Claws Sends Gregory And Desna's Relationship Into Rough Waters
In our latest EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP, Desna and Dean finally get their long-promised trip on Gregory's boat, but must also contend with a surprise guest: Gregory's mother.
Now: we open in black and white, in a very traditionally decorated mid-century home. As cheery black-and-white sitcom music plays, Gregory calls, "Honey, I'm home!," to the cheers of the studio audience or laugh track (though it's clear from his intonation that old-ass sitcoms weren't a staple of the Haitian TV of Jimmy Jean-Louis's youth, or maybe just that a French-dubbed Ward Cleaver put his own stink on that hoary old sing-song). He's taking off his coat and hat when Desna appears with a martini on a tray, and I assume I needn't tell you this queen can make even a corny old '50s housewife's wardrobe look good.
They exchange black-and-white sitcom pleasantries until Gregory asks after the kids; Desna blows a whistle and children start trooping out from everywhere -- nine in total, the last two of whom are white twin boys. Desna looks dismayed, and when Gregory starts to scold her about keeping the kids in line as if they didn't all just arrange themselves on the stairs by height like (to borrow a phrase) a bunch of Boogie Down Von Trapps, the oven dings. "Oh, thank God," breathes Desna quietly, relieved to have a reason to change the subject, but this just precedes more correction, Gregory complaining that it's pot roast again, never mind that it was on special at the store. "We don't do repeats here," he declares. "Get rid of this." Desna, with an exaggerated black-and-white sitcom squeal of anxiety, asks, "What ever will we eat?" Gregory says he'll take the children for dinner, while she stays home and thinks about what she did. Desna's voice breaks as she offers a still-in-character apology, but black-and-white Gregory sounds a lot like 2018 HD Gregory probably does when one of his underlings fucks up: "'Sorry's not going to cut it! When I come here, I expect perfection!" Desna grovels that he's right and she'll do better. The bouncy soundtrack resumes as Desna flicks a switch and reaches into the sink...which is when she gets her hand stuck in the garbage disposal. Deep red blood starts to fill the sink while Desna struggles and begs Gregory for help; in response, he points at her and laughs, soon joined by their herd of brats. The camera pushes in on Desna as she screams...
...herself into waking up. So Desna's subconscious has sensed something about Gregory that Desna's conscious mind has yet to acknowledge. Also: there's no wrong time to be reminded that all black-and-white sitcoms suck.
In what is now also her kitchen as well as Jenn's, Desna is using her intact (and fabulous) hand to pour herself a cup of coffee when Roller lets himself in, on an errand to pick up some of Bryce's things: "He ain't showing his face after his sexcapades." "He shouldn't, with his nasty ass!" Desna replies. She doesn't know how Bryce could have submitted to a blowjob from his mother-in-law, but Roller's not so scrupulous: "Shit, we white and dirty, baby!" He asks why she's so dressed up, and she proudly says Gregory's taking her out on his boat. Roller asks if she thinks she should be doing "all that," but duh, of course she does, particularly since Gregory's taking both her and Dean. Roller mumbles, "Just saying, guy's moving kind of fast, that's all. Barely even know the man." Okay, obviously we know Roller knows things he's not saying, but this is a weird way to hint around about it; Gregory's maybe taking Desna and Dean out far enough that they can't read billboards on the shore, not to international waters. Desna tells Roller to mind his own business. He says she's got a crazy look in her eye; she says she just had a weird dream, and he asks, "Was it wet?" It's so perfunctory she can't even be bothered to get mad, but as she's striding past him, Roller grabs her wrist and tries to get serious, saying he has to tell her something. "Ruval--" He freezes, so Desna has to prod, "'Ruval' what?" Seeing his grave expression, she starts to get worried: "What?! Say it!" "He's a lucky man," Roller finally mutters. "I know," Desna purrs. WE ALL KNOW.
Desna goes upstairs to Jenn's room, where the co-lady of the house is sitting in bed surrounded by unhealthy snacks, a show about cheesesteaks playing on the TV. As someone who just bought like a gross of ice cream sandwiches: this is my kind of hang. "Doritos and Cheez Whiz, huh?" notes Desna. "I'm a queso girl," says Jenn, adorning a chip with aerosol cheese. "At least you're not drinking," sighs Desna. She asks whether Jenn's talked to her mother; she hasn't, but she's had twenty-five missed calls. As for Bryce: he came to pick up the girls that morning, and when she saw him, she thought she'd-- "Flash him your tits," Desna says with her. I mean, it's a power move. "But then I remembered I hate him," Jenn concludes. The beatdown they all gave him didn't make Jenn feel better. Maybe they need to try again! Desna suggests that Jenn cheer herself up by spending some of the bonus cash they all just got from Zlata. "I already did," says Jenn. "I spent it all at Forever 41." ...Chico's? Desna says she spent hers on the look she's currently sporting, saying she's supposed to wear it on the boat with Gregory today, but that she can cancel if Jenn needs her. Jenn insists that Desna keep her date, and drinks the last melted dregs of her Ben & Jerry's before proving to Desna that she really is getting up. Desna can't miss this outing: that Gregory is bringing Dean, Jenn says, shows he's ready to take things to the next level. Desna gives her a "cool it" gesture, trying not to get them ahead of themselves, but Jenn just zhuzhes Desna's "maritime realness" and bucks her up: "Don't let me ruin two relationships." Going in for a hug, Jenn adds, "One of us needs to exhale." "And one of us needs to bathe," says Desna. Someone please tell Jenn she can still eat Doritos in the shower, but that her Mallomars will melt for sure.
