Wednesday, August 23, 2017

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Josh and Charles Face Off at a Company Picnic in 'The Incident at Pound Ridge'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 4.09 "The Incident at Pound Ridge"

Sparks fly at the annual Empirical Publishing picnic. Liza finds herself caught between Josh and Charles.

The fourth season of Younger is known as the season where Kelsey found out Liza's secret. It was a big deal in the early going. Liza could no longer lie to her best friend even though revealing the truth caused a rift between them. But for most of the season, their friendship has been stable. Sure, Kelsey now sees Liza for how crazy and unpredictable she really is. But their bond is stronger than ever before. Kelsey is now experiencing Liza's life for what it actually is. She has become aware of a huge part of Liza's story that has been kept from her for a long time. It's both strengthened and deepened their relationship. And yet, the narrative was still purposefully keeping one aspect of Liza's life from Kelsey. She had no idea about the core love triangle happening between Liza, Josh and Charles. She knew that something happened in the Hamptons to make Josh not follow through on his proposal. She knew he was very visibly upset and angry about it. But he wouldn't talk about it. Neither of them would. She was perfectly fine with that - as long as it didn't interfere with their friendships or professional responsibilities. Kelsey not knowing hasn't really been a huge problem either. It's definitely been a noticeable aspect of this season. The romance between Liza and Charles keeps heating up. It was bound to come out at some point. And now, it has. It's so completely unexpected too.

Josh never expected to interact with Charles ever again. He had pushed Liza out of his life. Of course, he was still interacting with Maggie and Kelsey. So, it was bound to happen eventually. He has been a good friend for both of them as well. Seeing that is what led Liza to reach out in the hopes of mending things between them. It wasn't for some grand romantic reunion. That ship has sailed. It was just to ensure that they would stay in each other's lives despite the relationship not working out. They still really aren't friends. But they are able to see each other without feeling angry and betrayed. That's progress. And now, Josh is actually happy again. He's happy because of Liza. She introduced him to his new girlfriend, Claire. After too many manipulative relationships, this one actually feels simple and genuine. Claire is just a nice Irish girl working at a bar and interning at a video game company. She seems perfect for him. Despite hanging out for a bit, they only go on their first date in this episode. It's a sweet date too filled with flirting over hot peppers. Of course, the show puts its own unique and raunchy twist on the situation with the pepper oils making its way down to Josh's genitalia. If nothing else, that makes for quite an interesting visual when he's only covered up by a container of yogurt. But this accident really isn't a big deal for the two of them. In fact, they are able to laugh about it quickly thereafter - while still keeping it private from everyone else despite using Kelsey's yogurt.

More importantly though, Josh is given an opportunity to become an author for Empirical. He has never shown an interest in become a published author before. That's largely because he doesn't have the same appreciation for literature as Liza and Kelsey do. His passion is as a tattoo artist. But an opportunity still presents itself as Empirical is intrigued by the adult coloring book market. Everyone is completely surprised by how big the genre has gotten over the last year - including Kelsey who is usually right in the middle of everything in the cultural zeitgeist. But it's probably a financial income that could benefit the business at the moment. The show really isn't saying whether the loss of several authors is affecting the bottom line at Empirical. But it certainly would help explain why Charles and Diana are interested in commissioning a project like this. Kelsey reaching out to Josh will perhaps give Millennial a nice take on the subject as well. A professional tattoo artist doing the artwork could be just the thing to help Empirical stand out in a crowded marketplace. But bringing Josh into the fold means bringing him right back into the uncomfortable feelings surrounding his breakup with Liza.

Josh needs to see Charles again in order to get a book advance. It's not in the office either. It's in the fun setting of a company picnic. It's suppose to be a nice, carefree event where the executives at Empirical show their appreciation for all of the authors. Of course, the only other authors of merit actually seen at this event are Pauline (who is freaking out about Charles possibly seeing someone else and confiding in Liza) and Lachlan (who proves to have a younger, territorial girlfriend). So, the story is largely about Josh and Charles being in the same place for the first time since the third season finale where a kiss destroyed everything for Josh. He believes he can play nice and shake Charles' hand. But that's not ultimately the case. It's not surprising either because this story is largely compelling because of the blowup and what it reveals to Kelsey. Sure, it would be nice to see Josh get this professional opportunity. It's been awhile since the show has told a story about his business ambitions. Here, his designs could be published in a book. That's a huge opportunity. But it also just feels right for him to punch Charles in the face for kissing Liza. It's him finally getting his vengeance. Of course, no one else really knows what happened. It seems silly to punch a guy over a potato sack race. That's the question that Kelsey has and she's the only person whom Liza tells the truth.

Liza can no longer keep her dynamic with Charles a secret from Kelsey. Things have gotten way too intense. Liza and Charles have had so many close calls this season. It's starting to get very repetitive and annoying. The show should just pull the trigger on them as a couple or stop it altogether and focus on Liza as a new editor for Empirical. But things are still complicated. Liza is carefully dodging questions from Pauline about Charles' love life fully knowing that she's the object of his desire. He's even talking to his friends about being in love with someone else. He's fully committed to this relationship. He doesn't believe that things have changed despite the punch from Josh and Pauline being in his life (and their kids' lives) once more. Liza is carrying the burden of all of that. It's crashing down on her as well. She wants to be with Charles. But it's just so difficult and complicated. And now, Kelsey knows the truth. Well, she knows that Liza and Charles had a moment in the Hamptons that Josh saw. That's why he was angry. She doesn't know that it has been an ongoing thing. She just needs to know if they've had sex. She commends Liza for her control and tells her that nothing can ever happen. Kelsey has been pulled into this craziness by Liza. They've crafted a web of lies that is important for their business. It can't be destroyed by these mistakes. It's just not worth the effort. But that just leaves Liza once again frustrated at the end of the episode because she can't have what she really wants in this world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Incident at Pound Ridge" was written by Dottie Dartland Zicklin, Eric Zicklin & Alison Brown and directed by Dottie Dartland Zicklin.
  • The show usually doesn't show things from Charles' perspective. And by that, I mean scenes where he is the only main character who appears. So, it does feel a little odd to see him walking down the street with Bob talking about Pauline and the new love in his life. Of course, he doesn't offer Bob any details about Liza - which is good when you remember that Bob knows Liza as Caitlin's mom.
  • Pauline is definitely freaking out and not getting any work done with Liza regarding the book. Instead, she's just desperate for any information about Charles' love life. She even tracks down the photos of him and Radha from the fundraiser last season. Fortunately, Liza can say that that relationship is done.
  • Of course, Pauline and Liza also spot Charles talking to Lachlan's younger wife. They have no idea what that's all about. Fortunately, the audience realizes that she's going to Charles in order to keep Kelsey from working with Lachlan probably knowing that he'll try to seduce her at some point. This story really hasn't been going anywhere in awhile though.
  • It's really quite amusing to see Diana pull Pauline aside to clarify to her that even though she has replaced her as the hostess for this event she hasn't replaced her in Charles' love life. Pauline didn't seem to think that but it's once again an excuse for Diana to talk about the tension she sees between herself and Charles.
  • For awhile, it seemed like the timing was never going to work out for Josh and Claire to actually be intimate with each other. She was either too busy working at the bar and her internship or spreading pepper oil down his pants. But the episode breaks that myth by having the two sleep together in the end. It's a nice gesture that shows that they are good together.
  • Remember earlier this season when Diana said she would like to meet Maggie? Is that still something the show plans on doing at some point this season? Now would have been an interesting time because the picnic is such a fun, casual setting. But alas, it still hasn't happened.