“The Bold Type” Episode 109 Recap: Defying Gravity

“I don’t feel like being logical right now,” Kat declares to Adena in an airport hotel in the middle of the night. In awe of Adena’s worldly experience, her collection of memories and self-discoveries mapped out in her overflowing passport, Kat has just decided she wants an adventure for herself. She wants to actually use the first class ticket to Tehran that she purchased merely as a means to get through airport security and see Adena, whose visa extension has yet to go through and can’t get into the United States.

As far as this whole storyline goes, I don’t feel like being logical either. The fact that Adena is detained by customs, told she may not enter the country and must return to Iran, and then just is suddenly free to wander the airport as she awaits her forced flight home is a bit of an absurd premise. The Bold Type presents a somewhat watered-down view of the horrors of current U.S. immigration policy by acknowledging some of the injustices (customs doesn’t have to give Adena a reason for not allowing her into the country, and they take away her phone) without getting too dark about it. And you know what, I’ll take that slightly-less-horrible-than-reality depiction. The Bold Type manages to be real and serious enough to make it compelling and anchored to reality, but there’s also a delightful element of escapism to the show.

The fantasy of Kat and Adena’s romantic overnight date is subversive in its own way. Adena being forced to go home to a country where her mere existence could get her sent to prison or worse is a harsh reality that The Bold Type certainly doesn’t downplay. But these 14 hours of freedom for both Adena and Kat evoke a sense of hope, a lightness that The Bold Type infuses in even its darkest storylines. Adena points out that Kat can do anything with her American passport, which is a very true and layered sentiment. American passports represent much more than a pile of paper. That passport grants her freedoms that Adena has no access to.

The scenes between Kat and Adena at the airport are almost dreamlike. The airport is a ghost town; there’s little sense of defined time or space. Kat and Adena make this world their own, eat dessert first, build a pillow fort under which they open up to each other. It’s as if no one else exists. These scenes move and look in a different way entirely from the rest of the episode. Aisha Dee and Nikohl Boosheri barely need to say anything to captivate. Kat and Adena occupy that magical world of queer time and space in these scenes, and they can’t stop kissing, and I don’t want them to! I don’t think two women have ever kissed on-screen in one episode as much as they do here, and every kiss is distinct, fully felt, so much more than the two actors just going through the motions of the blocking. Adena calls Kat beautiful in Farsi, and I almost had to pause the episode so I could live in that moment forever. Even with so many forces working against them, Kat and Adena seem to defy gravity. They quite literally carve out their own space with their pillow fort, and it’s so easy to forget about the outside world with them.

Kat and Adena’s sex scene (!!!) is intercut with another sex scene between Sutton and Alex, who end up going home together after a long night of drinking in the Scarlet offices when Trump’s dinner next door prevents anyone from being able to leave (speaking of fantasy worlds, I’d love one in which the most inconvenient thing Trump does is spend hours eating dinner). Sutton and Alex, fueled by tequila sunrises and impulsive decision making, are fast, giggly, grabbing at each other messily as they undress each other in a frenzy. In contrast, Kat and Adena are slow, deliberate, absorbing each other. The build-up is invigorating. Aisha Dee is easily one of the best kissers on television right now. In fact, I’m pretty sure Aisha Dee invented kissing.

In the morning, all Kat wants is five more minutes in bed with Adena. In that moment, it’s easy to forget what’s happening. We’re still in the dream. But timing has never been on their side, and in this case, they really have no control over the circumstances. They go to the gate for the flight, and then Kat makes one of the most romantic gestures a person can make by forgoing boarding early with her first class ticket in order to wait until Adena’s zone is called (okay, so maybe I’m being dramatic, but giving up early boarding privileges is pretty damn significant in my book). But when it comes down to it, Kat can’t get on the plane. We’ve seen Kat make impulsive decisions before, but this one is too risky even for her. Kat and Adena had both convinced themselves it could work while they were still wrapped up in the soft-lit tenderness of their airport date. They let themselves forget about reality in those moments, and faced by the harsh light of a new day, they can no longer ignore the truth. “Everything is going to be okay,” Adena says as she kisses Kat goodbye, and I believe her. Because The Bold Type has so far proven that it’s a show that wants to lift viewers up instead of torturing us. There’s conflict, to be sure, but it still has a heightened sense of optimism.

