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‘Please Like Me’ Recap – Season 2, Episode 9: ‘Skinny Latte’

'Please Like Me' Recap – Season 2, Episode 9: 'Skinny Latte'

The following recap contains spoiler for the most recent episode of “Please Like Me,” as one would suspect.

Desire is a powerful theme, but squelched desire provides
filmmakers and storytellers with more opportunities for subversion. This week’s
episode of “Please Like Me” uses squelched desire as a means of exploring
familial conflicts, relationship problems, and potential roommates.

“Skinny
Latte” opens in Josh and Tom’s kitchen. As Josh bakes and wraps delicious
treats for his coffee cart, Tom looks up “27 Pictures That Will Make You Feel
Joyful.” Spoiler alert: Tom does not feel more joyful, especially because he is
still thinking about how Claire rejected him. Josh offers Tom a delicious
alternative: freshly baked toffee (once again, food is used as a means of temporarily
masking emotional problems).  The verbal
exchange between the roommates segues to a montage of Josh and Tom baking,
sampling, and wrapping the treats (all set to the tune of the opening theme
song).

At 5:00 AM
the next morning, Josh wakes up to phone calls from Arnold and Alan, both
reminding him to get up for his first coffee cart shift. Yet both men have ulterior
motives for their calls. Arnold not only warns Josh that they cannot be
affectionate on their date (he is not out to his parents), but that his
therapist will be visiting Josh’s cart to do a quick evaluation of Josh. Meanwhile,
Alan asks for Josh’s blessing when he proposes to Mae (according to Alan, Mae
is sexy and makes him feel like a man). Josh adds very little to the
conversation, but it is easy to understand his lack of involvement, as closeted
mentalities, stepmothers, and machismo are heavy topics to discuss when you are
half asleep at 5 in the morning.

While Josh
sets up his coffee cart, Rose and Hannah craft felt birds (Rose’s bird is
atrocious, to say the least). Stuart interrupts their activities to let Rose
know that he is being discharged. Rose tries her best to put on a smile, while
Hannah is detached and focuses on finishing her bird. Once Stuart leaves, Rose
tells Hannah that her therapist told her she can leave at anytime she wants.
Hannah’s non-reaction forces Rose to reveal her motives behind this confession:
Rose is trying to find a defense mechanism or a reason to think that she is
well, but she doesn’t believe she can take care of herself outside of the
hospital. Hannah reacts to the situation the only way that Hannah can: she
holds up her bird and squawks at Rose.

At the
coffee cart, Alan nitpicks Josh’s setup and tries to move things around (this
is yet another defense mechanism to deal with heightened emotions). As Alan
finagles with oversized umbrellas, Rose and Hannah discuss Hannah’s voluntary
status at the hospital (she admitted herself after a messy breakup with a
girlfriend). The two women pay a visit to Josh’s cart, and suddenly things take
a turn for the worst. Josh forces Alan to confess that he is proposing to Mae,
leading to a feud over Rose and Alan’s failed marriage. To make matters worse,
Arnold and his therapist, Marilyn, pay a visit. To sum up the shit show that
follows: the overly cautious Marilyn “suggests” that Josh and Arnold should go
on a “safe date” surrounded by friends (the subtext of her “suggestion” implies
Josh is a bad match for Arnold); Alan picks a fight with Rose over the
whereabouts of a camera from 2007 (it is much easier to argue over a tangible
object – like a camera – than to fight over an abstract concept – like a failed
marriage); and Hannah watches over Grace while Mae tries to break up the
Alan-Rose fight. The feud ends on an ambiguous note when, after Rose
unintentionally calls Mae a gold-digger, Hannah comes running and tells Mae to
take back Grace, whom she left alone by the lake. Nothing is resolved, and
tensions are still high.

Josh
returns home to find Tom – still depressed – smoking pot in the Jacuzzi. Josh
asks Tom to accompany him on his date with Arnold, but Tom continues to mock
Josh and call him a “menace” to people with mental disorders. Josh fires back
with a better tactic: reverse psychology. After telling Tom that he shouldn’t
go on the date, Tom begs Josh to take him along. Tom clearly fell into that
trap.

At the
hospital, the dejected Rose watches Stuart leave. In an uncharacteristic (yet
touching) move, Hannah comforts Rose by talking about other things. The two
women confess that they like hanging out with one another, and they share a
friendly moment on a bench. In spite of Hannah’s introverted actions, she is
slowly becoming one of the most accessible characters on the series. Rose takes
comfort in Hannah’s detached perspective, which helps Rose to come to terms
with the harsh reality of her situation.

The
climactic Josh-Arnold date leads only to disaster. On top of picking a
Portuguese meat-based restaurant without considering Arnold’s vegetarianism,
Josh runs over a possum that is still alive underneath his tire. While Arnold
is in the throes of an anxiety attack, Josh decides to run over the possum and
put it out of its misery. As expected, this does not sit well with Arnold, whose
unease is exacerbated by the fact that Josh runs over the possum more than once.
The romantic escapades are thwarted and Arnold asks Josh to take him home.

Back at the
hospital, Rose finds her room adorned with felt birds, along with a note from
Stuart (“I’ll miss you”). Feeling more comfortable and confident to take care
of herself, Rose asks Hannah to come live with her. Hannah, in a passive
manner, agrees to the roommate situation. The characters are all caught in
strange states of unfulfilled desire, but it is the Rose-Hannah through line
that provides some semblance of pleasure. Even if they are still detached from
one another, due to Hannah’s eccentric behavior, their growth over the season
has provided one of the most intriguing friendships.

osh drops
Arnold off at his home, and the two share an awkward moment:

Josh and Arnold cannot kiss since they are parked by
Arnold’s house; Tom closes his eyes and hums, trying to let his friends be
intimate; and Arnold confesses that he is going to talk to Marilyn about this
terrible date. Like the ambiguous ending of the Rose-Alan-Mae feud, the
relationship between Josh and Arnold is left in a state of perpetual limbo.

With one
episode left, I can’t imagine what will come of the various narrative strands
that are left unresolved at the end of this week’s episode (What will happen to
Josh and Arnold? Will Alan propose to Mae? What happened to Claire?). Josh Thomas
and Matthew Saville know how to draw their viewers into the series: by making
them complicit to the emotionally complex situations of these characters. We,
as viewers, become so deeply involved in these characters’ lives that we begin
to relate to them or sympathize with their plights. Thomas’ writing and
Saville’s direction transform the characters into real people who are so
relatable that viewers cannot wait to see what will come next. Even if the
season ends on with partially resolved stories, it will give viewers yet
another excuse to eagerly wait for season 3. 

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