Tonight’s episode dealt with flu and cold season. How appropriate, since I write this at what I fear to be the beginning stages of a lengthy -- possibly month-long -- bout of sickness, fever, cramps, ill throat and more ill disposition. In short form: I be illing.
The sick storyline starts with Kenneth. He is wheezing in Lemon’s face. Lemon does not appreciate it, which is perfectly understandable. She has a vacation planned on a French(ish) beach, where people wear dark socks, and she wants to avoid a cold. Stoic Kenneth refuses to go home, and it’s an even more difficult endeavor because it’s not just Kenneth -- the entire crew of The Girlie Show is sick. Jack collars her into Dr. Leo Spaceman’s office, where he is getting a vaccination. I did say Dr. Leo Spaceman in that last sentence. This episode has the gold stamp of approval already, because there has never been an episode involving Dr. Leo Spaceman that was a disappointment. Spaceman and Jack tell lemon that there are only five vaccination shots to go around and that, because she is part of the elite, Liz gets one of them. Lemon, progressive to the end, refuses and makes some reference to Cuba. “What a surprise. You saw the Michael Moore movie,” says Jack. Actually, she saw the trailer that came on before Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Lemon’s decision to forego the flu shot was in the name of equality, but made easier by the fact that she was unable to book a flight to her vacation island. Word spreads about Lemon’s decision, her Norma Rae moment that honored the working person, and soon the entire set is in her corner. Or, if not in her corner, they don’t hate her like they used to. Opportunism, though, comes in short order. Cerie tells Lemon that a flight opened up for her to go to her fantasy island vacation because of people cancelling flights due to the sick bug. The good news comes on the heels of Lemon getting a congratulatory meat plate from a sick set worker. Suddenly, everyone looks like the walking dead to her. Lemon ditches the meat and runs back to Dr. Spaceman’s office to ask for the shot. He demands that she dance for him. She does the wop, the running man and the robot, and he gives her the vaccination.
Now Lemon can’t do enough to avoid her infirmed new fan club around the set. Jack also shares with her that the shot causes a rash on your arm. Lemon runs to wardrobe to put on a jacket that will cover up her rash, but during a “feel better” comedic performance by Tracy and Jenna, two pies are thrown at Lemon. It forces her to take the jacket off in front of the entire set, revealing the nasty rash -- a mark of Cain, at this point, to the underprivileged denied the vaccination. Wow. It’s kind of a dystopian storyline if you view it from the prism of that previous sentence.
Jack! He is still dating Elisa. So we get Salma Hayek for another episode. Great, if you are a fan of attractive women. Not as hot if you don’t devalue comedy. Jack wants to spend more time with Elisa, but she has no time. She works two jobs -- when she isn’t nursing his mother, she is taking care of an old man with no family or friends. Jack convinces her to go see The Lion King on Broadway with him, and they drag along the poor, infirmed old man in his wheelchair. We get a neat little montage of the night’s activities, accompanied by an original song. Elisa has such a good time she agrees to another night out on the town -- just her and Jack, and the old man and his wheelchair. But when Jack picks her up at the old man’s place, the old man’s son shows up at the apartment, on a visit from London. It forces Jack to hide behind a curtain until Elisa can distract the son’s attention away from the living room. Jack tiptoes out, but not before apologizing and explaining his behavior to the old man. He’s lost too many good things because he didn’t make time for them, and Jack refuses to make the same mistake with Elisa. “Elisa the Puerto Rican?” asks the old man. “Wow that really doesn’t sound okay, but yes,” answers Jack. The old man promises to not tell his son about their late-night escapades, but he also makes it clear that the next time they go out he wants to visit the place in New York where he proposed to his wife. “And then, I want to go to a Negro bar.”
Those were the basic storylines, in a nutshell. It was a very good episode. It brought the laughs -- full-throated ones -- unlike last week’s storyline. And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go puke in a hat, put ice cubes on my forehead, and then listen to 15 straight hours of stories about the plane crash. Tootles.
When Lemon arrives to work she asks the crew where they plan on going for vacation next week. "Nowhere. We don't get next week off," is the reply. She sees Kenneth in the hallways and he sneezes in front of her. Lemon is aghast. She has four days until her annual trip to the private beach St. Bartleby and doesn't want to get sick. At the beach, people get served soft-serve ice cream, and they wear dark socks, according to French custom. Cerie approaches and Lemon shows the two of them her new swimsuit, as seen in US Weekly worn by Dame Judi Dench... 's mother. Kenneth assures her he's not sick and has the constitution of an ox. Then he vomits on his desk. "Oh no. I must have ox fever. When did I walk barefoot near an ox?" Lemon runs away, and Cerie chases after her. She tells Lemon that her trip has been cancelled because the hotel was overbooked, but it's the first time Lemon is hearing the news. "I texted you," says Cerie. She looks at her phone. "I forgot to hit send," which she does before she struts away. Can we have more Cerie scenes please? Not necessarily for the comedy
Speaking of... Elisa walks into Jack's office and climbs into his arms. They kiss. She can only stay for a minute before going back to work. "I thought it was your day off?" asks Jack. Elisa has two jobs. When she isn't taking care of Jack's mother, she takes care of an old man with dementia. Jack offers to cook her dinner when she returns to work for his mother, but Elisa can't afford to treat her workspace like it's Jack's house. She also thinks that Jack's mother doesn't like her. Jack reassures her that his mother hates every woman he dates. It's not because... "What do you call yourself?" "A Puerto Rican," says Elisa. "No. I know you can say that but what do I call you?" "A Puerto Rican," again says Elisa. "Wow," responds Jack. "That does not sound right."
Jack is in a room with the inimitable Dr. Leo Spaceman. "Jack I need to ask you to drop your pants." Jack does and Spaceman gives him his flu shot... in the arm. Lemon walks in and Jack asks her advice in dealing with Elisa's busy work schedule. He says the relationship is turning out to be complicated, and Lemon reminds him that he said the same things about C.C. Spaceman gets out his needle to stick Lemon with what we must assume is a non-lethal injection. There are only five more shots available, and Jack asks Liz who else on her staff is deserving of the shot. "You're rationing health care? That's not okay." Jack laughs off her naïve assertion and then welcomes her to the elite class. Lemon pushes back though, invoking her working class roots in White Haven, PA., and her two grandfathers. One dug out the White Haven quarry and the other filled it back in with sludge from the eraser factory. Lemon refuses the shot. It's about fairness, which is worth the risk of falling sick.