Our second season of Emily in Paris begins as the first did: Emily is on a run. This time, she is jogging in the most impractical garment I can imagine: a one-shoulder top, which doesn’t seem like the sort of support situation a woman doing high-intensity cardio would require. But while the series dawned with Emily running back to the arms of the Human Plot Device: Chicago Boyfriend Edition, Emily is now trying to run away from her soft-core memories of having sex with Gabriel, who she thought was leaving Paris forever to go to Normandy, which is literally a three-hour train ride away — not at all a distance he and Camille needed to immediately break up over. But oh, wait, he didn’t actually break up with Camille; he just unilaterally made a decision about his life and career without consulting his girlfriend of almost five years. Emily really knows how to pick them!
Instead, Antoine — hot, married but technically available (he and his wife clearly have a how you say understanding) — has decided, apropos of one great dinner, to invest in Gabriel’s restaurant. Gabriel could have taken the money from his girlfriend’s extremely rich family, but he was too proud to do that. You know, I don’t have a problem with that necessarily — boundaries are good, business with family and/or potential in-laws can be dicey — but the fact that Gabriel put his entire life in the hands of some dude he just met without even the tiniest bit of vetting adds to my looooong list of reasons why Gabriel is not the brightest light on the Seine.
Will Emily have to do something this show has never demanded of her before: face the consequences of her actions??? Camille is texting her. In her mind, Gabriel is still screwing her. Mathieu — the nephew of designer Pierre Cadault, the guy with whom Emily has zero sexual or romantic chemistry but who was just placed next to her in a few scenes near the end of last season, so we are to believe he is a contender for her fickle, dopey heart and absurdly dressed body — still plans to whisk her away to Saint-Tropez. Emily is so distraught she nearly sprints into an oncoming car. Not to say I wish for Emily’s death (not so early in the season, I mean), but I don’t not think that would be a bold and interesting journey for us to take. Maybe the new protagonist could be the pedestrian who tried but failed to save her? Margaret, Part 2?
Back at the apartment, Mindy (who you may recall moved in with Emily at the end of last season when she got fired from her nannying job for getting a “job” at a drag bar, which we will soon learn is not a real job because Mindy does not have her work papers, and I am curious how she swung the nannying gig without the proper paperwork since she was working for such a fancy family, but no matter!) is in this half-drag outfit: One part Cher under Bob Mackie, one part … Liberace? Camille is texting Emily to ask if she’s seen Gabriel, and Emily, a sociopath, is just like, Nope! LOL (paraphrasing here). Mindy wants to know why Emily looks so upset: “You look like you just lost a follower.” Oof, sick burn.
Emily fesses up to Mindy that she had sex with Gabriel. Mindy … encourages this? Like zero qualms?! MINDY. Emily realizes she has become the woman she loathes: Pam Spicer of Chicago, who used to get drunk and hit on other people’s boyfriends. Emily, getting drunk and flirting with off-limits guys is not at all the same as making the sober decision to fuck your friend’s boyfriend of nearly five years.
Emily walks over to Gabriel’s restaurant. Her curls are killing me. Brush them out! They look like fake doll hair. She is also wearing an outfit that looks like a TV test pattern. Kelly green and fuchsia? Are we to believe these sartorial choices are the expression of a conflicted and broken mind? She talks to Gabriel about how, by having sex with him, “It’s like I violated the prime directive,” which is a Star Trek reference but also is just … literally what she did. How is Emily not alarmed by Gabriel’s total non-reaction to this entire situation? “You didn’t do anything to Camille,” says the fuckboy who cheated on the girlfriend he was too cowardly to break up with. “You did do a lot of things to me.” His total lack of remorse is even more atrocious than her outfit. Antoine pops up to invite Emily to a dinner she cannot attend because of the aforementioned Saint-Tropez trip. Gabriel has the audacity to be openly scandalized by the news that Emily is going on vacation with the guy she is seeing.
At work we discover even more ugly truths: Emily’s shirt is a ribbed … polo … crop top? Shudder. Luc will be handling the Champere account for Camille’s family, so Camille is here, wearing sunglasses inside because she is upset. Luc reveals the advertisement for Champere (a recap within the recap: This is for Camille’s family’s champagne that will go bad if they don’t sell it soon, so they are marketing it strictly as spraying champagne). It’s very old Abercrombie: black-and-white clips of hot people in skimpy swimsuits spraying champagne at each other. The tagline: Spray it, don’t say it. Ew. I get that we are supposed to think, Wow, France is so SEXUALLY LIBERATED and America is so UPTIGHT AND LAME, but is this ad really all that creative or interesting? Is it even sexy or does it just look like some cutting-room-floor footage from 2002’s MTV Spring Break? I genuinely cannot tell if anyone at Savoir is good at their job except for Sylvie, who also might be bad at the work but at least carries herself like someone who knows what she’s doing.
