Like a mid-’80s Sade jam, Mistresses has reliably given us the “sweetest taboo” for four
straight* consecutive seasons. (*Come now, let’s not use adjectives that suggest raging heterosexuality, given Joss’ sexy, sapphic affair with Japanese bondage-rope afficionado Alex, or that time Karen and Vivian smoked a doobie and binge-watched Extreme Makeover: Sexual Orientation Edition, mmmkay?)
Still, despite a brief Clorox Bleachable Moment (TM) between Kate and a guy she doesn’t realize is her nephew, Mistresses‘ Season 4 finale seems more interested in adorable babies, tear-jerking goodbyes and “Did I just partake in some Elizabeth Grey-style blackout drinking?!” plot twists than it does in “slap it up, flip it, rub it down“** prurience. (**Yes, we’re breaking out the best of my high-school music memories tonight… don’t judge!)
While you ponder future summer Mondays without the only woman to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Hot Mess at Gurrrl, Please — and fret about whether Tuesday’s other cliffhangers will get resolved with a Season 5 order from our friends at ABC — let me recap the action from Episode 13, “The Show Must Go On.”
MISTRESSES IS PULLING A DALLAS ON US, RIGHT? | I fully expect that next June, the real Karen Kim (played by Yunjin Kim) will wake up in the middle of a magnificent orgy (research for her next memoir, of course) and we’ll realize her death was just a dream. As it stands for now, though, we’ve seen her actual funeral — attended by still smokin’ hot Jacob and Karen’s former receptionist whose name I ought to remember. Joss gives a poignant, funny eulogy — describing her friend as “a superhero without the cape… wigs, maybe, but not the cape” — and then erupts in tears, telling the folks who’ve gathered that she’s “having a hard time finding the justice in this.” I sure hope she’s looking at Lydia when she says it, too. OK, that’s unkind, but I mean… Savi’s not there, though, but only because she’s more than eight months pregnant and in Malaysia, so a hat tip to the show’s writers for not conveniently forgetting their MIA character’s deep connection with the dearly (but hopefully not entirely) departed.
Back at Karen’s apartment, we see Kate’s shallowness (focusing only on the clothing), and April’s realization that she can’t keep the truth about her pregnancy from Marc any longer. “Dads don’t tour,” he tells her, ecstatic about the baby on its way and excited about reuniting with his estranged ex. Joss forgives Kate, too, claiming her now sister-in-law’s tantrums are equal to “water that could not be further under the bridge.” Joss proposes a toast to Karen — on the premise that her deceased pal wouldn’t want an opened bottle go to waste — and then hands a framed photo to Karen’s late arriving beau Adam. That love affair didn’t really have enough time to resonate, but Joss’ “Bye, lady” as she closes the door has me reaching for the Puffs. Jes Macallan, if this show doesn’t return next summer, I think I’ll miss you most of all.
BABIES IN ARMS | With something akin to a 13-month flash-forward, Joss gives birth to a baby girl, Lorelai, who’ll mos def be BFFs with April’s four-month old Stella and (if Alec doesn’t decide to reapply for America’s Next Top Douche-Doc) Karen’s daughter Vivian, too. If there’s a Season 5, I’m not sure how Joss and April will be able to realistically press pause on diaper changes and trips to Costco to participate in sordid story arcs, but that’s a question for another day, eh?
On the April front, we find Marc in freakout mode — peppering their pediatrician with questions about “sensory processing disorder” and haranguing April about swaddling as a means to suffocation. But it’s Lucy — and her knowledge of April’s poop diary from when she was a baby — who helps Marc unclench. She points out that her mom can finally relax because Marc “has got the crazy covered” when it comes to Stella. Still, I wonder what became of his musical partnership with That Ex Who Was Simply Too Blank to Have Her Name Recalled in This Recap. Does dude have no resentment about dreams deferred?
THE FATHER AND CHILD REUNION | With Joss-Harry and April-Marc in a great place, it makes sense that the show’s writers might look for a next generation of single-and-ready-to-mingle characters to lead out of Bachelor in Paradise next summer. Thus, we meet Gabe, the son Harry unknowingly fathered in his early 20s, via an affair with a married woman during an apprenticeship in New York. Harry being tempremental and reactionary, he accuses Gabe of cooking up the paternity story to take advantage of Harry’s newfound fame. But once the DNA results are in, the main Mister of Mistresses softens, invites the young man to live with he and Joss, and inadvertently saddles Kate with a lifetime of embarrassment for attempting to Mrs. Robinson the kid during a job interview for Harry’s new beachfront bistro.
Harry’s bigger issue, though, is his unavailability to Joss and Baby Lorelai. I mean, dude attempts to justify a 5:45am call to his contractor to avoid a diaper change? Honey, no. Joss finally detonates some truth bombs — “babies are crazy boring and they’re crazy hard,” she cries, while wondering why her husband is sitting on the sidelines — and Harry admits that thanks to his crappy childhood, he has “no idea how to be a dad.”
“What do I do?” Harry asks. “Just hold her,” says Joss. And in a single scene, we feel the very honest heartbeat of ABC’s sudsy summer treat pulse its way to the surface.
THIS WAS NOT THE GAY CHARACTER WE WERE DEMANDING, WAS IT? | So Kate’s apparently been accessing her inner Carrie Bradshaw. But while that’s all well and good, why is she all of the sudden BFFs with Wilson Cruz’s wardrobe consultant rather than the guy who she just became roommates with in Episode 12 (aka Season 4’s secret saucy weapon Randy)? #BringBackRandy
KAREN (KAAAAAREN!) DEAD OR ALIVE | A year after Karen’s funeral, April sees a shadowy figure at Maison Sur Mer – again, where’s Randy? — wearing one of Karen’s old ensembles. At the coffee shop, the barista mentions she saw April’s old BFF after a long absence, and even produces a receipt in Karen’s cursiff, with the ominious signature of “Karen Kim.” Joss notes that April does tend to think “dead people aren’t dead — that’s your thing,” but even she gets in on the conspiracy theory when she recalls how no one in their circle ID’s Karen’s body — and learns that Karen’s ashes never arrived at her brother’s house in Korea. It all seems too far-fetched for a show not titled The X-Files, but in the final scene of Season 4, a woman with shiny black hair enters Maison Sur Mer (please, corporate America, make this a real chain) and walks up to April, who’s blinded by the (sun)light. “Can I help you?” April finally asks. “I hope so,” says the stranger, whose face we’ve never seen. “I’m Karen Kim.”