The Grinder’s always been a meta show — my favorite is the previous episode, when Stewart asserted that a spinoff about the Grinder’s less cool, less handsome brother could totally work — and tonight, we go down another Hollywood rabbit hole: The real Jimmy Kimmel interviews Rob Lowe, who’s playing the fictional Dean Sanderson, who’s talking about the real Timothy Olyphant, who plays (presumably) a dim, self-centered version of himself, on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Fictional people, real people, real people playing fictional versions of real people, and fictional people making comments that could apply to the real people who are playing them: That brain-twisting brew is part of what’s made The Grinder such fun in its freshman season, and tonight’s episode is no exception.
The episode starts with another bit of meta-commentary for those tuning into the show for the first time after the holiday break: During the usual Grinder rerun — this one featuring the main assistant state’s attorney from The Good Wife, for extra brain-melting potential — Dean mocks the trope of catching new viewers up in one big infodump. Then in a hammy voice, he runs down the premise of the show that we, the audience, are watching and concludes, “I’m just saying, it’s bad writing.”
“I don’t want to be spoon fed,” Ethan adds. (How they resisted pitching reruns on Hulu, I do not know.)
Ah, but the actual plot of this show is Neal, the journalist who’s shadowing Stewart to write a profile of him and his trademark brand of simple law for the Boise Herald.
The case that Stew is desperately trying to showcase for Neal involves their defense of an environmentalist accused of throwing bricks through the windshields of SUVs at car dealerships. Stew just wants to establish an alibi, but Dean hijacks the conversation, as per usual, and promises to find the culprit and solve the case, which he tells Neal is what Sanderson & Yao does.
They don’t, actually, but Neal doesn’t jot that down when Stewart makes the correction. Instead, Neal’s pretty clearly only writing down Dean’s words, and a little snooping by Debbie proves that his notes point toward a smear piece about what a big fat albatross Dean is to the firm.
Dean isn’t aware of that, though. He’s too busy fuming as he watches Timothy Olyphant making out with Claire while parked in Dean’s reserved spot at the office. (It should be noted that the license plate on Olyphant’s muscle car is GRINDER 1.)
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While Dean’s grandstanding on the case, he’s also pumping Todd for information on Timothy and Claire. Todd says they’re pretty serious, and when Dean asks how many days Timmy’s spending in Boise versus filming the show, Todd says he doesn’t know.
This doesn’t make Dean happy. “Todd, do me a favor. Do the math, and then come back to me with something that doesn’t require math.”
Then Dean has a brainstorm and points out to Stew that none of those windows were broken before Olyphant arrived in town. It’s a theory, anyway.
“That Timothy Olyphant is smashing car windows in Boise?” Stewart asks.
Dean decides that if they catch the bad guy, it’ll put Stew back in the headlines and (somehow) show Claire that Olyphant’s not the real deal. He points to his crime board, which is a map with scribbles, pictures of the damaged windows, and an Olyphant headshot in the very middle.
“Look at the board. I’m so damn close,” Dean says.
He is not, but Tim looks great there in the middle of that board of crazy.
NEXT: Dean shows us all how to call in a favor