“So Long, Division”
Posted by Sarah
Last week, I asked what Noah’s deal is, because why the actual hell would Grace want to keep seeing someone like that? This week, after seeing how everything played out with the daughter storyline and actually getting to see a little vulnerability from him, I feel like I FINALLY got a little bit of the Noah I had hoped he would be after the season premiere. It’s just too bad all of those other appearances of his came before we got this kind of content. Because if Noah’s balance had been a little more like it was this week, I might have actually been okay with this guy.
Or maybe not. But hey, a girl can dream about the day when Grace doesn’t end up picking the short straw with her love interests, right?
In addition to Grace meeting Noah’s daughter in a very Grace way, we’ve got Will and Karen helping Marilyn through a difficult time, and Jack inadvertently stirring up a heated debate about oppression in our society. With so much story to unpack, we better get this show on the road.
But of course, this is a sitcom, so of course, Noah’s not the one who answers the door; Katie is, thinking she’s just greeted her new math tutor.
Trying to abide by Noah’s wishes, Grace plays along with the charade, and it goes just as well as you’d expect it to; while the way she’s approaching that math problem about the trains is hilarious, it’s also pretty much how I approached math in high school, and I did not need that flashback in my head, thank you very much. Katie quickly realizes that this isn’t the woman who’s supposed to be tutoring her, and Grace finally drops the act and comes clean about who she really is and how Noah didn’t think Katie was ready to meet her yet. Honestly, Katie takes it like a champ, telling Grace how happy her dad seems lately. The two of them seem to hit it off right out of the gate, to the point where Katie goes along with Grace’s ridiculous plan to hide in the closet when they realize Noah’s home early. And although Katie tries to get her dad to steer clear of the closet, we all know that’s not how it works. Thus, the greatest entrance in Grace Adler history is born.
Even though Grace knows she screwed up, she tries to point out how well she got along with Katie in the hopes of making things better; the thing is, it does nothing to ease Noah’s mind. To him, the fact that they hit it off so quickly makes things even worse, because now they have a connection, and when he and Grace break up, Katie is going to get hurt by it. And here we have the same issue we ran into in the last episode. The concept is completely valid; I ended up touching on it a bit in the last recap, but introducing your kid to your new significant other is a delicate situation, and the appropriate time and appropriate way to do that live in such a murky gray area that you can never be completely sure you’re doing it right. The wording, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Grace gets hung up on the use of “when” in terms of the break up he’s so worried about that she can’t think about anything else. With a little more prodding, Noah tells her that he thinks there’s zero probability of any relationship actually lasting. And just like last week, Noah seems incapable of saying what Grace wants to hear, this time that their relationship stands a chance. But unlike last week, instead of giving him a time limit, Grace simply walks out on him.
Back at 9C, it’s obvious Grace is depressed about the situation (although I feel like the Chinese order she places is basically like a Tuesday for her?), and only the promise of pizza can get her to answer the knock on the door. But instead of pizza, she gets Noah telling her that there’s a chance for them; this whole thing scares him, and he’s usually not anything other than a pessimist, but there’s a chance for them. As much as I dislike Noah, I have to admit this is a pretty sweet moment between them; it’s one of those things that makes me wish I liked him so I could fully enjoy the impact the show is going for when they air a moment like this. And the guy must really be special to her, because she’s willing to skip out on all that food she ordered so she can get a drink with him.
Here’s the deal: THIS is the kind of content I needed after the season premiere to keep me on board with Noah. I needed him to open himself up a little bit to getting hurt, to knowing a little more about the reasons behind his constant cynicism, to see a sneak peek of the “This scares the crap out of me” part and the “I’m not this guy” part. I feel like that might have guided his character in a direction that wouldn’t be as strange and gross as the one he’s been walking so far. To throw this kind of vulnerability out there now, though—after the weird sex storyline of “Tex and the City” and lines about goodnight kisses never leading anywhere – just makes me go, “Oh, okay, that’s great. But it’s still Noah.” At this point, I don’t think Noah’s character can be redeemed for me; but if they continue with his character like they did in “So Long, Division,” it’ll probably make it easier for me to tolerate him for the rest of his arc.
