Television has the great benefit of being able to defy genre. This means it can support shows like Gyspy, a mind-bending exploration of intimacy, boundaries, and the boxes we fight to escape. It's not a thriller, nor is it romance. It's psychologically traumatizing, but it's not a horror series. It's just good TV.
The show, which stars Naomi Watts at the titular gypsy, follows Jeanie, a therapist in New York City who has unorthodox practices. In practice, actually, she's pretty kosher. She asks the right questions. She has the calming voice of your average therapist. Outside the office, she's more off-kilter. She's desperate to emerge from the confines of suburban life, as are the other leading players in her life. Her daughter, Dolly, is grappling with gender dysphoria, and her husband is straining under the weight of an enormous workload and an all-too-sexy personal assistant.
Looking for a way out, Jeanie inserts herself in the lives of her patients. Who says therapists are detached third parties, clean in their objectivity? Jeanie is a fucking subject in the narratives of her patients. She's getting drinks with ex-girlfriends and enjoying blowouts with the cursed daughters of her most viperlike visitors.
Led by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of 50 Shades of Grey, Gypsy is an exploration of the nomadic mind: the places one wanders when the socially constructed boundaries disappear.
Episode 1: The Lying Begins
It's no accident that the first place Jeanie (Naomi Watts) wanders into in the first episode is called the Rabbit Hole. And, coincidentally, the coffee shop is located in the basement of a New York City brownstone. She literally goes down a rabbit hole. Anything goes in the coffee shop, where Jeanie gives the name "Diane" for the order, and seems particularly fascinated with a British barista (Sophie Cookson). It's the start of Jeanie's rebellion, her first foray into the civil war that is her identity crisis. While she's there, a phone call arrives: Mom. She ignores it, another tiny piece of the rebellion.
Boundaries are the theme of the show, and the premiere wastes no time punching that button. First, when Jeanie is in the throes of a session with Sam Duffy, she writes down the word "boundaries." Then, she circles it. Sam is a forlorn dumpee blessed with a couples tattoo. He claims that his ex, Sidney, forced him to get the tattoo, which, sure.
Jeanie has three notable patients — at least, three patients worth watching. There's Allison, who's addicted to pills, the aforementioned lovelorn Sam Duffy, and Claire, who is effectively stalking her own daughter. The camera is very interested in these patients, i.e. they give their monologues almost directly to us, the viewer. It starts to feel like they're constructing one large narrative — one that Jeanie is soon to adopt.
The second time Jeanie drops by the Rabbit Hole, she's a little more off-the-rails: She orders a glass of Chardonnay in place of her Americano. All the while, she's this close to devouring Sidney the barista. (However, I've always found that coffee shops are teeming with a sort of accidental sexual tension, so perhaps Jeanie's eye-fuckery is just in accordance with her surroundings.) This time, she and Sidney get into it: Jeanie says she's a writer (a lie) and Sid hands her whiskey instead of Chardonnay. ("It's better," she reassure Jeanie.) Our British barista/bartender moonlights as a punk rocker, and invites Diane to her show later that evening.
Emerging from the Rabbit Hole, Jeanie lands back in reality, which is her daughter's karate demonstration. Dolly is a) adorable, and b) confused as to why she can't just hang out with boys. Dolly's nascent gender dysphoria runs parallel to her mother's own identity crisis. While Jeanie is busy trying on "Diane" and these various identities, her daughter is frustrated by the fact that she wants to kiss other girls (and that she wants to be a boy, which is very telling).
In bed with her husband Michael (Billy Crudup), Jeanie reminisces about the old days — when she was bonkers, it seems. Michael is not interested in old Jeanie ("It was a rollercoaster!"), which certainly doesn't bode well for Jeanie's future as a stable human being.
Case in point: The dinner at the Fadelsons! Jeanie doesn't want to go. Then, when she's there, she's drunk. She asks for whiskey instead of wine — her second time doing that this episode — and proceeds to get plastered, all because she's done with housewife life. The Fadelsons are your traditional "soccer mom" characters. They're judgey, they eat crudités, and they wear beige cashmere shawls.
It's all to escape, of course, to Sidney's punk rock show. (If the show were looking for another metaphor, they might call Sidney's band 'The Mad Hatters.') She's supposedly headed to a house party at Larin's house, but she's not, because she's Jeanie, and she's on the prowl. Why? Dunno. We'll find out.
