The pieces are finally falling into place and some home truths make this an effective outing.
- 💃🏻 Rose Byrne and Rory Scovel's emotional conversation.
- 💃🏻 The various storylines are coming together and feel more cohesive.
- 💃🏻 Tyler and Bunny's relationship.
- 💃🏻 Greta's non-judgmental reactions.
- 💃🏻 Solid rich parent casting choices.
- 💃🏻 So many creepy guys.
This post contains spoilers for Physical "Let's Not and Say We Did.”
Read our latest review here.
Secrets have been stacking up since the first episode of Physical and now they are beginning to spill. The Los Angeles trip has been both enlightening and reaffirming for the Rubins, putting them on the same page, and tightening their bond. The final moments in “Let’s Not and Say We Did,” threatens this equilibrium but before Jerry’s (Geoffrey Arend) discovery it is evident that the couple hasn’t been this unified in a long time. While last week suffered from distracting secondary plots that seemed like an afterthought, John Breem (Paul Sparks) and Greta’s (Dierdre Friel) arcs are more cohesive in this follow-up. The pieces are slotting together, even while some characters continue to spiral.
The episode begins with John still in the pool and he is struggling to stay afloat. This is a lesson to not go swimming after a few drinks (and in your clothes) and his wife saves him from drowning. On the outside, the Breems are a vision of the perfect family but a lot of repressed emotions have come to the surface. The WASP levels of pretending everything is fine are high, so it is a surprise when John tells Maria (Erin Pineda), “I’m not alright.” This is clear to anyone watching, however, it is hard for Maria to hear her husband admit he’s in crisis. Unlike the previous day, he shows her gratitude for all that she does before going into a long story about how he can swim — she was under the impression he couldn’t. When he was a boy he swam in a lake with his siblings and no matter how hard the current got, he felt like God was always with him. Now he is having a crisis of faith, “I’m unhappy,” he confesses. She puts this down to the stress he is under, although he is being honest, maybe for the first time ever, and it is hard for Maria to hear.
The following morning, John’s son recounts his vivid dream in which his father was drowning and the brief period of honesty has come to a close. Zeke (Ian Ousley) mentions breakfast isn’t ready and John’s concern about his wife’s whereabouts seems rooted in this shaken routine. He finds her in front of the TV exercising and she is one of the lucky people who has already purchased Sheila (Rose Byrne) and Bunny’s (Della Saba) workout video — it does look great. There is already a connection between her husband and Sheila that I wasn’t thrilled about (because the idea of them hooking up feels too obvious), however, Sheila’s entry into their home as a disruptor through aerobics is a lot more interesting.
Honesty is the topic of the week as Greta confronts Ernie (Ian Gomez) about what she saw on the tape Sheila gave to her. It is difficult for Greta to get her husband’s attention because he is in the middle of watching a soccer game, but throwing the remote and revealing her new shorter haircut instantly snaps his focus to where it should be. Rather than fury, Greta has approached this kink secret with an open mind and his initial response is to go on the defensive. He explains that every woman has consented and is compensated, but he cannot shake the shame as he refers to himself as a monster and a freak. She doesn’t resort to names like this and instead wants to participate, letting him touch her head. All Greta wants is to be loved and appreciated by the man she is married to, and her confidence has suffered because she felt unworthy and unattractive. The truth has set them free and the following morning in this household is more harmonious than the Breems — even if Greta’s young children lack any filter or tact when it comes to her body in a bathing suit.
Communication and trust are vital tools in keeping a relationship alive and this also applies to parent/child dynamics. The reason Sheila is estranged from her parents isn’t that she married Danny (Rory Scovel), nor has it got anything to do with their ideological differences. The horrifying secret is that one of her father’s friends sexually assaulted her when she was 13 years old and her parents didn’t believe her. This is never discussed while she is sat in their opulent home and the strained interaction reveals they have never met Maya (Grace Kelly Quigley). The latter suggests the blow-up was huge, but I did not suspect it would be something as traumatic as what occurred in this home. Because the fundraiser wasn’t a fundraiser, Sheila has resorted to this visit out of desperation for money and agrees to let them see Maya if she can have a check for $5000. There are some grumbles on her parents’ end (Ray Wise and Wendie Malick are expertly cast), however, this is nothing like Danny’s reaction when Sheila tells him what the deal is.
It is when Sheila tells him where she has been that the truth comes out to the audience about why they have never met Maya. Her inner monologue tells her to lie to Danny about where she went, but she doesn’t take the deceptive route for once. What follows is a heartbreaking conversation about her past and what Danny is not willing to do. Both Scovel (who is playing a vulnerable version of Danny who has just woken from a nightmare) and Byrne are flawless in this scene, which depicts the depths of this relationship and the trauma bubbling beneath the surface. Tears brim in both their eyes and as the details of the night play out in Sheila’s mind — she pretends to be vague on her age to him but to the audience, she reveals she was 13 with a “round face, soft belly.” Danny is furious about her mother’s inaction, “She could’ve believed you, defended you. But she didn’t have the guts.” Danny’s ideological perspective doesn’t allow for nuance and Sheila’s voiceover speaks volumes, “He really thinks it’s that easy for us and why wouldn’t he?”
During her conversation with her parents, her looks are mentioned and Sheila also counts objects in threes — she also buys junk food in threes. The latter reveals how this home makes her feel and the need to find a semblance of control through obsessive-compulsive behavior is linked to this crime occurring in the place where she should feel the safest. Her mother’s focus on her figure also says a lot about who Sheila has become and it is clear this character needs therapy to deal with her past. The following morning they head to her parents and we see the fantasy version of this confrontation, in which she calls her mom and dad out for their refusal to support her. In reality, she doesn’t say any of this to them and only tears up some plants in their garden. It is still satisfying and the Rubins are united before the big double journal bombshell that Jerry has discovered. How Sheila can talk her way out of this savings secret (or lack of) is left until the penultimate episode and the reaction to a spilled secret doesn’t always end with a happier couple as the Breems can attest.
Meanwhile, Bunny and Tyler (Lou Pucci Taylor) have their own fraught moment, as Tyler is still not home after his accidental expense purchase and Bunny is furious. Trust is not something that comes to Bunny easily and her conversation with a seemingly friendly guy on the beach peels back the layers and confirms her difficulty letting people in. When she lets her guard down with this guy she realizes he is masturbating and swiftly gets out of there (not before kicking him in the face, which fair). The next morning, she greets Tyler with a knife and he deduces that a creep made a move on her, which makes him even more furious at himself for letting her down. Rather than push him away for his drug-induced financial faux pas, Bunny embraces her boyfriend. He tells a sad story about how his mom always sided with his awful stepdad (parents not listening to their children is a theme of this episode), but they have found a trusted partner in each other and this continues to be the strongest and sweetest relationship on Physical.
From the sweetest to one of the most toxic and before Sheila and Danny leave their LA frenemies, Jack (Al Madrigal) reveals his insecurities and jealousies. Not only is he freaked out about having to write the next book, but he is also still smarting that Danny ended up with Sheila. The power play is rooted in macho BS and he is also tired of Tanya’s (Mary Holland) voracious (and animalistic) sexual appetite. The following day, Tanya asks Sheila for some advice, and when her inner monologue tells her to “be a human being for once” she complies with reassuring words. Well, that is before she tells Tanya that motherhood is scary for life and then peaces out. Sometimes the truth really sets you free, and Physical excels when it lets things go.
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