Will & Grace Season 1, Episode 9
“There’s Something About Larry”
Posted by Sarah
You want returning guest stars? We’ve got returning guest stars! This week’s episode was all about the friends and lunatics of years past, and they were pretty heavy hitters in the original run, so you knew we were in for a treat. So far this season, whenever we’ve been reunited with a character, there seemed to be a limit of one familiar face per episode. This week, however, saw the return of Joe and Larry in the main story, and Val in the B-story in the best kind of overload. There’s a lot to love in this one: unexpected revelations, supreme physical comedy, perplexing hairdos, and a conversation full of misunderstanding that serves as a delightful homage to a classic ‘70s sitcom. So fasten your seat belts, kids. We’re in for a ride.
Will and Grace have invited their dear friends, Joe and Larry, to their place for dinner. And even though their daughter, Hannah, is now college-aged, Larry still has those childhood photos ready for sharing (god, I know how time works, but it seems like yesterday Will and Grace were ruining Hannah’s birthday party at PlaySpace and also destroying my emotional being in the process). But we know those two are not the kind of people who care about other people’s kids, so the second they get a moment alone, they completely drop the act. Grace tells Will that she’s just trying to be nice to them, but Will isn’t having it. He thinks she’s acting exactly like she does at the office, being soft when she needs to have a firmer hand. It’s an issue that fuels the rest of the story, but for now, they return to their guests with chocolate soufflé in hand, ready to plaster on a couple of fake smiles and plow through the rest of this evening.
Turns out, Larry is in desperate need of some kindness. He’s not adjusting well to Hannah being in college and becoming an empty nester, running off into the bathroom for a cry and a verse of “Sunrise, Sunset” that Grace joins in on (they’re racking up quite the set list together. Now do “Enough Is Enough”). He’s going through what I’m sure a lot of parents experience when their child is old enough to fly the coop: “I gave her so much of my love, and I don’t know what to do with it now.” It’s enough to get to Grace; in the midst of her argument with Will the next day over her treatment of Mr. D’Angelo — who produced a bed that isn’t exactly what she envisioned for the hotel project — and her assertions that when it comes to her business, she’s always thinking about the bottom line, Larry crashes the party and makes Grace fill Will in on her executive decision: “Bottom line: Larry was sad, so I gave him a job.”
Look, it was a sweet gesture on Grace’s part, but maybe not the best decision when you’re in the middle of designing a life-changing fifteen boutique hotels; as Will points out, “his only office skills are crying and scrapbooking” and despite Grace being the one who gave him the job in the first place, Larry consistently takes Will’s side on every office dispute, even if he’s in the wrong. It’s understandably driving Grace nuts, and as soon as Will leaves for a meeting and she’s alone with Larry, she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. She’s confused, she feels betrayed (“We sang Fiddler on the Roof together, why did you switch teams?”), and she wants to know what the hell happened. Larry tells her that Hannah isn’t the only reason he’s been feeling sad lately. As if that wasn’t enough, his sex life with Joe isn’t what it used to be, and I loved that exchange so much: “I’ve been faking my orgasms!” “Well yeah, who doesn’t?” It’s okay, though, because Larry finally pinpointed the root of the latter issue.
Yeah…all that love he doesn’t know what to do with? He figured out what to do with it.
Larry’s that perfect mix of awkward and “let’s just go with it” that makes this storyline work really well for his character. The way that he’s been established for all these years makes this “What the hell” moment weirdly logical. This is the “I’m laughing because I’m uncomfortable and I don’t know why” guy. The guy who gets crazy angry at Grace’s bad poker playing. The guy who treated Tina like his mother when he went on a payback date with her. I feel like this totally links up with everything else. But Grace is completely shocked by this revelation, and urges him to keep it quiet even though he really wants to be open about it. But just in case he can’t keep it secret, Grace goes the extra mile to make sure Will doesn’t catch wind of it and fires Larry.