At the show, a semi-drunk Jeanie pretends to be Diane, the reporter, who writes. Here are all her lies.
1) She writes about "people."
2) She tried marriage; it didn't work out.
3) She has a niece named Dolly, no kids.
There's some light — sorry, heavy — flirting happening in the first episode. It's like Jeanie is presenting a version of Sidney for Sidney. She's wearing Sid's perfume, and selling the same "tortured artist" image of this punk rocker/barista in fishnets. Sid reveals that her father is in prison in a touching-but-too-self-aware tale. The slinky twentysomething is getting touchy just when Jeanie needs to leave.
From there, all the normal interactions feel a lot less stable. When Jeanie speaks to Claire regarding her daughter, Rebecca, we're aware that our protagonist has her ears open for something... else.
Sure enough, Jeanie heads to get a blowout after the appointment — right next to Rebecca, the daughter in question. It's like Jeanie's become an investigative reporter.
Then, Michael cancels their upcoming vacation. And Jeanie speaks with Sam Duffy, who drops this bomb: Sidney's dad isn't in prison — he's dead. Or is he?
SIDNEY, WHY ARE YOU ALSO LYING?
WHY IS EVERYONE LYING ON THIS SHOW?!
Episode 2: This Pop-Up Thing In Bushwick
The second episode begins with what sounds like Jeanie writing a Match.com profile for Diane while she's brushing her teeth. This show treats everyday situations as if they are horror. I keep thinking someone is going to die while Jeanie brushes her teeth just because the music is doing that CSI dun-dun-dun-dun that indicates a killer is near.
That being said, not a ton happens. Jeanie brushes her teeth. She puts out cat food. Then she heads to the grocery store, where she runs into fellow mom Holly. Dolly's got a party coming up, and Jeanie has mom duties!!
Pushing up against these duties is Sidney, who is in Jeanie's phone as "S." She's texted Jeanie something along the lines of "haven't stopped thinking about you" and our protagonist keeps looking at the text longingly.
Sidney sounds more and more like a manipulative crazy person. Sam Duffy (Sidney's lovelorn ex) says that he saw Sidney the other day. ("It was nice," he says, looking like a lost puppy.) The real kicker here is that Sidney told Sam about "some woman" she met. (That's Jeanie. Sidney's talking about Jeanie.)
In most respects, Jeanie is a great mom and wife. She sets up play dates with Dolly, she whips up weeknight beef bourguignon, and she's got stellar mom fashion. (Think flowy Eileen Fisher-type clothing but with a bit more structure.) In other respects, she's completely bonkers. She downs whiskey before sending Sidney a text that reads "It sounds like you have many admirers. You should be careful."
This show is very suggestively sexy — there's no outright come hither-ing, but when we see Sidney cloaked in red light and we see Jeanie lying on her bed, hands between her legs. We get it: Jeanie's masturbating to Sidney.
Meanwhile, Michael's late at the office. Gee, I wonder where this is going?
A mention of a "borderline" patient named Melissa made me perk my ears up. Supposedly, Melissa's in the hospital and making accusations against Jeanie, who used to be her therapist.
There are times when I think Sidney is the work of an elderly male writer, someone who thinks that "a pop-up thing in Bushwick in an old lumber factory" is the thing that hot alternative girls in fishnets do.
There are a lot of drugs in this show – metaphors for them, anyway. Jean can't quit Sidney, Allison the drug-addicted patient can't quit her drug-addicted boyfriend, Claire can't quit her daughter Rebecca, and Michael can't quit his sexy assistant. Oh, and Allison actually can't quit drugs. (In one of the more poignant moments in this episode, Jean comforts a very high Allison in her office.)
Jean, of course, goes to the Bushwick "pop-up thing," where a bouncer gives her the once-over — this woman does not belong in Bushwick. (She wears too much Eileen Fisher!)
There, Sidney tells Jean/Diane that she "shouldn't believe everything she hears," which, okay. That feels like a sign from the show itself, telling us not to believe everything that happens onscreen. (Or anything that the characters say.)
The night ends when Dolly FaceTimes her mother. Remember: Diane, Jeanie's alter ego, doesn't have a daughter. Sidney and Jeanie are this close to a DFMO when Dolly rings, and it all goes downhill. Jeanie heads home, where she sips whiskey with Michael.
"To the love of my life," she says during a toast to the night. Okay, sure.
