In which many mistakes (and abortions) are considered.
So I really don’t like Doug Benson. Let’s just get that out of the way from the outset, stoner comedy really isn’t my thing and I was apprehensive that he would bring the episode down dramatically for me. Luckily this wasn’t the case because he had a smaller part than Ben Folds earlier in the season and the larger plotting of the Dorothy/Edgar storyline was poignant. We don’t spend a lot of time with them this week, but a contrast is clearly shown between ageism persists in the industry towards actresses and while she struggles for bit parts, Edgar manages to have a job fall into his lap because of the Dr. Weed character and in spite of her wanting to be happy for Edgar, it also serves to highlight how much she works to gain so little. Edgar also takes this point to tell Dorothy about coming off his meds so from here, it looks like the relationship may be over, just no one wants to call it yet.
That’s basically the crux of this episode – whether relationships are worth continuing/pursuing. Lindsay starts out intending to get the abortion she texted Gretchen about at the end of episode 8, it seems like no big deal to her in those early conversations between the two, who knows if she had a plan prepared to break the news to Paul or if she’d just wing it when he asked. But it’s that lovable goofball of a man and his multiple texts in conjunction to the Pro-Lifer(*) sit down discussion that add some gravitas to the situation, a weight that feels lifted once they return to the restaurant post-abortion and backed up by Gretchen’s assertion that she’s there for Lindsay whenever (which when paired with her recommendation of therapy highlights some off-camera growth that’s been progressing this season). After leaning so heavily on Paul last week, it was a smart choice to just have him pop up briefly, make a point and bow out for the rest of the episode because his presence was still felt. That said, it’s the conversation with the Pro-Lifer which ties back into that introspective nature of the episode by having Lindsay come right out and say what’s happened to lead up to this moment so it can register on the appropriate level.
(*) = with some caveats
For Jimmy, this getting the words out there becomes a problem at the end of his plotline, but to backtrack, his early morning routine clearly highlights how he’s running himself ragged to stay focused on things other than his familial fears. While Gretchen tries to get to the bottom of these by being pro-active and going through the appropriate channels of self-help, Jimmy looks to stick it to his dad one last time and build a treehouse. Here Chris Geere gets to be a one person Abbott and Costello with some slapstick which ultimately leads to his one mistake – when he triumphantly tosses the tools over the edge, the ladder goes with it. Leaving him stuck up there, what’s interesting is how Jimmy found himself satisfied before he even finished the work, it wasn’t this compulsion to finish it and gain closure, just the feeling of doing something which could help him from being overwhelmed amidst family tragedy and the ever present book deadline. It’s his downfall because the isolation forces him to be introspective (complete with camera push in to show this) and observe how other people live and then how he lives. How he’s done everything to defy his dad, including with helping Gretchen make it through the storm that was depression at the tail end of last season.
And they both return to their living room. Gretchen’s watching Wheel of Fortune and not solving the puzzle despite how easy it is if she wanted to, finally moving past the compulsions that her mother drilled into her. While he concedes everything he’s done with his life so far may not be real decisions. That it all may be wrong. Including being with her. One heck of a way to mess with Gretchen’s new position of mindfulness. For a couple that refused to truly commit until the start of this season, they’ve been put through the ringer regardless and this is another wrench being through into the works. From that final lingering shot of the pair, together but alone, it might be too early to assume they’ll be able to just overcome this as if it were nothing.