Frances is so unhappy. She will not socialize with Philip; she is committed to her loneliness and misery. The literary magazine with her story in it arrives in the mail. Meanwhile, Bobbi has not replied to a text Frances sent asking to talk. So Frances calls … Melissa!
I absolutely love this phone call. The performances are just killer. The way Jemima Kirke’s Melissa goes from righteous, condescending indignation (“I don’t know, Frances. Why did you fuck my husband?”) to matter-of-fact honesty (she just assumed Frances had shown Bobbi the story) to emotional exhaustion (her comment about Frances’s narcissism) to real vulnerability (admitting she maybe liked that Bobbi hadn’t known about the story) to full-on fuckin’ heartbreak (her voice rising when Frances tries to make the truly insane argument that having an affair with Melissa’s husband did not involve Melissa) is just incredible. And now that their relationship has been blown up, Melissa is officially the only person in Frances’s life who is willing to tell Frances her actions have consequences. And yet Frances is playing the victim when she is the instigator, and she cannot function when she is not “the center of fucking everything.” And then. And then. When Frances is stunned into apologizing and confessing that she has no clue what she’s doing, the return to “Are you okay, Frances?” absolutely wrecks me. Well, it took until the finale, but Frances is finally saying, “I wish I had been more thoughtful.” Thank you, Frances.
Much like Nick, Frances is someone who probably perceives herself as being so beta next to her alpha partner (Melissa/Bobbi) that she thinks nothing she does could possibly ever hurt anyone ever, which conveniently gives her permission to do whatever she wants since nothing she does could actually matter to anyone.
Inspired by her call with Melissa, Frances writes Bobbi an excellent apology email which includes the line “I want to sleep with you again, if you’d ever want to do that,” which, in my opinion, is really escalating from “friends who aren’t honest with each other at all” to “back to being in a couple,” but whatever, let’s let these kids take big swings. What could go wrong?!? Anyway, Frances loves Bobbi and always has. Bobbi calls to affirm the quality of the email and agrees to come over later.
Before we get to Bobbi and Frances’s reunion, Frances sees her dad, who is in Dublin for ambiguous paperwork reasons, and we never really get any closure here about what exactly was going on with his finances and if he ever gave her the money he owed her and if she’s going to figure something else out on that front. It’s a bit underwhelming, I must say.
Anyway, Bobbi arrives at the flat in a fabulous coat. Frances’s big all-teeth smile is out. They make intense eye contact and agree to be straightforward, and then they have sex. There is a lot more laughter in this tryst than we ever saw in sex scenes with Frances and Nick. I also appreciate how messy their hair is. Like real messy sex hair, not TV messy. After they are gently snuggly, Bobbi sees the cut spot in Frances’s thigh. Frances says she did it after Bobbi left but she won’t do it again. (Again, I will say, this is kind of a big thing to just drop in casually in the final two episodes, and I’m not sure what purpose it serves.) The next morning, they talk about what they want from each other, and they agree that they want some kind of commitment but not what they had before.
Because it is the finale and we need to close the loop with everybody, Frances sees her mom so her mom can tell her that her dad used to be a different kind of man — funny, kind, etc. — and Frances can say, with feeling, that she does, in fact, love her father. Mom advises Frances that you cannot do much in this life except “make decisions and hope,” and oh boy, I can only imagine what our heroine will do with that nugget!
Then, against Kacey Musgraves’s express counsel, Frances goes through her camera roll and looks at all the photos she has with Nick (did we ever see them actually take pictures together? I’m surprised she has so many). We get a happy montage of Frances and Bobbi as a new, healthier couple, watching other spoken-word poets perform and dancing and sleeping together. Phoebe Bridgers’s “Sidelines” plays to connect us to the other planet in the Sally Rooney Extended Universe where Paul Mescal from Normal People lives. Ah, peace. So you know the rule: Stability must be wrecked! Time for an “accidental” call from Nick.
Did Nick really call by accident? Do we even believe in such accidents? In a failed attempt to call his wife (!) Nick dials his ex. It’s Christmastime. They catch up on all the important stuff, which includes Frances’s rekindled situation with Bobbi and Frances’s endometriosis. She gives him some v helpful context around her shame at the time of their breakup: “I felt like my body wasn’t going to feel good to you anymore.” For the ten millionth time since he met her, Nick asks Frances, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Nick … if this is going to be a problem for you, you are going to have to date someone else.
The two reach a sort of accord about how they both loved someone else while they were seeing each other. They reminisce about their first kiss, after which Nick tells Frances he waited up in his room for hours, hoping she’d come back. (Yeah, I’m sure that went over extremely well at his wife’s birthday party, LOL). So Frances tells Nick where she is and says, “Come and get me.”
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not really feeling the swelling romantic instrumentals in the background of this scene. It’s not supposed to hit as some purely happily-ever-after moment, is it? It’s more of this open-ended question: Is this growth or regression? Is Frances moving forward or backsliding? I think it would be more powerful without the music, just with their dialogue, loaded pauses, and facial expressions. Just watching Frances do what her mom told her to: make a decision and hope.