It’s a nightmare! Allison’s having visions of Nick knocking at her door, all creepy horror style. Nick, the oxy addict hired to kill Kevin last season, only to get shot by Kevin. Nick is in a coma at the hospital, and once again, Patty and Allison are there, looming over the body of a hurt man, trying to figure out their next move. They’re interrupted by Nick’s mother, Cindy, who wishes Patty a happy birthday. After Allison and Patty make a quick exit, she asks how Cindy knows her birthday, and Patty quips: “I dealt to Cindy. We have, like, a bond.”
Allison bursts through the front door in Sitcom World, determined to throw Patty a surprise party tomorrow. Partially because she’s realizing that as a Future Dead Woman, she’s going to miss her best friend. Kevin’s on the couch eating his feelings in cheese puffs because Pete, freshly established in the basement, has a new girlfriend, whose laugh sounds like a drunk, dying Curly from The Three Stooges. As Allison and Kevin banter about party planning, we learn the saddest information: Diane came back to Worcester since the cheating Chuck “tracked her down” to South Carolina. At least she’s currently staying in a (depressing) motel.
So: Patty is one of those birthday people. The ones who never mention it, the ones where you have to work to find it out. She looks pretty in a robe in front of her gigantic vanity putting on makeup for dinner. Tammy walks in and asks leading questions about gifts. Need to find a birthday? Ask a detective! Turns out Patty’s birthday tradition is ice skating with her brother, one that’s under review considering Neil’s general dick behavior recently. Tammy offers to take her and to even bring Allison, but that might not be happening. While Patty does makeup, Allison gets a knock on her door, and it’s Tammy — the exceedingly awkward exchange between the two yields a happy result: They’re going to work on Patty’s surprise party together. Surprise!
In Sitcom World, Kevin is getting things ready for the party. It is hardly a perfect, Martha Stewart–endorsed affair, because Kevin’s too busy putting tape on Neil’s face so he can be the Incredible Tape Man as streamers hang limply on the banister. And his dad’s new annoying girlfriend comes in with her braying laugh and her “I’m a dance instructor” innuendo and Kevin now has purpose: he has to break them up. And what better way than by trying to set up Pete with a newly single and visibly sad Diane? The only way to do that is to throw the greatest party ever. Clearly Kevin can only do something if it benefits his own narcissistic vision.
Allison and Tammy are trying to get along for Patty’s party. Allison screams (another ghost-Nick vision) when Tammy enters through the back door. Upon hearing that Allison is an only child, Tammy observes that she doesn’t like to share. Correct? I think so. Allison makes Tammy take her to an alleyway in order to get a birthday present, menthol cigarettes, which is a thoughtful gift. But then Allison’s making Tammy — a cop, don’t forget — do the bootleg deal with the scummy guy who lumbers into the backseat because Allison is picking up a phone call from Patty. She heard back from Billy PI, who said Allison’s next step in faking her death is getting Gertrude’s death certificate. From City Hall. A problem looms.
It’s Patty’s birthday, her day, and Neil took her to the ice-skating rink. Patty isn’t very good at ice skating, shuffling around holding on to a tower of milk crates. Neil ribs her; he’s got the moves of a former hockey player. Patty shoots back, “Nobody wants to be great at ice skating. It’s like karaoke — being good at it is just annoying to the people you go with,” a deeply true statement. She falls and asks Neil for help. He just speeds away. Neil is a menace on the ice, pushing people down, drinking openly. He has a fight with Patty, who’s projecting birthday disappointment at him, throwing his nip on the ice, shattering the glass. A total disaster, and the O’Connor family is banned for life from the rink.
Allison and Tammy have one last errand, and that’s a stop at Sam’s diner to pick up cake. Allison goes in, and seeing Sam, she’s of course asking him first about maybe doing an errand for him so that she can be in City Hall after hours, when it’s a ghost town. Tammy barges in and the two look embarrassed, like they’ve been caught doing something wrong. And in the car, Tammy has their affair figured out. She may be a perplexing character — annoying? Stiff? Mean? All of the above? — but she appears to be pretty good at her cop job, considering. And she’s sympathetic to Allison, saying that having met Kevin, she gets it. She tells a story about her late partner Bram, a similar narcissist, the type of guy who makes a mess and makes you do something bad to clean it up and still manages to be the hero of the story. They have a moment.
Hey! It’s a party! And in Sitcom World, Kevin is focused on throwing such a magical event that Diane and Pete will get together. It’s his shenanigan of the week, and it’s all about Kevin’s potential happiness. It is a dreary, sexist plot and not fun to watch, either.
But, you know, when Patty gets to the party, she hates it. And scenes that are actually about Patty are in Bleak World. Tammy invited everyone from Patty’s client book. Not her salon clients but her pill clients, like Cindy. Allison lets Patty know that the police are still looking into the story of poor, coma’d Neil.
The party is a disaster. For everyone. Allison tries to make it better by gently leading Patty’s pill clients out the door before they get too chatty with the cops. Only Nick’s mother, Cindy, remains, and she tells Patty she’s too high and mighty now that she’s no longer dealing drugs. It’s a phase, she says, and you need to help us out again. Gah, that’s dark. Allison and Tammy slice up the cake in the kitchen, and it should be a moment of triumph where they are “actually liking each other,” as Allison puts it. But once again, Tammy puts cold water on a … familiar social moment. She’s blunt, saying, I don’t like you, and you don’t like me. And she tells Allison to back off in regards to Patty. The vibe here? Romantic rivals.
Allison, stormy, goes off to the front porch. She sits there, moody, and Patty comes out for a smoke. Allison says she got her menthol cigarettes, and they bond over the party being a disaster. Patty gets to the point of the thing: “Nobody’s ever thrown me a party before.” Allison cares. She cares for Patty, and all her actions this episode are her saying, “Will you miss me (when I fake my death)?”
The Patty and Allison of it all is so sweet that it barely registers when Sam pulls up to Allison’s house. Allison is on the porch, and Sam is practically goading her for a fight as he drops off a number for someone who can help her out with her mysterious City Hall mission. He calls Allison a scam artist. She tells him the truth, that she’s planning to fake her death. With the clarity of that change on the horizon, Allison’s able to do things for people. She’s able to think beyond herself. Is the possibility of faking her death making her into a better person now?
Starbucks?! Over Dunkies???
• Who knows if the Tammy and Patty thing will last for long. Tammy gets the Vermont footage she’s been waiting for, and she sees Patty on the video doing crime. Can she even trust her?
• Is the show a love story between Allison and Patty, and is that romantic love or friendship love? I think yes, it’s a love story, and the nature of the love story … well, I wonder. The queer interpretation is there.
• Diane subtext: Neil is into her. He was into her the whole episode, and their little nighttime detente over beers was sweet. Diane has the saddest line of the episode, about her attempt to change her circumstances: “I tried, but it was too hard.”
• Documentary-like writing: “Patricia O’Connor?/ How many Pattys do you know?/ In Worcester? Like, 18.” Honestly, growing up in the greater Boston area, I had the habit of referring to people by their first and last name since they were all some combination of Erin O’Something and it got confusing!
• The Kevin sitcom plot was particularly heinous this week, just sexist bullshit all around where Pete’s new girlfriend is hated for her terrible laugh and the possibility of hooking him up with Diane is moot because she’s too much of a disaster. It just feels gross to watch, mostly. Every joke was at the expense of women existing and having qualities. Perhaps my disgust implies that it is postmodern genius?