At the marina, Desna lets Dean share some boat facts with her before reminding him to be on his best behaviour, which he says he always is. Are...Dean and Virginia still engaged? And if so, shouldn't she have been invited to make this a double date? Anyway, Dean also has something he wants to discuss with her, but it'll have to wait, because just then Zlata calls for an update on the new clinic. Desna reports that the contractors say they're on track for next week -- thanks to some strategically broken kneecaps, apparently, according to Zlata. She invites Desna to come by to have tea and talk strategy, but Desna says she took a personal day, which Zlata correctly guesses is so Desna could spend it with Gregory. Desna offers to cut her date short if Zlata needs her urgently, but Zlata firmly replies, "Is important for lieutenant to have balance in personal and professional life. Is Chapter XI in my book: 'Merging Of Business And Pleasure Is Like Choking An Orgasm.'" Desna knows: "One only improves the other." Not sure how this makes Zlata's point about a healthy work/life balance, but then again, I'm very sure Zlata's book wasn't produced in collaboration with a tough and exacting editor.
As soon as Desna's hung up, Dean launches into his thing: "I want to dance with Polly's boys." Desna flatly refuses this vocation for her brother, and since I feel like the show's established that Dean gets anxious at loud noises, all she'd have to tell him is how oppressive the music is to make him give up this notion. She doesn't want to discuss it now, so that they can focus on what they're doing today. "Your needs get met, mine get neglected," Dean pouts. Desna stops him, making him agree not to try to have a conversation with her, right now, about his aspirations to dance on a pole. I feel like the choreography we've seen involves more chairs, but: rather than be pedantic about it, Dean agrees us into the opening title card.
"The Major-General's Song" from Pirates Of Penzance provides the soundtrack as we swoop over the marina and down to Matilde's Heart, Gregory's yacht. Dean wonders who Matilde is; Desna shushes him though, as we're about to see, she should have been more curious about that too. Gregory -- outdoing Desna's maritime realness in his navy-and-white look -- comes out to welcome them aboard. He has a kiss for Desna, and a gift for the artist: a sketch pad and very fancy and expensive Faber-Castell pencilcrayons. Gregory's also arranged for the chef to make Dean a special lactose- and gluten-free meal. Desna marvels that he thought of everything. WELL, ALMOST...
...because then a deckhand wheels out SHERYL LEE MOTHERFUCKING RALPH in a woolly grey wig and introduces her as Matilde, Gregory's mother. Desna is clearly shocked to be ambushed by this woman -- who looks deeply (and, frankly, incomprehensibly) unimpressed to be in Desna's presence -- but quickly recovers with appropriately effusive words of greeting for "Mrs. Ruval." "Call me Madame," Madame intones, failing to return any of Desna's gracious remarks and snapping her fingers for the flunky to wheel her away. Gregory doesn't apologize for or even acknowledge his mother's coldness, leaving Desna to point out that he could have told her to expect Madame. Gregory claims Madame was "dying" to meet Desna, and that Desna's going to love her: "Just like I do." I hope he hasn't bet on it!
At the shop, manicures are underway as Polly calls Dr. Ken and asks him to pick up Marnie, expositing that her communication with Marnie is strained, despite Polly's best efforts. It's further exposited that Virginia's moving in with Dean today, Polly warning her to be mindful of what a huge step it is to move in with "a beau": "Sometimes they don't flush." That's one of the less irritating aspects of cohabitating with a man, actually. Ask me about when they leave open every kitchen cupboard door. Jenn rolls in at this point, more or less done from the waist up, but still in her pyjama pants. Jenn's manicure client, Nico, worries that maybe one of her colleagues should take care of him today, but Jenn insists that she's fine, immediately cleaning his nails roughly enough to make him wince. Polly takes over, saying that Jenn doesn't have to pretend with them: "We were there!" Nico breaks in to say that some of them weren't there, and that they don't just come in for aesthetic treatments. "Did Baylor find your vibrator again?" asks a client a few seats down. "Did Brienne's father break out of prison?" Nico guesses. "I wish," Jenn breathes. Nico promises that, if Jenn spills, everyone will listen without judgment, so Jenn takes a deep breath and blurts, "Last night I caught my mama about to do Bryce's dick like a popsicle." "Now, how you let that happen?" Nico demands, immediately breaking his promise. Also, "about to do"? To me it looked like they were pretty far along and that Bryce just did his pants back up fast and/or in adherence to TNT's Standards & Practices, but this isn't a hair (as it were) that gets split again, so let's say everyone agrees that the intent to receive a blowjob was incriminating enough.
