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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Loot 2x10 Recap: “We Shouldn’t Exist” (Ring the Alarm) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“We Shouldn’t Exist”
Original Airdate: May 29, 2024

A lot happened in the Loot season finale — related to the characters’ professional and romantic lives — which could set the stage for a very interesting season three. Let’s recap what happened, shall we?

“We Shouldn’t Exist” opens with Molly and Grace at a photoshoot for Vanity Fair. As the episode title would suggest, since it mirrors the magazine cover title, the two are promoting giving away all of their money and attempting to prove that billionaires shouldn’t exist. While everyone at the Wells Foundation is excited about how great Molly and Grace look, Sofia (fresh off her breakup with Isaac) has bigger news: Norman Lofton, a reclusive billionaire from Wyoming with ten times more money than Molly, reached out about wanting to tour a Space for Everyone building. The group is thrilled about the prospect of someone like him being willing to invest in the Wells Foundation.

After a literal bumpy arrival (since Molly requested Norman fly in on her private jet and it experienced wild turbulence), Molly is determined to make sure everything else goes smoothly so Norman invests in Space for Everyone. She has a celebrity chef make Norman’s favorite burger. She enlists a children’s choir to sing his favorite song. She’s decidedly pulling out all of the stops for the admittedly down-to-earth billionaire.

As she’s preparing for Norman’s arrival, Arthur approaches Molly about their almost-kiss the episode prior. At first, it seems like the conversation might be headed toward positivity — but then Arthur quickly squashes the notion by apologizing. Molly, taken aback, listens as he explains that he made a mistake, wasn’t thinking, and wants to make sure they’re okay with one another now. Oh, Arthur. As much as I’d love to believe that he can read Molly’s mind, he obviously can’t, and has to take her word as it is. So she agrees that them kissing would have been a mistake and awkwardly exits the conversation.

Elsewhere, Sofia and Ainsley have a conversation where Ainsley talks about how much she admires Sofia — she admires her work ethic and selflessness. While Sofia initially basks in the compliment, Ainsley continues to detail the truth: Sofia puts everything before herself. She puts work before her personal life, happiness, and well-being. She spends all day helping everyone else around her succeed and find joy, and then she goes home alone. Sofia, of course, begins to spiral when she realizes that Ainsley might be onto something — and not a good something either.

Howard and Nicholas, meanwhile, continue to bond when the latter gets a voicemail from a Korean woman. As Howard translates the voicemail, the two suspect that the older woman could be Nicholas’ birth mother as she mentions looking for him for a while. Nicholas is a bit shaken and doesn’t want anything to do with the woman.

When Norman — or Norm, as he instructs everyone to call him — arrives at Space for Everyone, he’s greeted by the whole team and a very startled Sofia. She’s been thinking about what Ainsley said and second-guessing her decision to end her relationship. Molly follows Sofia, and instead of reflecting on her emotions, Sofia tries to convince herself to stop feeling her emotions altogether. She then begins to rationalize why breaking up with Isaac was a good decision. They’re too different! They’ll never work! But then, Molly asks one important question: does Sofia love Isaac? In a beautiful little moment of vulnerability, Sofia nods and says that she thinks she does.

After everything she has gone through in the course of two seasons, Molly has one piece of advice for Sofia: if she loves Isaac, nothing else matters. There will always be obstacles. There will always be sources of conflict. But loving someone means taking that leap, and that’s when the leap is worth it. I loved this moment between Molly and Sofia (Maya and Michaela did a fantastic job with a scene that was both beautiful and profound), and it’s such a testament to how they’ve formed an actual friendship.

Norm is impressed with what Molly and the team have managed to do with Space for Everyone. In a personal conversation, he asks if Molly plans to follow through with everything she promised — giving away all of her money to make the world better. When she affirms that she really does want to walk the walk, he seems impressed. Norm says he always sleeps on any big decision but would be in touch. The Wells Foundation colleagues celebrate a well-earned victory!

Later on, Molly receives an invitation from Norm to chat with him that night. She arrives at a giant mansion and is led into a dark room with a very creepy circle of people all wearing various face masks. Obviously, Molly is confused and mildly afraid at what’s happening until the leader explains — she must stop all of her activities that are threatening their way of life, or else she’ll face dire consequences. In a hilariously subtle move that people definitely don’t do in horror movies, Molly finds the light switch and turns it on.

Of course, Norm is the leader and informs her why he summoned her. The room is filled with billionaires who, like Norm, are mad that Molly is giving interviews about how billionaires shouldn’t exist. He claims that she’s upsetting the natural order of things and that no one in the room sees a problem with how much money they all have. When Molly talks about how she and Grace will help change things, Grace reveals that she’s part of the circle too. She loves money too much and never wants to feel small or powerless again. From her perspective, everything the billionaires are saying makes sense. 

It’s such a gut punch to Molly who not only trusted Grace, but also believed that the world could be better than it is. She, personally, has changed so much since the show began. Her eyes have been opened to the world around her and how her money can be used to do good, not hoard and spend on extravagance. It’s heartbreaking to see Molly defeated by the knowledge that now she’s truly alone in this cause.

Elsewhere, after Nicholas gets drunk, he tells Howard that they should call back the woman from Korea who left the voicemail on his phone. So they get very, very drunk and do just that. When she finally returns the phone call, Nicholas’ expectations immediately are crushed — she’s a casting director, offering him a role in a show that’s shooting in Korea. I truly love how subtle Joel Kim Booster is with his acting in this moment. It’s evident how utterly heartbroken he is at the knowledge that the person has no relation or connection to him. No matter how much he tries to bury his feelings, he really is struggling with not knowing anything about his birth parents. All he wants is to find connection.