Episode 3: Work Emergency
There are few things that stress me out more than planning children's birthday parties. I don't even have children, but the idea of throwing a shindig for the sake of other parents and your own finicky child makes me queasy. Jean is in the throes of planning Dolly's own birthday party, but she doesn't have a "theme," which is apparently something that you need to have for kid's parties.
I admire how Jean is trying to patch things with her husband, too. It's not like she's ignoring Michael while she dallies with Sidney. On the contrary, she's actively seducing Michael, taking him on dates and getting him sloshed. During one such seduction, Jean asks Michael if he would ever have an affair. DANGEROUS TERRITORY, JEAN. Of course, he say he wouldn't. She says she wouldn't either. They're both big fat fucking liars. (As evidenced by the phone call in the middle of this conversation. It's Sidney, calling Jean. Or Diane, I suppose.)
All the while, Jean is squirreling pills away and taking more and more risks. It's as if she wants to get caught. "I know exactly what I want," she tells Michael later when they're mid-coitus. This doesn't seem to be the case in general; Jean has no idea what she wants. That's why she's popping pills and engaging a little too heavily with her patients.
In a flashback, we see Jean with her mother (Blythe Danner). I don't want to call this flashback "useless," but it feels useless.
The next flashback is more useful. It's a dream, during which Jean witnesses her mother, this time brandishing a new engagement ring. Sidney's there, too, looking slinky as usual. She reminds Jean that everyone is scared to be alone. Ah, well.
This dream seemingly inspires Jeanie to hop in the car at 5 a.m. and drive to spy on her patient, Allison. Actually, the dream inspires a whole lot of things, including a pack of cigarettes.
Amidst Jean's crisis is Dolly's crisis — in this episode, she administers her own haircut before her birthday party in order to look like, in her words, "me." Jean, for all her therapy-ing, doesn't seem to notice that Dolly's having a bit of a metamorphosis. ("I love the way Dolly dresses," another mom notes at the birthday party. Dolly's wearing an Oxford and a tie.) She notices how the other moms are reacting, though. The other moms, like all suburban mothers on television, are gossipy and small-minded. They don't like Dolly's gender-bending style or her insistence that she's a boy.
Michael's assistant, Alexis, stops by just long enough to catalyze a little drama. Reminder: She's hot. This show isn't going to let us forget that. Jean isn't going to let us forget that. Michael, who is made obviously uncomfortable by Alexis, certainly isn't going to let us forget it. Driven to dire straights by Alexis's arrival, Jean goes to smoke a cigarette with the caterers, which in the world of pills and whiskey and Bushwick parties, feels a little tame.
This episode gives us the first real showdown: Jean and Michael come to verbal fisticuffs over Jean's behavior at Dolly's party. Michael thinks she made the party all about herself. Jean thinks Michael treats her like she's invisible. I'm starting to believe that Jean is right. (I mean, Jean is very dedicated to a healthy sex life. Meanwhile, Michael is busy cancelling vacation plans and staying late at work with his assistant.)
After their blowout fight, Jean scrawls "WORK EMERGENCY" on a slip of paper and leaves the house. It's time, it seems, for the therapist-gone-rogue to actually go bananas.
Episode 4: The In-Between Indigo Space
Jean’s on the loose, wandering about Brooklyn. The show does a good job of reminding us where Jean belongs though; as she’s getting cozy with Sidney at a rooftop film viewing (how very Brooklyn), she’s also getting cozy with Michael out in Connecticut. (They’re watching Despicable Me with Dolly.)
Put plainly, Jean is being immature. She took off without telling her husband where she was going. That’s teenager behavior. She’s devolving, in a way — smoking cigarettes at her kid’s birthday party, sneaking into the city to see a “special friend.” All of it reeks of teen angst. The question remains, though: Why is Jean so angsty? This show is good at establishing that she’s restless in her life. We just don’t really know why.
“You’re becoming an addict,” Sidney tells Jean/Diane down in the Rabbit Hole, pointing out the obvious. She also tells Diane that she’s “always had a thing for older women,” which is about as vicious as backhand compliments get. Jean, in exchange, gifts her a lighter. Seems fitting – here, have a little tool for setting things afire!
Jean’s little boundary-crossing doesn’t stop there. This episode, she heads to get a blowout with Rebecca, the distant daughter to Claire. The work here seems to be earnest therapy-ing, for what it’s worth. As a blowout buddy, Jean acts as friend and confidante to Rebecca. When Rebecca’s phone rings — it’s Claire — Jean encourages her to pick up. Being weird and stalker-y is helpful sometimes! Claire, meanwhile, thinks that something is up with Rebecca, who says that she’s been living with a “community” of people. (She’s in a cult, surely.)
