After the nadir of last week’s “The Pillars Of Creation”, You’re The Worst returned to form this week with “Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Sunday Funday,” which manages to hit some interesting emotional beats for Gretchen and Jimmy while also providing an excellent showcase for Paul F. Tompkins, who gets many of the episode’s biggest laughs. “Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Sunday Funday” actually makes for an interesting contrast with last week’s episode, because the pair of episodes illustrate both the best and worst uses of eccentric supporting characters. Bad: focusing exclusively on the supporting characters and asking viewers to take their dilemmas seriously when previously they’ve been nothing but obnoxious caricatures. Good: have the supporting characters manufacture jokes based on relationships of the main characters, while also nudging the main characters in interesting emotional directions.
Paul F. Tompkins is exemplary of this good use of a supporting character. Edgar and Lindsay surprise Jimmy and Gretchen with suspiciously tepid plans for a combination bachelor/bachelorette bus party (complete with Vernon, Becca, and Paul), but their plans are hijacked by Paul F. Tompkins, whom they bump into while picking up alcohol. Tompkins proceeds to steal the show by hosting the party, cracking wise and having quite reasonable – to a point – reactions to the weirdos he’s just met. For instance, in order to stop everyone else from thinking him a cuckold, Vernon reveals the circumstances of the threesome he, Becca, and Paul had in “The Pillars of Creation.” Tompkins then tries to defuse the resulting awkwardness by going into standup comedy mode and performing crowd work.
This in itself is funny enough, but when Tompkins gets to Jimmy and Gretchen, his probing of their relationship forces them to confront some uncomfortable differences in what they each want out of their marriage, specifically regarding religion, circumcision, and kids. It’s funny because these are routine topics couples should discuss, but given their impulsiveness and general discomfort with emotional sincerity, it makes sense that they wouldn’t have thought through a lot of these meaningful implications of marriage.
Gretchen and Jimmy’s ensuing argument is one of the major beats in their character arcs this episode. Earlier in the liquor store, Gretchen raises the possibility that they’ll change as they get older together, but Jimmy has trouble accepting it, which irritates Gretchen. After Tompkins probes them, Gretchen accuses Jimmy of never changing anything about himself for her, and Jimmy counters by bringing up the blowjob he gave Quinn in “Zero Eggplants” (Chris Gere is great in this moment: he’s both excited to have thought of something he’s done for Gretchen, but also irritated at having done it in the first place, and both feelings come through in his line reading). Tompkins follows up Jimmy’s admission with one of the best jokes of the episode when he breaks everyone’s stunned silence by asking Jimmy to repeat it into the microphone.
What follows is a showcase for Tompkins, but one that also provides Jimmy and Gretchen a chance to undergo some character growth. The bus runs out of gas, and Tompkins gets into an argument with Edgar once Tompkins pivots from crowd work to insult comedy, offering hilarious descriptions of the other characters (my favorite being his description of Gretchen as a “sad girl” that Jimmy “barely even knows, who tricked him into sucking a dick”).
Things then take a turn for the insane: Edgar pushes Tompkins off the bus, apparently injuring him. Edgar fishes a gun out of Tompkins’s coat and hands it to Jimmy. Tompkins wakes up, and worried the others will try to kill him, preemptively stabs Vernon in his carotid artery. Tompkins then confirms Edgar’s accusations of psychopathy, deciding he’ll need to kill everyone else to cover up his murder of Vernon. When Tompkins moves toward Edgar, Jimmy and Gretchen each shoot him, killing him. Convinced they’ve murdered someone together, Jimmy suggests he and Gretchen flee to Mexico. It’s at this point that everyone reveals that the murders were all an elaborate ruse, part of Lindsay and Edgar’s plan to deliver a memorable bachelor/bachelorette party.
I suppose I never seriously believed that the show would blow up its premise and turn Jimmy and Gretchen into lovers on the run (the lameness of Edgar and Gretchen’s party itinerary is the strongest hint we get that they had planned Tompkins’s intervention all along), but it would have been be kind of funny if Stephen Falk had pivoted in such a wildly unconventional direction. After all, You’re the Worst is a show that often thrives on bucking convention, or at least making fun of it. Hell, parts of the flash forwards might have even worked with this development (although I suppose when you flee from the authorities, you don’t usually take the time to sell your house first). I also certainly wouldn’t have minded if Tompkins had murdered Paul and Becca.
In any case, the ruse provides an emotional payoff for Jimmy and Gretchen: Gretchen is now more affectionate toward Jimmy because he proved he really is capable of changing for her when he suggested they flee to Mexico, and in stating that he didn’t care what happened to them so long as they were together. Once again, I’m left admiring You’re The Worst’s unique ability to combine risqué comedy with genuinely touching moments, in this case by having a character find emotional equivalency between having kids and committing murder.
Other thoughts: – In the coda, Paul F. Tompkins gets in another good joke in explaining his role in the ruse: “I knew eight years of stage combat would pay off. Plus, I make my own squibs!”
– The coda also concludes Tompkins’s participation in the series. He joined in the ruse to avoid Edgar filing a complaint against him with Doug Benson’s HR department, and it frees him and Edgar from one another. I’m sad to see Tompkins go, but happy he was put to such good use here (unlike other shows that have wasted him, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where he briefly played a ship captain).
– Aya Cash is also excellent in this episode: her disgust upon drinking Paul’s microbrew is hilarious, as is her shocked reaction to the revelation of the ruse.
– The back of Paul’s bachelor party shirt reads, “Alive Roger Ebert.” Morbid, yes, but he really does look like a young Roger Ebert.
– This week’s flash forward features Edgar running through the woods in a tuxedo. The costuming and the musical accompaniment suggest something akin to James Bond, but Edgar’s panicked reaction reads more like Inspector Clouseau. In any case, it’s interesting because it provides a slightly narrower set of questions than the other flash forwards thus far: Who is Edgar running from? Why is he wearing a tuxedo? Where is this taking place?
– A minor subplot is that Edgar read Jimmy’s script and hated it. It’s interesting because Jimmy seems to actually value Edgar’s opinion here, which runs contrary to his usual dismissiveness. Jimmy even asks Edgar to help him revise it! Perhaps Jimmy learned something from Edgar helping him get the screenwriting gig in the first place.
– Edgar also tells Jimmy about Gretchen stealing Edgar’s medication, suggesting there’s still more to come regarding Gretchen’s clinical depression. Put a pin in this one for later.