Meanwhile, in hetero world…Jane pitches an article about the expanding world of gender-neutral fashion. Jacqueline points out that women have been wearing menswear for years and calling it subversive, pushing Jane to come up with a better angle. It all made me think about the ridiculous Vogue cover story that posited Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik as gender fluid simply for wearing each others’ clothes. Gender and fashion is an undoubtedly interesting subject, but cis people tend to miss the point. Anyway, it doesn’t end up being that significant of a plotline on The Bold Type, instead just acting as yet another reason for Jane to question her role at Scarlet. Jacqueline gives the story to Alex instead, and Jane wonders if Scarlet can offer as many opportunities to grow as Incite, which is more committed to the political stories she wants to write.

As mentioned before, the Scarlet crew is stranded in the office thanks to an indecisive Trump stuffing his face next door and causing massive street shutdowns. Alex, Jane, and Sutton are joined by Pinstripe, who has just been laid off from Pinstripe. Jane and Sutton concoct unicorn dreamtinis, Scarlet’s official drink of fall, and everyone gets very drunk very fast. Jane tells Pinstripe about her job offer at Incite, and Alex overhears but is ultimately supportive of Jane getting the job over him. When their drunken shenanigans carry them to Jacqueline’s office, Pinstripe urges Jane to sit in Jacqueline’s chair and imagine herself as the editor-in-chief of Scarlet. Jacqueline catches them all in her office, and in her haste to get out, Jane accidentally leaves behind her notebook opened to the page of her “pros and pros” list, a breakdown of her reasons to stay at Scarlet as well as her reasons to go to Incite.

In general, I was never a fan of Pinstripe. I’m weary of television romances built entirely on two people being snarky with each other, because their prominence convinced me to fall for people who were mean to me in my teens. Jane and Pinstripe’s brand of chemistry just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Why do straight people think it’s cute to fully mock each other? I will never understand. But all that being said, this episode is the most I’ve ever liked Pinstripe. There’s a playful side to him that comes out when he and Jane conspire to steal back her notebook, sneaking around in matching pink leopard bomber jackets. For once, he isn’t taking himself too seriously. And his earnest side comes out, too. He calls out Jane for being risk-averse and never really giving their relationship a chance. Indeed, Jane broke up with him based on the assumption that he didn’t want to be exclusive without ever really asking him if that was still the case. Listen, I won’t go so far as to say that I’m rooting for Pinstripe and Jane to get back together, but he has a point. I’m more sold on them than I am on Alex and Sutton. The relationship building between Alex and Sutton has been painstakingly heavy-handed, and while we’re finally starting to learn a little more about Alex as a character, he still feels like an afterthought and a plot device in Sutton’s arc.

When it becomes clear that they aren’t getting out anytime soon, Jacqueline invites the gang to have Scotch in her office, which ends up being a very awkward hang. Sutton is drunk and feeling mischievous (Meghann Fahy, by the way, consistently gives the best comedic performance every episode), so she spills that Jane was considering centering the monthly quiz she has been tasked with writing on the question of when to know if it’s time to leave your job. Jacqueline implies that she saw Jane’s list, and she later offers some advice. Jacqueline says she took her job at Scarlet because it was the option that scared her the most. She encourages Jane to take a risk, and Jane ends up listening by taking the job at Incite. It’s a huge decision for both Jane and the show, which consistently surprises with little character-based twists like this.

In the pilot, it’s difficult to imagine Jane anywhere other than Scarlet, and eight episodes later, she has decided to leave, and that decision is a cogent conclusion to her arc, rooted in believable build-up. It’s easy to connect Jane’s diagnosis of being at-risk for breast cancer to her willingness to make such a bold decision in her professional life. Again, even when logistical details of this show seem far-fetched, the writers maintain such a strong sense of every character that it doesn’t matter. And even when the characters run into major obstacles, the show embodies hope and levity without overly romanticizing its characters’ problems. Even though they keep running into obstacles, Kat and Adena aren’t doomed lovers. The Bold Type acknowledges that their relationship is complicated without making them tragic. For me, those are always the most powerful queer stories: ones that aren’t necessarily easy-breezy but are still filled with joy and hope.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

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  1. Has it been confirmed that Adena is from Iran? They keep saying “home” and made it known that it is an Islamic country, but I have never heard them name that actually country. I know she speaks Farsi which is largely spoken in Iran, but not 100% necessarily a given.

