Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 14
Posted by Sarah
I…don’t have to rage about my show this week? I wholeheartedly enjoyed this episode? Is this real life?
Kids, this season has been so very weird. Most weeks, I feel like a broken record, saying I don’t understand what the hell is going on, yelling about things that aren’t going to change because they already filmed the season, feeling sad about the direction the majority of our Fab Four are going. But this week? This week FINALLY felt like the Will & Grace I know and love. Sure, it did absolutely nothing to move any major season-long story arcs along, but I’m still calling it a win. Because this episode was fun. It felt like it fit right in with the go-tos I put on whenever I need a pick me up (which is probably because its writer is also responsible for a lot of my original run go-tos). It gave me a Karen Walker Feels Things™ moment that didn’t make my skin crawl because some potential serial killer was at the root of it. And especially during a time where everything feels uncertain and scary and anxiety levels are high, this is the kind of episode we need right now.
Karen’s jeweler slipped up and accidentally sent the ring he just reset to the manse instead of her new place, and she is not about to go over there alone to get it. So with the help of her trusty Poodle in crime, she braves a trip to her old home to get what’s rightfully hers. But when they arrive at the manse and see that there’s an extra lipstick-stained milkshake glass sitting alongside Stan’s usual three, Karen realizes there’s a new special someone in her ex-husband’s life. It’s not surprising; Karen’s had her share of relationships after the divorce, even if they were handled badly (we could have had it all, Nikki) or never should have happened at all (what’s good, Phil?). It was inevitable that Stan would move on with his life as well. What is surprising, though, is who Stan fell for hard enough to have her move into the manse.
Oh hey, Val. You’re looking…suspiciously like OG Karen right now.
Look, when I first saw the synopsis for this episode, I was still neck-deep in infuriating plots and was absolutely convinced that this was going to be terrible, too. At the time, it was very much an “In what universe would this fly” kind of thing that I was bracing myself for, because Val’s appearances are usually gold, but my faith in the direction of this show was dwindling. While I never in a million years would have expected to end up here, I’m honestly not mad about it. It weirdly worked for me. Because if Stan’s new girlfriend had been anybody other than Val, there’s next to no way the door would have been open for Jack and Karen to stage their patented antics. We know Val’s history; we know how crazy she can get. And that completely allows Jack and Karen to throw her level of crazy right back at her. So when they discover that Stan gave Val the ring, and when Val refuses to take it off her finger, naturally the right move is to go undercover as manse staff in an elaborate scheme to swipe Karen’s ring back.
This is the kind of sitcom farce I live for. This is the kind of ridiculous comedy that gives me a much needed distraction in times like these, when the need to take a break and a breath is at an all time high. I needed Jack’s terrible mustache, Karen’s terrible wig, and their equally terrible accents. I needed that physical comedy of both Jack and Karen being trapped under an unconscious Val, all while Jack’s fielding calls from his mom about her upcoming birthday. The way they immediately opt for the excessively complicated route, and the way they don’t even question that there could be a simpler plan felt like a homecoming. Especially after the last few episodes. ESPECIALLY after Karen’s been pushed to the sidelines lately for god knows what reasons. It was a refreshing shot of what the show is in its top form. And after Karen successfully gets the ring off Val’s finger, it becomes a refreshing shot of how this show truly handles the more emotional moments.
It’s kind of brutal to follow up Karen being abandoned by yet another asshole with the heavy reality that the life she had known for thirty years is no longer hers. But where Filthy Phil just absolutely did not need to happen, this week’s Karen Walker Feels Things™ moment fits better in the grand scheme of things. Karen’s been through it this past year with the divorce, and these moments were all over the show last season (I still think about that performance of “The Man That Got Away” on a regular basis, and I’m okay with being that person). And it makes sense that we’re still getting these moments now; Karen’s relationship with Stan was a big part of the show for the vast majority of it, not to mention a big part of Karen’s life. It’s not a thing to simply get over, regardless of how terrible Stan turned out to be. Watching her try to reckon with the fact that the “Forever Yours” inscription on the inside of the ring turned out to be a lie hurts. Watching her realize the manse doesn’t bring her joy anymore hurts. Anything else piled on top of that would have been cruel. So when Val catches Jack and Karen leaving and tells them it’s all good, that she had fun being the victim of their plot, it’s as happy an ending as you can get in this scenario. And you know what? I’ll take it.
Again, this is what’s great about Val being Stan’s new girlfriend. There’s no way for this to be anything other than bubbly, weird fun. There’s no room for the rivalry that came with Lorraine, because even though Val’s definitely done some damage over the years, most of that damage was for Grace (and a little bit for Jack…there was that time she was stalking him, after all). Val’s totally cool with Karen. She’s happy that Karen got her ring back. And when Karen says she doesn’t want it anymore, she still refuses to take it, leaving Jack to pass the ring off to his mom; she’s just happy she got to have a good time with some old friends. As odd as this sounds, I’m glad that it was Val at the manse. It gave Karen a softer place to land after that heavy reality dragged her down. And lord knows my girl needed that.
