Since things have been a little Charles-heavy at the top of the season (not a complaint, just an observation), let’s kick things off by checking in with Kelsey and her latest acquisition for Millennial.
She peeps her eyes on the charming, articulate Jake Devereux, a former speechwriter for President Obama who is making the media rounds with his podcast and mentions his hopes for writing a book. He’s young and cute and smart — he’d be a great get for Millennial (and Kelsey, amirite?). Kelsey pitches Jake to Charles and he is very much into her going to Washington, D.C., to meet with the speechwriter. There is a catch, of course. Zane, who cannot stay in his lane, pops in right behind Kelsey. He, too, has a meeting set with Jake and thinks a book by Devereux would be perfect for Empirical. Charles has to remind his children that they are all part of the same family and either one of them snagging Jake would be huge for the company. Can’t they just work together?
I don’t know, Charles, have you met Kelsey and Zane? Backstabbing is their foreplay. They meet with Jake together and push their own agendas the entire time. Still, they do a pretty decent job and Jake seems interested. Kelsey celebrates her good day by heading back to her hotel room, putting on her robe, and ordering regular french fries mixed with sweet potato fries. Is there any better way, really? She also spends some time scrolling through Yara, the elite dating app Lauren signed her up for. It’s Younger’s version of Raya, so no uggos allowed! Interestingly enough, Kelsey happens upon Jake, but decides to swipe past him — she’s mixed business and pleasure before (several times!) and it’s never worked out. And then, she gets a match. It’s Zane. They engage in some requisite app banter before ending up in bed together. With fries! Is there any better way, really?
But just because they’re smashing faces, it doesn’t mean their competition for Jake is over. Jake texts both of them separately — have you ever heard of group text, Jakey? — and, thinking he only wants to meet with one of them, they both keep the breakfast meeting a secret from the other. Well, a secret until the next morning when they run into each other at the same place, both waiting for Jake. Surprise! Jake wants to work with both of them in a “two editors are better than one” sort of deal. He also noticed Kelsey on Yara. So that’ll probably be happening at some point. Watch your back, Zane.
Charles will be thankful for the good news (the signing Jake stuff, not the dating Jake stuff) since the Marriage Vacation book tour is hitting some bumps after he put the official kibosh on ever reconciling with Pauline. Liza and Diana have their work cut out for them. Pauline is a disaster zone. They meet her for lunch and she cannot stop crying. She lost the love of her life whom she most definitely thought she was getting back (I mean, have you read Marriage Vacation yet?), and now she has to go on a tour promoting a book with a happy ending, in which everyone is more interested in the real-life story behind that book. Although she’s worried whether she can pull it off, Diana and Liza decide the best course of action is for Pauline to lie about the state of her marriage. People like the reconciliation story, and she needs to keep that up, at least for now. No one likes that they have to do this, but they need to sell some books.
The plan fails spectacularly. They attempt to coach Pauline, but all anyone wants to ask her about is her relationship with Charles and well, let’s just say her lying game is not on par with Liza’s. When she’s asked what restaurant her sex life with Charles is like now (in the book, she compares it to the serviceable Italian restaurants that litter Manhattan), she begins to sob while comparing it to Korean barbecue. Because it’s so hot. It’s a low point.
Diana and Charles have a frank, closed-door meeting. Pauline is “unhinged” and this book tour is crashing and burning. He apologizes for making Diana’s life harder. Diana has a suggestion: Maybe Charles should go to the next reading, not to support the lie that they’re still together, but to support his author. She thinks it would help. Aw, look at Diana and Charles. Their friendship has grown so much since season one, when all Diana wanted to do was land that man. I mean, I don’t think she’d ever turn him away if the opportunity presented itself, but it’s nice to see they’ve progressed beyond that. Yay friendship!
At the reading that evening, Liza is left alone to handle Pauline. She reminds the petrified author that her story gave so many people hope, and that’s the important part. Charles follows through on Diana’s request and shows up to support his ex. Seeing him there inspires Pauline, and when someone in the crowd asks about her relationship, she is honest for the first time. Her marriage was over before she even left, and no book was going to fix it. Remembering Liza’s words, she still ends the reading with a sense of hope: Her story isn’t over and she knows her happy ending is out there. People applaud! The truth is awesome and just as moving as fiction! All the quiet nods and knowing glances suggest Liza, Charles, and Pauline are all satisfied with how this played out.
When Liza goes to chat with Charles about the whole thing, he’s armed with an, “I assume the lying was your idea,” and if you didn’t think Charles was a Shade Queen before, there is no denying it now. Pauline joins the awkward circle and gives Charles a piece of her mind — their marriage ended because of his ambition. He couldn’t see how unhappy she was. And when Charles responds, “Sometimes I am blind to what’s right in front of me,” he is looking DIRECTLY AT LIZA. Pretty much everyone in the bookstore, including Pauline, can figure out that something was going on between her ex and her editor. Oh, she’s real pissed.
But Liza has no time to deal with Pauline as she runs after Charles. Finally, out on a cold New York street, Liza and Charles have the confrontation we’ve been waiting for since L.L. Moore’s file landed on Charles’s desk. You guys, he is angry. But even more than angry, he is so, so hurt. He yells about being betrayed and not wanting someone who can lie like Liza in his life, and all she can do is stand there and take it. Her excuse about lying in order to get a job is laughable in the moment. He informs her that their relationship will be strictly professional from now on, since he can’t fire her. When Liza offers to quit, he reminds her that she did all of this for a job.
That Charles Brooks, sassy until the very end.
Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, Josh and Lauren are having some one-on-one time. Josh is trying to hump away his sadness with a long line of randos. He’s tired of being the type of person who falls in love and gets his heart broken. Lauren is there to give him his much needed, “Oh honey, that’s just who you are” speech. He’s a romantic and he should embrace that. Finally, he lays the truth on Lauren: What if Liza is his soulmate and he lost her? She promises that if he and Liza are meant to be, they’ll find their way back. Mariah Carey said so.
That’s all fine and good, and no one wants to see Josh hurting, but is this really where we’re headed … again?