Frances goes to Nick’s house, obviously to have sex with him, but first to do a little song and dance in which she pretends there is still a possibility she will not have sex with him. The entire time they’re talking, she has this look on her face as if she is about to burst out laughing at how ridiculous this entire situation is. She’s not wrong! “I don’t want to be a home-wrecker or whatever,” she says. Valiant! (This whole conversation is essentially this Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song.) Nick assures Frances his marriage has survived plenty of affairs, but he’s never been the one to cheat. From my vantage point (Nick’s age, not Frances’s), my immediate reaction to this is: Well, yeah, he would say that! Not exactly the world’s most trustworthy source on the matter! But Frances is delighted and, thus absolved, says they should go upstairs.
A hallmark of Rooney’s novels is that the sex scenes are genuinely sexy and intimate and great, and good on the show for maintaining the tone and mood of these encounters and for demonstrating excellent sex etiquette by having Nick go down on Frances at the very start. (I will also hand it to Mr. Alwyn: His hair looks A++). When it’s over, Frances is crying, but she promises it’s not real crying; it’s just a thing that happens after she has sex. (Girl, please go to therapy!) Bobbi told Frances this was “a symptom of my repressed nature.” Frances insists she feels great, and she says thank you, and I want to die, oh my God. In my notes, I write, “Yeah, I think you two should stick to sex and emails and absolutely never attempt to speak face to face.”
Two intriguing moments: Nick says he “can’t believe he just did that,” to which Frances counters, “Yes, you can.” Setting us up for this dynamic wherein Nick sees himself as a certain kind of person — someone who has never and therefore would never betray his wife, who by his account has strayed several times — even though his behavior, as we can see, does not align with that vision. And then Frances reports that she’s never had sex with a man before; he doesn’t mind that she didn’t tell him, and they agree that something they have in common is their tendency to overthink things. Which again is interesting to me because while I believe this is true of Frances in other parts of her life, it does not seem to be the way she moves through her romantic or sexual experiences. She describes getting together with Bobbi as something that just happened to her through Bobbi’s selection and her own happy passivity; she has no idea why they broke up, and it doesn’t sound as though she gave the matter much thought. And here she is having sex with Nick, which is probably not something she’d be doing if she were inclined to, you know, overthink her sexual encounters. Wouldn’t she have talked herself out of it if she were overthinking her moves here? She seems to be deliberately not thinking about it.
Nick announces he’ll be going to Scotland in a few days for a TV thing. What he does not say is, “After that, I’m going to Croatia on vacation with my wife, so I will be gone for the rest of the summer.” He withholds this information until later. He answers Frances’s question about why he wanted to be an actor with this very on-brand response: He likes the certainty of it, of knowing what comes next. Just based on how he talks when someone else isn’t writing his dialogue … this absolutely tracks.
After Frances leaves, she texts Bobbi about watching a film tonight, to which Bobbi says, “Oh, I’ve just the one,” and I’m not going to check to see if that’s lifted straight from the book but it does sound like one of those careless copy-pastes that doesn’t take into account the fact that TV Bobbi is American. (Would a New Yorker ever say, “I’ve just the one”?) Bobbi wants to watch and mock one of Nick’s movies. Frances is clearly disinterested and correctly says Bobbi is “being mean.” Bobbi’s response to this is “We only know him because he’s married to someone interesting,” and Frances dares to say that Melissa is “not that interesting, actually.” The most cutting observation she could make! Bobbi’s entire identity is “being interesting and being liked by people she deems interesting”! Finally, it dawns on Bobbi that Frances has a crush on Nick; Frances flips it around and asks if that makes Bobbi “jealous,” and in response to this (again, not inaccurate!) comment, Bobbi leaves.
Frances gets a text summoning her back to Nick’s. Though in the book, we get a lot more of Frances’s own self-loathing about doing something as basic as having sex with a married man (“We can sleep together if you want,” she tells Nick, “but you should know I’m only doing it ironically”) that sense of wit and self-awareness isn’t coming through here, which is a bit disappointing. We see her do another Rooney special — asking the guy who is currently having sex with her if he even likes having sex with her — and, after they have sex and decide to sit on opposite sides of the bed (?), ask Nick how he and Melissa met. Honestly, it’s a boring story, and I’m not sure what purpose it serves narratively except that there’s nothing to it (they met at a party). Frances says her “entire romantic history is just Bobbi,” to which I say, “Duh!” You’re like 21 years old! Frances tells Nick she wasn’t popular in school but Bobbi “chose me anyway” and this coronation “sort of changed my life.” Hmmm. She and Nick are connecting over their roles, both self-appointed and assigned, as the unassuming halves of partnerships dominated by extroverted, attention-seeking women.
