This week's medical plots are so preposterous they're hardly worth mentioning -- especially since this episode is really about who at Oceanside is dating, and who just wishes they were.
Cooper and Charlotte now have an established nighttime dirty-sex routine, but Coop, hoping for a chance to be the "bad cop," steals some papers pertaining to a "parenting course" Charlotte has planned for new-dads-to-be. He talks Pete into helping him offer the course at Oceanside instead. When Charlotte finds out, she punishes Cooper by...continuing to sleep with him. They agree to define their status as "dating," in a limited sense. Meanwhile, the only thing Violet has to do today is fret about how Cooper's not talking to her. She hopes apologizing for thinking that "friends with benefits" could work for them will solve things, but later she guesses that Cooper has a "girlfriend" and insists that he shouldn't hide it from her. If she only knew.
Naomi and Sam are also struggling to determine their status -- Sam wants to keep things private, and Naomi wants an assurance that their second relationship attempt won't be just like the first. Dell enlists Sam's help when he suspects his "Pop-Pop" is being abused at his nursing home. Turns out Pop-Pop and his pal Nate get their bruises from regular boxing matches -- Dell and Sam show up just in time to see Pop-Pop knock Nate out. A heart attack sends Nate to the hospital, where he ultimately dies, prompting Pop-Pop to give a sappy speech about how old age makes you wish you "fought more" in your youth. This resonates with Dell, who declares his love for Naomi, first to Sam and then to Naomi herself (by pinning her against the wall and kissing her, as dictated by Oceanside protocol). Sam, also inspired by Pop-Pop's speech, then kisses Naomi in front of their colleagues, a public gesture that pleases her.
Addy has a follow-up with the newlyweds who couldn’t have sex: Now the sex is fine, but they're hoping to get pregnant, and it turns out hubby is sterile. They first consider sperm donation, but then Naomi and Addison decide they really want to help these people, so they come up with a high-tech fertilization method that I'm guessing was not portrayed entirely accurately. In relationship news, Addison and Pete agree to try being "friends," and then Addy has another chance with Officer Nelson, the cute cop who showed up to support a pregnant police-widow a couple episodes back. He comes to Oceanside for a physical and tries hitting on Dr. Montgomery while he's there. Pete, being "friendly," advises Addison to go for it, so she reports to Officer Nelson's precinct after work. By this time, Pete regrets his helpful advice and goes to Addison's to talk to her (or maybe just make out), but she's not home, and he stands outside, forlorn. Pete really needs some non-work friends.
Tonight's episode was preceded by a showing of the second-tier Rankin Bass holiday special Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and as the end credits roll, the ABC announcer says, rather perversely, "Santa's left behind a brand-new Private Practice, starting now!" Gee, ABC, not even a patronizing "Time to put those kids to bed" warning? I mean, stop-motion holiday specials are disturbing in their own way, but no child should be exposed to the dizzying, sex-filled "Previously on..." sequence we're about to watch. In rapid succession, and in no chronological order, we see: Addison downgrading Pete to "acquaintance"; cute Officer Nelson asking Dr. Montgomery out for a drink; Sam and Naomi getting it on in the conference room as Sam's voice declares their sex "not a sin"; Dell telling Naomi all his hard work is for her; Charlotte and Cooper enjoying their internet-facilitated sex; and finally (and most jarringly), Addison and Pete getting credit, at the end of episode 3, for saving the marriage of those two newlyweds who couldn't manage to have sex on their honeymoon. I think that whole sequence may have obscured more than it clarified.
Now we're on the beach outside Sam's house, where Cooper and Pete have joined him (for reasons unknown) to test a science-fair volcano diorama. I was hoping Sam would turn out to be a diorama-building hobbyist -- maybe he has a really elaborate model train set up in his basement! -- but actually, it's a science project for Maya. I guess Sam is one of those parents who does their kids' work for them. There was a girl in my grade school class whose mom always did her projects. And yes, she won the science fair every year, but did she really learn about why white carnations turn green when you put them in green water? No, she did not. ["Seriously. And making an electromagnet out of a potato is impressive once, not every year." -- Joe R] This particular diorama includes a golf course, built in the shadow of the volcano, which is a wonderful touch. That oblivious little golfer is about to be swept away by lava...well, he would be, if the volcano worked. But it doesn't. Guess Maya won't be winning any prizes after all. Sam tells Pete that he's doing this to make Naomi happy, prompting Pete to point out that this seems contrary to the spirit of divorce. Cooper, ever the gentleman, inquires, "Are you trying to get back in Naomi's pants?" Sam protests (a bit too aggressively) that he is not. Both Pete and Coop order Sam not to sleep with Naomi: "We don't need any more office drama," says Pete, as Cooper nods. To quote Dr. Freedman himself: glass house, stone throwers! Sam thinks they're just jealous of him because of their respective failures to "seal the deal" with Addison and Violet. "I seal the deal," he boasts. Then he remembers to add, "...I'm not sealing Naomi." Cooper dispenses some typical wisdom: "Casual sex with virtual strangers. That's the way to go." His phone rings at that moment, making his point for him. He dashes off to answer it, and Pete and Sam agree that he might be smarter than they are. Guys, there's "intelligence," and then there's "lower standards." Let's not confuse the two. Anyway, Pete and Sam gaze back down into the volcano. We see them through the opening via volcano-cam. It would be appropriate if it erupted in their faces, proving them stupid, but it's probably more symbolically appropriate that it fails to erupt. Even the volcano can't quite seal the deal.