Ed is missing, a fact that only seems to alarm Ali. Josh finally learns the truth about his Dad.
Credit: Beth Dubber/Amazon

Ali’s friend Syd pulled Josh’s covers last weekend so he’s feeling especially desperate for the distraction of company. He hits the club, and within one sip of his drink, he spots a possible love connection. She’s a sexy Asian woman grooving on the dance floor. “You’re not in the music business are you?” he says with appreciation. “Because you actually seem to like music.” The two hit the sack hard, Josh spurred on by the size of her breasts and the fact that she’s a real estate agent. Josh’s motto in life: “I like that. I like desperate.”

New drinking game: Take a shot every time the word “secret” is uttered on this show. A double when folks are promising not to have any. “No more secrets,” Sarah says to Tammy, mid-makeout. They’ve got hot plans to move into the new house (actually old Pfefferman house sick with secrets), and the false but shiny promise of new beginnings has Sarah primed. “Get the dick!” she shouts, only to be waylaid first by a piece of carpet lint (love!) and then by a call from Barb. “It’s co-parent credo,” says Tammy by way of apology before answering the phone. God, I can’t stand Tammy. “She’s executed million dollar properties in Orlando and Vegas,” Sarah later crows to Josh. #1) Executed. #2) Orlando.

Over in Marina del Rey, sweet and doughy Ed is nowhere to be found. Shelly cares, but only because if everyone at her Temple finds out, they’ll gossip about her, unfairly labeling her the “lady who misplaced her husband.” She’d of course stay and help a frantic Ali look for him but she’s got this pressing doctor’s appointment pedicure that she really can’t cancel. So Ali enlists the meatball security guard to help her and another security guard, a butch lesbian named Tiffany, says Ed was last spotted down at the 7-Eleven making a suicide. (She means a smorgasbord fountain soda, but Ed seems just lucid enough to want out of Pfefferman family hell.) In a nice throwaway moment, Ali’s security guard tells the other guard “Thanks, Tiffany, my man.” Gender identity is such an interesting concept on this show, and how it’s shoehorned by rigid ideas of image and presentation plays out not just in the main story line.

Tammy’s ex stepdaughter Bianca—a beautiful biracial girl who needs a break from her Scientologist Mom—is suddenly on the scene. Sarah very smugly comes up with the idea that she could be their summer girl, a cool omnipresent babysitter whose job is to entertain the kids. “We had one when we were younger,” she says glibly. “Rita.” This was Sarah’s worst moment to date—not only is she betraying Josh here, knowing in part at least how significant and sick that relationship was for him, but she’s also putting her kids in a potential Rita’s way. (I know, I know, Bianca seems harmless, and I don’t believe Sarah’s kids are in jeopardy. But in a healthier world the very association should put Sarah off just as it does me.)

Ali summons a resistant Sarah and Josh to help her find Ed, but somehow those two “sociopaths” turn the hunt into a bloody Mary run. Ali, already struck by the pathos of hamstrung lobsters in a tank, a nice enough metaphor for the lot of them, is gagging on the big family secret. She spits out to Josh, despite Sarah’s insistence otherwise, that their Dad now fancies herself a woman. Duplass has a great face that can go from glib to utterly deflated in an instant, and he used it to great effect in this scene. Bloody Marys on a loop for the Pfefferman trio! And good girl Sarah, always a pleaser, gets takeout for Ma.

Shelly, desperate to keep Rabbi Raquel (played with such on-the-surface warmth and decency by the always welcome Kathryn Hahn) distracted from the whereabouts of Ed, is looking to matchmake. “You’re not getting any younger, and then you’re going to be an old rabbi with no children,” she says, by way of pushing her Joshie. When her three kids appear, Shelly is aflutter, not so much because she’s happy to see her children, but because she’s happy to have the Rabbi see her children visiting their beloved mother. “My daughter loves me!” she crows to the room when Sarah presents her with a takeout salad. “Do these people have a way with a wedge!”

And what impossible fractures in the family these Pfeffermans are confronting. Turns out Ma knew about Dad’s identity issues, but preferred to write it as off as his little private kink. And, demands Josh, did she turn an equally blind eye to whatever the adult babysitter was doing to her 15-year-old son? Or was that just some other private kink meant to be kept in the dark? There’s lots of yelling, and a horrified Ali still trying to keep some focus on aphasia-stricken Ed, and poor Rabbi Raquel who just wants to back slowly away from the mess of them. But Josh is on his knees, begging for some outside help. Won’t she help his desperate family?

Meanwhile Maura is making something of a new family for herself at the Shangri-La. As she watched Davina prep her shot of hormones, I was struck by how beautifully Tambor has given himself into the role. Maura looked almost lovely on the sofa, relaxed in her blue jersey knit, her pose at once formal and blowsy. She nabbed one of Davina’s Premarin pills and then of course went on to insist that her breasts were growing and her body was all floaty from the surge of estrogen. At lunch with Davina and Shea, a hot Charlie’s Angels trans woman with—Gary was right, Elizabeth Taylor eyes—Maura gets further schooled in the costly art of transition. Bam, there’s Gary, a married man with a formerly fat wife looking to mack on Shea. Gone is Maura’s lilting voice as she drops two octaves to announce herself to a man with whom Mort used to vacation and play squash.

Secret’s out all over the place. “He’s out there dressing up outside like a woman,” cried Josh, pointing to the fact that his sisters took Dad on a shopping trip to the Beverly Center. “Ew, who goes to the Beverly Center,” said Shelly, in the best line of the night. Then the front door opens and innocent Ed appears. He’s taken himself a little vacation from their melodrama. But he’s back, happy as a clam, with cotton candy and a fantasy caricature of him surfing away from the Pfefferman chaos.

Episode Recaps

This half-hour drama by Jill Soloway follows the lives of the Pfefferman family, where nothing is as it seems.
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