Back on the boat, everyone's at the table for lunch, Madame saying that the three little girls who have joined them all lost their families in the last hurricane. Desna tells them how sorry she is. Trying to find common ground, Dean volunteers that he and Desna were in foster care after losing their parents to drugs, earning a warning hand on his arm from Desna, trying to make a good impression on Madame. Gregory says that Matilde's Heart is a charitable organization set up to help "orphaned girls from Haiti." "Yes," says Madame, "and because of my son, these poor, unfortunate girls are going to live the kind of life, filled with opportunities, they never dreamed of." So in the next one to three episodes, we're going to find out Madame is trafficking these girls into slavery, right? For now, though, Desna is proud of Gregory, and rhetorically asks if there's anything he can't do. "I just like to help," he grins. "My maman taught me." Desna turns to the girls to ask how long they're going to be in Sarasota; in response, they stare at her silently. "Unresponsive," Dean comments. "Maybe they're on the spectrum too." Once again changing the subject from Dean's radical honesty, Desna suggests that Madame bring the girls to the shop for some pampering. Madame says it's sweet of her to offer, and that she sees why Gregory likes her. Desna is pleased when Madame says he talks about her all the time: "He told me--" Gregory cuts her off, at which Madame growls at him not to interrupt her. Desna subtly raises her eyebrows at this clash, but then Gregory defuses the situation by feeding Madame a strawberry, which she receives with orgasmic bliss. "WHY IS HE FEEDING HER?" Dean asks loudly, getting shushed again. "She loves strawberries," Gregory tells Desna, unnecessarily. If Desna ever did, I'm going to go ahead and guess she doesn't anymore.
At Uncle Daddy's, Toby's done up in a feathered wig and sparkly gold harness and briefs, flogging someone while saying what a disappointment he is -- and of course his victim/partner is Uncle Daddy, as we discover when Zlata comes flouncing in and sees him in his leather vest and briefs, chained to a St. Andrew's Cross. "GODDAMMIT, ZORRO!" yells Uncle Daddy. "Y'ever hear of knocking?" Zlata coos that this is a very good look for him and takes a photo on her phone, claiming it's for her diary. Picking up a hand-shaped dildo she continues to play with throughout the scene, she says she's there to let him prove his usefulness by introducing her to the dirty cops he knows. When he refuses, she tells him that if he doesn't, the next time she comes by, she won't be so polite, and boops him on the nose with his own rubber fingers. The ultimate indignity.
Back at the shop, Quiet Ann is giving Jenn a hand massage while Nico commiserates about Jenn's shitty husband and mother, and Jenn says she can't stop replaying it in her mind: "I am this close to eating a tub of Funfetti icing in my car. [beat] I ate a tub of Funfetti icing in my car." Hilariously, at this all the Nail Artisans just go "mmm"; whomst among us, etc. Polly says Jenn and Bryce need to reconnect, but Jenn says she's tried calling him "a million times" and that he won't answer. "What about naked FaceTime?" asks Virginia.
To everyone's dirty looks, Virginia says, "What? It works!" Looking to Nico, she adds, "You know." He does. "I know how to get him here," says Quiet Ann. Stage an Ed Hardy trunk sale?
Back on the yacht post-strawberry, things are going well again. Dean announces that Gregory's captain, Toussaint, is going to take him whale watching next week before asking Desna, "Are you and Gregory getting married?" He assumes Gregory wouldn't have introduced Desna to Madame if that wasn't on his mind. Gregory enters at this point, and Dean takes off to talk whales with Toussaint so that Desna can tell Gregory how handsome he looks. "Well, I have my mother to thank for that," he says. "She picks out all my suits." Desna lets that one pass without comment (other than her very loud facial expression, which Gregory somehow doesn't notice), and when he returns the compliment, she jokes that she picked her dress out all by herself. He starts kissing on her, but it doesn't last long before Madame is barking Gregory's name. She says something else to him in what I'm going to assume is a Haitian dialect because I took French for nine years and all I could make out are "this" and, uh, his name? "She hates public displays of affection," Gregory quietly explains to Desna before moving over to Madame and saying he thought he and Desna were alone. Madame snaps that they weren't: "How many other people are there here on my yacht? Disrespectful son!" Gregory and Desna both apologize before Madame and Gregory switch back to French (ish), Madame finally saying she's his mother: "You do not do me like that." With that, she rolls into the bathroom and slams the door as much as one can when one is on a boat and it's a pocket door. Desna?
After the commercials, Desna and Gregory are both still trying to get Madame to come out of the head (that's what it's called on a boat, you guys). Desna brings up the memory Gregory had shared with her of Madame walking him three miles to the English school in Port-au-Prince: "You are everything to him. He says it all the time!" This finally moves Madame to slide the door back open and squint at Desna: "I used to be the most important woman in his world." "Believe me, Madame," says Desna, "I think you still are." And isn't that great and normal!
Over we pop to the clinic, where would-be patients are still lined up outside. Jason Antoon shows up to collect a paycheque with a scene involving a drug-seeking old bag claiming that she's been experiencing pain in her vagina -- or, as she variously puts it, her "whisker-biscuit," "pooter," or "mush mitten" -- since her "little Terry" was born sixty-four years ago. Ha ha har moving on.
