Will & Grace Season 1, Episode 5
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying”
Posted by Sarah
Why, Beverley Leslie, you teacup poodle/finger puppet/insert other Karen Walker-ism here. This week marked the return of one of Karen’s greatest frenemies, complete with a morphine-induced confession, a surprisingly alive wife, and Benji 2: The Sequel. And that was just the B-story! We’ve also got a pastiche of original run plot points that set the scene for a potentially major story arc for Will and Grace, and Jack putting all the money he doesn’t have into a fierce-ass denim jacket. There’s a whole lot of story crammed into these thirty minutes, so let’s get down to business! (Oh…I see what I did there.)
It’s a big day for both Will and Grace; while Grace has a meeting with Eli Wolff (hi, Max Greenfield!) for a once-in-a-lifetime gig designing fifteen boutique hotels, Will needs to get through a review before potentially becoming a senior partner at his law firm. After helping each other pick out the perfect outfit, they’re on their way to potential greatness. Grace is giving the pitch of her life to Eli, and she seems to be doing a pretty great job; after she states her case, Eli lets her know that it’s between her and one other designer. All she needs is that one thing she can offer that no one else can. And when Will calls Grace in the middle of her meeting, Eli makes it crystal clear that if Grace is going to be offered this opportunity, she, in turn, needs to offer up her best friend for a date.
And here’s where we reach our first stop on Memory Lane. I had an inkling when Tony had that awkward interaction with Eli before Grace asked him to grab their layouts, but the second Will called Grace at the office, I knew we were about to do “Saving Grace” again (not to be confused with “Saving Grace, Again”). In the first season of the original run, Grace is in the running to design the apartment of publicist Nathan Berry (hi, Miguel Ferrer, I miss you), and needs something to one up her competition. And when Nathan comes over to take a look at her own apartment and meets her roommate, it becomes glaringly obvious what Grace has that the other designers don’t: Will. She convinces Will to go on a couple of dates with him, but Will hates him, and when he can’t take it anymore, he potentially jeopardizes Grace’s job. It all works out in the end, because of course it does, we’re in Sitcom Land, but we’re definitely heading into familiar territory with “How to Succeed.” Honestly, when Will asked if Grace was trying to pimp him out, I was half expecting him to say “AGAIN?!” because damn, girl, how many times are you going to find yourself in this predicament? Where Nathan Berry annoyed the hell out of him, though, once Will finds out that Eli Wolff wants a date, he’s super into it. He is, after all, a power gay that a potential senior partner totally deserves to be with. But the question remains: did Will make senior partner?
Will’s been on edge ever since his review, waiting for the phone call that will determine the course of the rest of his life. And when he finally gets summoned by the other senior partners of the firm, his fate is seemingly decided: he made it. But when he looks around at his new colleagues, he doesn’t really like what he sees: “Charles has so much suppressed rage, he’s gnawed off all his nail beds. I think Eileen’s dead. Goldblatt…god, he’s always hated me.” Not to mention, the partner seated next to him tells him to run. It’s here that Will makes a life-altering realization: this job makes him miserable, and he doesn’t want what he’s worked so hard to achieve. Which brings us to our next stop on the Original Plotlines Tour ’17. Will’s already done the midlife crisis thing from the end of season seven to the middle of season eight. After trying to rewrite his will, realizing he doesn’t have much to show for his life, and almost getting hit by a bus with Grace by his side, he decides to quit his job to try his hand at writing. And when that’s a bust, he starts working for the Coalition for Justice in order to try to do some good in the world, before ultimately going back to Doucette and Stein. At least this new midlife crisis can’t be used as a device to bring Stan back into the picture.
Needless to say, being faced with his unhappiness makes Will’s date with Eli a disaster. He’s crying his eyes out while he’s pouring the wine, trying to make this fun for Eli when all he can do is talk about how much he hates his job. Eli splits and texts Grace that the evening was ruined, which causes Grace to freak out over the fact that Will potentially blew her chances at getting her dream job. She’s so focused on the ruins her career was just possibly reduced to that she doesn’t factor in Will’s sadness, even when Will prompts her for a little empathy. And instead of sitting herself down on the couch next to her best friend and listening to his problems, she races out the door in the hopes of catching Eli before he flies off in his helicopter.
