As much as I like Annie and Jake, and even though Marry Me is the story of the next step of their relationship, I still need a break from their cuteness. Much like Dennah and Kay in “Stand By Me” can only take so much of watching Annie and Jake’s strange Eskimo marriage fantasy, sometimes you just have to stay, “Stop for a minute.”
“Stand By Me” focuses on Marry Me’s second strongest relationship: the friendship between Jake and Gil. Ken Marino and John Gemberling just have a great rapport, and their dialogues with each other always keep me laughing. But the core of their plot this week, while it is funny, does have its problems, even though their story’s purpose is to strengthen their relationship.
Annie, Kay and Dennah point out to Jake that Gil is too dependent on his best friend. With dirty clothes and pots all mixed up in his apartment, and saws littered into things he’s tried to fixed, Gil’s life is a mess that he lets Jake fix for him. With this newfound awareness, Jake confronts Gil. While the two have a separation of sorts, Jake is lost without his friend, and Gil is thriving. Even if Gil does make his Instagram account name his social security number, he’s on his way to Eric Stonestreet button down shirts, healthy foods, and assembling IKEA furniture with ease.
This storyline should show that Gil can be independent of Jake, and for the most part it does that, but it’s all sort of betrayed by the episode’s third act, where Gil still calls Jake for help. At the very least, this does show Gil’s newfound ability to call Jake for help, only when he absolutely needs it, but it does feel like he should’ve had one last show of individuality. It’s also never quite clear why Gil and Jake are friends outside of their obsession with each other, which is a larger question for the show—why are these five completely different individuals actually friends?
Surprisingly, the strongest aspect of “Stand By Me” is the focus on Kay and Dennah for the first time. As Annie hangs out with Kay and Dennah, Annie mostly steps back, giving us our first (albeit, very small) actual stories for both Kay and Dennah. We learn that Kay is obsessed with a local butcher, who she keeps falling for (and, so, keeps getting robbed), and Dennah gets mad when Jake tags along to yoga with the ladies, and outshines her. Both of these stories are just small evolutions of the basic elements for what we know about these two—Kay is gay, Dennah is often self-absorbed. But it’s a step forward to at least fleshing out the bare bones of what we know about these two.
“Stand By Me” gives us more of our supporting characters, which is good for Kay and Dennah, although it’s not great for Gil. All in all, it’s a nice diversion from the constant focus on Jake and Annie.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.