Instead of praising Grace for her tough streak, though, Will is angry because he lost that constant vote in his corner, and confused because Grace was the one who offered Larry a pity job in the first place. And he’s not about to let Grace’s decision slide; he calls Larry behind her back to let him know that Grace told him everything and he wants to meet at the office without her knowing. Of course, Will’s version of everything and Larry’s version of everything are completely different, and we end up getting a modern-day taste of a classic sitcom move. Let me tell you something, my love for classic sitcoms is real and deep. And “There’s Something About Larry” was serving up so much Three’s Company realness in that phone call and subsequent meet-up, it made my soul so happy. So many of Three’s Company’s storylines involved some sort of misunderstanding because someone heard one half of a conversation and imagined the other half to be something insane. And Will & Grace took that concept and ran with it this week. Will and Larry are not just on different pages; they’re not even looking at the same book, and it’s brilliant. The whole thing about getting behind Grace is priceless (“Joe said you did, but I never believed him.”), and by the time Larry thinks they’re actually about to do this and sends Will to fetch him an energy bar — because “This is a lot more activity than I’m used to” — he’s stripped down to nothing on the bed taking up space in the office. Enter Will, enter Grace, and enter one giant mess to be cleaned up.
Grace pulls Will aside to let him know the real reason she fired Larry, and while she probably should have filled him in sooner, better extremely late than never? But between Grace telling Will she can be both hard and soft, and Larry telling everyone “I’m so soft right now, I may never get hard again,” they eventually clear the air. Larry apologizes, blaming it all on the weird place his life is in right now; after all, he really does love Joe, they’ve been together for a long time, and “he has a man’s ass…no offense, Will.” He realizes that the workplace might be too awkward now and quits…but not before offering up a night of watching the digitized versions of Hannah’s school plays.
So, we’ve finally caught a glimpse of what a Will and Grace workplace looks like, and it’s honestly going about as well as I expected it to. Between their stubborn natures and Grace being so used to making all of the decisions, it seems like this could be fuel for a bunch of storylines to come, especially since it wasn’t really resolved by the end of the episode. Here’s the thing, though. Grace has been at this for at least twenty years. Sure, she may not do things the way Will would do them, but considering she’s still staying afloat, she seems to know what she’s doing, and she seems to know how to handle her business relationships to where she gets what she wants without alienating anyone. And I know Will is so used to being a lawyer and taking a more aggressive approach to his work. But as close as these two are, I don’t think they realized they have no clue how to work together. With the house flipping arc, at least they could treat it more like a hobby; Grace still had Grace Adler Designs, and Will still had his position at Doucette and Stein. And when that arc died down and The Flippers Who Care kind of forgot to flip or care, it didn’t make that much of a difference. But now, both of their livelihoods are at stake. It’s going to be interesting to see how they evolve as partners. Hopefully they find some common ground…although if all of the mentions of their working relationship thus far are anything to go by, I sort of doubt it? But maybe that’s the whole point.
I was so pleasantly surprised when they announced that Molly Shannon would be returning to the show. Out of all the characters Will & Grace has gifted us over the years, for some reason, Val never crossed my mind as one who would be coming back. Her impact on the show was huge, but she was only in a small handful of episodes, so she just wasn’t on my radar. But now that I think about it, it makes sense that we have this storyline. Let’s just look at her history. She was introduced trying to become Will’s new best friend in “Grace, Replaced.” Then she tried to buddy up to Grace in “Girls, Interrupted” (stolen bat mitzvah music box notwithstanding). THEN she became Jack’s biggest fan and stalker in “Last of the Really Odd Lovers.” It’s only natural that she would eventually make her way to Karen. And she wastes no time: after a refusal to go to the hospital and an awkward elevator ride up to her apartment, Val invites Karen in to talk about how to move forward while completely shutting Jack out.
Once she has Karen in the apartment, they sit by the fireplace app on her laptop, sipping tea that tastes like liquid foot (why do I find that descriptor so amusing? Bless you, Karen Walker). Karen’s making offer after offer to pay Val off to forget Jack ever ran her over, but Val’s not that interested in talking money because “It’s just really hard to set a price when it comes to pain.” And according to Val, Karen of all people should know that. It takes a little coaxing — Karen’s progression of “Val”s are so perfect here — but Karen does start to talk about Rosario before ultimately making a joke. So Karen deflected, which isn’t surprising. Honestly, dealing with Rosario’s death could go either way with her — dealing with it earnestly or continuing to play it off with jokes — and it would still feel authentic to her character? But there was no way she was going to start to feel things in that apartment. It just wasn’t the right environment, she barely knows Val, *cough* and her secret best friend Will wasn’t there *cough*. But I digress. While she avoids the more serious conversation, Karen and Val continue their girl talk while Val stokes the fake fire, and it seems like all is well.
A little too well, if you ask Jack.
