And now we deal with the aftermath
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

Remember last week when Michelle told Brett that she cheated on him and he barfed all over her? This is something I’ve thought more and more about over the last week or so — that kind of emotional shock that is so intense it literally explodes out of you. And this episode is all about how people deal with their pain. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes it has to take place in Detroit.

Our main foursome splits into pairs and not the way we usually think of them (Brett and Michelle; Alex and Tina) but as how they began: Sisters and best friends.

Let’s start with the gentlemen. After the barfing incident Alex chases down Brett, who is acting more wild animal than man. But that is just the first stage. The next is Zombie Brett. Alex drives him around while Brett says things like, ‘I want to die.’ Alex looks worried and asks whether they should head back to LA or what. Brett is in the awful zone where you can’t actually handle being inside your own skin. He wants to be gone. Alex has a thought: He takes him to a (suspiciously relaxed and uncrowded LAX ) airport. “We can go to the beach or go home,” he tells Brett. And then the next thing you know, Alex makes an executive decision and buys them both tickets to Detroit at $952 a seat. Good lord. Also, it’s funny when you start talking about your hometown as home again, right? He wheels a barely conscious Brett to the gate just as it’s closing.

They’re separated on the plane — both in middle seats (now there’s some realism) — and meet up outside the airplane bathroom where Alex clearly was hanging around to make sure Brett didn’t try to flush himself to death or something. Then they hug, and it’s very sweet. Oh, boys.

They drive around Detroit (which this whole episode kind of puts in the most terrific light!) and pull up to Brett’s parents’ house, where his dad — it’s Family Ties‘ Michael Gross! — is taking out the trash. Brett hides because he can’t face him. He suddenly realizes he’s back where he grew up. Alex suggests hot food, his own house, and then finally what happens: for Brett to run it out, which he does, pushing, trying to still his hampster-wheel brain. Alex drives alongside him, with the worried look of a devoted Collie. (I mean this in the best way.)

They eat pierogi and talk about the path not taken — in this case living in cool lofts in Detroit. They decide they must go to The Bronx Bar (which does look kind of fun, actually) but that they need clothes for the adventure. This leads us to a fun dress up romcom-like montage at a thrift store where Brett seems to perk up at the sight of Hawaiian shirts and fanny packs.

They enter the bar looking like a couple of loons, in promwear from the early ’80s. The time slows down as they do their cool walk in to Red Hot Chili Peppers, but it turns out this is just a normal bar with normal-looking people and Hootie and the Blowfish is what’s actually playing. Isn’t that just always the way.

NEXT: Hometown flashbacks

Outside a very cool girl who knows them from back in the day comes strolling up. Her name is Kennedy. But of course it is, every town has a Kennedy. (She is played to perfection by Hilarie Burton.) She invites them to a party in a beautiful old house, and Brett and Alex get a little glimpse of what that life in Detroit could have been like. For Brett, it’s flirting hard with hot Kennedy. They play ping-pong and flirt and play and flirt, and it’s fun, and he’s having fun, and it’s like being in your 20s when there’s no cheating wives or soul-crushing responsibilities.

Alex watches this all unfold. His eyes narrow a bit when Kennedy whisks Brett away onto a bicycle where they are suddenly joined by a massive amount of other cyclists for what I have now learned is called Slow Roll. It’s magical, and I think about moving to Detroit. Kennedy does not slow her roll, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. When they return to the house she pushes into a bathroom and pees in front of Brett (only a girl like Kennedy can get away with such behavior) and then when it’s his turn she sneaks up behind him and before you know it they’re making out. But things get weird when he tells her he’s married, and then he runs down the steps looking for Alex.

Alex is on the phone with, apparently, people from the TV show and he’s trying to juggle his schedule. Brett isn’t having it and basically they have the fight they should have had back in New Orleans: Brett is pissed that Alex never took his calls. Usually I’m on Brett’s side, but at this moment not so much considering how much Alex has done to try to save Brett in his hour of need. Anyway. They work it out pretty quickly and hug and suddenly remember the time capsule they buried.

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They head to Brett’s house and start digging, waking up Michael Gross who couldn’t give less of a fig as to what they are up to but points them to the right tools in the garage. They find it and inside are awesome things that make sense like Phish bootleg tapes and pictures of disembodied boobs. They also find a notebook on a project they worked intently on, Dune the Puppet Show (read: nerds), and remember how young and idealistic they once were. Then, there’s the letter to them from their younger selves which is, of course, devastating because it’s very idealistic (and bossy) about not turning into mediocre adults and Brett can barely get through it without crying. That’s when Michelle texts him: Please come home.

NEXT: Tina learns just how hard Michelle’s life can be

Back in L.A., Tina is literally trying to clean up the mess. “Did he eat vomit and vomit up the vomit?” Michelle, meanwhile is in tatters in a chair. They later crawl in to bed together and, like her husband now somewhere en route to Detroit, Michelle can’t sleep. Tina offers her a Valium and strokes her hair and then points out that she can be motherly it’s only that no one ever asks. Hmmm. Tina is excited to be the totally together one and for Michelle to be the mess for a change. This dynamic between sisters is as real as anything else on this show — we all have our assigned roles and it’s great to break free of them every once in a while. Of course, Michelle does point out that it was only hours earlier that Tina drove into a tree. Hairs, splitting.

In the morning Sophie comes screaming in hot and Tina tries her best to deal with that. Then she realizes that Sophie needs to get to school and Frankie, the baby, is crying because he’s apparently in real need for a diaper change. Tina is panicking when she hears a throaty voice say she knows how to change a diaper. Yay, it’s Christy! Tina is not as overjoyed as I am to see her. Christy is eating chips, which is awesome, and Tina gets territorial about the diaper and then does it herself though she ends up crying almost as much as the baby.

Christy talks about why she never wants to have children — she did enough raising of kids with her siblings, apparently. Tina is shocked and asks if Alex knows that Christy doesn’t want kids. This leads to Christy finally getting riled up by Tina and taking a shot that all this tension is obviously because Alex once rejected her. Tina laughs in her face. Christy doesn’t want to play anymore — and to any men reading this recap, yes, women are indeed quite sensitive on the topic of whether or not to have kids. Christy lobs an easy barb about Tina being too old to have a kid, and has a great exit line that Alex told her to help Tina because Tina is so bad with kids. Ka-pow.

Later she flops into bed with Michelle and tells her sincerely she doesn’t know how Michelle can do it. “No wonder you went crazy.” She tells Michelle that she’s heard from Alex and the boys are in Detroit. Michelle grabs her baby and looks sadly out the window. Ugh, this is hard.

Episode Recaps

The Duplass brothers take their talents to HBO, where their sitcom explores the lives of four adults under one roof. Think of it as Girls for the middle-aged.
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