Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 13
“Filthy Phil, Part 2”
Posted by Sarah
So long, Filthy Phil. You were terrible and unnecessary, and we are no better for having to endure this two-parter than we were before you came along.
We’re coming in on the home stretch of this series. We don’t have that many episodes left to go. And while there are some bright spots (bless Jack for consistently bringing the plots that keep me from smashing the TV), I just don’t feel great about where this season is taking our Fab Four, especially Karen. They’re wasting time on filler plots and characters that honestly should never have been given the chance to come back. They’re essentially shutting Karen out of the season, and when she does get some kind of substantial plot, they’re putting her in danger, throwing her into unhealthy relationships, and not giving her what she deserves. At least we’re done with this guy now. At least there’s some time left to give Karen a happy ending (or, at the very least, happy-ish). With the way things have been going over the last 13 episodes, though? I’m not confident. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s close the door on Filthy Phil for good.
Karen’s making good on the whole choosing Phil over Will and Grace thing; she’s not taking Grace’s calls, and her friends have no idea where she is. But Grace isn’t about to let this go; she’s worried about the fact that Karen’s only known this guy for a week, which…is that SERIOUSLY the timeline? Like, Karen just let this dude move into her home after knowing him for seven days?! Jesus, there isn’t an annoyed groan loud enough. The worry is warranted. Will’s trying to back off like Karen said to, much to Grace’s dismay. But once Friday comes by at Karen’s insistence to try to get them to back off, they find out that Karen told Phil about her cabin in the woods and decide to make the six-hour drive to save her.
I mean…Stan got the cabin in the divorce last season, but let’s not let a pesky little thing like continuity get in the way of an infuriating plot.
When we cut to the cabin for the first time, we see Karen handcuffed to the bed and are led to believe that she truly is in danger…until it’s quickly revealed that it’s a sex thing (are we really surprised that Karen’s into that?) and she’s in the middle of a pretty decent getaway with a guy who just happens to be a con man. They’ve got wine, they’ve got a fire going, it’s all very intimate. But it isn’t until a game of Truth or Dare that shit gets real. And it’s not the fact that he refuses to answer Karen’s question of whether he ever killed anyone that changes the whole mood (even though it probably should have); it’s Phil’s dare to marry him that makes all of the air disappear from the room. I can’t really say that I was surprised by it; in a plot like this, it’s the natural next step. But the thought of Karen making that kind of commitment to a man like Phil is so upsetting. The way she suddenly turns serious like she feels the weight of something he just threw out there made my heart sink. Like I said last week, I guess that’s the point. Also like I said last week, I have no idea why it has to be.
By the time Will, Grace, and Friday get to the cabin, it’s too late: Phil tells them that the Justice of the Peace just left, and he and Karen are married. But when Grace asks if they can “congratulate” the bride in person, Phil tells them that Karen went off for a walk in the woods, and to come in to wait for her. This rightfully sets off even more alarms for them; after all, when the hell has Karen willingly done anything in nature? Will and Grace’s minds are running wild, thanks to their suspicions and all those true crime podcasts out there. At this point, they’re convinced that Phil’s murdered Karen and made her into a stew, and it’s only a matter of time before they become his next victims. So before he can silence them for good, they finally confront him on all of the evidence pointing to the fact that he’s conning Karen out of her money. Which is conveniently the time when Karen comes back from her walk in the woods, proving that she hasn’t quite yet become stew, furious that Will and Grace haven’t stayed away like she told them to.
To watch Karen at the end of this storyline just plain hurts, and it hurts a lot. It hurts when she’s still defending Phil to Will and Grace. It hurts when she feels like they don’t trust her to make her own decisions. It hurts when she’s trying to give him the benefit of the doubt after he drives off. It absolutely kills when she realizes he’s gone and she lets out that small “He left me? Just like that?” Of course this was how it was going to end. Of course he was going to leave Karen in the dust once he realized her friends wouldn’t quit. Of course he didn’t care about Karen the way she wanted him to care about her, the way she deserved to be cared about. But it doesn’t matter that all signs pointed to this conclusion; it’s still heartbreaking. And it’s a testament to how brilliant Megan Mullally is, that she can still pull that kind of emotion out of you in the midst of such a frustrating plot.
Listen, you know me. You know I love a good Karen Walker Feels Things™ moment. And Karen Walker definitely felt things this week. It’s just that she didn’t need to. Last season, these moments were all over the place because they had to be, because her divorce from Stan was her major story arc, and because despite her assertions to the contrary, she’s human and was going through a particularly hard time in her life. Those moments hit exactly the way they needed to. But good lord…can my girl please just catch a break? We didn’t need to throw her into another toxic relationship AT ALL. It’s tired, it’s frustrating, and I hate that I have to talk about it. So when we see how devastated she is that Phil left, and we hear about how she was so willing to overlook all of the massive red flags because she wanted to believe it when he said she was the sun and the moon to him, of course I felt for her. I will always feel for her; it’s just my lot in life as a Will & Grace fan. But this Karen Walker Feels Things™ moment didn’t hit the way literally every single other one has. That’s heartbreaking in and of itself.
It’s great that Karen had the foresight to have Anastasia Beaverhausen marry him instead of Karen Walker; honestly, bless that alias forever. It’s great that she will always have Will and Grace in her corner. But I don’t understand why the default seems to be putting her through this shit for our entertainment. And I don’t understand why the writers can’t seem to grasp the concept of letting her be happy for a minute. We’ve only got five episodes left in the series…can we maybe cut Karen some slack?
