Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 7
“What a Dump”
Posted by Sarah
All week, I’ve been wanting to know the significance of this episode’s title. It seemed innocuous enough, but also super vague, so I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. And then Thursday night happened.
Be careful what you wish for.
This week was the first of two Karen-less episodes, and while I absolutely felt my girl’s absence, this was also probably the week I found myself laughing the most so far this season (although I’m not quite sure what that says about my sense of humor, so let’s just leave it at that, shall we?). The episode’s namesake is a plot that I simultaneously can’t believe I have to recap and can’t believe hasn’t happened sooner; I mean, really, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened to Grace. And on the flip side, Will and Jack finally confront one of the longer running issues in their friendship in true final season fashion, with a little help from a stop light and Estefan’s arsenal of Spanish fairy tales. Apartments are ruined, dignity is lost, and $185 purchases from Balloon Elegance need to be verified, so let’s unpack this one.
Grace runs into James–the guy she kind of blew it with back in “Three Wise Men” by dating his father and his son–in the elevator of their apartment building. And even though she tries to avoid what she’s sure will be an awkward situation the best she can (honestly, that umbrella trick seems solid on paper), James surprisingly offers a fresh start, to see where it takes them. He’s able to keep the past in the past, and he doesn’t mind that Grace is currently pregnant with another man’s child, so why not give it another go? Grace agrees, and she’s feeling great about it. After all, she’s already done the worst thing imaginable to the guy the first time around; there’s absolutely nothing she can do that could possibly top that.
So of course she does something the morning after their date to absolutely top that.
Kids, this is probably the most Grace Adler storyline I’ve ever seen; I’m hard pressed to think of something that tracks for her as hard as this one does. I kind of can’t believe the fact that James was able to get past what happened in “Three Wise Men”–that’s not really something I personally think I could ever disregard, but you do you, sir–but the fact that he does is basically a challenge for Sitcom Land to get its shit together and double down on the awkward circumstances. So if sleeping with all the men in James’ family isn’t going to be the thing to completely turn him off of Grace, maybe Grace accidentally clogging the toilet beyond any kind of repair the morning after a fantastic date will do it.
This whole thing escalated so quickly, gave Debra Messing a chance to play it up in a way she really hasn’t been able to do so far this season, and honestly, I was here for it. The way she flat out starts by calling all the plumbers and telling Will they have to move already sets it up for the most glorious disaster, but it wouldn’t be much without the way Debra lets Grace completely spiral into frantic madness here. The stress and horror of it all is real, as the one plumber that actually answers her call decides he can’t do this without his plumber friend from the zoo, as she calls her sister Janet for last resort advice, and as she eventually sets the bathroom on fire after lighting every scented candle she could find. By the time James comes back to his apartment, the place is so trashed that the only logical thing for Grace to do is tell him that he’s been robbed. Because at this point, who really wants to deal with the truth?
Once the cops are called, Grace knows she’s screwed. And even though she initially tries to play the robbery card, she levels with the female cop in the hopes that telling her the truth will make them leave quietly so that she won’t have to be exposed to James. But where’s the fun in that? Of course the cop bluntly tells her partner and James what really happened, leaving Grace to clean up the mess she made. The damage has already been done, though; there’s no way James is getting past this one, and their romance ends before it really gets started again.
As much as I think this storyline weirdly worked, I can’t help but feel like this would have been something better suited for the previous season. I think part of it might be because every storyline leading up to this has pushed forward every arc of the season in some way, whether it’s Grace’s pregnancy, Will having a baby of his own, or Karen’s baseball team; one-off plots like this feel so random now that we’re getting down to the wire. But there’s also the fact that everything that happened during “Three Wise Men” would have been a lot fresher in our minds if this happened sooner; looking at the promotional stuff for this episode leading up to Thursday night, I very much had a moment of “Wait, why does this guy look familiar?” before remembering his contribution to the Will & Grace universe. It felt like an odd choice to do this now, when final seasons are usually so much about tying up all the loose ends and setting the stage for as satisfying an ending as possible. It didn’t move the overall story anywhere, but it was still entertaining as hell. So at the end of the day, I’ll take it.
While Grace is dealing with this issue, Will’s got one of his own. After footing the bill for Jack’s Lasik surgery so that he looks younger for his auditions, and after a call from fraud detection to verify some unusual purchases at Submissive Male, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to Grace that Will is keeping Jack from growing up by paying for literally everything he does. And once that thought gets into Will’s head, he can’t get it out; he starts to see Grace’s point and realizes he needs to do something about it.
