Lightning Cage Match” and is referred to as the “smut peddler.” Even his planted heckle from Vernon goes awry. Lindsay, in the audience, again does the thing wherein she acts like she is so much stupider than any functional adult would ever be (“I know a bunch of the sounds they’re saying, but I don’t understand the sentences”) when Paul calls her because he got arrested. LINDSAY, NO. But Lindsay goes to him because of her helping phase.
Of course, now that Lindsay has her life together, Paul is into her again. He tries to make her feel bad about getting an abortion, and just when he’s being too rude to function, he falls asleep.
Jimmy, burned by his NPR failure, texts Gretchen, who meets him under the guise of going to the work thing with Ben Folds and Sam that she flaked on. They banter. She orders a triple-triple (nine-tuple?). They make out. I write in my notes: “NO NO NO MAKING OUT WITH JIMMY DO NOT,” and then the episode ends. Whatever, at least her eyeliner still looks great.
The worst: A striptease in front of a ten-year-old.
Runners-up: All those guests on the NPR show, Boone’s decision-making, everything gong on with Edgar right now, also everything that went on with Edgar in combat, Lindsay’s life choices, Paul’s choices, really everybody is making bad choices, Ben Folds’ drinking.
A few good things: Again, A+ eyeliner on Gretchen, the idea of “international night” with kids, Olivia’s presentation on Poland, Sam and Shitstain, character consistency re: Gretchen’s interest in pets on Instagram.