So Noah thinks there’s a chance that they’ll make it; that’s Grace’s headline. My headline? KAREN HAS AN ADORABLE DOG NOW.
…What? Oh, I should focus on the bigger story on that one? Fine…
Marilyn comes by 9C with some devastating news: Will’s brother has died. No, she’s not talking about Sam (how DARE you make me gasp like that, show?) or Paul; she lost her beloved beagle Dr. Silly while taking him for a walk, and decided to come to Will for support. Once Will gets the image of one of his brothers pooping to death in the neighbor’s yard out of his head, though, he’s less than sympathetic towards his mother. To be fair, their relationship isn’t really one that consists of free-flowing emotions, so it’s not like Will really knows how to handle this kind of situation, much to the disappointment of Marilyn. And it’s here that Karen decides to throw her two cents into the mix and tells Will how to help alleviate Marilyn’s grief the best way she knows how: whip out a credit card and buy her something. Will actually takes Karen’s advice and heads out with the hope of cheering Marilyn up, leaving our beloved drunken socialite alone with his mom.
You guys, where is my Karen and Marilyn spin off, because these two as drinking buddies is exactly what I need in my life. Over a couple of martinis, Marilyn tries to gain a little sympathy from Karen, who has never had a pet (“And Stan wasn’t that furry”) and doesn’t get the appeal, but does chime in to agree that Will isn’t as sensitive to the situation as he should be. And clearly, that’s Will’s cue to waltz back into the apartment with an insanely adorable puppy in tow for Marilyn to take home with her. Instead of curing his mom’s grief, though, he only makes Marilyn mad over the idea that you can simply swap out one dog for another and be done with it. And by the time Karen takes the dog for a walk to leave mother and son alone for a little while, Will and Marilyn get to the true heart of the matter: Will doesn’t know how to help, just like he didn’t know how to help when his dad died. And Marilyn tells him that he wasn’t there for her back then, either, at least not the way he should have been.
I wasn’t entirely sure how much the revival was going to touch on George’s death, given that it happened during the final season of the original run (although it did overlap with Grace’s pregnancy, and I’m still not entirely sure how much of that season really counts now?). Considering how many times they’ve reflected on Bobbi so far, it’s only natural that they did the same for George; I just wasn’t expecting it to be this episode, and that mixed with the memory of that particular arc from the original run (“Blanket Apology” and “The Mourning Son” are exceptionally brilliant but exceptionally brutal) is probably why it hit a bit hard for me. The fact that Will was there for Marilyn for the week following the funeral before going back to his life in Manhattan doesn’t necessarily surprise me. It wasn’t like he stopped caring at that point; it’s just that when you think about all the times the Trumans have popped up in this series, you kind of get the idea that this is simply how that family operates. There’s a disconnect there that I’m sure no one intended, but certainly lends itself to the way Will initially reacted to the news about Dr. Silly, and to the way he handled the aftermath of his father’s death. To learn that Marilyn got Dr. Silly after George’s death so she wouldn’t feel so alone hurts; to hear her tell Will that he should have known that she’d need him at a time like that breaks you.
Hearing it obviously gets to Will, too. Marilyn is about to leave the apartment when he stops her to acknowledge the fact that he hasn’t checked in as much as he should have, and it’s here that Marilyn finally expresses what she really wants from her son, albeit in a kind of convoluted way, thanks to Karen: she just wants to be closer to Will. Every woman she knows who has a gay son is best friends with him, and it leaves her wanting that same connection with her son. And even though Will finds some of those connections a little on the creepy side, he knows what she’s getting at; he tells her that they can make time to see each other more often, and it’s a beautiful resolution to a conversation that had taken such a heartbreaking turn.
