At the end of “The Tryst” – which is named “The Tryst” for reasons that simply escape me, because Trysts denote something illicit and this episode felt about as illicit as “According to Jim” (is that still on the air? I'll assume yes) – Kate and Pete, who have been clamoring all episode for a precious “adult’s night out”, sit down to a dinner of dino nuggets and gummy bears (and whiskey). An adult’s night out has more or less transformed into a kid’s night in. And that is sort of what “The Tryst” feels like – adults reverting to kids, kids acting like adults. This is supposed to be a Halloween episode (I think?) and, thus, this is “Trophy Wife’s” version of a madhouse.
Dr. Diane Buckley is running some sort of vaguely defined 80's-themed costume charity ball only for parents at the high school and enlists Pete’s assistance, not so much because she needs Pete’s assistance but because she wishes – in classic Dr. Diane Buckley fashion – to let Pete know that she owns him. Kate is not amused but tags along anyway, dressed as “Working Girl” Melanie Griffith (why couldn't she dress like Samantha Fox?!). Eventually she will urge Pete to stand up to his ex-wife although I bet you can’t guess where she provides this urging.
Or maybe you can. It’s a sitcom, after all, and Kate and Pete get locked in a janitor’s closet. (Hangs head.) Maybe it could have been cutesy if it had gone more self-referential about the 1492-era trope, except “Community’s” dissection of the so-called Bottle Episode really should have provided the final word on Bottle Episodes forever and ever, amen. It’s all just so poorly done, what with “the clock” being Kate’s need to pee (Malin Akerman peed on Ben Stiller in "The Heartbreak Kid", people, so don’t tell me she wouldn’t willingly pee in a mop bucket). Thankfully, however, they’re not stuck in the closet the whole episode, probably because the writers midway through the script meeting we’re all like: “Shit! Did you realize we put them in a janitor’s closet to resolve their problems?!”
Meanwhile, off in Never Never Land, Jackie is tasked with babysitting for Hillary and Warren, both of whom seem too old for a babysitter, but nevertheless! The kids stumble upon a Jackie-created video for an online dating profile, which is suitably Jackie-esque (read: a trainwreck), and decide to re-dress, re-shoot and re-edit the video for her. Jackie complies, leading to her affection for Pete’s bedspread as a potentially chic outfit. I loved this subplot, this idea of Jackie ostensibly being in charge as babysitter only to have the tables turned without her even realizing it and the kids taking charge of what they are able to read as her helplessness, and wish they had even pushed it a little further. It must be said that these are two knowing performances from Bailee Madison and Ryan Lee as, respectively, Hillary and Warren, portraying kids of genuine intelligence who are also saddled by the blinders of youth.
Alas, precocious Bert feels a twinge of sadness that his mom wants to date and potentially provide him with another dad, but possible slop is made tasteful by the deft manner in which Michaela Watkins plays it. She has a real skill for displaying wisdom without ever coming across wise, and also for being in tune to what really matters in life despite her obvious self-involvement. Each week Watkins has walked the high wire (even as the character crash lands into the safety net below the high wire repeatedly), and if the few reading these recaps find themselves rolling their eyes at my relentless rhapsodizing about her work, well, ya best deal cuz when my infamous Actress O.C.D. kicks in, it's no holds barred.
Even so, this was my least favorite episode of “Trophy Wife” thus far. Early on, Pete finds Kate sitting on their bathroom floor eating potato chips that she keeps hidden behind the bleach. “Sometimes,” she explains, “I just want to eat chips before dinner.” This is an exemplary moment, an illustration of the parental balancing act, the need to set an example but the craving for a little middle-aged delinquency. “Eat your vegetables! Not the Frito-Lay’s! I WANT FRITO-LAY’S! WE ALL WANT FRITO-LAY’S!” We need more of this, less of being stuck in janitor’s closets.
It’s like when Hillary and Warren are trying to makeover Jackie into something she’s not all for the goodness (horribleness) of online dating. Jackie doesn’t wear cocktail dresses, Jackie wears bedspreads.
Be you, “Trophy Wife.” Wear the bedspread.