At the shop, Nico's sorted and heading out while Jenn does what she can to straighten herself up, because Quiet Ann was right: she did know how to get Bryce there, and here he is...with a tool box, because Quiet Ann had told him the power was out. Jenn says they need to talk. Bryce knows she's not supposed to be there, but Jenn presses on, saying they both made huge mistakes. Bryce minimizes his as "a drunken accident" as opposed to her "calculated and willing intercourse," but when he tries to stomp back out on that, Quiet Ann stops him with a baseball bat, and then the other two Nail Artisans in Jenn's coven circle up to surround and bind him. Bryce screams at them to let him out, but Jenn wants to talk first. He shrugs off Virginia and Polly's exhortations to stay, but when Quiet Ann and her bat indicate a chair for him to sit in, he does.
And then the Simms siblings are disembarking Matilde's Heart. As Dean walks ahead, Gregory thanks Desna for her help with Madame, saying rather unnecessarily that his mother "can be very emotional." Desna tightly agrees that she's intense, and Gregory laughs, "I have to add an entire new wing to my house just because she doesn't like where some of the windows are." Desna is surprised that Gregory would go to the trouble of building a whole wing just to accommodate Madame when she visits, but Gregory beams that she's moving in. "Wonderful," says Desna. "That means I get to see her every time I come over!" What if Madame were to be fed a bad strawberry, Desna, I AM JUST SPITBALLING HERE. Gregory just wants Desna to "enjoy all of this, all the time," and while she looks back at him, swallowing her barf, he adds, "I love you, Desna." "...I don't know what to say!" she replies after a moment. Gregory is surprised by this answer, but just chuckles a little instead of screaming at her like he did when she let him down in her dream. "Thank you, Gregory, for today -- thank you for everything," Desna tells him. "Of course," he says, smile firmly in place. He'll see her soon. Desna's still getting through this exchange when Dean is on top of her, asking to talk about dancing. Maybe if he's prepared to dance Madame off a pier.
News broadcast-y music takes us into "Debate 2018": Jenn and Bryce, still in the salon, are standing at lucite lecterns while Virginia sasses around between them with a boxing-type round card that reads "VS" in yellow glitter and a crawl starts at the bottom of the screen, with the scene inset. Quiet Ann flips a coin; Jenn calls heads and wins what the crawl tells us is "a slight advantage" as Polly, using a Judge Judy-esque accent, introduces the rules of the debate as its moderator. Bryce calls the whole exercise "stupid," earning a rebuke from Virginia, holding a pamphlet of what I assume we're to understand is the basics of Robert's Rules of Order. Jenn starts by saying she knows she's made mistakes, but that trying to hook up with her mother was unconscionable, particularly when he knew Brenda has "a track record" in this regard, so that he should know how it would make Jenn feel; they snip back and forth about whether it was worse for him to try to get with the woman who pushed Jenn out of "her cooch," or for Jenn to have let Hank all up in her cooch...
...and then Polly's phone rings with a call from Desna, which snaps us out of the visual furniture of a 24-hour news network, and while I was expecting all the debate set dressing to disappear (or at least look a lot more makeshift) once the spell was broken so that we were to think all the framing was part of Polly's fantasy, it's still there?
Maybe they ran out of time to put up two versions. ANYWAY: Desna, in her car with Dean, wants to debrief about her inability to reciprocate Gregory's "I love you," but Polly asks if they may put a pin in it until Desna gets back to the shop, because they're in the middle of something. When he realizes Desna's talking to Polly, Dean tries again to bring up dancing and gets pissy that it's "later" and yet still, according to Desna, not time to discuss it. It's like he doesn't understand there's just no road map for how to respond when YOUR SIBLING tells you he wants to start working in the sex industry.
Cut to the Hussermobile, where some intra-Husser bickering leads Uncle Daddy to tell Chip, in the back seat with Toby, about Zlata's demand for an introduction. Roller draws suspicion when he has some quasi-complimentary things to interject regarding Zlata, but they quickly move on to Uncle Daddy's promise that, when he's back in charge, they'll up Chip's percentage. "You mean you'll double it," says Chip. Uncle Daddy agrees. Double nothing is nothing, Chip, but congratulations, I guess.
Back to the debate: Bryce admits that he's not the perfect man, but that the proof of Jenn's feelings for Hank is that she gave him a rim job, and even Polly grants that "that kind of trust takes years to establish." Bryce's closing statement is that he was drunk and made a terrible mistake, but that it doesn't compare to what Jenn did. Jenn, rebuttal? "Okay, well, what I did? Wasn't with your dad." "MY DAD IS DEAD," snaps Bryce. From there, it's on to what the crawl calls "THE Q/A ROUND," which it is in more than one sense since the question comes from Quiet Ann: "As a person whose relationship has recently been destroyed by someone I thought was my friend, I was wondering: do you two even still love each other?" (The crawl, incidentally, invites us at this point to vote for the winner of the debate at WWW.JENNVSBRYCE.COM; as I write this off a screener, the site isn't live but is owned by Warner Bros., so why not hit it up and vote for Jenn, the clear victor here?)
