Dinner. Aunt Sarah kicks things off by asking "Linda" what she does for a living. She also explains that she got Brenda's name wrong because Nikolai has been plying her with vodka since the moment she arrived. Incidentally, for the remainder of this scene you can just assume that we cut to Ruth looking uncomfortable after every single sentence, unless I specify otherwise. Nate announces that Brenda is "an amazing massage therapist, and she's writing a novel." This interests Claire, who reveals Brenda's connection to Charlotte: Light and Dark, which both David and Sarah have read. Ruth, however, has never even heard of the book, so Claire explains the plot (and her feelings about me) by saying, "It's this book about this girl who's being analyzed, and she's like way smarter than the people who are analyzing her, and so she's constantly fucking with them, and it's hilarious." Aunt Sarah approves. "Well, well, Nate," she drawls. "You continue to be drawn to strong, complex women. Bravo." Now David compliments Ruth on the food, which Mom thinks is a little sour, and Nikolai asks if anyone wants "more wodkuh." Sarah mentions that a lover once told her that "vodka is to Russians what therapy is to Americans," and Brenda finally finds something she feels confident talking about. "Yeah," she interjects. "Something habit-forming and expensive that totally destroys your ability to lead an authentic life." Awkward silence. "Sorry," finishes Brenda. "Both my parents were shrinks." "Ahh," replies Sarah. "And that was very painful for you." Heh. Patricia Clarkson's a pretty good actress when she lays off the heroin. Actually, she was pretty good on the heroin, too, so I guess as long as she stays away from Peter Berg, she'll be fine. Now Sarah changes the subject to Claire, and announces that everyone in the family should take note of the budding artist in their midst. "She needs feedback, even if it's just to learn to ignore it." Shout-out? Sarah also offers to let Claire come stay with her in Topanga Canyon (which, along with the presence of the Little White Sex Dork, makes two separate shout-outs to Boy Meets World in this episode. What's up with that?). Suddenly, there's awkward silence again, complete with Ruth dropping her fork and looking sick. Claire has no idea what's going on, so Nate jumps up to break the tension and make his big announcement. There's much rejoicing when everyone learns about the wedding plans, but Sarah has to spoil it by getting all meta again about my relationship with Lauren. "Here's to romantic love," she toasts, "both the inspiration and the utter folly of it." Ruth looks even more sick than she did before, and Brenda stares at her, believing once again that it's all about herself. Sarah mentions that she never would have pegged "Linda" as the marrying type, and the entire audience nods quickly in agreement. Nate shows off the rings, but Ruth just gets up and walks away, saying she's going to put on some coffee. The third and final round of awkward silence is finally broken when David wistfully asks if there's any more wodkuh.
Andrew McCarthy: Please. There's no way those two are getting married.