On some level, tonight’s episode of “You’re The Worst” played out exactly as you thought it might once you saw the title “Spooky Sunday Funday.” This was a way for the show to revisit one of its season one highlights but put it through the prism of both Halloween and, far more importantly, last week’s revelations about Gretchen. The idea that Jimmy would use this as an excuse to do exactly what he promised he wouldn’t (namely, to “fix” her) seemed like the only possible course of action, but that’s because it’s the right course. Jimmy’s look of concern at the end of last week’s episode gave him gravitas, but didn’t cure him of being a fundamentally dumb individual.
Now, I say “dumb,” and that sounds cruel, but the point “You’re The Worst” is trying to illuminate is that OF COURSE people want to fix each other, even though in their heads they know it’s impossible. After all, there are exceptions to the rule, and surely we know the people in our lives better than some theoretical examples that seem sound on paper. It’s not that Jimmy is selfish to try this, although that’s certainly part of it. But he genuinely hopes that this works out for Gretchen, which is why this episode isn’t an exercise in narcissism so much as hopeless naivete. It also makes Jimmy’s “meet cute” with the owner of the bar he constantly frequents all the more heartbreaking: He’s a guy who is trying to make things with Gretchen work. He’s not trying to slither out at the first sign of trouble. But eventually, the chasm between the pair will get to the point where Hot Bar Owner* is going to seem like an option, and we will both hate him for it and understand and then hate ourselves for understanding.
* I refuse to learn her name because that feels like I’m not respecting Gretchen enough.
If all of that wasn’t particularly surprising, holy shitsnacks was the pure unbridled terror of the final stop of the Sunday Funday hellaciously shocking. I just don’t think I’ve ever seen that on anything not called “American Horror Story” on television, and even then at least you EXPECT it. Maybe the closest analogy is last season’s episode of “Louie” called “Untitled,” in which his nightmares gave ME nightmares for weeks. I just didn’t expect what unfurled, which is precisely the point. That it inevitably provided breakthrough moments for Edgar and Gretchen was satisfying. That it gave them both incredible comic moments was an added bonus. (Between last night’s “Fresh Off The Boat” and this episode, it’s a helluva week for “Silence Of The Lambs” references.)
If “There Is Currently Not A Problem” was the fulcrum around which this second season will pivot, then it seems as if Jimmy/Gretchen will be on a downward slope for the forseeable future. And that’s sad, but probably inevitable: There’s no way to “fix” Gretchen, but the two can’t “add cocaine to the butt stuff” with the same frivolity as in the season two premiere. Hell, they couldn’t even do it then. This is a show that refuses to rely on stasis to mine similar comic scenarios. The bravado of this episode’s inversion of what felt like it’s version of “Bar Wars” from “Cheers” suggests its restlessness. And that means Jimmy and Gretchen will not always be together. But I also don’t think they are destined to be apart. Last season saw them go through some troubles. But this is the first real hurdle they’ve had to overcome. It’s not a hurdle that’s anyone’s fault. But for two people that have spent their lives running away from complication, it will take some time for them to be able to stand still and truly engage with one another. Just because it won’t happen right away doesn’t mean it won’t happen. “You’re The Worst” has earned enough rope to see how far down this messy path it can take these two without making it an exercise in emotional cruelty for both its characters and its audience.