You’re The Worst is back my friends, and it’s just as good as ever.
When we left Gretchen and Jimmy at the end of last season, Jimmy was doing just that: leaving. He left Gretchen in one of the most spectacular displays of selfishness, minutes after proposing to her (and with no explanation). While she watched his car drive away, one could only feel let down by the reversal of a moment that we would all seem to be waiting for: an official demarcation of the couple’s love. But such is the nature of You’re The Worst, while it gives us tastes of romantic “normalcy” it still rests entirely on the premise that these people are “the worst,” and therefore continue to be prone to erratic and frustrating behavior in every facet of their relationships (especially their romantic ones). And that’s what makes this show so delightful.
Season four kicks off with a double episode: Jimmy gets the first half-hour and Gretchen the second. When we find Jimmy, he has isolated himself in a trailer park retirement community. He’s cut off any and all access to the outside world (even calling an operator from a landline to get the current time). In some way’s it’s the closest any character on this show might get to an Eat, Pray, Love style retreat. But instead of wandering the streets of a foreign land and meeting beautiful and interesting new individuals, Jimmy has settled for Burt, a somewhat crotchety old man living across the way who can best be described as a glimpse into Jimmy’s future. He rejects everyone and doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Jimmy gets caught up in the saga of Burt’s missing car keys, which turns out to be a deliberate act on the part of a neighbor to keep Burt from driving erratically in his old age. Jimmy takes Burt’s side initially, helping him steal back his keys in the most dramatic of fashions, but ultimately has to come to terms with the fact that the others in the community are just looking out for their friend. And he is standing in the way.
By the end of the episode, just as he left Gretchen, Jimmy leaves Burt. But this time he leaves a note before returning to his life in Los Angeles. The parallel in this moment gives us the reasoning behind his initial disappearance that we have been looking for: Jimmy leaves when he cares. He cares about Burt and knows that fitting in with the members of his community and this next (car-less) phase of his life cannot begin until Jimmy is gone. And in the same way, his love for Gretchen drove him away from her. His proposal was the ultimate gesture to prove his love, but running away from it was an act to protect her. A fear that he might hurt her drove him to hurt her in the ultimate way. As he heads back to Los Angeles in the final moments of the episode, we can’t help but wonder if he is going back in for more destruction.
It is instantly clear at the start of the second part of the premiere that Gretchen is not handling this betrayal in the same way that Jimmy is. While Lindsay is off at her new “big girl” job as an assistant stylist, Gretchen is spending days in her apartment, waiting for Lindsay to get home so that she might rant poetically about the music of the 90s in a cloud of weed smoke. The only thread that seems to tie Gretchen and Jimmy together in this scenario is that they both take to isolation as a means of coping. Later, Gretchen reveals to Lindsay that she has not in fact left the apartment in 3 months. (“I’m not really going outside these days”). Instead, she has taken to tricking her clients into believing that she is in Europe scouting new opportunities (complete with a fake Parisian backdrop and beret for Skype calls with the crew). Gretchen is only finally pushed to leave the apartment by Lindsay who needs space to do her work after realizing that her “work is for day” outlook isn’t going to cut it in the fashion industry. Lindsay assures Gretchen that she is safe from her greatest fear — seeing Jimmy (“What if I run into him and then I die?”) – because he seems to have disappeared completely according to Edgar (who has even redecorated the place in his absence).
But in the end, the ultimate take away from the premiere is the one that the show seems to give us as a replacement for Jimmy and Gretchen’s broken relationship: a budding romance between Edgar and Lindsay. The pair allow mocking Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship to lead them into the bedroom, where their great sex brings them to a seemingly novel realization that they can have a sexual relationship without being attached (as they are both currently busy with their careers – they are the “serious ones” now). They may be the serious ones now, but they continue to be completely oblivious as they head down the same path that Gretchen and Jimmy took at the start of the series. Similarly, at the end of the episode, Gretchen ends up back where she started: at the home of the movie director she “sometimes sees,” giving in to mediocre lust in the absence of Jimmy. But his silence is broken in the final seconds with a single text to Gretchen: “Hey…”
All images courtesy of FX Networks