This review contains spoilers from episode six of You’re the Worst Season Three.
If this week’s You’re the Worst in fact features “The Last Sunday Funday,” at least Jimmy, Gretchen, Lindsay, and Edgar saw it out in style. The speakeasy scavenger hunt—a sort of alt-L.A. acid trip that finds the gang paying $42 for two rye Manhattans at a bar secreted away behind the back wall of a jail cell—turns out to be just the absurdist trick to bring the series’ main quartet together again after the sublime “Twenty-Two,” in part because its serious moments are so unexpected. In this, “The Last Sunday Funday” might be seen as creator Stephen Falk’s mission statement, a gleefully misanthropic half-hour crackling with hard-earned emotion. As Sam explains of the old-fashioned rag from that black-and-white photograph, the song suddenly “switches into a minor key,” much like You’re the Worst itself.
Fearing that Sunday Funday is “played out,” Gretchen (re-) introduces the search for the hidden bar in an attempt to liven up the proceedings, brittle with Lindsay’s desire to avoid Paul and Edgar’s frayed nerves, and though the characters are soon swept up in the quest, the episode sustains a certain jangled tension. Gretchen, the “bad friend bitch,” doesn’t help matters by leveling an accusation at Lindsay that might well apply to herself: “I am sick of listening to you complain about stuff and not do shit about it.” It’s a reprise of the second episode’s interest in avoidance strategies, and that seems to be the point—Sunday Funday is meant as a distraction from life’s unwelcome responsibilities, and against depression, death, PTSD, and marital suffocation, it’s no longer doing its job.
With Lindsay’s hilarious question (“Do we decimal?”), “The Last Sunday Funday” is off to the races, but for all its preposterous details—library porn, pay phones, lost briefcases, home invasions, you name it—the episode never pretends that the characters’ challenges have been wholly erased. Edgar startles at the sound of broken glass; Lindsay worries she’ll have to “Gone Girl” herself to get away from Paul; Gretchen comes to understand that excitement can’t be adulthood’s sole measure: The day’s inexorable momentum is broken, again and again, by the realization that there is no “Happy Toes” without “Sad Toes,” too—the delicate balance with which the series grapples. If “everywhere you go, there you are,” then even the most delirious distraction is bound to be unsuccessful.
“The Last Sunday Funday” is thus punctuated with Edgar’s “immersion therapy”—the “boop” at the “end of the thing,” to use Lindsay’s riotous terms for “period” and “sentence”—a questionable self-prescription that nonetheless originates from within. Stoned from Sam’s weed and unfazed by the Chinatown firecrackers, Edgar recognizes that it’s time to heed his own advice: “Why not just try the thing you’re most afraid of?” The sight of him in the rubble of that derelict lot, as if it were a bombed-out building, assumes surprising weight in light of “Twenty-Two,” and Falk frames his figure in gorgeous shrouds of smoke and phosphorescent streaks of color. He surely isn’t cured—that’d be too cheap for a series that takes on mental illness with such commitment—but he is the beneficiary of the support he’s been missing. His friends are there by his side, smiling.
If Lindsay’s request for an open marriage seems likely to do more harm than good, given Paul’s wilted assent to the question, her and Edgar’s decision to exert control calls to mind a line from earlier in the episode. After discovering photographs of themselves in the frightened businessman’s briefcase, the group tries to understand the clue, and in retrospect Edgar’s explanation is itself a mission statement. “The Last Sunday Funday” acknowledges that the real pursuit in You’re the Worst is personal, turning inward for solutions despite the discomfort of doing so. “We’re the bar,” he says. “The bar is inside us.”