You’re The Worst: “The Only Thing That Helps” Season 3 Episode 7 Review

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A Jimmy-centric episode expertly deals with complex familial relationships. Also, Ben Folds!

The death of Jimmy’s father loomed over the beginning of this season like a dark cloud, leaving us unsure how this development would affect Jimmy and his relationship with Gretchen. For the most part, he’s been able to shrug it off. His relationship with his father is based in hatred and torment, and so—on the surface, at least—Jimmy appeared relieved that this man was now out of his life for good.

Thing’s change in “The Only Thing That Helps” when his father’s ashes arrive at his door. Jimmy immediately has the strong reaction of throwing the box onto his driveway, but is eventually persuaded by Gretchen to have a quasi memorial service so he can achieve closure. It’s good to see that Gretchen is finally taking her therapist’s words to heart and stepping up to be there when her boyfriend needs it. Though the show has previously shown how much Jimmy detests his father, we’ve also been given heartbreaking scenes such as the one in “Bad News, Dude’s Dead” that show just how much he wanted his approval.

Jimmy’s plan for the service is to make it as quick and painless as possible. His father’s friend Freddie shows up and offers to give a speech, so Jimmy doesn’t even feel the need to eulogize him. Of course, things never go as planned when the gang on this show gets together for…well, anything, really. For starters, Gretchen’s newest client is Ben Folds (the musician plays himself in a truly excellent guest spot) who’s so overly generous that he comes to the service and offers musical accompaniment.

Then there’s Freddie’s speech, which is actually a letter than Jimmy’s father wrote before he passed. In it, he basically tries to re-write history and says that he tried his best to connect with Jimmy, but it didn’t take and he forgives him.

This, of course, enrages Jimmy, who goes on to point out the inaccuracies in his father’s note—Jimmy’s father says that he took Jimmy to see the film Big Night which is where Jimmy first decided he wanted to be a writer. In actuality, Jimmy went to see Big Night alone while his father saw D3: The Mighty Ducks and then left the theater without him.

The complete awfulness of Jimmy’s father has always been mined for comedy on You’re the Worst, but this time its tinged with a bit of melancholy as Jimmy learns that his dad knew he was dying for a year, and that he wrote the letter after their one honest moment together from last season’s “A Right Proper Story.”

This leads to the episodes best sequence, in which Jimmy goes to scatter his dad’s ashes over Tony Shalhoub’s lawn—his father’s final request—and, in typical Jimmy fashion, he monologues while he’s doing it. This time, however, his speech isn’t an overly verbose insult or statement of cynicism. It’s a raw, angry, and honest confession of Jimmy’s feelings about his dad, and the resentment he’s held onto for years because of their relationship. After he’s done, he tosses the ashes over the fence and bursts into tears. It’s a poignant moment that this show has quickly become known for, and it works to effectively close this arc in Jimmy’s storyline for the season. Chris Geere, who’s usually a welcome source of humor in any episode, does a fantastic job here as Jimmy finally allows himself to experience his grief.

There are two subplots this week that have middling success. The first is Lindsay and Paul’s new marital arrangement in which Paul gets to watch his wife have sex with other men. He does it for the sake of “their family,” but is clearly uncomfortable with it. While it’s nice to see this relationship move in a direction where Lindsay isn’t forced to do whatever Paul wants, it seems like the route is just reversing the roles and will likely just drive them further apart.

Meanwhile, Edgar tries to get his medical marijuana card through the VA so that it doesn’t affect his other veteran’s benefits. This leads to a very funny scene in the VA office as, of course, the government won’t provide him with a weed card. In the end, Edgar decides to get the card anyway and just keep it a secret. It’s a moment of triumph for him, but I have to wonder if this show is saying that medicinal pot is the answer to Edgar’s problems, or if this is just a temporary fix.

Despite the discrepancies in both of these storylines, neither of them is able to take away from the greatness of this episode and its dealings with Jimmy’s dad. You’re the Worst has proven itself a master as juggling comedy and drama with equal weight, and this episode perfectly exemplifies that. Where else would you see Ben Folds giddily trying to drum up excitement about his move to LA alongside an achingly authentic meditation on the loss of a not-so-loved one? Once again, this show has truly delivered Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • In “Bad News, Dude’s Dead,” it’s Vernon who surprisingly is the one to tell Edgar that he needs to get help. Here, he once again has solid advice for him that he should go get his weed card anyway since he’s already been through enough.
  • I also love that Vernon’s reason for having his own weed card was that he saw a dog.
  • “Make sure to hashtag it with #BenFoldsSighting, #BenFoldsIsEverywhere, #BenFoldsMovesToLA.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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