“You should be with her. She’s gonna do something dumb.”
Jimmy and Gretchen are expert bailers. At the first sign of honest-to-God trouble or strife, their first instinct is to leave the scene. Gretchen finds Jimmy’s old engagement ring for Becca and, thinking it’s for her, breaks up with him. When Jimmy can’t magically snap Gretchen out of her depression, he retreats to the company of a friendly bartender. Gretchen tells Jimmy he’s family and he abandons her on a hill. Gretchen meets a new friend, but when things get too serious, she blows it up. That doesn’t mean these two don’t eventually come crawling back to wherever and whomever they abandoned, but when the going gets tough, the tough pack it in. It’s in their nature.
To their credit, the two of them have gotten slightly better at this since officially getting engaged. Both make commitments to their jobs and are genuinely trying to maintain a stable relationship, despite their fundamental differences and some unusual ups and downs. But the cracks in Gretchen’s façade finally begin to show. Riddled with anxiety, she has been under the influence of Edgar’s strong pills for weeks now, constantly burying her emotions while otherwise performing at her peak. She meticulously plans and executes a listening party for Sam’s trio and Knock Knock at an old asbestos factory she found advertised on Craigslist as a hipster-wedding venue. If the event goes off without a hitch, it would cement her position as a valuable asset at Caliber. “If I can do this, I can easily pull off getting married,” she tells Lindsay as she scurries around the venue, checking off every last detail, impressing everyone from Shitstain to her boss Yvette. No one recognizes she’s teetering over the edge of a cliff and the first major complication will make her lose her balance.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Rogers, who films much of the episode in admirably unshowy long takes, “Magical Thinking” marks the season’s tipping point, the part when everything starts to crumble just a little bit. You’re The Worst features one of these episode per season, so, on some level, we know what’s coming, but credited writers Marquita J. Robinson & Jane E. Sussman defer the moment for as long as possible. They build up the suspense just enough to create a space for Gretchen to make the hard choice and clinch the biggest moment of her career. It’s only in the last few moments when it becomes clear that she opted for something more drastic.
The B- and C-plots in “Magical Thinking” neatly break up Gretchen’s professional dilemma with moments of peace and grace for the rest of the ensemble. Edgar offers Jimmy advice on his relationship as they collaborate on his script, telling him that he needs to take interest in the parts of Gretchen’s life that doesn’t affect him. Jimmy lobs back a torrent of abuse, but it completely slides off of ol’ Edgar, who no longer places his friend on a pedestal. (“Best I can figure, now that we’re co-writers, I’m spontaneously reevaluating our relationship and realizing, ‘Nah,’” he says, in the best delivered line of the night.) After that redefining moment, the two head to Griffith Park and speak as equals. Jimmy believes that he and Gretchen are in a successful relationship because they lead separate lives. “Remaining interesting as individuals will stave off the malignancy that is romantic complacency,” he tells Edgar. Though Jimmy can be a blowhard, it’s easy to see how he arrived at that conclusion, like it’s easy to see how Gretchen has built up the listening party as a metaphor for her marriage. Doing too much together can engender co-dependency, and, plus, who wants to be one of those nauseating couples that are tied to the hip? Jimmy thinks he can be an engaged, attentive partner without always literally being there for Gretchen.
In the end, however, Edgar breaks through to him when they witness a choir singing at the site of the Old Los Angeles Zoo. Jimmy notes that Gretchen would love this, but now he has something to tell her later. Edgar responds that if they were both present, it could be something they experienced together instead of something that just happened to him. It’s that last bit that stings Jimmy for all the obvious reasons. His whole life has been filled with moments that just happened to him. Maybe it would be better if there were more shared moments in life, ones that can be remembered fondly as a moment shared between two people in love.
Back in the Caliber offices, Yvette and Lindsay bond under surprising circumstances. Lindsay was supposed to be on her way to a date and Yvette was supposed to get some work done in peace and quiet, but Lindsay’s childlike enthusiasm eventually leads them to raiding the fridge for leftovers. Soon, they’re on the couch and Lindsay delivers a heartbreaking speech about wanting someone to love her at all costs, even if it means changing who she is completely. The series’ generosity towards (almost) all of its characters never fails to impress me, even this late in the game. Though she still frequently plays the comic relief role, Lindsay’s pleas for love here feel genuine and earned, and clearly delivered by someone who has held on to a lot of hurt. It’s hard not to want Lindsay to have what she so desperately desires. So Yvette gives her love, and though it’s unexpected, Lindsay jumps at the opportunity by jumping her bones.
Unfortunately, Gretchen’s fate lies entirely in her hands. On the surface, she’s keeping it together, but her mind? It’s running a mile a minute, which is neatly illustrated by the episode’s chaotic sound mix—filled with either construction sounds, footsteps, or loud music—and flickering lights that line the green rooms. In the end, she’s forced to make a decision: play Sam’s new track with Knock Knock’s verse, which will surely overshadow her oldest clients and might kill their career, or play the version without Knock Knock, who will walk away from Caliber and disappoint Yvette. On some level, the right choice, the hard choice, would be to kick Sam and the boys, who are quickly fading into irrelevance, to the curb. The future is Knock Knock, who clearly has talent he hadn’t expressed before and can easily be developed into a star. Yet, Sam and the boys have been there for her since she accidentally tripped into a management position. Either way, someone will be disappointed. Up until the very last moment, when she finally gives the cue to the DJ, she doesn’t know what to do.
Maybe it would have gone differently if Jimmy had been there. Edgar had no idea what Gretchen was going to do, but he knew it would be something dumb and possibly preventable. Jimmy listens to Gretchen vent over FaceTime and makes it to the venue and he thinks that’s enough. She’s fine, he says. She’s not so depressed she can’t leave the house. She’s walking with purpose. She’s hard at work. It doesn’t matter that she’s been popping strange pills and is hanging on by a thread. She can handle it.
Except she couldn’t. She sets off the sprinklers right before the track is about to play, soaking everyone there and tanking the party. In the end, she couldn’t choose. She needed someone to be there, to support her beyond quippy jokes across a screen. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where Jimmy rushed after her and told her that she needs to make a choice and he’ll support her regardless of what it is. But he didn’t because they don’t do that. Now, her career is in jeopardy, both of her clients are likely disappointed, and it remains unclear if she can pull off her marriage. It’s entirely possible that this signals the end and Jimmy runs off to be with that florist. Or maybe there’s more of a fall left to come.
- This episode was dedicated to the memory of Jayson Rury, who worked as a best boy grip on the first season of You’re The Worst. May he rest in peace.
- Edgar’s Pub Name Pitches: The Erstwhile Butler; Hogwash and Smeagon; The Blunt Governess; The Ex-Checker’s Folly; The Fox & Ferret; The Bullfrog’s Ale Wife; Farthings
- Lindsay once got an STD from “that tall Season 4 American Idol loser.” When Yvette asks if it’s Sanjaya, she responds, sadly, “No, chlamydia.”
- Honey Nutz 2 screaming, “COME ON NOW!” in support of Sam, followed by Gretchen’s shocked expressed, might be my biggest laugh of the season.
- Yvette might have been sweet to Lindsay, but she’s not playing around. She once fired a dude for getting ball cancer.
- “You spent last week at Burning Man with that dude you met off Raya.”
- “It’s okay, Jimmy. I no longer look up to you so you have no height from which to fall.”
- The closing song is “Tears Come Tumbling” by The Teardrops, an underrated girl group from the ’60s. Listen below.