Emily, wearing hot pink knee socks to work (as one does), unveils her new spraying champagne campaign to her superiors. Sylvie is appalled. “How very American, to be so wasteful,” she says, but Luc corrects her: Champagne spraying is a French tradition, going back to Formula One drivers. Because Luc is required to say at least one gross thing per episode he adds, “Now we use it to make bikinis wet.” Why does he have a job here again?
A note arrives for Emily from the American Friends of the Louvre. This American friend takes Emily out to lunch at Ralph Lauren’s place because everyone knows if there’s anything people crave while in Paris, it’s the sweet, sweet taste of an average cheeseburger. The AFL is having a benefit auction and they’d love a Pierre Cadault dress to be donated. Emily is down to ask for this favor but first she needs to take a picture of a neighboring table’s cheeseburger and, I shit you not, caption this artwork “#cheeseburgerinparadise.” EMILY NO.
Everybody goes to this gallery thing where Mathieu, Pierre’s nephew, is in love with Emily because it is a law that everyone who meets Emily, despite her behavior/personality/bucket hats, becomes infatuated with her. Gabriel is wearing a leather jacket that looks so stiff and shiny it’s like he just took it out of plastic wrap — has he ever worn it before? Mattieu is being quite handsy as Luc says that the abstract art before them is “very sexual.” Thank you, Luc.
Emily does not realize that Mathieu is flirting with her. It is unclear how she is missing his aggressive, unmissable flirting — still can’t rule out blunt head trauma before our series began, but it does seem like they would’ve mentioned it at this point, were it the case — but Camille encourages her by negging her boyfriend to his face. Mathieu is “successful and he’s got his life on track.” Mathieu returns to ask Emily to dinner. Neither Gabriel nor Sylvie looks pleased about this turn of events.
Like Gabriel had wanted to do, Mathieu takes Emily to his favorite crepe stand in Paris so they can have an annoying conversation about whether crepes are better than pancakes. Isn’t Emily bored of this America vs. France entry-level banter? Emily pitches Mathieu on Pierre donating a dress to the AFL because she does not understand that she is not at a work dinner. He tells her to come by the atelier tomorrow and then gives her a kind of excessive hand kiss. I find him very creepy. Does anyone else also find him creepy? I feel like this show thinks you can just put any man next to Emily, have him say he’s attracted to her, and sexual chemistry will just… happen. But she doesn’t really have chemistry with this guy. It all feels very perfunctory.
At work, Emily is wearing perhaps her tackiest jacket to date — bright purple and red? Emily, WHY — and explaining the dress donation thing to Sylvie. Sylvie’s on-brand reply: “Oh God, the last thing the Louvre needs is more friends from America.” Meanwhile, Antoine is trying to win back Sylvie, who ditched him over the St. Bart’s trip that wasn’t, by buying her extravagant gifts. The latest offering: nipple rings! Luc says here that Emily doesn’t really know Sylvie at all if she’s surprised by Sylvie’s wild side. It is a tiny spoiler to say that this is one of several potentially interesting threads the series teases and then abandons as if it never happened, just like when Olivia Thompson warned Emily about Sylvie being too conniving being trusted. What is the point of dropping all those plot crumbs if they never go anywhere?
Time for the AFL auction! In attendance: Grey Space, these two designers who are, as Emily explains, “American and very avant garde.” They claim to love Pierre Cadault. Emily tries to sell them on Savoir but naturally they do all their marketing in house. In the totally ugh twist you expected, the model who was supposed to wear the Pierre dress got stuck in Dallas because of bad weather, as did her billionaire husband who was supposed to bid on it. Gosh, if only they knew a model?!?? What are the odds that Emily will FIT into this sample size couture creation? The suspense is more than I can bear!
I swear I’m not trying to pick on our heroine or this program but it feels like this season is just sputtering out. Are you feeling this, too? Even the name of this episode — “An American Auction in Paris” — sounds like they just gave up.
Under the care of a glam team, Emily looks fantastic: Lorde lipstick, sophisticated hairstyling (FINALLY), in a dress that looks like nothing we have ever seen at the atelier and nothing like what Brooklyn wore to the Fourtier launch. Though I think it’s really the closest we’ve gotten to an aesthetic that makes sense for who Pierre is supposed to be: architectural, too editorial for the average mortal, interesting but not challenging. The bidding is heated and, in spite of the M.I.A. billionaire, it sells — to Grey Space, who reveal that their Ghostbusters-style garb is actually equipped with paintball guns. They fire their grey paint at Emily and the dress (from such close range that has got to hurt), destroying it. Pierre is inconsolable.
The next day Emily is back to her basic bitch curling iron and a… magenta… turtleneck? Very L.L. Bean ca. 1996. Gabriel comes to her door to bring her the newspaper, as if she wouldn’t already know the bad news from social media. He is here to pretend to be a nice guy when we know he is just an ordinary dirtbag giving his girlfriend the runaround. Gabriel tells Emily she doesn’t even need to go into work if she doesn’t feel like it and I am starting to see why Gabriel is nowhere near being in a financial place to fund his own restaurant. He gives her a lingering double-cheek kiss and I write in my notes stop flirting with her if you aren’t going to break up with your girlfriend jesus christ.
Emily tries to spin this catastrophe by assuring the office that “we’re a part of the conversation now!” Sylvie wisely counters: “What conversation?” The splattered dress is now in the window of the Grey Space space, and fans are coming through to also be spray-painted and photographed. Emily admonishes the Grey Space guys for making her feel like she “was being punked by a couple of jackasses,” and they continue to swear up and down that they are fans of Pierre’s. I mean, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Emily goes to see Pierre, because he adores her now in spite of all the reasons he shouldn’t. He is splatting a platter of creme brulees with a spoon to ease his sorrows. He feels his encroaching irrelevance. “I only dress old ladies, and they’re all dying.” Emily thinks it will cheer him up to see Grey Space’s peace offering: a $900 sweatshirt with his autograph on it. “Why is my logo on that piece of shit?” he asks. I don’t mean to be so old guard about it, but that would be my reaction as well! Emily tries to fashionsplain to this legendary designer and he dismisses her.
She emerges from Pierre’s room to tell Mathieu that she thinks she just made it worse. He takes her hand in both of his and — I’m sorry, I wish this weren’t what happened, but I am obligated to report — says to her, “Do you know what the French do when things are at their darkest? They make love.” You know, like when the bombs were dropping! He kisses her (again, no chemistry, the whole thing feels so random it’s almost like a weird dream sequence) and she says, “I’m not sure I’m that French” and he responds to this by kissing her again?! Given all the potential men who could have occupied some prime episode real estate as the season reaches its close — where is Antoine? — I am not sure why anyone would be expected to be this invested in Mathieu, who we barely know and have no reason to like.
This is the part of the recap where I list the most egregious, eye roll-inducing, come-ON-now clichés, and then award each episode a special cliché rating.
• Now we’re dealing with a sad American cliche about expats/tourists needing to eat burgers and fries because our pedestrian palates yearn for simpler tastes even when we are in a culinary capital of the world.
• I’ve gotta put the whole “the French had sex while the bombs were dropping” here as QUITE the cliche reason to just make out in the middle of the atelier, as if “Emily botched a business endeavor” is a just-say-fuck-it disaster on the level of actual warfare.
Cliche rating: An American in Paris dissing all French cuisine so she can eat a cheeseburger with a stranger from Texas.