Sylvie joins Camille and Emily for lunch at Emily’s request — I guess because she wants a witness to her conspicuously guilty and shitty behavior. Camille says she can tell Gabriel is not staying in Paris for her. First of all, she doesn’t know how she can be with a man whose ego is too fragile to accept her family’s financial help; Emily, who is a sociopath, continues to encourage Camille to forgive and reach out to Gabriel. (I know why this conversation is being had among these women for the purposes of the show, but why doesn’t Camille have any other friends? Sylvie’s basically a stranger, and she’s only known Emily for like three months.) As soon as Camille takes a bathroom break, Sylvie states the obvious: “So you’re having an affair with the chef, aren’t you?” Emily, emphatically: “Camille is my friend.”
I wonder if this show is a sign we are entering a new era in the world of television antiheroes. Think: In the beginning, the antiheroes knew they were bad, but we, the audience, did not — or we hoped they could change, believed they were good deep down, and rooted for them in spite of their obviously unrepentant badness. But Emily is the inverse of this: She is obviously bad — selfish, manipulative, willfully ignorant, deeply annoying. We know this. But she does not. She is under the delusion that she is a well-intentioned little fish out of water just splish-splashing about trying to make a go of it in this crazy world. This is like if Tony Soprano were convinced he was Mother Teresa.
Back to work: Julien is pitching this ad to a luggage company. His tagline: “Keep your baggage to yourself.” Okay, that’s pretty cute. But Rimowa, said luggage company, is underwhelmed. They want something crazier like what Savoir pulled for Pierre. Emily — who has learned nothing, who will learn nothing — springs into action, offering up a “collab” with Pierre to make a renegade piece of luggage. Something exceptionally tacky. As the laws of this show require, everyone instantly or eventually comes around to believing in Emily’s ideas, so of course the Rimowa people are on board. Emily made this exact same mistake last season: overpromising in the heat of a pitch meeting and then nearly losing her job. (That time it was the mattress account.) But see above re her ability to retain information and evolve, so. I’m sure everything will work out for Emily, as things are wont to do. In the meantime, she has made an enemy of Julien, who (correctly) sees Emily as moving in on his turf and stealing his account.
At Mindy’s request, Emily gets some guests to come to her new roommate’s drag show. Emily invites Camille because, again, she is a sociopath. Luc is also there. Upon arrival, Emily learns Mindy can’t do the job she was ostensibly hired to do because of the work papers situation; she can only work for tips as a bathroom attendant. Because in this show, nobody we are supposed to root for is allowed to suffer for more than several minutes, Mindy still gets to do her performance — a kind of odd one. Obviously, I get why if you cast Ashley Park you want her to do a musical number, but why “Dynamite”? Wouldn’t she be singing something in French? And/or a song that utilizes her dual-drag costume? Like a song with a male and female vocalist … even an ABBA song would make more sense!
Emily continues to be a horrible friend on the walk home, telling Camille to go see Gabriel because the lights are on in his restaurant. Camille, who is right, says Gabriel will have to make an effort for her since he is the one who is being an asshole and not communicating. Camille, break up with him! Move on with your life! You are hot and very rich — there is a whole world of non-douchey guys waiting for you!!! Mindy’s kind way of asking if Emily is being a monster on purpose is to gently ask, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Emily says she does. I say she does not.
The next day, Emily is greeted at work by the tacky suitcase with Pierre’s face on it. How we are supposed to tell the difference between tacky as a joke (the suitcase) and accidentally tacky and therefore atrocious (Emily’s rainbow-striped jacket over her black-and-white geometric top, an outfit which, again, looks like nothing more than a TV test pattern), I cannot say. For Julien this is the last straw: The suitcase was addressed to Emily, so clearly the account has been snatched out from under him. In case you didn’t catch it, he helpfully announces, “We are competitors, not friends.” Ugh, finally someone hates Emily. I hope this lasts more than one episode.
Brief sidebar: I’m a little concerned by how boring the restaurant acquisition is already proving to be. The one nonstory of a story is when Gabriel makes a Normandy dish that Antoine thinks he will hate, but then it turns out to be delicious. Conflict averted — love that in a television show.
Emily packs this enormous suitcase for one weekend away. She is wearing … seafoam-green pumps? For travel? Okay! She and Mathieu barely make physical contact when they kiss hello. They are in an unsexy sleeper car with bunk beds — not that it matters because Gabriel calls Emily to be like, “Where are you? I can’t believe I stayed in Paris for you but you won’t be here for me,” and it’s like, Gabriel, if that is really how you feel, break up with your girlfriend, you piece of shit. Obviously, Emily will be overheard talking, very loudly, about how “It was a sexual experience I will never forget for the rest of my life, but it was a mistake” (paraphrasing again — my right as a recapper). Emily, busted, goes for this classic line: “Mathieu, it’s really complicated.” I mean … is it? Mathieu at least has the self-respect to be like, I’m out. He practically jumps off a moving train. If I were Emily, I would just text Mindy to get on the next train and make this a girl’s trip, but probably Emily will just mope the whole time about how she got a free vacation for no reason from someone she was only tolerating anyway.