Meanwhile, Jack’s getting ready for the grand re-opening of Miss Coco’s, and is being interviewed by Dexter Murphy of the New York Gay-zette to get the word out. Jack is very much of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset here; he doesn’t plan on changing anything about Miss Coco’s, and proudly declares that the bar is simply under new management when asked how he could possibly keep Miss Coco’s alive without Miss Coco. Dexter’s not convinced, saying that the bar won’t be open for much longer. But before he can leave and publish his feelings, Jack scrambles for one last shot at attracting a crowd by telling Dexter that Miss Coco’s is in possession of the actual ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz.
Oh, Jack…sweetie, no. Just, no.
I get wanting to drum up as much business as humanly possible for your new venture. But if you’re gonna lie about something, maybe don’t lie about one of the most iconic pieces of queer culture in the history of ever to bring people to your gay bar? You either know exactly where those slippers are, or you take a whopping three seconds to Google it. And everyone around Jack knows it. So of course none of them are surprised that no one shows up to the re-opening after Dexter publishes an article about Jack’s lie. But when Jack learns that every reservation has been cancelled, it deflates him, and he thinks it would have been better if he never bought the bar in the first place. It definitely hurt to see Jack so defeated here, especially when he was so passionate about buying this place last week. Of course there are going to be a few hiccups along the road when you go into this sort of thing without ever having owned a business before. But his heart is absolutely in the right place, and seeing the way he thinks he’s failed himself and (let’s be real, he was probably thinking this too, if last week was anything to go by) the Miss Coco’s community breaks your heart a bit. But Coco refuses to let Jack give up. She tells him that all he needs is to put his own flair on the place, that it’s not too late to fix this mess. It inspires Jack enough to think about what this bar means to him, and how he can truly express that to make it a success. And since everyone loves a good redemption story, the bar is packed when he finally reveals his excellent rebranding.
QUEERS. IT’S CALLED QUEERS, YOU GUYS. JACK JUST OPENED GAY CHEERS. WITH THE SAME LOGO AND EVERYTHING. IT’S QUEERS!
Depending on how many of my ramblings you’ve read here at HOF, you might know this about me. But for those who don’t, Cheers is tied with Will & Grace for my favorite show of all time. It’s had my heart for about as long as Will & Grace has, it gave me the first character I ever truly related to (what up, Diane Chambers?), and it’s honestly one of the most comforting shows I’ve ever seen in my life. And it’s EXACTLY the right vibe for what Jack wants his bar to be. Just like Cheers felt so inviting from the first moment of that show, Jack wants Queers to be a place that welcomes his community with open arms and invites them into a safe space. I couldn’t help but think back to the Cheers pilot, where Diane so beautifully and simply sums up the mission statement of Cheers, both the bar and the show: “People meet in bars, they part. They rejoice, they suffer. They come here to be with their own kind.” Jack, in turn, has his own Diane moment in this episode before revealing the big change he’s made to the bar; Coco’s heart-to-heart with him made him realize that he wants this place to be about all of its patrons and what having a place like this means to them. Jack’s customers will surely be meeting, parting, rejoicing, suffering, and being with their own kind just like Diane said nearly 38 years ago. You can tell how much Jack wants this place to be that special home away from home for them. And lord knows we all need a few more places that feel as inviting as Cheers was, and as Queers will be. I’m so happy with this new venture for Jack, and I hope we get to see a bit more of it before the series ends.
It’s going to be a long, long time before I stop singing the Cheers theme song as “Where everybody knows you’re gay,” though.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Turns out, Friday thinking to carry a martini with her while trying to trick Will and Grace into thinking she’s Karen, even though she absolutely did not need to, delights me to no end.
- Hello to Karen Walker in this robe and nobody else in anything else.
- “Look at you, all boss-ladylike. Turns out the devil wears Old Navy.” Kids, I am so thrilled with how much the show has featured Coco Peru in the revival. This season has made a lot of questionable choices, but this is not one of them.
- “May I take your…poncho? Or is that what’s keeping you together?”
- Guys, I know the concept of continuity eludes these writers, but come on…Grace literally called him Filthy Phil last week. It’s the name of the goddamn episode. WHY are Will, Grace, and Friday spending SO MUCH TIME trying to come up with an alliterative name for this asshole when they’re under the impression that Karen is in mortal danger? It’s a small thing, but it also annoyed the hell out of me.
- Okay, but seriously, is Grace pregnant? Like…we’re 13 episodes into an 18 episode final season at this point…shouldn’t she have more of a bump by now?
- “On his diploma, ‘MD’ was spelled wrong.”
- “Plus, he destroyed in the sack. I mean, really destroyed. Like, call your next of kin to identify the remains.” Even when I hate the storylines, this show somehow manages to let a glimpse of the Will & Grace I’ve always known and loved peek through.
- The fact that they didn’t even have to change the “And they’re always glad you came” line in the Cheers theme song, though.
- As if I couldn’t love the Cheers references any more, they go and get James Burrows (Will & Grace’s director, and the co-creator and director of Cheers) to be the guy who doesn’t get the whole Queers/Cheers thing. Bless.
What did you think of “Filthy Phil, Part 2?” Who’s with me in taking a field trip to Queers? Let’s chat in the comments.
Featured Image Source: Chris Haston/NBC