... Genuine distress on Rebecca's part? Or a manipulative attempt to bond Justin to her by using him to drive the wedge of this secret into the family? I'll get more into it later, but it seems like it's both. I think she doesn't know how to treat people, because she doesn't know how to trust them to treat her -- she thinks relationships are founded on deception, and on leveraging ugly information, because this is what she probably grew up observing. She's not evil; she's just really angry that she got gypped out of a conventional, loving family, and she doesn't get that handling people you want to love you like they're marks in a con is not the way to go about things. Yeah, she acted a bitch and has way more agency in the sitch than she's admitting to. She's also young and furious and could really benefit from therapy.
Moving on! ... Oh, terrific. Coyote's back. And by "terrific" I mean "pass the earplugs." Nora comes into his office with a grade-change form, saying she thinks a mistake was made. Coyote, gleefully: "You failed!" Okay, he's annoying, but that line delivery was great. An unamused Nora reminds him of all the gooshy compliments he paid her writing, and he glibs in response that he stands by them, but the course had an attendance requirement, which she allegedly didn't meet. She's like, "Um, it was one class, and I had a cold," which prompts a pretentious list from Coyote of all the famous writers who suffered from far more serious ailments. Shut up, Coyote. Flannery O'Connor might have had TB but she'd still have buried a foot in your ass for trying to pull grade blackmail like this. Nora's like, "Really? You're that anal?" and he "generously" suggests a "make-up session" to save her grade -- in dinner-date form. Nora is grossed out, but not nearly as much as she should be; she accuses him of sexual harassment and "extortion," but she's half-smiling, and then she agrees to go, which is the ick, and also kind of out of character. Come on, Nora, jeez. Sally Field does rock her next line, though: "But I won't get dressed up? And I won't have a good time." Nobody will; this subplot bites. Coyote, arms folded, smiles victoriously. Nora informs him, still half-smiling, that she expects an A afterwards. "The class is pass/fail, Nora." "I expect. An A."
Robert is crabbing to Kitty as they leave a fundraising venue; the event started late, he wasn't prepped properly, the sea-bass entrÃ©e is an endangered species and made his environmental platform look hypocritical (there's a reference here to the fact that he's the only Republican who cares about the environment, and yes, he's a Republican, but he's the good kind, the Sorkin-y kind, we GET IT), et cetera. Anyway, Gary agrees to "talk to" the staff, and Robert calls Steve, the speech writer from the previouslies, over and asks for the new draft of a speech. Steve stammers that Robert only asked for said draft an hour ago and it's not done yet, and when he starts to pitch the substance of the changes he'll be making, Robert bites his head off for resorting to clichÃ©s about hope, at which point Kitty interrupts to tell Robert to "walk away" and calm down. Robert stalks off. Kitty has a bit of stage business about "where are the cars" to take them back to L.A., then tries to smooth things over with Steve, explaining that it's been "a really bad day" and that Robert's gone from a politician to a full-time fund-raiser. Steve's not mollified, and when Kitty asks him to understand that this is just "how it is," Steve goes on a rant about how he postponed law school to work on Robert's campaign because he believed in Robert as a candidate, and he felt honored to join the staff. Kitty refrains from telling Steve what I probably would have, that a presidential race is a sweet feather in the old rÃ©sumÃ© cap but perhaps not the place to look for a nurturing mentor; she merely says that Robert does appreciate Steve's efforts, he's told Kitty so "a hundred times." Steve asks why, then, he feels "so beat up" every time he shows Robert his work. Because he's running for president, Steverino, not sensei-ing you in your prose career. Toughen up. Kitty looks sorry for him, though, and tells him not to worry about it -- he should take the helicopter back to L.A. and turn the speech in in the morning. "He's expecting it tonight," Steve sighs, but Kitty says she'll handle Robert. The cars pull up, and Robert reappears, asking where the chopper is, but she announces with eyes narrowed that he's "on the verge of alienating [his] entire staff -- including [her]," so she's taking him to the ranch to relax him. Again, expecting a happy, zen work environment on a political campaign is not realistic, and Robert's displeasure wasn't unreasonable, but this is the McGuffin we've been dealt, so let's play it. Robert regards Kitty with a slightly arched brow and calls her bossy. She's all, "Yeah, well." He's all, "I like it. What about the speech?" She gave Steve the night off too, she says, and orders Robert into the car.
Justin lets himself in at Joe and Sarah's, where Joe is tidying up the living room. He gets right to the point: "I know what happened with you and Rebecca." Joe deer-in-the-headlightses. Justin adds, "That you kissed her." Joe's classy trying-to-buy-time response is, "That's what she told you?" Justin, arms folded, glares as Joe tries to explain that "there's more to it" than that, but Justin doesn't want the details. Joe admits that it was a mistake. Justin wants to know if Joe is going to tell Sarah; he hadn't planned to, no. Justin offers a homily about how he's an addict, so lying is "second nature to" him, but it's selfish, and people get hurt. I see what he's saying, I guess, but it's not exactly comparable; he's projecting a little here, I think, in a situation he's 1) better off staying out of anyway, and 2) in which he may be getting played in the second place, and also, I'm reminded -- as I often am by "cheating: to tell or not" subplots on TV -- of Toni Pavone telling Felicity that sometimes kindness is more important than honesty. Justin goes on to say that it takes time -- a year, two years, 20 years in his father's case -- but the truth always comes out in the end. "I'm not your dad," Joe says, which I think is a good point under the circumstances, although Joe maybe doesn't have the right to make it right now. Justin snaps, "Then prove it." Tell Sarah the truth, Justin says, and do what William couldn't. "And if I don't," Joe says flatly, looking to the side. "Then I will," Justin says. Joe meets his eyes and looks sad. Nice work by John Pyper-Ferguson there. He's somewhat 2D at times on the show, which is possibly a function of the writing, but he's in the zone this whole episode.