Dolly, in her varsity jacket and backwards cap, is looking more and more like Breckin Meyer from Clueless. She’s also exchanging kisses on the cheek with Sadie, her classmate. Being 11 is hard, Dolly.
Jean’s engaging in therapy with Michael, too. He’s going over a case at home, and she steps in to help out, resulting in an are-you-lying staredown that’s anything but innocent. Basically, Michael’s onto you, Jean. You weren’t at a work emergency the other night. But also, Michael, we’re onto you. You’re down to clown with your assistant.
Things are beginning to unravel a little more: We discover that Melissa, the aforementioned “crazy patient” in fact took up arson in the name of Jean. Knowing what we know now about Jean, I can’t help but feel that Melissa might not be so crazy. Maybe Jean drove her crazy.
Melissa might be another version of Sidney, who’s up to no good again this episode. Jean insists on meeting her at a cafe in daylight, and Sidney invites Sam Duffy to tag along. It’s as if she knows that Sam Duffy and Jean know each other pretty well. Both Sam and Jean are wrapped around Sid’s finger, although Jean seems more aware of it than her patient is. (“Stay the fuck away from me,” she whispers to Sid in a dream.)
It’s still not clear if Jean wants to investigate Sidney or if she wants to sleep with her. Perhaps it’s both. The “indigo” nail polish is a cute little indicator — a nod to the fact that “blue” as a color is still somewhat misunderstood. It’s an in-between color, and Jean’s relationships are somewhere in between normal and utterly inappropriate.
Speaking of inappropriate, Michael’s dalliance with Alexis seems imminent. First off, to the costumers of Gypsy: This girl does not wear glasses, nor do those glasses look real at all. Next, to Michael: Good effort, sir.
He very much wants to avoid sleeping with Alexis. He also really wants to sleep with Alexis. After all, he’s the one who asks her for another round of drinks in the city. But, to his credit, he also looks shocked when Alexis “inadvertently” shows him a pic of Cleavage City. In cab on the way home, she sends him the pic of Cleav City. Nice views, there! He looks uncomfy but not in a bad way, you know? Poor Michael. He wants to be a good guy.
So does Jean! These people just can’t get anything right. It’s totally out of bounds, but Jean goes to find Allison, the drugged-up patient who didn’t show for her appointment. Allison’s in a bad place, tucked away in her abusive boyfriend’s home. Jean wants to help. Perhaps this isn’t the right way to help, but in the moment it seems right.
“It’ll be our little secret,” Jean tells a mournful, cooped-up Allison. You’re gathering a lot of secrets, there, Jeanie. Actually, everyone on this show is harboring shit in that in-between indigo space.
The biggest secret of all is that Jean has a key to some apartment that is NOT her home in the suburbs. No, this is an apartment that belongs to… Melissa?
Episode 5: What’s Your Passcode?
Wait, sorry, did this show just wait until episode 4 to introduce Catherine, Michael’s one-that-got-away? Also, Jean has a new patient! Some guy who can’t get over his ex-wife. It’s mighty late to introduce a new character, Gypsy. And there’s already so much going on: Jean wants to see Sidney, Alexis is snooping on Michael, and Dolly just wants to watch television. (Me, too, Dolly!)
AND, Jean is playacting as Sidney in her sessions with Sam. This feeds into my theory that Jean wants to be Sidney.
Or wait, does Jean want to be Allison? She attends a Narcotics Anonymous meeting with her.
Hey, Sam Duffy has friends! At least, one friend. He’s out getting drinks with a buddy when he spies an ex — presumably, an ex he cheated on. The men in this show are pretty awful, but it feels like the show wants us to like them. Sam D. cheated on Emily, but he’s real sweet about it. Michael wants to cheat on Jean, but he’s being real uptight and goody two-shoes about it. For the sake of good television, I wish they weren’t such wannabe good guys.
This episode raises an important question: Should your partner have the passcode to your phone? Is that the ultimate sign of trust? Because Michael doesn’t have the passcode to Jean’s phone, and Jean is doing all sorts of weird things with her phone, like text Sid. Sid and Jean’s epic showdown happens this episode, and, for lack of a better word, it’s lame. Sid hollers that Jean is “scared” and then Jean argues that Sidney manipulates people, and this is all stuff that we knew before.
