Mrs. Fletcher S1E6 was incredibly hard to watch. “Solar Glow” (written by Kate Thulin and directed by Gillian Robespierre) was filled with those scream-at-your-TV moments, both from Eve (Kathryn Hahn) and Brendan (Jackson White). Last week, we were given a shred of hope that our main characters’ lives would move forward in a positive direction, but this week everyone took a giant leap backward. Both Eve and Brendan reverted to their old ways in some respects—with Brendan’s transgressions far worse than Eve’s—and I no longer have any hope that either of them will get it together by the time the series ends next week.
Let’s start with Eve’s journey. Last week, we saw her embracing her sexuality and the freedom she felt after a laughably bad one-night stand. Even though it ended badly, she was still happy about it, and I had hoped she would move in a positive direction after that experience. That is not what happened, though. After receiving multiple texts from Julian (Owen Teague), she fell back into that gross flirtation with him instead of seeking out an age-appropriate person to fulfill her needs.
At the beginning of Mrs. Fletcher S1E6, Julian is texting Eve while she is Skyping with Brendan. This is the first time we see Eve and Brendan having a nice normal conversation since he left for school. After the parents’ weekend debacle with his father, I think Brendan appreciates his mom a little more, and he tells her about Chloe (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and about the autism support group. It would be a nice moment between them except Eve is distracted by texts from Julian and even misses some of what Brendan is saying because of it. When she gets off the call with him, you think for a moment that she is going to ignore his texts. After all, she’s just been speaking to her son who is the same damn age as the boy who is flirting with her. But no, she flirts back with him via text.
I have to say, I just don’t get it. I do not understand why she engages in this behavior with him. I completely understand his infatuation with her; he’s young and doesn’t know any better—but Eve does. She knows it’s wrong, and she does it anyway. She struggles with it to some extent, and ultimately she can’t go through with it, but I still cannot fathom how she got to that point in the first place. I want to root for Eve, but this whole Julian thing is making it incredibly difficult to do so.
Before we get there, though, we find Eve’s friend Jane (Casey Wilson) struggling with marital issues. After last week’s confession that she and her husband Dave (Michael Torpey) haven’t had sex in a year, this week she found out that he has been cheating on her with a woman who works at the Solar Glow massage parlor. Eve is a good friend and tells Jane she can stay with her while she figures everything out. The relationship dynamic between Eve and Jane is an interesting one because it seems fairly one-sided. Last week we saw Jane more interested in her pedicure than in Eve’s personal essay, but the second she is in crisis, she runs to Eve for help. I’ve been on the Eve end of many a one-sided friendship, so I know what that feels like. It’s not great, but there is a satisfying sense of moral superiority that comes with being “the good friend.” Perhaps Eve tolerates it not just because she doesn’t have many people in her life but because it makes her feel good to help Jane. Without Brendan to mother, Jane’s crisis provides Eve with someone to make her feel needed.
Eve goes to Jane’s house that evening to pick up some of her things and she has a conversation with Dave about the issues in his marriage. He tells her that “a person needs to be touched,” which is sentiment she is familiar with, but she doesn’t have any sympathy for him. Having been cheated on herself, Eve would never side with a cheater regardless of the circumstances. What’s worse is that Dave doesn’t really consider it cheating because he paid for it; it was transactional, not an emotional affair, but that really doesn’t matter to Eve (or to Jane). Cheating is cheating.
Before she leaves, Eve can’t help but inquire as to how the whole massage parlor thing works, and Dave tells her how to go about getting the “special treatment” at Solar Glow. At this point, I was 100% convinced that Eve was going to go get a massage parlor special of her own. She does fantasize about doing it later on in the episode, but she doesn’t end up going through with it. I would have been much happier with Eve getting a happy ending than with what she actually does in Mrs. Fletcher S1E6. There’s nothing wrong with a single adult paying for sex. There is a lot wrong with an adult carrying on with a teenager.
That night, Eve gets a text from Julian while she’s in bed. When he asks her what she’s wearing, she takes a few sexy bed selfies but (thankfully) doesn’t send them. She actually does the right thing and tells him to go to bed. I was cringing in anticipation of a sexting session there, so I was very happy it did not go in that direction. Still, the fact that she even took the pictures to begin with shows that part of her does want to continue on with the whole thing.
Eve wakes to another text from Julian asking if she wants to do something after class, and while we don’t see her respond, we do see that she is dressed up especially nice that day. Jane even comments on it over their morning coffee. She is struggling with the decision of whether to accept a dinner invitation from Dave. Eve seems supportive of the idea of her giving him a chance, although she knows from personal experience that forgiveness is not an easy road. As Jane points out, she never forgave Ted, but Eve notes that Ted didn’t care whether or not she forgave him. Dave actually wants Jane back, so she has a choice to make about whether she wants to try to work it out. Eve was never given that choice because Ted didn’t want to try.