When Karen returns from the walk, she’s done a total 180 on the whole pets thing. She has completely fallen in love with the dog and will stop at nothing to keep her (I love how she tells Will to bury Marilyn in paperwork like she isn’t his mom). But it doesn’t take a legal battle; Marilyn happily gives Karen the dog, which my girl names Shu Shu. And that sound you heard on Thursday night was me screaming at how they really brought it back to the original first season’s “Boo! Humbug” and Shu Shu Fontana. Look, I’m obsessed with the fact that Karen has this dog now. I think it’s such a delightful turn of events, and it’s been a hot second since any of our Fab Four have had a trusty animal companion (seriously though, what the hell happened to Guapo?). Here’s hoping Shu Shu pops up from time to time throughout the rest of the season, because my heart melts whenever she gets screen time.
And then there’s Jack, who is still putting all of his energy into Gaybraham Twinkin’, to the detriment of his day job at the rec center. When he walks into Theo’s office to once again ask to leave work early to focus on rehearsals (“I will need to prance my gay ass out of here by two.”), Theo puts his foot down, saying that Jack can’t keep missing work for a ridiculous play. Of course, no one comes for Jack’s creative vision like that without Jack coming to its defense; he emphatically declares how important the play is because of the way Lincoln’s romance represents the gay struggle. But in doing so, he glosses over the Emancipation Proclamation, which launches them into a huge debate about who’s the most oppressed group. And literally everyone gets in on this: the Latino repairman who couldn’t get back into the country if he ever left it, the delivery man who gets stopped by airport security because he’s Muslim, Jack’s coworker who just found out that she makes less money than he does for the same amount of work (or, since this is Jack we’re talking about, probably for a considerably greater amount of work). Everyone’s talking over each other, trying to make their case but being drowned out by all of the other cases surrounding them. That is, until Jack puts a stop to it and tries to unite everyone standing in Theo’s exceedingly cramped office.
Well…except with this asshole. This guy can go the hell home and stay there.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Let’s have a moment of appreciation for the salute Jack does every time he says Gaybraham Twinkin’.
- Look, I know they film these episodes weeks in advance, but it feels like every week they hear my reaction to Karen’s wardrobe and then think, “How can we get Sarah to sound EVEN MORE like a dying seal next week?” What are you even doing in this suit, girl:
- “Pooping and then dying, that’s my worst fear!”
- “Was he the one who dated Grace, and Will got all mad?” Oh, Karen. I love you so. PS, thanks for reminding me how solid a two-parter “Big Brother Is Coming” is.
- James Power Bottom Buchanan. That is all.
- “Thirteen percent is hard.” Are we at all surprised by the way Grace tips? No.
- “Try being me and having to claim Kevin Spacey as one of your own.”
- Grace basing her entire concept of love on the straight-to-DVD sequel of Lady and the Tramp is honestly my new favorite thing about her.
- “Are you saying you want me to be gayer, or us to be closer?” “Yes.”
- My mind is really stuck on this whole Shu Shu thing, I can’t help it. I absolutely ADORE the throwback to “Boo! Humbug” and Karen’s drag name. But the whole reason her drag name was Shu Shu Fontana in the first place was because Shu Shu was supposedly the name of her first pet. So either Karen’s just making shit up when she said she never had a pet this week, or she’s had that name in her back pocket for a REALLY long time just in case something cute and fluffy ever came her way. Either way, it was a brilliant callback.
- Kind of related to the above: I wonder how Chompers, the Earl of Puppydom is doing. Can we check in on that dog/gerbil?
- I didn’t even realize until I rewatched this episode that Karen and Shu Shu came back from their walk with matching bandannas on, and I promptly exploded because of it. Also, please let this set the precedent for more matching outfits, because that has the potential to be pretty spectacular.
What did you think of “So Long, Division?” Let’s chat in the comments.
Featured Image Source: NBC