Through Frances’ essay, we get a little more backstory about her relationship with Bobbi. This is the first episode where I feel like I really get their friendship, their chemistry, and what it is they see in each other. The idea that Bobbi arrived at school as an outsider who nobody liked is intriguing to me; it gives a new dimension to their power dynamic, which up until this point seemed heavily weighted in Bobbi’s favor from the very start. I’m interested in the choice made by the series to have Bobbi start out in a place where her behavior toward Frances is so careless and not not mean, putting her in a position to have to win back the favor of the audience. Though maybe not all of you found her deal earlier in the season as off-putting as I did?
It turns out that the last time Frances’ dad deposited money into her account was six weeks ago, and she’s overdrawn and can’t get a hold of him. She doesn’t actually tell anyone about this, even Bobbi (who is paying rent to Frances’ dad, and maybe it would be wiser for that money to just … go directly to Frances? If her dad is just going to go ahead and put it back in her account, except for when he drinks too much and forgets?). This reminds me that one of the things we’ve lost in the book-to-screen translation is a more explicit articulation of Frances’ politics and her attitude about money. In the book, she has this whole thing about how if the globe’s GDP were divided equally among all of humanity, each individual would get $16,100 (her numbers are from Wikipedia), and therefore it makes no “political or financial” sense for her to ever earn more than that. In the show, none of this comes out beyond that first episode reference to her communism and her self-professed disdain for earning money from writing. Which, as we can see, will not hold for very long.
Instead of telling anyone what’s going on with her, Frances goes to an afternoon wine hang with Melissa’s agent, Valerie. Asked her opinion of Melissa’s book, Frances admits she hasn’t read it yet. Not even the essay with her poem in it! FRANCES. Valerie says that Melissa speaks highly of Frances — which I’d say is a check in the “Melissa doesn’t know” column, though who knows what three-dimensional chess shit going be going on with her if she does know — and that she, Valerie, would be happy to give one of Frances’ pieces a read. Frances tries to dodge this but gets this excellent and true counsel: “If you’re serious about a writing career, you are going to have to put yourself out there at some point.”
That afternoon, Frances sends Valerie “The Dance.” That night, she wakes up in such sweaty, miserable pain she can barely get to the bathroom to vomit. When is her ultrasound in Dublin?!? Nick is texting and calling at 2:45 in the morning. Thankfully Frances has the presence of mind to delete her ill-advised response and send nothing.
The next day, on her way to meet Bobbi for lunch, Frances faints from pain. When Bobbi rouses her and tells her that she fainted, Frances can’t stop apologizing. It’s raining and freezing, and Bobbi wants to take Frances to a medical center, but Frances only wants to go home. “It’s just my period,” she insists. Back at the flat, Bobbi runs her a bath and helps undress her, demonstrating a nonjudgmental tenderness she rarely shows. (“I promise to undress you in a very unsexy manner.”) She jokes, “Who knew I could be so nurturing?” and Frances says, sincerely, “I did.” Again I must ask: Where was this at the beginning of the series? Their friendship made almost no sense before!
But Frances’ total vulnerability brings out Bobbi’s gentle side. Frances admits that she had no idea what was going on with her and Nick and that she never told him about her hospitalization, though she says she tried. Bobbi’s astute response to this: “In a Frances way or an actual way?” And then Bobbi CALLS NICK. She told him Frances fainted because she knew her friend wanted him to know and wouldn’t do it herself, and it’s a little bit of meddling I can get behind. Nick tells Frances that he’d like to see her and he can come over, which immediately soothes her.
Frances seems to relish the power she has from having given Bobbi a “fucking fright” and actually chooses this time to start FLIRTING with her ex, now that Nick is on his way over and some of her pain has subsided and her total submission to her physical needs has brought out the caregivers in everyone around her. She and Bobbi rehash their breakup, and — what a shock — Bobbi remembers it differently. Though Frances’ story is that Bobbi dumped her, Bobbi says that she ended it to save Frances the trouble because Frances would’ve let it drag on despite their shared unhappiness. That … absolutely tracks. They get very close together as Bobbi wraps Frances in a towel, but they do not kiss.
By the time Nick arrives, Frances is in pajamas in her bed. Bobbi warns him as he enters the flat to “be nice to her,” and he abides. Once he and Frances are alone in her room, she tells him about the hospital and the possible-but-not-actual miscarriage. Nick looks like he can’t decide if he needs to cry or throw up, and then he says, “I told Melissa.” (!!!!) He told her the day after their fight. Because this show doesn’t really do super-clear-passage-of-time, I cannot tell you if that means he did this before or after the meeting with Valerie. Nick says he told Melissa everything — including that he wants to keep seeing Frances. “I know that I’m not a great person,” he says. “But I love you, Frances. And I should have said that earlier, too, but I didn’t know if you wanted to hear it or not.” Her SMILE is back. First smile of the episode. And it’s a very good one.
She says she loves him too, and he tucks her in and stays the night and says, “let’s just be happy from now on,” but the look on her face juuuust before the credits roll would suggest she is not so sure about that. And oh man, this song choice! Roxy Music “More Than This.” Ever since The Americans, this song signifies impending pain for me … hopefully not for Frances, but we’ve still got three episodes to go.