Thank goodness for Carleen, huh? The naive, ditzy sister to Kathryn McSorley-Jodell is still a caricature of a human being, but thanks to the earnestness in which Ione Skye delivers each line, she’s at least a hoot to watch. I was actually laughing during this episode! Out loud!
With the guys off on a fishing trip, the ladies of Camping are left to their own devices. Typically, I’d balk at the idea that Kathryn didn’t have a set activity for the women of the group as well, but she is so consumed with repairing whatever damage she’s caused in her friendship with Nina-Joy (who still wants nothing to do with her, mind you) that I totally buy she’d let everyone else do their own thing while she took the entire day to focus on making a forgiveness necklace for her ex-friend. It tracks.
With Kathryn relegated to arts and crafts all day, it gives breathing room for a character like Carleen to reveal herself. This is the camping trip from hell, yet still Carleen is all bright-eyed and optimistic. From singing in the shower to encouraging Joe to make an effort with the guys, reassuring him that they would never exclude him, Carleen seems to find the good in every situation and every person she encounters. It is boggling to think that she and Kathryn grew up in the same house. Also, why do these sisters want to hang out with each other at all? I know, I know, we could ask that about everyone here (and I have!), but it seems most glaring with the McSorley sisters.
Carleen is on her own, reading in an idyllic meadow, when who should plop down beside her looking to soak up some sun, but Jandice. Carleen may be wary of Jandice, scared even, but she’s too polite to not let Jandice do her thing. Which in this case includes a shoulder massage since Carleen is obviously very tense (“I need to be tense or I get wobbly,” she explains), and really diving into the reason for Carleen’s intensely long hair. Apparently, as a child, Carleen admired Cher for her outspokenness and ability to be herself without caring what anyone else thought. “I realized I could never be like her,” she explains to Jandice, “but my hair could.” Honestly, as far as reasons for questionable hairstyle choices go, that’s a great one.
It’s not good enough for Jandice, though, who encourages Carleen to embrace change and to never repress her inner strength. She needs to cut her hair, and Jandice is going to do it. To keep Carleen’s mind off this traumatic event, Jandice wants to hear about how Carleen and Joe met.
Oh you guys. This story is so ridiculous it’s perfect. Carleen was Joe’s wife’s hospice nurse. The day of the funeral, Joe drove Carleen home and they had sex in his car. Sure, Carleen wanted to invite him into her home for the sex, but unfortunately, she “had a very high-strung roommate at the time. Also, [she] left [her] keys at the mortuary.” Told from Carleen’s perspective it’s a romantic tale of two people finding each other when they were in pain, but even Jandice — JANDICE — is slack-jawed by the insanity of what she’s just heard.
At least Carleen’s hair looks great, right? Sol and Joe — yes, Joe! — tell her so. And thus, Carleen continues in her sunny little bubble. Good for her.
Meanwhile, the guys take off on a fishing expedition that goes from James Bond impressions to dealing with Joe being extremely defensive and abrasive (he feels left out!) to Walt baring his soul to his friends. After Joe makes a joke about Kathryn cutting off their balls and cooking them for dinner if they don’t bring any fish back and it doesn’t land — like at all — Walt admits to knowing Kathryn can be tough. She’s changed since the surgery and it’s been hard on both of them, he tells the gang. And then he drops the real bomb: They haven’t had sex in two years. No one can believe it. Joe even needs to take a walk to process that fact.
George and Miguel try to talk it out with Walt, but really just end up talking about how experimental their own sex lives have become. Apparently George and Nina-Joy just survived an affair and are experiencing an upswing in their sexual relationship and Miguel and Jandice are, well, you know. It’s Joe who points out that this might not be the best way to console their pal, and he’s right, but the guys don’t want to hear it from him. And then Joe goes and makes this entire thing about himself, so any good points he was earning quickly go away as he yells at the other men for not knowing how many times he went to rehab, telling Miguel that Jandice is way out of his league, and then storming off like a toddler. Fishing trips are weird.
Poor Walt, his beloved pastime (I mean, look at his outfit you guys, he loves fishing!) is ruined and then he returns back to the camping site to find Kathryn calling him into their tent for a little talk. While he was gone, Orvis got into Walt’s iPad and found Walt’s porn. She then sends an extremely mixed signal when she immediately pivots to opening her shirt to show Walt the necklace she made for Nina-Joy. He of course thinks it’s an invitation to finally have sex and pounces, and Kathryn pushes him off. It gets very awkward until finally Walt blurts out, “Are we ever going to fuck?” and Kathryn slaps him across the face. Worst birthday ever.
• Jandice finds the ring Miguel had to buy to make up for the hardcore-sex-in-a-boutique incident and assumes he’s proposing. She’s beyond excited. He’s too much of a wimp to tell her that’s not at all what he intended. That should be fun later!
• Here are Jandice and Kathryn defined in one exchange of dialogue: “Isn’t it funny how things work out? You just can’t fight it.” “You can, if you try hard enough.”
• Sol may have told the townie girl that she’s not gay, but she is — and it’s Jandice who sees Sol is clearly in the closet. “Lesbianism is the tits,” she tells the teen. Sol seems … happy? Time will tell.
• Walt, an adult man on his own birthday camping trip shoving a snack in his mouth to hide it from his wife: the funniest or the saddest?
• When Kathryn calls Walt out for always defending Jandice, he explains that Miguel wouldn’t love her if she was a bad person. Kathryn scoffs at the notion that this is love — it’s a relationship of obsession and “Obsession never ends without one body six feet down.” Classic McSorley-Jodell.
• Jandice lays out the things women are told in order to suppress their inner strength, things like: “Be polite.” “Ask before you pick up my child.” “Don’t steal from people who fucking deserve it.” “Don’t make people mad.” Carleen’s response? “That seems like good advice.”
• More Carleen: She’s unabashedly sleeping on the hammock, fully open mouth and all, when Joe crumples up a page from his book and throws it directly into her mouth (it says a lot about Joe, too). When she wakes up coughing, he convinces her that it fell from a bird making a nest in the tree above her. Her response: “A nest of paper? Normally they use twigs. Who am I to say? I’ve never been a bird.” Oh Carleen, you treasure.