It’s the last day of the trip, and Melissa’s agent — the woman whose wealth and generosity has made this entire vacation possible for everyone on it — is coming to dinner tonight. The whole thing is very high stakes and has Melissa a bit stressed out. Naturally, this means something will go sideways at dinner, and the question is, What will it be? The outing of any illicit trysts? Some uncontrollable burst of communism from fair Frances? A deliberately shit-stirring comment from Bobbi? A sudden expression of personality from the two other guests whose purpose on the trip seems to be little more than preventing Frances and Nick from being alone when they want to be? Only one way to find out!
Melissa envies Frances’s youth and how it makes her hangoverproof. Honestly, same. Nick and Frances have a little chat off to the side about how what they’re doing is “insanely risky” (Nick’s words). Frances wants what she knows she cannot have, but she will pick at the scabs until she bleeds all over. She knows Nick is married. She knows their marriage has survived multiple affairs. And yet she is still pressing Nick to tell her she is special, somehow, in the grand scheme of his love life. She needs to know he’s never even wanted to cheat on his wife until she showed up — and he tells her that’s true but points out that, you know, he also loved his wife and they used to be happy. This information hits Frances like a sucker punch to the stomach. She asks when Nick stopped being in love with Melissa — a presumptuous question! To which he replies, “I don’t think I did stop.” Frances is stunned to hear that Nick can both love his wife and have sex with his sidepiece. Oh, Frances.
Frances spends the rest of the morning choking back tears. I feel for her — I do! Even as I am scream-typing, ”What did you expect???!” But this is why adult men should not date women who are literally still in college and are six years shy of having the fully developed frontal-lobe function that will empower them to understand the consequences of their actions.
Bobbi and Frances have it out (barely, honestly) about Bobbi’s rude behavior the night before. Bobbi’s apology is not really up to the task — “I didn’t mean to embarrass you” quickly shifting gears into “You could hook up with Nick if you wanted to” — and Frances leaves with Nick to go to the market, a jaunt that is crashed by the woman in the couple whose only purpose is exactly this: forcing all of Nick and Frances’s conversations to happen in stolen little whispers no matter where they are. This does, however, give Frances an opportunity to learn more about Valerie and Melissa. Nick tells the friend that Melissa fears Valerie isn’t into her anymore and “maybe I’m the problem, again.” Frances cannot imagine a world where Nick (boring, cheating on his wife) is a “problem.”
At the market, Nick apologizes for being “blunt” and tries to assure Frances that his feelings for her remain unchanged. Frances is like, Okay, and those feelings are … ? But they are interrupted before he can answer. Thank you again to this human prop for her contribution to the proceedings!
Back at the house, Bobbi warns everyone that Melissa is on edge. I actually feel like her edginess is pretty understandable given how important this agent is to her and all that. I don’t love how Nick says Melissa likes flower stems “cut diagonally” as if that’s some obnoxious preference when it is, in fact, just the correct way to cut flowers to maximize their life span.
He sends Frances away to “rest”; she emerges after a nap to find Nick and Bobbi hanging by the pool. Everybody has wine. Melissa is calmer and joins for a swig, then summons Nick to assist in the kitchen. Frances sees the easy tenderness between them and probably wants to curl up on the Croatian cobblestones and die. Once they’re alone, Frances tells Bobbi, sadly, “I’m pretty sure he’s in love with his wife.” Of course Bobbi’s take on this is that Nick could love more than one person — not saying this is or is not correct, just saying that even if Bobbi believed in something as bourgeois as monogamy, she would never admit it to Frances.
Valerie arrives. Frances asks Bobbi to “behave,” which we know means she won’t. Dinner starts in a lovely place, with an ARC of Melissa’s book getting passed around, toasts to her achievement, and some intriguing comments about how it almost did not come together. We learn that Frances gave Melissa the green light to use her poetry, and the line made it into Melissa’s essay. Frances watches Nick proudly put his arm around Melissa and again yearns only for death.
But then Valerie makes this comment about how she can’t believe she has a place in the former Yugoslavia, and Bobbi — who has been staying at this woman’s house free of charge for (I think) several weeks? — is like, “Yes, nothing like a little ethnic cleansing to bump up tourism.” Like, Bobbi, if that’s really how you feel … why are you here? It’s not like you didn’t know the house was in Croatia! Strong “girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party” energy.
People scatter for a smoke and leave Valerie, Melissa, and Frances alone at the table. Melissa says, “Nick had a bit of a rough time last year.” Valerie clarifies for Frances that Nick was depressed, which is sort of an interesting admission and not really hers to make, but Melissa doesn’t seem to mind. Valerie complains that, by having a mental-health crisis, Nick stalled Melissa’s work and that Melissa “must not be held back” by her husband. A rude thing to say but, again, really not Frances’s business. However, Frances lets out a loud enough “ugh” to draw attention to herself and has to clarify, “You’re talking about someone suffering as if it’s a career impediment.” Not an incorrect observation, but should she have said it? She immediately regrets it. Melissa’s eyes register some sort of deeper knowledge of what is going on here re Frances and Nick’s emotional state. (Jemima Kirke is excellent in all of these scenes.)
Frances flees and finds Bobbi, also in exile for her outburst. The mood has shifted. Frances says, “Fuck everything,” and Bobbi is, naturally, supportive of Frances’s behavior. Overwhelmed and exhausted by their status as grateful guests, they exhale and hold hands. It is a real handhold. Listen closely, and you can probably hear Frances asking herself, Can you love two people at once?
The girls rejoin the table — Valerie went to bed already — and Melissa pulls Frances inside to “help with the glasses.” Melissa explains, in this half-embarrassed way, that while Valerie is a friend, she is also an important professional ally whom Melissa cannot afford to upset, which is exactly the sort of thing it is impossible to explain to someone like Frances, who is not just young but is still thinking of life in a checkers-not-chess way (see: her opinions on getting paid for your work; “If you love her, how can you have sex with me?”). Melissa explains what you probably could’ve put together from the dinner conversation, that Valerie pulled her through when Nick was having a hard time and that Melissa has grown weary of “defending him” even though she loves him. And then she asks, “There’s nothing else I should know about with Nick, is there?” Hmmm. What does she know?!
Later that night, Nick comes to Frances’s room. Frances seems devastated to report that Melissa “seems like a good person deep down.” Well, yeah! Nick married her! Probably she’s not an absolute piece of shit … I know that’s a crushing disappointment. Frances now must reckon, again in her very “the world is black and white” way, with the possibility that she and Nick are “bad people.” (Look, I don’t make the rules, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, people on TV shows who are definitely good are allowed to have iPhones.) It is dawning on her that their actions exist in “reality” and will have “consequences.” Again, she is working with an undeveloped brain, but Nick knew all of this! He says he did think about all these things Frances overlooked, but he just “thought it would be worth it.” Then they have sex and fall asleep in each other’s arms, and Bobbi, quite possibly following up on that meaningful handhold from earlier, enters the room without waiting for an invite and sees them together.
Nick responds with characteristic eloquence (“Fuuuuuuck”), though this is definitely way worse for Frances than for Nick, who can retreat back into his marriage at any time. Meanwhile, Frances still leans on Bobbi as a pillar of her creative and personal life, and if this thing with Nick blows up, she could lose everyone she cares about.