    • I feel like at some point they indicated that the plane was going to Tehran? I also feel like I remember someone describing Adena as Persian. I’ve been known to add details to a story I like so that it makes more sense before, though, so who knows.

  2. Ugh this episode was everything I needed. Dreamy queer-girl kisses in a stressful situation, drunk office shennannigans in a different (less) stressful situation, and in-character growth and tough decisions to keep it feeling rounded and satisfying.
    Honestly I have loved the writing of this series overall. Obviously nothing is perfect but the way that everything feels in character and a perfect blend of sweet-silly-deep even in the more absurd moments is what keeps me watching :)

  3. After watching the promo for next week, I’m very hopeful that Kat will decide to follow Adena in the end…

    The airport scenes were so beautiful but heartbreaking.

  4. The fact that this show is not trash and is, in fact, p good and not too problematic is THE greatest entertainment surprise of 2017 that no one saw coming.

    But can anyone clear up: where. did. that. sex. scene. happen?! Who has great romantic sex in an airport lounge? Because I have had sex in an airport and lemme tell you, it did not go down like that.

    • I WAS WONDERING THIS TOO, I was really worried they were going to get arrested for public sex.

  5. This episode broke me, the Kadena storyline is just too beautiful and raw and just agh i need to breathe

  6. Am I the only one wondering if she went to counter after Adena boarded and asked them to give her the First Class seat?? The romance was great but I wanted girlfriend to fly first class. I have been to Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan that is not a short flight. Let that girl have a first-class bed so she can sleep. You know she did not get any sleep on that lounge couch between the sex and it being a lounge couch.

    I realize this is me being too practical when watching a TV show…

      • Actually @Mars there are people in Iraq who speak Farsi. My comment was based on the fact that they have never really said where she is from.

    • You aren’t the only one, someone asked the writers on Twitter and they said Kat spoke to the flight attendant to give adena her seat. Wish I could link you to the print screen but I’m too lazy to look for it :P

  7. I cried quite a few times with this episode, and also related to Adena. My situation is pretty different (im not from a banned country, im not as adventurous as her) but the whole thing where she said that different places have changed her in different ways was the same for me.

    Also, the whole silly office party was great and a cackle laughed at Sutton falling from the threadmill

  8. “Because The Bold Type has so far proven that it’s a show that wants to lift viewers up instead of torturing us. There’s conflict, to be sure, but it still has a heightened sense of optimism.”

    I absolutely love this about the show. I’ve tried watching so many TV shows and had to stop because it had a negative effect on my well-being instead of the opposite. I think we all need more uplifting (though not dishonest) pop culture.

  9. Oh, and re: the mocking thing, I sort of like stories where people start out disliking each other and then fall for each other/just start liking each other and become friends – but the mocking can stop when they do. Also, a guy telling a woman he finds it sexy she expresses her opinion is the most condescending thing EVER. And that’s basically how they met. Not a good start.

    • The only reason I’m generally a fan of ‘playful mocking’ storylines is because of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. It’s done so well I actually ship straight people, which is remarkable

      • WAIT this might actually be why I don’t like this vibe…Beatrice and Benedick did it SO WELL that no one else compares

    • For me, I like the sorta enemies—–> lovers trope but I feel like the Jane/Pinstripe dynamic is different. Like you said, he’s just so condescending

  10. Sutton: I’m so happy at least one of us is killing it in the dating department


  11. Absolutely love Kadena. Fingers crossed for season 2

    I really hope Alex and Sutton tanks before it even properly starts…. I’m not feeling that pairing just like Pinstripe and Jane.

  12. SWOON.

    It’s the only word to describe this episode.

    Seriously, The Bold Type is my favorite show that I never saw coming.

  13. I want to like the show, but when someone during the first half of the first episode said that all sane people are on Facebook I just had to stop watching it.

  14. there must be more than one exit from the building? while I like the idea that they’re stuck up in there and it makes for a funny arc, there has to be more than one way to get out of the building?

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