From the beginning, this season of Dave has been primarily focused on Dave’s search for a romantic relationship, made explicit by the name of his tour. After a season of chasing after his ex-girlfriend and taking Doja Cat for granted, you’d think that Dave might relish this time to himself, but having one-night stands to fill the void is starting to get old. At this point, he’s very clear about what he wants, and that’s a serious relationship.
Of course, while being on the road allows you to cast a wide net and meet a lot of people, it’s also pretty antithetical to the idea of settling down in one place. Even if Dave does meet someone on tour with relationship potential, it’s a long shot to just pluck her from her life and bring her along. We see that play out in “Wisconsin,” which introduces the first new proper love interest for Dave since Ally.
Her name is Robyn (Chloe Bennet) and she’s assigned to photograph Dave for a magazine spread the afternoon before his Wisconsin show. After the shoot gets delayed and Robyn and Mike butt heads, Dave steps in and offers her his whole afternoon. Once she puts him in a dress and asks him if he’s “drowning in pussy,” we’re off to the races; it’s only a matter of time before the two hook up. In fact, it happens in that very same scene, after just a few minutes of bonding wherein Dave says he just wants a girlfriend, Robyn shares that she’s in Wisconsin for her family but wants to leave someday, and Dave shows her his Scroguard.
Half of “Wisconsin” feels like a repeat of Dave’s flirtation from “Texas,” but minus the “twist.” This show has trained us to always be on our guard, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but this time there’s a genuine connection there. As his show that night begins, Dave tells Mike he’s “locked in” with Robyn, and he even casually yells to the audience that he thinks he’s in love. It does seem like Dave can be his truest self with Robyn, even if he’s a “weirdly honest person” to begin with. He even feels comfortable telling her about the fantasy he sometimes uses to make himself fall asleep: He’s running through the cold winter to the warm attic of a family friend’s safe house in Nazi Germany.
Robyn eventually kicks Dave out for the night, possibly because she’s put off by his comments about how she’ll make some other guy’s dreams come true. But really, the main obstacle standing in the way of this relationship progressing after tonight is distance. It has a built-in expiration date unless Dave really tries to make it work. When Robyn asks Dave to leave, she’s probably trying to save herself the heartache.
To some extent, it’s hard to comment on this story without knowing where it’s going; Bennet is set to recur this season, so we’ll presumably hear more from her soon. She’s charming, so I’m not opposed to seeing more of her, and it makes sense to use this love story to unpack Dave’s habit of “thinking normal human flaws are red flags.” But I also don’t feel like I know Robyn very well outside of what she represents to Dave. At this point, she’s still a bit generic: hot, sarcastic, cool, and artsy. After their first few interactions, she primarily seems to look at Dave with a kind of reverence and bashfulness. And while that helps sell that Robyn is not like other girls, it doesn’t give me a sense of what makes her tick.
The chemistry between Dave and Robyn also just isn’t as natural and familiar as the chemistry between him and Ally, as demonstrated by the final scene. Folks, Ally is back! It’s great to spend some time with her in her own solo story line, trying to get over being dumped by hitting up her old college friend Roy Winters (Matt Angel). Roy always said Ally was his dream girl, so he’s a sure thing. Even more important, he’s still smarting from a recent divorce, so he’s not looking for anything serious. It’s easy to see why he’d be the perfect rebound for Ally.
Everything does go well between Ally and Roy at first, but it gradually becomes clear that while Ally wants to be ready for something new, she isn’t. She’s not doing this to have a fun, no-strings-attached experience. It’s a direct reaction to her breakup, proven by how quickly she makes a move on Roy after getting a text from Jim.
Once Ally and Roy are actually hooking up, she realizes that what she thought she wanted isn’t what she actually wants. Roy was originally an attractive choice because he always showered her with love; he’s an automatic self-esteem boost and a good one-night boyfriend substitute. But while he still seems like a nice guy (mostly), he isn’t necessarily lavishing Ally with affection the way she might crave. There’s a physical attraction here but not a strong romantic connection, especially with the number of remarks from Roy about avoiding the “emotionally unavailable” conversation.
As Roy is getting a condom, Ally says she wants to stop, explaining that she’s not a casual-sex girl. She’s never even had sex on the first date. While we knew Ally was a relationship person, especially compared to Emma, we didn’t know this about her, which helps shade in her character more. Roy’s reaction — insisting that while she doesn’t owe him anything, she did set up an expectation — is realistically dickish behavior. Not cruel or even especially unreasonable, but unempathetic in the face of someone who clearly tried to make this work.
At the end of the episode, Dave and Ally have a lovely, tender conversation by the pool, with Ally forcefully telling him, “You have to forgive people for not being perfect.” Dave tells her that the best thing she’s ever done is not get back together with him, admitting that he would’ve fucked it up. Now they have this nice, intimate friendship and can be completely honest with each other.
Is all of this meant to set up an eventual romantic reconciliation between the two? It’s possible, but I appreciate that this episode resists the temptation to go that route, even if it intentionally juxtaposes Dave and Ally with moments like their simultaneous sex scenes. And more broadly, I appreciate that the show has taken its time developing their dynamic. Their relationship may no longer be one of the main focuses of the show, but it’s still clear how much they mean to each other and how much Ally brings to the series. Let’s hope that with all of the main characters in the same place, the rest of this season can showcase more of its stacked ensemble.
• I don’t know why, but Mike’s dismissive attitude toward photography is extremely funny to me. He refers to Robyn as “picture girl” and says they don’t have time for “click stuff.”
• Ally mentions to Roy that nobody ever sees her completely wet because she looks like “if the girl from The Ring was a little, round Polish boy.” Then the episode ends with the evocative shot of Ally dunking her head underwater.