Sofia decides to follow her heart by showing up at Isaac’s show in New Orleans where the two rekindle their romance. I love their relationship so I’m excited to see what this could continue to become in another season. When she sends Molly a text about leaping with no regrets, Molly seizes the chance to follow her own heart too.

Molly shows up at Arthur’s house and tells him that even though there will always be obstacles in their way, they both clearly feel something for one another. And when that happens, it’s so rare and beautiful that they owe it to each other to see where it goes. Instead of backing off, Molly tells him that she is doubling down and initiates a kiss with him. Arthur, of course, kisses her back and then they’re kissing in the doorway of his house... just as Willa turns on the light in the hallway and Molly realizes she’s there.

The final scene of the season finale is Molly practically running onto her private jet with Nicholas to escape everything that has just happened.

Here’s the thing about Molly: I don’t see the end of this episode as a character regression at all. I see it as a big response to a lot of things that have just happened in her life. She’s talked all season about wanting to make good on her promise of giving away all of her money, and she had the door slammed in her face by other billionaires. She was betrayed by Grace, someone she cared deeply about, and Norm too. She went through hell with John and finally freed herself from him in the previous episode. She’s been in love with Arthur and has just had her heart crushed. But worst of all, I think, is the realization on Molly’s face when Willa appears in the doorway. She’s been cheated on and it was the worst feeling for her to find out. And now, she’s kissing someone else’s boyfriend; she is now the other woman. So Molly decides to flee — in fear, in anger, in embarrassment, in exhaustion, in sadness.

(Sidenote: Joel Kim Booster does a really great subtle job of letting his typical fun-loving Nicholas façade fade ever-so-slightly as he’s watching Molly with clear concern over whatever is upsetting her that she won’t tell him yet — and a little moment of disbelief that she’s not telling him too. That small, specific choice for Joel to almost wryly chuckle at the notion that he is left out of the loop was a great one. A moment later, he switches back into planning mode, but it’s such a great moment.)

Maya Rudolph makes such a fantastically subtle choice where she angrily hops into her seat and shimmies around like a child trying to get comfortable. The biggest red flag that she’s hurt and this isn’t a regression is that she tells Nicholas: “I give up.” Molly is tired — tired of fighting, tired of getting hurt, tired of taking three steps forward only to be lurched backward. So she gives up and returns to the one standby: escape her problems by literally escaping them using her opulent privilege.

And what happens next — or where she goes — is anyone’s guess.

What did you all think of this season of Loot? Sound off in the comments below!

Notes & Quotes:

  • Honestly, closing out this season with Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm” was just an incredible way to end season 2 of the show. Also, continued kudos to the show’s music supervisor because the song selection the whole season was epic.
  • “Why do we celebrate being down-to-earth? I’m on earth right now, and looking around the room, everyone sucks. Bring me to the skies, baby!”
  • The entire cast doesn’t get the chance to do many comedic things together but the scene where they’re all reacting to the private jet is one of the funniest moments of the whole episode.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Loot 2x09 Recap: “Mood Vibrations” (The Good and Bad Kind of Tension) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Mood Vibrations”
Original Airdate: May 22, 2024

This week’s Loot is all about relationships and conflict, as simmering tensions between Arthur and Molly almost boil over, Molly faces her anger at John, and Sofia and Isaac break up. Let’s dive into “Mood Vibrations,” shall we?

At the Wells Foundation, Molly shows Grace around the office, pretends to work, and then bumps into Arthur (quite literally). As Grace watches the exchange happen — an awkward one, might I add — she deduces that Molly has feelings for Arthur. (More on that momentarily!)

Later on, Molly and Grace announce that they’re working with Sofia to recruit other billionaires and have found that the greatest motivating factor for the billionaires to give to the Wells Foundation is... just how much they all hate Molly’s ex-husband, John. There’s only one issue: John, in promoting his company’s rocket launch, decided to use his press conference to insinuate that he and Molly were back together again. He claims that as he heads into space on the rocket, he knows someone — Molly — will be waiting for him back home.

Molly, of course, is furious. But things go from bad to worse: the donors are backing out if Molly is actually in a relationship with John again. In the midst of all of the chaos and rumors and frantic phone calls trying to reassure billionaires, Molly begins to be hounded by paparazzi at the office. Somehow, three of them have even made their way up to the Wells Foundation floor. So Arthur decides to sneak Molly out of the building via the freight elevator and bring her to his house where no one will be looking for her. Unfortunately on the way out, Molly twists her ankle and has to rely on Arthur’s help to get to the car.

While at the house, Molly — relaxing while Arthur gets her ice — plays the vinyl in Arthur’s record player and discovers it’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which is when Arthur admits whenever he’s in a bad mood or feeling down, he plays Christmas music to cheer himself up. Every time Arthur speaks, Molly becomes more and more endeared toward him. And while it’s so sweet in this episode to see how much she genuinely cares, it’s also heartbreaking to see how much longing there is behind every glance she gives him.

Then there’s a moment: Arthur helps Molly to her feet, they’re standing too close, a Christmas song is playing, and then they very nearly kiss. Sidenote: Arthur is the one to lean in! The moment is interrupted, of course, by Molly’s phone alarm and the two have no idea how to navigate the tension of what just happened. It goes about as awkwardly as you’d expect. I don’t champion Arthur cheating on Willa but the fact of the matter is this was Arthur and Molly’s chance to finally confess how they feel — especially because even after all the longing we have seen from Molly’s side of their dynamic, you’d expect her, not Arthur, to be the one to lean in. It was a moment of tension that had built up, and they could have navigated what that means for them.

But, alas, if relationships were easily navigated by just having conversations, that would mean there would be no romantic comedies ever. Since the paparazzi are gone, Molly and Arthur return to the office where the rest of the team is gathered together to watch John’s rocket take off. Molly is irritated and her irritation grows into anger.

