It’s three months after Jessie and Tom’s breakup, three months after Jessie lied about seeing Ben, three months after Tom told Jessie that she’s “hard to love.” The wounds are certainly still fresh over here for me personally, and from the look on Jessie’s face as she embarks on Steve and Sarah’s joint stag/hen party (well, technically, it’s their pre-stag/hen party with just the friends they’ve deemed “liabilities”), she seems pretty miserable.
Perhaps that could be because she’s sleeping around with Ben when she is still very much in love with Tom. It’s not surprising for two reasons: 1) During that entire breakup fight, you could see on her face that she didn’t want to end things but couldn’t help but to dig in, and 2) Well, Ben’s a dick; who wants to be sleeping with him when you could be with Tom Kapoor? On the party bus, he keeps needling Jessie about whether or not they’re going to have sex later as she shuts him down, calling it a mistake — although a mistake she has apparently made several times over the last three months. You can see right there how this day could end, with Jessie giving up her resolve and hooking up with her ex-and-sort-of-now just because, well, she seems to be a glutton for pain. But then something quite unexpected happens: The bus pulls up to the first stop — mini-golf (kill me, please) — and Tom Kapoor is waiting outside. Steve invited him! Many blessings to Steve! And absolutely zero to Ben, who makes a childish little “I can’t wait to meet him” remark before leaving. He better be so freaking good in bed (you know he’s mediocre at best).
Jessie stays on the bus to pull herself together before going inside, but Tom hops on to say hi. He didn’t realize Steve wasn’t going to tell her and offers to leave if this is too weird, but Jessie tells him to stay. “It’ll mean a lot to Steve,” Jessie says. I mean, yes, technically that is true — Steve even hands over his “groom” sash for Tom to wear because there aren’t any other sashes and he wants him to have something; The gaggle of friends on this show remains such a bright spot — but come on, we all know there is more to Jessie wanting Tom to stay than that. There is some awkwardness and tension between them on the bus, and we only watch it grow as we hit each stop of the party.
On the mini-golf course, Jessie spends most of the time agitated by Ben, who is clearly threatened by the appearance of Tom Kapoor, movie star. Ben is a manipulator, and he’s been trying to sow doubts in Jessie’s head about Tom since he first came back in her life. He does it here, too, remarking about how weird it is that Tom is here and asking if he knows that they’re an “us” now, to which Jessie shuts down right away. There’s no “us” with the two of them. And don’t think it is any kind of coincidence that it is here, in this moment, that Ben suddenly wants to talk about “where this thing might go.” Jessie is interested in exactly none of it.
Meanwhile, Tom is paired up with Joe, who tells him that Jessie misses him and just by being here it must mean that Tom misses her, too. Tom is loath to take advice from Joe after the last time he listened to him, but he can see Jessie trying to squirm her way out of conversations with Ben. He can see she doesn’t look happy.
At laser tag, Tom decides to test the waters. He’s much more cool and confident than we’ve seen from him in a while. He tells Jessie to watch out because he’s “pretty fucking good at laser tag.” Now, at face value, a sentence like that from a grown man should probably be a real turn-off, but Nikesh Patel makes it work. Like I had to look around my living room to see if anyone else caught that swag (my living room is empty, but you know what I mean). Jessie is unmoored. During the game, it doesn’t take long for Tom to find Jessie and “kill” her, and for the first time that day, they actually say hello with all the pretenses gone. Again, I don’t know how Tom pulls off sexy while wearing a laser tag vest, but goddamn. He gets closer and closer to Jessie until he finally kisses her.
And then Ben “kills” him because, say it with me everyone, Ben is the worst. Again, we get to watch as Ben has an immature, knee-jerk reaction based on jealousy: He tells Jessie that he wants to be with her and that he loves her. Thankfully, Jessie recognizes this act. “I’ll always love you, but that doesn’t mean I like you or want to be with you. You’re a fucking asshole, Ben,” she promptly responds. This right here, this is his thing — he only wants what he can’t have, and once he gets it, he freaks out. “We broke up because you were too scared to be with me,” she says. And if that all sounds exactly like someone else we know on this show, good. It one hundred percent should.
