It has been over a year and a half since we last gathered together to yell — sometimes in delight, sometimes in frustration — about Younger shenanigans. I gotta tell you, it is about time this show returned. This rom-com is the comforting, silly escape we all need these days, isn’t it?
But first, there is nothing comforting about the business we must handle up front. As you have probably heard by now, due to COVID-19 protocols and scheduling issues, Miriam Shor will not be in this season of Younger (well, like, she’ll probably pop up on video chat or something, but that is useless to me). That’s right: The final season of Younger is Troutless. Not to be dramatic but this is one of the greatest travesties of our time. And it is with heaviness that I have to tell you that Trout Season is officially closed for all intents and purposes within these recaps. But please, you must know that Trout Season rules eternal in my heart. Let us all carry its spirit with us, always.
So, obviously a lot has changed in our world since we last had a new Younger episode, but time has stood still in the show-world. We pick up pretty much where the season-six finale left off: at Diana and Enzo’s wedding. The crew is sending them off from the reception; we hear Diana yell “Arrivederci, bitches!” but never see her as she and Enzo ride off into their extended Italian honeymoon. As much as I’d like to make this recap an extended tribute to Diana (and Enzo and Diana’s neckwear), there is some real drama to get into, per usual.
At the end of the finale, Charles popped the question to Liza and she stood there in stunned silence before being carried off in a conga line. Please know that an eerily similar thing happened to her back in season one when she told Josh the truth about her age, and honestly, this woman needs to avoid having dramatic life moments on dance floors. Outside, Charles says that Liza’s silence is all the answer he needs. She insists that’s not what she means and she loves him but doesn’t want to rush this. They have their kids to think about and Charles isn’t even officially divorced. “Sometimes I can be impatient when I know what I want,” he says. He tells her that when she’s ready, she can propose to him. They make out in front of a fireworks display. It’s nice albeit riddled with some underlying awkwardness.
Later, Liza has a chat with Josh that feels very much like a very firm period on their romantic relationship. Josh has learned about Charles’s proposal thanks to Lauren, who discovers the proposal on Diana’s wedding video footage and for some reason decides it’s a good idea to show it to him (so little of what Lauren does in this episode makes sense). At first, he seems a bit pained about the whole thing, as is Josh’s way, but when he runs into Liza at Lauren’s 30th birthday party, he’s nothing but kind to her. When she tells him that she still hasn’t given Charles an answer, his response is “what are you waiting for?” He can admit that he likes Charles for Liza and he tells her, very sincerely that he wants to see her happy. That seeing her happy brings him joy. They both know they want to be a part of each other’s lives, that they are special to each other. “Relationships don’t have to be defined, right? We know who we are to each other,” Josh tells her. It’s all so nice and mature and it feels very much like the show taking a final stance on letting go of the Liza/Josh romance. It’s well past time.
But this conversation isn’t just about Josh and Liza. It helps Liza realize what to do about Charles. So, she tells him to meet her at the SeaGlass Carousel, yep the same place where they went on a date after finally getting together. You know Charles shows up expecting Liza to propose, but Liza has a different idea. She’s been married and it was terrible and she doesn’t want to do that again. She doesn’t think they need to be married to build a life together. “I want to be happily unmarried to you every day,” she says.
It would be sweet and romantic if that’s what Charles was into, but he is most definitely not. He knows what he wants and he wants to get married, if that makes him old-fashioned, so be it. This is a deal-breaker for him. He thinks marriage can work when it’s right, Liza thinks that they are finally free from all that marriage junk. “We’re not young, Liza, and we both deserve what we really want,” he says, as he kisses her forehead (oooh, a good-bye forehead kiss is rough stuff) and walks away. That is super cold and it all feels very contrived. I mean, after the yowza of a divorce Charles is going through, you’d think he’d at least consider not getting married again. It seems like a silly way to stall the Liza/Charles happily ever after so they can spend the rest of the season finding their way back to each other.
In fact, a whole lot of this episode feels like table-setting to get everyone in place for their season seven arc. For Kelsey, that means dealing with her job situation in record time. At the end of season six, she was about to get funding for her own publishing house from Quinn Tyler, getting in bed with the enemy. Then, at Diana’s wedding, Charles offers her a seat on Empirical’s board and an equity stake in the company. He wants her back as editor-in-chief. She is family. Of course she’s going back.
In this episode, she has to tell Quinn about her change in plans and Quinn not surprisingly gives her a lot of shit about running home to daddy. As happy as Kelsey is to be out of business with Quinn, things aren’t exactly going smoothly for her back at Millennial. First, she learns that Zane resigned because he felt betrayed that Charles would give her the big promotion over him and then Zane breaks up with her on a video chat (another casualty of real world scheduling issues). He actually says this is probably a huge mistake and I love you but we’re ending things, which has zero internal logic.
So, Kelsey loses the man she loves, then she goes to her first big board meeting with the investors in Chicago and they rag on how outdated the name “Millennial Print” is since Millennials aren’t the new cool kids anymore and decide to change the company’s name back to Empirical. Now she’s lost the imprint she’s built. She’s heartbroken for so many reasons, but Liza reminds her to focus on the books. And so Kelsey goes with her gut and takes a risk buying a science-fiction retelling of Little Women: Little Women in Space is “about the gravity of marriage in zero gravity space.” It’s silly and strange, but Kelsey wants to take a chance on it. She’s trusting herself, even though at the moment she’s not exactly sure what defines her if she’s no longer the cool kid on the block. Here’s hoping the risk pays off.
• Lauren is supposed to be covering Diana’s phones while she’s on her honeymoon, but Lauren takes that as an opportunity to fully take over her job. The gag of Lauren dressing up like Diana is great, but this feels so insane. Would Charles let her sit in on meetings and take her seriously? I know Younger plays fast and loose with the realities of the publishing industry and work life in general but this is … a lot.
• Lauren has a fabulous Little Women in Space–themed 30th birthday party. It is very on-brand.
• Okay seriously, what is the timeline of this show? In season one, Lauren hosted her Hot Mitzvah, a do-over of her bat mitzvah, for her 26th birthday. In this episode, Lauren turns 30. I would’ve guessed based on holidays, etc., that maybe it’s been two years total in show-world. None of this makes sense. Time is a flat circle, I guess.
• Charles runs into Quinn while in Chicago and things get a little flirty. This development is not okay.
• Josh is a little uncomfortable when Clare wants to take Gemma to Ireland (Lauren being so anti-Clare is a delight). He’s a lot uncomfortable when he meets Clare’s new boyfriend, Rob, and has to watch him hanging out with his daughter.
• Of course Diana keeps a spare necklace in her desk drawer. Queens are always prepared.
• “In my book, Professor Bhaer takes a spacewalk and dies.” A truly savage Little Women burn. Laurie & Jo forever!