Mrs. Fletcher S1E6 gives us several examples of the type of turning points that are the subject of the writing class’s personal essay. The first of these comes for Julian, who we see meeting a coworker. She’s into him, they have things in common, she’s cute, and (most importantly) she’s age-appropriate. This was one of those scream-at-my-TV moments. As they sat outside during a break and she asked him if he wanted to hang out, I was internally screaming, “Julian! Go out with the cute girl your own age!” But no, just as she asks him out, he receives a text from Eve agreeing to hang out after class and completely ignores his coworker. This could have been a turning point for Julian. Whether or not it ultimately worked out with her, he would have been trying to have a normal relationship with someone his own age and could have moved on from Eve. But Eve’s text gave him hope that she is interested in him and ruined what could have been a healthy relationship.
Another turning point comes when Eve is having a drink at a bar before class. She is sitting alone, in her low-cut dress, looking at texts from Julian and clearly questioning her choices. Along comes George Rafferty (Domenick Lombardozzi), who apologizes to her for his outburst at his father’s funeral. He is open with her about how much of a mess he was (and still is), and he’s very complimentary about how good she was to his father. He also can’t help but notice that she looks pretty hot, and he asks her if he can buy her a drink to make up for being an ass. Again, I found myself internally screaming, “Eve! Let a handsome, age-appropriate man who is flirting with you buy you a drink! Meet up with HIM after class, not Julian!” But no, she makes the wrong choice yet again.
When I saw a clip of this scene in the previews after last week’s episode, I got excited thinking that maybe Eve and George would get together, but no. Eve blew it. While not the most disappointing thing to happen in this episode (that dubious honor goes to Brendan), I was sad to see her make this choice. Eve and George would make a lot of sense, even if just as a casual thing or even a friendship. They both loved Roy. They are both going through difficult times at the moment. It could have been a healthy relationship, whatever form it took. But Eve manages, time and again, to reach a turning point and go the wrong way.
The scene in the car with Eve and Julian was one long cringe-fest for me. I just cannot get past their age difference and the way that she continues to encourage him even though she knows it’s wrong to do so. The farthest things go are some affectionate words and face-touching, but that’s still way too far. Eve puts a stop to it, but the fact that she couldn’t go through with it isn’t enough to erase the fact that she allowed things to progress as far as she did. She made a choice here—and it was the right one, finally—but after so many bad choices, it’s not even satisfying. Was I happy that she didn’t hook up with a teenage boy? Yes. Am I happy with her in general? Not at all. She broke Julian’s heart, and for what? A few moments of flirtation to spice up her otherwise boring and lonely life. The whole thing is just really sad and I’m incredibly disappointed in Eve. I even kind of hope that Julian tells Brendan out of spite, although that would ruin basically everyone’s life. Still, they both kind of deserve it.
The Brendan portion of Mrs. Fletcher S1E6 was pretty short this week but it packed a real gut-punch. Things start off pretty positive but quickly take a dark turn. After a night spent trying and failing to write an essay (and Brendan screaming “f**k you” at his computer while struggling to write was maybe the most relatable moment in the series), Brendan and Chloe have a study date in her room. This was a scene that was so incredibly hard to watch that I couldn’t get through it a second time. Things start off very innocently but it quickly devolves into a nightmare scenario.
We saw in the early episodes of the show that Brendan’s approach to sex, especially the language he uses, is based on pornography. With Chloe, he seemed to be open to taking things slower and basing the relationship on a more loving type of intimacy. What we see in Mrs. Fletcher S1E6 is that he is completely incapable of this. When Chloe performs oral sex on him, he not only uses language that she’s clearly uncomfortable with, but he takes things way too far—to the point where she had to punch him in the testicles because he was choking her and she couldn’t breathe. She never consented to that, and he never even thought to ask. He just assumed, because that’s what people do in porn, she would be cool with it, and she most definitely was not.
It was really painful to watch Chloe have to go through a violation like that because she really did like Brendan. More importantly, she trusted him, and he violated that trust in a violent and horrifying way. I don’t think there’s any coming back from this. Chloe is incredibly traumatized by the event (as anyone would be), and though Brendan feels terrible after the fact, he can’t change what he did. It’s up to Chloe whether she chooses forgiveness here, but I don’t know that I want her to. That said, I think the only way that Brendan will be able to learn how to have true sexual intimacy will be if something like this becomes a teachable moment for him. This is a turning point: can he unlearn the things he thinks he knows about sex? Will there be consequences for his actions here that make him rethink the way that he behaves? With only one episode left, I’m not sure that there is time for any real redemption or happy endings, for Brendan or for Eve.
Join me next week for the series finale of Mrs. Fletcher, “Welcome Back.”