Bryce and Jenn regard each other, but neither has an A for Quiet Ann's Q.
Uncle Daddy brings Chip to She She's where, to Chip's question, Zlata claims Riva had to go back to Russia on short notice, but that he should think of Zlata as the new Riva. Chip announces to the new Riva that his price has doubled, and Zlata cracks up, celebrating "a man who wears corruption on his sleeve" and ordering a round of drinks. Uncle Daddy mutters to Toby to go get them, but Zlata stops him, telling Uncle Daddy, "No, not him. You."
The winds of change, they blow. And smell like vodka breath.
B-roll of Claws press shots takes us back to the debate as Polly narrates, "In a heartbreaking turn of events, Bryce has just declared that he no longer loves Jenn." ...Offscreen, he declared this? They couldn't have cut the scene of all the dullards in the car to fit it in? Okay. Jenn Lyon is no longer acting like she's in a televised debate (though the screen framing and crawl are back) as she gets close to Bryce's podium and says she knows he loves her. He says it's complicated: "I can't erase what you did." As to forgiveness, his only response is to blink until she turns around so he can't see her grimace as she returns to her lectern. Polly asks, "Is there a world in which you two loving, God-fearing, highly sexual Americans can put all this insanity behind you and get back to your marriage?" Simultaneously, Jenn says yes and Bryce says no. Jenn can't: "Okay, you mean to tell me that I can let go of my mom, the lying, the drugs, the murder, the neglect, the shitty parenting, and you can't let go of Hank?...You did coke off a turtle, Bryce." And that turtle should have been given equal time here!!! "At least I'm not tongue-darting fartboxes all over town!" Bryce spits. At this, all the Nail Artisans start yelling at him for having gone too far, and have to separate Jenn and Bryce when they get in each other's faces. It's into this cacophony that Desna returns, demanding to know what's going on. "These goddamn bitches lost their mind," says Bryce, storming out as all the Nail Artisans groan at his hateful choice of words. That'll teach Desna to...leave the shop, ever.
Before we move on, please enjoy a list of highlights from the crawl:
- JENN'S FAVORITE COLOR IS SUNSHINE PEACH
- BRYCE'S FAVORITE COLOR IS BURNT ORANGE
- BRYCE'S CELEBRITY SEX PASS IS SCARJO AND JENN'S IS HUGH JACKMAN
- JENN'S FAVORITE AMUSEMENT PARK IS SEA WORLD
- BRYCE'S FAVORITE MENU ITEM AT DENNY'S IS THE SUPER BIRD!
- JENN'S FAVORITE MENU ITEM AT DENNY'S IS THE GRAND SLAM BREAKFAST
- JENN'S FAVORITE SONG IS "I'D REALLY LOVE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT" BY ENGLAND DAN AND JOHN FORD COLEY
I choose to believe this is all ephemera about their characters from the show bible that the writers felt was important to share with us, just in case Sea World never comes up on the show again in any other context. I'm tickled sunshine peach.
In the back, Desna -- who, as we know, likes things to be done In A Dignified Way -- asks Jenn what she's thinking; when Jenn recaps (save it for the professionals) that Bryce claims he doesn't know if he still loves her, Desna counters, "Can you blame him?" Jenn and the two-liter bottle of generic cola she's drinking directly out of can't believe Desna's on Bryce's side, but Desna says it's not about sides: Jenn cheated on the best man she ever had (other than the murder and turtle abuse, I guess), and Desna's empathetic to Bryce having to walk past the guy whose asshole Jenn ate (I'm paraphrasing) every time he has to go do a bank run. Jenn hasn't taken responsibility for her part in the end of their marriage, Desna says, and it's not about the video: "You broke Bryce's heart." Before Jenn can say it, Desna agrees that what Bryce did was gross, but that Jenn was gross too. "HE HURT ME!" wails Jenn. "I want a drink so bad." Desna tells her to get to a meeting: "'Cause if I smell that shit on you, I will take you to rehab my damn self, and you know it." Desna tells her again, as she did in the season premiere, that if there's even a chance she might get Bryce back, it'll take time, and that Jenn needs to chill: "Sit your black ass down somewhere." "I love it when you call me black," Jenn sniffles. "I know," whispers Desna. She opens her arms, and Jenn collapses with her head on Desna's bosom. There are lots of places Jenn COULD chill -- back in the bed of snacks, for instance -- but I have to think this spot is the most comforting.
At She She's, Zlata is still getting to know Chip. He's from Mississippi, where his father poached gators. What do you know: Zlata's father hunted tigers in Siberia. Uncle Daddy tells "Zelda" he's calling bullshit on that, since everyone knows tigers only live in Africa. Hands up who's surprised Uncle Daddy's never seen Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life. The meeting breaks up, Zlata saying she and Chip will talk soon, and Chip saying he's looking forward to it.
Back home, Jenn rifles through the junk food cupboard, gathering a bunch of snacks as we see, behind her, several food storage containers labeled "DEAN." The Boogie Down Brady Bunch is about to have its first civil war if she dared take any of his lactose-free, gluten-free "food" (though, truly, why would she).
