The Bold Type has been hitting the topical issues pretty hard in season two, but “The Domino Effect” pumps the brake on that trend and instead puts a focus on the emotional. Seriously, if you need an episode to explain why people find the friendship between Sutton, Kat, and Jane so appealing, point them to this one.
When we last left our girls, Kat was having a sex dream about Leila, who is most definitely not her girlfriend; Sutton was partaking in continuous debauchery with Instagram influencer Brooke; and Jane was working the freelance writing hustle. We find them all basically in the same spot: Kat freaking out over what the dream could mean, Sutton swearing her time with Brooke is all about networking (we all know it’s not), and Jane’s writing prospects are on an upswing. In fact, things are going even better than expected for Jane: She learns that her piece, “Carrying the Weight,” about Jacqueline coming forward to talk about her sexual assault, has been nominated for a Mandy — a women’s lifestyle magazine writing award.
You’d think the stressball would be over the moon about this, but Jane, our resident worrywart is decidedly not. She confides to Ben (he brings her flowers — this Hot Doc gets better and better — do not hurt him, Tiny Jane) that she was just finally getting over the rejection by Jacqueline and this pulls her back into her ex-mentor’s orbit. Even Ben, who knows next to nothing about publishing, is like: Get a grip. This is a great thing. Being “Mandy Award–nominated Jane Sloan” is only going to help things. Also can we hook up now?
And guess what? Dr. Ben is right! Jane starts making calls and discovers she’s no longer Jane Sloan of #SorryNotSorry fame, but Jane Sloan the hottest journalist in town. People want her articles! She is booking lunches with editors! Everything’s coming up Jane! When she heads over to Scarlet for a photo shoot with Jacqueline to celebrate the nomination and let the editor-in-chief know that The Daily Review wants her to do a follow-up piece on “Carrying the Weight” about the domino effect the piece has had — Jacqueline coming forward has inspired many other women to do the same — why, our Jane almost seems confident. Well, confident-ish. And for Jane dealing with Jacqueline, confident-ish is pretty darn good.
The only thing that really puts a damper on Jane’s good awards news is that while doing interviews for her follow-up piece, she hears from a woman named Elena who reveals that she was assaulted by the same man who attacked Jacqueline five years later. Elena knows that what happened to her isn’t Jacqueline’s fault, but still, she wonders what would’ve happened if Jacqueline had spoken up sooner. Jane knows this will devastate her old boss, especially after finding some much-needed healing and closure in sharing her story. She’ll have to give Jacqueline a heads-up at the awards ceremony. As if she isn’t nervous enough for the event already.
But overall, things are good for Jane Sloan. It’s what makes it so much harder for her to see her two best friends suffering. As the three ladies get ready for the awards ceremony, Jane can see neither Sutton nor Kat are in a place to put on a dress and eat tiny food.
It’s true that Sutton is in a perpetual hangover thanks to her new friendship with Brooke, but that’s not what’s really bothering her. Oliver asks her to dress a board member’s date for the awards, and it ends up being Richard’s new girlfriend, Jessica. Sutton has to stand there and help her ex-boyfriend’s new gorgeous girlfriend try on dresses and talk about how she and Richard dated in law school and have fallen back into exactly how things used to be. She has to listen as Jessica tells her that she thinks Richard is finally ready to settle down. That kind of news, on top of the raging hangover, calls for all the Hot Pockets in the world to be shoved down one’s gullet.
Kat, on the other hand, is suffering due to a problem of her own making: She takes Leila up on an offer to go out and discovers that she’s a huge hit in the lesbian world — fresh meat and all. She ends up dancing with a woman who is not her girlfriend, things get very flirty, and they start making out on the dance floor. It doesn’t mean anything, except that it means everything. She comes clean to Adena who needs some time to think things through before really talking about it. Kat is a wreck.
And Jane sees all this, so in a gorgeous tribute to friendship, she lets her friends off the hook when it comes to attending the Mandys. She’d rather know her friends are okay than force them to attend an event that they are just not in the right headspace for. It’s okay for them to not be okay. The short scene is packed with moments to give you all the warm and fuzzies you’ll need for at least a week or so.
Of course, it only takes one quick hangout with Brooke, who is so bored by Sad Sutton, for Sutton to realize that regardless of what’s going on in her and Kat’s life, you gotta show up for your friends.
So they do! In very pretty dresses! Another friendship moment that shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces, but, like, in a good way: When Sutton catches a glimpse of Richard sitting with Jessica at the ceremony, Kat quickly grabs her pal’s hand. Sutton is not alone in this. BRB, I … have … something in my eye or whatever.
Sutton and Kat make it to the Mandys just in time for them to watch their tiny friend win. Neither Jane nor I can believe this is happening. Jane makes a nice speech and dedicates the win to Jacqueline, the subject of the piece, her editor, and her mentor. One voice can make a movement, and this time around that voice belongs to Jacqueline. The honor is really the least Jane can do since just moments before she dropped the Elena bomb on the woman, and as steely as Jacqueline is, it was clear that the news stung.
Back at the homestead, Jane, Kat, and Sutton celebrate with ice cream in bed. Sutton apologizes for being a hot mess all over the five boroughs and admits that her bender with Brooke was much more about covering up the pain from losing Richard than she wanted to believe. From now on, the old Sutton, the Focused on Work Sutton, is back. She even gets to work early the next day and it does not go unnoticed by Oliver.
Kat manages a quick congrats to her friend before getting a text from Adena and having to scoot out of that ice-cream best-friend wonderland the girls had just created. Things back at her loft are not so cozy. Adena has come to the realization that Kat’s only experience with a woman has been with her and the curiosity she’s feeling isn’t just going to go away, no matter how badly Kat wants to stay with Adena. Neither of them want to break up, but this is a real problem. They leave things up in the air, which is very, very unsettling.
Meanwhile, Jane is inspired by her win and writes her story for The Daily Review, Elena and all. She sends a copy to Jacqueline as well. The morning after her big win, Jane’s summoned to the Scarlet offices. Jacqueline read the piece and is proud of Jane for sticking to the truth and telling the whole story. She’s happy to see Jane is no longer acting out of fear, like she was the day she came to beg for her job back. As if Jacqueline is some kind of game master and had planned this all along, she believes Jane is finally ready to come back to Scarlet. The job is hers if she wants it.
Hey, remember when this show was attempting a realistic look at the consequences of prematurely leaving your job and the struggles of freelance writing? It’s not anymore. The positive is that is leads to our three heroines hugging it out in the fashion closet, finally reunited, and honestly, fashion-closet friend hugs are like 25 percent of the show’s appeal.
From the Back Page
• “It better be Ativan or Sour Patch Kids. I’m a complex man with varied addictions.” Never change, Oliver!
• Drunk Sutton is a revelation. From the Hot Pocket love to the “I kept my tongue firmly in my mouth,” Drunk Sutton is a joy to be around.
• I love that Dr. Ben and Jane are very new, but still he already knows that when you date Jane, you get Sutton and Kat, too. They are a package deal and he is happy to accept that.