“Dead Me” is an episode of wacky things happening for the sake of wacky things happening. It continued spiraling, getting more and more complicated so that point A—Kay breaking up with one of her crazy “side salads”—to point B—both Jake and Annie getting to restart their careers— was an unnecessarily winding road. That’s a lot of plot to burn through when the basic point of the episode boils down to the work-life balance and how difficult that is for couples to achieve. Gil, Dennah, and, to a lesser extent, Kay are given the night off for for the most part so Jake and Annie can figure out ways to benefit from, and late extricate themselves, from Jake’s faux death.
There are two quotes from Annie that say a lot about “Dead Me”:
- “I didn’t think this thing through.” (My reaction: Ya think?)
- “I don’t know what your lesson is.” (My reaction: Exasperated sigh.)
First, there’s Annie’s dilemma: She didn’t think the implications of telling her boss that her fiancé had died when she still needs to plan a wedding and eventually marry the deceased. That’s not a great premise, but comedy can start out that way: getting unintended results from half-baked situations. It’s a weak premise to build a sitcom episode on, but it’s passable, especially because Annie is known for not thinking things through. That’s a major part of her character at this point. She focuses on the petty and the small without thoughts of the consequences until she faces those consequences head on, learning a lesson from them. Hey, at least it’s a character.
All the while Annie is going on this near-constant journey of self discovery that is caused by her not thinking things through, Jake is just there. That’s where the second quote comes in, sullying “Dead Me” and speaking to Jake’s character as a whole: “I don’t know what your lesson is.” He learns nothing and does not get a lesson. He takes part in the wacky situations he’s placed in with no consequence or result. It’s a function of Jake as a character. He’s not well-defined so he can’t learn any kind of lesson or grow. Jake’s weakness as a character is especially prevalent in “Dead Me” because the episode is meant to expand the world that these characters live in beyond their personal lives, which is where they have almost exclusively existed in (other than Jake’s pilot firing and Annie’s at-work The Moors-watching crew) and Jake can’t sustain that expansion. In every other episode, Jake is ostensibly the guy who has it together enough to pick Annie up when she’s down. He’s supposed to be the calm and stable one in the relationship to counteract Annie’s freak outs. He serves the same function for Gil in seemingly every other episodes except for “Dead Me.” So it feels incongruous for his character that such an anchoring figure, that has kept Annie from being committed and Gil from being a hobo, would be so absent in his work life.
At the same time, Marry Me has done this before: putting characters thought ridiculous situations in order for nothing to happen, namely in last week’s episode, “Change Me,” where Annie and Jake are faced with a problem, only to ignore a potential solution. What’s the point of putting these characters through their paces if nothing actually happens to them, nor do they internalize the events they have just taken part in? In “Dead Me,” Annie does make a move, choosing to go out on her own after working for the Percocetted Janet (Michaela Watkins, divine as ever). Yet this major change comes from a facet of her life that the audience has just become aware of, making it difficult to become invested in her decision, so much so that I should be happy that Annie is taking what she’s learned from the episode’s proceedings and doing something with that experience. But we just met Janet and now she’s being taken away from me. Hey, the stress of starting a new business and ostensibly planning a wedding shouldn’t get to Annie too much, should it?
- Shout out to the costume designers for this one: All of Janet’s outfits were on point, as were Kay and Dennah’s memorial outfits.
- I did not miss Gil and Dennah throughout this episode. At all.
- “Dead Me” gets up a partial grade because all of the Ken Marino-naked moments were genuinely hilarious.