Lip Service Episode 203 Recap: Shagathon

Ed and Tess are having lunch. They’re sharing stories and remembering Cat. Ed is already tired of all the phone calls from relatives, talking about how nice and clever and tidy Cat was. (Oops, I just said “tidy Cat.”)

Ed: It’s like she’s been canonized.

He wants to know something bad about his sister, to make her seem more human. Do not ever, ever, ever tell him the bad thing you know, Tess! It’s not worth it. Tess agrees, so she offers this instead: “She didn’t have a TV license at uni.”

I'M SPARING YOUR FEELINGS RIGHT NOW

That is perfect. When I did my junior year in Manchester, I lived in mortal fear of being arrested and deported for not having a TV license. (Funny that I didn’t worry so much about all the drugs floating around.)

Tess changes the subject and asks Ed how the writing thing is going. He says his agent wants to talk about a sequel to the first book.

Ed: The last thing I want right now is to be alone with my thoughts. It’s so lonely without her.

Aw. Ed! He asks Tess how rehearsals are, but she hasn’t been going. She knows she needs to go back, and she even has a “cast drinks thing” to go to. Ed offers to go along for moral support. I’ll come along too, Tess, even if you don’t need moral support. If there were such a thing as a theater groupie, I’d totally be one.

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Frankie is at a restaurant, waiting for her mum to show up. She’s not her cool self; she’s nervous and anxious and kind of a wreck.

And she’s right to be in that state of mind. Her mum shows up, but we all wish she hadn’t. Frankie is being sweet and nice — she even has those Mother’s Day flowers — but her mother isn’t really interested in playing her part.

Alma: I’ve come a long way since you and Cameron… and … I don’t think I can…

WHATCHOO TALKIN' BOUT WILLIS

What? What is it you can’t do, Mama Alma? Take a phone call once in a while, have a meal now and then, send a birthday card? It’s not like Frankie’s 4 and you have to raise her up and wipe her nose and put her through school. You’re just ashamed of yourself, and you think Frankie was a mistake, and for that, you suck, and you’ve also pretty much served your purpose on this show, so adios.

This is one of the Frankiest lines ever, and just generally the best possible thing to say at this appalling moment:

Frankie: You know, when I fuck someone and I don’t want anything to do with them, I don’t bother calling them. I don’t … I don’t do this.

Alma makes it all worse by offering Frankie an envelope full of cash. Frankie takes the flowers instead.

Ouchie.

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Sam is in counseling. Apparently they gave her a choice: go to counseling or take sick leave. You’re such a stoic, Sam.

She says she could understand being sent to counseling if something happened on the job, say if a “suspect dies in custody” or you’re on an armed unit and you have to kill someone. They have armed units? I guess the no-guns thing isn’t always practical. I feel so disillusioned!

Sam wants the counselor to clear her to go back to work, but he’s not ready yet. I’m surprised anyone can stare down this scowl.

SAY THAT AGAIN

The counselor finds it interesting that Sam compared losing Cat to a “suspect” dying. He wonders whether Sam suspected something about Cat. Well then. You figured that out that quickly? Are you available on Thursday evenings?

Sam stomps off in a way that makes me glad she’s not on an armed unit. On the way out, she talks to Ryder, her partner, who isn’t sure why she’s in such a hurry to get back to work.

Ryder: You just lost the woman you loved.
Sam: Do you think she loved me back?

Oh no. She did, Sam! She totally did! She just also loved Frankie. I guess. Maybe Cat was a Mormon? Are there Scottish Mormons? I’m sure there must be. Some of them even went to Iceland for a while, on their way to Utah. Also, the Mormons have an online style guide that I am apparently violating by not using the complete name of the church in the first reference.

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Frankie is at Cat’s grave, placing the flowers she bought for her mom. She starts to write something in the dirt wih her finger — I think “F” and “C,” but I don’t want to watch this again to be sure, because as Riese said in the comments last week, this stuff is painful to watch.

And then suddenly Sam is there. Frankie tries to beat a hasty retreat, but Sam wants to get this over with.

Sam: You’ve got as much right to be here as anyone else. Maybe more. (long pause) Were you fucking her?
Frankie: No. She chose you.

Thank you, Frankie. I am passing that along from Cat. That is exactly what she would have wanted you to say, even though it pained you to say it.

Later, at the flat that used to be hers and Cat’s — imagine moving in with someone, only to find yourself living there alone a few months later! — Sam tells her parents they can go home now. She’s sure she’ll be back at work soon. I’m not, but I still think Sam’s dad is pretty great. Can I come over for dinner, Alfie?

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At some bar, Lexy and her coworker/fuck buddy are having a drink and discussing Sam. Is Sam going to be the heart of the show now? Or is Tess the central character? Or, I don’t know, maybe an ottoman that has been sat upon by everyone at one point or another?

Lexy doesn’t know why she’s thinking about Sam anyway.

Lexy: Don’t think the flatmates would be too impressed that I’m harboring impure thoughts.

Lexy seems to have quite a big vocabulary. If I were her friend, I’d call her Lexicon.

Lexy’s phone rings again. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHO IS IT?!?! IS HE CALLING FROM INSIDE THE BAR?!?!

Oh, haha, it’s Lexy’s Gran, trying to learn to use her new mobile. That was totally anticlimactic.

I don’t think I like Bea (Lexy’s coworker/distraction). She looks like a cross between a Sim and Nikki’s ex-girlfriend Trish on Bad Girls.

