Will & Grace Season 2, Episode 13
Posted by Sarah
Here’s the deal: I still hate Noah. I will never be able to get past things like “Tex and the City,” which basically had him calling Grace neurotic while he was trying to convince her to have sex with him, and then in the next breath telling her she should never be talked into sex. I will still always believe that Grace deserves better. But I have to say, this week’s episode was pretty excellent for him? It was the kind of thing that would have endeared me to him IMMEDIATELY if he…you know…wasn’t Noah. His time with Karen was exactly what both of them needed, and it was just such a wonderfully unexpected turn. We’ve also got a fake love triangle and accidentally threatening the health of a Supreme Court justice in these thirty minutes, filling an honestly delightful episode to the brim.
All is fair in love, war, and hailing cabs, so let’s break it all down.
It’s Valentine’s Day (which is a totally normal thing to celebrate in March, okay?), and it’s affecting each of our Fab Four in different ways. For Grace, it means holding back her enthusiasm for the holiday because Noah naturally hates it. Still, she wants to do something to mark the occasion, and decides to get her boyfriend an antique pen as a gift to show how much she cares about him. So when she tries to hail a cab in order to score the perfect gift on time, she’ll stop at nothing to make sure she completes her mission…even if it means pushing an older woman away from the taxi she thinks is rightfully hers. It isn’t until Will calls her during her ride and fills her in on some breaking news that she realizes just who she pushed out of the way: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This episode was just such a classic example of a Grace Adler spiral when she knows she’s in deep. She goes from zero to sixty in about half a second, and it’s always such a delicious descent into guilt and madness. Technically, no one really knows that she’s the one who knocked RBG to the ground (and seriously, the fact that she was eating a salad while she did it should have those who truly know her looking elsewhere for the culprit), but she’s convinced it’s only a matter of time before she’s found out. It completely derails her trip to get Noah the pen, and by the time she gets back home, Mrs. Timmer is there waiting for her telling Grace that she knows what she’s done. So of course Grace spills about the cab, and of course that is in no way what Mrs. Timmer meant. By the time Grace figures out that Mrs. Timmer is on her about the FreshDirect salad she stole (which, let’s be real, is also classic Grace), it’s too late. And before she becomes the most hated woman in the building (or New York, or honestly America because we legitimately need to protect RBG at all costs), Mrs. Timmer tells her to go to the hospital to beg for forgiveness.
On the cab ride to the hospital, it seems like any effort to make the situation better is futile. Grace obviously feels like there’s no way out of this. That is, until a special press conference held by RBG breaks through on the radio. RBG announces that she’s fine and is headed back to D.C, and has a special message for the woman who pushed her out of the way: she forgives her assailant, knows that it’s every woman for herself when securing a cab, and she completely understands the reasoning behind the rush; after all, Grace was simply trying to show Noah how much she cares about him, and people have been known to do crazy things for love (fake Ruth Bader Ginsburg is such a class act, you guys). Feeling absolved of her guilt after hearing the press conference, Grace redirects the cab so she can buy Noah his Valentine’s gift and enjoy the rest of her holiday without the guilt of potentially destroying the Supreme Court for a really fancy pen. When I read the synopsis for the episode prior to air, this plot just seemed so out of left field to me, but seeing how it played out, it actually felt incredibly true to Grace and not outside the realm of possibility. Just, you know…maybe next time be conscious of who you’re knocking down to the ground, okay girl?
For Will and Jack, Valentine’s Day is all about trying to make Will’s relationship with Estefan a little smoother. Will doesn’t really make an effort to hang out with Estefan, and when Estefan tries to get to know Will a little better, Will is quick to shoot him down. Jack wants to keep the peace between his fiancé and his best friend, and once he gets a moment alone with Will, he takes him to task on the way he treats Estefan. He makes Will promise to make more of an effort, get to know him a little better, do things together every once in a while. To his credit, Will says he’ll give it a try. The next time he sees Estefan, they’re making awkward small talk in the hallway before he tells Estefan that he wants to spend more time with him, giving him a little squeeze to the tricep. And that is all Estefan needs to tell Jack that Will has a crush on him. It’s the only thing that makes sense to him; Will was being uncharacteristically nice, and he made Jack promise not to tell Will to be nicer to him. And since Jack is Jack and refuses to get caught doing something he shouldn’t have, he lets his fiancé believe that they are in the midst of a love triangle.
