Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 11
“Accidentally on Porpoise”
Posted by Sarah
If I could just channel Regina George for a second: stop trying to make James happen. He’s not going to happen.
I’m not sure what’s going on with some of these storylines, but they really don’t feel like a good use of the final season of a show? While I totally understand what the writers were getting at with Will and Jack’s storyline (even if Jack’s religious side seemed a bit out of the blue this late in the game), I am so confused as to what the actual hell is happening in the world of Grace Adler. Why do we keep pressing a relationship with a guy who didn’t really have impressive chemistry with her in the first place? Why are we using him as the gateway to absurdly ridiculous antics that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise? What did porpoises ever do to deserve this? I don’t know. I’m not even sure the writers know. And I can’t believe this is the second time this season I have to say that I can’t believe I have to recap this storyline. But here we go.
By all accounts, James Wise is a dumbass; facts are facts. If you run into the woman who not only slept with your father AND your son, but also straight up destroyed your apartment in the grossest way possible, and you still want another shot at love with her, you’re bringing the inevitable on yourself. Because “You can’t do anything worse” is not a promise; it’s a challenge. And good lord, does Grace rise to the challenge. Once she gets to the aquarium James works at to see the porpoise they just acquired, Grace only has one rule to follow: don’t cross the yellow line around the pool until James comes back from suiting up. But this is Grace we’re talking about; she’s definitely going to try to push the limits of that rule without James ever catching wind that she pushed them. So when she accidentally falls into the pool after trying to take a selfie with the porpoise, she figures she might as well take advantage of the situation and play with her new animal friend. But it soon becomes clear that while Grace thought she was innocently tickling the porpoise, she was really getting it off.
I can’t believe this show just made me write that sentence.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the writers room for this season. I would love to know the thought process behind so many of these storylines, but would especially like to know how this storyline got off the ground and not only became a thing, but also became the namesake of this episode. Is it because they know it’s the last season and can therefore do anything they want without getting cancelled (kind of like how I always pictured the process behind the final season of the original Roseanne, even though it pains me to even bring that show up anymore)? Is it because no one really gives a damn anymore? Who knows? What we do know is that the thought process behind Grace pleasuring a porpoise didn’t stop there; no, this porpoise has to be the last female of her species who needs to be handled carefully because she’s about to mate. And if something happens to her–something like…oh, I don’t know…a redhead falling into the water and “tickling” her–it could put her entire species in jeopardy. Because this is apparently who we are now on Thursday nights. This is apparently what we do.
When James comes back into the room, he has no clue Grace has been in the pool and completely believes her when she says she didn’t cross the yellow line, even though her hair and suit are clearly soaked (guys, he’s a dumbass for real). But of course the surveillance camera Grace didn’t notice caught everything. Of course James watches the footage with her. Of course he declares this the worst thing Grace has ever done, mission accomplished. And of course their relationship is over for good this time.
Or is it?
Yes. It is.
James swings by 9C after getting fired from the aquarium, and once Grace apologizes for essentially ending an entire species, he not only forgives her, he wants to give their relationship another shot (dumbass). Thankfully, this time, Grace isn’t having it, questioning his sanity and his apparently low standards. Even though she lists off all of the inadvertently destructive things she’s done every single time they’ve tried to make it work, James declares that he’s falling for her, and honestly? Grace going into Cher “Snap out of it!” mode is warranted after that. This really felt like the last time we’ll see James, now that Grace has finally drawn the line in the sand. But, you know…I thought the first time we saw James was going to be the last time, too, so what the hell do I know?
Meanwhile, a visit from a baby proofer has Will freaking out about parenthood even more than he probably already was. Between testing out his new stroller with a watermelon he bundled up in a baby jacket and put sunscreen on, and running emergency drills for getting his kid out of the house in the event of a rare NYC earthquake, he’s clearly on edge, and Jack and Karen know it. So instead of the brunch they originally had planned, Jack makes his friends take a detour to the one place he’s confident will make Will feel better about becoming a father: the Catholic church he attends with his mother every Sunday. And I don’t think I’ve ever related to that Paul Rudd meme harder than I did Thursday night.
In the eleven seasons Will & Grace has been on the air, Grace’s faith was really the one that was touched upon with any kind of regularity that I remember. When it comes to Jack, there was one brief mention of being an altar boy that I recall from the original run, but other than that, we never really heard too much about his Catholic upbringing or his current religious beliefs. But this always made enough sense for me not to question it; while I certainly can’t speak for everyone, the connection between queerness and religion can definitely be a complicated one. It surprised me to learn that Jack still attends church every Sunday, but I guess that surprise was the point. And it’s a surprise that leads to a few truths for his friends.
For Karen, being dragged to church means confronting the way she handles herself in one of the most important relationships in her life…kind of. Mistaking it for a bathroom, Karen steps inside the confessional and, after a little encouragement from the priest, starts to talk about all the times she’s lied or stolen or betrayed someone (of course, she doesn’t consider these to be sins, because have you met Karen?). But when Smitty delivers the martini she ordered from Postmates and gets her laughing with his latest tale of misfortune, the priest points out that her reactions to Smitty’s stories count as a sin, and she starts to briefly reevaluate her relationship with her bartender.