Just as Molly is ramping up with a speech insulting John — talking about the harm he’s done to the world and how karma will eventually get him — we get a shocking twist: the rocket explodes upon launch on live television. Before Molly even has the chance to fully process her grief, later that evening, she receives a phone call from... John. 

When she shows up to meet him in person and sees him standing there, she’s initially stunned. And then her anger begins to grow as he explains himself. John claims there was an issue with the rocket that he noticed before launch, so no crew members ended up on it. Much like a stubborn child, John then tells Molly that he’s done every grand gesture and can’t comprehend why Molly still won’t take him back. He insists that she must still love him if she was sad that he (in theory) died, but Molly calls him out on his manipulation and selfishness and then gets him to admit what is perhaps the most emotionally manipulative act we’ve seen from John: as it turns out, there wasn’t an issue with the rocket; John just wanted to see if Molly still cared about him. He blew it up on purpose.

Horrified at his behavior (and the $4 billion he just threw away while she is trying to recruit billionaires to actually help solve the issue of homelessness across the country), Molly blatantly tells him that she will never get back together with him, and nothing he can do will change that. Then she tells him why: because she’s in love with someone else. Maya Rudolph absolutely stunned me in the best way in this scene as she expresses such a range of emotions in her facial expressions alone. You can tell clearly that Molly almost doesn’t want to admit the real reason to John — in her mind, I wonder if she thinks it won’t make a difference anyway since Arthur is with Willa. But she takes the brave step of admitting it just for herself, not for John. Of course, her ex-husband is baffled at the notion that Molly would be in love with someone who is 1) not him and 2) not rich, famous, or anything else notable.

In a way, though, I think this moment is exactly what Molly needed — not just for emotional growth in her relationship with Arthur, but in emotional closure with John. It’s the moment where she truly realizes that nothing John does or doesn’t do can hurt her anymore. She’s done with him. She’s done with his manipulation, his pathetic attempts to win her back, and she’s done putting any more energy into a conversation with him. John is furious and rants as a very disinterested Molly leaves him. It’s such a beautiful, perfect way to prove just how far Molly has come in her emotional journey.

Elsewhere in the episode, there are two additional side plots happening: Howard is preparing for the opening match of his wrestling league and everything — from food to costumes to his big star dropping out — is falling to pieces. Luckily, he has Nicholas to bolster his self-esteem. Howard is panicking because he’s used to being the guy on the sidelines, cheering people on, instead of the guy in charge of the whole show. But Nicholas reminds him that if he doesn’t see this project through, he’ll regret it. In a delightful little twist, with no headliner to fight Nicholas, Howard himself decides to step into the wrestling ring and take him on. This storyline is such a lovely example of the friendship that has grown between Howard and Nicholas and, specifically, the way that Nicholas selflessly asks about Howard’s feelings and emotions. Yay growth!

Also in this episode (a lot happens, I know), Isaac tells Sofia that he wants to take a sabbatical from work to pursue music with his old band, whom Sofia met at the beginning of the episode. Sofia is thrown, and avoids talking to him about his decision. The truth is that Sofia is driven and goal-oriented — so much so that Isaac’s go-with-the-flow attitude initially turned her off. He’s passionate about things and for someone as rational and practical as Sofia is, that’s exhilarating but also terrifying and confusing. She has an idea of the kind of person she wants to be with — someone who shares her value and passion for work — but in this episode, she realizes that Isaac may not prioritize work and life the same way she does... especially when he asks her to come visit him in New Orleans.

Sofia then gives an analogy about how Isaac is a feather, floating on his passions, and she’s a rock. Isaac initially views that as Sofia talking negatively about herself, but she honestly emphasizes how much she loves being a rock. She’s sturdy, dependable, and she’s grounded. She tells Isaac that she’ll never be a feather, and the two of them realize they’re at an impasse. Sofia is the one to bring up the idea that instead of pursuing their relationship, which seems doomed to hurt them both, they should just end things. It’s heartbreaking and we’ll definitely see the fallout from that next week.

With only one more episode to go in this season of Loot, what are your predictions for how things might end?

Notes & Quotes:
  • “Is the blonde girl real?” Speaking of: Ainsley and Rhonda didn’t contribute much to this episode.
  • “I’ve never been in a Nissan Sentra moving that fast before.”
  • I really love a good almost-kiss. Nat Faxon and Maya Rudolph sold that moment 110% with their tension. Bravo.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Loot 2x08 Recap: “Grace” (The Messy Discomfort of Life) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Grace”
Original Airdate: May 15, 2024

Where we left off on Loot last week: Sofia told Molly that in order to expand Space for Everyone nationally and keep the locations running, the nonprofit needs more money. Even more money, in fact, than Molly has. Their idea is to recruit more billionaire donors who are willing to give away their fortunes to a charitable cause.

One woman, Grace (played by Ana Gasteyer), is on Molly’s radar. She, too, was recently divorced and wound up with $110 billion. Because Molly was friends with her, she and Sofia decide to pay Grace a visit. Molly is expecting to be greeted by her uptight friend, but ever since the divorce, Grace has been spiraling. She’s in the middle of throwing a rager (in the middle of the afternoon, no less), and while Molly initially goes to Grace’s house to ask her about the money, the rest of the episode focuses on how concerned Molly is for Grace and her wellbeing.

When Grace cavalierly offers the foundation $11 billion, Sofia is elated. Molly, on the other hand, is worried that Grace isn’t thinking rationally. It would feel wrong to Molly to take her money when Grace is basically on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Instead of accepting the money, Molly opts to stay behind at the party to try and talk to Grace, get her to see reason, and calm her down a little.