I grow tired of Sidney. [Sighs. Takes drag of cigarette.] She’s a fairly simple psychological puzzle in this show — the character equivalent of a four-piece jigsaw.
The show has been thus far neglecting the other storylines. Storylines such as Rebecca’s, the woman who has joined a cult. Jean goes to visit the cult, and they seem harmless enough. For now. Even though they insist that Jean leave her device on the way in.
Oh, but what fun device work! Everyone at the culty dinner reads aloud the last text message on their phone, all of which re-emerge after dinner. AND IT’S MELISSA WHO LAST TEXTED JEAN. JEAN, YOU DIDN’T TELL US THIS. CAMERA, WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW US THIS?! She politely requested, “Stay the fuck away from me.” Which, okay. Not something Jean is good at.
This seems to drive Jean to go give Sid a big old smooch. And, for the record, Jean isn;’t scared. She’s totally in control. Except not really, because her friend Larin spots her at her rehearsal space in Manhattan. (Jean’s all, who, me?)
Michael seems to be changing his tune on vacation, courtesy of a boy’s night gone sour. The gist is that he doesn’t want a divorce. (Michael, just sleep with your assistant! That’s what the TV watcher in me wants.)
As for Jean, she also doesn’t want a divorce. Or does she? I wish she were as easy to figure out as Sidney.
Episode 6: Oh, Hello, Chekhov’s Gun
Do you think that Jeanie’s obsession with “freeing” herself could have been solved by a bit of role-playing? Because, if so, this show could have been a lot shorter. The role-playing in the beginning of this episode is some spectacular stuff. Jean is pretending to be “Sidney,” singer-songwriter, and Michael is pretending to be an architect, and they both seem to have a good time. But their little weeknight rendez-vous is just a taste of what Jean is actually doing.
Michael ends his charade when he goes to work, Jean’s continues because she’ — no surprise here — invites Sidney to come to the hotel for pancakes. However, Michael is planning a trip to Texas with Alexis and a colleague named Scott. It’s his own continuation of the role-playing party. Mark my words: This will be a dangerous trip. I wish it would just happen already.
Oh, gosh. There’s a gun in this show. When Sidney and Jean go to visit Sam Duffy’s apartment, Jean finds a cute little shotgun. You know the adage: If there’s a gun in the vicinity, it must go off before the end.
Do I want to know what’s going with Sam Duffy’s mustache? Sometimes, it’s there. Sometimes, it’s not. I doubt his facial hair grows that quickly. He’s mustache-less in this episode and upset that Sidney broke into his house. Diane/Jean was there when that happened, which makes this therapy session all the scarier. In his impromptu session with Jean, he reveals he has a date with Emily, the normal-ish girl that we met last episode. For Sam Duffy’s sake, I want Emily to take him under his wing and cure him of his Sidney obsession. (Would that someone would do the same for Jean.)
It’s getting less clear who’s addicted to whom in this little mind-muddle. Allison visits Jean with her boyfriend Tom in tow, and it’s all a very scary showdown of who owns whom. Does Jean own Allison, or does Tom own Allison? It’s like her patients are addicted to her, whereas in the beginning it seemed Jean was addicted to her patients.
Later, on his date with Emily, Sam admits to finding Jean kind of hot. This is no good. Sam, please do not kill Jean with your gun.
And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, it seems Tom drugged our already pill-popping heroine during his impromptu therapy session. She collapses at the Rubin Museum with Sidney, and is late for dinner with a frantic Michael. Sorry, Jean, but when your patients are slipping you drugs in your own office, things aren’t going well.
Episode 7: Poor Sam. Poor Michael.
Well, kids. This seems to be the episode. We’ve been waiting for Jean to do something actually criminal, and here it comes. (Truth be told, until this episode, she hasn’t done anything awful, save for a few dramatic kisses with a patient’s ex-girlfriend. Which sounds bad, but it’s not unlawful.)
It begins with perhaps the first official meetup of Diane and Sidney. Diane’s drinking bourbon, and Sidney’s drinking fireball (classy). Sidney has some classic lines like, “I think death’s a better option than boredom.” And Diane’s got some zingers like, “I’m ready for the full Sidney experience.” These two are an eye-rolly cliche, but in this episode the staleness gets some fresh air.
