Trina's high school sweetheart, Luke, happens to be in town. He's still carrying an obvious torch for Trina, which makes Tom both worried and jealous. And when a bad weather system strands Tom in San Francisco overnight, he only gets more worried about Trina and Luke, which drives him right into the arms of sultry blonde stewardess Bobbi. And when Tom comes home to find a dripping-wet Luke standing in the rumpus room… well, let's just say insecurity isn't a good look on him. Not even the mustache can compensate. Although Tom, Trina and Luke end up in a three-way, Tom ducks out because he's jealous of the shared history Trina and Luke have. Trina coaxes him back in. So to speak.
Meanwhile, the Millers' marriage continues to fissue. This time, Bruce has volunteered Susan for the Ladies' Auxiliary, a charity run by his boss's wife. Susan resents that Bruce didn't consult her on how best to use her time, and when she's later asked to join the organization full-time, she decides that Bruce's career can do fine without her involvement and balks at the invite. Later in the bathroom, she has a chat with Bruce's colleague Melinda, who explains the hazards of her job with, "Sure, I lie a little every now and then, but I'm still being true to myself. I know exactly who I am." This inspires Susan to call Bruce on his jerkitude; she also does a little lying of her own and joins the Auxiliary.
Another husband who's having a bad go of it: Roger. He finally gets the nerve to ask for a raise at the insurance-sales job that he haaaaaaaates, and instead, he finds out that it's layoff day and he's being let go. And then, he's so dazzled by Janet's attending-the-benefit get-up, he lies to her about getting fired, so she thinks he got a raise. When she gets to the charity benefit later, she's asked to join the Ladies' Auxiliary, so her night's only getting better. And when Tom twirls her out onto the dance floor -- never has it been so good to be Janet Thompson. Roger just sits and watches her glow.
Meanwhile, in The Children, Won't Someone Think of the Children?, the writers have sensibly packed BJ and Ricky off to "camp" for two weeks, so we don't see them at all. Laurie has a rocky final exam in her philosophy class -- it's an oral exam, and she doesn't follow the assignment to apply unfettered self-expression to her own life. She goes back to the classroom later that evening and blurts out to Teacher Doug that if she had really gone by the "honest expression" criteria, she would have told the whole class she was hot for teacher. Doug's all, "Then how fortunate for us both that class is over." And at last, there is lengthy liplock.
Line of the night: "This one's a bit of a mad scientist, isn't she?" -- Drunken Rita Pierce, to Susan, regarding Janet's miracle stain-removing powers.
Runner-up: "Your 'authentic self'? Honey, I have no idea what that is." -- Bruce, unwittingly uttering to Susan what might turn out to be exhibit A in the 1979 case Miller vs. Miller.
MVP of the night: Grant Show, who does a fabulous job of finally showing the cracks in Tom's cool façade.
This episode opens with a plane landing, in a shot that is clearly intended to be an homage to all those movie sequences where a train goes into a tunnel and everyone in the office muses, "Ahhh. That means they did it." Oh, Swingtown, the lengths you'll go to in order to prevent anyone in America from thinking this show is about the Steve Miller Band, playground politics, or Gap khakis commercials from 1996.
Ahem. We're five seconds in. Perhaps I should move along. Trina and Tom are waiting in a cocktail lounge, presumably before Tom has to fly back to Tokyo, and they're playing the game "Let's see if I can guess who my spouse wants to nail." There's a time limit and everything.
Back at the Millers' place, Bruce surprises Susan with flowers, and she asks if he had a good day at work. He dryly replies, "Yeah, the market rallied a bit. Looks like we can keep the house for another week." Susan's pleased, as it'll take her at least that long to choose the wallpaper for the living room. I don't suppose "no wallpaper" is an option, as this is 1976, not 1996, when Susan would have painted the whole room beige, gotten two overstuffed sofas from Pottery Barn, and called it a day.
We return to the Deckers' game. Tom's trying to pick out whom Trina would nail, and as the clock is winding down, he finds the guy -- tall, blond, wandering about aimlessly because J. Crew's not going to be founded for another seven years and he's got a lot of time to fill between now and 1983. As it turns out Trina knows the guy. His name is Luke, and boy, is he glad to see her -- Luke picks her up and twirls her around. We cut to Tom, who suddenly looks ten years older and a whole lot less pleased about his uncanny ability to figure out who Trina would like to sleep with.
Bruce is unaware that his mancrush is hurting. He tells Susan that he's been thinking about what she said the other night, and he's figured out a way for Susan to get more involved in the world. By taking college classes? Joining the board of a local civic organization? Getting a job now that both kids are in their teens and can actually help clean the house and make meals? No, of course not! Steve suggests the Children's Hospital Ladies' Auxiliary, one of those ladies-who-lunch organizations that just happens to be headed up by his boss's wife. Susan's now on the planning committee for a benefit scheduled to happen that weekend. Instead of stabbing Bruce with her kitchen scissors for the presumptive way in which he's now managed her time, Susan stammers, "That's ... sweet? Kind of." Bruce tells her there's a lunch at the country club tomorrow, and Susan immediately nixes that: "I can't. BJ's scout camp starts tomorrow, and once the boys are on the bus, Janet and I have our traditional lunch downtown at Berghoff's." Bruce demonstrates how dedicated he is to this distaff networking with, "Bring Janet along. Here's the thing: all the company wives will be there, pitching in --" Oh, that was the wrong thing to say to Susan. She asks, "Is this about expanding my horizons or making you look good to the boss?" "Two birds with one stone," Steve replies. Susan grudgingly assents. I can see why she's torqued at Steve's presumption, but I'd think that she'd be used to being a company wife by this point.