Okay, I know it’s really not the point of this opening scene, but I need to get this important observation out of the way: I think that turtleneck on Mr. Alwyn is great. I feel like it’s really going to work for some of you (for instance, those of you who made this sweater into a meme).
It is time for Frances to learn some deeper things about Nick, finally. She met him near the end of the school year, and now it’s … fall? It’s not Christmas yet, but it’s hard to tell the seasons when they aren’t on vacation because I guess it’s always sweater weather in Ireland. So we’re talking about people who have been seeing each other for maybe four or five months. What’s interesting to me is that it seems like many of these admissions are coming not really from Nick’s spontaneous desire to be honest with Frances but really because of the opening-up prompted by Melissa, who is steering this trio into … whatever it is they’re all trying to do. Which makes their whole situation a bit topsy-turvy, no? I feel like Frances was the place Nick could go to hide from his real, complicated self — the three-dimensional adult with a history his wife knows intimately — and just be Frances’s (a 21-year-old, sorry!) idea of a cool grown-up man who is famousish and wears a gorgeous coat and therefore seems to have his life together.
So Frances asks Nick what happened last year, and he tells her that he’d struggled while on this brutal job in California which ended with him dropping out of the film. When he and Melissa reunited in Dublin, they argued and she announced that she didn’t want to have children — which Nick says was news to him. He got depressed; he says Melissa really did try to help, but ultimately he was admitted to a hospital for six weeks. At which point, Melissa started sleeping with Nick’s friend and saying she wanted a divorce. During his breakdown, Nick says Melissa “had been really scared, and I hadn’t noticed.” So they apologized and started really communicating and decided to stay together but in separate rooms while they figured things out; she stopped seeing the friend and Nick started getting out of bed. “I was functioning, but I felt pathetic, worthless,” Nick said. “Just a waste of everyone’s time.” Until he met Frances.
These two allegedly non-expressive people do some more expressing (“I really do like you,” etc.), and Nick confesses that he still wants children even though it’s “off the table.” What’s funny to me about this next bit is that Nick says he wants to meet Frances’s mom, so he walks her to dinner, but then he doesn’t actually stay? So he literally just meets her for two minutes, exactly long enough for mom to embarrass her daughter (“He’s more handsome in person”).
Back at the flat, Bobbi and Frances are very cozy, which, if you’ve been paying attention to this series, should make you VERY nervous … whenever two people seem like they’re in a stable, happy place, something goes sideways.
Frances’s mom drives her back to the Dublin doctor. On the way, she gently pries about the Nick situation, and I’m kind of amazed that Frances owns that she “doesn’t really have a straightforward answer” to the question of whether or not they’re together … surprising transparency from the usually tight-lipped Frances, no?
The doctor reports that Frances has endometriosis. Their focus is on pain management, with a bit of Oh, by the way, hope you weren’t just talking to your married paramour about how he still wants to be a dad, but his wife isn’t about it but maybe you two could …?!??!? Because “this can lead to fertility issues for some women.” The doctor is quite reassuring, but Frances is in a silent spiral and — again, an interesting choice given her prior transparency — does not tell her mom what the diagnosis is and stonewalls all questions about it. She doesn’t tell Nick, either. Or Bobbi. Or anyone! FRANCES. So much for having conversations with your friends (okay, that was the last time, I swear).
When Frances and Nick talk after the appointment, Nick drops a bomb: “Melissa and I kissed. Actually, we slept together.” In the almost comical darkness of her room (I know we’re trying to set a tone here, but girl, invest in a lamp), Frances is dumbstruck and hangs up very quickly and really smacks her head back against the wall, which is definitely one way to handle this. The next day she tells Bobbi about Nick and Melissa, who is appropriately nonplussed about it — she doesn’t straight-up call Frances a hypocrite or anything, but she does ask the leading, “Well … is that a problem?” which, of course, is not what fair Frances wants to hear.
Frances and Bobbi are then again at Nick and Melissa’s, this time for Nick’s birthday party. I am DYING to know which of Nick and Melissa’s friends knows about Frances and this whole situation. Frankly, it’s possible that a show centered on the gossip around them would be juicier than the show we are watching. Having learned nothing from this entire experience, Frances lashes out at Nick as soon as they are in a semi-private situation, telling him she’s having a hard time “processing the whole fucking-your-wife thing.” Nick is like, Can we please talk about this like adults? And to that, I say, don’t date 21-year-olds if you wanna have adult conversations with the people you date!!! Anyway, we get an EXTREMELY on-the-nose moment wherein Nick’s sister lets Frances hold her baby and Frances is a natural. Then Melissa walks in, and it’s all just TOO MUCH. Once more, Frances bolts from a Nick-and-Melissa gathering, leaving Bobbi and everyone else behind.
Perhaps you are wondering, Did Frances ever tell Bobbi about the story? No, because when has Frances ever just initiated the potentially uncomfortable but necessary conversation with anyone in her life? When Bobbi returns to the flat in the morning, she is furious: Melissa showed her the story. Personally, I am desperate to know if Melissa genuinely thought Bobbi had already read it or (more likely) knew that she hadn’t and didn’t even know about it and wanted to toss a bomb Frances’s way. Bobbi reads an especially damning and personal passage aloud and Frances insists that it’s fiction — based on everything we’ve heard from it so far, it does not sound like fiction! Bobbi accuses Frances of not thinking “anyone else is real,” and of writing and lashing out instead of ever communicating anything. Totally fair assessment, not gonna lie. “Your self-obsession is exhausting, and it’s hurtful, and it’s fucking boring.” Frances is just crying and crying. Bobbi says she doesn’t think she can be friends anymore and disappears to her room, presumably to pack.
Left alone that night, Frances cuts her inner thigh. Aside from the head-smack against the wall, have we seen Frances self-harm before? It feels a little random to me, but maybe I’m missing something.
The next day, Nick and Frances have that conversation Nick was hoping for, though it surely does not go the way he hoped it would because Frances admits that she is not managing this very well and that “maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.” Frances says she doesn’t want Nick to leave Melissa and that she knows Nick loves her. Having lost Bobbi (at least for now), Frances seems to want to be totally by herself, keeping her pain a secret. Maybe she thinks she deserves to be all alone.