You’re the Worst took an even darker turn this week, and reminded us that (sorry haunted houses) nothing is scarier than real life.
“LCD Soundsystem” opens without the gang (so we’re forgoing Worstie rankings this week), but instead in the home of an older couple, Rob and Lexi (played by Justin Kirk and Tara Summers). It’s morning; they have sex, take their toddler and dog to the coffee shop, read the news while making breakfast, and have everything together. Rob spends his spare time playing in an electronic indie band. They’re politically conscious. They smoke pot. They watch TV and drink wine together late at night. What a life!
Gretchen thinks so, too, and soon we see that she’s been following them all day, stalking their seemingly perfect life since spotting them at the coffee shop. “You ever wonder how your life would be different if you never walked into that recruiter’s office?” she asks Edgar while listening to Jimmy spew BS at the bar. “They talk about how if you make one different decision, your life may be totally different, but is that your only shot? Can you make another decision or a series of decisions that can get you back to your alternative life you never got to lead?”
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As the episode progresses, Gretchen is pulled toward Rob and Lexi. She follows Lexi, her daughter, Harper, and the nanny to the drug store and pretends like Harper’s hers. She steals their dog, Sandwiches, and together they go for a run, hang out at the dog park, and make new friends. A woman at a cafe asks Gretchen about Sandwiches, and she says, verbatim, things she’s overheard from Lexi: “I miss our Largo days,” she whines, imitating Lexi’s plea to Rob.
It’s the only time this season we’ve seen Gretchen truly happy, and it’s disturbing because we know she’s only excited by the possibility of another life, one that seems to have no blemishes or complications. We know her happiness won’t last because no one’s life is perfect, despite appearances.
The niceties comes crashing down around her when she brings Sandwiches back to Lexi and Rob’s house at night, pretending like she found their lost dog. They sit down for wine and records, and she invites Jimmy over to see their world, a life she’d like to get lost in for a little while. Jimmy becomes just as enthralled with them, but when Lexi shows Jimmy the tree house Rob made for Harper, Rob dishes out reality to Gretchen.
“Sometimes I look around and wonder, ‘How did this happen?’” he says. “One minute I’m living in this cute little studio in Beachwood, interning at New Line, swing dancing at the Derby, just me and my dog and pizza and condoms. Suddenly, I have a child and a mortgage, and it’s like, ‘What?’” He’s pissed about his life and how he ended up there. He jokes about divorce and wants an invite to hang out with her and Jimmy. No one’s happy all the time, and Gretchen is destroyed by the revelation.
She leaves in a huff, and as she and Jimmy walk out, the camera pans to show Rob and Lexi fighting through the window. Fingers are pointed and wine glasses are thrusted. Jimmy mumbles on about how great they are, but viewers are drawn to Gretchen’s face. As the episode fades, her face crumbles into a full-on sob.
If viewers ever had any hope that Gretchen, like Jimmy suggested, just needed to snap out of her clinical depression and do things she liked to be cured, “LCD Soundsystem” hammers home with an anvil the notion that no, Gretchen cannot be “fixed.”
It’s a stunning performance from Aya Cash, who’s delivered believable tragedy this season. She’s portrayed the overwhelming sadness of life, her place in it, and the hopelessness that comes with feeling less than in just a few facial expressions. She’s also given a face and voice to mental illness in real ways we haven’t seen on TV before, and for that we’re grateful.