So the friendship with Val that Karen didn’t really realize she had is still intact. Jack has a birthday gift for his mother. For the most part, everything turned out for the best. But still…can someone just give Karen a hug and tell her everything’s going to be okay? Because after the last couple of episodes, it’s what she deserves.
While Jack and Karen are off drugging Val via her all-dairy diet, Will and Grace are opening their home to Jenny while her apartment gets painted. But after Jenny tells Will and Grace that staying with them reminds her of staying with her grandparents, what should be a fun, low-key visit turns into Will and Grace trying to prove they’re not old by tagging along with Jenny to an experimental noise show at a standing room only venue complete with moshing. And I’m pretty sure none of those words have ever been in Will and Grace’s vocabulary before, so we all knew from the get how well this was going to go. Even if I couldn’t have predicted that Will would throw his back out by twerking.
We don’t have a lot of time with Jenny this season, and Demi Lovato has been so great in this role. But part of me feels like her character wasn’t used the way she should be in this episode. This was a pretty run-of-the-mill storyline considering the circumstances, but there wasn’t a lot of room to go much further than it did. Of course the grandparent comment was going to set Will and Grace off and make them worry that they’re too old to raise little kids. Of course Jenny was going to step into the caregiver role for a few laughs, and they hit the way they were supposed to. And of course the moment presents itself for Jenny to give them a heartwarming moment, saying that she was trying to compliment them when she said they reminded her of her grandparents; they practically raised her, made her feel safe, and gave her the support she needed, which means Will and Grace are going to be perfectly fine as parents. But even though this storyline was pretty limited, and even though part of me wishes Demi Lovato had more space to play in this episode, it didn’t bother me. It was nice to see Jack and Karen take the A-story for a change, to let the sidekicks run amok for the majority of the episode while the namesakes of the show rest in bed. It was nice to see this B-story deliver a sincerely lovely moment between Will, Grace, and Jenny while also serving up the laughs. It was just nice…and after the last handful of episodes, I will happily settle for nice.
I feel like this time last season, I would have been a little more nitpicky with this storyline. I would have been expecting a little more, I would have been wondering why we didn’t get it. But I am just so happy I didn’t have to yell this week that I will gladly let that slide. If we could keep the spirit of “The Favourite” for the rest of the series, and still be able to move the story forward to whatever conclusion we’re going to end up getting, that would be so great. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for. The last few episodes unfortunately have made it a bit of a tall order. But my hopes are the slightest bit higher after this week. And I’m the slightest bit optimistic that they can keep the streak going.
I know…I’m just as shocked as you are.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Seriously, I can’t rave enough about Laura Kightlinger’s scripts for this show. This is a woman who in the original run gave us dominatrix Santa Karen (“Jingle Balls”), Will and Karen bonding over the same book (“Wedding Balls”), and the Grace/Karen GOLDMINE that is “Ice Cream Balls” among others. Plus, she’s Nurse Sheila to boot!
- You have no idea how much I missed the synchronized actions of Jack and Karen before this week. It harkened back to the best of the original run, and it made my heart so extremely full, especially after so many weeks of angry confusion.
- Again…we’re down to four remaining episodes, and neither Grace nor Jenny is showing AT ALL, I do not get it.
- If I ever had any doubt that I’ve been slowly morphing into Grace Adler the older I get, all I needed was to hear the way she was upset at the thought of going out at 8:30 at night to a standing room only show to solidify it.
- I know it was to be played as a joke, but can we talk about how inherently depressing it is when Karen first steps into the manse and says “It’s not home, but it’s much?” The more I think about it, the more I realize how long the manse was supposed to feel like her home and didn’t, the more I sit with just how unhappy her marriage got. It’s not like I didn’t know all of that to begin with, but still…damn.
- I can not get over how brilliant a choice it was to dress Val up like original run Karen. Her outfit IMMEDIATELY screamed “Husbands and Trophy Wives” to me (which was legitimately one of my favorite looks of the original run), and it just made me so happy. I mean, seriously, look at Karen in the below gif…they nailed it.
- This is the modern day American Gothic we all clearly needed:
- “How do I look?” “Like both community college and porn were too hard for you.”
- So maybe a scene at an experimental noise show wouldn’t have meshed well with a primetime sitcom, but what I would have given to see Will and Grace suffer through that.
- “I can’t lift her by myself, she’s full of dairy.”
- I’ll be turning 30 at the beginning of May. I’m young, I’m active. But was I jealous of the Clapper that Grace installed in her bedroom? Absolutely.
What did you think of “The Favourite?” Let’s talk in the comments.
Featured Image Source: Chris Haston/NBC