You know how people always say Zoey is the best part of the show? Those people are philistines. However -- and with no disrespect to everybody else -- those people are increasingly right. Of all the characters who have evened out this season (particularly Gloria and Eleanor, who once were so fabulously elemental that some viewers accused them of being hallucinations), Zoey's writing has gotten a lot tighter this season -- accessing the full range of Merritt Wever's talents without going for that creepy cringing thing she did last year -- and making what was already a semi-ensemble cast into a career-making group effort. In fact, the show hangs together overall a lot better than it did last year; certainly moreso than the last few seasons of, say Weeds, where the writers sometimes don't even seem acquainted with one other.
Anyway, this season is really impressing me. It's much better than last season, which was already very enjoyable. So Zoey -- whose deal with God last week apparently includes flirting with Lenny -- is cowed by Sarah's fame, and goes into her own personal spy movie trying to treat her brown recluse bite without admitting her. Jackie has her own reasons for taking over, after overhearing Sarah talking to one of her other girlfriends. Eleanor's well aware, but Jackie -- cheater to cheater -- threatens Sarah with certain death if she hurts her BFF.
A mean old rich patron of All Saints shows up in the ER after fainting, makes fun of Coop's whole deal with cuteness and squirreliness, and dies of a stroke after Coop grabs boobs for the first time this season. Gloria decides that her dying wish was to take a billion dollars out of the Children's Wing budget and put them into Emergency.
Eleanor's girlfriend Sarah hits it off with Grace in a big way, so we get to see what her smile looks like for once. It looks like heartbreaking. Kevin is of course none too impressed, and at the end of the day starts such a row that Jackie -- so exhausted from the usual Eddie shit she might've dumped him again -- must say all kinds of horrible things before running off to a diner for lonely pie. But which one of them is responsible for crummy old Grace? It is a very necessary, very worrisome, very authentic fight.
Kevin's none too happy to have Eleanor and her girlfriend running around the place, shooting silly string and shouting at Fiona for her birthday. She is in weird-little-girl heaven. Finally Jackie takes it all away and sends Fi upstairs to Gracie, yelling at Eleanor to behave. Kevin's in quiet mean mode, tossing all the garbage, and Eleanor stoops so far as to first offer help cleaning and then praise his macaroni and cheese, and when that doesn't do the trick, staring into his mean old eyes begging for like one shred: "The best lunch I've had in weeks?" She doesn't get sad, but she does bounce, and when she's gone Jackie gives him the big eye. "You couldn't be just a little bit nicer?" He says he was; maybe he's not lying. Maybe this is the best he can do, after all.
Grace spins the globe, asking Sarah which countries she's been to: All of them, four times. Still hopped up on birthday freakout, Fiona comes running deliriously through the room, spinning in circles and giggling to herself. Grace is patently in love with Sarah, who gives her a little grin: "Look, if you want to drop out of high school and just travel the world, you'll end up way smarter than all those other stupid kids."
Eleanor giggles, and Gracie informs her that she's only in fifth grade. Sarah can scarcely believe it. Fiona finally gets Grace on her feet, and within a few seconds has punched herself in the nose with her fake arm cast. Chaos, blood running down her face, and Eleanor right in the middle of things, cooing at her and Grace staring.
Jackie overrules Kevin's protests and takes her into the kitchen to clean it up. Eleanor runs upstairs for her kit, and Jackie takes her into the kitchen while Sarah comforts Grace. "Will she have a scar?" Is there anybody that won't?
But isn't that what the cast was about anyway? Putting on the outside what Grace wears on the inside? Fiona loves secrets, depravity, anything dark; Grace just swallows them. Her belly's getting full. Kevin is a false cast on the broken arm that is Eddie; Eddie is a false cast on the broken arm that is Kevin. All so they can look down and say, at the end of the day, "Nothing's really broken."
Kevin watches anxiously as they stitch her lip up. Afterwards, Eleanor thoughtfully labels the drops on her cast: REAL BLOOD. "Marvelous," she says, and Fiona looks at her, still sort of panicky. "You'll show that to all your friends. Because you're not scared at all, are you, darling?"
Kevin's relieved, until Sarah grabs a camera and throws down some reportage. "...And it's been a bloody afternoon here in Queens. But residents seem optimistic that everything will soon return to utter chaos..." Eleanor giggles; Kevin stews. He doesn't hate them for any other reason than he always hates Eleanor: She's better than him. She's Jackie's. She's part of Jackie's better life, and lives the way he never could; she can give Jackie things without thinking twice that he can never give her. Her existence is a condemnation in a way that mere jealousy doesn't cover, and she knows it, and he hates that she knows it, because it makes him small and mean, but he can't help himself. He's a bartender. They even saved his little girl. Grace watches, fussing with her hair, taking on one more person's pain.