Will & Grace Season 2, Episode 12
“The Pursuit of Happiness”
Posted by Sarah
Ohhhh, kids…you have no idea how much I wanted to just write one big “NO” and be done with this episode. But that’s not much of a recap, is it? (Actually, in this case, maybe it is…)
What is the deal with setting up the women of Will & Grace with terrible love interests? Okay, there were a couple of bright spots for Grace in the original run; I thought Ben had his moments, and you all know how I feel about Nathan. But my god…Grace deserves so much better than Noah Broader. Karen deserves so much better than Malcolm Widmark. And I have so many questions about everything. Why is this show trying so hard to get us on board with these dudes? Why are they ignoring Karen’s canon bisexuality now that she’s single? And where the everloving hell is Samira Wiley already?! Seriously, give Karen Walker a girlfriend (or at least a guy that knows how to be in a healthy relationship). Give Grace Adler a better man. Just give them someone who’s worthy of the wonderful women they are. I’m begging you, show.
And it’s not like Will had it any better in this episode. Telling yourself to go against your moral code and go out with the cute fellow teacher, only to find out that he’s married and ridiculously eager to cheat on his husband is rough. And Jack? Jack threw his heart back into his first love of acting, only to find himself out of the only stable job he really ever had (but god, do I love me some Andrea Martin). I have so many opinions about so many things, so let’s not waste any more time.
Over at Grace Adler Designs, Karen’s on the phone with our current First Lady (girl, why do you have to keep reminding me that you voted for this guy?) fending off being set up because she’s not ready to start dating yet. Grace can’t help but overhear Karen’s side of the conversation, and thinks that Karen might want to start thinking about putting herself out there again. After all, if anyone can relate, it’s Grace (hi, Leo, I still hate every ounce of your being); she didn’t think she would ever be ready to move on after her divorce, until she forced herself to get out there again. After their talk, Karen resolves to go out with the guy the First Lady is trying to set her up with. And honestly, it feels really good to see Karen start to move on, and it seems like everything’s looking up for my girl.
That is, until her date stands her up, and excuse the hell out of me, but HOW EXACTLY do you stand up a woman like Karen Walker? Come the fuck on, dude.
When Karen comes back to the office and tells Grace what happened, Grace fills her in on what she missed at the office: namely, that Malcolm paid her a visit via FedEx and told her that he can’t stop thinking about Karen and he wants to give it another shot. Karen won’t think about it, because in her words, “That man ruined my life.” And it’s here that Grace gives her assistant a bit of tough love (you know, the kind that doesn’t involve car antennas): “People in healthy relationships don’t cheat.” Which is valid as hell, but also (BUT ALSO) people in healthy relationships don’t pull half the shit that Malcolm pulled…but I’ll get to that shortly. Soon, Malcolm is back at the office, wanting to talk to Karen, but Karen refuses to say a word to him. Enter Grace as the latest reluctant middleman in a long line of middlemen (I have to say, Karen and Malcolm using World of Warcraft for sex in 2012 was kind of brilliant?).
Once Grace has had enough of their weirdly sexual back and forth about lady nests and skin missiles, she tells them to make up. Malcolm is very obviously still in love with her, and there are definite feelings on Karen’s part. But she can’t forget the fact that Malcolm ruined her marriage by telling Stan about their affair. Grace acknowledges the fact that she can’t forget it, but does point out that she could forgive him, because “Without forgiveness, the past never stops hurting.” The way her voice cracks, you know she’s thinking about her own experiences with Leo and just wants to help her friend out. So she heads back into her office, leaving Karen and Malcolm alone in their silence. Karen goes back to her desk and Malcolm walks out the door, and for a second, it feels like Karen’s not able to forgive him and Malcolm knows it. But then the door opens again. And Malcolm offers up a fresh start.
I don’t really know how to interpret the ending; I don’t know if they’re starting things up again, or if they’re just putting all of the water of the past under the bridge. But if they are starting things up again, I just…ugh. Look, at the end of the day, I just want Karen to be happy, and if my girl is happy, then that’s great. I just think she deserves so much better than Malcolm. Right from the start (and by the start, I mean the final season of the original run), he was helping Stan stay in hiding and wanted to keep lying to Karen about it so he could go out with her, and once everything came out about that, it felt like Karen agreed to go out with him as a knee-jerk reaction to discovering that Stan had been alive and lying to her for years. Which is so not how you want to kick off a relationship. Fast forward to the current season, and Malcolm selfishly tipped off Stan about the affair so he could have another shot with Karen, resulting in Karen being legitimately scared for her life (like how are we still downplaying this part?) and running away because she didn’t know what Stan was going to do to her. I can only go off of what Karen and Malcolm’s history has been, and their history has been…unhealthy. So I can’t really get on board with another go-around for them.
And I know I keep dreaming about what Samira Wiley’s character means for Karen, but I obviously don’t have the slightest clue. All I know is what they gave us in the press release, that she and Karen get snowed in at the Puck Building and it ends up with Karen examining her love life. If “The Pursuit of Happiness” means that Karen and Malcolm are trying again, I’m extremely curious to see what Samira’s arrival means for that. And if the episode means that Karen’s moving on from all of this, from Stan and Malcolm, then you go, girl, because you deserve all the happiness in the world. I just hope you find happiness with someone who actually deserves you.
Meanwhile, Will’s got a crush on the Civil Procedure teacher at Columbia, Paul, who just moved to the classroom next door, and Jack thinks he should go for it. After all, it’s been a while since Will had a date with a decent guy (the last one was with McCoy Whitman, and I do not understand how this show is going to get me on board with Matt Bomer’s character coming back for three more episodes, but I digress), and if there’s a spark, he should go for it, right? Well…Will’s a little hesitant, since dating a colleague is frowned upon at Columbia, and we all know how Will is when it comes to the rules. It’s honestly one of the reasons why I love him; you need to have someone there to rein it in when everyone else starts to go brilliantly off the rails. But Jack convinces him to take a risk for once in his life, and by god, he’s going to take that risk.