I really love this story for a variety of reasons. Of course, Maya and Ana are delightful and so funny together. But I also think this is the kind of storyline that could only happen in season two where Molly’s grown thanks to other people having been there for her when she was spiraling. The fact that she is now in a good enough place in her life to be able to offer advice, comfort, and empathy to someone else going through a similar situation says a lot about Molly’s shifting priorities as a person. Yes, she is flawed. Yes, she is occasionally selfish. And yes, she still has her own insecurities and struggles (more on that in a bit). But she could have just taken Grace’s money and run. Season one Molly probably would have been able to justify it to herself by pretending it was for the good of the foundation. But now, Molly sees that even though funding Space for Everyone is her goal, helping Grace should be her focus.

And as Grace expresses her embarrassment over her divorce, Molly assures her that she has nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed by — her ex-husband should be the one who is embarrassed instead. Grace’s somber (and sober) moment of realization doesn’t last long, however. She decides to fly her party to Reykjavík, and Molly offers to tag along in order to make sure Grace is safe and okay. 

Things take a turn for Molly, however, when Sofia sends her a text about seeing Arthur making out with Willa. The reminder that Arthur is unavailable is still fresh and painful for Molly, who has a moment of weakness when she agrees to do shots with Grace, gets hammered, and winds up vocalizing the reason she decided to get drunk in the first place to Sofia by saying, “What’s the point of being good if you feel so lonely and shitty all the time?” 

Molly really has made so much progress but in this moment she’s acting from an obvious place of pain and fear. Pain that she’s doing so much good for the world and people around her, but still feels like personal happiness is out of her reach; and fear that even if she continues to do good in the world, that her circumstances won’t change. And unfortunately, when any of us act out of pain and fear, we often wind up making bad decisions.

But in true Molly fashion, after she sobers up, she offers Grace some advice — even though things are far from okay and she can’t pretend like they are, Molly assures Grace that her life isn’t over. It might be messy, confusing, frustrating, and difficult, but there is also good in the midst of all of it. Molly tells Grace that because of her divorce, she learned she could lead and didn’t just have to follow what John wanted or did. She could build something of her own, instead of relying on her husband. And in time, Molly knows that Grace will find what she wants to do. But for the time being, she encourages her friend to start small.

So the two go ice skating, and it’s hilarious and wonderful because even though Grace is bad at it, it’s something she’s wanted to do and hasn’t done in 20 years. The whole experience, however, inspires Grace — she pledges to give her money to Space for Everyone, and because of her involvement, multiple other billionaires agree to donate too. Things are looking up for the Wells Foundation!

Elsewhere in the episode, Howard — frustrated by how Arthur is head-over-heels in his relationship with Willa — spends time with Nicholas instead, and he is deciding whether to audition for a popular Korean TV series. The issue, however, is that Nicholas doesn’t speak Korean. The rest of their storyline is spent with Howard trying to help Nicholas, whose frustration keeps growing as he’s progressively unable to correctly pronounce the Korean lines no matter how hard he tries. 

When Howard asks about this, Nicholas confesses that even though running lines seemed innocuous, it’s a reminder that he’s never felt connected, culturally, anywhere. He’s adopted by white parents and doesn’t feel at home in white spaces. But he can’t speak Korean, has never been to Korea, and therefore doesn’t feel at home in that part of his identity either. It’s a really powerful little moment of vulnerability where Nicholas expresses that he just doesn’t feel like he fits anywhere. Howard listens to his pain, offers his support as a friend for whenever Nicholas feels like talking about his emotions, and Nicholas is genuinely appreciative of that. I also just love that instead of providing any real solutions (because he has none), Howard just offers his presence to Nicholas instead. It is really sweet and an example of how great of a friend he is.

I love that “Grace” was an episode all about how messy and uncomfortable life can be. Still, Loot reminded us that even in the midst of that discomfort, good things can form. And they are going to form for the rest of the season.

Notes & Quotes:

  • It was so much fun seeing Ana Gasteyer and Maya Rudolph together!
  • “We can’t just drop in uninvited.” “If you’re worth over $10 billion, legally you’re allowed to show up wherever you want.” “That is absolutely not true.” “I don’t know — I’ve been to like, 10 Olympics. Never once bought a ticket.”
  • “What’s in this? Robitussin?” “And NyQuil. And DayQuil.”
  • And in what was barely a C-story, Sofia tries to avoid Arthur after seeing him make out with Willa in public because, in her words, “it’s weird.” The story comes full circle when Sofia decides to give Arthur a taste of his own medicine — she kisses Isaac in public, making sure Arthur sees, and it’s only then that Arthur admits how weird it is to see your coworker kissing someone in public. And that was the extent of a rather silly and pointless mini-story.
  • Can you believe we are only two episodes away from the finale? If you thought that things were going to settle down for Molly and the rest of the Wells Foundation coworkers, just wait until next week!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Loot 2x07 Recap: “Camp Wells” (Distractions and Cabins) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Camp Wells”
Original Airdate: May 8, 2024

This week on Loot, Molly accepts that she has feelings for Arthur — just in time to meet his new girlfriend. Later in the episode, the team takes a trip to a cabin in the woods. And even though the trip to “Camp Wells” doesn’t end like a horror movie would, it doesn’t necessarily end well for a few members of the team.

The episode opens with Molly accidentally walking into a hidden bathroom at work where Arthur is changing and realizes he’s surprisingly fit! Cue awkwardness between the two. This encounter prompts Molly to admit her feelings for Arthur to Nicholas, and Nicholas tells her that Arthur confessed his feelings for her while in Corsica. Nicholas then has an idea for them both to organically figure out how they feel about one another — a work retreat. Molly enthusiastically tells the team they’re going to Dubai, and everyone (even Sofia) is on board. I kind of love the little detail that proves Sofia’s relationship with Isaac is causing her to relax a little bit and enjoy taking a break from work every now and then! She’s ready and she even has a new hat she is excited to wear.

