Big news: Emily got a haircut. It looks better now! I mean, not all the way better, because it’s still in those plastic-looking waves, but it’s less irritating at this length. At the office, Emily pitches a new campaign idea for Champere: “How do you pop your top?” I am being driven insane by her insistence on referring to this as a “viral campaign” because it is not, in fact, viral until it goes viral. That’s like saying, “I’m excited to release this popular song.” Carts and horses, Cooper. Anyway, the deal is you make a video of whatever creative way you have of opening your Champagne bottle, making spraying Champere an “everyday luxury.” The only hitch, which isn’t even a hitch, is that Camille’s very over-the-top dad wants to be the face of the brand. Julien can already see a world in which he is a gay icon, and I don’t disagree. Luc: “You can never predict the course of a man’s life.”
On the home front, it’s time for Mindy to appear in an absolutely horrendous outfit. What is that?! Denim off-the-shoulder top with scrunchy Cinderella sleeves and hot-pink plastic appliques? WHY. Emily reports that she’ll be going to the Chateau with Camille for a night. But first: a date with Alfie.
Alfie insists they have dinner at Gabriel’s restaurant; Gabriel sabotages the date by making them too full to fuck. (Why doesn’t Emily just tell Alfie that she and Gabriel have a history? Why does she insist on convoluted deception when straightforward, minimalist honesty would serve her so much better? “We hooked up, it was a mistake, I’d prefer not to date at his restaurant.” Boom, done!) After Alfie slinks away into the night, mortified to have burped into his date’s mouth instead of kissing her (lol), Gabriel appears to tell Emily that he now “understands her type. English, less complicated.” Jesus Christ, Gabriel, one guy does not a type make! Emily, correctly, says that the reason Alfie is “less complicated” is because “he doesn’t have a girlfriend I’m also friends with.”
The next morning, Emily and Camille pull up to the Chateau. Also present: the 17-year-old brother Emily had sex with last season. (A bit of plot and character consistency I really appreciate!) A reporter is also here to cover the “Champagne challenge.” Camille’s dad’s way of opening the champagne is to pop the cork with a sword, which you know is going to go very very badly (see also: “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency,” Chekhov). So I can’t say this scene was like, whoa so surprising, but I was shocked to see them commit to the full Saw of it all and have the blood literally splatter all over Emily’s face and phone. Like the end of the dark, sexy Oklahoma! Even though Emily cannot drive a stick shift, she gets him to the hospital because Camille has fainted and her mother is MIA.
The thing is, all of this goes basically nowhere because actions have no consequences in this show about 95 percent of the time. The sliced thumb gets repaired. Emily’s inability to drive stick has zero effect on their ability to get to the hospital. The presence of the newspaper reporter (as far as we know) doesn’t totally destroy Emily’s career or Champere’s prospects. All it does is give Gabriel an excuse to call his ex’s house and, with the encouragement of Camille’s mom, drop everything at his brand-new restaurant presumably within hours of dinner service (… okay) to check in on his injured former-almost-father-in-law, as one does. Not to mention with just three episodes left in the season, we have left two of the most intriguing plots — Emily’s burgeoning thing with Alfie and the power struggle between Sylvie and Madeline — on the backburner, totally out of sight. What’s the point of this detour?
Gabriel’s arrival theoretically complicates things for Emily, but aside from an awkward bedroom scene — that frankly is not more or less stilted than any other conversation among these three on this program — there’s really nothing to it. Emily spots Gabriel and Camille bonding on a morning walk and rather than blow up at Camille for violating their so-called pact (which would have been dumb but not not something Emily would do) she just wisely decides to head back to Paris in a taxi on her own. Camille and her parents see Emily’s departure as a victory but it doesn’t really seem like it registers to Emily as a defeat. Gabriel, as ever, seems fine to do whatever and whomever as long as no one is mad at him.
Despite all the flash-bang-blood of this episode, I felt like the whole thing dragged. Did you? I’m wondering what that’s about, and my theory is that we were supposedly headed toward some dramatic conclusion involving a love triangle among three people — Emily, Camille, and Gabriel — who have absolutely no romantic or sexual chemistry among them, and the timely arrival of Alfie has resolved Emily’s quandary quite neatly. As for Camille’s supposed treachery, aside from hazing Emily for not speaking French, her faux-friendship is presenting an awful lot like the real friendship they had before. Like, yes, Camille is breaking their bullshit pact about not pursuing Gabriel but (1) the pact was her idea and (2) it never made sense in the first place, seeing as Emily’s “goal” all along was for Camille and Gabriel to get back together. So even though Emily is in denial about having feelings for Gabriel, she would have to at least pretend to support this reunion. Either way, it ends smoothly: Gabriel sucks (I will not review the reasons here because I know you close readers already know what’s what) but Camille wants to be with him (does Camille suck? Honestly, she does not have much by way of a personality or really any identifying features other than her desire to be with Gabriel, so your guess is as good as mine), and I believe women should have whatever mad thing they want, so do your thing.
As for a relationship I do care about, Sylvie is learning that her cute younger boyfriend speaks lots of languages and wants to whisk her away to Rome for a romantic weekend. He invites her to an engagement lunch with friends and she questions how they’ll react to his older girlfriend; he says, “They’re going to be jealous.” A perfect response! Just as she’s enjoying a great street makeout, her bliss is interrupted by Antoine, who is having lunch with his wife, Catherine. Sylvie pretends as they walk away that she just felt self-conscious because she likes to keep work and her personal life separate, which is obviously untrue, as Erik knows, because she invited him to shoot that Vespa campaign while lying on top of him in bed. She suggests they keep their tryst secret to make it “romantic” and Erik is like: Yeah, no. I respect that!
Sylvie is on the verge of letting insecurity ruin a good thing when Antoine calls her just to be a tool — telling her the boyfriend looks “silly” on her arm — and it snaps her out of her funk. “I could give a flying fuck how silly I look to you,” she says, in English. (Earlier she and Erik had a little back-and-forth about how they can be different selves in different languages and clearly English is Sylvie’s fuck-you lingua franca, and I approve.) At lunch she tongue-kisses Erik in front of a waitress who mistakes her for his mother — which, do I buy that the waitress would make that mistake, in this situation, in Paris? Not really but whatever, Sylvie looks fabulous. Great knit dress on her. An inspiration to us all, in this and all matters.