Will & Grace Season 2, Episode 17
“The Things We Do for Love”
Posted by Sarah
I think we’ve all learned over the course of this revival that Will & Grace isn’t afraid to jam pack a whole lot of story into thirty minutes, and this week, we’ve got PLENTY of things to talk about. Some of them are great; I would very much like to see everything that led to the morning after Jack’s bachelor party. Some of them are not so great; Noah 100% reverted back to the guy I know and loathe after a couple weeks of being a somewhat decent human being, and why is he even here, you guys? Why? Some of it is conflicting and makes me nervous for what’s to come next week; there is A LOT going on with Karen in this episode, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. And none of it is resolved, thanks to that nifty little “To Be Continued…” at the end of the episode. So let’s dive in to Grace’s well-intentioned but fairly disastrous dinner party and try to unpack everything we can.
But first, I present to you some glorious, glorious bachelor party aftermath:
Listen, this opening scene was magic and made me long for a separate episode focused solely on the events of the night before (I honestly can’t believe we didn’t get a bachelor party episode? We’ve been ramping up to Jack’s wedding all season, it just seems like the bachelor party would have gotten more than what it did here). Everything about this was amazing: Will spooning a blow-up doll, Karen passed out in clown shoes, Jack and Grace wearing each other’s clothes, Larry dressed as Little Bo Peep with “HETERO” written across his forehead, the pony with the tutu and the unicorn horn. It looked like one hell of a night, and it was great to know that our Fab Four celebrated Jack’s impending nuptials with a bang before things start to get incredibly messy at Grace and Noah’s dinner party.
Turns out, that bachelor party is two seconds away from putting Jack in the doghouse for reasons that don’t involve the cop/stripper making his exit before everyone wakes up. See, Estefan has entrusted Jack with thirteen gold coins that will be exchanged during their wedding ceremony, a Spanish tradition that symbolizes trust, and a tradition that is very, VERY important to Estefan. But Jack decided to bring the coins with him to the bachelor party to show Karen, and now he’s lost them.
Well…trust was fun while it lasted.
Once Will lets him suffer just a little bit in the most brilliant way, he lets Jack know that he has the coin purse in question; it’s just that one of the coins is missing. Jack’s understandably freaking out; he’s scrambling to locate the missing coin, but by the time he shows up at the dinner party, he’s still empty handed. And it’s not like he can just forget about it and enjoy himself; when Estefan shows up, he does not let up about how important the coins are. Jack is doing everything he can to keep his screw-up from his husband-to-be, diverting him with the exotic bathroom of the straight American male (“I bet it’s just a hole in the ground!”), and swearing up and down that he has all of the coins in his possession (again, trust was fun while it lasted). The lies are clearly getting to him, and he’s about to spill everything to Estefan, until Larry interrupts everything with a knock on the door, the missing gold coin, and a…quaint?…little story about how he found it. Lesson learned, kids: do not refuse to dance at a bachelor party; otherwise, someone will say you’re a dancing machine, someone else will try to shove a coin where the sun doesn’t shine in order to make you dance, and you’ll be left with the ER bill.
I will hand it to this show for knowing how to balance the heavier parts of an episode–or at least the parts that will have stronger repercussions for our Fab Four–with something a little lighter, a little sillier. Jack’s spiral was a lot of fun to watch, and Estefan just being Estefan played off of that spiral really well. It made for a great break in between the plots that are clearly going to have more of an impact as we prepare for the season finale.
Meanwhile, Karen and Nikki are getting hot and heavy in Grace’s private office (and, come on, that was bound to happen sooner or later, even if it wasn’t going to be Karen getting some action in there. I mean…it’s a private office) before they sit down to have an honest discussion about their relationship and where it’s headed. They’ve been together for a few weeks now (*squeal*), but Karen still hasn’t told the rest of the gang about it, and is essentially keeping Nikki on the down-low. Nikki’s concerned that this is just an experiment to Karen, and she needs to know where she stands, telling Karen “I need to be with a gay woman” and that if she’s not fully in this, Nikki can’t be with her.
