Is there a rule against recappers picking a favorite episode? Because I think “The Sand Situation” is probably my new favorite. Wasn’t it nice to see everyone back on-screen together? And, did you also realize you’ve just been waiting your whole life to see Melanie Lynskey lose her mind with rage? Also, I said the other week that Brett’s electric car was the big leitmotif of this show. But I think a close runner-up would have to be sand.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. We begin at the building that allegedly will hold a charter school one day but is still mostly just empty industrial space and holey ceilings. Brett and Michelle are both there — apparently since they got kicked out of Alex’s, the boys have been storing all the various puppetry ephemera there instead. Michelle speaks for so many of us when she rolls her eyes and mutters, “Stupid-ass Dune.”
She’s running a charter school meeting and trying to explain to the people assembled what the deal is: that Anna had wanted to turn the whole shebang into a private school which Anna didn’t have the authority to do. But, uh-oh, Anna is right there! With an evil look on her face, too. Anna tells the now-confused crowd that she has all the funding to turn the school into a dual immersion French school (haha, bien sûr). She calls for a vote to change the charter into Anna’s name. And it just gets worse! This broad wants to screw Michelle at every turn — she tries hard to make Michelle look scatterbrained and incompetent as she points out, in front of the crowd, that Michelle doesn’t even have a curriculum (never mind that it was Anna’s job to come up with one, ugh).
For a brief moment, Michelle looks defeated. Then she takes a breath, looks out the window and sees the boys and the Dune puppets. I guess Dune really is inspiring because she starts telling the crowd to check out some examples of the arts and humanity curriculum she has in mind for her school. She calls Alex and Brett in, and, bless them, they vamp it up and spout nonsense about how the school would engage all the senses and throw words around like “renaissance” and the like, which is just catnip to the modern helicopter parent.
Afterward, Brett is all hey, what the hell? Michelle points out it is in his best interest to help because, if they lose this fight, their kids are screwed; they certainly cannot afford private school. He reminds her that she can thank stupid-ass Dune for this! He also realizes they need to get the show up and running by that Saturday night, so they’re going to need a lot of sand. Where does sand live? Oh yeah, the beach. The idea is to gather up as many people as possible to go steal some sand and help create a magical learning kingdom. (Sandworms not included, I hope.)
So the next thing you know, there’s a moving truck and a lot of bright, eager faces showing up to volunteer, including Dudley (yay!) and, uh-oh, Uber girl Natalie. She’s super cute and carefree; she didn’t even know this was Brett’s thing — she’s a friend of Dudley’s. Of course. And to those of you reading this who don’t live in big cities and think this is a ridiculous coincidence, let me tell you — these small circles totally exist, and in fact, the odds of running randomly into your latest hookup are more likely than you could ever possibly imagine.
None of this is comforting to Brett, who looks like he’s about to wet himself or worse. They’re all in the back of a van, and Alex is dancing along like a clown, and Natalie is watching the ease with which Michelle and Brett sit beside one another. He’s also wearing a wedding ring, which I’m assuming Natalie hasn’t seen because I think Brett was going pocket-full-of-gold up until this point.
Alex asks Michelle to dance with him. But she refuses, and Natalie volunteers because, guys, that’s just so Natalie, right? She’s so darn appealing, in fact, that even Michelle comments on how cute she is.
They pull up to a parking lot of a public beach. Michelle is personally thanking everyone for coming and introduces herself to Natalie. She then turns to introduce Natalie to Brett, and Brett — completely shadily, he is unused to deception — mutters something about how they’ve met already. Yeow.
So they’re shoveling sand into barrels, which is most definitely illegal, and Dudley is on the lookout for cops while using a child’s walkie-talkie. Alex essentially says, Hey, that chick Natalie is hot; what’s the deal? Brett explains the totally FUBR-ness of the entire situation. Even Alex thinks he’s hosed.
When the cops swing by, through, the group hilariously improvises a beach exercise class, with Alex as the leader, and you can just see, after they succeed, that this is a bunch of thirtysomethings who are downright thrilled to their tippy toes with their own daring. Hey, we all need to shake it up now and again, right?
Natalie finds a quiet moment to find Brett and be like, Sooooo, anyway… She’s fantastic about this whole situation. Of course, it’s Natalie! And part of the wonder/horror of Natalie is that she does indeed seem very cool and chill and has great rapport with Brett. But but but. You know.
NEXT: Michelle rages, and it’s a sight to see (especially for all you Emmy voters!)