Marcus hasn’t had an easy time. If he’s in a relationship, his heart usually isn’t in it, and when he is happy, he’s the victim of his partner’s unsorted baggage. And that’s where we left him last, with Mia breaking up with him on her birthday of all days. He’s used to being the dumper — or the unfaithful cause of a breakup — but he doesn’t know how to cope when a seemingly stable relationship is suddenly ripped from him. To put it nicely, it’s done a number on him, and four months later, he’s still wistfully scrolling through pictures of his ex at an office-shooter drill that he thinks is futile. “Bullets are faster than legs, right?” he jokes. No one else is laughing.
Contrary to the title, Love Life is not really about love. The show has always used relationships as a lens to create the full portrait of its protagonist. And in the pattern established by these past two seasons, it’s at their lowest point (Darby after Magnus, Marcus after Mia) where they understand their issues. For Marcus, rock bottom is the forest where he realizes he’s, in the words of Yogi, “a little fucking self-absorbed.” But that’s in the nature of the show. So much of the story is narrowed in on this one character that it takes a little branching out to consider that Marcus isn’t an island. His actions have consequences. If he’s suffering, someone else probably is too.
With Yogi and Kian opening up about themselves, he expands his worldview beyond his own all-consuming problems. We’ve seen these characters through Marcus’s limited perspective, reducing them to the “dad friend” and the “rich friend.” What makes “Yogi & Kian” such a compelling episode is that they finally feel like real people. Marcus’s little outburst forces him to take some “voluntary” time off, allowing him and his best friends to take a camping trip to clear their heads. What was supposed to be a tranquil retreat in a luxury tent turns into a tense standoff when Kian admits that he’s dating Emily. They bumped into each other at a party a few months ago, and it just happened. It’s not casual, either; they’re in it for the long haul, as evidenced by the “I love you”s they exchange over the phone — “I love you”s that are sweeter and more genuine than the ones that she and Marcus ever said. But Marcus can only perceive this as some betrayal — never mind that he never really loved Emily in the first place — as if every secret is a calculated move against him. But it’s not all about him. He never even considered how the divorce affected Emily, who had to move into her parents’ basement and developed a severe (but not really because Kian was being hyperbolic) case of psoriasis. After all, she was the one that genuinely loved him.
But that doesn’t stop Marcus from lashing out at Kian. He says he doesn’t hate Kian, but the words are laced with insincerity, and the next morning, he’s prepared for an interrogation. “How did you win her over?” he asks. “Did you get her a trip on a PJ? A weekend in Aspen? Did you buy her a Banksy?” Kian admitted that he was having a hard time finding a real connection with someone who wasn’t in it for the money. For Marcus to weaponize his friend’s vulnerability against him comes as an especially low blow. The smallest (but cruelest) detail in Marcus’s reaction might just be his dismissive laugh at the suggestion that Emily loves Kian for who he is. He doesn’t actually believe that Kian is unlovable, but his denial brings out the worst. He’s not ready to face the fact that he truly has no one now that Emily has moved on.
This glamping trip was supposed to be a relaxing getaway from the stress of his breakup, but Marcus now finds himself distraught, confused, and more lonely than ever. (“Marcus had come on this trip in order to climb out of the pit of despair, but so far, the pit had only gotten deeper still,” the narrator says.) The place he really needs to escape from is his head, so the only other option he has is psychedelics. He steals Kian’s stash of chocolate mushrooms and cycles off toward the trees for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trip. Fear and paranoia quickly kick in as he throws his bike into a pond and leaves Mia a long-winded voice-mail. (“I don’t know where I am, I don’t know who I am.”)
It takes Marcus getting high and lost, Kian’s car with 10Gs breaking down, and “some Blair Witch shit” to snap everyone out of their petty arguments. “I’m a bad person,” Marcus confesses. “I’ve been a bad husband. I drove Emily to you.” (Best line reading of the episode goes to Arian Moayed: “I mean, I do have redeeming qualities, but continue.”) An extremely exasperated Yogi punches Marcus in the face to end all the crying and heartfelt apologies. By the end, they’re all so emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted that they accidentally sleep under the stars.
Centering on three best friends who all were nursing wounds that they felt they needed to hide (well, except Marcus the open book), “Yogi & Kian” is a cathartic moment within a season about giving in to one’s worst impulses and running away from the honest, most painful feelings. The ’shrooms might not have been the escape route he wanted, but the existential fear of a bad high, in its own twisted way, has provided some much-needed clarity on who he is.
• I know Marcus was in a crisis and freaking out, but I did have to pause and laugh for a solid minute when he said that no one would find him because he looked like a tree.
• While Marcus and Kian argue about Emily, poor Yogi is left playing babysitter. He reveals his wife is pregnant again, and Marcus and Kian’s immediate congratulations indicate how they’ve assumed their friend is completely content in his fatherhood. “Every time we have a kid, it’s like a little piece of yourself, you just lose it,” Yogi confesses. “Like, I have to be on all the fucking time. It’s like, I’m giving when I have nothing left.”
• Marcus: “I saw you graze [Emily’s] butt one time, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but I knew.” Kian: “I honestly don’t even remember that; I’m sorry you even saw that.” The sheer confusion in Moayed’s delivery does not stop being hilarious, and I know that because I went back to watch this moment an embarrassing number of times.
• Double-feature idea: “Yogi & Kian” and Midsommar for William Jackson Harper having bad trips in the countryside.
• This was just a superb episode for Arian Moayed, an actor who steals every moment of Succession he’s in, which is already an incredible feat since it’s, you know, Succession. The relief and joy Kian has from finding real love are so apparent.