The same goes for Michael and Alexis, who are on that business trip in Texas. They’re soon-to-be-affair is stunningly unoriginal. They play “truth or dare” at a bar in Texas, and Michael gazes longingly at his youthful (and storytelling! She does the Moth!) assistant. (For the record, Sidney and Diane/Jean also play truth or dare of a sort. I mean, really.)
The truth or dares do reveal some decent info on the characters, though. Apparently, this gal Catherine was once an enemy of Jean. Jean says she forced Michael to give up Catherine, but we know that he hasn’t given her up entirely.
Side note: This is the second time “Girl” by The Internet has been used during a “cheating” scene. (The first such instance was in HBO’s Insecure.) This can only be proof that The Internet should be a bigger deal in mainstream pop culture.
There’s a whole lot of drum up to ultimately… nothing that unexpected in this episode. It’s not a big reveal when we discover that Alexis didn’t send that sexy pic by accident. Nor is it that surprising when Jean finally sleeps with Sidney after some drugs and conversation.
It is surprising, though, that Michael refuses Alexis’s advances. It is also surprising when we see Alexis getting smoochy with Scott, Michael’s asshole of a co-worker. So, it’s not that Alexis wants Michael. She just wants someone, period. And now, I’m not too keen on the fact that she’s a storyteller. (Don’t slander the good name of people who do live storytelling!)
It’s downright disturbing that Jean deletes Sam Duffy’s contact info from Sid’s phone. That’s psychopathic behavior for sure. It also mirrors what she said she did regarding Catherine. Jean claimed she forced Michael to delete everything about Catherine. It seems she’s doing the same with Sam.
This will become my mantra for this show: Poor Sam. Poor Michael.
Episode 8: You Are Not Allowed In My Rabbit Hole
I guess life just continues after you cheat on your spouse. Or, at least, that’s what happens when you’re a Holloway in the world of Gypsy. When our main couple attends the company holiday party, they’re all smiles and as-usual. EXCEPT JUST LAST EPISODE SLINKY THINGS WERE HAPPENING, REMEMBER?
The word I want to use for this show is “stifling.” This may be purposeful; Jean is feeling stifled by her suburban life. We, in turn, feel stifled by all the silence.
This episode might be the first time Jean rejects sex with Michael. For the most part, this couple has had a healthy sex life, which has always made me question their extramarital activities. So, it looks like sex with Sidney may have nudged Michael-sex out of the way.
Three cheers for lady masturbation on television, though! In lieu of high sex with her husband, Jean has some selfie time on the phone with Sidney. They make a plan to meet the next day at 309 West 81st Street — presumably the apartment Jean ventured into earlier in the season.
All of Jean’s out-of-office activities seem to be sneaking to the surface. Claire, the overinvolved mother, decides to bring Rebecca into the office for a dual session. This is no good — Rebecca has met Diane. Then, Larin starts to do some math. Jean’s been forgetful, distant. Larin realizes what we as audience members see to be completely obvious. Jean is having an affair.
“What the fuck am I doing?” Jean asks herself before stepping into the Rabbit Hole once again. She’s mad at herself, but not too mad to keep it up with Sidney. Sidney, meanwhile, is onto our protagonist, thankfully. I would be, too, if my new paramour claimed to be “not on social media” and refused to give her last name. There’s only so long that Jean can keep up this charade. It all seems to be a fantasy, too; there’s nowhere this can go. Jean clearly doesn’t want to leave Michael. She tells Sid that she wants to take her on a road trip like Thelma and Louise. Dream on. (Also, Thelma and Louise had a rather dramatic end to their road trip.)
There are times I wish the side characters in this show got their own respective shows. Allison, the drug addict, is using again, despite all of Jean’s interference. At this point, I feel more sympathy for Allison than for Jean. Luckily, it seems Jean feels the same way, because she offers Allison the same spot she invited Sidney to: 309 West 81st Street. (I am getting more and more excited to see all the characters converge on this one location.)
The same goes for Rebecca, who’s having a baby with her cult leader. Jean convinces her to cancel on the mom-therapist date, which is in Jean’s favor more than Rebecca’s.
Alexis is one I do not feel sorry for. Rumors are spreading throughout the office that Michael and Alexis slept together, and I have the sneaking suspicion they are courtesy of Alexis.
Does Jean have borderline personality disorder? Is she replicating the experience of having this disorder? Because she’s treating “Diane Hart” as another person. She’s writing up a profile for her. She’s creating a character, the same way Dolly is creating Peter Pan for her role in the school play.
