This episode of Togetherness brilliantly shows how fluid life is, even into adulthood. When we’re younger, we fear that once marriage and kids set in, that’s it, our lives will be stuck in the same concrete form for always. But things change, and even when they are possibly bad things (like Brett and Michelle separating, or Alex playing a pimp), the new paths these events bring with them can be downright enlightening.

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Even in just a season: Michelle, when we first meet her in season one, is a stay-at-home mom. Now she has a job that she’s passionate about. Brett had a sound engineer job that he hated. Now he’s an Uber driver working on his long-unrealized creative project with Alex, who has gone from crashing on Brett’s couch to Brett crashing at his place. And Tina stumbles over the most unlikely of discoveries, that she might want to have a kid someday.

It’s illuminating to see what these changes bring to each character. Alex finally admits that getting what you think you wanted most in the world, might not turn out to be what you think it was going to be (complete with gold-chain options). Even Christy seems a bit fed up with her boyfriend’s devotion to his best friend. As things heat up and seem unfamiliar around Brett and Alex, they find comfort in reverting to the adolescent selves they discovered in that time capsule last week: a puppet version of Dune is enough to make Brett’s Uber driver job, and Alex’s new pimp persona, palatable.

The episode opens by clearly laying out who the new life-partnerships are: Alex doesn’t forget the agave syrup in Brett’s coffee, and Tina gets scolded by Michelle for being late when she’s taking over on kid duty for the day. Anyone who thinks that Tina’s misadventures with the kids are being heightened for dramatic effect, rest assured, they are not, from the pickup lanyard, to the disregard for the carton of orange juice pouring onto the floor, to the screaming… all the screaming. But even in mid-tantrum, we see that Tina is a much better diaper-changer than she was a week ago, and by the end of the episode, after a “we’re getting it all together” montage, she’s multi-tasking by pushing Sophie on the swing while holding Frankie.

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So Tina’s fight with Larry is not surprising, and you have to admire his efforts to avoid this conflict that he’s positive is looming (“Why don’t you just tell me what to say, because I’m pretty sure anything I say right now will be wrong”) or his dumbfounded expression after Tina storms out, as he tries to piece together what the hell happened. Larry is a delightfully straightforward point A to point B type person, so of course it’s a shock when Tina does a 180 on her previous protests that she hates kids, now admitting that she might want them. Her discussion with the person she’s in a relationship with is so much more difficult to comprehend than her refreshingly candid one with Brett, who ends the episode by telling her that she’s tenacious enough to be awesome at whatever she tries to do. In Tina’s case, the problem is that she’s often too afraid to try.

The helpful chats Brett has with Alex and Tina offer an enlightening contrast to his other relationship talk this episode, as he and Michelle sit down for their first conversation since he left. Just like their relationship in season one (it all comes rushing back), their conversations are so obtuse, who can even figure out what they’re fighting about? They stand in such stark contrast to how easily Brett and Alex understand each other, or even Michelle’s quick camaraderie with Anna. We find out so much more from Brett and Alex at the bar, where he admits that he switches from being done with the marriage to forgiving her this one transgression in a matter of moments.

Because the show’s called Togetherness, we hardly ever see these people alone, so we get more out of Alex’s knowing nod at the bar, Alex and Brett’s continued interest in air-drumming and their adorable crackup when Christy demands sex, or Tina’s continued efforts to be there for her sister even though it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done so far. The richness in this show adds poignancy to even the smallest moments, like sliding down in orange juice, or the victory of driving right by the parking-lot cop. These various partnerships are getting these four through this trying time of Brett and Michelle’s, and even though the marriage is in uncertain territory, everyone keeps pushing forward, even if they’re heading for strange new worlds.

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Stray observations

  • That’s Mark Duplass’ real-life wife, Katie Aselton from The League, as super-helpful Anna.
  • Child actors can be awful, but Abby Ryder Fortson as little Sophie may eventually reach Sally Draper level of awesomeness. Hiding the keys? Demanding to know where snack is? She is spot-on.

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