Listen, I grew up on old school sitcoms that played with these kinds of tropes over and over and over again, so I am an absolute sucker for storylines filled with elaborate lies and incredible misunderstandings. And this one did not disappoint. Jack rushes over to Will’s apartment to let him know what Estefan thinks is up, and that Will needs to pretend that this unrequited love is real. But there is no way Jack could have been expecting the way Will leans into it with everything he’s got. Will knows that the harder he goes, the more it will freak Jack out, and how else are you going to stop getting yourself into trouble like that without a wake-up call? Will declares that there’s only one way to quell his “desire” for Estefan: they must share a kiss, or to put it in Estefan’s terms, “In order for Will to release me, he must have me in his mouth once.” (Guys, I have my doubts that this relationship is going to last–I feel like something is probably going to happen at the wedding, but I don’t quite know what and I’m sure it doesn’t help things that Drew is coming back into the picture in two weeks–but can we still find a way to keep Estefan around for these gems? Because I love them.)
Estefan is completely on board to let this kiss happen (I can’t tell if he ended up realizing it was a joke and decided to go all in too, or if this should a red flag for Jack, send help in the comments), and it’s making Jack lose his damn mind; he refuses to watch his best friend and his fiancé make out. Will’s got a simple solution; they’ll just go into his bedroom so Jack doesn’t have to be their audience. Just when they’re about to head back there, Jack finally confesses that he lied to Estefan. He owns up to asking Will to be nicer, even though Estefan asked him not to. And after he tries to make things right with his fiancé, Jack sits down with Will on the second stop of his apology tour. Honestly, I love the way Will tortures him just a bit, making him extend his apology to include so many things that weren’t even part of the issue (I lost it at “And I know your hair is real,” sue me). But he soon lets Jack off the hook, promising to make more of an effort with Estefan; after all, he makes Jack happy, so that means that Will loves him. Jack, on the other hand, asks Will to write their vows…before ultimately saying he’ll take all the credit and Will has to pretend like he had nothing to do with them.
So much for a teachable moment. But at least Jack recognizes that he’s learned absolutely nothing? And it’s probably better for us as an audience, anyway; I live for these kinds of storylines, and I don’t want them to disappear anytime soon.
Finally, there’s my girl Karen. This is her first Valentine’s Day alone in a long time, and she’s getting through it as best as she can (YES HI HELLO, can we stop here for a second? So…does this mean she’s not really with Malcolm? Because last week, we learned that he’s Karen’s plus one for Jack’s wedding. And I would just blame this on messing with the production order, but last week was also the point where Will and McCoy got back together, and that definitely continued into this week, so what gives? Can someone just tell me if I should still be angry at “The Pursuit of Happiness?” Please and thank you). But it doesn’t help that when she learns Noah writes her favorite romance series under the name Sylvia Delacroix–SUCH a good pseudonym, by the way–he tells her that he not only finished the last book of the series, but he’s also killing off the character she identifies with the most, Aurora. We all know the lengths Karen will go to for the stories she loves; if you need a refresher, put a pin in this recap and go watch season three’s “An Old-Fashioned Piano Party” to see her glorious addiction to the gay erotica Jack writes to get over his breakup (I’ll wait). So while Noah thinks Karen has dragged him to Grace Adler Designs solely to autograph her collection of novels, Karen has other plans in mind.
Laptop, meet handgun. You better hope that Noah changes his mind on killing Aurora, because if not, you’re about to be blown to bits.
Noah is understandably freaking out, partially because the only copy of the manuscript lives in the laptop Karen’s now holding hostage, and partially because Karen keeps flinging around the gun he doesn’t know isn’t loaded in his direction. And even though he’s adamant about needing to stop with the romance novels so he can finally start writing his “real” second novel, all Karen wants is for him to rewrite the ending and spare Aurora; the character has gotten Karen through a lot of hard times–this divorce, in particular–and the fact that Aurora was always able to find love gave her hope that she could, too (ahem…Karen Walker Feels Things™). There is a lot to unpack from both Karen’s and Noah’s standpoints, and I couldn’t have asked for a better arena to do so. Both of them are extremely strong personalities and, in the right situations, incredibly stubborn. So to put both of them in the same room to hash this kind of stuff out was such a great move on the show’s part. Noah tries to tell her that the things he writes in those books don’t constitute real love, because they’re ridiculous and embarrassing. And it’s here that we get a lovely moment of Karen Walker realness: “Being ridiculous and embarrassing is what love is. It’s standing in front of someone with a dumb drugstore balloon and saying, ‘Here I am, fully exposed.’ And you’re afraid of that.” She gets right to the heart of Noah’s intimacy issues and shows no mercy while she does it; she tells him that the only reason Grace says she hates Valentine’s Day is because she loves him, that he should be with his girlfriend right now instead of staying in this office, and that he’s blowing Grace off for the exact reason he wants to kill off Aurora: embracing romance makes him feel foolish.
