Give Aya Cash an Emmy.
If I’m being honest, that byline could be my review each week, but it’s true and now The Americans has been recognised, this is my next on the ‘to get noticed list’. As usual she plays a wide range of emotions expertly. The standard snark is ever present, but then you’ve got the subtle bile in her tone when she says ‘Bitch’, the rising elation as she opens the mail, the out in the openness when she admits anger is her way of avoiding vulnerability and the sudden break when she learns that Jimmy’s day has died followed by the masking of that to not take his happiness away.
Basically the key to seeing this episode as something beyond plot and story is to look around how everyone’s story is focused on communication – what’s being said and what isn’t. Jimmy puts on his best John Oliver impression to eviscerate Edgar’s notes about the book proposal. It’s a verbal beatdown that’s completely unwarranted and had Linsday not stabbed Paul, he’d easily be the worse. But of course, LINDSAY FREAKING STABBED A GUY and started looking for acceptance of her actions. She doesn’t explicitly say she did it to the rest of the group, but they still dismiss it as awful which leads her to Justina, Gretchen’s therapist who she listens to and accepts responsibility for her actions as best as she can. It’s a step forward, but I reiterate: LINDSAY FREAKING STABBED A GUY, very rarely can you stab someone and group hug at the end of the episode. I mean, Friends saw Monica slice Chandler’s toe off, but it’s not like she shanked him and at the very least she took him to the hospital and –– getting off topic. Final note on Lindsay’s story: she’s popping pills like TicTacs and I’ll put an early guess in for that it’ll link into Edgar’s drug stuff.
Onto Edgar, he’s the guy of the group that gets ragged on because he’s lowest on the totem pole. It’s unfair, but by definition of there being a totem pole, someone’s gotta be on the bottom, someone who others assume are moving out if they see them near boxes. Which was why it was gratifying to see Edgar find kindred spirits. He’s been there, he was like the veteran and he got out, so he helps them out. When he calls for suggestions, you can see how the improv classes have helped him grow as a person. You also get this unfortunate impression that he feels at home with the homeless in tent city that he does in society, this’ll probably get explored more as we go along, but just something to put a pin in. Basically Edgar is the kindest, most dear sole to exist and I’m uneasy about watching his impending decline like I am when it comes to Bojack.
Next Jimmy who as we’ve established, ignores Edgar’s notes only to completely change the book proposal on the suggestions of strangers. We already know that Jimmy doesn’t like to get close to people [last week he restrained from a sober ‘I Love You’], so maybe the reason that he rejects Edgar’s suggestions is because they’re too close and Jimmy expects friends to support him 100%, so when that illusion is broken it’s better to ignore it. Again, talking and taking on new ideas – should lead to some growth, with any luck this is the seed that will lead to Jimmy pulling Edgar out of the dark place when that happens.
Then you’ve got Gretchen who rejects the notion of therapy in place of thinking that she can use pills to beat depression. It’s that self medicating behavior which she’s utilised her whole life, it’s difficult to break from the holding pattern. In the therapy session itself, she’s overly hostile which… is one of those ‘holding up a mirror showing my former actions’ moments I mentioned in my big YtW piece last week. Despite her frustrations about that one thing she’s asked to do [her chore] and reluctance to go back again, she does want to help herself, but it’s an uphill battle. What keeps her going is the belief that she’ll be fixed just like that because she wants to be better, but the truth it’s not so easy is enough to counteract this. Her revelation later on, that her anger comes from being vulnerable shows she’s in the battle of wanting to be better, but having that go against being closed off is as a result of the communication it helps and it’s positive to see someone want to get better, even if they stumble along the way.
And now we come to that final scene back at the house, Jimmy’s elated about the book proposal changes going through, Gretchen’s able to complete her chore and then chooses to go further with it. You can see how much she perks up and then there’s the air mail and everything breaks. Jimmy’s dad died, after their horrible visit back in Season 2, he’s blocked them so he doesn’t know. And now Gretchen does – it’s one of the things that makes her case about not opening mail in the first place. But she doesn’t tell him which is going to crush someone when it finally gets revealed, but for the moment she’s going to have to keep something bottled up inside her because she thinks it’s better for Jimmy. Well that or it’ll come out in therapy.
Things I couldn’t work out how to fit into the main recap
- I just really like the camera movements in the first therapy scene, the arcs were a nice departure from how comedy uses whip pans or shot/reverse shot to show a new element in the scene
- Poor Paul. Man without a remote. Couched. That is all.