You’d think for a guy whose last two major relationships were his wife, who up and left him and their daughters one day to go find herself, and a woman who committed identity fraud, Charles would be a little hesitant to go all in on his next one — if anyone is allowed to have trust issues, it’s Charles Brooks — but nope. He is all in on Quinn Tyler. And Liza isn’t having ANY of it.
Admittedly, at first she is trying to have it. When Lauren shows her the “Page Six” item about Charles and Quinn’s relationship, she grins and bears it. At the next team meeting about Quinn’s book, in which Quinn is clearly trying to mark her territory — she’s holding hands with Charles and making innuendos about his big sword, as if we don’t all know about the Empiriconda already — Liza tries her best to smile through it. She has a much worse poker face here, and honestly I’m surprised no one asks her if she’s having a stroke at any point.
Kelsey and Lauren tell Liza that she’s handling this well (hilarious) and that she in no way has to read Quinn’s book and give her notes if she doesn’t want to. Well, the woman’s already read it, of course. And she has notes. Lots and lots of notes. Mainly: This all sounds like bullshit. Kelsey, whose lipstick is perfect, is like, Well, duh, “it’s a book about failure written by a billionaire, of course it’s bullshit.” But Liza means even more than that. This book has story after story about Quinn’s life, and most of them seem like they could never be true. Would Pope Benedict consult Quinn about admitting female clergy? Honestly, it sounds so insane it must be true, right? Well, Liza decides that rather than let Quinn “besmirch” Empirical’s reputation or dick them over like she did last time, when she almost bankrupted them, Liza’s going to fact-check everything in the book. She doesn’t say she’s also doing this because Quinn is the worst and now she’s hooking up with the man Liza loves, but we all get it. Liza’s on a crusade, and she cannot be stopped!
Of course, as she meets with people in Quinn’s orbit, she learns that a lot of people may dislike Quinn (her previous second assistant, in particular, would love to bring Quinn down), but her stories seem true. Liza gets nowhere with her hunch that Quinn is lying.
At least Liza has something to distract her for a bit: Her New Jersey friend Michelle is having a Great Gatsby–themed costume party, and although Liza’s a little bummed she now has to go alone, Kelsey tells her she looks fabulous and she should go have a great time. She also tells her that she should definitely walk right past Charles in her glam getup. She does, of course, although as she struts by a gobsmacked Charles, she wonders “which wave of feminism” this is. But Kelsey tells her to zip it: “Shut up and just be petty for once, he’s choking on his water.” This is what friends are for!
This Gatsby party is ridiculous, but hey, at least Sutton Foster gets to relive her Thoroughly Modern Millie days with a little Charleston dance break. All is not lost, though, because Liza bumps into Vince, a now-divorced hot dad from her previous life, and he’s single and ready to mingle, specifically with Liza.
Liza doesn’t exactly feel ready to date, but Vince says they can just consider it “dinner buddies.” They actually have a lot in common when it comes to getting married young and having to start over after divorce. Liza explains that her last relationship ended because the guy wanted to get married and she’s not sure she believes in marriage anymore. This gets Vince even more interested. He’s excited to meet someone else who is ready to just sleep around and never commit. “No rings, no strings,” he says expectantly. Oh, this sends Liza off. She very much wants strings and commitment and a real life partner. She just doesn’t see the need to be married to do it. She doesn’t want to be a wife. She doesn’t want her life “to revolve around his.” She says all of this in the middle of a restaurant while almost breaking down into tears. And then when Vince asks if she really isn’t over the last guy (ya think, dummy?), she says of course she isn’t. She’s still in love with him, and they blew this wonderful thing they had because “he didn’t get what he wanted.” And then she does fully break down into tears. It’s a terrible date.
Meanwhile, Charles and Quinn are having a great time on their date. Charles is going on about not apologizing for wanting stability in his life and Quinn is doing her whole “Go after what you want” thing and they make out and honestly it is all a bit of a snoozefest. Still, when Liza catches them giggling in the office the next day, she is not amused.
And then she gets a very interesting phone call. During her fact-checking mission, Liza had called one of the consultants on Quinn’s failed senatorial campaign who was in charge of figuring out where Quinn was most vulnerable and what her biggest negatives would be. Quinn being cold, condescending, and elitist is no surprise to Liza, but when the consultant starts talking about how she found that Quinn could easily boost her poll numbers if she were married (as frustrating as that patriarchal b.s. is), that perks Liza up. The consultant says she suggested Quinn just find some good-looking Kennedy-esque guy to marry and stand beside her. Quinn hated the idea, but now that there are rumors Quinn wants to run again, maybe even for governor, well, she’s probably rethinking that strategy. Liza takes all of this in while watching Quinn and Charles get chummy, and she can’t help but think she’s figured out what Quinn is up to.
• Clare and Real Estate Rob broke up, which means Clare, Kelsey, and Lauren go out for a boozy breakup brunch, but more importantly it means that Clare is now free if Josh happens to have feelings for her again, you know, should that be a thing he’s interested in for this final season.
• When Kelsey initially suggests a girls’ brunch to cheer up Clare, Lauren’s response is: “Brunch is your answer to everything. Make it a tea; it’s less of a commitment.”
• Maggie finally gets a story line this season, and, hey, it involves Janeane Garofalo! She’s playing Cass, the dean of a NY arts college who offers Maggie a teaching position. It’s kind of a dream situation for Maggie until she realizes she just spent a super-hot night sleeping with a gorgeous woman … who happens to be Cass’s wife. So that’s not great.
• Okay, so now can we get Kelsey a really good story line? She deserves it!
• Michelle tells Liza that she did some “deep Googling” on Charles. Michelle’s husband explains that “deep Googling” is “just Googling on three glasses of wine.” He isn’t wrong!
• “Okay Liza, I want you to know that I recognize your passion, I respect it, and I fear it.”