TALK SIMLISH TO ME

They try to figure out where to go to have sex; they can’t go to Bea’s because someone (her girlfriend?) is there, and Lexy worries about having too much fun around her grieving flatmates. But they decide to do that anyway. To me it also looks like Lexy is deciding to do a guest spot on True Blood.

SOOOOOKIE!

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By the river, where it’s dark and cold and sad, broody Frankie is broody. She thinks and thinks and smokes and thinks and then makes a call.

And then she goes back to her flat, where she hurriedly packs a bag and tells Sadie she’s going back to New York.

Frankie: There’s nothing here for me anymore.
Sadie: Frankie…
Frankie: What? Oh, you love me? Well then you’re stupid, and you’re the only one.

Sadie tries to keep her cool, but she looks pretty sad. ‘Cause that was pretty mean.

Wait a minute. You’re what, Frankie? Leaving? The show? Like, one episode after Cat died? For serious?

In a just-missed-her moment that reminds me of The Edge of Heaven, which is a great movie you should see, Tess goes into the flat seconds after Frankie has gone out of it. Tess learns from an off-the-rails, coke-snorting, amaretto-drinking Sadie (“It tastes like cake juice”) that Frankie has decided to go back to New York.

THAT'S RIGHT I SAID CAKE JUICE!

(Don’t think Sadie’s truly smiling there. She’s cry-smiling and listening to angry music and trying to cope with having been simultaneously dumped and unfriended and not getting to say a proper goodbye to someone she was really trying to help.)

Tess runs out after Frankie and sees her nearby, hailing a cab. For a minute I think Frankie’s going to get in the cab and it will be this horribly empty unresolved thing, and I’m so glad that doesn’t happen.

Tess says what we’re all thinking.

Frankie: I was gonna call.
Tess: Well, I wouldn’t want you to put yourself out. (catching her breath) You were going to leave, just like that?
Frankie: What do you expect from me?
Tess: Even by your standards, this is pretty shit.
Frankie: I’m sorry, but this isn’t about you.
Tess: Really? Do you even know how I feel? Have you even asked? You’re so bloody selfish.
Frankie: I know.
Tess: And that makes it all right, does it? You should never have come back.
Frankie: What, ’cause, if I hadn’t, she’d still be alive?
Tess: That’s not what I meant.
Frankie: Yeah, it is. And you’re right.

No, no, that’s not right! I thought we talked about this last week and decided to blame the cigarette guy. Tess apologizes, and Frankie just pulls her close for a hug. At this point in the scene, my neck was starting to hurt because I kept looking at my girlfriend in an are-you-seeing-this-what-the-fuck-is-happening-I-don’t-even sort of way.

Frankie: I loved her, Tess. I really thought it would work this time. And I fucked it up. Like I fuck up everything.

She asks Tess to promise never to tell anyone about Frankie and Cat. And of course Tess promises, though I think she’s going to have to start reminding herself about that every morning in the mirror, like Stuart Smalley. Frankie wishes Tess luck on her play and tells her she’ll miss her.

And then Frankie is in a cab and gone, and Tess and the rest of us are standing on the curb with no real idea what to do next.

Actually, I give the writers tons of credit for this move. Frankie’s departure feels like a sort of surrender to a new reality, as well as a refusal to get stuck in a morose murk of grieving and despair. In order for the show to move on, Frankie has to move on. It’s like the show itself is saying “It’s the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine.”

Also, she didn’t DIE. Which is much easier to deal with. Maybe she’ll come back! Probably not. But it’s nice to be left with an image of her in a cab instead of in a coffin.

We can picture her in the fab New York apartment that nobody can afford, getting high-pay, low-work photo gigs in the Meatpacking District and trying not to see Cat around every corner (just don’t go to The Scratcher, Frankie, ’cause Laura Fraser’s husband owns it). Frankie’s life goes on, somewhere out there.

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Sadie has taken the cake juice with her to a club. She overhears a tourist trying to order a “Super Tennent’s,” which I would also like to try but can’t find anywhere.

Sadie rescues the hapless tourist and gets her a double vodka and tonic (and one for herself too, of course).

Sadie: What’s your name?
Gabriella: Gabriella. From Perugia, Italy.
Sadie: Gabriella, you’re a long way from the tourist trail.
Gabriella: (nods, obviously not comprehending at all)
Sadie: (pantomiming) Not normal for sightseeing.
Gabriella: Ah! But the book, um… says it’s a good place for finding action.

HOW DO YOU SAY ... YES?

And we’re off! Sadie and Gabriella head right back to Frankie’s… er, Sadie’s flat. It turns out Gabriella is quite a squealer. They have loud sex that involves lots of condiments. Sadie seems to be having a great time — she did learn from the best, in terms of using sex as an escape. But I also think Sadie just really enjoys making a mess, judging by her destruction of that nice flat last season and now all this ketchup and mayo or whatever the British equivalent is all over the walls.

YOU COULD AT LEAST MAKE TESS A SANDWICH

Oh, and in the next room, Lexy and Bea are having quieter sex that is just as happy. Isn’t it nice to see some naked bodies and some smiles?

Lexy: (giggling, as Gabriella shrieks in the background) What the fuck are they doing?

But then Lexy can’t really think or form sentences. But she’s still smiling.

And I’m smiling because there was some fairly realistic lady sex on my TV! And some screamy condiment sex, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Lexy turns on some music to cover the screams. Guess who’s not having much fun during all this?

MAYBE I CAN AFFORD MY OWN PLACE NOW

Tess puts a pillow over her head, but that wouldn’t work even if she could somehow tear the pillow in half and jam one entire half into each ear.


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