After the big developments of last week, “Apology Tour” is a bit of a lighter episode, overall, dealing with the aftermath of that mess of an “engagement party.” It might not hit the highs we now know this show is capable of, but it makes for a nice palate cleanser to set up the final stretch of the season.
Maybe the brightness of the daytime is especially noticeable after an episode set mostly at night, or maybe I’m projecting from experience, but you can really feel the hangovers when everyone wakes up the morning after the party. Pretty much everyone reacts the way you’d expect: Alice avoids addressing her failed kiss attempt; Jimmy and Gaby panic about what Tia would think of their unexpected hookup; and Paul immediately susses out what happened between them, a nice swerve from the predictable “hiding a secret” plot we might’ve expected.
Jimmy certainly owes some apologies after his display last night, but this is an episode of Shrinking, not BoJack Horseman, so it’s pretty easy to come back from most rock-bottom moments with just a dash of sincerity. Brian quickly forgives Jimmy, and Alice mostly forgives him, too, understanding better than anyone how easy it is to make a big mistake under the influence of alcohol. Jimmy even ends up apologizing to Gaby for initially saying he regretted what they did.
It’s too early to tell whether Jimmy and Gaby will eventually grow into a full-blown will-they-won’t-they, but “Apology Tour” is helpful in at least temporarily restoring the friendship we’re used to. The two of them have always been united by their mutual love of Tia, and it’s fitting that Tia would remain the focus here. Gaby has no serious problem moving past any guilt she might’ve had about sleeping with Jimmy because she’s gotten in the habit of speaking aloud to her late best friend. For her, it’s as simple as ringing Tia up and assuring her that Jimmy is just “safe dick,” since there’s no danger of them developing feelings for each other. (Even typing that sentence out makes it glaringly obvious they eventually will — if I had to guess, this episode is meant to pause that story line until the finale.)
Jimmy has put off directly addressing Tia since she died. But she’s the inevitable final stop on his apology tour, the betrayal that weighs most heavily on him. In the final scene, Jimmy finally lets himself vocalize not just his own guilt but the irrational part of himself that feels angry at Tia for dying and leaving him here to grieve. It’s a refreshing confession, a big step forward for Jimmy in being honest with himself. But it’s poorly timed, with Alice overhearing the truth and walking off, clearly distressed. These two are making gradual, cumulative progress in their relationship, but that growth gets tested every episode.
Mostly, Alice just needs someone who will be there for her no matter what. After she lost her mom, her dad became incredibly unreliable, and she was left alone to grieve. Sean has been one of the few people to genuinely understand her in recent months, which makes the prospect of losing him as a friend all the more painful. It’s not just the humiliation of rejection and being looked at as a kid by someone she wishes would see her as an adult. It’s the loss of one of Alice’s most stable, if unconventional, friendships.
Liz helps Sean understand this on their walk together, a lovely low-key scene where the unlikely friends discuss what they’re looking for. Liz has been externalizing her issue, blaming her husband, Derek, for her restlessness when what she really needs is a new venture herself. Sean, meanwhile, finds it difficult to even think about his cooking ambitions when the felony on his record prevents him from securing a fair interview. Maybe this is a partnership both of them need.
Most of “Apology Tour” is a tad less dramatic than its predecessor, but Paul’s day with his daughter, Meg, is the opposite. It’s a huge downer compared to his delightful weed-gummy journey. But it’s also a necessary story, based around a series of events that brings to the surface all of Meg’s long-suppressed resentment toward the father who wasn’t there for her as a kid, as much as she insists all is forgiven and forgotten.
What makes it hurt is how well everything had been going. Paul and Meg are connecting in a way he could only have dreamed of a few months ago. As reluctant as Paul initially is to let Meg accompany him to visits with his hot neurologist, it leads to a bit of friendly teasing between the two. They even share a tender dance together and take care of the remaining paperwork for the medical power of attorney.
But everything changes when Meg asks Paul to move across the country to live with his daughter and his grandson. “Asks” isn’t even the word, really; she immediately presumes he’ll do it, and she’s so sure it’s the right choice that she starts telling her son the news before Paul has even properly responded. I feel for both parties here: Meg is being presumptuous in expecting him to pack up everything and move, especially when he has a successful practice in California, but his long absence from her life makes it sound selfish for him to choose work over family once again. Even more brutally, one of his freezes occurs at the worst possible moment, preventing him from following his daughter out the door to properly set things right. It’s devastating when your own body betrays you.
Back at the end of my second recap, I wrote, “How are you going to invite new people into your home and your family when you’ve been neglecting your relationship with your own daughter? It’s a reminder that the path to closeness won’t be linear. These things take time, and both of them will need to accept that.” At the time, I was referring to Jimmy and Alice, but the sentiments apply just as well to Paul and Meg, especially considering her jealousy of Alice’s appearance at Paul’s doorstep in this episode. As sadly as “Apology Tour” ends for them, I’m not too worried about Paul and Meg repairing their relationship. Shrinking is all about extending empathy to the people who deserve it — the people who put in the work, no matter how difficult it is to compromise.
• I love how Alice uses her dad’s therapy-speak against him when she cuts off a conversation with, “That’s our time.”
• Great delivery from Ted McGinley in the scene when Derek gently but firmly tells Liz that it’s his turn to hang around the house all the time now that he’s retiring. We’re used to automatically siding with Liz because we’ve seen how quirky and airheaded her husband can be, but this pushback from him was quite satisfying.
• “I think I’m over you. Too selfish.” To hear this from your own patient! But it’s pretty funny, and I appreciate any acknowledgment of Jimmy’s selfishness.
• “Wait a few years; then you can fuck one of his friends.” “Was Mr. Posley hot?” “No, but he meant a lot to my dad.” Possibly my favorite Jessica Williams joke-and-line delivery so far.
• “Your penis moved.” “It was a shift more than a move.”