Understandably, the first two episodes of Blunt Talk focused on main characters Walter Blunt (Patrick Stewart) and his manservant Harry Chandler (Adrian Scarborough), and specifically Walter’s attempt to do something great in his life since he’s been given a second chance. With Blunt Talk’s third episode “All My Relationships End In Pain,” we get a much larger sense of what this show is about, as it does away with the crutch of Stewart doing silly things and embracing the larger cast that has so far been extraneous. As we get another perspective of Blunt Talk, it becomes clear this show is actually about the desire for something more and the minimal steps people take in that direction.
After Blunt’s incident in the pilot, his show seems to be doing fine and his incident led to no misdemeanors, just a suspended license. However, Blunt still has to go to an AA meeting, while also taking his therapist’s mixed advice to live a messy, good life, like Elizabeth Taylor and meet someone. Once Blunt gets to the church filled with meetings, he opts for a sexual addiction meeting, meets someone, then goes back to her house, where they are interrupted by her husband. As he makes his escape with Harry, he mentions that he can’t say he didn’t try to meet someone. Blunt misses the point, and rationalizes his careless actions as a positive step, when really it’s just him reasoning his behaviors in a way that works to not shake up his life.
As Blunt and his entire team leave their office for the weekend, Blunt says to Harry, “I think that it’s best that our roles are defined.” “All My Relationships End In Pain” immediately goes on to do that, showing us the life of his crew outside the show, who all seem to live in a sad, yet hopeful daze. Shelly doesn’t get any story for the weekend, instead we get a larger glimpse of who she is while still at the office. She pitches a genital warts story to Blunt and is immediately shot down. Then, as they leave the offices, she follows everyone driving in their cars in her bike. She’s always in the back, even though she’s desperately trying to get ahead to no avail.?
Martin also gets less of a story, but it seems likely that his weekend will have nothing eventful in it anyways. He takes a ride home with Rosalie and we discover that, much like Blunt and Gisselle did in the pilot, for the last two weeks, Martin has enjoyed the embrace of putting his face in Rosalie’s breasts.
We see that Rosalie and her husband Terry (played by Ed Begley Jr.) have an open marriage. Rosalie shares her experience with Martin, while Martin shares the same experience, once again, of meeting a woman at the Whole Foods salad bar. It seems as if Terry might be losing it and Rosalie kindly listens to her husband discuss this encounter yet again with a smile on her face. For both Martin and Rosalie, there seems to be a desire for more—maybe it’s just sex, maybe it’s more in the way of a relationship, but they almost ache for something that is close, but out of grasp.
“All My Relationships End In Pain” fleshes out two of its biggest caricatures into actual characters, who are even more filled with longing and desire. Celia spends her Friday on a Tinder-like app known as “Bangers & Mash,” where she meets a magician who she immediately meets up with. Even though the magician is likely married, she still brings him back to her place, where they have sex, before he promptly leaves. She has found something more, but only for a few minutes. As she washes her sheets now that he’s gone, it seems like she’s stuck in a loop and that this same behavior might likely continue next weekend, and as long as it works for her, giving her a few minutes of momentary bliss for this week.
Jim is even sadder, who goes from work to a woman’s shoe store, where he purchases a high-heel and returns home. After FaceTiming with his parents and bragging about the big Friday night he has planned, he just lays in bed, longingly looking at the shoe on his nightstand. It’s not clear what he does with the shoe or what he wants it for, but there’s a desire there that isn’t being fulfilled, one that he seems too afraid to embrace.
“All My Relationships End In Pain” is by far the best episode of Blunt Talk so far, by ignoring the broad humor of the first two episodes and embracing the melancholy that has always been there, but slightly hidden. By wearing its heart on its sleeve, Blunt Talk is at its best, and for the first time there’s a sense of excitement in seeing where exactly these characters are heading. As Oscar Wilde said, “we’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Blunt Talk is far better when it ignores the gutter, and shows its characters grasping blindly for the stars.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.