I wonder: If Sidney died, would all the people in her life stop worshipping her? To be honest, I don’t know who’s hurt more by the pedestal they’ve built around her: Sidney, or the people in her life. Sidney’s being manipulated by Jean, and she’s in turn turning Sam Duffy into a manic mess. (Poor Sam.) He can’t have hanky-panky time with his new girlfriend without thinking of Sidney, or Jean for that matter.
AND HOLD UP THERE’S A NEW PATIENT PERSON. Melissa Saugraves, who was “obsessed” with Jean, has a husband. He boxes with Jean, who goes by “Diane” during boxing class. We have two episodes left in this season. We had better find out exactly what happened with Melissa S. and STAT.
Alas, nothing happens STAT on this show. Even when Allison unearths tapes of Jean “Hart” discussing a patient Melissa, we don’t get to hear the tapes. Presumably, that’s where ths story lies.
Still, things are moving! Michael goes to the Rabbit Hole to grab some coffee, where he meets Sidney. Sid gives him a flyer for her band — Michael’s piecing this together, methinks. Jean stops this new friendship in its tracks with sex! Seems useful. She pops in the shower with Michael for some forget-about-your-suspicions sex, but first, she slaps Michael.
“Never go to my coffee shop again,” she says. It’s her rabbit hole. It’s her safe space to live out a fantasy, and square Michael is not allowed.
Episode 9: Dolly Is A Star
Everyone on this show is lying. Who is our reliable narrator? SOMEONE GIVE ME PURCHASE. Turns out, Allison is also lying. She’s currently residing in 309 W. 81st St., but she was living with her mother, contrary to what she told Jean. Allison claimed to have been cut off from her mother. Her mother visits the practice to say, hey, my daughter is missing. Oh, and she’s been living with me these past few months.
Liars, all of you. Allison is missing now, because of the lies. The lies!
Sam Duffy seems to be doing well. At least he’s not a liar. He’s changed his profile picture on Facebook to a photo of him and Emily. (Poor Emily, dating a Sidney-ravaged man.)
In other social media news, Sidney posted a pic of her and Jean on Instagram, which is just plain rude on her part, but good for the narrative. Now, Jean’s getting closer to getting caught. There’s proof of their illicit and dangerous interaction! Anyone can find it. Sam can find it. Michael can find it. Hell, Larin can find it. Which is something that I would really love to happen. With all of Jean’s various victims in the dark, almost nothing can happen. The show is just Jean being nervous, and everyone else being mildly suspicious.
Michael may not figure out what’s going with his wife, but he did do the math in his office. He accuses Alexis of spreading the rumor about the two of them. And he’s right! She’s also a liar. Michael insists that “nothing is going to happen” between the two of them, and for the first time, I believe him. No sexy assistant time for Michael, at least in the flesh. He pleasures himself in the shower after his confrontation, presumably dreaming of Alexis.
After an awkward dinner with her mom, Jean cries in the shower. It’s the first time Jean has demonstrated any real desperation. Things are building up: Dolly is about to star in the school play, her mother’s lurking, and Allison’s still missing. Jean is popping pills and trying desperately to maintain her relationship with Sidney, while Sidney grows increasingly doubtful of her mysterious lover. Sid, wise up.
It’s still hard to tell if we’re meant to root for Jean or to hate her. She’s fucking with Sidney, for sure, as Sidney so astutely points out, as well as the rest of her patients, Sam included. Now, she’s also fucking with Alexis. JEAN STOLE HER STORY. I mean, Alexis is no saint, but let’s not plagiarize, Jean. Even if it wins you brownie points with your lover/tangential patient.
Dolly stars as Peter Pan in the school play, a bright light in this episode. She has a new boyish cut, and she’s killing it on stage. Dolly is going to be a star, if her parents don’t fuck it up for her. (Dolly will someday write a pain-riddled memoir about how her psycho-manipulative mom ripped their family to shreds. It’ll be great, because everything Dolly does is great.)
This would be a great time for Melissa S. to show up and ruin the party. (Or make the party, you know? This is television.) Instead, Allison is reported missing, leaving a final voicemail on Jean’s phone. She sounds frantic. Allison may be a liar, but I don’t want her to die.
Still waiting on Melissa S., though.
