Panicking about being a father after Carolyn leaves her job, Palek says he wants out of his marriage; plus, Jamie tries to do without sex, and Katie spends a day alone

Credit: John P. Johnson
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”Tell Me You Love Me” recap: Palek tries to flee

Only one episode left, faithful few! And anyone who’s kept up with the series probably doesn’t expect a tidy, ribbon-topped ending to our couples’ story lines. Still, how will anyone make it out of this show alive? In the penultimate episode, Jamie regressed from her already tiresome state of privileged girls-school narcissism to whiny junior high angst. Palek finally voiced aloud his unhappiness and told Carolyn he wanted to separate. Katie was still clinging to her flannel pajama pants, though now she’s sleeping on the couch. Is there any hope for modern love?

Snoozeville alert: Jamie showed up cross-legged on May’s couch. (This may be wishful thinking, but every now and then when May raises her eyes or a gentle smirk tugs at her lips, I wonder if she is just as bored as the rest of us with her client’s sense of ennui.) Jamie’s confused, mwah!, because it’s such a drag when Nick expresses his feelings for her. ”Usually when a guy tells me he loves me, which happens a lot…” At this point I threw my hands up in disgust and went to check my e-mail, go to the bathroom, and do my annual floss of the right side of my teeth. I made it back to the TV and there she was, still blabbing away. ”I’m afraid to be alone….I’m like this blob who can really f— and there’s no, there’s nothing.” Check, check, check, and check. May, tender dear, suggested Jamie try going it alone then. But our brunette beauty, impervious to such wise words, looked like she would rather keep moaning, in and out of the bedroom.

She did break up with Nick, but then he stuck a butter knife in her back by showing up at her restaurant to flirt with his ex. When Jamie sludged back to the kitchen, she slowly passed her former booty call, the dark-haired chef who had her slammed against a cutting station a few episodes ago, and then eyed various other men she could wrap her socks around. Later she met up for drinks with Mason, who insisted on talking about how she rolls, y’all. I feel like at this point the best revenge for us viewers would be to sic Dave’s Office Space buddy on Jamie and see how she likes it when he fixes her toilet, if you know what I mean. Wait, what do I mean?

In the land of adults, Carolyn’s scary boss called DEFCON 4 on a case and told Carolyn she needed results by tomorrow. Carolyn, as hard and impenetrable at work as at home, said she needed more time. Tough noogs, her boss said. You don’t have more time. So Carolyn upped and quit, which all was a nice metaphor for Palek’s own spiral down the drain of his marriage. I tend to reserve most of my praise for the acting chops of Sonya Walger, Ally Walker, and Tim DeKay. But Adam Scott’s panic attack, upon receiving news that his house, like his relationship, was sick with mold, was a wonder to behold. If Walger can cry on demand, as she did in stunning fashion when Palek announced his wish to separate, Scott can sweat on cue. During Palek’s meltdown, Scott choked back vomit and tried to shake free from his limbs, and sweat creeped around his hairline. He looked terrible, and that physical breakdown said more than any scene with a shopgirl ever could.

Earlier in the doctor’s office, Emily Valentine showed the unhappy couple their baby’s heartbeat. After Palek tried to assure himself that there was a lot of time before their little rice grain burst forth into the world, Carolyn promised him that she would get them through the pregnancy. She picked up an unlikely ally in Palek’s mother. The Linda Evans look-alike was brilliantly bemoaning what she called a rudeness movement — ”people tell each other what they they want and need and feel” — when Palek spat out that Carolyn was pregnant. Mrs. Palek cooed and oozed, draping herself around her previously dismissed daughter-in-law. This lady’s a total cuckoo clock, and I say send her to square off with May next season, but I couldn’t help cheering that someone was finally congratulating Carolyn. That spider hug from Palek’s mother was the only comfort coming her way this episode.

At May’s office, Carolyn sniped about Palek letting her down when she needed him most. Then, in another terrific scene by Scott, Palek quietly, breathlessly told Carolyn he didn’t have it in him to be a father to this child. The whole time, looking at May with a desperate plea for mercy and support, he sounded terrified that his wife would swing a bear claw at him. Instead Carolyn let out a tragic sob of disbelief. May, go hug her and invite her over for some of Arthur’s curry. Our girl needs healing!

NEXT: Katie feels pretty

Katie needs some more of May’s magic too, which is why it was such a shame that she opted to hit the mall instead of making her therapy appointment. Reeling from news of Rita and Dan’s divorce, she was a mess this episode. First she tried to convince Rita it was all her hormones talking, then she pronounced the word ”huge” as ”yooge,” then she seemed to worry that Dave didn’t want a baby so he could be free to bail like Rita, then she applied for a graphic- design job, then she got her eyelids painted blue. It was interesting when the counter girl put some Love Crush blush on Katie’s cheeks. She positively, girlishly bloomed under the woman’s careful gaze, as if someone for the first time in a long while was actually looking at her and liking what she saw. Promise me none of you will suggest on the message boards that Katie is a lesbian or that Dave, because of his embarrassed admission to May that one day he woke up and no longer wanted his wife in the same way, is going to be cruising the gay bars in the finale. As May said, ”Sometimes there’s no passion left when the space is so small you can’t reach across it.” She’s good!

Dave seemed broken by episode’s end, tired of stepping into landmines Katie doesn’t even know she sets and beaten down by his earnest attempts to do what’s right and be a good husband. What’s going to get these two in the sack? A couple glasses of wine aren’t going to cut it. But if and when they do get it on, they should use protection. Another baby will only back-burner their bed dread.

But what did you all think? How soon before Jamie drops her drawers again? This one’s tough: If forced to choose, would you rather be in a relationship with Jamie or Mason? Is Palek bluffing? Is one episode really enough time for Katie and Dave to cross their great divide, or will they have to wait until next season for sex?

Episode Recaps

Tell Me You Love Me

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