Thursday, January 31, 2019

REVIEW: 'Will & Grace' - Karen Finalizes Her Divorce from Stan While Will and Jack Get High in 'Family, Trip'

NBC's Will & Grace - Episode 10.09 "Family, Trip"

Will, Karen and Jack unknowingly take a hallucinogenic drug, which causes Will and Jack to wonder if they're each other's soulmate and has Karen giving her last "performance" as Mrs. Stanley Walker. Grace is shocked when her high-powered client takes up with her sister Janet.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Will & Grace.

"Family, Trip" was written by Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally and directed by James Burrows

This season promised to be the year of change. Grace was running for office while also in a major new relationship with David Schwimmer's Noah. Will became a professor. Karen was getting a divorce from Stan. And Jack was engaged to Estefan. All of these things carried the potential of shaking up the fundamentals of the show. That's honestly a good thing even though it is reliable when the show can return to some basic dynamics from time to time. However, it also feels like the show is a little too comfortable in its status quo as well. Sure, it's delivered some powerful episodes this season by mining the pasts of its character. Plus, it completely breaks from the norm here with Karen's entire story. That's actually the highlight of this episode. It may just be an excuse for Megan Mullally to show off her singing talents. However, it's a fantastic use of that while still being in the service of jokes and the emotional core of her story arc this year. Everyone is worried about her now that her divorce with Stan has been finalized. She calms everyone by saying it wouldn't be like her to have some big and emotional reaction to this. And yet, it's still moving to watch as Karen takes the stage in her drug-induced state in order to deliver a rousing song that signals an end to this significant chapter in her life. It's something she does completely by herself. That can be isolating and damaging for a show that relies on the interactions amongst its cast. But it's truly delightful to see it in action here because Mullally is such a tremendous performer - even though Karen can only sing that well in her wildest dreams. The other two stories are a little lackluster. In Grace's corner of the world, it is still trying to embrace the idea of change with Janet exploring whether or not she may actually be a lesbian. However, it's a very forced plot point where she is convinced to become that way by Chelsea Handler's high-powered individual who is very forceful and demanding. It's not really a genuine conversation about Janet exploring this new side of her personality. As such, that makes it feel very forced when it all tries to pivot around the idea that the sisters should look out for each other more moving forward - especially because they are the few remaining members of their family. And finally, Will and Jack get high from the same substance as Karen. It's chocolate milk laced with some mystery drug the show doesn't feel like naming in the moment. It was only brought into the apartment by one of Will's law students who came over for a exclusive study session with the professor. Will wishes to see himself as the professor whom everyone loves and wants to hang out with. Jack sees that as desperate right away. However, them getting high together makes them realize just how much they need each other in their respective lives. They don't want that to change simply because Jack is getting married. That will change up their dynamic because it means Estefan has to be the most important person in Jack's life. That position can no longer be filled by Will. And yet, this is a perpetual fear that the two of them have had before. In fact, it may be a common characteristic amongst the ensemble as all of the characters are codependent on each other. But it's no longer as interesting to watch the show point that out and try to still find the humor in the situation. Of course, it's also just delightful to see those butterflies and a rabbit in the apartment as well.