At the start of Togetherness Season 1 Episode 5, Brett and Michelle have just finished their first session of couples counseling and, from their emotionally drained expressions, talking through their problems hasn't exactly left them feeling warm and fuzzy.
Since the session happens off-screen, we don't know what is said. But after spending the front half of the season getting to know these characters, we can imagine. And, like Michelle, we are slightly tired of all the angst. "Kick the Can" answers the very important question asked by Michelle (and viewers by proxy): "What if it's just fun?"
Fun is the thing that appears to be noticeably missing from much of the series, which has made the moments of fun, however brief, all the more appreciated. Drinking wine and TPing Tina's hook-up's house in Togetherness Season 1 Episode 1 comes to mind. Fun seems to be something that has slipped through the cracks of adulthood for these four, and this cautionary tale can sometimes border on the existential.
Just fake it. Do you see this smile? I'm dead inside.Tina
"Kick the Can" attempts to find the fun again, but it reminds us it may not be exactly where we left it.
Speaking of existential crises, there is nothing quite as sad as Brett's description of his perfect day. An afternoon spent on the third floor of Barnes & Noble with a book and a cup of peppermint tea. While this sounds like a pleasant afternoon, the fact that this is the thing he would do if he could do anything says a lot about the Brett's expectations for his life. They are dangerously low. If you're letting your hair down, at least indulge in a caffeinated beverage.
Michelle, slightly horrified that her husband's perfect day is to hide from his family in a chain bookstore, shares that her perfect day involves drinking beer and playing kickball with all of her friends. This is a day I can get behind.
She decides to make her dream day a reality and, in the process, is confronted by a group of twentysomething hipsters. Since neither will give up the field, Michelle challenges them to a game of kick the can and schools them in the art of shotgunning beer.
Before there were smartphones and electric cars, there was shotgunning beers.Alex
This generational collision highlights just how much life has happened between the present day and the happy memories that she is trying to recreate. It's a little Gatsby-esque, if you think about it. After all, you can't repeat the past but there is something so human about trying.
Brett is falling apart, but he is faking his enjoyment for Michelle's sake. When he finally cracks and cops to the facade, the moment feels especially honest. He doesn't understand how she can so easily have fun on a day so heavy with emotional upheaval. Meanwhile, he is feeling the weight of the world and their marriage and all the PBRs, and it makes him want to quit the game.
I feel like I'm carrying the dead bodies of Brett and Michelle on my shoulders all day.Brett
Alex points out that it might be a metaphor for his life right now. And "Kick the Can" is not subtle with its use of metaphor. While Brett has voluntarily put himself in kick-the-can jail, Michelle wants to win. She is on the brink of giving up, but is brought back by the appearance of Prince Charter School himself, David Garcia, who we first met in Togetherness Season 1 Episode 3. He reminds her that she wants to win the game. This game is kick the can, but it is also that trickier to pin down game of life.
If her relationship with David enters affair territory, Michelle's character would change considerably. She is unhappy and unfulfilled, but she is not blameless for her own unhappiness. She has problems vocalizing her needs and addressing her own issues on a personal level. While Brett and Michelle may not work out long term, to have her cheat on him at this juncture would be selfish in a way that I don't believe Michelle to be.
Where do you go after World War III emotional bombing?Brett
For Alex and Tina, this episode brings up another type of action. Drunk on the never-ending stash of PBRs he appears to be carrying on his person, Alex kisses her and they make out for a solid 30 seconds before she pulls away and slaps him. The genuine affection and playfulness between these two is a beautiful counterpoint to the civility of Brett and Michelle's current relationship.
While part of me would support this developing into a relationship, the predominating part of me believes that this is a prime example of true and unconditional friendship. While many a series would try to force this to be something romantic, I would be more impressed by Togetherness (and this pairing) if they were to remain friends.
What did you think of "Kick the Can"? Are you Team Brett or Team Michelle? Do you think Michelle's relationship with David is entering questionable territory? What would you like to see develop from the friendship between Alex and Tina?