Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Younger 3x11 and 3x12 Review: "A Book Fair to Remember" & "Get Real" (What A Ride)

"A Book Fair to Remember" & "Get Real"
Original Airdate: December 14, 2016

Well, that was quite a way to end the season, wasn't it? Not only did Younger manage to pull out all of the drama and all of the stops with its back-to-back episodes, but it still managed — after three seasons of Liza's secret-keeping — to surprise me with its twists and turns. So much happened with our main characters in the final two episodes. Liza tells Kelsey about her secret, Josh and Liza are officially (permanently?) broken up, and Liza and Charles share a few really intense smooches. Not to mention the fact that Millennial is at a book fair in the Hamptons while most of this goes down and David, Liza's ex-husband, finally gets the much-deserved tell-off he needs.

With a season finale as jam-packed as this one — and one that's so emotional, too — there's just so much to discuss. Let's dive in, shall we?


In the wake of last week's episode, Liza and Josh are in an awkward place in their relationship — he really wants kids and a future with Liza, while she is insistent that while she loves Josh, she is done having children. It's a non-discussion point for her, but Josh keeps pressing. So at the beginning of "A Book Fair to Remember," Liza is happy to get out of the city and escape to the Hamptons for a while, where she can avoid Josh. In fact, she is pretty sure that she needs to end their relationship.

But Liza is far too busy throughout most of the episode to think about Josh. She and Kelsey have a book fair to prepare for, and a party to get filled. With Colin's demanding schedule, Kelsey doubts she'll see much of him that weekend. But who the two ladies do see a lot of over the course of the book fair? Emily, from EW. If you'll recall, Emily and Liza met at an assistants' mixer where the latter lied about her age. And while Emily may talk like a Valley Girl, she's one dedicated reporter.

While on the beach, Emily reveals to Liza that she knows about her real age. When it becomes futile to lie, Liza confesses and tells Emily a little bit of her story. The young writer assures Liza that she's a steel trap of secrets. But... that doesn't stop her from blackmailing our heroine. You see, Emily is desperately trying to get a self-help book published  it's from the perspective of her Labradoodle — but no one is biting. Emily needs a story by the end of the book fair, so either Liza will agree to have Millennial publish the Labradoodle book, or Emily will publish Liza's real story.

Poor Liza is backed into a corner here, and hard. Kelsey knows the idea is stupid and refuses to publish Emily's book. I think this is the first episode in a long time in which we see Liza do something desperate, professionally. I really expected her to come up with some sort of brilliant plan to get Emily off-track, or to find another solution to the problem. But what I really loved about the finale of Younger this season was that it was satisfyingly real. Liza didn't make all the right choices in these episodes, and she didn't always have a perfect, television ending. 

Liza, instead, goes behind Kelsey's back at the Millennial book fair party, telling those in attendance (she sent Colin and Kelsey away prior to this all happening) that the imprint would be publishing Emily's book. The look on Liza's face after she announces this says it all: she's made a huge mistake and will pay for it later.

Speaking of paying for things later, back in the city, Josh and Maggie hang out (does anyone else love the fact that these two are so close?), and Josh confesses how much he loves Liza and believes her to be "the one." Maggie, jaded, scoffs at this idea but essentially tells Josh that if he loves Liza, he can't lose her. 

Meanwhile, Charles and Liza have a few endearing, adorable awkward run-ins during the book fair, but they culminate in a moment where the two decide to attend a concert in a little bar together. It's the band Berlin — Charles knows and loves them, and Liza has to keep making up excuses for why she loves them as much as she does (her excuse? Her "babysitter" had a profound impact on her musical repertoire). The two enjoy the music and then begin to dance to "Take My Breath Away," with Charles regaling Liza with tales of his youth. When he apologizes, she tells him not to — she likes hearing his stories. In a moment of profound honesty, Charles confesses that he likes her. And then, Liza kisses him.

I'll be honest here and say that I'm hardcore into Charles/Liza. I think that once he finds out about her real age, he'll feel extremely conflicted (obviously because of the lying thing), but right now he's this mature counterpart to Josh's younger, more free-wheeling ways. ... Except that Josh has actually matured a lot more than I give him credit for, as we'll see in "Get Real."

Look at these idiots and their beautiful faces.

After their moment, Charles and Liza return to their rooms — both still a little bit punch-drunk on each other and what happened. Liza tests the waters by saying that perhaps "the band" getting together was a one-night only thing. When Charles tells her that he hopes it's not, they kiss again and this time they REALLY go for it. So much so that they're completely oblivious to the fact that Josh walks up to Liza's room and sees them kissing. He walks off, heartbroken.

As Liza bids goodnight, citing the fact that she needs to figure things out with Josh before anything can happen, Charles looks behind her into her room and appears startled by something. We notice what that something is when the camera follows an extremely shocked Liza into the bedroom.

