Yesterday, I posted my overall review of the first few summer episodes of “Men of a Certain Age” season two. Now I have some specific thoughts on tonight’s episode, coming up just as soon as I’m wearing my lucky shirt…
As a mid-season premiere, “The Great Escape” seems a bit more momentous than your average “Men” episode, but ultimately, what happens? Joe, Terry and Owen all go into their evenings with huge possibilities in their heads – that Joe and Sonia might get back together, that Terry might have a real long-term relationship with Erin, that Owen and Melissa might finally be able to get out from under the weight of Thoreau Chevrolet – and celebration in their plans.
But this is “Men of a Certain Age,” not “Men Whose Dreams Constantly Come True.” So by the time morning comes around, Joe and Sonia have realized they don’t work together anymore, Terry gets dumped by Erin(*), and Owen and Melissa wake up to a huge hangover, a pile of messy gadgets in the living room, and the realization that the Scarpulla offer isn’t going to solve all their problems.
(*) And it’s not just that she dumps him, but that she does it by dismissing him as “fun” and a “fling,” never once acknowledging the idea that Terry was the serious relationship material he clearly believed himself to be – nor even recognizing how much it hurts him every time she frames it that way. Just a brutal scene, and so wonderfully played by Scott Bakula.
The Sonia story was nice, and gave Joe some closure on a relationship he’s been fixated on for a while. But my interest in Joe’s corner of the show’s universe was definitely more on his bros night out with Manfro. It remains such a weird, uncomfortable relationship, and there’s always that tension between Joe trying to do the right thing and Joe putting himself into a terribly gambling-adjacent position with this guy. But Romano and John Manfrelotti continue to work well together, and the moment when the stripper opened up about her own dad was both priceless and sweet, and did a nice job setting up the later scene where we see that she was able to get Manfro to go to chemo when Joe couldn’t.
Owen and Melissa’s story was a bit lighter – a chance for Andre Braugher and Lisa Gay Hamilton to play drunk with each other – but so well-executed. Who hasn’t had a night where some combination of booze, stress and a promising (if tenuous) opportunity hasn’t made us all completely rewrite our life plans the way the Thoreaus try to here? And the use of Owen’s beloved old-school jazz to score the big planning scene was a perfect touch.
Lots to deal with in the home stretch of season two, and this was a damned good start.
What did everybody else think?