Unfortunately for Molly, she soon discovers that Arthur may not be as available as she’d hoped when Willa shows up brandishing freshly-baked muffins with blueberries from the hike she and Arthur took that morning. What happens the rest of the episode is a pretty standard rom-com-style series of events in which Molly acts jealous of Willa and instead of admitting that she has a problem or feelings, projects it onto everyone and everything else. It’s actually uncomfortable and cringey to watch Molly act like this — and honestly it’s supposed to be. This is the part of the story where we realize that Willa is a nice, good, normal person who is taking Molly’s awkwardness in stride. Molly is supposed to be the one we’re not thrilled by in this episode. And only Molly and Nicholas really know why she’s acting the way she is. It’s a delicate line to walk though, making Molly unlikable, but Maya Rudolph chooses her moments of vulnerability in this episode carefully and does a great job selling them so that we still root for Molly to be happy.

After meeting Willa, Molly spirals and does what we all do — looks up Willa’s Instagram account. As she tells Nicholas, she can’t compete with Willa who is down-to-earth, loves nature and hikes, bakes, and even fosters bunnies! Molly, meanwhile, is a billionaire with a palace in Dubai. Even though feels like she might be out of the running for Arthur, Nicholas convinces Molly that she’s not. But this does spark something in Molly: a change of course for the work trip. Instead of highlighting her opulence and money, Molly speculates that maybe Arthur wants someone who is more laid back. So she decides that Dubai is out and a cabin in San Bernardino, California is in! (Unfortunately, Ainsley is the only one not present for this information and spends the rest of the episode stuck at the Dubai airport because she just bought a ticket there herself.)

Elsewhere in the episode, we get some more bonding between Sofia and Howard when they both bemoan the change in plans from Dubai to a cabin. As it turns out, both had terrible camp experiences when they were kids and aren’t keen to relive the experience of camping. They try to find reception so they can distract themselves on their phones. Unsuccessful (and yelled at by Nicholas for complaining loudly), the two head outside where it’s chilly. Howard mentions that he could try to build a fire, and he actually does!

The two then talk about how bad their camp experiences were — between bullying and feeling like outcasts, neither of them really made any friends. Ironically, both Sofia and Howard’s only friend at camp was their camp nurse. Despite how things went for them when they were younger, they both decide that if camping had just been sitting around, talking about life, they might have enjoyed it more. It’s sweet to see the ever-blossoming friendship between these two coworkers this season!

Molly, meanwhile, decides that the best thing to cook for the team is a chicken pot pie since it’s homey and down-to-earth, but she’s hilariously bad at it so Nicholas volunteers Arthur. And because Molly and Arthur genuinely have such a delightful rapport together, they easily joke and make fun of each other (for example, Arthur assumes that Emeril Lagasse’s real name is “Emerald”). Unfortunately for Molly, this little flirtatious bubble pops momentarily when Arthur begins to play some cooking music and it’s a band that Willa introduced him to.

When Molly asks how the relationship is going, Arthur admits that he’s really enjoying himself. Willa is helping him to step outside of his comfort zone in a way he hasn’t since his divorce. He’s taking pottery classes and going hiking. As he tells Molly, he’s just having fun for the first time in a long time. And for someone like Arthur who always plans and thinks and is so structured, it’s freeing for him to just be able to live life and enjoy someone else’s company.

Molly is visibly pained — a great choice in direction is that she has her back to Arthur while this conversation is happening and only we can see her reaction — but she doesn’t handle it very well. In fact, she’s pretty upset and her mood doesn’t improve when Arthur’s phone begins incessantly pinging at dinner with text messages from Willa. And while Molly’s behavior is definitely immature, the fact that Arthur keeps trying to joke with her (and has his ringer still on! Turn off the text message sound, dude!) means he definitely doesn’t understand that Molly is upset about something else. Loot does a great job of framing Arthur as a good guy — and he is, there’s no doubt about that. The problem is that he might be too kind and nice without realizing that his kindness and niceness is actually hurting other people. He talks so much about Willa and how happy he is, and we see brief moments in this episode of him being confused by Molly’s behavior. But there’s one moment in the kitchen that struck me — Molly’s back is to him and when she barely comments about how happy Arthur is, he looks visibly hurt.

Because the truth is that despite all of the thousands of rom-coms out there, there’s always a central arc: a misunderstanding. Arthur doesn’t think Molly sees him as a romantic prospect, just a friend. So he moved on. But they still flirt and have fun together because Arthur does not think they can be anything more; he just assumes this is all their relationship will ever be. So he is confused when she seems detached as he talks about Willa. Meanwhile, Molly doesn’t think that Arthur could want someone like her, just as she is. But he does. So she tries the whole episode to bend and fit into whatever box she thinks he might want in order to win his attention. These two just haven’t been honest enough with each other yet to realize that maybe they want the same thing. If only they would communicate it!

Frustrated with the weekend, with Arthur, with herself, and with everyone complaining, Molly storms out of the cabin and insists that she’s driving to the grocery store to pick up things for s’mores.

She doesn’t, however, heed Nicholas’ warnings about driving a passenger van (she’s apparently a bad driver, according to him), and Molly decides to spite him by making a three-point turn and knocking over piles of wood, a statue, and a mailbox while Arthur, Howard, and Sofia watch. Unfortunately right at the moment she’s about to pull out of the driveway, she hits (a naked) Rhonda who had been swimming in the pond since the beginning of the cabin trip. Everyone is rightfully horrified, even though Rhonda notes this isn’t the first time she’s been hit by a passenger van.

