Bobbi is too self-absorbed and caught up in her own nascent crush to realize that Frances is obviously smitten with someone as well, given how much she futzes with her hair before heading to Melissa’s birthday party. When they arrive, the college girls are definitely underdressed compared to the woman of the hour — the better to emphasize the decade-ish gap between their ages — and Bobbi quickly ingratiates herself into the party while Frances flits around its edges and eventually disappears to the bathroom.
Upstairs she snoops and finds Nick, who is smoking alone and staring out the window, as one is wont to do at his wife’s birthday party. Though we aren’t told a ton about the passage of time here, his beard has grown in enough to suggest it’s been … a few weeks? Hard to say. A small dog bursts in and is evicted by Nick, just to give him an excuse to close the door, a fact he announces, along with the fact that he’s very stoned.
Okay, in the book, I will say this scene — Nick cooling Frances down with the beer bottle — is a Real Moment. Does it work for you here? My problem is with the pacing. Once these two start kissing, their chemistry feels real, but the kiss itself and their feelings for each other seem to be coming from nowhere. It’s a great kiss, but do we buy that these two would be up to this at this juncture in the story? For me, it feels a little random and forced. They break apart, he says “Frances,” and she says “sorry” (again, with that classic Rooney communication … these are the “conversations” of the series’ title lol) and bolts. She bails on the party, too. Does Bobbi clock this? Hardly! Again, this show isn’t really doing passage of time in a way that makes sense — it seemed like Frances went upstairs only a few minutes after arriving at the party? But when she leaves, the sky is darkening. Later we will learn Bobbi stayed ’til sunrise and had an illicit kiss of her own, but she is so obsessed with Being the Protagonist that she does not realize that her friend is caught up in something just as intense and transgressive as she is.
The next morning, Frances trains home to see her mom in some idyllic-looking stretch of the countryside. I will be perfectly honest and say this whole part of the episode is pretty boring. SORRY. But it’s super slow, and really all you need to know is that Frances’s parents aren’t together and her dad is this sort of ne’er-do-well guy who drinks and watches TV all day. He tries to compensate for this by offering his daughter money, which she refuses either because she’s too proud to accept his help or because she can tell he doesn’t really have it; at the moment, it’s unclear. Also, we learn that Nick is apparently a famous enough actor for Frances’s mom to recognize his face, which is intriguing since we’ve only seen him talking about and doing theater so far. Again, there’s something deeply funny to me about the basically monotone way Frances says Melissa and Nick have an “amazing house,” and her mom responds by saying it’s not like Frances to “get carried away.” No one seems particularly carried away here! The only exclamation points are in my recap!
Frances gets back to her mom’s place that night and finds Nick has sent her a text, apologizing for “being so stupid.” Just as I am writing in my notes awfully bold to commit that to text where your wife could easily read it, Frances writes back that it’s her fault for kissing him, and my notes must switch to all-caps: DO NOT WRITE IN THE TEXT THAT YOU KISSED HIM YOU IMPOSSIBLE DUMB-DUMB. Nick (correctly) takes responsibility on account of being the older and married half of this indiscretion. All Frances can focus on is how special she is for being the first person he’s cheated on his wife with (or so he says!!). The flirting escalates from there.
Before their next performance, Bobbi asks why Frances left the party early but really just as a quick preamble to talking about herself, divulging that she kissed Melissa. According to Bobbi, Melissa thinks it was very funny, and the two are texting like old pals now. Clearly, Bobbi wants Frances to disapprove so that Bobbi can feel like she’s so cool for being so bad. But Frances does not provide this for obvious (to us) reasons.
At the literary agency, Frances cannot stop herself from talking about the kiss, though she stops short of telling her friend/co-worker, Phillip, the identity of her kissing partner. She only tells him that she kissed “someone I shouldn’t have.” Maybe she’s hoping he’ll connect the dots for himself? I think part of her is annoyed that Bobbi can’t tell what’s going on, even though part of her does not want to be caught, because her ability to not get caught is based on Bobbi’s assumptions about the kind of person Frances is — someone who would never, could never, etc. Frances wants to be seen even though she also seems to get off on the power of her apparent invisibility.
Frances and Bobbi attend a reading that Melissa and Nick are also attending. We get yet another “friendly” observation from Bobbi, who answers Frances’s questions about whether her face looks shiny by saying, “Yeah, a little bit. In a good way, though. It makes you seem less complicated.” BOBBI, what does that even MEAN? Jesus Christ, just give your girl some blotting paper and stop being an asshole. At the event, the girls learn that Melissa is going to London, leaving Nick home alone with the dog, an opportunity that Frances and Nick cannot squander. They talk a bit on their own — he offers to apologize again, she asks him not to, though says they should, you know, talk about it at some point, wink wink. He agrees. Yes, lots of talking on the horizon for these two! Plenty of conversations … between friends (I’m sorry).
The SECOND they leave, Bobbi makes some quip about how there’s “something weird” going on between Nick and Melissa. Thank you for this totally unbiased observation, Bobbi. Then the girls go out dancing, and honestly, this is the first time that their friendship makes sense to me (looks fun!). As quickly as this break arrives, it is over, and we are back to our regularly scheduled programming where Frances wears neutrals and sits quietly while staring at her phone. Nick is free THIS EVENING. Time to take that hair down.