We begin “Andre and Sarah” from the vantage point of two characters we haven’t seen before: a black guy named Andre (Jason Mitchell), and an Asian woman named Sarah (Hong Chau). This sixth episode is the best episode in the whole series, full stop. Partly because its narrative center is closer to the ground. Partly because the of the chemistry between Mitchell and Chau. But mostly because there’s a tangible heart to this particular narrative: it’s a stand-alone story of sorts, but it stands taller than the story surrounding it.
Andre’s a broker, and he’s just made his way to an open house. It’s the very first one that Sarah’s ever hosted alone. Her setup is pretty nice, but she’s hurting for customers, and while Andre’s really looking for a home for his client, his rapport with Sarah is natural — more so, honestly, than any of the characters we’ve seen so far in the series. So Andre and Sarah take advantage of the lack of customers to give themselves a tour of the home, drinking all the while. They are funny and sharp and careful with one another. They kiss. There’s feeling. But, eventually, we get to the crux of the scene: Sarah is engaged.
She wasn’t wearing a ring (although her (white) fiancé, Craig, did give her a Ring Pop). But while that resulting awkwardness might be calamitous in any other scenario, Sarah does her best to defuse it by asking about Andre’s last relationship. He tells her that the Together Forever Thing isn’t really a Thing for him. She challenges that idea. They’ve both just turned 30. And the pair begin to dip into the “marriage as a concept seems a little antiquated” conversation. They approach relationships from different places, but their conversation ebbs and flows, acting as a sort of parallel to the concerns faced by June and Oscar.
They don’t come to a reconciliation, but the two definitely enjoy each other’s company. Sarah describes them as “two low-level Realtors in the shittiest part of California,” and when she asks Andre if he has a business card, he declines to give it to her because “he likes her too much.” But Sarah doesn’t press him. She accepts what he’s saying, and then Andre leaves. In the shot that follows, capturing Sarah in the hallway, it’s extremely apparent that she’s maybe not in the most ideal engagement situation after all.
Even still, a few years pass. The next time we join them, Sarah’s visiting Andre during an open house of his own. In the interim, he’s since married a (white) lady named Nikki (who “loves horses”). Sarah shares that she married Craig in Denver. There is still, clearly, tension between the two of them. And this time, when Andre asks if Sarah would like to stay and catch up, she doesn’t decline — just like that, they’re reliving the evening of a few years past.
They learn little things about each other: it turns out that Sarah drinks bourbon, and she does that because she grew up in a small town in Kentucky. She was adopted by “two very nice white people who took” her “to Louisville once a month” for Vietnamese food. Andre grew up in Monterey Park, at an 80 percent Asian school, and in lieu of playing basketball, he decided to “fuck up the game” by turning to viola, where he made first chair.
Sarah calls the feat “very impressive” — and with that, they begin a conversation that prods race in an unstilted, breezy way. Their questions and observations bounce off of one another, like; “Did you get bullied at your Asian school?” “When you’re white, you have to go the extra mile to be bullied.” And “I think when you have it hard in high school, you turn out to be a way more interesting adult.” In the same way that their conversation flows, the pair moves from the stairs to the putting green. At one point, Sarah says, “A Realtor probably shouldn’t be saying this, but no one should be living here.”
They talk about supervolcanoes and climate change. Andre says that he’s an optimist, and that he trusts humanity. Sarah makes a bet, over the Putt-Putt green, about the fate of humanity, and while we don’t see the result of that shot, she makes another agreement before the second: If she misses, she’ll tell Andre a secret. When she doesn’t make it, Sarah eventually admits that she doesn’t actually have a client interested in this particular house. She just knew that Andre would be around today. She tells him that he’s thought of their last evening often. And Andre admits the same.
This time around, Andre and Sarah kiss with feeling. They end up in bed together, where Andre quips, “In the past, do you know how difficult it would be for a guy like me to be with a woman like you?”
“If you go back far enough,” says Sarah, “we’d probably never meet.”
They discuss how their lives might have looked generations ago. They start to make murmurs about the future. And that’s exactly when Andre accepts a call from his wife, and Sarah accepts it in silence, and the bubble surrounding their intimacy pops. When Andre tells Sarah that he feels bad about spoiling the moment, she tells him that he shouldn’t. What would they do, blow up their lives and move to a new country?
“No,” he says, “We can’t do that.”
And that’s where it ends. Sarah says, “This was nice.” And then she’s gone, leaving Andre to himself.
Time jumps again. It looks like Sarah and Andre have found each other a third connection. She’s cooking dinner for the two of them, and he’s fooling around the countertop, flirting and kissing her forehead. But the scene is, naturally, too good to be true, because the pair are actually “playing” married in an abandoned house. They’re still married to their respective partners. And their love for one another has turned into an affair. Sarah’s listed in Andre’s phone as “Foot Doctor,” and Andre’s listed in Sarah’s phone as “Hot Wings Cafe,” and, at one point, Sarah says, “I hate that I’m good at lying.” And then, “Maybe we should stop.” To which Andre replies that he can’t go back to the way things were.
The pair make vague noises about splitting from their spouses, right that moment. But then one mentions a child’s birthday party, and another mentions visiting parents. After a debate about the timing, they both agree that, “We have to do it now.” But it becomes clear, just that quickly, that neither of them will do anything.
And then there is another beat, where it looks like an older black dude is touring homes. It’s a grizzled Andre, and he shows up to find that Sarah passed away a few months ago. When he takes a moment to process the news, he notes that they missed their moment. And June is standing right beside him, watching the whole thing. And the episode is enough to prompt her to approach Kase, deciding once and for all that they ought to head to Oceanside.
It’s a strange criticism to make, but this single episode seems to have done everything — everything —that the series has attempted, over the course of five episodes, in around 35 minutes. The same questions surrounding monogamy, lasting relationships, and life after death are broached. Similar jokes are made — although, this time, they slap. And it’s worth wondering how the series might have fared if the same narrative thrust were distributed throughout the season’s entirety. But, for now, it’s enough that we have this episode — a gem of a half-hour in the midst of a series that really does mean well.