This episode, aptly titled “The Wedding,” was all about girl power. Finally, the women of the extended Darling clan are starting to assert themselves. Beginning, of course, with Karen (Natalie Zea, pictured), whose long-awaited wedding to second-rate pro golfer Freddy is the main focus of the plot. No, she hasn’t really prepped for the ceremony: It dawns on her that Freddy is a dim, “not exactly complicated” bulb. And she’s still hung up on Nick. (“All we need is to have to hold, in sickness and in health, and an open bar,” she tells her brother Brian about her plans for the vows.)
An open bar is just what the family needs to survive the day. By day’s end, Tripp will be drunkenly singing “The Whiffenpoof Song,” no doubt an evocation of his Yale days as a poor little lamb who has truly lost his way. The Darling paterfamilias starts early on a bottle of tequila — perhaps because Patrick has moved out of the family estate, allied himself with Simon Elder (who continues to be the least plausible Russian on film), and filed suit against corrupt real estate developers allied with Tripp in his capacity as attorney general. (By the end of the show, Tripp is bent on — scenery-chewing alert — destroying Simon Elder. The first opportunity may come during the hunting party expedition hinted at in the preview for next week’s episode.)
At Simon’s urging, Patrick also fesses up to his wife, Ellen, about Carmelita. Ellen, in a delightful surprise, suggests a three-way. No, not that kind (unfortunately). More like a summit to set the “ground rules” for the three to maintain the marriage, Patrick’s career, and her own ambitions. “I didn’t marry a Darling for nothing,” she says authoritatively. It’s one of many you-go-girl moments tonight. (Any guesses on how the two apparently assertive women in Patrick’s life are going to share custody of their man?)
Naturally, Nick’s Mrs. doesn’t get her own you-go-girl moment. She’s still jealous, shuns Karen’s wedding for an opening at her gallery, and continues to position herself as a scold who deserves to be cheated on. Or run over by a bus, as some PopWatchers have helpfully suggested. Whichever would require the least amount of screen time so we can get back to Karen’s delightful bitchiness. Perhaps, though, the assertiveness gene skipped a generation because we do see daughter Kiki having her very own YGG moment. Much enamored of the Darling lifestyle, little Kiki contemplates her own wedding at the mansion as she dances with Brian Jr. “I want to live just like this, no matter what it takes,” she declares. Perhaps she’s been picking up tips from Jenny on Gossip Girl. Unlike her momma, Kiki’s no ummy-day. (And when’s the last time you heard Pig Latin on TV?)
Speaking of Brian Jr., no sooner does he settle into the cushy life of a Darling than his mom returns from her hippie-dippie Brazilian travels. And my, has she changed. (While in the pilot she was played by Brooke Smith, who’s off performing surgery at Seattle Grace, now she’s embodied by the lovely Sheryl Lee, best remembered as Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks.) Andrea still has a bit of a thing for Brian — they hook up again, naturally, or maybe I should say that he activates her yoni. Anyway, she’s back and she wants to take Brian Jr. with her, first to Queens and then to Brazil. (Brian Jr., bless him, isn’t sure which destination is scarier: “Do they have lemon curd in Queens?” he wonders.) You’d think someone would have called Nick (or any lawyer) before letting Brian Jr. anywhere near the mom who abandoned him, but it seems as if Nick won’t be on the case till next episode. How do y’all think this one will be resolved? (And just how prickly Brian will continue to be as Nick fights his case?)
Eventually, everything returns to Karen’s wedding. Despite feet as chilled as the event’s plentiful champagne, Karen goes through with the ceremony — and Brian even musters a somewhat articulate, genuinely moving sermon about the “three Cs” of marriage: confirmation, consolation, and joy (as I say, he’s only somewhat articulate). The occasion is, naturally, over the top, but the over-the-topness seems apparent only in retrospect. When the tabloid bidding war for wedding photos stalls, for instance, Nick has to have the family foundation kick in $1 million so the figure reaches a respectable $1.3 million. And then the family has to shell out $3 million to Freddy when Karen decides — upon arriving at her reception, mind you — that she wants a divorce before she cuts the cake.
All of this is to be expected. But the real surprise — and the show’s final YGG moment — comes from Jill Clayburgh as the delightfully dipso Darling matriarch, Tish. (Anyone else love the scene in which she mistakes the candle for her cocktail glass?) When Karen declares that she has to try to go after Nick or live the rest of her life wondering “what if,” Tish confides: “Let me help you.” Nick’s wife doesn’t stand a chance. And I for one am dying to find out what the mother-daughter scheme is. (For those of you keeping score, this plot twist pretty much confirms that Karen really is Tripp’s daughter and not the mystery Darling scion who is really the product of Tish’s affair with Nick’s late father.)
While the twins were mostly sidelined (sure, Juliet and her frenemy Natalie have air-kissed and made up — big whoop), this episode packed an awful lot in. Still, I’m stumped trying to settle on my favorite quip. Could it be Karen assuring mom that she won’t announce her divorce at her wedding reception because “I would never ruin a party”? Or Simon Elder assuring Patrick, “It’s none of my business how you like your eggs”? Or Tripp telling Brian that “there is a kind person buried deep down, deep down inside you”? (Come to think of it, Brian is seeming less and less like Tripp’s natural son, doncha think?) So, PopWatchers, the dance floor is now yours.