Since we’re in rom-com season and the return of Starstruck is quickly approaching, Vulture is returning to where the romance began with weekly recaps of season one. Rewatch along with us and check back every Thursday for the next episode.
To quote a rom-com that quotes a romance movie: “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.” And you know what? It feels exactly right to line up Starstruck’s “Winter” episode with our characters wallowing in their lowest lows. Winter is cold and dark and lonely, and sometimes you spend weeks looking at a pile of dirty snow just slowly melting in a parking lot until it makes you want to scream. Don’t try to sell me on the winter being romantic, The Holiday!! We all know Jack Black was the most romantic part of that movie, and you put him in L.A.! I see you.
Seriously though, look at our people. Tom and Jessie are the two saddest of sacks right now! After that vicious fight still rattling around in all of our heads — most importantly in Tom and Jessie’s — these two ding-dongs are wounded. Not that I ever want to agree with Sophie on something, but yes, it’s hard to have too much empathy for a sulky movie star. Tom Kapoor’s got a pretty charmed life, and also a lot of this is his fault (the way he just shoved her into that shower!!). And yet still, you can see how gutted this guy is. We have to cringe along with him at his press junket as he tells a reporter that he feels nothing anymore, and then to demonstrate that he doesn’t play the cutesy, lying publicity game with Sophie. When asked about their on-screen chemistry, he just flat out says they’ve had sex and also that they very much dislike one another. The guy just doesn’t care. The saddest part, though, is that he truly does seem to be all alone with no one in his corner. So, fine, I feel a little bit bad for the movie star.
And yet, Jessie’s having a much tougher time. Our girl’s put up a good front thus far with her carefree attitude, but so many things seem to go wrong all at once that she must be exhausted and has nothing left to do but confront some of her issues. Not only does that fight with Tom still sting on a surface level, but you know she still has feelings for him despite her best efforts to hate him. She can’t help it!
The losses begin to pile up: Soon after, she gets fired from her nanny gig despite her best efforts to persuade her boss to keep her on because she knows “for a fact that it is good for a child’s development to see an adult cry at a young age.” At least she still gets a scone out of it, right?
Jessie does not give up! Jessie takes a job delivering flowers for the florist where Kate works because Jessie needs money to afford to live in London, a city which she describes thusly: “London is fucked, and everyone here can get fucked.” So, she likes it, guys! No, actually, she’s having a terrible time. This is partly because delivering flowers all over the city in the rain while on a bike seems hard and also because she’s bad at it. It certainly doesn’t help that she has to ride past giant billboards of Tom Kapoor selling watches. It doesn’t help at all.
The thing that does help is the wad of cash Kate hands her as payment. She gets a whiff that maybe things could turn around for her and feels so empowered by it that she decides to visit the grumpy consignment shop owner with whom she’s had words over not properly displaying all the clothes Jessie donated. Jessie is going to get back at this woman by buying back all of those clothes, which all have unceremoniously been dumped in the discount bin. That’ll show her, I guess? There’s not a lot of logic to it. But it doesn’t matter anyway — Jessie realizes that she has lost the wad of cash. It’s a real low that only gets worse when she runs back to the florist and yells at Kate as if it is her fault. “Hit the showers; you need to cool off, bitch!” Kate yells back as Jessie stomps off. Kate isn’t wrong — Jessie is spiraling.
She winds up back at the movie theater for a shift. Earlier, we saw as an agitated Jessie screamed at all the patrons sitting in the lobby to use the free wifi that they had to leave if they were there to “work on their screenplay.” She pulled out a broom and everything. In her defense, she had just opened up a package that happened to be a new movie poster for Siege on Olympus. So the outburst was warranted. And hilarious! It’s during this moment that Jessie runs into Joe for the first time since the fight with Tom. He tries to apologize and explain that it’s all because he likes her. “I reject that. I reject everything about that,” Jessie says, a response I am now going to use so often in my daily life, hold onto your butts, family and friends. She tries to get Joe to see that it’s just a crush (“I had a crush on a guy I saw using a leaf blower yesterday.”) and to get over it, he should just write a list of all the things he doesn’t like about her.
Unfortunately for Jessie, Joe reads back this list of her most unlikable traits at the end of the shittiest day. She didn’t even need Joe’s list to feel bad about herself, she felt that way all by herself, so it’s just the worst pile on — even if one of the things on Joe’s list is that Jessie blames things on capitalism but also does a lot of online shopping. This is rock bottom. So when Joe asks why Jessie is here at all, she mistakes his question about why she’s at work when she’s not on the schedule for a more existential one and launches into a rant about how much she hates London, hates her life, and knows she has no one to blame but herself. She moved to London to live a life and experience new things, and she feels like she has nothing to show for it. “I haven’t done anything,” she heartbreakingly repeats. She’s nearing thirty and she’s having that all too common crisis one has when they look around and realize their life does not look at all the way they thought it would. While Jessie is feeling sorry for herself, she is, at the very least, self-aware enough to know that she is the only person with the power to change things.
At home, she tells Kate that she’s moving back to New Zealand. She’s sad, but this isn’t about desperation — she wants to move home, she says. She needs to sort herself out, and it seems like, at the moment, there is no other way to do that. The two friends are very cute as they tell each other they’ll miss living together in their own way (their “own way” is putting on old-timey voices and pretending they’re old ladies reminiscing about their adventures in their twenties), even if Jessie does almost immediately get annoyed with Kate for posting videos of Jessie on the delivery bike to her Instagram Stories.
After everything, it looks as though Jessie is determined to make some changes. It’s nice to see Jessie be vulnerable. It’s nice to see her still want something and want more for herself after this whole mess with Tom Kapoor. Of course, if you’re a human being who has lived even a little bit of life, you know that the road to change isn’t typically straightforward. We know that Jessie had real feelings for Tom. And now we know that Tom Kapoor is longingly scrolling through his Instagram feed watching videos of Jessie in a bike helmet. So maybe that whole New Zealand thing isn’t a definite just yet.
• Please, consignment-shop owner, tell me more about when Keira Knightley came in weeping and dropped off several DVD box sets of Pirates of the Caribbean.
• “… I am seeing someone new. I wanted you to be the first to know. He’s called the Babadook. He’s got a top hat. He’s really good with kids.”
• “It’s more than a crush.” “Okay, Mandy Moore.”
• We should all have friends who make us feel better by putting on an accent and exclaiming, “My darling, weren’t our 20s outrageous? You bedded a damn movie star and tossed him aside like a plaything!” Come on, you can’t break this dream team up!