On the bed, in rose petals, are the words "marry me."


"A Book Fair to Remember" was really a stellar episode. It's always nice when the Younger characters get the chance to explore life outside of the city, and this one was especially nice because it forced everyone out of their comfort zones and into some really vulnerable places. 


After the emotional conclusion of "A Book Fair to Remember," the book fair itself wraps up and the characters head back to the city to confront what waits for them there. For Liza, it's the reality that she broke Josh's heart when he saw her kissing Charles. And that the damage she caused might be irreparable. In fact, that's really what this episode is all about — the damage that Liza's secret has done and what her lies have caused the people around her to suffer. The title is "Get Real," and the episode really frames Liza's emotional narrative around a new potential book deal for Empirical with a self-help guru named Antonia Stewart who enraptures audiences.

But Liza isn't the only person dealing with relationship woes in this episode: with Lauren's boyfriend (I missed you, Lauren) Max moving in with her family, roommate Kelsey is trying to adjust to a new normal. It's not working out very well, as Max is slowly encroaching on her space. As a temporary fix, Kelsey crashes with Colin and... it doesn't end particularly well for Kelsey. Honestly, I think Colin is kind of a jerk now. Fame has caused him to reprioritize Kelsey, even though in the previous episode, he made her a priority.

When Kelsey crashes, Colin essentially tells her that he doesn't have time for her to be a "distraction" with all of the things he has going on with his book. Kelsey is understandably floored by the conversation, especially when Colin tells her that he doesn't want her to move in, but wants to continue seeing her.

At the "Get Real" event, Liza and Kelsey revel in the odd but supreme stage presence of Antonia, who convinces a woman to get to the root of her issues (it's not losing weight — it's about a divorce!). Another person is called to the stage and much to Liza's horror, it's David. He tells the story of how he wants to win Liza back, and Antonia instructs him to call her from the stage. Understandably, Liza panics and runs to the bathroom just in time to take the call and disguise her voice.

As Antonia talks to Liza through the phone, Liza realizes some crucial things: she's self-destructive, but she loves Josh and wants to be with him. It's a sweet moment, and a good way to close out the David chapter of Liza's life. He needs to move on, and so does she. 

There's only one problem: what Liza did to Josh was unforgivable. If you all know me, you know I'm pretty much #TeamCharles, but man, was the scene between Josh and Liza just heartbreaking for me. Josh has grown up significantly since he and Liza began their relationship. He deeply cares for her, and has even made it clear that he would help fund her daughter's schooling. Josh is all-in, and Liza knows it. Even though she says that she loves him in this episode though and seems to get some clarity from Antonia, I think Liza still hesitates on being all-in with Josh.

And I think the reason is because she doesn't really know if she wants to spend the rest of her life with him — not after she was hurt in a marriage before. Maybe Liza is right: maybe she really is just self-destructive. But I tend to think it's because Josh loves and is committed to Liza more than she is committed to him. She loves him, certainly. But that doesn't necessarily mean she can see a future with him, whereas Josh definitely can see a future with Liza.

With all of these things in her mind, Josh allows Liza to show up at his place but very quickly puts her in her place. It's a beautiful scene, played exceptionally by Nico Tortarella and Sutton Foster. He tells Liza that he could and wanted to be with her through everything: through the age difference and her ex-husband and her daughter. He could deal with all of that. But the lies that Liza has stacked up are beginning to tumble and crush the people closest to her. He calls Liza a liar and a cheater (daaaaaang, son) and then tells her to leave because this time, there are no more words.

It's a heartbreaking scene, but one that shows tremendous growth for Josh as a character, and makes me proud of the arc he's had this season.

When a distraught Liza returns home, Maggie is there to embrace her and informs her that they have company. Kelsey is crashing with the pair because Colin is unbearable. Upon noticing Liza crying, Kelsey asks what's wrong. It's in this moment that Liza has a choice — continue to hurt people with her lies, or begin to come clean and heal from them. She chooses the latter, sitting down with Kelsey and showing her a photo of her with her daughter. Kelsey is, of course, confused.

"I don't understand," she says.

Liza replies: "Then let me explain."


I'm so glad that Kelsey knows now, but it makes me wonder so many things for season four. How rocky will her relationship be with Liza? After all, there is so much that Liza has lied about and so many things (three seasons' worth) she has to explain. I think this was the perfect way to end the season, though: these two women are the central relationship in Younger, and eventually Kelsey was going to have to learn the truth. I'm glad it was on Liza's own terms, rather than an accidental slip-up from someone else.

I really loved the final two episodes this season, and think they did a superb job integrating plot, characterization, and emotion. Now, who's excited for next season?!


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