From there, we head to We Sell Big Shrimps, where Marnie is flirting with the counter guy, whose name is Malik. When he slides her a bean pie on the house, she sees it's "In support of THE NATION OF ISLAM," and comments that it's "a dope name for a bakery." He's set her straight, but she doesn't get to ask any follow-ups about his characterization of it as "the oldest Islamic organization in America" before Polly has rolled up to interrupt their meet-cute and introduce herself as Marnie's mom. Malik is ready with literature, though: "Surprisingly, the Nation lets white people join now." Marnie's about it, but Polly hands the newsletter back to Malik, Marnie quickly grabbing it again as soon as Polly's back is turned. Polly tries to start a conversation about church, but Marnie declines Polly's offer to talk on the ride home, because she has her headphones. Polly is dismayed. I am still unsure the show needed to add Marnie.
Zlata comes into the shop for her manicure, but declines Desna's offer to fetch her regular colour, producing a bottle of Russian Navy. She sits and asks about the date, and Desna tells her about the Madame ambush. (Madamebush.) Zlata calls Gregory an idiot for bringing his mother on a date, and Desna lowers her voice to opine, of Madame and Gregory, "Something ain't quite right between them. I think I'm going to fall back from him for a while. Maybe for good." But Zlata intensely tells her not to end a relationship over a crazy mother, ordering Desna to bring Gregory to Zlata's house for dinner that night: "If he has issues with his mama, we will fix his shit. He will learn you are #1 woman in his life." Eavesdropping from across the shop, Virginia comments to Quiet Ann, "Look who's besties with the bossie now." Quiet Ann...is silent. Desna thanks Zlata, but says she doesn't need her getting into her personal life. Zlata hisses that she's not asking.
Man, Desna has already had a long day and yet it's still light out as she and Gregory are escorted into Zlata's estate, Desna telling Gregory that they don't have to stay long. And it turns out Zlata's trying to knock off all her social obligations at once: also gathered on the patio are Uncle Daddy, Chip, Olga, and Roller (with Bogdan strapped to his chest). What better place for an infant than a dinner party for crime bosses!
In her bedroom, Jenn pokes at her bruise by looking at photos of herself with Bryce in happier days and making herself cry. Again: whomst among us.
Meanwhile, Bryce is eating shitty pizza with Brienne and Baylor at a roller rink snack bar. The girls interrogate him about the state of his marriage and, pushed into a corner, Bryce tells them he doesn't hate Jenn -- he loves her, but sometimes love and hate look alike. Yes, these two children who are, I'm going to say, well shy of their tenth birthdays can definitely understand this response. Anyway, Bryce says he and Jenn both made big mistakes, and Brienne tells him he should "act like a grownup" and apologize.
At the party, Gregory makes small talk with Zlata, saying Desna's told him she owns the shop. Zlata says she owns a chain of them, among various other business interests. Gregory approves: "America is built and rebuilt by ambitious immigrant entrepreneurship." YEAH! Speaking on behalf of myself and these two fictional crime bosses: YOU'RE WELCOME, AMERICA. Zlata says Desna's told her that Gregory works very hard too, and he agrees that he tries "to be ready for what tomorrow might bring."
Desna's gorgeous "Girl, Please" face should be captured in oils. "Desna's very important to me," says Zlata. "She's important to me as well," Gregory replies. SHE'S IMPORTANT TO ME TOO BUT YOU DON'T HEAR ME CAUSING A SCENE ABOUT IT jk I ruin every party I go to talking about her nonstop. Zlata advises Gregory to take good care of Desna: "I would hate for you to drive this wonderful woman away." Gregory, smiling sharkishly, says he won't: "Trust me." Zlata seems satisfied. Desna tells Gregory she'd like something stronger to drink, and when he's gone to the bar, Zlata tells Desna she likes him. "Yeah, well, you didn't see him feeding his mama strawberries," Desna sighs. "He's mommy's boy, so what?" says Zlata. She thinks he's a keeper. Desna then asks why Zlata invited Uncle Daddy, since Desna's trying to keep Gregory away from that, but Zlata tells her not to worry...
...and things get awkward in a very tragically ironic way when Roller drifts over to Gregory and Desna at the bar, saying that Bogdan's going to be "a gangster, like his daddy." "He doesn't mean that literally," Desna assures Gregory. Olga, in a fondly teasing tone, says that Desna and Gregory look happy, and Desna agrees that they are. "How sweet," says Olga, "you know, for woman your age to find someone to love." "Yeah, 'cause a relationship without love -- that's hard," Desna shoots back. "Right, girlfriend?" "Right," Olga laughs mirthlessly, before showily asking Roller to hand off Bogdan. If this move is supposed to make Desna jealous of the fruits of Olga's fertile womb...
...I'm going to say it doesn't land. When Gregory excuses himself to "the loo," Roller follows, getting him around a corner out of sight and then slamming him against a wall, threatening to kill Gregory if he hurts Desna. Disgusted, Gregory straightens Roller's Snugli and warns, "Don't touch me or speak to me in this manner again." "Whatchoo gonna do?" asks Roller. Gregory doesn't get a chance to describe his plans, because then dinner is served.
