For the most part, “Talking to Me, Talking to Me” resembles a standard “get back to normal” episode after last week’s digressive turn. It pleasantly, lightheartedly ambles across four different storylines—Jimmy builds a treehouse, Gretchen practices mindfulness, Edgar scores a writing gig, and Lindsay has an abortion—without much fuss. It features clean storytelling and funny jokes, and while it’s a little bit more hum-drum then the series’ at its best, it’s still a good sign that You’re The Worst can pull off these kind of “typical” episodes with deft grace. Sometimes the best thing a sitcom can do is to demonstrate the solidity of its fundamentals instead of constantly breaking a set of prescribed rules.
However, that comfort and familiarity all goes out the window in its final minutes when Jimmy’s existential crisis comes to a head against Gretchen’s newfound calm. It’s a quiet, eerie moment, but one that has devastating implications for the final two weeks of the season.
Before we get to that part, let’s circle back to the beginning of the episode, which promises a new beginning for Jimmy and Gretchen. Jimmy wakes up early, exercises, does the crosswords and the jumble, and even attempts to eat raw eggs, the healthy snack for proto-Rocky’s everywhere. On the other hand, Gretchen is reading a self-help book and trying to practice the art of mindfulness, which essentially amounts to calmly focusing on the present and not to immerse yourself in bad habits or things outside of your own control.
Naturally, these two hit snags along the way. Jimmy plans to build his treehouse and spends most of the afternoon constructing the base while sipping from a flask, but when he finally completes the task at hand, he accidentally knocks his ladder to the ground, forcing him to grapple with his own mind alone in a tree without any distractions. He struggles not to write because he doesn’t want to live in opposition to his father, but then finally caves and begins writing on his blueprints anyway. Yet, that’s not enough to keep the mental demons at bay for too long.
Meanwhile, Gretchen has trouble abandoning her competitive spirit inherited from her mother’s narcissistic parenting. She tries to focus only on the nachos in front of her, but it’s taken away before she can fully savor them. She tries to use a meditation app, but after she realizes the point isn’t to “beat” it, she becomes bored and decides to masturbate in her car instead. Oddly enough, she finds solace in Lindsay, who continually focuses on what’s immediately happening to her, despite just having an abortion and making a plan to divorce Paul. Lindsay’s attention is entirely on the plate in front of her, the drink in her hand, and the person that’s talking to her. Gretchen takes notes on Lindsay’s Zen-like behavior in the face of difficult times, knowing that she would be much less mindful dealing with similar troubles.
In the blandest storyline of the episode, Edgar’s “Dr. Weed” online videos have gained traction on the web, putting Edgar in a tough position because he doesn’t want to be considered a “pot person” but also enjoys the attention as well as the prescribed marijuana. While he tags along on an audition with Dorothy, still struggling as an actor, he meets comedian Doug Benson, a fan of Edgar’s work. Benson eventually invites him to his office and offers him a job writing on a show for a GPS app, which bolsters Edgar’s self-esteem but hurts Dorothy’s in the process, as she sees her professional opportunities dwindling while Edgar’s are accidentally increasing. Though the shot of her pained, worried expression really sells the developing conflict between Edgar and Dorothy, as well as their earlier conversation about Edgar’s PTSD, it feels a little bit like an afterthought, especially considering that we’ve hardly seen Dorothy this season. Though Desmin Borges and Collette Wolfe imbue their characters with specificity and care, bridging the gaps in the writing, the whole story feels lacking something crucial, but that can easily change in the final two weeks.
You’re The Worst has always done a good job signaling a bad moon on the rise. Think of Gretchen’s mysterious night drive in season two, or Jimmy and Gretchen’s singular looks of despair when they move in together at the end of first season; the former felt like an out-of-nowhere bursting of an idyllic situation while the latter felt like the predictable end to a chapter in a relationship. Jimmy’s utter collapse of self at the end of “Talking to Me, Talking to Me” feels like a mix between the two, but one that doesn’t shortchange the emotions at play.
As Jimmy stands above his neighborhood looking down over the streets below, he sees a boy riding his bike, a woman walking her dog, and a man tending to his garden. He smiles, marveling at the different lives all around him that he fails to notice. Then he looks over at Gretchen in his house and smiles at the portrait of familiar domestic bliss, but soon that smile curdles into wistful terror. Is this what he wanted all along? Is this the way his life was meant to turn out? Who is he outside of his daily wants and needs?
These questions often inspire eye-rolling dismissal because they’re often treated like naval-gazing indulgence rather than the hardcore terror they really represent. But when Jimmy, covered in yard, admits to Gretchen that he doesn’t recognize his life just as she finally entered a meditative state watching Wheel of Fortune, those existential questions are taken very seriously. Jimmy has no idea if he’s made any of the right choices, including Gretchen herself, and that realization sends him into a mild catatonic shock. Gretchen moves over on the couch so he can sit next to her, but instead he sits on the ledge beside the couch. “It’s ‘I Walk The Line,’” Jimmy says unemotionally, solving the Wheel puzzle that Gretchen refused to solve herself so she can focus on breathing. On the verge of tears, Gretchen sits there, as her mindfulness goes straight out the window, and fear has taken its place.
We end on a cold, distanced portrait of that domesticity, with Jimmy and Gretchen sitting far apart from each other, each wondering if they’ll ever be comfortable enough to move forward, or if they’ll ever really be okay with themselves.
- Writer Alison Bennett handles Lindsay’s abortion very well, balancing the characters’ casualness about the procedure and the difficulty of going through with it. On her way inside, Lindsay has second thoughts after receiving a stream of cute texts from Paul, but after a brief chat with a pro-lifer and a promise from Gretchen to support her, she decides to go through with it.
- Though it’s sort of obvious that the main joke with Doug Benson would be his stoner image vs. his real-life professional and business acumen, the actual DB International LLC logo is a very nice touch.
- Lotta of great music this week. The opening song was “Sex & Drugs” by A Giant Dog, the treehouse montage was set to “Cable Through Your Heart” by Bryan Scary, and the closing song was “Pair of Wings” by Frankie Rose.
- “Don’t you mean the hood? Your trunk is just cartons of Mexican cigarettes, old Halloween wigs, and five bags of clothes you never donated to Goodwill.”
- “Name one family that’s just one person.” “Suddenly Susan.”
- “In my book, there are extenuating circumstances. Rape, incest, and whatever this is.”