Mistresses Recap: Manny of Steel

mistresses karen season 4

The unspeakable occurs on the Season 4 premiere of Mistresses, when a four-month-old bundle of sunshine, gurgles and endless cheeks pulls focus from chiseled torsos, murder trials and erotic memoir readings.

But while Baby Vivian is the clear front-runner in the Emmy race for Most Adorable TV Baby, it’s high time her mother, Dr. Karen Kim (who recently completed her post-doc in thrupling… congrats, girl!), started looking into boarding schools.

Too harsh? Perhaps. But not nearly as unseemly as an hour of Mistresses in which all of the sex not only occurs off screen, but takes place between pairs of mature adults engaged in committed, (relatively) healthy long-term relationships. To take one of Karen’s quotes out of context, “This couldn’t be more inappropriate!” I mean, what next? Elizabeth Grey getting out of jail on good behavior and speaking out against the evils of vodka? (“How do you like it?” “In. My. Hand.”)

Then again, let’s not prematurely toss out the baby with the soapy bath water. Because while Season 4, Episode 1 skimps on things like toned bodies intertwining to form erotic human paintbrushes — and instead drops in an ill-timed lactation interlude — we also see hints of hijinks to come.

Karen chooses the right words to shut down her manny’s advances, but her familiar, hesitant tone tells us that Robert’s abs could get their own chapter in her next book. Joss appears to be thriving at work, at home and in love — except for the bruises (physical and psychological) that she’s barely hiding from her loved ones. And April, meanwhile, may be foolishly allowing Marc to follow the words of the prophet Irene Cara (“Take your passion, and make it happen!”), but did you see how damn good that guy’s hair looks even when he’s woken from a deep slumber?

Let’s recap the action from “The New Girls,” followed by a poll in which you can grade the season premiere!

A TRIAL, THEN TRIBULATION | We reconnect with Joss a year after Season 3’s cliffhanger, and she’s on the stand testifying that “other than the outfit and the terrible wig,” Wilson was not insane when he kidnapped her. Something peculiar’s afoot, though, as Joss tells the court that Calista’s twisted assistant set her free, which is a contradiction of her flashback memories, in which Joss frees herself and flees the scene. Either way, Crazy McCaftan is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Luca Raines, but it’s not a cure-all. (Side note: Calista apparently survived her prison suicide attempt, but I don’t think we should hold our breaths waiting for a Joss/Calista happy hour.)

April and Karen (OMG, her court dress is gorge… and wasted in this venue!) suspect their pal is more traumatized than she’s letting on, but Harry (who’s been traveling overseas with his Food Network series) doesn’t seem to have picked up on this fact via FaceTime. He “surprises” Joss at home — leaving the door unlocked and prompting her to dial 911 — and is lucky he doesn’t get clubbed over the head with a vase. (America, nobody really enjoys a surprise, K? K.) Joss tells him she wants to channel her inner shark, to keep moving forward and focus on her rapidly growing party-planning business. Harry ends the episode by bringing Joss to the beachfront location for his new restaurant — he’s not actually building it on the sand, is he? and if so, it’s not a metaphor for a shaky foundation, is it? — and asks Joss to marry him. She says yes — without even checking the ring to make sure it’s not the same one he put on her sister Savi’s finger a decade or so ago. (Sorry, folks, I’ve always been a fan of the Joss/Harry romance, but that was the first thought that went through my cynical brain as Harry dropped to his knee! I’m not the only one, right? I mean, the duo did share their first kiss in the sand — right under Savi’s watchful eye!)

The next morning, though, Joss leaves her fiancé at home — so she can take part in an intense self-defense class… apparently the cause of the massive bruise on her torso that made her smile/grimace during her day in court. I get and support why this survivor of a violent and traumatic incident would find strength in this sort of pursuit, but I’m not sure why she’s keeping it on the down-low.

HE’S WITH THE BAND | Wait just a second… isn’t April supposed to be the sensible center of the group? And yet there she is five minutes before Lucy’s weekend trip to a youth leadership conference playing “find the raspberry seed with your tongue*” with Marc right in the kitchen! Those kinds of shenanigans are supposed to happen after your sullen, surly teen leaves the abode! (*Least sexy euphemism ever?)

April and Marc have moved into a smaller place — he’s giving guitar lessons and planning to go back to college to become a counselor… but before you can strum the opening bars of “Stairway to Heaven,” Marc’s declaring his intent to devote the next six months of his life to his music/a new band with his new friend Jeremy/Jonah (only Karen knows his name for sure). “The school thing wasn’t speaking to me,” he says, and April is righteously miffed, seeing how her worst fear is working nine-to-five-seven while Marc gets to play around.

After Karen talks about being honest with one’s partner at her book reading — girl, you had sex with a married, terminally ill patient, and later his college-age son, and this is your excerpt? — April admits she was jealous of Mark. She wants to investigate a painting fellowship and spend less time stalking Lucy on Instagram. “Maybe you’re the one who needs less screen time, Mom,” says Lucy, and it’s one of her few zingers that truly lands. But whaddaya know, the kid is getting texts after she goes to bed and agreeing to sneak out of the house under cover of night. (AND THIS IS WHY YOU TAKE AWAY YOUR TEENAGER’S PHONE AT 8PM, AMERICA! IF YOU ALLOW THEM TO HAVE A PHONE AT ALL!)

HELP! I CAN’T FIND KAREN’S BOOK ON AMAZON | Oh, Karen. You’re reading to your hot manny from your memoir about your sexual awakening — sample line: “a wild animal inside me had been released” — and you’re surprised when he goes in for the kiss? And sorry, you say “This couldn’t be more inappropriate!” like you want him to leap into your living room from the deck of his pirate ship and rip your bodice! April’s response to Robert’s shirtless promo pic (he’s a sometimes actor) says it all: “He’s cute! This is a terrible idea.” (Did I mention Alec fled to Costa Rica to do a stint with Doctors Without Borders after his wife died and Karen had their baby? And is there a joke in here about Doctors Without Borders — given these characters’ uninhibited sex lives?)

At her book reading, though, where mega-agent Barbara Rutledge is in attendance (thanks to Joss’ hard work), Karen hears Vivian’s cries in the background and lactates through her sexy red dress. “I wasn’t exactly exuding sex,” Dr. Kim sighs to her pals, back at home. “You were exuding something,” says Joss, who always wins with the quips. But Barbara (recurring star Tia Mowry) heard something she liked (even if the visuals didn’t line up): She randomly comes to Karen’s place and offers to represent her. “I accept!” Karen yells out her door. “I know!” shouts Barbara, from a distance. But what kind of psychosexual foolery will our gal have to undertake in order to cook up a second book? Here’s hoping we find out in Episode 2!

Your turn. What did you think of the Mistresses Season 4 premiere? Take our poll, then sound off in the comments!