Following the mea culpas and misdeeds in last week’s premiere, “Episode 2” finds each of the main characters wanting to start with a clean slate. Trying to clear his DUI charge, Matt consults with his lawyer, who himself would love to be free of his worst client. (“I’d happily trade you for two Mel Gibsons and a Tiger Woods.”) His legal advice: Matt can probably get community service for the DUI, but he’s on his own when it comes to patching things up with Diane.
When Matt goes to Diane’s house to talk, she calls him on his routine of making empty promises, then softens when she reveals she’s getting married to a car dealer named Ollie. Diane seems more willing to forgive Matt’s past now that she has a new future ahead of her, and despite everything that’s happened, she and Matt still have a loving history. (To further reinforce this point, they make spaghetti sauce together, the legally required way to show that two characters in a scene have chemistry.)
At the network, Carol’s team meets with a writer to tell him how much they love his show, then proceed to note him with “a few tone questions”—a line delivered perfectly as always by Daisy Haggard’s permanently sour-faced Myra. Next door, we hear the sounds of actual retooling as Merc’s old office is being redesigned for his incoming replacement, Castor Sotto, who tells Carol he wants her as a partner in his philosophy to take more creative risks. “If we go down in flames, at least there were flames,” he declares. She’s emboldened by his passion—and by the fact that Chris Diamantopoulos has cleaned up quite well since his turn as Moe in The Three Stooges—but tells Beverly she’s steering clear of any romantic involvement this time. Which is good, because Castor turns out to be legitimately insane in a way that makes Merc look like a zen master by comparison.
Sean and Beverly are trying to tell themselves what’s done is done when it comes to their extramarital activities, but it’s clear nothing’s gonna get done between them physically until they’re able to reconnect emotionally. As much as they love each other, neither of them wants to sleep in each other’s bed knowing what’s happened on those pillow-tops. Matt, in his genuine generosity, sends them a new mattress as a gift, and at first they feel a rush of attraction at the prospect of a literally fresh start. But images of those past lovers—conjured first in jest, then in jealousy—quickly kill the mood. They awkwardly decide to turn in for the night, a not-so-subtle metaphor that they’ve each made their bed and now might be resigned only to lie in it.
Stephen Mangan and Tasmin Greig are so good in their scenes, hitting the punchlines on pace without overriding the real heartfelt moments as this marriage tries to find its way back. In the meantime, at least Sean and Beverly still have their hit network sitcom to keep them occupied unless, of course, Castor Sotto decides he wants a clean slate, too.