You’re The Worst: “Twenty-Two” Season 3 Episode 5 Review

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An outstanding Edgar-focused episode finally peels back the curtain on his immense mental burdens.

You’re the Worst has never exploited Edgar’s PTSD, per se, but it certainly has found a way to use it as a source of dark comedy. Season 3 seemed to be pointing in a more serious direction for this character, however, with Edgar going off his meds and Jimmy and Gretchen being even meaner and more blissfully unaware of the struggle he’s going through. Though the series seems to have stalled Edgar’s arc in the past few episodes, “Twenty-Two” allows him to take center stage, and the results are starkly poignant.

“Twenty-Two” is essentially a redo of last week’s “Men Get Strong,” but from Edgar’s point of view. We open with him unable to sleep, and haunted by seemingly suspicious activity—a newspaper delivery van, the sound of an airplane overhead. Stephen Falk, working excellently with cinematographer Mike Berlucchi, fully reels us in to Edgar’s sadness. The entire episode is dimly lit and shot at low, close-up angles so we can truly feel his isolation.

That’s the worst part about Edgar’s PTSD. Much like Gretchen’s clinical depression, this is something he’s been going through completely alone. This is most evident during the “repeat” scenes from last week’s episode which, from Edgar’s perspective, now seem harsh and uninviting as opposed to snarky and amusing. I still posit that Gretchen and Jimmy have been uncharacteristically mean to Edgar this season, but “Twenty-Two” does an excellent job of showing just how oblivious they’ve been to his pain. The scene in which Edgar drives them around is particularly gut-wrenching, as we see how their typically acerbic sense of humor is more grating on him than it is funny.

The main plot of “Twenty-Two” sees Edgar attempting to go to his VA meeting; something he’s reluctant to attend until he receives some strong encouragement from Dorothy. Though they only share a brief scene together, their interaction feels incredibly authentic and is quietly moving. Colette Wolfe has spent most of her run on this series playing up Dorothy’s goofy side, but here she’s wonderfully sincere.

If there’s any performance to truly praise, however, it’s that of Desmin Borges. The actor is absolutely revelatory in a more centralized role, displaying all of Edgar’s potent emotions—his earnestness when trying to please his girlfriend, his fear and anxiety during simple tasks like a trip to the grocery store, and, of course, his mounting anger at his own situation—with aplomb.

The two most powerful scenes in the episode occur toward the end. The first arrives when Edgar finally makes it to the VA meeting, and is forced to face off against a seemingly concerned, but ultimately useless counselor (a sweetly vicious Julie White). Borges takes Edgar through a wide range of emotions in this scene alone, and his escalation to outright rage feels wholly justified by the end. Though Edgar is determined to seek help, he’s faced with the all-too-painful realization that the system that made him what he is isn’t cut out to help him re-adjust back to his old self.

This brings about the second important scene in the episode, in which Edgar, having just considered purposefully walking into traffic, meets a tow-truck driver who recognizes him as a fellow veteran. The two share a joint and he imparts some wisdom onto Edgar that allows him to change his perspective. “I know you don’t want to hear this,” he says, “but the minute you stop looking for someone else to cure you, maybe you start living again.”

It’s here that Edgar realizes that there’s no VA counselor or cocktail of medications that are going to solve all of his problems. If he wants to make a change, he’s going to have to figure out what works for him on his own. This is certainly no easy task, but the knowledge that he can have some control over his own fate is incredibly freeing. The final shot of Edgar sticking his head through his car’s sunroof with joy is a wonderful sight to behold.

After a few episodes that hinted this show might be spinning its wheels, You’re the Worst has returned to what made it such a special show in the first place. “Twenty-Two” is another unique and fascinating examination of mental illness that feels both painfully and beautifully real. I’m interested to see how Edgar’s development will factor into the larger narrative arc of this season. Now that I know this show still can produce greatness, I’m ready for just about anything. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Though this is mostly a somber episode, there are some moments of levity, particularly when Edgar finds a paper boat floating down a stream that turns out to be part of a student film. The director’s bewilderment at Edgar picking up the boat—“What you just thought a paper boat was floating down the river on its own?”—as well as Edgar starring in what turns out to be a truly bizarre short film, are both great bits of comedy.
  • Though most of the VA sequence plays out in a straightforward manner, I also enjoyed the counselor “denying” that she knows when the next war is going to be.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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