It’s been an intense season of Episodes full of issues that manifested themselves in painful yet hilarious ways. On Sunday’s season finale, all those issues came to a head. The issues are starting to repair themselves in a way that’s very ungraceful, yet very funny. It worked quite well. The episode opened with another one of Beverly and Carole’s exercise running sessions. This time, it wasn’t quite as repetitive, but the dynamic still isn’t very interesting. Nonetheless, it did move the story forward. As Carole is venting about her job offer from Elliot Salad, she starts to realize she could never betray Merc, which doesn’t seem to make much sense considering he does very little to contribute to their relationship and has been a terrible boss.
Over the course of the entire season, Merc wanted to get away with immoral behavior. Carole watched it happen because she loved him. Carole especially laments the fact that he is still married to Jamie, who Carole considers to be a “saint.” Beverly seems hesitant to concur that Jamie is a saint, but then admits that she knows about Jamie’s affair with Matt. The exercise session is a little more interesting than usual at this point. Instead of going over the same issues with Sean and Beverly as they do on every run, the focus shifts to gossip about Jamie and Matt. Now, the viewers have a reason to pay attention. Carole insists that she has to tell Merc about the affair, but Beverly begs her not to for fear of losing her job and Sean. Carole finally agrees to keep quiet after Beverly threatens to tell Merc about Carole’s meeting with Elliot. There was probably a better way to reveal the details of Matt’s affair to Carole. The scene was sloppily written with too much dialogue.
Episodes doesn’t have to have a complicated story in order to be funny. Sometimes the most innocuous issue exaggerated to the point where the story works extremely well. This was the case on Sunday night. The episode opens with Sean and Beverly in a meeting with Merc and Carole. Merc and Carole are their usual passive-aggressive selves and try to act as pleasantly as they can toward the Lincolns. Of course, Sean and Beverly know something is wrong. Carole asks them how they think the show is going even though they clearly don’t care about Sean and Beverly’s perspective. Beverly is smart enough to know that Merc and Carole are only asking so they can say what they think about the show.
Merc and Carole finally reveal that they are concerned that Matt has gained weight. Beverly seems hesitant to respond at first and then says that he might have put on a couple of pounds. This might simply be to appease the network, but it is unclear. Sean more obviously disagrees. He says that he doesn’t see any change in Matt’s weight. Beverly says playfully that Sean doesn’t notice those types of things. This behavior between Sean and Beverly is very curious. After Sean halted their sexual encounter at the end of last week’s show, it’s surprising they are able to so fluidly act like a couple and playfully chide each other. Commenting on personal flaws is not common for a professional relationship, especially in a joking matter. It is hard to believe that they are so good at putting personal feelings aside. For some reason, they prefer to deny that they want to give their marriage another try. Of course, Sean is terrible at suppressing his pain and Beverly does not even try to hide it. The Lincolns’ dynamic proves that sometimes things are not better left unsaid.
This week, Episodes was very blunt and was filled with both serious and absurd conflicts. The show opens with Matt entering his house late at night to find his stalker, Labia topless in his kitchen. He is shocked that she even found a way into his house. Labia has a very calm response to Matt’s anger. She is very aware that Matt does not like her, but she does not care. She is just excited to tell him that she made cookies. Labia still thinks of Matt as a childhood crush who kept her spirits up when she had cancer. She uses her cancer as a way to get sympathy from Matt. Matt tries to calm her down somewhat nicely. He explains that she had cancer, but she survived and is now healthy. Under the circumstances, Matt has no problem screaming at her to get out of his house. She then says that she would die for Matt. He acknowledges, almost regrettably, that she did not die. Finally, Matt threatens to call the police. Labia promptly puts her clothes on and leaves. The beginning was not particularly relevant to the rest of the episode, but it did a great job setting up Matt’s bitter attitude that he would have for the rest of the episode.
So far this season, Episodes has been enjoyable, but relatively simple. When last week’s episode ended with Merc Lapidus taking a phone call at his own father’s funeral, it’s not surprising that the following episode would be a bit cynical. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t funny. It just got darker than usual. In a way, it’s good for the show. It demonstrates that it can expand its tone. However, those who were looking to laugh without having to think will be disappointed.
The fourth episode of the season opens with Merc and Carole discussing the ratings of Pucks!, which have been steadily declining. This isn’t so much a well directed or well acted scene as much as it is a way to comment that they are in a show about a show. When Carole says that she and Merc are always running into problems with the show’s that are failing, Merc quips rather angrily,”Why don’t we make a show out of it.” This is obviously meant to call attention to the premise of Episodes, but it doesn’t work well. The running joke continues to be the network’s disdain at the success of an unnamed show about a talking dog. It can get a little old, but Episodes’ sense of good and bad television premises should be commended.
The second season of Episodes has been superb so far. Sunday’s show was only the second episode. Considering how good the series has been, it’s probably not slowing down. The main arc of this season is about repairing damages and it’s working very well. The main issue is simple in that it is very difficult for everyone to move past the turmoil of the first season. The biggest struggle is not for the civility of Sean and Beverly Lincoln, but for Matt LeBlanc to win Sean over. Everything came together extremely well.
The episode opens with Sean and Morning Randolph in bed together. Randolph is leaving and Sean seems confused. He feels that their sleeping together deserves more attention. He asked if they should talk about what happened and Randolph simply said “I had fun.” Sean was confused again, and he asks, “That’s it?’ This really highlighted the emotional states of the characters well. Sean isn’t used to the dynamic of the one night stand. After all, he’s been married for several years. Sex that doesn’t mean much is new territory for him. That being said, the subtexts of the scene were executed very well. There were a few moments of silence between the two as if to communicate an uncertainty that they are both getting comfortable with. In this sense, there is still a feeling of emptiness. He’s separated from Beverly and he isn’t cheating. Out of familiarity, he almost seems to crave for the situation to be more complicated than it actually is. Instead, Randolph has the right idea, simply telling Sean she would see him tomorrow.
The second season of the Showtime original comedy Episodes premiered on Sunday night and the show continues to be fantastic. The production of a low quality television show generally serves as only a minor plot point, but that’s okay. The main driving force remains the character interaction.
The show opens with a scene of Pucks! being shot. After the scene wraps, Sean and Beverly Lincoln exchange some witty banter and it almost seems like all is forgiven. Then, they say goodbye and head off in separate cars. This was a very cleverly written scene. It kept the viewer guessing and then revealed what appears to be the main conflict of this season: that there is still a struggle for everyone to coexist as colleagues.
The next scene features Beverly and Head of Programming for the network Carole Rance. Beverly still needs to vent about her situation with Sean. The situation is hard for her because it is Sean’s birthday. It is their first one apart and it feels weird to her. Sean has gone from her husband to “some boy who may or may not still like [her].” The interaction between Beverly and Rance is very enjoyable. As much as Beverly hated the idea of Pucks!, she still finds a friend in the process. The relationship is an effective contrast between a neurotic person in crisis and a no-nonsense perspective. Beverly adds that “if [she’s] ever feeling like the craziest person on Earth,” she should have dinner with Rance. The rapport between these two will probably get stronger as the season goes on.