Now, THIS is a plot that has final season vibes written all over it; they actually kind of touched on this in the original final season (although that time, it was Karen giving Jack the hard truth about the way he was living, just before he headed into the most important audition of his life), so it’s not at all surprising that we ended up here this week. For as long as we’ve known these characters, Will has been bankrolling Jack’s life without much complaint. And now that Jack has done a lot of growing up over the course of the revival–steady job, monogamous and committed relationships, marriage–it’s only natural to confront the fact that he’s still relying on his best friend for his cash flow. Will is starting to see how he might be holding Jack back; after all of this time serving as Jack’s personal ATM, something’s gotta give. While I maybe would have waited until after Jack’s eyes have completely healed from the procedure, he takes Jack to Miss Coco’s to drop the news that he’s cutting him off financially. And Jack takes the news exactly the way you’d expect, storming away in anger, accidentally taking the table cloth with him.
It’s not hard to get where Will is coming from, especially when he feels like he’s not getting the appreciation he deserves for everything he does. But when it comes to Jack, there’s a really fine line between growing all the way up and losing the best parts of him, and this episode definitely made an effort to acknowledge that. So while Jack’s getting advice from the stoplight about whether or not he should go back and apologize to Will (I weirdly loved that part, I can’t help it), Will gets some expected advice from Estefan.
Let me just say, Jack and Estefan’s love for each other is so pure that I can’t believe I ever thought this was going to be some brief rebound thing for Jack. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong in my life. It is so clear how wonderful Estefan thinks Jack is every time they share the screen together (and even when they don’t), and it never fails to fill my heart. Estefan doesn’t understand why Will wants Jack to grow up, because he reminds everyone around him how it feels to be young. And I totally get it; seeing how much Jack gets out of the world around him sometimes can show you how great life can be. Will starts to see it, too; once Jack comes back to 9C with perfect vision, he tries to tell Will he’ll grow up and pay back every penny he’s been given, only for Will to tell him how much he loves the childlike part of him. It’s a heartwarming moment that can only be topped by one thing: Jack finally thanking Will for all the things he’s done for him.
I love Will and Jack’s connection with my whole being. They’ve been through so much together over the years that when they get to have a moment as genuine as this, it means everything. They don’t always have an opportunity to express how much they truly mean to each other–so much of their time is filled with quips and jabs, with Jack’s schemes and Will trying to get him to rein it in a bit–but you know that there is so much love there. And when it has the opportunity to come out in moments like this, it’s always played so well and with so much heart. It’s exactly what I love about this show, and it’s exactly what I’m going to miss so much when we have to say goodbye again.
We should all be so lucky to have a friendship like theirs in our lives.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- “You’re a pregnant woman who slept with everyone in his family. How are you getting more action than me?”
- I’m going to need Jack to wear this outfit all the time, please and thank you:
- “You’re basically his sugar daddy, except you don’t have sex and you’re both old.”
- Whoever keeps deciding to give Coco Peru screentime needs to keep making decisions. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.
- Speaking of amazing casting decisions, shout out to Eddie Pepitone as the lone plumber who answers Grace’s call. The way he delivered his lines was perfect and added so much to this crazy storyline.
- “What do I get out of this friendship except a barrage of insults and a reputation among certain call center employees that I’m an insatiable bottom?” This sent me more than it probably should have. Bless you, Will Truman.
- Look, I’m usually all for the implausible happenings of Sitcom Land, but is this really the kind of pratfall you want your pregnant title character to take? Again, this is probably a storyline that should have happened way sooner than this.
- Seriously, give me a full episode of Estefan describing the Spain version of every fairy tale ever, and call it a day.
- All my thanks to this show for bringing Brian Jordan Alvarez to my attention. Ever since his first appearance, I’ve been doing deep dives into his YouTube channel and I can’t get enough of it. If weird, off the rails comedy is your thing, please check out his sketches like “What, Charles?” and his gloriously bonkers “Divorce” series. I legitimately don’t know what I’m watching half the time, but I also can’t stop watching it.
- I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting to actually see the plumber return with the zoo plumber, but I didn’t, and I lost it. It was a great way to end the episode.
What did you think about “What a Dump?” Let’s talk in the comments.