Episode 10: Trespassers
Big news: Jean is in therapy. The therapist has become the therapee! From the way the conversation in therapy sounds, Jean has gone bonkers before. She keeps discussing “keeping herself in control” and “walking the tightrope” as if she knows there’s some dark personal abyss she’s in danger of falling into. Except that as of yet, nothing truly bananas has happened yet. I mean, there’s been talk of arson in the past, but I haven’t seen any matches in the current timeline.
Well, there’s this: Jean tells her boss at the group practice that she’s “certainly not breaking any personal boundaries.” LIAR. The one area that will probably end up getting her in trouble is Allison. Jean gave Allison a place to stay, which actually isn’t all that bad, considering Jean’s other risky behavior.
The timeline of this show somehow allowed Sam Duffy to get engaged to his new girlfriend Emily in the space of a few weeks. (In my mind, this show has taken place over two weeks, given the rate at which things happen.) Jean convinces Sid to go to the engagement party, which seems to prove Sam’s theory that Jean just wants these two dangerous people to be together. Jean just wants danger, period. She wants to exist in the moment before she gets caught, like that one guy Miranda dates on Sex and the City.
FINALLY, Sidney’s sleuthing works out, because she makes her way to Michael’s office to find the true author of “Diane Hart”’s story — it’s Alexis! And all the info Sid needs is right there in the office. There’s Michael. There’s a photo of Jean. Sid, you’re good, and thank God you finally made some headway here.
There’s another “finally” for Michael, but he’s too late. He tries to make a move on Alexis, claiming that he was “too stupid” before, but Alexis is now seeing someone. Or she just realized that Michael is 100% cement. Alexis also drops the “Diane Hart” bomb which raises an alarm. He knows that name. He’s heard that name before. When Melissa Saugraves was in the picture.
Michael and Jean’s little showdown — the second of which we’ve seen in the show so far — reveals some, but not all, of the facts. Am I crazy for wanting someone to brandish a knife or light a match, or, God forbid, admit anything? Even when Jean spills that she gave Allison the key to 309, revealing that she kept her upper west side apartment for years, it seems like petty cash. Michael throws out some interesting facts, like the fact that he knows about Melissa, and the fact that he suspects Jean played a role in Melissa’s crazy.
Melissa was a version of Sidney, back in the day, and, lo and behold, we get to meet her! Ten minutes before the end of the season, Melissa appears. Jean goes to meet her after first visiting her mother’s place to pick a turquoise bracelet, which happens to be a gift from Melissa.
“I never took it off,” she tells a frantic Melissa. You sit on a CASTLE of lies, Jean. Their meetup doesn’t clarify that much, really. Melissa claims that Jean “made her look crazy,” but when Jean apologizes, Melissa falls straight back into her arms. Jean makes attracting people seem very easy.
This episode is really Jean’s apology tour, although none of it seems honest. Jean apologizes to Melissa, who wails and cries and forgive her. Jean apologizes to a stoic Michael, who maybe forgives her — what am I saying? Of course he forgives her. To his credit, he does call Catherine. Is it bad if I want Michael to finally get some in this show? I wish he’d slept with Alexis. I wish he’d leave Jean. In general, I wish everyone would ditch Jean.
Sam Duffy ditched Jean, and what did he get? He got an engagement, but then Jean asks him to come back to the office. There, she says (lies) that Sidney emailed her to say she’s worried about Sam. Basically, Jean wants Sam and Sid back together. She cites her own relationship — she and Michael also have a rough relationship, but they need each other for stability. Perhaps Sam and Sid are the same. And perhaps Jean is right. These two kids need each other; they need to inflict pain on one another to feel less lonely or some other grand platitude.
This all culminates in Jean’s speech at the Connecticut anti-bullying summit. She’s the bully, is the the metaphor going on here. As Jean waxes wise about “power” and “the bullied becoming the bully,” we see that Tom has an unconscious (dead?) Allison in tow. Sam skips dinner with his new fiance to go snoop in Sid’s apartment, and Sid herself shows up at the auditorium where Jean is speaking.
And then, the show ends. Sid is watching Jean, Jean is hoping Michael will forgive her for keeping a secret apartment, and Sam is hoping to get back into Sid’s pants. Oh, and the police detective who is searching for Allison has found his way to… Melissa’s apartment? Jean’s mom’s apartment? I am very confused. The gist of Jean’s speech is that people who manipulate others just want to control themselves.
But here’s the thing: The gun never went off.
I am disappointed.