“Zero Eggplants” features another delve into Gretchen’s psychology, which is always rich dramatic territory for the You’re the Worst. The episode deals with the aftermath of Gretchen finding out about the blowjob Jimmy received from the florist in “A Very Good Boy”, and with Jimmy and Gretchen forming a friendship with another couple, Rachel and Quinn.
Rachel and Quinn seem like a good match for Gretchen and Jimmy: not only do they instantly get the sex joke Gretchen and Jimmy made out of their wedding date, but Rachel describes herself as having a personality disorder (she shoplifts), and Quinn is a recovering alcoholic. These problems roughly correspond with Jimmy and Gretchen’s own issues: narcissism/egomania, and clinical depression, respectively. Moreover, the couples meet at a wedding caterer, but Rachel and Quinn are already married, and just enjoy scamming the “wedding industrial complex,” which is exactly what Jimmy and Gretchen were doing at the start of the season. Gretchen instantly identifies their affinities and insists on becoming “couple friends,” and the rest of the episode charts the rise and fall of their intense friendship.
It would be odd for You’re The Worst to introduce a brand new pair of ongoing characters this late into the show’s run, so I expected the couples’ friendship to be sabotaged at some point, but “Zero Eggplants” does a good job of providing a lot of red herrings that kept me guessing about how it would sour. As the episode wears on, it seems clear it will have something to do with the lingering fallout from the blowjob from “A Very Good Boy.” Gretchen is still angry over Jimmy’s infidelity, and when Jimmy jokingly asks if sucking a dick himself will make things right, she angrily insists that it’s the only way to fix things. Of course, Gretchen doesn’t really think Jimmy would ever actually give a blowjob, so her ultimatum is really her way of saying that there isn’t anything Jimmy can do to make it better.
As Jimmy gripes about his predicament to Quinn, Quinn suggests that he actually give a blowjob to appease Gretchen. At this moment, my first thought was that Jimmy would end up giving Quinn a blowjob, and that it would end up ruining Quinn and Rachel’s marriage, and by extension Gretchen and Jimmy’s friendship with them, in turn giving Gretchen even more cause to be angry with Jimmy, since she’s so invested in having “couple friends.” One the things I enjoyed the most about “Zero Eggplants” was how it alternated between derailing and confirming different parts of this hypothesis. Yes, Jimmy ends up giving Quinn a blowjob, and yes, this is instrumental in eventually ending the couples’ friendship – but not in the way I thought it would.
Hands down the funniest scene in “Zero Eggplants” is the wordless exchange where Quinn agrees to let Jimmy suck his dick. Actors Timm Sharp and Chris Gere are great here: Quinn and Jimmy have an entire conversation that ranges from incredulity to apprehensiveness to resignation, conveyed entirely through a series of facial expressions and head nods (my favorite being the subtle nod of Quinn’s head when he finally agrees to it). The comedy is heightened further by the suspenseful musical score, which seems like something that would accompany a heist scene.
Surprisingly, Gretchen is thrilled to learn that Jimmy “S’d a D.” She never thought he’d actually do it, but she’s so shocked that he did it – and that she means that much to him – that it actually fixes things between them. It helps that it allows Gretchen to make fun of Jimmy, which she does immediately. Even Rachel is fine with it: rather than ruining Quinn and Rachel’s marriage, we learn that Rachel thinks it’s funny. So, how will this new friendship get wrecked when it’s thus far managed to navigate such rocky seas?
Ultimately, it’s Gretchen who deliberately sabotages the friendship, using the blowjob as an excuse. Throughout the episode, we see Gretchen struggle with her insecurity over being friends with Rachel. Gretchen really likes Rachel, and the normalcy of having “couple friends,” but is terrified of letting Rachel get close to her. This insecurity is recurring problem for Gretchen on You’re The Worst: she thinks she’s broken – clinical depression, mommy issues, low self-esteem, fear of intimacy, etc. – and thus she fears letting others into her life too deeply. She doesn’t think she’s worthy of the kind of intimate friendship Rachel explicitly offers her (“friends for life”), which we see when she shrugs off a hug from Rachel after telling her about being clinically depressed. Thus at the end of the episode, triggered by Quinn toasting to a lifelong friendship, she deliberately drives Rachel and Quinn away by pretending to be outraged over the Jimmy-Quinn blowjob. At the episode’s end, she sneaks into Edgar’s bathroom and takes some of his PTSD medication, staring at herself in the mirror with a strained smile, as if to convince herself that she’s okay. The show’s history suggests she’s far from it.
– “Zero Eggplants” begins with yet another enigmatic flash forward, once again designed to make us think Jimmy and Gretchen’s romance is in peril. However, once again, it’s still so ambiguous that it seems like an obvious attempt at misdirection, especially given that Gretchen and Jimmy seem to resolve their fight over the blowjob here. Given the stress warping Gretchen’s behavior in this episode, a new possibility is that the flash forwards featuring Gretchen are some sort of attempt at self-care. Her sobriety is reiterated when she looks longingly at Lindsay sipping a daiquiri and then disappointingly at her own glass of water.
– Lots of funny side jokes in this one, like Jimmy thinking the phrase “S a D” is classier than “suck a dick,” or Jimmy and Gretchen never having noticed the gorgeous view of the Silver Lake reservoir offered by Jimmy’s house. Also choice: Jimmy realizing that all his favorite writers are gay.
– Nice editing in this episode. After Jimmy’s head descends off-screen to give Quinn a blowjob, there’s a cut to a close-up of Gretchen opening a foamy bottle of beer, clearly meant to represent Quinn’s ejaculation. Likewise, when Jimmy protests he and Gretchen having “couple friends,” before he can finish saying it, there’s a cut to all four characters toasting, “Couple friends!” It’s reminiscent of the episode titles in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which often create jokes by immediately contradicting something one of the characters says.
– Gretchen might also fear Rachel’s rejection, which could also explain her deliberate sabotage of the friendship. For Gretchen, it’s better to deliberately lose a friend than to inadvertently do so: she can control the former, but would blame herself for the latter, which could spiral her into another bout of crippling depression.