Don’t you just love it when Karen sees things clearer than anybody else? Because I know I do.
Noah relents–maybe it’s because he recognizes how right Karen is, maybe it’s because he realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to get a different ending, maybe it’s a little bit of both–and rewrites the ending to the book, making it so that Aurora lives. And when she finally has a copy of Aurora’s new fate in her hands, Karen tells him to quit using the character as an excuse for not making any progress on the novel he really wants to write; he still has time to write plenty of important books. By the time she tells him to get out of there and go spend the rest of Valentine’s Day with Grace, you can tell that Noah is a little rocked by the whole situation. You know he wasn’t expecting any revelations about himself to come out of this, and he certainly wasn’t expecting the woman who keeps a drawer full of guns in the office to be the one who actually gets through to him. And he lets it be known in what is perhaps my favorite description of Karen Walker I have ever heard:
Noah: Who are you, anyway?
Karen: What do you mean?
Noah: Are you the crazy woman who holds a gun to my laptop, or are you the sanest woman I’ve ever met?
Both. It’s both. My girl is both. And that is why she has my entire heart. Sometimes it seems like people find it easy to dismiss her opinions and advice; when you’re a woman who threatens to shoot out a laptop and declares things like Christmas being the celebration of the birth of our lord Cartier, maybe you don’t get taken as seriously as you should. But damn…Karen has been through more than we will ever know, and she has an arsenal of truth bombs at the ready when you least expect it because of that. And the fact that Noah recognizes it the first time he ever has a moment alone with her is incredible. I mean, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s still Noah, but it’s incredible; had it been virtually anyone else, that would have been the moment that he won me over. When he leaves Karen alone to read the new ending, it’s obvious that everything she’s said has gotten to him. The next thing we know, he’s knocking on the door of 9C, standing in front of Grace with a dumb drugstore balloon, ready to dive in to the ridiculous, embarrassing vulnerability that comes along with loving someone. And Karen? Well…Noah may not have given her the kind of straightforward advice that she gave him. But he gave her the reworked final page to his new book, one that Karen needed to read, more for herself than for her love of Aurora. There was something in her that just needed the solace that comes with knowing that the character you identify with is going to be okay, and Noah gave her that; there was also something in Noah that completely took to heart what Karen said to him, using the new ending to let her know that he heard her. And Karen can take comfort in Aurora’s new, happy ending, and be hopeful that brighter things are also on her own horizon.
But no, for real…someone please tell me if this show thinks the brighter thing on Karen’s horizon is Malcolm. Because I have several bones to pick about that if so.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- God, as much as I dislike Noah, I really love the juxtaposition between who he is and the fact that he is responsible for something called The Bodice Chronicles. Like, what even?
- Welcome to this week’s installment of “How the Hell Does Karen Walker Slay So Hard?”:
- “I wouldn’t have pegged you for a fan of romance novels…or of reading.” Oh, okay, Will, so we’re just going to play like bonding with Karen over The Marriage of Equals in “Wedding Balls” never happened? What a knife to my heart.
- If you thought Karen Walker carried fewer than two martini glasses in her purse at all times, you clearly do not know Karen Walker.
- Jack and Estefan’s tracksuits are everything, and you can’t convince me otherwise:
- I…really want to see the guys from Queer Eye perform The Vagina Monologues now?
- One of the greatest things about Grace Adler is that she will only eat salad if she steals it from the lobby of her building (Related: Hey, Mrs. Timmer. Keep coming back, will you?).
- Estefan thinking the Brooding Man painting in the living room of 9C is a painting of him makes my whole life.
- “Then he showed me the wheel which said this week, he is in fact the boss of me.” Things are happening in Jack and Estefan’s household, and to quote Will from the season premiere, “I’ve got a million questions and I don’t want to ask any of them.”
- How is the Noah we’ve known up until this point the same Noah who writes something as beautifully real as “The thing that scares you most will be the thing that sets you free?” HOW?! Where has THAT Noah been this whole time? Because right now, I’m wishing Grace had fallen in love with Sylvia Delacroix.
What did you think of “Supreme Courtship?” Let’s talk in the comments.
Featured Image Source: NBC