Later on, back at her home, Nicholas tells Molly that Rhonda is at the hospital and fine, but Molly is obviously distraught over what happened — her behavior culminated in hitting Rhonda. Disappointed and embarrassed by the way that things have turned out between her and Arthur, Molly tells Nicholas that she’s going back to her original plan: focusing on herself and her job, not relationships.

The next day, Molly is in the office early and passionately tells Sofia that she doesn’t just want to create Space for Everyone in California — she wants to expand it to the whole country. But Sofia has a bombshell that will carry us the rest of the season: Molly doesn’t have enough money to do that.

So the question now is ... who does the billionaire Molly Wells turn to when she needs more money? Stay tuned next week to find out!

Notes & Quotes:
  • I, much like Molly, was surprised to see a very fit and shirtless Nat Faxon at the beginning of this episode!
  • “I had a dream where we were in a sleigh, under a blanket, looking up at Santa.”
  • “I was sworn to secrecy! And, as a clinical narcissist, I honestly just forgot.”
  • “If anyone’s gonna be Princess Jasmine, it’s me. I’ve got the hair for it.”
  • Maya Rudolph shoving an entire muffin into her mouth while speaking in an Australian accent was pretty funny.
  • I really do think that if we cut Rhonda and Ainsley or at least limited their time on screen, the show would be tighter overall.
  • “If I can’t check my email in the next 10 minutes, I’m burning this cabin to the ground.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Loot 2x06 Recap: “Women Who Rule” (Fashion Forward) [Contributor: Jenn]

 

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Women Who Rule”
Original Airdate: May 1, 2024

This week’s episode focuses a lot on Molly coming to terms with aging, Sofia coming to terms with being vulnerable in a loving (and serious) relationship, and Arthur finding some self-confidence!

At the beginning of the episode, Sofia shows up late to the office — in casual clothes, no less! Apparently she stayed over at Isaac’s and didn’t have her things for work. The whole team takes the opportunity to grill her about her relationship with Isaac. Even though Sofia declares that they’re just casual, the team decides that all of the evidence points to the contrary. And that terrifies Sofia, especially later on in the episode when Isaac asks if he should get them both season passes to the Hollywood Bowl. Initially, Sofia panics and just freezes up, unable to respond, so Isaac leaves. 

Later in the day, however, she confronts Isaac at his office. Clearly the tactic has worked before in her other relationships — Sofia pushing someone away because things are getting serious and it scares her — but what I love is that it doesn’t work on Isaac. It doesn’t really rattle him or cause him to lash out at her. Sofia is a person who pushes people away before they can hurt her. She says later on in the episode that fights typically have ended her relationships in the past. So when she leaves Isaac’s office that afternoon, in her mind, she’s broken up with Isaac — which is a little confusing to her when he shows up at her doorstep with groceries for dinner. Isaac and Sofia have an honest conversation about wanting to be together and taking things slow. It’s such a lovely little arc for Sofia (which we will see more of in the next few episodes too) learning vulnerability and that it’s okay to feel safe and stable with someone without self-sabotaging.

Molly, meanwhile, gets invited to walk the runway as a special guest in L.A. Fashion Week at a “Women Who Rule” themed event. She’s really excited about the whole experience... until her stylist accidentally mistakes Howard for her son. A little distraught, Molly slightly grieves her age, so Nicholas decides to help her feel and look younger. Molly confesses to him that most days, she’s fine with being a middle-aged woman; but the stark reminder of it from someone else felt too much for her. Molly notes that she spent so much of her youth wrapped up in John and his world that it hurts a bit to be reminded of the fact that she’s not young anymore.

She’s even more aware of the fact that she’s not young anymore when she tries her best to hang out and fit in with the models. She’s exhausted from doing TikTok dances and the backstage area is so warm that when a young model offers Molly champagne and a pill that she claims is “mostly herbal” (spoiler alert: it is not), Molly takes it. But it doesn’t matter, because Molly walks down the runway and absolutely crushes it! ... Until it’s revealed that the runway perfection was just in her head. In actuality, Molly’s very, very high and has to be sent to the emergency room to get her stomach pumped. While there, however, she gains a little perspective from a nurse who thanks her for creating Space for Everyone. Apparently the nurse’s cousin moved into the hotel, having had a rough few years, and his life is turning around already.

One thing the nurse says though toward the end of their short conversation strikes Molly — Molly has lived a lot in the time she’s been on earth. She’s got a lot of miles under her belt, with more to come down the line. To that statement, however, the nurse simply tells Molly: “Well be proud of them [the miles],” and for the first time all episode, I think Molly chooses to reframe her age and her experience as something to be grateful for, rather than something to be defeated by or ashamed of. She has more wisdom and perspective now than she did in her youth and is doing good in the world because of it.

Elsewhere in the episode, Arthur gets a little confidence booster from Howard about what to wear to the fashion show and opts for a classic look with a red striped tie — which immediately means he’s mistaken for security at the show (they are wearing identical outfits) and is forced to work. Of course he’s not actually forced; Arthur is such a non-confrontational and nice person that he just agrees to do it when he gets yelled at.

But through this, Arthur meets and banters with a model named Willa who, later on in the episode, puts her number in his phone and asks him out. I know last week I talked a lot about how much I love Arthur and Molly together, but I also know that neither of them are ready to move forward yet in their relationship. They are still dancing around their feelings: remember that Molly even gave Arthur the chance last week to tell her what he was going to say in Corsica before John showed up. So it’s nice to see Arthur’s wit and personality appreciated by someone outside of the office. 

Besides, isn’t this a plot point in so many rom-coms? People repressing their true feelings for each other? I guess we’ll have to just stay tuned to find out how Molly feels about Arthur’s new relationship next week.

