Divorce: “The Next Day” Season 1 Episode 2 Review

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Thomas Haden Church makes for an excellent spurned husband in Divorce‘s second episode.

“The Next Day,” like its title would suggest, picks up exactly where the premiere left off and takes us through the day following Robert’s discovery of his wife’s affair. Frances starts out being figuratively in the doghouse and literally locked out of her house since Robert wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Sharon Horgan’s writing is still an ace in the hole for this show—what other series about a couple’s undoing would feature a hilarious moment such as Frances discovering her purse hidden in the trash with a banana peel purposefully placed on top—but it’s here where the carefully crafted performances become essential.

Many of Robert’s actions—having fake conversations with his co-workers to avoid talking to Frances, racing her to pick up the kids from school so he can tell them their parents are getting a divorce—though not unwarranted, could easily come off as being childish or petty reactions to Frances’ adultery. Yet, Thomas Haden Church makes great use of his laidback charm here, so that you’re able to feel Robert working through this huge bomb that was just dropped on him. Sure, he’s mad as hell and has every right to be. But you can see that a part of him still loves his wife, so he’s going to keep lashing out at her in his own way until he’s able to fully process what happened and what this means for their relationship.

At the episode’s end, he’s finally able to admit that if his and Frances’ marriage had been going better, maybe she wouldn’t have sought out a lover in the first place. It’s a huge relief to Frances, and one that I’m not entirely sure she deserves. She spends the majority of the episode pleading with Robert to have an adult conversation, and then telling him he’s being unfair when it’s clear he doesn’t want to talk. Of course the two need to have an adult conversation, but jeez, girl, haven’t you ever heard of giving someone some space first?

Sarah Jessica Parker is once again earnest in her delivery, so Frances never comes off as a total shrew. Still, after all she said about Robert in the premiere, you have to wonder where her true intentions lie. Does Frances really want to get Robert back, or is the thought of totally changing the comfortable, suburban life she’s created truly terrifying to her? She says several times that her affair with Julian meant nothing, but it’s a little hard to believe considering she wanted to leave her husband for him.

Throughout “The Next Day,” Frances and Robert seem to be waging war against each other, and yet the episode ends on a calmer note. One of the things that fascinates me about Divorce is that it seems interested in examining the true ebbs and flows that come with ending a marriage. It isn’t all shouting matches and lawyers divvying up assets. These are two people who have clearly made mistakes in their relationship, but it’s been a relationship nonetheless and it’s hard to just let that go. The final shot of Robert googling Julian indicates that things aren’t going to be all sunshine and roses anytime soon, but I don’t think they’re headed for total disaster either. At least, not just yet. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • This week we learned that Frances wants to open a gallery, and has some other job that we’re still unaware of.
  • So, after only two episodes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Frances does not have a good support system amongst her friends. Molly Shannon is absolutely hilarious as Diane, but her character is far too self-centered to leave a good impression for how to be married. Dallas, showing what life is like on the other side, seems to be holding it together until she completely loses it when Robert calls her a “harpy.” I don’t think this sudden emotional change is a good example either.
  • Best line of the episode (both in the writing of it, and Haden Church’s delivery): “I’m not completely convinced that’s the same dog, but let’s move on.”
  • Diane’s lawyer in the hospital room with her added the perfect amount of dry humor to a scene that already included Robert telling Diane to remove her gun tote off her husband’s colostomy bag.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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