At one point in “Birthday Party (Part 1),” Joe tells Jandice that “good girls don’t hand out drugs at parties,” after Jandice gives everyone at Walt’s big birthday bash some ecstasy, but honestly, her drugs save this whole entire thing. Good or bad — she’s the hero here, Joe!
Jandice is right: there’s an awful, awkward energy as the gang tries to celebrate the man of the weekend. Maybe it’s because Carleen is still missing and Kathryn wants to act like it’s no big deal. Maybe it’s just because Kathryn’s a dick and literally everyone in the room hates her at the moment. It’s probably a mix of both. But after Kathryn unsuccessfully tries to disinvite Jandice from the party, and everyone agrees that Kathryn would not be happy with them partaking in some party drugs, it ends up being Kathryn who gives them all the go-ahead. Yes, drugs for everyone. Even she realizes that having a talent show at a 40-year-old’s party is an awful idea and also they need to liven this terrible birthday weekend up. “What-fucking-ever, this night couldn’t get any worse,” she tells the group. And that’s when things really get weird.
Everyone is high out of their minds. George tries to get Jandice to have sex with him and fails; Joe gets a “sad boner” talking to Jandice and thinking about Carleen; Jandice makes it very clear to Miguel that they are over; Walt can’t stop dancing. One of the best things that comes out of this drug-fueled evening is that, FINALLY, Kathryn and Nina-Joy hash things out.
Well, first Kathryn army-crawls across the floor to get to Nina-Joy, then they hash things out. Apparently, Kathryn is the one who told George about Nina-Joy’s affair, and she’s sorry. NJ doesn’t want to hear it unless Kathryn has actually thought about what she’s done. And she has! In Kathryn’s first display of any self-awareness whatsoever, she admits that she was jealous of Nina-Joy’s sex glow, how happy she seemed just because she was getting laid. That may never happen for Kathryn.
The two ladies hold hands, share a secret cigarette outside, and bond over both admitting that neither of them wants to have sex with their husbands. Honestly, Kathryn McSorley-Jodell has never seemed so normal — all it took was a little ecstasy.
Just as Kathryn is relaying the horrors of children getting their heads stuck in between banisters to Nina-Joy, Carleen pulls up on a motorcycle. She was saved on the side of the road by a young man. She had run off to prove a point that no one would miss her if she was gone and gotten way more lost than she intended to. Now, she returns to find her friends partying without her — and walks in on Jandice pouring wine directly into Joe’s mouth. Carleen is really having a time.
She’s not the only one. When the motorcyclist who saved Carleen pulls of his helmet — surprise! — it’s the infamous Braylen (Rene Gube), who’s come to the camp to profess his love for Nina-Joy. This, of course, enrages George, who’s still smarting from Jandice’s rejection, and he threatens Braylen’s life. And that’s the final straw for Nina-Joy. She told George that if he got angry like that again, things would be over between them, and she wasn’t kidding. She’s heading back to the tents with Braylen. George is 0 for 2 with the ladies this evening.
George and Nina-Joy aren’t the only ones ending things at the birthday party. Carleen’s finally had enough — Joe broke his promise to try and remain sober for the rest of the weekend and she is over it. But yes, of course, she’ll take some ecstasy from Jandice — everyone else is doing it.
Then something truly spectacular happens: After also rejecting George’s advances (0 for 3), Carleen wants to perform her talent. Your girl came to throw down — and she does so, with her own rendition of “Cups.” It’s hard to explain the joy one feels watching Ione Skye playing a high Carleen performing “Cups” to a room of 40-year-olds, but just know that it’s a lot.
People start to get extra sloppy. Including Carleen. She and Kathryn have seemingly made up, they’re dancing together — but when Carleen bumps into the birthday cake and the old Kathryn starts to creep out once more, the two sisters finally go at it. They call each other B’s and C’s and a whole bunch of other letters, until finally Carleen drops the hammer: She moved all the way to Arizona just to get away from Kathryn. That one seems like it stings.
Soon, Kathryn and Walt are the only ones left in the barn. They are both still out of their minds, but you start thinking that this could be good for them. Kathryn is actually kissing her husband and telling him how much she loves him — could Walt get his birthday wish?
No, definitely not. Kathryn tells him all about her reconciliation with Nina-Joy and that most of it came from commiserating over the fact that neither of them wants to have sex with their husbands. Just a reminder: Walt is her husband. And finally, after everything, we’ve found Walt’s breaking point.
• As you may have guessed, Harry is the coolest babysitter. She lets Orvis eat Chef Boyardee out of the can and watch Body Heat. (Great William Hurt callback, BTW.)
• Sol’s townie friend swings by and after laughing over the “Cups” shenanigans and Sol’s opening up about losing her mother, the two share a sweet first kiss. Something good should come out of this weekend, right?
• “It’s not a skin cream, I’m just getting fucked” should definitely be the title of a memoir. Not mine, sadly, but someone should scoop that up!
• I’ll never not laugh at the way other people continue to describe Carleen. This time it’s Kathryn: “Though she dresses like a toddler, she is in fact, a grown woman.”
• “I ate a chili cheeseburger and then cried to Seinfeld, but it turned out to be E.R.” Now, see, that should be the title of my memoir.
• Okay, serious question: Where can I get Nina-Joy’s yellow cardigan?