With that kiss breaking some of the tension between them, Jessie and Tom can have an actual conversation back on the bus. Tom apologizes for kissing her, especially because he’s leaving for the U.S. in a week. “It’s just confusing seeing you,” he tells her. I mean, I don’t think it’s confusing AT ALL because, hello, Tom loves her, but no one invited me on that party bus, and I swear, I can definitely be a liability if that is the requirement!
The back-and-forth that follows is wonderful in that it is sad and also feels so authentic. Jessie asks why they really broke up — she’s confused. Tom tells her that it felt like yes, she wanted to be with him, but she didn’t want to be in a relationship. “Isn’t that the same thing?” she asks. But no, it really isn’t. Therein lies the problem. Jessie couldn’t see that, nor was she ready or brave enough to try to be ready for a real, mature relationship.
Which brings us to the party’s final stop: Paddle boats in the pond. Now, as soon as you see the water, if you are any kind of rom-com or romance movie fan, you know something romantic will go down here. Because what is a romantic gesture if it doesn’t take place in or near a body of water? You ever see a Nicholas Sparks movie? Everyone is, like, perpetually wet in those. (And yep, I SAID WHAT I SAID).
As soon as they’re out on the pond, Jessie has to download her boat — Kate, Sarah, and Joe — on what Tom told her. She seems to think Tom is ridiculous, but her friends have terrible poker faces, and she realizes that they all agree with Tom. “It’s kind of your thing,” Kate tells her. And when Joe tells her that they’ve tried to say it to her before but she’s just brushed it off, she immediately brushes him off — and then she realizes her friends are telling her the truth. Everyone in this world needs a friend who will tell you to get a fucking grip when you need to hear that, and Kate is the best kind of get-a-grip friend because she will force you to hear her words. She will slap you in the face and grab you by the collar and yell all the words you need to get in your tiny brain right at the moment. In Jessie’s case, it is this: “You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met in my entire life and I love you, but you are a piss poor girlfriend whose inability to commit is pushing away the person you love.” That is a top-notch, queen-level get-a–grip friend. Not only does Jessie realize that Kate is right, but she realizes that this is exactly what Ben did to her. “I Ben-ed Tom, didn’t I?”
This realization, paired with the fact that she can see Tom and Ben in the other boat and Ben is talking to Tom — Ben is attempting to mark his territory, but once again, Tom is playing it so freaking cool and once again I! Am! Sweating! — leads Jessie to the only logical conclusion: She needs to talk to Tom. Right now. So, she hops into the pond.
She hops into the pond!!! It is a move that feels simultaneously like a big rom-com grand gesture and something so in-line with who Jessie is, a woman who makes decisions without fully thinking them through. Starstruck walks this line so perfectly. It’s a moment that could be ridiculously cheesy and yet cut with the screwball comedy of it all and Starstruck’s down-to-earth tone, it is far from it. Instead, the scene is hilarious and lovely and so goddamn swoony. I am swooning!!
So, now Jessie is in the water. And it’s raining. And she walks over towards Tom’s boat and tells him she wanted to say she’s sorry. “Was it that urgent?” Tom asks. Yes, of course it was. Because Jessie is the most sorry and knows how difficult she is — that “hard to love” thing, although cutting, was not wholly incorrect — and she wants him to know that she never wanted to make him feel like she didn’t want to be with him, because she did want to and she still does. “I love you,” she tells him, laughing at how that sounds coming out of her mouth. She knows that she was scared and she ran away and that that is something she needs to work on. She also feels the need to explain to him that she hasn’t yet changed because she hasn’t had the time since that big epiphany about some of her flaws happened just like a minute ago.
She apologizes again before heading back to her boat, but then Tom hops into the water!! It’s a double water-based grand gesture which honestly is unheard of and I think changing the face of rom-coms forever. Not to be, like, dramatic about it. Tom reaches for Jessie’s arm, pulls her back toward him, and kisses the hell out of her. Everyone cheers! He says he loves her, too! She asks if they should get married and immediately realizes that was a dumb suggestion and they will forget she ever said anything. But it’s fine! They kiss again! The fountain in the middle of the pond goes off! We are all cheering because love is the best! And for the second season in a row, Starstruck completely sticks the landing. Please, for the love of God, tell me they’ll be going for the trifecta.