Cast your mind back, if you will, to November 2010. Not because of Thanksgiving or the U.S. midterm elections or Jill Clayburgh’s death or Ingrid Pitt’s death — the two extremes of feminism, you might say — or for any other historical or cultural or seasonal item of note. But because that’s when the season/series 1 finale of Lip Service aired.
November 2010. That is 17 months ago! And I had to really think hard about that, because how often do you count out 17 months? It’s not a span of time that makes any kind of sense to the human brain. “Maybe I need another vacation. I went to Mykonos 17 months ago.” Nobody says that! “My job duties have really changed a lot in the last 17 months.” Nope. Never uttered. “But I told you all about this 17 months ago!” Take your Mayan calendar and your abacus and get the hell out of here.
But amyray, we’re back! Yes! We’re back in Glasgow, and even if you can’t say anything else about the inherent qualities of 17 months as a block of time, you can probably assume that it involved at least one haircut and/or new hairstyle. In this case, it involved at least 6.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Which is the opposite of Frankie, who is behind on her bills.
Frankie looks more than different. She seems almost transformed somehow. I wasn’t really drawn to her at all last season, but something about her new look is making me look. What have you been up to, Mighty_Minto?
As Frankie sifts through the rubble of her fiscal wasteland, I get distracted by the lyrics of the song that is playing (“Keep Me in Your Heart” by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat):
Keep me in your phone
Keep me on your key ring
Keep me rolling around about the bottom of your bag
And keep me in your hall
Keep me in your bathroom
Keep me hanging up, stretched out and dripping next to you
What? This is like a song you make up when you’re a kid and you’re just wandering around empty-headed and aimless, enjoying the sunshine and making sounds that turn into words but have no meaning behind them or really anywhere near them.
Frankie is not empty-headed at all, though: her brain is still saying CAT CAT CAT the way a stereotypical dog’s might (but I am not saying Frankie is a dog, unless you mean it in a cool “dawg” sort of way).
Frankie calls (I feel like I should say “rings,” but that would be pretentious of me) the object of her intermittent affection. After one of those charming double-rings, it goes to voice mail, so Frankie sends an email instead.
Apparently Cat’s email address is email@example.com. Hang on, I need to email her something real quick.
Frankie kind of rocks back and forth a bit, as if she’s feeling lost without Cat.
I do feel a little sympathy for her, but not enough to rock back and forth or anything. I am not anti-Frankie in a general way, but I am definitely on Team Sam.
And there’s my team! Sam and Cat are just getting back from a trip to Rio. They’re discussing an Awkward Airport Security Moment:
Cat: I told you we shouldn’t take any toys.
Sam: He so fancied you. I think we made his day!
Wait, why was that offstage? We need to see these things! But nope, we’ve moved on to kissing. Which is probably better than the airport security thing.
They’re so busy kissing, they don’t realize they’re at the end of the escalator. Cat almost trips and falls. This is no joke, people! Escalators can kill!
But looks can’t kill, even when they’re delivered by homophobes going up the other escalator. Sam just stares back and says “hi.” ‘Cause she’s great like that.
Cat plays with her necklace; Sam compliments her on it.
Cat: I wonder who gave me that?
I bet I know! That hot cop right next to you! And I understand your confusion: I wouldn’t remember who gave me my own name, let alone my necklace.
Suddenly they’re back at their apartment, and the sunglasses are on the other head. I don’t mean that like “the shoe’s on the other foot”; I mean the continuity person was napping (cf. previous kiss photo). Or maybe it’s all just part of the escalator-riding, toy-revealing, necklace-fiddling aura of young love.
Cat: Shouldn’t we at least unpack?
Sam: You seriously want to unpack?
Obviously the next line should have been “No, but I seriously want to see what you’re packing.” They set it up so perfectly, with that mention of the toys! What a missed opportunity.
They do end up doing it right there on the kitchen floor, but that’s offstage too. This time I don’t care, because it’s a preposterous idea: who really wants to have sex when they’re just getting home from a trip? I’m not saying Cat had a better idea, because I don’t want to unpack the minute I get home either. But sex? No. The first thing you do when you get home from a trip is order some food, flop down on the couch, and catch up on all the TV you missed while you were away. This is true even if Sam is present, and I do not say that lightly.
Tess is trying to watch her new girlfriend (Fin, the “spark” she met at the end of last season) play football. Doesn’t she look enthralled?
Fin even scores a goal.
Then the ball finds its way to the fence near Tess, and Fin and her mates expect Tess to kick it back onto the field. Like you would.
She resists, then finally gives it a try. It goes about 1.2 feet, so she picks it up and throws it instead. It goes a teeny bit farther. Poor Tess! All the footballers are chuckling and tsking and making it very clear that she’s not a real lesbian. All Tess can do is sigh and wince.
They all go for breakfast, where Fin’s friends continue to mock Tess’s lack of athleticism and love of sleeping late.
Fin: Oy! Leave her alone. She’s got plenty of other skills.
As another somewhat artistic type who has been in the presence of taunting athletic types, I feel your pain, Tess. But I don’t think the feisty footballers really mean anything by it; it’s just their “way,” you know? Just pretend you’re in Bend It Like Beckham. Except instead of Keira Knightley (yawn) or Parminder Nagra (shrug), you’ve got Fin, who’s just as cute and way more gay. (And much to everyone’s great relief, she looks nothing like that other Fin(n).)
Despite the awkwardness (or maybe because of it), I’m happy to see Tess! Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that Tess is played by Fiona (cute as a) Button. Talk about an aptonym.
Wait, maybe I’m already over Fin. Ed texts Tess about an upcoming play, and Tess asks Fin whether she wants to go. Fin mumbles about being busy. I would love to go to the theater with you absolutely anytime, Tess. I’d even sit through the lobotomizing production of Jean Genet’s The Maids that I endured off-Broadway last month. Hmm. Maybe I take that back. Is Sam coming too?
