Divorce: “Another Party” Season 1 Episode 9 Review

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In the penultimate episode of the season, thing start to get ugly.

One of Divorce‘s most interesting choices over the course of its first season has been to draw out the actual divorce proceedings between Robert and Frances as long as possible. It’s certainly a deliberate choice, as the show is trying to depict how much of a harrowing process ending a marriage can be. There’s no such thing as a quick and painless split. Especially when there are things like children and finances to consider.

We’ve seen Robert and Frances go through couples counseling, mediation, and then start lawyering up, but up until this episode, nothing too serious has transpired. “Another Party” in an intriguing episode that sees some major plays on the battleground, and makes the implication that next week’s finale is going to be brutal.

Things start off with Frances being put in the uncomfortable position of having to defend herself for being a working mother. It’s 2016, and the argument that she’s a bad mother because she’s not the one dropping the kids off to school and packing their lunches is dumb and sexist, and yet it still manages to work every time. Frances doesn’t do those things because she’s been working in the city to provide for the family, which is just as important as doing soccer carpool. Still, even Frances lawyer admits that it might be a good idea for her to show a little more face at the kids’ school events, if only so there’s one less thing that can be used against her in court.

What follows is a supremely awkward sequence in which Frances attends a school committee planning meeting and tries to pretend like she’s one-of-the-gang with the other school moms. Sarah Jessica Parker does a good job at bringing the cringe-factor here with her earnest delivery that borders on desperation. It’s clear that she’s a fish out of water.

The one negative part about this plot thread, and the episode as a whole, is the moment where Frances confronts Janice, the mom that Robert hooked up with in “Weekend Plans.” Their interaction is set up to be calculated—Frances basically tells Janice that she knows she slept with her husband—but Parker uses the same plucky, rambling delivery she did in the previous scene with the other moms, so it’s difficult to tell what her true intentions are. Also, what was the point of the whole thing? It’s a one-off scene that isn’t brought up again, and the only real outcome is that everything is even more awkward. Also, Frances, you should know better than to tell a stay-at-home mom that you work full time. That kinda thing just doesn’t fly.

The titular “party” in question is another lavish affair at Nick and Diane’s home, but this time the celebration is for the renewal of their vows. The party takes up the majority of the episode, and what’s so great about it is that it manages to touch on several of the characters problems while they’re all in the same space. Diane and Nick give each other some heartfelt vows, which are all but ruined when Nick berates Diane for wanting to make everyone wait while she gets sparkling apple juice for the toast (to be fair, it is kind of an annoying thing to do, but he didn’t have to be such an ass about it).

Frances does just about the friendliest thing she’s done with Diane all season when she’s finally honest with her after she sees her start drinking again when Nick begins flirting with another woman. Taking her drink away from her, she simply says, “stop having parties.” It’s a curt moment, but it felt so perfect considering how one-sided their friendship has been.

Then there’s Dallas, who, in a move that should shock absolutely no one, decides to hook up with Tony Silvercreek. Dean Winters is fully committed to making his character an absolute douchebag, so the fact that Dallas decides to leave the party for a quicky in his car only further illustrates how poor her self-esteem is. Though it’s nice to see her in an episode where she’s not smothering her son or becoming enraged at a benign comment that someone makes, it’s still no fun to watch what is clearly a very depressed woman make another poor choice. In short, Dallas needs to get her shit together. Also of-fucking-course her favorite movie is The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio.

The most important part of the party, however, is the small scene between Robert and Frances where she confronts him about the way Tony made her look like a bad mother, and he agrees to back off if her lawyer will stop with the “fake” stroke game he’s playing (little does he know…). It’s important because this moment is the official calm before the big storm. Frances even says that even though their divorce won’t be pleasant, there’s no reason it has to be uncivil. Unfortunately, this does not pan out.

Frances meets with her lawyer, only for him to refer her to another lawyer who’s basically a female Tony. She tells Frances that she’s going to fight for her, and fight she does by officially serving Robert divorce papers while he’s coaching their daughter’s basketball game. It’s a low blow, and one that Frances honestly didn’t see coming. Regardless of her involvement, though, the move was made. The gloves have officially come off, and now there are no rules against playing dirt. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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