If we’re going to have Liza and Charles move from big breakup to reconciliation — and that must be where this rom-com is headed in the end, since we’re halfway through the season and Liza is still pining away for her guy — there’s got to be a few beats in between anger and remembering that duh, you guys totally love each other, and in “The Son Also Rises,” Charles and Liza hit one of those beats: friendship. Do I think Charles still needs to explain how he could go from proposing to Liza into a full-blown relationship with Quinn so easily? Uh, yeah. I will always think that. I will think that so much I would like it printed on a T-shirt so I can wear it around and have other people think it. Would that be a little wordy for a T-shirt? Sure. But that wouldn’t make it any less true.
Anyway: Charles thinks he may have fathered a secret kid. So that’s, like, one direction in which to take this final season of Younger. You might recall that Charles has an unfinished manuscript called The Miseducation of Henry Cane that he wrote about the summer when he was 20, worked on a lobster boat in the Hamptons, and had an affair with an older married woman. That woman’s real name is Judith Clarke and when her husband Ian — who was at one time an Empirical author — dies, Charles comes face-to-face with her again for the first time since their affair. Charles is all very uptight and serious about the whole thing, as Charles is wont to be. I mean, you’re not even going to let Liza crack a “half-mast” joke at a funeral for the man whose wife would lower her Hampton-house flag when she was available for sex? Unclench your perfectly chiseled jaw and lighten up, sir.
Empirical still owns the copyrights to several of Ian’s novels, and at the wake Judith asks Charles to meet with her son Topher, who has inherited Ian’s literary estate and has some ideas. “After our history together, you owe us that,” she says. It rattles Charles. He misuses the phrase “brb,” which he had just learned five minutes prior. He sincerely says, “My past is coming back to haunt me,” which is just so fucking dramatic and feels on-brand for our publishing drama queen. Liza is there for all of this, so she is happy to sit in on the meeting with Topher as he pitches ideas to reissue his father’s work or perhaps have other authors ghostwrite under his father’s name. It does not matter what these ideas are, though, because Topher is the biggest toolbox in the toolshed, and also once Liza and Charles start rereading some of Ian’s work, they realize it’s not as good as they remember. Too much talk of wind, not enough female characters who aren’t just set dressing.
Liza offers to handle Topher alone because she sees how hard this is for Charles, but the exes end up together at drinks with the guy. Topher isn’t happy with the news, especially since he says he has to wait until he’s 30 for any other kind of inheritance and he wants to make some money off of Dad’s books. When he mentions he was born in April 1995, Charles perks up. He takes a closer look at Topher: He’s taller than the rest of his family and he sort of maybe looks like Charles? Could it be? Topher also starts going on about a rumor that his mother had an affair with a guy from a lobster boat and maybe Ian wasn’t his father after all. After Topher takes off, Charles looks like he might puke. He can’t believe that Judith wouldn’t tell him he had a kid and he’s beside himself thinking about explaining this to people. When Liza suggests he must mean Quinn, he almost seems taken aback that she would assume he cares about that — he means his daughters. Liza tries to tell him everything will be okay. He doesn’t seem so sure.
He goes to see Judith to find out the truth and she basically laughs in his face. Although his summer with her was memorable for him, she was hooking up with lots of hot, younger dudes in the Hamptons. And Topher is definitely Ian’s — they had a paternity test done. Charles walks out of that apartment building feeling a lot of emotions: He’s obviously relieved that he doesn’t have a secret son, but also a little embarrassed and upset that such a formative time in his life meant absolutely nothing to the other party involved.
Oh, hey! As Charles is pondering all of these feelings, he bumps into Liza — she knew Charles might need a friendly face after his conversation with Judith and she wanted to be there for him. The big man looks so thankful to see her standing there. They do a rainy day walk-and-talk in which Liza encourages Charles to use what he’s feeling in this moment to finally finish his novel: He needs to “accept the past” and “keep moving forward.” Just like they’re doing with each other in this very moment. They are baby steps, but they are steps forward. Now, if Charles could just stop being a ding-dong for like five seconds, maybe these two might have a chance.
• Do not even get me started on that pittance of a Diana Trout cameo. Her video chat was not long enough, her quips were not Trouty enough, and dear lord, her necklace was not big enough. I’m very happy Diana is living her best life in Italy with Enzo and taking all the time off she has earned over the years, but at what cost? AT WHAT COST??
• This Maggie story line is not it, people: Cass has to observe Maggie’s class this week and she walks in on a lesson Maggie’s giving about some of her first art shows from decades ago. The students call Maggie out for using a title in one of those shows that includes a transgender slur and Cass defends Maggie … and then immediately regrets it: Maggie — whose tablet is hooked up to the classroom TV — starts getting a bunch of AirDropped nudes and Cass recognizes her wife. Maggie tries to make up a story as to why Camilla would be sending her these pics, but Cass doesn’t buy it. To enact revenge, she hops on Twitter and starts tweeting about Maggie Amato being transphobic.
• So Kelsey decides to buy an apartment in NYC and Lauren gets her to go on Younger’s version of your Selling New York/Million Dollar Listing New York type of show. And Kelsey’s good at it? But really just wants an apartment she can afford? And also they’re selling Dove chocolate now, I guess?
• Lauren’s worried Kelsey will get the villain edit because she’s so pretty: “Is it too late to dye her hair brown? It’s so threatening.”
• I would 100 percent watch a prequel series about a young Charles Brooks as a lobster boat deckhand in the Hamptons. The heart wants what the heart wants.