‘Togetherness’ Recap 2×03: Detroit Has a Skyline

Melanie Lynsky and Amanda Peet.

Melanie Lynsky and Amanda Peet. (photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Michelle told Brett the truth about her one-off with David and the truth set Brett free, mainly to run all crazed through the neighborhood playground with Alex on his tail.

When Alex finally catches up with Brett, he’s shell-shocked and can basically only communicate in monosyllabic utterances. Which is fine. Alex knows what to do, which is drive off to the airport and get the fuck out of dodge for a few days.

In this middle-aged Choose Your Own Adventure saga, Brett and Alex show up to the airport and are presented with two options. They can go to Cancun and essentially live out the plot of an ‘80s USA Up All Night sex comedy, ala Private Resort, starring Rob Morrow and Johnny Depp (look it up), or they can go back to their hometown of Detroit and regress back to their teen bromance before their lives were complicated by wives, girlfriends, and well, women as a whole. At this point, we’re all clear on the fact that the real love story binding the series is the one between Alex and Brett, right?

The pair forgo the beach and head back home. However, the Detroit that the two are from isn’t 8 Mile Detroit or the crumbling inner city that the NY Times once called “post-post-apocalyptic.” The Duplass-centric Detroit is all house parties with hipsters and midnight critical mass bike rides. It’s the one that houses all the artists and revered art spaces that fled New York amid that stratospheric rise in the cost of living. Well, that and the upper middle class suburbs populated with auto executives and are home to the kind of brick palaces that Brett grew up in.

While Alex is wheeling a catatonic Brett through an airport, Tina has been left with custody of Michelle, her kids, and Cool Girl Chrystie and her vocal fry. God bless Tina for trying to be a hero and trying to take care of her sister’s kids while Michelle sleeps off the previous night’s trauma and escapes into “that whole other life”  that only being unconscious can provide. That being said, it’s not like Tina isn’t motivated over the glee that she finally gets to take care of her (at least temporarily) more fucked up sister, instead of vice versa, for a change. Still, once again, Tina is threatened by Chrystie and her pied piper effect on children. Unfortunately for Tina, her pride doesn’t allow her to go ahead allow Alex’s girlfriend, who doesn’t seem remotely bothered that he up and abandoned her in the middle of the night, to use her diaper-changing acumen on little Frankie. Fortunately for us, Amanda Peet’s shitty diaper horror face is truly something to behold. That scene where she’s trying to excise a diaper soaked in what looks like all of the ingredients at your local Chipotle belongs on Peet’s Emmy reel.

While playing with the freshly changed Frankie, Chrystie lets it slip that she doesn’t want kids and Tina uses this as a point of contention demanding to know if she’s told Alex this. However, if her movie game strategy has taught us anything, Cool Girl Chrystie isn’t stupid and she turns all this insecure subtext into text and demands that Tina just come at her and say what’s under her skin. Or, in other words, just admit that she’s jealous of their relationship. Chrystie might as well have just thrown water on a grease fire because Tina erupts into a histrionic mess causing Chrystie and her vocal fry to strap on the old backpack and surf on over to the next couch.

Over in Detroit, Brett slowly starts acting like a human being again after napping in his car and eating some of Alex’s pierogies. Still, he can’t quite face his dad yet, even if his dad is Michael Gross of Family Ties-fame. Instead, he’s rather go ironic thrift store shopping with Alex and then roll into the local dive bar looking like Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari’s prom flashback from an old episode of Bosom Buddies. That being said, this is the only time that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have actually made sense in a TV or movie soundtrack. And that’s no small compliment given that the band’s output is the musical equivalent of a herpes sore. It’s doubly effective given that Brett removes his wedding ring to the vocal stylings of serial teen fucker Anthony Kiedis.

The bar has since yuppified, and no one in the watering hole is even remotely charmed by Alex and Brett’s disco getups. It’s okay though, because they run into their sexy, arty friend Kennedy with her bike and her dreadlocks. She takes them to a party in a charmingly decrepit and cavernous Victorian house where she and Brett eye-fuck each other all night, go on a drunkenly romantic bike ride, and then almost fuck in the bathroom before his conscience gets the better of him.

It’s a predictably trope in these lost, middle-aged men adrift tales. We also saw it in the book/movie for Jake Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, where the depressed and adrift man wanders back to his hometown after some relationship discord only to stumble upon a sexually and emotionally available acquaintance who never left town. I wonder how many broken dudes in real life actually end up falling into some comfort vagina after retreating to their hometowns to lick their wounds.

Anyhoo, Brett runs out of the party in a panic, interrupting a call with Alex’s agent in the process. The two finally hash it out over Alex big-timing Brett over the summer and Brett’s insecurities over the fact that he’s on a downswing while Alex’s star is rising. So hey, that’s one relationship on this show that’s repaired.

After Brett and Alex establish that they are back in love, they head back to Brett’s dad’s house before getting caught by Michael Gross while completely destroying the front yard looking for an old time capsule they buried as teens. Brett nobly throws Alex under the bus instead of fessing up that he’s back home because his marriage is in shambles, and his dad probably doesn’t buy it, but does help them find tools so that they can continue destroying his property.

Of course, they ripped up the front yard for absolutely no reason given that the time capsule was in the backyard the whole damn time. They dug it up and sifted through an old, unsmokable roach, some clippings from old skin magazines that make Brett and Alex look like a couple of Richard Specks, and the detailed outline to a puppet show for Dune, kind of like that Dracula puppet show from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The two also find a heartfelt letter they wrote to their future selves as teenagers and bask in its profound glow until Michelle texts begging Brett to come home.

Women, they ruin everything, right?

‘Togetherness’ Recap 2×03: Detroit Has a Skyline