See, Karen’s been in that apartment for a while, and…you know…it IS Val we’re dealing with here. When he catches Grace in the hallway on the ninth floor, he fills her in on what happened, and Grace starts to connect her own dots. Because Grace knows all too well how Val operates. She tells Jack about this scam she read about where people throw themselves in front of rich people’s cars in order to get a hefty payday out of them. And even though Karen seems to be doing fine — her text let Jack know that Val was braiding her hair and taking her to Central Park — Jack still feels like he needs to rescue his best friend. And Grace has got him covered. She’s got a key to Val’s place so he can break in and save the day, and…I’m sorry, how exactly did that come to pass?
Grace: I secretly made a copy fifteen years ago and I keep it on me at all times, in case Will ever goes missing and I need to search for his body.
Well, if that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is (NOTE: I really wanted this to be from that year Grace was the president of the tenant’s board, but the math doesn’t *quite* link up, so either they miscalculated, or I desperately need a flashback to the circumstances that led to Grace getting a hold of that key). Jack takes the key from Grace and is on his way.
With a tumble into apartment 12E, Jack gets the ball rolling on his reconnaissance mission. A few hops in the right direction, and he happens upon Val’s stalker board, complete with maps and a collage of altered photos of Karen with the gang…and when I say “altered,” I mean Will and Grace’s faces are scratched out and Val’s face is glued over Jack’s. Needless to say it’s cause for alarm, but before Jack can leave to warn Karen, Val catches him in the act, tying him up with packing tape to make sure he can’t get to her. When Karen finally does make her way back to Val’s apartment, she’s sporting a new ‘do (god, is that a sight to behold) and is completely confused by the scene that she happened upon. Jack fills her in on what’s happening, and when Karen confronts her, Val finally tells her the truth: she just wanted Karen’s friendship. She’s seen how good Karen is to Jack (and, come on…who wouldn’t want to be friends with Karen Walker?) and she just wanted that in her life, too. And Karen, being the secret softie that she is, tells her that it would have been easier to just set up a lunch date; she would have spared an hour or two for Val. After all, “You’re nuttier than a tree full of squirrels, but we do have the same blood type, and that can come in handy.” (FRIENDSHIIIIIPPPP!!!) With that, it seems as though a new relationship has blossomed, and all is well.
Except sometimes you say things just to get out of a situation, and really, when you see your best friend being held hostage, what else are you going to do? When Jack and Karen are back in the black car for another round of Lyft practice, Jack asks if she meant what she said to Val about hanging out with her. Karen assures her Poodle that they will never see her again, and with that, Jack is ready to get back on the road. The only thing holding him back is that touch of déjà vu he seems to be plagued with.
I mean…it’s not like they call her Crazy Val for nothing.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- “Time flies when you’re…yeah!”
- The blooper from the elevator scene is just as amazing as the elevator scene itself, and I really want to know how long it took to get to the one take that didn’t feature anyone breaking. That had to have been impossible to get through.
- Speaking of the elevator scene, Karen’s reaction to Val is priceless and my default reaction to so many things, and I am so happy to add this gif to my arsenal.
- Tim Bagley’s delivery of “I am in love with Will and I want to SHOUT IT FROM A MOUNTAINTOP” makes me lose it every time I hear it. If you’re not on board with Larry, I do not understand you.
- “He has a big ass and can’t cook. No offense, Grace.”
- No for real, is there a fireplace app that lets you put more logs on the fire? Because if I’m going to do the fake fireplace thing, I might as well go all the way.
- If Jack’s new thing is going to be saying he has a plan, letting the other person speak first, and talking over them like he has the exact same plan, I’m totally here for it. It happened in “Grandpa Jack” too, and it was just as funny then as it is now.
- “It’s just so hard to make friends after college, you know?”
- “‘Take me to Costco. I need to buy paper towels.’ Are those even words?” I love Karen in these moments; it’s like her sheer awe that a chore wheel is a thing that exists, or knocking on the door of the washing machine at the laundromat and asking where the fish are.
- Sean Hayes posted a portion of Val’s stalker board on his Instagram, and the second I realized the featured photo was a promo shot from the original run’s finale, I wanted to know about every single photo they sneaked in there, because I bet it’s a treasure trove of original run memories…and Val’s face (upon a second viewing, I spied a flyer for “Just Jack,” so I think my hunch is correct).
What did you think of Joe and Larry’s return? How about Val? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Source: NBC