If this Mistresses recap were a game of Family Feud, and I took on the role of Steve Harvey, the gameplay might go a little something like this: “Name the five most unexpected combinations from the Season 3 premiere.”
“Karen and the wonderful world of millinery!” [You’re in luck; that’s No. 5!]
“April and that Florida swamp skank who made a baby with April’s presumed-dead-but-actually-missing-but-now-actually-dead-husband!” [Ding-ding-ding!]
“The therapist chick who once bedded her dying, married patient — and then, later, his son — replacing Sunday mimosas with Sunday services!” [Well, duh.]
“Couture dresses and so much freakin’ sand!” [“Survey says!”]
“Two full hours and not one of our four main characters fillin’ the tub up halfway then ridin’ it with their surfborts?” [The judges still don’t really know what they means, but they think that Beyoncé lyric is about some type of sex, and therefore will accept the answer.]
OK, OK, this game-show tangent has probably gone on too long — you: “Probably?!” — so let me make amends by attempting to sum up the action from “Gone Girl”/”I’ll Be Watching You” in a single paragraph. It won’t be easy, but here goes:
Savi gone. Savi GONE — she spotted sister Joss’ foreplay-on-the-beach with her ex-hubby Harry — and fled to Europe, limiting communication with her closest friends to terse, enigmatic postcards, and with Joss to a single “you’re dead to me, skank*” text. Little sis is reeling from the guilt — but finally ‘fesses up to Scott, who was too distracted by Grandma June’s stoke/death to notice the sand stains and Aussie hand prints all over his bride’s wedding gown. Scott punches Harry. Joss tells Harry she wants him — but not right now, not like this. (Good thing he gets a win at work.) April invites Lucy’s half-brother by her ne’er-do-well ex (and the little tot’s maternal uncle) to live with ’em. (Still cheaper than outfitting the dude’s trailer with furnishings from Maison Sur Mer, I suppose.) Karen’s gruff-but-sorta-hot doctor covets her rare blood type —which might be his dying saintly wife’s last chance at survival. And then there’s the new character Calista (Blue Bloods‘ Jennifer Esposito), a caftan-loving fashion-designer icon who seems like a fun, albeit possibly insane new buddy for Joss — until the episode closes with her sidling up to Harry at his restaurant’s bar with a martini, a fedora and an expression that makes me think maybe (just maybe) there are two or three boiled bunnies in her past. (*I recap, therefore I paraphrase.)
Oh, darn, I forgot to mention KAREN’S 20-GALLONS-OF-CRAZY HAT. Gurrrrllll, you’re going to the local Episcopal church, not the Kentucky Derby! Clearly, I’m gonna need a few more paragraphs here, so let’s run down what happened with each of our main ladies — while posing key questions about their decisions and behaviors.
JOSS | So like I mentioned, Joss can’t quite break the news of her change of heart to Scott (much to Harry’s consternation) — even though Scott’s mom is giving her the death stare for holding up the wedding (and, as she sees it, increasing Grandma June’s stroke risk). Finally, at the sweet old lady’s post-funeral lunch, she ‘fesses up — and Scott’s response is as swift as it is severe. He kicks her out of his place and takes back the Tesla, too. (Fair enough!)
The bigger fallout, though, comes when Joss texts Savi to find out where she disappeared to after the cancelled nuptials. And Savi sums up her rage in six simple words: “You are no longer my sister.” I get that — falling for your sibling’s ex-spouse breaks every kind of code (unless you’re a high-priced thoroughbred at a breeding farm, maybe), but the lack of conversation is troubling. Joss’s sleuthing to locate her estranged sis takes us through ghosts of Savi’s tornado-like path — jilted Dom, that guy Zach whose name Joss can’t even remember (LOL). Harry, for his part, doesn’t think Savi has a right to still claim him as hers in any way. But when Joss tears up and says she just “did what felt right in the moment” — that she hadn’t considered the consequences — he wonders, “Does it still feel right in the moment?” And it’s actually a really poignant moment for the meet-inappropriate couple. Joss’ response — “this really can’t be how our story begins” — is that she wants to be with him, but she needs time, and I think that’s fair, too. I mean, can you fall truly madly deeply when you’re also slipping into a chasm of regret and remorse over the self-induced detonation of your entire family structure?
Jobless, sisterless, homeless and carless, Joss moves in with Karen, composes a 27-page apology email — Karen’s bit about Joss grinding Harry “in your wedding dress while [Savi] held your bouquet” is the of the premiere’s peak of both comedy and truthiness — but ultimately, despite some serious sleuthing, the gone girl of “Gone Girl” is totally gone. Will Joss call in her crazy mom? Will her guilt eventually turn to resentment/anger over Savi’s freeze-out? (I could see that happening.) And is it crazy for her to give up Harry when she’s already lost Savi, too?