Okay, I absolutely get where Nikki is coming from, but the wording here is…yikes. Sure, there’s the concern that a straight woman is just experimenting with you, but there’s also the very real fact that lesbians are not the only women who are attracted to women. And as much as I already love Nikki, this definitely rubbed me the wrong way. The damage is already done, though, as it’s obvious that Karen hears Nikki loud and clear. Which is why, when Karen arrives at Grace and Noah’s dinner party, she’s got her girlfriend by her side, embracing every butch lesbian stereotype she’s read after a quick Google search. And it is definitely a look. The flannel, the boots, the vest, opting for a can of beer rather than her usual martini. It’s a shock to everyone at the party, but Karen is standing firm in this until Nikki finally pulls her off to the side to sort all of this out. Nikki tells her girlfriend that all of the stereotypes she’s clinging to right now are not what being gay is, especially when it comes to someone like Karen. For her part, Karen recognizes that this doesn’t feel right. But any resolution to this will have to wait for a little while, as Karen and Nikki steal away to Noah’s bedroom for a moment alone.
I’ve been sitting with this since Thursday, and I’m still not entirely sure I have all my thoughts down, but I’m going to try my best, so bear with me. After this episode aired, I saw a lot of anger about Karen’s bisexuality being erased with this storyline, and to be completely honest, that was my initial reaction too (I didn’t even wait until the end of the episode to start getting into it; I was watching on Thursday with the guy who’s essentially the Jack to my Karen, and we couldn’t help but discuss it during commercials). But after watching this a couple more times, realizing that this is the first part of a two-parter, and taking the synopsis of next week’s finale into consideration, I am cautiously (key word here is CAUTIOUSLY) optimistic that this isn’t what’s happening. What this looks like to me is Karen trying to figure out who she is in this relationship. Yes, her bisexuality has been established since the original run. But this is the first real relationship with a woman she’s had in at least 30 years, if ever (that we know of, anyway), and this is definitely the first time her attraction to women hasn’t been a joke on this show. Add to that the fact that she obviously cares so much for Nikki, and that Nikki made it sound like if Karen’s not 100% gay, they 100% can’t be together, and I can kind of see why Karen would go down this road. She wants to stay with Nikki, but she’s still figuring herself out, so she’s working to find the right fit; there’s no timeline or concrete path to self-discovery, and you hit a lot of snags before you land on what feels true to you. But eventually, you get there. I’d like to think that this is just one step on Karen’s journey, and I’m not ready to call this bisexual erasure quite yet.
But check back in with me after the season finale…I’m sure there’ll be a lot to break down on this front alone.
And what about our dinner party host and her best friend? Will and Grace are now each living with their boyfriends and the results are kind of varied. Even though McCoy is on assignment in London, you can tell that there is an effort in 9C to cohabitate peacefully; Will transformed the TV room into McCoy’s office, making sure that his love has a space that is truly his. Grace, however, isn’t as lucky, although you would never hear her say it. Noah has very particular taste, and it absolutely does not mesh with Grace’s; every time she tries to put a little bit of herself into the place, Noah immediately hates it (honestly, how can anyone hate the Asian Baby Fish Humper statue, this guy is the worst). But even though Grace is seemingly doing all the compromising in this new step in her relationship, she’s throwing this dinner party to prove how great everything is now that she’s living with the West Side Curmudgeon. Too bad Will isn’t buying it.
Before they head to the dinner party, Will lets Jack in on how he’s feeling about Grace’s relationship, and he is so on the money about this, it hurts. He tells Jack that Grace is losing herself in her relationship again, making all of the compromises and getting nothing in return. And this is EXACTLY what I mean when I say that they almost never pair Grace up with a guy who’s actually worthy of her. This keeps happening to her, and she keeps pretending to be okay with it; just look at her entire relationship with Leo (and we were supposed to buy into the idea that he was the one for her? Come the fuck on, people…). I’ve had enough of it, and so has Will; he wants to say something to Grace at the dinner party. But Jack tells him to keep his mouth shut; after all, it has never gone well when Will spoke up in the past–I mean, it was even in the pilot episode of the original run, when he told her how he thought Danny was beneath her (and he was)–so there is no way it’s going to go smoothly now. All Will needs to do is lean on some carefully-worded pseudo-compliments–you know, the kind that he gives Jack when he doesn’t want to tell him what a disaster Gaybraham Twinkin’ is–and maybe drop a few hints about how compromising goes both ways, and be done with it.
