Frankie borrowed a little bit of Grace’s essence in “The Wish” in order to find the strength to officiate a wedding between the man she loves and the man he loves. In “The Vitamix,” Grace borrows a little bit of Frankie’s essence to help her move forward, too. Namely, she steals one of Robert and Sol’s wedding gifts: a vitamix. And she lets Frankie steal back some of her old belongings, too. At first, Grace tries to tell Frankie to get over all her hangups about Sol and their home together. There’s no sense in dwelling on the past. But the two unlikely friends find empathy for each other once again, especially when Grace realizes how deep and pure Robert and Sol’s love is. They won’t miss the dang Vitamix.

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There’s a strange subplot that comes of the unlikely pairing of Coyote and Robert. Coyote ends up being tasked with waiting in the hospital room for Robert to wake up while everyone else is off doing the more pressing tasks. As Robert slowly drifts into consciousness, he starts asking Coyote about his life and his addiction. It all leads up to the big question: Why didn’t you come to me? The whole bonding moment seems intended to develop both characters a little more. I certainly don’t think this is the beginning of a meaningful father-son relationship between Coyote and Robert. There’s a sweetness to it, but I’m still finding both Ethan Embry’s performance and the writing for the character to be lacking. The only purpose the subplot serves well is reminding us just how intertwined these families are and have been for so long. Coyote’s addiction touches just about every character in some way. He admits to Robert about blaming certain indiscretions on Brianna back in the day.

Sol gets stuck in a truly lifeless subplot that’s essentially just a PSA for the bullshit hospitals and insurance companies try to get away with. Sol’s determination to dismantle the system is endearing, but this particular conflict is very by-the-numbers and lacks the nuances and punch of the types of relationship-based conflicts this show handles so well. The conflict that comes of Brianna, Bud, and Mallory’s attempts to cancel the wedding and get some of the money from the vendors back falls flat too. It starts out looking like a way too over-the-top sitcom convention when Bud accidentally sends a scathing and blunt email—about Frankie sleeping with Sol and the general muck of the whole situation—he sarcastically transcribes over Siri to all the wedding guests. It’s dialed back right away, but the writers walk back so much that it just sucks any of the stakes out of the situation and deflates into a mere joke about autocorrect.

So really, it’s just Grace and Frankie who command the episode with a compelling storyline. “The Vitamix” builds on some of the premiere’s development of both characters and the slightly new directions they want to go in. Grace is trying to hold less resentment toward Robert, and Frankie’s trying to move the fuck on from Sol and embrace her individuality. But it’s easier said than done. Even though she’s trying to emotionally separate herself from Sol, she can’t erase certain things from her mind. She knows where he keeps everything in the house, knows his routine, knows him. Frankie’s still stuck in her old life, and then she becomes quite literally stuck in an exercise machine. But Grace comes back for her. Because these two really are in it together. The premiere does a much better job of binding all the characters on the show together in a complex and detailed emotional web. In “The Vitamix,” Grace and Frankie are really the only ones tangled up in the story’s pathos. The rest are just keeping busy.

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Stray observations

  • While looking at Robert in his hospital bed, Sol remarks that he can almost see him as a boy. I found that moment adorable and very naturalistic. Their love for each other is more convincing this season than last.
  • I could watch Lily Tomlin snatching Cheez-Its straight out that child’s hands on a loop forever.
  • Brianna’s genuine outburst of joy directed at Sol when he tells them Robert’s alright is also great.

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