Penny and Max have a vision, while Alex and Dave see their relationship a little more clearly
Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

For all intents and purposes I should be a Penny. We’re close in age, our love lives are disturbingly similar in many aspects, and I, too, follow the sage advice of Oprah and Jenny McCarthy. But, I can no longer deny it: I am a Max. I would love to be the person with the ah-mah-zing condo (seriously, who needs a vision board when you’ve got those digs?) like Penny, but odds are, like Max, I would probably sleep on a very high quality pool float, eat a lottery ticket or have a secret dog named Mr. Bojangly before that ever happens. The more you know.

But Max, despite being a perpetual blabbermouth who hates cooked green peppers, actually had a pretty productive week. In addition to having his own vision board come true (more on the origins on that in a bit), which included finding a wicker bassinet (pronounced “whisker basket”) in the alley where he gets his teeth whitened, Max was gainfully employed-ish as he continued his in-no-way legal limo business. While driving Brad to work (come for the ride, stay for the killer “Women be stoppin'” comedy routine), Max manages to impress his pal’s new boss Mr. Forristal (The Daily Show‘s Larry Wilmore), a humorless guy who puts a stop to witty office banter (“Shall we dance?” “I hate dancing”) but can’t seem to stop getting food all over his face.

But yes man Brad (who, as we witnessed, can “kick over people’s heads effortlessly”) can’t seem find the courage to tell Mr. Forristal he’s wearing his lunch, and tries desperately to get the unstoppable Mee-yax not to do it. Of course, that’s impossible. As Max so eloquently put it, he’s “Funny and surprising and people are like, ‘There’s Max: Watch what happens,’ then other people are like, ‘Very funny,’ and then other people are like, ‘Characters welcome.'” (Never mind, as Brad pointed out, that those are the tag lines for Bravo, TBS, and USA, because they’re all true.) When Max is summoned by Mr. Forristal to pick him up in his sweet ride, he can’t hold it in any more and alerts him that he’s got mustard all over his face. Mr. Forristal likes Max’s straightforwardness (so much so that he sends him on a breakfast burrito run) but the goodwill ends pretty quickly after Max makes a pass at him. Like I said, all in all, a pretty productive week for Max.

Of course, he wasn’t the only one keeping busy in the gang. Now that couples’ improv is presumably over, Jane busied herself by encouraging Penny to make a vision board after she didn’t get a raise, therefore hindering “The Year of Penny.” (I’d still argue that with that condo, her year is going pretty darn well.) A vision board, as it turns out, is a cardboard collage you make with pictures of what you want in your future. In Penny’s case, that’s reconnecting with some of the women in her life and an old-fashioned gentlemen “who will buy you flowers and dinner and look at you during sex” (or, more specifically, a cute new bartender named Parker.) But despite making a vision board with cutouts from old issues of Redbook, it didn’t work immediately for Penny.

Worried that it would discourage her friend, Jane becomes Penny’s personal vision board, by sending her flowers (from the bike shop/flower shop Petal to the Pedal, no less) from a secret admirer, who Penny believes is her crush Parker. Of course, it all backfires on Jane, who gets caught and can’t live up to the real vision board (instead of two first-class tickets to Greece she gets her one ticket to a first grade class production of Grease 2.) Of course, Penny, forever being her own worst enemy, manages to screw things up all on her own and ditches Parker when she discovers that he, too, has a vision board. And what loon would date someone with a vision board?!

NEXT: The best lines and moments of the episode

Dave, on the other hand, had no qualms about who to date. The bachelor got his mojo (or as his friends called it, his “downstairs goatee”) working again and had not one, but two, new girlfriends this week. When Alex questioned him on why he wasn’t bringing the girls around the group, we quickly learned that the gang isn’t exactly warm to newbies. (To be fair, I probably would have booed the do-gooder that “acted out the Sunday comics”, too.) And while his pals promised to be nice, it all went out the window when they met the hot (in fact, by Dave’s calculations, double hot), but horrendous human being named Molly. Upon meeting the gang, Molly makes terrible observations about each of them and is, rightly, vetoed by everyone. Everyone except for, surprisingly, Alex, who plays nice. She later explained to her ex that she knew Molly was just a fling and that she’ll actually be mean when Dave meets the real deal. I’m always glad when Happy Endings addresses Alex and Dave’s past. While it’s still a little hard to believe that anyone could hang out with the person who left them at the altar, it’s better than pretending it never happened at all.