Grace does have the tendency to make things about herself when Will is in a bit of a crisis; it’s all over the original run, but ESPECIALLY in season two’s “He’s Come Undone,” where—in addition to a number of other things—she ends up sleeping with his therapist after joining him for a session. So her fixation on the fact that she might have lost this job isn’t surprising, nor is the fact that it takes Eli to tell her that Will’s miserable—once he informs her that she’s got the job—to wake her up. But eventually, Grace reassesses the situation. Eventually, she always comes back to Will’s side to be there for him. And that’s exactly what she does here. She listens to him as he tells her that he doesn’t want to be a corporate lawyer anymore, that despite all of his prior assertions to the contrary, he wants a few surprises in his life. And Grace gives him a doozy: she wants him to come work with her. Now that Eli’s hired her and requested that he be her only client during this process, Grace is straight up terrified of the job; she’s working on a massive scale that she is in no way used to handling on her own. She needs Will’s help. And although Will recognizes that this is by far the biggest risk he’s ever taken, that’s what makes it impossible to pass up. Welcome to the Grace Adler Designs family, Mr. Truman.
And welcome to our final stop on our trip to plotlines past! In season six, Grace renovated an apartment for Karen’s mom, but instead of living there, Lois decided to turn a profit and sell the place. Which gives Will and Grace the idea to start flipping apartments together. The Flippers Who Care lasted about four episodes and the business was never spoken of again after that, but it created some pretty great moments (“East Side Story” was fantastic, fight me on that). Listen, I really loved the apartment flipping story arc, so I’m hopeful for what this new venture for Will and Grace is going to be. There is so much potential for this path, and although it was great the first time, I feel like it could be explored so much further. And since this time, Will quit his job, it seems like their business outing is going to be a little more permanent. I just wish this didn’t dash all my possibly unreasonable hopes of Lily Tomlin making a triumphant (albeit unlikely) return to the show. Margot, we hardly knew ye.
Meanwhile, Karen’s taking a break from office life in favor of a little golf and relaxation at the country club. She walks into the hospitality suite to find a morphine drip next to the bed and immediately thinks someone sent it to her suite as a gift (because why give Karen Walker flowers when you can give her something she actually wants?). And since it’s always polite to thank the person who gives you such a thoughtful present, and there’s no card attached to the machine, Karen calls downstairs to find out who to thank. But she’s in for a terrible surprise; even though she booked the suite months in advance, someone recovering from recent plastic surgery is currently occupying her room. And as she’s wondering who could have possibly swiped the hospitality suite from underneath her, enter Beverley Leslie—who, now that the series finale is no longer in play, absolutely did not meet his maker by getting swept up in a gentle breeze—in the arms of…wait a minute, that’s not Benji.
Apparently, Original Benji aged out of the position of “business associate,” but never fear, new Benji is here! Once he puts Beverley down and gives Karen and him a moment alone, Beverley tells Karen he’s not giving up the room; he’s just had plastic surgery (where, exactly?) and needs his rest. He just needs help getting into bed and getting hooked up to the morphine drip. Karen grudgingly complies, throwing him on the bed like a bag of Gardener’s peat moss and helping herself to a few drops of morphine in her martini (god, that was such a perfect Karen move).
The morphine’s got Beverley feeling pretty good and honest, and he’s ready to fill his dear friend in on a little “secret.” Something that he’s been “keeping to himself” for years. Something that “no one else knows.” Yes, friends, his moment has finally arrived: Beverley Leslie is a homosexual (ATTENTION, REPUBLICANS). Of course, the news doesn’t have the Earth-shattering effect on Karen he’s expecting it to have (see the aforementioned “ATTENTION, REPUBLICANS” incident), but it’s freaking him out nonetheless, because he knows he has to tell his wife, Crystal. And since it’s her 90th birthday, he’s not sure that now is the right time to tell her.
Um…I’m sorry, what? Did the retcon in “11 Years Later” go THAT far into the final season of the original run? Because in “Birds of a Feather Boa,” she definitely died, Beverley definitely had a funeral for her, and Grace and Karen were definitely in attendance. Remember, Bev? Grace tried on one of Crystal’s gowns and couldn’t get out of it, and Karen got caught in its zipper when she tried to help? Hilarity ensued? Remember? So I’m a little confused. And so is Karen (I literally shouted “THANK YOU” when she called him out on this). Beverley’s got us covered, though, clearing everything up by telling Karen, “The first shovel of dirt on the coffin revived her,” and…okay, you know what? If we let Stan coming back from the dead slide in the original run, really, what’s one more? It’s like this show’s thing now. Regardless, Karen agrees to help him come out to Crystal in exchange for the hospitality suite, and it seems like after all these years, Beverley will finally live his truth out in the open.