When he gets to class, you can tell that Paul is into Will. So when Will bites the bullet and asks Paul out for drinks, Paul is delightfully surprised; he always thought Will was big on the rules, and thought this was never going to happen. And sorry, Paul, but it actually won’t happen. Not because Will had a change of heart, although he did admit that he almost bailed on the date. But because Paul’s husband, Liam has excellent timing, walking into the classroom with their daughter in tow. And when Liam and Paul excuse themselves for a moment alone, Will faces the implications of what he was about to do, thanks to the greatest young legal mind of our time:
Honestly, could he deal with his guilt in a more adorable way? I don’t think so. When Liam leaves with his daughter and Paul is left alone with Will, Paul’s still expecting them to go out, even though he’s made it clear that he’s not in an open relationship and there’s no arrangement between him and Liam. And it’s here that Will refuses him, holding fast to the rules that he loves so dear (good for him), that he speaks up when Paul says that because it’s two guys, they make their own rules:
Will: No we don’t. I don’t. We spent all these years saying marriage is marriage and love is love ‘til we were blue in the face, and now that we finally have what we were fighting for, we say cheating is not always cheating? I mean, that just seems like…cheating.
God, I love when Will Truman preaches. It just sucks that he keeps having to preach to the guys he dates (remember Blake from last season’s “Who’s Your Daddy?”). So apparently the whole “Why do we keep pairing so-and-so with horrible people?” deal extends to more than the women of this show. Look, I don’t think anyone will measure up to Vince in my eyes (unless, you know, they end up going where I think they’re going with the whole Will/Jack thing). But can we at least get a guy for Will who’s close to Vince’s level? Or at the very least, working to climb up to Vince’s level? For all I know, this show will surprise me with the continuation of the McCoy Whitman storyline. But from the way the last episode he was in went, I’m not super hopeful. And like Karen Walker before him, just give Will Truman someone who’s actually deserving of Will Truman, okay?
While Will and Karen are off dealing with questionable prospects, Jack runs into his late acting teacher Zandra’s sister, Zusanna, putting up a flyer for her dog walking business in the hallway of 155 Riverside Drive. She remembers teaching Jack when she subbed for Zandra, and unlike her sister, she believes that Jack has something special when it comes to acting. But since he’s teaching part-time at the rec center now, Zusanna asserts that there’s no way he can truly be an actor. She wants him to get back into acting, to the point where she comes out of retirement just so she can teach him. And clearly Jack got some of his teaching methods from the times that Zusanna taught for her sister, because the exercise she’s got Jack going through at the rec center is essentially the sexy mailbox exercise Jack made Grace go through when she wanted to send Leo a sexy video in season five’s “Sex, Losers, and Videotape,” and I was LIVING (also, please go watch that original run episode right now, it’s a damn delight). In the middle of the lesson, Jack realizes he’s been playing it safe with his job; sure, he’s got insurance now, but is this really what he wanted for himself? From that moment on, he decides that he’s no longer a teacher; he was, is, and forever will be…wait for it…Just Jack.
That sound you heard Thursday night was me screaming, because oh my god, my heart was so full in that moment. But that thrill is short-lived as Jack quickly realizes that having stability and insurance is a pretty sweet deal, and goes back to the rec center to ask Theodore for his job back. But when he gets there, he finds out that the position has already been filled…by Zusanna. Turns out, her interest in getting Jack back into acting was all a ploy for his job, because she needed the insurance and dog walking just wasn’t cutting it. So what’s a guy to do when he’s been manipulated out of his job? The only thing he really can do…take up Zusanna’s dog walking business. It does make me a little sad, because I feel like the rec center job was proof of a real evolution in Jack’s character; he was taking responsibility a little more, and he wasn’t flitting around from career to career like it’s nothing. But hopefully things look up for him in the future.
This week’s episode was rough for most of our Fab Four (and the one happy-ish ending we got, I’m still having trouble with). Here’s hoping next week treats them a little kinder, because I really don’t want to debate writing a giant “NO” for the next recap. It would be nice to have more words in my vocabulary than that for the new episode.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Oh look, there’s that endgame thing again:
- Hello, delightfully random tap dancing routine, nice to see you:
- Mmmkay, I’m going to need Karen to carry that fan around with her all the time, because damn:
- Grace’s astrological sign mishap from when she first started dating again is so spectacularly Grace, and I loved it a lot.
- We saw the delivery guy last season, and back then I pointed out that he’s the same guy who played Steve, Will and Grace’s friend from the original run. This week, we confirmed that his name is, in fact, Steve. So…is this the same guy? And if it is, how does Grace not know what his name is?!
- Zusanna is of the firm belief that Tom Cruise doesn’t have teeth, and I love her so much for that. Can we keep her?
- What exactly did Jack have to do to get kicked out of an online acting class taught by Manny from Modern Family?
- Grace’s facial reactions to what Malcolm and Karen were whispering in her ear were as amazing as Karen miming some of the things she’s done to Malcolm.
- “It stays with you, like Fergie’s performance of the National Anthem.”
- “Do you drink?” “A widdle.” God, Karen, just steal my whole heart, why don’t you?
- I don’t like Malcolm. I don’t like the way his relationship with Karen has played out in the past, I don’t like what he put her through this season, and if this episode has opened the door for them again, I’m pretty sure I won’t like the way their relationship will continue. But in spite of all of that, I have to admit…this moment melted me:
Did “The Pursuit of Happiness” make you happy? Or are we in the same boat? Let’s chat in the comments.