Listen, I know this storyline was probably just an excuse to get one more Smitty appearance in before the series ended again. There was no way that Karen was going to have a true change of heart and give up one of the longest running jokes of the series. But the plot doesn’t really go any deeper than the initial worry Karen has that she’s doing more harm than good. Once she catches Smitty and asks if it bothers him that she finds his stories so funny, he brushes it off immediately, reassuring her that they’re solid. It didn’t leave a lot of room to truly explore anything before getting to that point–then again, there unfortunately hasn’t been a lot of room for Karen at all lately–and it felt like they just ignored a lot of potential in this storyline. I mean…you’ve got Karen Walker in a confessional; the possibilities are endless. But instead of diving into the deep end, we basically never leave the kiddie pool.
Will, on the other hand, not only confronts his own relationship with religion, but also his anxiety over becoming a father in today’s world. While he does listen as Jack speaks to what is so comforting about his faith (“I come here, I close my eyes, and I think about what matters to me and what I’m grateful for, and a sense of peace comes over me”), he’s having a hard time reconciling the religion he used to turn to for comfort as a kid with the way some Christians have twisted the message to denounce and even harm the LGBTQ+ community. It’s so relatable it hurts; I’ve definitely been there–especially coming from a conservative, largely Christian hometown–and personally, my connection to religion has become nonexistent because of it. And I know I’m not the only one who’s been there. Considering the commentary this revival has done in the first two seasons, it’s not surprising that we got to this point eventually; if anything, it’s surprising that it took this long. But it does make sense to do this now, when Will can’t stop freaking out about all of the things that could go wrong once his child is in the world, and he needs a solid place to find some solace. And that’s where Jack McFarland, the purest friend, comes in.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m in awe of people like Jack, who still have a good hold on their faith after everything life (and certain fellow followers) throws at them. What I love even more about this is that Jack never once tells Will that he’s in the wrong for not being able to give himself up to something bigger than himself. Instead, he gives Will the space to try, and when that doesn’t work, he gives the best alternative; instead of letting go and letting God, just let go and let Jack. When everything gets to be too much, all Will needs to do is let Jack carry some of the weight. I keep talking about how much Jack has grown from the original run, and this just feels like another example of that. I could not imagine seeing this from him in seasons past. But now? Now, it feels so right, and it’s exactly what Will needs to hear. Because there are always going to be things coming up that Will won’t be able to control. But that in no way means he has to go through them alone.
Moments like this are what makes me love this show so much, where it’s so obvious that no matter what these characters go through, they will always have each other to rely on as the best safety net. Seeing something like this during the original run growing up made me so hopeful that I would fall into a family like that as an adult, that group of people you find out of dumb luck who know all your quirks and still give you a safe place to rest your head. Seeing something like this now makes me cherish the family I did end up finding that much more. For all the weird turns this season has taken so far, it’s so wonderful to see scenes like this one shine through, because this is what Will & Grace has always been to me. It has always been about love. It has always been about family. Even when it leaves me baffled as hell and questioning its choices.
This is how I will always remember this show.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Maybe I should have expected Will to name the watermelon Melon-ie. But I didn’t. And it was so delightful.
- Leaving the apartment without cleaning up the watermelon has to be one of the most out of character things Will Truman has ever done.
- “As long as there’s a drag queen calling out bingo numbers, I’m happy.” I am Karen Walker, Karen Walker is me.
- “It’s a church, not the Kentucky Derby, JUDITH.”
- Give me an episode that’s just Jack re-enacting Sister Act 2, you cowards.
- As someone who gets irrationally angry every time the USA network shows an NCIS marathon instead of an SVU marathon, I very much appreciated Jack’s God analogy.
- I’m going to be that nitpicky New Yorker for a second: Rawhide was a real club up until 2013, but I lived a block away from it for four years and it definitely wasn’t on 8th Street (it was, however, on 8th Avenue). Fun facts.
- This is the second time in as many weeks that we’re given the impression that George Truman was an absentee parent, and I’m just so confused by this? Affair with Tina aside, the revival version of George just doesn’t really mesh with the original run version in my mind. I could pull a bunch of examples from the original run, but the one that keeps coming to me was during season four, when Tina tells Will that George is incapable of loving anyone but himself, and Will counters with this: “When I was little and I got sick, he would sit by my bedside the entire night to make sure the washcloth on my forehead stayed cool. He got up every morning at 5:30 just to have juice with me before I went on my paper route. And at nineteen, when I told my dad I was gay, he…well, he drove into a telephone pole. But that night he hugged me and said, ‘You’re my son. That’s all I know.’ The man may have his faults, but not being able to love isn’t one of them.” So am I missing something here?
- “I pooped your apartment to death, and you forgave me!” Look, I may not know what the hell is going on with this unnecessary James arc, but that line almost makes it all worth it. Almost.
What did you think about “Accidentally on Porpoise?” Let’s chat in the comments.
Featured Image Source: Chris Haston/NBC