Oh please…like they were really going to let go of 90% of his schtick. Once Karen returns to the hospitality suite to help him out, Bev has sobered up and has no recollection of their little chat. No, of course he’s not gay, and he’s got a very manly laugh to prove it (that moment was so deliciously hilarious, you guys). And giving the hospitality suite to Karen? You can forget about that. Karen eventually concedes the suite, but not before shooting off a little text to Crystal encouraging her to celebrate her birthday in a special way…special, in this case, meaning making love from the front. Karen leaves with a bit of advice for a terrified Beverley: “Think of it like golf. Just keep hacking away at the sand trap, and hope you get it close to the hole.” I am just in awe; Karen’s innuendo game has been ON FIRE this entire season, and we are not worthy of her genius. I’m hopeful this won’t be the last we see of Beverley Leslie in the revival (Leslie Jordan alluded to more appearances in this week’s After Party episode, so yay). His dynamic with Karen is so amazing, and I can’t imagine it will be a one-and-done thing in the revival. So bring it on; he can waltz onto the scene in New Benji’s arms any day.
And then there’s Jack. He gave Theodore from work a dollar to buy a scratch-off lottery ticket that resulted in a $2,000 payoff, and he is so excited that he’s finally a thousandaire. After Theodore tells an incredibly enthusiastic Jack the story of exactly how he scratched that scratcher, and how he already spent some of the money on a mini espresso maker, he gives Jack the money he thinks he deserves: the dollar that helped buy the ticket. Jack is outraged; he is, after all, the one who put money down for the ticket, and he feels entitled to about 999 more dollars than he was given. And it’s the principle of it, right? He contributed to the purchase of a winning lotto ticket, he should at least get SOMETHING more than the Washington he gave up. More than this, though, Jack needs that grand something awful; he just bought an expensive jean jacket with Karen’s face emblazoned on it, and there is no way he can pay for it without his share of the money. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to blow some unexpected money on an extravagance, that’s a pretty solid choice. But more so than the principle of the matter, I’m almost certain Jack was driven by the fact that he needs that money, dammit. It doesn’t matter that he misread the text Theodore sent him saying that Theo and Theo alone won two grand. Jack has his eye on half the prize, and he will stop at nothing to get it. He’ll hold Theodore’s mini espresso maker hostage in the girl’s bathroom when it’s delivered, all the while helping himself to its sweet, caffeinated goodness. And when Theodore figures out the hiding place, he’ll make a beeline for the cash hidden in the cigar box in the shoebox in Theodore’s desk drawer. Both of them are set in their corners of the argument, and neither of them look like they’re going to budge anytime soon.
In the middle of this showdown, Tasha walks into the office to ask Jack to walk her to the subway; her dad’s car died, and he won’t be able to pick her up. Adding to the blow is the fact that her dad makes a living as a Lyft driver, and since the repairs are definitely out of their price range—a whopping $1,800—he won’t be able to work. Cue the lightbulb going off in Jack’s head, making him not so subtly prompt Theodore to give Tasha the lotto winnings. We could have just left it at that, a heartwarming moment where good conquers greed. Here’s the thing about Jack sometimes, though: he has a big heart…but he also likes recognition. A lot. He swipes the remaining lotto winnings from Theodore’s pocket, hands it over to Tasha, and happily accepts any and all credit. So the motives might not have been 100% great, but the money did end up going to the right place. And since Jack can’t take back his premature purchase, he’s resigned to keeping a high-quality garment with a pinch of credit card debt.
But honestly, that jacket is worth every penny. And I’ll take one, please. Put it on Jack’s card.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Allow me to be a dork about the episode title for a second, because this is the first one of the revival that really feels like one of those old-school Will & Grace wordplay titles to me. Also, since it’s a play on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the fact that Megan Mullally played Rosemary in the 1995 Broadway revival AND the musical’s book was co-written by Abe Burrows, father of Will & Grace’s director, James Burrows. I really needed to tell you those connections, and I’m okay with being that person.
- I need Jack to channel his inner Katya and thwoorp the shit out of that fan every damn day.
- Officially adding “Conflama” to my vocabulary.
- “Oh, for god’s sake, don’t cry. You look like Jeff Sessions watching a black man vote.” I was wondering if they were going to use Leslie Jordan’s resemblance to their advantage, and they did not let me down.
- Sad Will pours wine like Everyday Me pours wine.
- Honestly, I kind of wanted more of Jhanvi, Nirmalan, and their mother’s calls to Will.
- Hey, if Tasha’s going to be a recurring character, can we at least fit Karen into whatever storyline comes out of it? But wait a little bit…I still haven’t fully recovered from Karen Walker feeling things during “Emergency Contact.”
- Grace’s helicopter hair instantly took me back to her “Simba looks angry” look from season eight’s “I Second That Emotion,” and apparently I am not the only one who went there:
- Look, all I’m saying is that if the NBC store can sell “I Loves Me Kitty” sweatshirts, they can definitely work out a deal with whoever made Jack’s jacket. Please direct me to their suggestion box.
What did you think of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying?” Let’s chat in the comments!
Featured Image Source: NBC