Oh, if only it were that easy.
Kids, you know how I feel about Noah. I’ve been saying it all season. The last couple of episodes, though, he honestly seemed to be making some improvements to his character (I mean, too little too late, but still, I acknowledged them). But this episode…holy shit, the backslide on this guy. It’s just so goddamn infuriating. He complains about the scent of the candle Will gives Grace for a housewarming gift (which also happens to be her favorite candle) and tells Grace to keep it in her office instead of their home. He gets a call from his college best friend in the middle of Grace’s heartfelt welcome to her friends and takes it, abandoning the party. He calls his move with Grace seamless, because of course he would, he’s not the one completely altering his life. Not to mention, he made Grace give up television (THAT MONSTER), leading her to utter the most outrageous lie I’ve ever heard her utter:
If that’s not Grace Adler losing herself in a relationship, then I don’t know what is. Will is slowly losing it; he knows he can’t bite his tongue much longer, but to be fair, his motives are so obvious when he keeps mentioning compromise to Noah that he wasn’t really biting his tongue that hard to begin with. And the last straw comes in the form of Noah telling everyone that he won’t be joining everyone in Spain for Jack and Estefan’s wedding. Grace is obviously upset that he’s blowing off something that is extremely important to her, but even though Noah sees it, he won’t budge. And it’s here that Will decides to leave, before he makes things worse by telling Grace what he’s thinking. But before he goes, he says it plain and simple to Jack: Grace can do so much better than Noah (PREACH, my friend). The only problem? Grace hears him and promptly tells him to leave. And as Will finally tells her how he feels, and that he thinks she feels it as well, Grace concedes that Noah isn’t perfect and is a lot to deal with. The other only problem? Noah hears her. But before he can say anything, that pesky “To Be Continued…” shows up at the bottom of the screen.
Look, I want Grace to be happy. I really do. But I also want her to keep what makes her who she is alive. And I really don’t think those things can happen simultaneously if she stays with Noah. From the sound of next week’s synopsis, it feels like maybe she’s starting to see that, too. And I hope that’s the case. I hope she sees that she can do better than Noah, that she wholeheartedly deserves someone better than Noah. I hope she sees where Will is coming from, and I hope that–if this ends up being the end of the road for her and Noah–season three leads her to someone who will actually share the burden of compromise with her instead of letting her change who she is to fit a relationship.
Because really…how hard is it to let Grace fall for a decent man?
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Jack somehow ended up in the dress Grace wore in this season’s premiere episode during his bachelor party, and I don’t know what it says about me that I caught it right away, but I’m also completely fine with being that person.
- “There better not be any video, because we have a daughter with no sense of humor.” God, I love Larry so much.
- “Do straight women wanna do the things to you that I do?” Props to this show for still managing to make me scream even when I’m still trying to figure out my feelings about this storyline.
- This is EXACTLY where my mind when the first time I saw Butch Karen (once my brain recovered from short-circuiting, of course), bless:
- But this works too, I guess:
- “I tried to Wikipedia them, but I accidentally went to Dickipedia and stayed there all night.” Seriously, kids, we don’t deserve Jack McFarland. Protect him at all costs.
- Grace serving Chinese takeout at this dinner party is so insanely Grace, I can’t stand it. It felt so right.
- “Hopefully we’ll get to see the running of the bulls in Lesbian Town.” I just…why did this make me laugh so much?
- I’m obsessed with Estefan’s fascination with Noah’s bathroom, and I don’t know what it was about the way he said “He has a bar of soap that says ‘Dial,’” but that broke me in the best way.
What did you think about “The Things We Do for Love?” How do you think the season finale will play out next week? Let’s chat in the comments.
Featured Image Source: NBC