I was diligent, last year, in monitoring Grandma Saracen's mental state, because last year literally all I did was worry about Matt Saracen every second, all week long. (How great is it that he's not in constant peril this year?) But anyway, she's really infantilized in this episode, and I don't know if that's a sign of something coming down the pike, or just this particular writer's deal, but MAN is she out of it this week. Matt and Carlotta are both totally solicitous (multiloquous?) with her, all, "I HEAR THERE'S A GREAT SHOW TONIGHT!" and she's like, "LET'S GO FOR A RIDE IN THE CAR!" and "CARLOTTA HELPED ME LEARN TO DANCE!" and "DANCING, MATTHEW? ARE YOU DOING THE WATUSI? ARE YOU WALTER CRONKITE?" And Matt and Carlotta are totally sweet and flirty without even looking at each other as he admits that she helped him learn the dance, and that she's a pretty good choreographer, and Grandma's going to have fun, and the whole time they're being adorable, Grandma's like, "CAN I PET CHECKERS?"
Getting Julie, Tami, Eric, the awful sister I can't stop referring to as Gina even though I first fell in love with her on Boston Public, is quite a thing these days. Especially with Intrepid Reporter Julie Taylor hectoring everybody about how Pantherama is the first social event of ugly old Grace's life, so they should start saving up for therapy right now. "Pantherama is tradition, and tradition is good, Sweetheart. Maybe you could use some of that positive tradition in the work that you're doing with your articles?" Julie rattles off how "Noah says" that you can't have preconceptions about your articles, and Eric's like, "Eff Noah," but Tami catches just a glimpse of the Batsignal in the setting sun and she's like, "Honey? Does everybody call him Noah?" (Tami was involved in Tyra's older man issues last year, right? She knows the signs? I can't remember. I mean, she'll obviously fix this, probably looking crazy in the process, but she's Tami. If you ever have a problem in your life, drive to Tami's house before you hit up Tyra, because Tyra is probably busy with a scheme of some kind.) "Um, that's his name? Noah?" Tami's vaguely like, "Mr. Barnett would be more usual..." in a vague way that tells you this is going to be horrific.* Eric asks, since Julie seems to feel, as usual, that her civil liberties are being impinged upon, that Julie try and get both sides of the story next time. Everybody rolls their eyes and loves him fiercely.
(*You know what, though? This whole episode is about orphans, and this whole season has been about Julie's orphaning. She overdoes it because she's a kid, and because she's Julie -- because she's the over-opinionated, wry child of Tami and Eric Taylor -- but she's not wrong. They fucked her over, and they all three know it. It was unavoidable, and it's mostly over now, but she went absolutely insane to demonstrate this, and even though the narrative would have you believe that a heart-to-heart talk fixed it, she's not done. There's a reason she's doing this now. Tami and Eric both have issues, sometimes, dividing the line between friend and parent. Ultimately they will always make the right call, but it's blurry, because Julie is awesome and you want to be her friend, and she's also totally manipulative, so sometimes it takes a while. Noah Barnett is just Julie's version of the Ferret Guy we'll meet later -- somebody who's enough of a parent that you feel safe, but just young and clueless enough that he'll do what you want, which for Julie right now means making her feel worth being loved. And Tami and Eric did that, and they're going to get screwed by it. This isn't about sex, it's about Julie losing both her parents, and her boyfriend, within weeks, and nobody listening no matter how hard she screamed, so she goes on screaming**.)