Back at the Husser/Simms commune, we pan from a fruit bowl -- in which each individual piece of fruit has been labeled -- to Dean stocking the fridge with his (labeled) kombucha; he tells Virginia, who's apparently in the middle of orientation, that even when they get married, he wants them each to have their own shelves. She seems to think that her betrothal to Dean means she's entitled to half his groceries; he frantically informs her that this belief is extremely mistaken. As someone who recently bought a bag of Oreos and got to eat precisely zero before the only other person who lives here had housed them: Team Dean. He opens a cabinet to continue walking Virginia through food rules and finds evidence of Jenn's pillaging. Dean does not take it well.
Speaking of Jenn: we go from here up to her bathroom. She opens her toilet tank, pulls out a bottle of vodka, soaks a tampon with it, and shoves it into one of her lower orifices. From what I can tell in my research (and man, between this and finding out the name for the St. Andrew's Cross Uncle Daddy was on earlier, I'm really spicing things up for whatever NSA agent has been assigned to monitor my internet activity -- hey buddy!), one may "butt-chug" using either the vagina or the anus...but also, reports of anyone doing this are wildly exaggerated if not outright fraudulent. Never mind the facts in our universe, though, I guess: Jenn pushes (heh) through the alcohol sting and, we're given to understand, feels calmer almost immediately.
At Zlata's dinner table -- where the hostess dines flanked by bodyguards in gaudy clubwear, so Desna might as well give up the notion that Gregory the law-abiding gynecologist isn't going to figure out what kind of businesspersons she's involved with -- Zlata is still talking up Desna's many gifts, particularly her talent for knowing what makes her clients' hearts beat. When Gregory comments that he certainly knows what makes his heart beat, Zlata has to try to one-up him again, saying she doesn't know what she'd do without Desna managing her business. "What business is that, Zorba?" huffs Uncle Daddy. "The nail salon, Clay, OBVIOUSLY," says Desna with a pointed look. "Here's to powerful women," says Chip, who obviously isn't worried about dooming his prospects with Uncle Daddy in some unlikely future in which Uncle Daddy's gotten the better of Zlata. Uncle Daddy tells Chip to put his dick back in his pants, but Zlata agrees with Chip: Desna is powerful. Gregory then says he has to go attend to a patient in labour. Zlata cheerfully excuses him, and while I assume the camera's going to cut from Gregory and Desna's goodbye kiss to Zlata's jealous face, we get Roller's jealous face instead. Is there anyone who doesn't want to fuck Desna? (No. Nowhere on earth or in the known universe.)
Once Gregory's gone and, as Zlata puts it, "only associates remain," Zlata calls out the "big, apple-headed dipshit who thinks he can piss in [her] swimming pool whenever he wants to." "Who, me?" shrugs Uncle Daddy around a mouthful of breadstick. Standing, Zlata says, "This is how we show men in Russia who's boss. Get on your knees." He laughs. She laughs back. Zlata stops laughing and repeats the order. Uncle Daddy refuses, Roller piping up to tell Zlata to back off, but already Zlata's goons are grabbing Uncle Daddy and wrestling him to the floor, pulling guns on him to keep him in place. When Desna joins Roller in objecting to whatever's about to happen, Zlata tells her, "Watch and learn." She smacks Uncle Daddy in the face with a riding crop, telling him, "This is for 'Zelda.'" Another slap: "'Zhivago'!" Slap. "'Zorba'!" She plants her foot on a low stool in front of him: "Now. Lick my boot." "Aw, hell no," Uncle Daddy grumbles. She hits him again. "Can't we just talk about this?" Desna pleads. "Forget talk," growls Uncle Daddy. "I'm gonna kill ALL Y'ALL!" The henchman over Uncle Daddy's right shoulder hits him with the butt of his gun; Uncle Daddy droops and spits blood. "What are you waiting for?" asks Zlata serenely. Beaten both physically and psychologically, Uncle Daddy bends down and does his mistress's bidding. "Tell me how you like it," Zlata taunts. "Best boot you ever tasted?" "Best boot ever," groans Uncle Daddy. "Then show it," she orders. Toby should be here taking notes, honestly. As Uncle Daddy resumes his tongue bath, Roller disgustedly says he can't watch this, while Olga chuckles that it's better than The Real Housewives Of Atlanta. Zlata's had enough, and tells Uncle Daddy, "Now, say my name, bitch." "Zlata," Uncle Daddy growls. Desna cocks an eyebrow in surprise. Zlata leans in to beam at Uncle Daddy: "Disrespect me again, boot goes up non-bleached asshole."
Desna watches Uncle Daddy, but it's clear from her face that, at least for now, she's not too upset about the regime change that has caused this reversal of daddy and bitch.