The rest of the best lines and moments of “Secrets and Limos”:

“I’m sorry, I like to call celebrities by the names they prefer: Bobby De Niro, Sandy Bullock and Eddie Jimmy Olmos.” –Max, defending his reasoning behind calling Martin Scorcese “Marty”

“Maybe you should force yourself on a girl…I’m not good at these games” –Alex’s failed comeback to date-happy Dave, immediately following her mishap in Max’s first name game (“Johnny Depp!”)

The collective dry heave from the group when Penny swallows the gum Dave spit out in his beer. (Anyone else notice that she put it right back in her mouth anyway?!)

“If a vision board is good enough for Oprah and Jenny McCarthy, I’m doing it!” –Penny on why she’ll do a vision board

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard Dave try to explain the housing crash.” –Max’s response to Penny’s vision board reasoning

“Remember that time you guys went to pick apples without me and you found Ricki Lake’s wallet?” –Max, on why he wasn’t going to miss out on another group-related activity (aka the line that made me laugh so hard I choked on my Sanka.)

“I coincidentally also like Parker and coincidentally I also want to be a successful career woman with giant shoulder pads.” –Max, on why he copycatted Penny’s vision board

“Sorbet is really a palate cleanser.” –Alex’s excuse for ordering a dinner for four for one.

“What are you, LeBron in the 4th quarter?…. I don’t get it either, but Brad says it all the time.” –Jane’s pep talk to Penny

“I was just picking up a normal amount of to go food for one person and I didn’t eat half in the cab and the other half in bed.” –Alex, clearly lying

“Once you believe, good things start happening on their own. Like how Adrian Brody became handsome…. I am weirdly attracted to him.” –Jane’s startling confession

“You and your board need to get a room. A board room. Yes!” –Alex, finally landing a joke

“He’s the first guy I’ve been out with in forever who didn’t pronounce the ‘t’!” –Penny talking about her Pinot date with Parker

“Dave, she jellied my belly!” –Max, on why he hated Molly

“I thought it was a fashion choice. Like leaving your tags on hats.” –Brad, to his boss, on why he didn’t tell him about the food on his face

“Phylicia Rashad!” –What Brad yells when he’s making a shot in basketball

“He said I was a raven-haired beauty and then I said, ‘That’s so raven’ and he laughed..or coughed.” –Claaaaasic Penny

Considering we’re only four episodes in, it’s far too early to dub this the best Happy Endings of the season, but it’s definitely the hardest I’ve laughed at any of them yet. “Secrets and Limos” told a more cohesive story than last week’s still-great Megan Mullally episode and had equal parts humor (Max calling Brad “Miss Daisy,” for one) and heart (the moment between Alex and Dave as they admitted they’ll always have a special bond was downright touching.) Is it echoing many of the urban pal sitcoms out there? Sure. (Heck, Molly was more or less doing what Kal Penn did to the friends on How I Met Your Mother this week.) But it continues to feel more and more fresh every week. In fact, credit must be given to the entire cast, but Elisha Cuthbert in particular this week, for upping the comedy ante. Hey, Happy Endings, you get one of these ::gives an enthusiastic thumbs up::

What did you think of this week’s Happy Endings? Did you enjoy it more than last week’s? Are you having trouble keeping up with the show’s lightning-fast punchlines? Did it feel like they were beginning to lay the groundwork again for a possible Alex and Dave reunion? (They did make eyes at one another in the finale!) Are you a Max or a Penny? Share in the comments below.


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