A review of tonight’s You’re the Worst season 3 finale coming up just as soon as I’m molested by an audiobook…
“The world is absolutely lousy with people, and I hate them all. I hate everyone but you.” -Jimmy
On the whole, this season felt like a step back from the previous two, seeming to lack enough direction or focus even though many stories (Gretchen’s therapy, Ronny’s death, Lindsay trying to get out of her marriage) continued throughout. Tonight’s double-feature, though, was excellent, and at one point late in “No Longer Just Us,” felt like such a sweet and powerful summation of the entire series (down to the return of Jimmy’s disguise kit to escape the sobriety checkpoint) that I briefly wondered if Stephen Falk and company had stories left to tell.
Had Jimmy’s proposal not gone very sour for him when Gretchen suggested they were a family — only hours after he had boasted about how free it felt to be “post-family” — I still would have trusted the creative team to continue the show. Gretchen and Jimmy are so inherently damaged, and their relationship so dysfuctional, that there’s never going to be a 100% Happily Ever After even if they spend the rest of their lives together and have a bunch of kids whom Gretchen really does raise to be hotter than any of the ones they rate on the playground. There’s still material here even if things do progress forward in the normal manner, because the two main characters are so abnormal, apart and together. But their split — and, for that matter, the conclusions to the relationships between Lindsay and Paul, and Edgar and Dorothy — felt earned, and potent, as an accumulation of not only the events of these two episodes, but these three seasons.
The holidays forced the episodes to air together, since TV networks assume people are busy traveling the night before Thanksgiving, but “You Knew It Was a Snake” and “No Longer Just Us” made a good combination, with the first half hour being a collection of ugly and uncomfortable fights among the three couples, and the second seeming to find equilibrium for Lindsay and Edgar without their respective partners, and some actual sustainable happiness for Gretchen and Jimmy, before that crushing final sequence atop Mulholland Drive.
Cash and Geere were in top form throughout the proposal scene, from the look of pure happiness on Jimmy’s face as he watches Gretchen freak out over the faked murder scene to the way Gretchen morphs from dismay to joy as Jimmy proposes to her. We know that both of them can nail the dramatic moments, as well as those complicated hard right turns from serious to silly and back again, but the stakes felt higher in that scene precisely because everything was going so well, whether it was Jimmy’s earlier breakthrough about Ronny or Gretchen tearfully accepting Justina’s praise of her work in therapy. This was of course the right moment for Jimmy to propose, but his response to the comment about family served as a painful reminder of how hard it’s going to be for the two of them to make it work even under the best possible circumstances.
Lindsay and Paul’s marriage had already ended, for all intents and purposes, with her confession during last week’s episode, so these two were all about bringing closure to the relationship, as Lindsay rode her usual wave between clueless (ripping up the check after photographing it) and surprisingly mature and self-aware (explaining to Paul the fundamental flaw in the design of their relationship) while Paul briefly got to enjoy cucking her for a change before realizing all the parts of his life he would lose along with the woman he never should have married in the first place. A lot of this arc was meaner than it needed to be this year, but it ended very well.
So, for that matter, did Edgar and Dorothy. A year ago, I was worried the show would split them up for dumb reasons just to restore the status quo and to keep the possibility of an Edgar/Lindsay relationship alive. Here, though, they break up not because Edgar did anything wrong or out of character, but because it’s just too difficult for Dorothy to be around him — or around this entire town — because it’s a constant reminder of how hard she worked for a dream that will never come true. I’ll miss Collette Wolfe in the role, but the show rarely had room for Dorothy this year (and in general suffers when it tries to service too many ancillary characters on top of the four regulars), and this felt like a proper, if melancholy, end to that story rather than a show arbitrarily sending a recurring player packing. Even Edgar and Lindsay’s scene together in Dorothy’s former apartment wasn’t about rekindling his feelings for her but about each of them reflecting on what they’ve lost (including Edgar beating himself up for feeling relieved that Dorothy won’t be around to make him feel guilty about his success anymore) and the possibilities for the road ahead.