Notes & Quotes:
  • I know Nicholas is supposed to be vain and his remarks are often reflective of his obliviousness, but the random Armie Hammer comment he makes in this episode was uncomfortable and unnecessary. Armie is an actual abuser. No thanks.
  • “I was gonna do it anyway, but I love being called pretty. Thanks guys!”
  • “I don’t need you to be my therapist. I have a therapist. ... Well, I’m trying to get one. I’m looking into names. My last one asked too many questions.”
  • “I need a doctor for my bones.”
  • Did anyone else just assume that the “twist” was going to be that Willa wasn’t a model and Arthur let someone in a restricted area who wasn’t supposed to be there? Glad it worked out differently for his sake!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Loot 2x05 Recap: “Mally’s” (Happy Birthday to You) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Mally’s”
Original Airdate: April 24, 2024

What you missed on the episode before this, titled “Mr. Congeniality”: Molly ended her dry spell by hooking up with Benjamin Bratt (who played an exaggerated version of himself), Arthur helps Howard find a “heel” (a villain) for his wrestling league and they end up choosing Nicholas. Also Ainsley is getting married, so Sofia and Nicholas help her figure out table seating with all of her family drama.

But this week we focus on a delightful Molly/Arthur plot that proves how truly wonderful Maya Rudolph and Nat Faxon are together. It’s Molly’s birthday and given that Loot began with a disastrous birthday party for her the previous year, Molly is not keen on doing any kind of celebration. The whole team discovers that John sent an over-the-top gift, complete with a hologram of himself singing to a very unamused Molly.

Even though Molly has improved a lot emotionally and has grown as a person, there is still one item of John’s she has yet to get rid of: his mega-yacht. So she enlists Arthur’s help to review the contract since she has a buyer — a Swedish billionaire named Emil (played by Academy Award winner and Nat Faxon’s writing partner, Jim Rash!). The two meet up with him and unfortunately for them, he wants to tour the yacht again for a few hours before he commits. 

Arthur decides that he and Molly should kill time at a nearby mall, and the rest is essentially ripped from the pages of a rom-com: The two talk, connect, laugh, and get in trouble by the mall security. Of course, Emil tells Molly that he’s done early; but Molly is having such a great time with Arthur that she lies and says they have to spend a few more hours at the mall. 

I honestly really love these two and the relationship they have; it’s such a charming relationship on the show to watch. This storyline specifically is so delightful because it allows both Arthur and Molly to have fun with one another and grow in their friendship. After Molly was sent an embarrassing amount of flowers — and equally embarrassing hologram — it’s so wonderful for her to be able to spend her birthday doing something that is low-key and actually makes her happy. The idea that she’s more excited by being at a mall than being on a yacht at this point says a lot about her growth as a person and her priorities. She’s not perfect and will continue to make mistakes throughout the rest of the season, but her heart is usually in the right place. Getting to share such a special and rather ordinary day (when she didn’t even want to celebrate) with Arthur makes Molly happy. And I love that for her.

Also just as an aside, I love that early on in the episode, Molly talks about how comforting she finds malls — no matter where you go, they’re basically all the same: same lights, same food courts, same kiosks, same smells and sounds. There’s something so simple and nostalgic about them — and so universal too. 

While enjoying Cinnabon at the food court, Molly and Arthur have a conversation about the moment they almost shared in Corsica last season before John showed up. When Molly wonders whether people think less of her for sleeping with John, Arthur reassures her by telling her how amazing, smart, and beautiful she is. It’s a lovely little moment punctuated by an equally lovely one where Molly watches from afar as Arthur helps an elderly woman throw away her food. It’s clear that she has real, genuine feelings for him that will continue to evolve as the season goes on.

While the pair have fun, they eventually get in trouble (Molly decides to steal a rideable toy animal that’s meant for children) and are sent to the back office of the mall. But don’t worry: their drama is short-lived because Molly decides to just purchase the mall! While it might seem like a quick-fix for their circumstances, it’s actually because Molly really does love the mall. She will keep everyone employed and the same — because, as she said, malls are awesome.

Elsewhere in the episode, Sofia has enlisted Nicholas, Howard, Ainsley, and Rhonda to help her go door-to-door in the community acquiring business owner signatures to show support for Space for Everyone. Ainsley decides they should make it a competition between the men and women, and very quickly it becomes evident to Howard that they will lose — and it’s due to Nicholas’ relationships with pretty much every store owner they meet. In summary, he ghosted them all when they assumed their relationships were serious. Nicholas’ response to their anger and frustration is initially self-centered (he doesn’t get why people are mad because everyone is obsessed with him!). But when Howard points out that he really did hurt the guys he dated and should apologize to them, Nicholas agrees.

Hilariously, once Nicholas begins opening up even a little bit to the guys he ghosted, he can’t stop and unloads years of repressed emotions and family trauma onto them. Hilariously, Howard observes this all happen and tries his best to steer Nicholas back on track. While Howard is obviously surprised by the tangent of processing Nicholas does on the spot, he’s ultimately proud of his friend for opening up and growing as a person. Yay character growth!

The episode ends with everyone back at the office, prepared to head to Las Vegas to see Mariah Carey, when Arthur gives the sweetest gift to Molly: an $30 engraved picture frame from Things Remembered that Molly wanted when she was younger. It’s such a kind, thoughtful gesture that Molly is truly taken aback with emotion. And it’s even more proof that Molly is really falling for Arthur and that Arthur would do anything to make Molly smile.

Overall, “Mally’s” is such a delightful episode that sets the stage for the rest of the season’s Arthur/Molly relationship! What did you all think?