The servers are packing up as Zlata walks Desna out, Desna quietly marveling, "Girl, you did that." Zlata says that's what Desna has to do with Gregory, who she likes, since she can tell he adores Desna: "Man who adores woman is good life partner, but! Man who's mama's boy needs to lick boot." "I'll have him lick something, but it won't be my boot," Desna cracks. "Boot is just metaphor," says Zlata. "If you don't put him in his place, he will keep calling for mama -- not in good way." Desna says she doesn't know what to do about that, but Zlata tells her she does: "You wear boss lady pants. Now you spank his naked tush. It is up to you to get him where you want him to be." Desna will only say she can try, but that Gregory's mother's not going anywhere. "She will if you tell him she must," says Zlata. "Chapter XVI: 'No Means Yes.' Lesson in female dominance." "You are persuasive," Desna admits, calculating. "You tell them what you want, and then you force them to do it your way," Zlata concludes. "Time's UP!" "Time's up," Desna quietly concurs.
Marnie is in her room watching a Louis Farrakhan speech on her laptop when Polly comes in and closes it, begging "Mar-Mar" to talk to her. Marnie talks...but only to tell her she hates "the nickname thing." Polly says she's going to go make them something to eat, then. But when she's at the door, Marnie remembers to ask Polly about a photo she found.
We see a snapshot of identical redheads in ugly '80s sweaters. "That's me and Lillian," Polly coos. "You have a twin sister?" asks Marnie. LOOK OUT, CHIP, THERE'S A NEW DETECTIVE IN TOWN. Polly confirms that she does. Marnie asks why Polly never talks to her, and Polly chirps that she lives in Seattle and they're not close and takes off before Marnie can pursue the matter further. Who's shutting whom out NOW, Polly?
Bryce returns to the commune with the girls, but when Jenn comes out to greet them, he can immediately tell she's wasted and quietly accuses her of it. Jenn denies it, exhaling into his face, but he pulls her close so that he can hiss in her ear that he knows loaded when he sees it. Jenn picks up Baylor to use as a human shield as she tells Bryce that Dean and Virginia are there, so they can help her with the kids. Bryce isn't having it, though, and tells the girls as casually as he can to get back in the van and come with him. Jenn contradicts him until he drops a DCF threat, and I guess he's called them on her before because she immediately backs down, cheerfully telling the girls, who keep protesting their separation, that she just got confused about what day it was and that they can go with Bryce after all. She blows kisses and waves and heavily sits on the stoop as she continues muttering "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" after they're out of earshot, finally starting to sob. It is rough.
"Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" starts to play as, standing next to her car, Desna calls Dean and tells him she's decided he can dance with Polly's boys; he has to be on his best behaviour, though, coming straight home after his shows. Not clear her idea of "best behaviour" is the same as his, though, as we watch her hold the phone to her ear with her right hand and pull off her underwear with her left. She ends the call saying she just wants Dean to be happy, and then tosses her underwear into the car, squeezes her boobs upward, smooths her dress, and goes up to knock on Gregory's door. I guess it wasn't his patient's first baby OR MAYBE THERE WAS NO BABY because he's already home and in his silk pyjama pants and matching robe when he lets her in. "We need to talk," she says immediately. He figures he's not going to like it because unlike his possible patient's possible baby, he wasn't born yesterday. "Today on the boat with your mama was a lot," says Desna frankly. "I know you said you loved me, but if we're going to try to level up with this thing, I've got to feel like I'm a priority." Gregory says that he's all Madame has left in the world, and that caring for her is important to him, but that he can do that and love Desna. "Can you?" Desna asks. He steps closer and tells her she has to believe he can. "No," she tells him, "you've got to show me. Hm? Life is about choices, Gregory. You can choose to be a boy to your maman, or you can be a man to me." She reaches for his hand and guides it into her recently denuded crotch, purring, "You choose. I just want you to be happy." Oh, so you can use the same exact words two minutes apart to your brother and your boyfriend and yet Gregory can't let his mother suck his fingers at brunch? I SEE HOW IT IS. (jk.) Desna and her crotch are just as persuasive to Gregory now as Zlata and her book excerpts were to Desna earlier, and standing-up foyer sex ensues in the process of which we get to see Gregory's whole butt and no one is mad about it.
And when we see Desna next, she's alone in bed, her bra next to her and her jewellery still on. She gets her phone off the nightstand and calls Gregory, who's in an exam room, wearing scrubs. He tells her she looked so peaceful he didn't want to wake her. When he says he's at work, she tells him she won't keep him, but that she had something she wanted to tell him: "I didn't say it earlier because I was afraid, but I want you to know that I love you, Gregory. I really love you." Grinning, Gregory says he loves her too. Shyly, Desna says she'll see him when he gets back, and the call ends, whereupon Desna rolls back over, squealing and kicking the mattress in excitement.
And here's where I expected we would cut back to Gregory's office and see he was in there with...Zlata, about to give her a pelvic exam? Or...Madame, pulling off her wig and making out with him so we knew that whole thing with her was a con he was running on Desna for as-yet-undisclosed reasons? Or with Madame, who is actually his mother but whom he's going to give a pelvic exam anyway because they are even creepier than Desna could have possibly imagined? But no: Desna's just happy and oblivious and Gregory's not doing anything more untoward than what we already knew about, and while I know none of this can possibly end up anywhere good...dear Lord, just please bless and keep my dear Desna as much as You can what with all her stupid life choices.