Melora Hardin, being excellent at her job
Photo: Philippe Bosse (Freeform)

First, to eat some crow.

Last week, I asked if there was anyone out there who was really feeling the Sutton and Richard storyline. The implication of the question, if it wasn’t clear, was that I was not feeling that storyline. Some of that may be personal bias. Sam Page does a fine job (and as at least one commenter noted, he’s a bit of a dreamboat), but to me, he will always be Joan Harris née Holloway’s terrible garbage rapist useless stupid doctor husband. So noted. But it seemed, to me at least, that The Bold Type was far more interested in that story than I was. Foolish me—I forgot that the relationship that matters most to The Bold Type is the one that exists between its central trio. And when we’re meant to care, we care because Sutton does, and we care about Sutton. I care very little about Sutton and Richard, the couple. I care a lot about Sutton herself, because Meghann Fahy is very good, and because the show cares about her so much.

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The Bold Type cares a lot about Jacqueline Carlyle, too. And what do you know, so do I.

While “The Domino Effect” is considerably more lightweight (pun almost unavoidable) than its season one counterpart “Carry the Weight,” it’s still quietly powerful, thoughtful, and affecting. That’s because it dwells, if only briefly, on Jacqueline Carlyle, and that means that it allows us to spend some time with Melora Hardin, who is quietly, thoughtfully, and affectingly giving one of the best supporting performances on television.

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What’s frustrating about this episode is that while it tackles at least one complicated story—how a victim of a serial abuser would feel about a previous victim who failed to speak up, and how the previous victim might react to that revelation—it goes lighter on that story than one might expect of this series. To be fair, The Bold Type does sometimes approach its more complex topics with a bit of a training-wheels mentality. Still, it rarely skimps on the good, messy stuff, and that’s what happens here, even in an episode that’s still, overall, a success.

Think, for example, of last week’s “whoops, haven’t checked my privilege” storyline. Kat and Tiny Jane trudge into those waters three times, acknowledging the complexity and acting with care. But here, we’re introduced to the issue, and then the story becomes not about how either of the women concerned feels about it, but if and how Jane will approach Jacqueline, and if and how she will use the information in her story. We get one perfect, restrained, aching scene in which Jacqueline processes the news (after once again being television’s best magical unicorn boss), a few terrific moments in between, and a lovely, if lightweight, wrap-up centered more on Jane than on Jacqueline. That we’re robbed of the conversation between Jacqueline and Jane’s source is a real loss, but such is the power of Hardin, and of that one brief scene, that the entire storyline remains powerful despite its slightness.

That one scene, handled deftly by both Hardin and Katie Stevens, stands in contrast to the other hefty scenes in “The Domino Effect,” which lack the specificity of Hardin’s turn. Aisha Dee and Nikohl Boosheri are predictably great together, but the show doesn’t seem particularly interested in differentiating between a kiss and a sex dream, and so neither does Adena—a choice that makes their otherwise well-handled much less interesting than it might have been. And Fahy is as good as ever as she wrestles with a pattern she knows is bad for her and a headspace she knows is unhealthy, but as with the Jacqueline story, the show keeps us from the most interesting scene in the mix—the one in which Sutton says, “hey, no blow and clubs for me, I’ve gotta go give my liver a break and watch my friend win an award.”

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The Bold Type being The Bold Type, it’s extremely likely that both Sutton and Kat’s stories will get more complicated next week. That cocaine bar-tab is still flapping in the wind, as the previously-on reminds us this week, and Oliver’s eagle-eye seems unlikely to miss it—and since his no-lies policy has already been tested, it remains to be seen how forgiving he’ll be of a misstep and deception like that. And Adena, grounded, grown-up Adena, seems like a likely candidate to wade into the waters of monogamy, lust, the experience of being a newly-out woman, the gap between infidelity and sex dreams, and so on. All likely to get stickier, and in a good way; all great jumping-off points for interesting stories that were good but not great this week.

Jacqueline, however, is likely to fade into the background just a bit again, and that’s a shame. It was pretty much inevitable that Jane would rejoin Scarlet, and this isn’t a bad way to achieve that, even if it is a bit convenient. That means there’s some terrific mentoring on the horizon, and good lord, is Hardin good at that warm, smart coaching thing. But we get one great scene here, one scene invested in Jacqueline’s lived experience, one scene in which a great actor gets to subtly dive into some difficult stuff in a public space and find the strength to put her game face back in place.

It’s one, and it’s great. But let’s hope there are more in the future.

Stray observations

  • Infidelity ≠ sex dreams
  • While I had my quibbles with Sutton/Richard this week, the scene between Fahy and Tattiawna Jones was very promising. There’s no way this show pits those women against each other in any kind of lazy way, and I’m excited to see what that could become.
  • Look of the week: Sutton’s blue “let’s show up to the awards late and mostly sober” concoction.
  • Not look of the week: Jane’s shoes were so wrong for that dress. Where the hell was Sutton. Who let her do that. What a mistake.
  • Melora Hardin is so fucking good, people. How is she so good?
  • I want more Oliver. Please. Give Stephen Conrad Moore some meaty stuff. Please.
  • See you next week!

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