8.0

Episodes Review: "Episode 8"

(Episode 3.08)

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<i>Episodes</i> Review: "Episode 8"

Any career is based on choices, both the ones you make on your own and the ones that are made for you. This is especially true in show business, where individual futures are constantly at the mercy of casting decisions, bidding wars, chance meetings and the whims of more than a few egos.

When Sean and Bev uprooted their lives to bring Lyman’s Boys to America, their vision quickly spiraled out of their control, leading to the creative and ratings disaster that became Pucks. They never wanted to work with Matt LeBlanc. They dreaded taking network notes. They hated all the trappings of Hollywood life—and hated themselves even more when they succumbed to them.

Now, it’s clear Bev wants to be in charge of her own destiny again, ready to hit the reset button and go back home to England. From her point of view, nothing good has come out of their time in L.A., with the possible exception of her friendship with Carol, a friendship she puts on the line as she adamantly tells Carol to stop pursuing the old script they have floating around. She’s either their friend or a blood-sucking network vampire, Bev challenges. “Fine, I’m your friend,” Carol reluctantly decides. “But I’m not happy about it!”

Matt, meanwhile, thinks fate has handed him the lead role in Andrew Lesley’s new pilot and is offended when NBC wants him to audition. Turns out, all the sway he had at the network back in ’90s means nothing to the new crop of executives now calling the shots. At the same time, one of Matt’s errors in judgment—sleeping with Dawn—comes back to haunt him when she plants a fake story with TMZ that he’s going to rehab, threatening his chances with NBC even further.

Before Matt discovers the real culprit, he’s convinced the call to TMZ came from his father, as retribution for not receiving his monthly check from his famous son. In one of the season’s best scenes, Matt drags Sean and Bev along to his father’s apartment to confront him in a crescendoing farce of false accusations, honest denials and loving dysfunction. No matter how famous you get, your family is your family, full of contradictions and uniquely able to push buttons other people didn’t even know you had. And when you happen to be Matt LeBlanc, the insults take on a whole new personality. (“I wish David Schwimmer was my son!” “So do I!”)

As Sean and Bev stand by helplessly, wondering how in the world they found themselves so deeply involved in Matt’s life, we as viewers realize how much we’ve also been pulled in. Over the course of these three seasons, Episodes has evolved from a show mostly about television to one that’s primarily about these people, against the backdrop of television. This scene, with its tight writing and multiple layers of family and friend dynamics, proves we’d happily watch these characters in any setting, and not just on a studio lot.

With the lights (literally) now out on Pucks, Sean and Bev are surprised by the wave of sadness that hits them, a feeling compounded by seeing how quickly the rest of the cast and crew starts packing up. For Sean and Bev, this was a life-changing experience; for everyone else, it’s just another line on the résumé. And it’s exactly that type of shallow, shiny-object mentality they can’t wait to leave in their wake on the flight back to London. But in a moment of weakness, Carol has given their old script to Castor, who’s so enamored he’s ready to greenlight it directly to series. Sean and Bev think they know exactly where they’re headed, but to paraphrase one of their fellow Brits, their next life might be happening while they’re busy making other plans.

Christine Moore is a freelance writer and pop culture geek based in Atlanta. She blogs about television and comedy at TV Kitchen. Follow her on Twitter.

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