Notes & Quotes:

  • I know I already said it above, but as a website that began devoted to Community reviews, it delighted me to no end to see Jim Rash in this episode.
  • Ainsley and Howard singing “A Whole New World” was adorable.
  • “Men: we are childish. But also violent and stupid.”
  • “I don’t like American wind.”
  • “I do like to win, because it’s the only way to get people to like you.”
  • “Claire’s! I got so many rashes from their jewelry.”
  • “This is a pity ice cream that’s coming in a cup with no toppings.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Loot 2x03 Recap: "Vengeance Falls" (Family Drama) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

“Vengeance Falls”
Original Airdate: April 10, 2024

This week’s Loot focuses on Nicholas, and it’s the perfect opportunity for Joel Kim Booster’s comedic and emotional talents to shine. (Relatedly, go watch his film Fire Island on Hulu if you haven’t yet. I’ll wait.)

“Vengeance Falls” is the name of a provocative play that Nicholas was cast in and is incredibly excited about. The episode opens with Molly running lines of dialogue with him while asking who he invited to see his play. When he makes an excuse about not inviting his parents, Molly takes it upon herself to invite them on Nicholas’ behalf. It doesn’t go well: he butchers his lines in the play on purpose because he doesn’t want his conservative Midwestern parents to feel uncomfortable. But in the end, everyone feels uncomfortable anyway.

The fact that Nicholas censors himself and his life around his parents is paralleled by the awkwardness they feel about being out of their comfort zone around him. They don’t dramatically fight but that’s almost worse — instead of connecting, they stick to surface level conversations with the things they’re not saying to one another bubbling just underneath every comment (they do not understand his choice to be an actor; he refuses to return to Indiana to farm). Molly tries her hardest to praise Nicholas and to get some sort of enthusiastic reaction or approval from his parents. Molly would even have been fine with some sort of minor enthusiasm. But with every praise of Nicholas, his parents change the subject; and with every subject change about their Indiana town, Nicholas gets more and more irritated.

When Molly confronts him about his relationship with his parents, Nicholas asserts that his relationship with them is just fine... if they don’t stray from approved, safe, surface level topics. They don’t approve or understand why he moved away and is pursuing acting. Molly tells Nicholas that his attitude isn’t healthy and that he should put in the emotional work with them — just like she is by being alone and self-sufficient. But Nicolas astutely points out that Molly actually doesn’t often put in work to be alone. She has teams of people who do things for her, including him; she’s never truly alone. This leads to a minor fight in which Molly very defiantly tells Nicholas that she can be alone — without the help of anyone who works for her.

Molly actually does pretty well with this, until a smoke detector begins chirping its low battery alert and she can’t figure out how to get it to stop. She tries everything, eventually ripping it off the wall, throwing it into her safe, and then accidentally locking herself in her panic room. (And in a hilarious turn of events, the alarm on the wall in the panic room also begins chirping.) Nicholas shows up after an alert tips him off that the panic room is locked and Molly confesses that she feels embarrassed about not being able to do things by herself. But Nicholas praises her for the fact that even when she doesn’t get it right, at least she’s trying. And he admits that she was right about his parents — they don’t talk about their emotions or feelings and instead repress both.

The two embrace and Molly emphasizes that she’ll always be there for Nicholas. It’s a sweet, quiet little moment between the two that is so subtle and well-acted by Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster. And it’s also the exact thing Nicholas needs to hear in order to go to the hotel where his parents are staying and extend an invitation for them to have dinner with them at a local diner. Though the conversation doesn’t immediately fix all of their issues, it’s a little step forward — Nicholas is vulnerable about his acting job in a commercial and his parents agree to go out to dinner.

From what Joel Kim Booster has shared about his own upbringing being raised by his adoptive white evangelical parents, this week’s Loot storyline really parallels his own story. Joel’s performance is so good in this episode because he’s lived a similar story to Nicholas, and it’s that kind of longing for love and understanding that makes it both an incredibly specific story and also an intensely universal one.

SWIFTIE TIME

Elsewhere, in what is perhaps the silliest storyline that this show does that falls quite squarely into my bucket of interests, Howard suspects that Sofia is a Swiftie and decides to try his hardest throughout the entire episode to uncover the truth (while she just tries to get him to do a PowerPoint assignment he was supposed to do). Eventually after lying about it, Sofia tells Howard that she is, indeed, a fan of the pop artist, showing him where she hides her Taylor Swift vinyls in the cases of other artists. 

Sofia admits that she hides her love for Taylor Swift because she is a young Afro-Latina woman navigating a leadership role. She doesn’t want to give the world any reason to question her authority and unfortunately, being a vocal Swiftie would possibly make people think less of her or take her less seriously. So she hides her vinyls and her excitement in order to try and navigate the world. And it sadly makes sense that she would feel the need to do this. Howard admits that he never thought about it from that perspective before.

But to Howard, this news just makes her more relatable to him. He already saw her as someone to look up to and admire — a fact that he earnestly tells her in this episode — and now, even though she will still hide her love of Taylor Swift from the world, she has a way to connect with him. Howard tells her that he spent eight years working alongside her and feels like he does not really know her. You can see that Sofia is slightly taken aback by that comment. But there is truth there: she keeps her life so private and hidden typically, and it’s sweet to see her start to open up to others this season. Sharing a mutual love of Taylor Swift with Howard was a nice little way to do just that. And the episode ends with them preparing to listen to the Midnights vinyl together while swapping Swiftie theories.

And that’s all for this week’s Loot! What did you think of “Vengeance Falls”?

Notes & Quotes:

  • “Every time I read the script, I have more questions. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?”
  • “I listen to podcasts about systemic racism and urban decay.”
  • “That’s not mine. I’m holding it for a friend. Her name is Dakota. ... She is white.”
  • “No one has a great aunt. They only exist when you’re trying to get out of work or a term paper.”
  • Who did the funnier storyline with an incessantly beeping smoke detector: Phoebe Buffay in Friends or Molly Wells in Loot?