Sooner or later, most everyone realizes that good intentions just don’t cut it all the time. No matter how pure of heart or how intelligent or how emotionally aware you are, it all pales in comparison to actually being cognizant of other people and their feelings. That’s an obvious statement, but many don’t realize it until their intentions brush up against someone’s actual wishes or beliefs. It’s only when you see your good intentions fail in the face of another person’s humanity that you realize their limitations. Unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes you just walk away, still believing firmly in your intentions unaware of those around you.
All Jimmy wants to do is give Gretchen a good day. He knows she’s hurting and depressed, and he just wants to snap her out of her funk by spending an entire day doing everything she likes to do. He devises his own Spooky Sunday Funday filled with twisted, Halloween-themed activities that he knows she will like, and to top it all off, convinces Edgar to pretend that it was all his idea. He’s like a sneakier Ferris to her Cameron. Writer Stephen Falk establishes that Jimmy’s attempts are honorable and above aboard. He demonstrates early that Jimmy is making a kind gesture to try to make Gretchen feel better.
But “Spooky Sunday Funday” ultimately illustrates that no matter how nice Jimmy’s actions are, it’s still his hubris that ultimately hurts Gretchen. Last week’s brilliant episode foreshadowed Jimmy’s pride in regards to Gretchen’s depression; his “Can’t I, though?” line was just sweet enough to work in the moment, but it’s clear with this episode that he actually believes it. The moment when Jimmy arrogantly tells Edgar that this day will bring Gretchen out of her clinical depression, it’s a car crash just waiting to happen. A costumed “spooky” car crash, but a car crash nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Lindsay and Edgar both learn that ignoring reality doesn’t suddenly solve the various problems they face. After being softly told off by Paul in a faulty Stephen Hawking costume outside the costume store, Lindsay realizes that she quits things when they become too hard. She still hasn’t gotten her power turned back on because once she does that, she’ll have to take responsibility for the next thing that goes wrong in her house or in her life. Right now, she’s a transient, living in Vernon’s man cave, blissfully taking a break from her own life. But it can’t last.
Edgar has more emotionally immediate problems: He’s getting closer to Dorothy, which inevitably means he’ll have to tell her that he suffers from PTSD after his time in the war, and that he hasn’t had sex in three years. Though Jimmy, Gretchen, and Lindsay ruthlessly mock him for his dry spell, it’s clear that Edgar is much more afraid of letting her into his emotional headspace than he is about his sexual inexperience. Or as Edgar so elegantly puts it, “It’s not about the jizz in my balls, it’s about the jizz in my brain and in my heart.”
After the gang gets their costumes—Gretchen is Daenerys from Game of Thrones, Edgar is The Situation from The Jersey Shore, Lindsay is a sailor (speak up in the comments if it’s something more specific), and Jimmy is Heathcliff from the fictional British TV show Buckle Your Shoes (which is about “an assistant deacon who sleeps with the constable’s daughter and is forced to hide out as a lady shoe salesman”)—they go out on their Sunday Funday. First they go on a Hollywood Murders Tour where they visit the place where Biggie got shot, complete with a Biggie impersonator (David Vereen Wright) who tries to help Lindsay with her power, and then they attend a cancelled Spice Girls cover band show. But none of these compare to the last item on the list, and the episode’s major set piece: A horror house the likes of which television has never seen.
After the gang enters the house, both they and the audience are subjected to some of the most outrageous, absurdly over-the-top horror shenanigans. Over aggressive speed metal, director Wendy Stanzler immerses us into the nightmares that exist in the house—chainsaw-wielding lunatics chasing people, dark corridors that hide jump scares, tarantulas crawling over terrified women. It’s like if someone condensed Hostel into seven minutes and made it safe for basic cable. But the horrors of the house raise the stakes for Lindsay and Edgar who finally work through their issues. A Buffalo Bill figure (James Pumphrey) gives Lindsay the confidence and instructions to get her power back on. Edgar confesses his issues to Dorothy and they end up having sex in the horror house. It’s as if the fear of impending death forces them to finally take control of their lives and move forward.
But not Jimmy and Gretchen. They walk out giggling at the awesome horror house, and then Jimmy confesses that he planned the whole day, knowing it would bring her out of her depression. Appalled, Gretchen snaps back that Jimmy can’t fix her and that she doesn’t need to be fixed. Jimmy walks away dispirited and hurt as he’s faced with his own powerlessness against a situation that neither of them can control. He goes to the bar and Gretchen sits alone, both knowing that they’re currently at an impasse and it’s not exactly clear how they should move forward.
So what do they do? Gretchen decides to flatter Jimmy’s intentions and pretend that he fixed her, and Jimmy flirts with Nina (Tessa Ferrer), the attractive owner of his local watering hole, going so far as to buy her a drink and pretending it was for Gretchen when she arrives. The master of bittersweet endings, Stephen Falk demonstrates once again just how co-dependent and delusional Jimmy and Gretchen are. Gretchen is willing to lie about her mental health to keep Jimmy around and Jimmy is only willing to stay around if he can have control. It’s a temporary fix to a much graver problem, but if You’re The Worst has illustrated consistently, it’s that ignoring things are much easier than confronting them. But before long, the mess they’ve made will show its true colors.
- Apologies for the late review. Some technical issues on the back end.
- For what it’s worth, I enjoyed this “sequel” episode much more than the original, even though the original had that lazy drunken Sunday feel to it.
- Things Lindsay has quit: Interior design school, Cardio Barre, season two of House of Cards, and Ralph’s rewards club.
- Dorothy’s guesses for Jimmy’s costume: Drop Dead Fred, Century 21 Salesman of the Month, the bassist for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Gay Wolverine.
- Oh, Dorothy is Steven Spielberg, and it’s amazing.
- The ouija board almost said it was Tupac who shot Biggie, but instead it said Tupal, whomever that is.
- Jimmy freaking out with the mouse running inside the cage around his head was fantastic. “Oh, Jimmy! You’re so screwed!”
- Vernon makes an appearance at the horror house as well. Why? “I’m a horror house nerd from way back. After this, I’m heading to another one in Sylmar. They’ve got a real life Babadook!”
- “Why are you in a wheelchair? Did Amy do this to you?”
- “You can do better than saddest girl at the rave.”
- “Oh, believe me, I won’t tell anyone you still touch girls over the bra. It’s too embarrassing.”
- “I’m totally into murder. I love it so much I became a solider. You can murder anyone you want.”
- “Looks like that dry spell is about to end. Try not to blow a hole through her back.”
- “The grand finale?” “Yeah, it’s Italian for ‘Big Final.’”
- “Unless, he thinks he fixed me already…”