Bored Frankie is watching boring TV. But this new flat looks pretty fab. As in, you could probably buy some of those pillows and things on Fab.com.
Like everyone else in the world, when TV fails her, Frankie turns to the internet. She starts to check her mail; there’s a message with the subject “Fwd: Scotland Form,” sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Before we can think about what that might mean, Tess breezes in and Frankie slams her MacBook shut. Yeah, be careful, Frankie: it’s one thing for Tess to catch you underneath a grunting Jay, but you mustn’t scar her for life with the sight of you reading email.
Frankie: Have you had any more calls about the ad?
Cat: Uh, a bloke who sounded excited about living with lesbians, and a woman who sounded drunk.
See how much shorter the whole roommate search thing could have been on The L Word?
Frankie expresses her strong desire to get a flatmate very soon. She’s not even sure she’ll be able to pay her own share of the rent much longer, if she doesn’t get a job. I don’t understand how the person who had that amazing apartment in NYC last season can suddenly be out of money. They don’t even let you stand on the same block as an apartment like that if you’re not pulling down a cool 10 mil a year.
Frankie asks Tess whether she’s heard from Cat. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, Tess has. This news turns Frankie into a Lichtenstein painting.
Frankie’s eyes seems so much more alive so far this season. I guess suffering really does build character?
Frankie jumps up and leaves in a burst of feigned nonchalance. “Bye?” shrugs Tess.
Frankie stomps along and finds herself staring up at the window of Cat’s flat, much like she stared up at the window of Cat’s office in the very first episode. But this time the face at the fenester is Sam’s. At first I want her to see Frankie, but then I don’t, and she doesn’t. It’s much too soon for the triangle to come crashing in on itself!
At a … hmm, some sort of quirky vintage shop, Tess ruminates while Ed stands patiently by. Awww, Ed.
Tess is worried about Frankie, who hasn’t even slept with anyone since breaking up with Sadie. Ed gripes about his own dry spell. Tess assures him that he’ll have plenty of groupies once his book is published, but he doesn’t want to wait that long.
Ed: I’ve decided I’m gettin’ laid tonight.
Tess: Ah. It’s gay disco night at Rubies; I kind of told people we’d go there.
Poor Ed. He’s pretty much the Eeyore of this group. (Also, poor us that “disco” doesn’t actually mean disco the way it did on Glee last week. I’d pay good money to see Sam do that pistols-at-your-hip disco move, or the lasso thing. Or pretty much all of Nick’s disco routine in the “Discos and Dragons” episode of Freaks and Geeks.)
Tess tries to get Ed to focus on the task at hand: helping her find some clothes that say “serious actress.” Ed wants to know why Fin isn’t doing this instead.
Tess: She’s at work. And anyway, shopping’s not really her thing.
As a sentient life form with more than one brain cell, Ed finds it amusing that Tess would date someone who’s more into football than shopping.
Tess: Well, at least she’s nice to me, unlike every other woman I’ve dated.
Tess! I would be nice to you. And I would make you go to lots of theater but no football. Actually, never mind: I don’t really want to date you at all. But my girlfriend and I would both like to hang out with you and help you memorize your lines or anything else. Because you’re cute as a Button, Fiona!
Tess also notes that the sex with Fin is grrrrrreat.
Tess: Most of my other girlfriends have been really selfish in bed. But she’s, like, really, really… Well, she’s just… she’s just really good.
Ed and the rest of us were about to drool for a minute there. Stop tantalizing the Eeyores, Tigger Tess!
Tess claims not to be worried about not having enough in common with Fin and notes that they’ve only been together for 2 months. 2 months? It’s been 17 on my planet! Einstein should be glad he only had to deal with the twin paradox, rather than TV perplexities.
At chez consternation, there’s a knock at the door.
“Come in,” says the spider to the fly. Cat looks terrified or thrilled or something. I don’t know what to do with my hands or feet or eyebrows or corpuscles right now, because this sort of situation is exactly what makes this show so deliciously maddening.
Having confirmed that Tess is out, Cat only gets more terrified. But she apologizes for not telling Frankie that she was back in town, and inquires as to Frankie’s health.
Frankie: Been better. It’s not been fun sitting around waiting to find out what you want.
Cat: Well, now you know how it feels.
Ouchie. Wait, I think I just figured out why Frankie is so much more appealing to me this season. She sorta looks like Delirium of The Endless.
I don’t mean this as a negative thing. I’ve always adored Delirium — and she used to be called Delight. Maybe when Cat fell in love with Frankie originally, she was more on the Delight end of the spectrum.
Cat apologizes for her below-the-belt retort. Frankie, proving she’s British through and through, offers Cat some tea.
Frankie: Tess seems to have gone all lesbian on me and brought a million herbal varieties.
That joke never gets old! Actually, maybe it just did.
They banter a little about Tess and tea, and Cat seems a little more friendly. Frankie steps forward to make her move, but Cat is steadfast.
Cat: I can’t sleep with you anymore, Frankie. It was a mistake.
Ouchie again! Cat insists that she loves Sam and doesn’t want to leave her, but when Frankie forces her hand with “And you don’t love me?” a cat gets Cat’s tongue. And then this happens.
But Cat pushes Frankie away with an “I can’t do this” and pushes herself right out the door.
I still don’t quite understand why or how or what the whole story is, but I’ll admit that there was some chemistry in that kiss. (If you’re on Team Frankie, this is where you yell “SOME?!” at the device on which you’re reading this. Try to do it on the subway or in a crowded Starbucks, because that way you can identify other team members and maybe reenact the scene [complete with tea, if you’re in the second location].)