APRIL | On Karen’s (actually solid) advice, April tells Lucy everything about her presumed-dead daddy Paul — whose body washed up on the news in the Season 2 finale. Lucy, though, won’t forgive the lying and the isolation from family, and so April calls in Paul’s ex-mistress Miranda, her brother Mark and Lucy’s half-brother Scotty for a visit. Before you can say “insurance scam,” Miranda is headed to work on a cruise ship, leaving Mark and Scotty to stay near Los Angeles — in their motor home. Predictably, Mark’s inexperience at full-time parenting and freewheeling lifestyle put a strain on the little boy, but after a brief period of heavy judgment, April offers an olive branch — “What do you say I help you? Not criticize and control — actually help you?” — and her guest rooms to Mark and Scotty. This zinger pretty much sums it up: “I seem to have adopted a third child in the form of a migrating, 32-year-old man.” But at what point is April going to take away all of Lucy’s screen time to get the tween to stop being so doggone disrespectful? Mother can giveth 1,000-thread-count sheets, and mother can replace them with burlap, kiddo!
KAREN | Karen, who somehow isn’t in jail and still has her license to practice therapy despite (run-on phrase alert) sleeping with a patient (and his son) and then seeing said patient’s wife land in jail for shooting said son while trying to actually shoot Karen — gets downright indignant when her doctor profiles her blood and discovers she’s a match for his dying wife. In Karen’s defense, the dude is the opposite of apologetic, and even borders on threatening when Karen doesn’t immediately squeal “Sure! I’ll let you tap my marrow!” Karen, though, also thinks maybe her chance to help Vivian could be a part of “God’s plan” — though I’m sure God is like, “Karen, girl, put down the wine glass, move to a remote village in Montana and swear off all romantic relationships, K?” When she gets Joss postcard – “Alive. Fine. In Italy. Don’t tell Joss.” — she’s hurt, and tells her new gravely ill pal that she’s scared that without Savi, April and Joss will grow distant. To which I say, “Karen — if they didn’t drop you after the Elizabeth Grey mess, then these chicks are ride-or-die for life!” And that’s pretty much what April and Joss tell her — while eating fried chicken in church? (Oh, you had to be there!)
HARRY | Harry accepts a punch to the face and some kicks to the gut from Scott — “NOT THE ABS!” — and Scott makes us feel less bad for him by making snide comments about Joss’ performance in bed. “You can keep that two-timing bitch — you two deserve each other!” he sneers, before going home to presumably do his second chest-wax of the day and finish his shoe-closet organizing. It gets worse, though, when Scott sells his shares in Wunderbar to a really douchey dude who fires all the restaurant’s waiters and treats Harry like a chimp with a spatula. Instead of quitting, though, Harry gets inspired when he sees Joss’ adorable notations on his his initial Wunderbar menu — and he proves to his new boss that he’s the restaurant’s biggest draw. “I remember how you fought for me to keep this rockstar job,” he tells he on the phone, adding he fought “in a way you’d be proud of.” But wait — what’s this? As the episode ends, the super sexy drink slinger at Wunderbar offers him a “Sex with a Tucson Bartender” — and then, out of nowhere, comes Joss’ new bestie Calista (more on her in a sec). “You must be Harry Davis. I’ve heard a lot about you.” Wait, what? I thought CBS cancelled Stalker back in May — and yet suddenly I’m expecting Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott to bust in with a restraining order! Is Harry in danger? Is there a cheater within him? And could that cheater dance with the bartender or Calista? I don’t think so — but if Joss freezes him out for half a season… it wouldn’t really be cheating, would it?
CALISTA | Calista is an enigma wrapped in a designer caftan. We meet her as she sweet talks/bribes a hotel receptionist to give her access to her husband’s hotel room — “Have you been cheated on Melissa? Of course you have — even if you don’t know it.” — but she fails to catch him in the act. She meets Joss after stealing her parking spot, then later offering her a lift to a lot where her rental car’s been towed. Turns out, she wants to prove her man’s infidelity — so she can divorce him without losing half of her self-made fortune. Chick’s a little strange — was she day-drunk during that stakeout? — but she’s also a good listener… so much so that she pretends to be Savi so Joss can clear the air. When little sis says she can’t live without Savi, Calista isn’t hearing it: “You can live with it — unless you can live without Harry.” She also sends Joss a designer dress — without telling her to stop buying Calista knockoffs, even! — so she’s generous. But she still scares me, too. You?