Frances’s time at the literary agency she hated so much now has peppier music to it because she is besotted and getting laid, and good for her, I guess. When she leaves, she spots Nick with a woman and a stroller and a baby; it seems extremely obvious to me that their dynamic is platonic, but at dinner that night, Frances just leaps ahead to “Do you have a second family?,” and he has to tell her, like, no that’s literally my first family … the woman is my sister. Here’s the thing: If Nick is famous enough that he’s got a whole page of Google Image results and Frances’s mom can recognize him on sight, why wouldn’t Frances have just … looked him up? Am I to believe she’s never even skimmed his Wikipedia, which would include basic personal details like how many siblings he has?
Frances tells Nick things we already know — broken home, parents are better off apart (that this information can be dispensed in this manner only makes the long sequence where Frances went home feel even less necessary) — and Melissa calls, which is, of course, quite the buzzkill. As he packs for Scotland and presumably the next two months of his life, Nick confesses that he’ll be gone the rest of the summer. She wants to know what will happen after this, and he (of course!) does not know (Frances, he literally told you he liked being an actor because he needs someone else to tell him what will happen next).
Frances wakes up to an email from Bobbi. Very different energy from a text, no? Nick promises to call her. She attempts a playful, flirty line about how he has no personality, and you can just see it hitting WAY too close to home. Ooof. Rough goodbye and also: pots and kettles, no offense. After Nick departs, Frances reads Bobbi’s email, which is sort of an apology with some non-American phrasing (“sorry if it came across as such”) that pivots quickly into reaming Frances out over the whole situation, including accusing Bobbi of being jealous, which is just what, like, society wants her to think, and is “devaluing to our friendship.”
Frances handles all of this very calmly (sending helpless girlfriend-style texts to Nick asking if he “arrived okay”). All she gets back is a “yeah.” I write-scream in my notes, “PUT DOWN THE PHONE, FRANCES.” But now that Frances has alienated Bobbi and has to face the dreary gray summer in Ireland alone, she manages to work herself up into a chaos-agent state over a 24-hour period and texts Nick, “Are we still having an affair? Or is that over now?” Which is quite the interesting thing to put in a text message. Nick immediately calls her because it’s “easier than messaging” and not, I’m sure, because it will not leave an incriminating trail of evidence. Frances pretends she doesn’t even care what they do, which considering her behavior over the past day is so obviously a lie I cannot believe Nick doesn’t call her out on it. Instead, she abruptly ends their call, and he sends a follow-up text telling her sorry, but also he gets stressed trying to talk to her? Ugh, maybe they deserve each other, I don’t even know.
Frances emails Bobbi an apology — why? — and Bobbi says all is forgiven, though when they meet up for a drink, it appears Bobbi still wants more groveling and remorse. Frances says she doesn’t like fighting with Bobbi, and Bobbi says, “Then don’t be a dick.” Bobbi, you are the one who is always being a dick. To prove my point, Bobbi invites Frances to coffee the next day and intentionally does not tell her about a surprise special guest: Melissa. Nor does she give Frances a heads-up about Melissa’s request (to use a line from one of Frances’s poems in her new essay) or invitation (to join them at her agent’s empty house in Croatia later this summer). Though Frances is obviously uncomfortable with both ideas, Bobbi enjoys putting her on the spot so much that Melissa has to intervene to say they should let Frances think about it.
Though Frances tells Bobbi to just go alone, Bobbi refuses and of course succeeds in strong-arming Frances into buying a plane ticket. She also teases Frances about liking Nick more than Melissa does. Does Bobbi listen to a single word Frances says in this entire episode? Or pick up on the tension or vulnerability in the things Frances doesn’t say? Nope! Honestly, Bobbi is such a lousy friend, and I hope for everyone’s sake they can get into it and have a real breakup where they aren’t constantly spending time together.
Frances texts Nick to assure him she’s “not planning on making a scene” during the visit, clearly hoping for a warm and/or flirtatious response. But are we surprised to see that Nick (coward, distracted, annoyed) instead goes with a very neutral reply of “okay. cool. see you then”? Three periods. Brutal.