After last week’s exhilarating departure from the norm, “The Pin in My Grenade” returns to much more familiar (yet still satisfying) territory, with Gretchen and Jimmy swinging wildly from nonchalant confidence to crippling insecurity over their trust in one another. To Edgar and Lindsay’s chagrin, the two have decided to elope rather than have a wedding, allowing them to gleefully thumb their noses at yet more relationship norms, this time concerning marriage. They even agree to use the trip to the court as an unromantic opportunity to pay Gretchen’s outstanding parking tickets.
However, they each miss their court appointment for seemingly self-centered reasons: Jimmy misses it when Edgar inadvertently tricks him into waxing rhapsodically about how he’d actually plan a hypothetical wedding, while Gretchen loses track of time while masturbating with the bidet in her new office. Panicked, they try to fabricate excuses for their mutual lapses, with Jimmy agreeing to “pretend” that Edgar’s trick worked (it actually did work, sort of), and with Gretchen enlisting Lindsay’s help to fake a car accident.
We can understand why missing their appointment sends each of them into a panic: Jimmy thinks Gretchen will assume that he’s abandoned her yet again, while Gretchen is concerned that Jimmy will think she is retaliating for his abandoning her previously. Yet missing their court appointment also leads them to realize that perhaps their mutual lapses were at least partly intentional, and that maybe they actually want a wedding after all. Thus the wild swings in their confidence are matched by equally wild swings in their attitude toward the norms associated with marriage, which go from blasé defiance to surprised acceptance. Of course, they ultimately put their own stamp on their decision to have a wedding, picking a date that also allows them to make a sex joke: June 9th, or 6/9.
Even though Jimmy and Gretchen might still feel some discomfort and reluctance over embracing the traditions associated with marriage (and over being in love more generally), You’re the Worst is very comfortable telling this kind of story about these characters as it nears the end of its run. “The Pin in My Grenade” is essentially a short-form variation of the long-term posturing Jimmy and Gretchen have performed throughout the life of the series regarding their feelings about love, commitment, and their fear of these things. As if to parody their fraught posturing in previous seasons, once Gretchen realizes Jimmy also missed the court appointment, she milks his guilt for all it’s worth, histrionically lambasting him for his callousness. Jimmy sees through it, however, and calls her out for also having missed the appointment, demonstrating once again that these two actually might be good for one another, or perhaps as good for one another as two people with so much damage can be.
In addition to parodying the series’ previous drama, “The Pin in My Grenade” also bakes some hilarious self-consciousness into the margins through a recurring joke about who each of the characters thinks is “dumb one” among their group. The premise itself presupposes that the characters are thinking of themselves in term of television show conventions, considering that the “dumb” one is a well-worn sitcom character type (Joey in Friends, Coach and then Woody in Cheers, etc.). My two cents: despite her occasional emotional intelligence, Lindsay is probably the dumb(est) one, or at least the most broadly drawn. Evidence abounds, but sticking with just this episode, she describes a bidet for being when you “forget how to wipe.”
Like much of the season premiere, “The Pin in My Grenade” is also interesting for its manipulation of sitcom conventions. Sometimes it undercuts them to generate a few laughs, like when saccharine music plays as Gretchen looks at herself in a mirror while wearing a wedding. The music is suggestive of a (conventional) emotional turning point, at least until it is abruptly truncated when Gretchen confirms that seeing herself in the dress makes her feel nothing.
At other times, “The Pin in My Grenade” reinforces sitcom conventions by imbuing them with emotional weight. Inventing an accident as an excuse for negligence is a familiar sitcom trope, but when Gretchen has Lindsay punch her in the face to help sell the fake car accident, the moment is well-motivated psychologically by the hurtful things Gretchen said to Lindsay earlier in the episode. Giving Lindsay a personal reason to want to punch Gretchen thus reinvigorates what might otherwise seem like hoary cliché.
Overall, “The Pin in My Grenade” – and You’re the Worst in general – gets to have it both ways: it thumbs its nose at convention while also (sometimes) embracing those conventions. One need look no further than the scene where Gretchen shows Jimmy her childhood wedding diary, which is accompanied by music reminiscent of that which accompanies the nineties romantic comedy parody from last week’s “The Intransigence of Love.”
We can see something similar in the flowery dialogue creator Stephen Falk often provides for Jimmy. Jimmy’s waxing rhapsodically is motivated by his considering himself to be a literary genius, but it’s also intentionally parodying Jimmy’s own arrogance (itself augmented by Chris Geere’s performance, especially when he’s really leaning into his British accent). We’re invited to scoff at Jimmy’s pretentiousness, but at the same time, sometimes he is actually eloquent, and we can understand why other characters are captivated by him or his work, like when he describes his hypothetical wedding to a rapt audience at the bar.
Much like with Jimmy and Gretchen’s romance, underneath You’re the Worst’s posturing and parody, there is also emotional sincerity and compelling character psychology, and it’s this delicate blend of qualities that often makes You’re the Worst such a delight.
– Some Los Angeles humor in Jimmy and Gretchen’s irritation with having to drive to the west side for a meeting about turning his book into a film. Los Angeles is a sprawling city, have you heard?
– For an embarrassingly long time, I’ve thought the object concealing creator Stephen Falk’s name at the end of the opening credits was some sort of pie (pecan?). It is only now that I realize it’s actually a drink, which makes sense, considering that Falk’s name is written on a coaster. Perhaps I’m the dumb one.
– The C plot where Gretchen gets a new corner office seems largely like an excuse to get her into a room with a bidet, but it’s felt like a long time since we’ve had a Gretchen work story (last season her work arc was mostly about her avoiding work in the wake of Jimmy’s abandonment). I’m not sure I even remember her having an office before. I would have liked to have seen an episode that actually deals with what’s only described through exposition here: Gretchen taking steps to get a bunch of sexual harassers fired.
– Nice to see Samira Wiley return as Justina, Gretchen’s therapist, even if it’s only through a video conference. Perhaps Justina’s truncated alarm over Gretchen’s decision to marry Jimmy will bear dramatic fruit down the line. Evidently Justina and Gretchen don’t talk all that often if she thinks Gretchen is still with Boone.
– Some nice crosscutting: when Jimmy asks Edgar what kind of idiot would fake getting mugged as an excuse for missing their own wedding, we cut to Gretchen and Lindsay doing exactly that, but in a heightened slapstick way, with both screaming at each other to psych themselves up enough for Lindsay to throw a brick at Gretchen’s face. When Lindsay settles for punching Gretchen instead, there’s some nice timing to the physical comedy which itself made me laugh.
– More self-consciousness: Lindsay lists “shopping montages” as one of the things Gretchen and Jimmy might exclude them from in the future if the couple doesn’t have a wedding.
– More physical comedy: Edgar Scooby-Dooing around the corner to encourage Jimmy and Gretchen to have a wedding.
– The actress who plays young Gretchen in the VHS tape looks like she could be Aya Cash’s little sister. Excellent casting – for a moment it seemed like an incredible feat of CGI, or that the producers had access to a time machine.