Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

I have to be honest. I am no longer having much fun watching The Summer I Turned Pretty. Every time I fire up the ole recap machine, ready for some teen love triangle melodrama, I keep finding myself immediately bummed out. Is it me? Is there something I’ve been forgetting to bring up in therapy? No, actually, it’s just that everybody is being an asshole to each other in the name of Susannah again, and I have to realize, again, that I’ve been giving these characters way too much credit. It’s bringing me down.

Take today’s episode, titled, on theme, “Love Affair.” No sooner have I settled in and pressed play than — Laurel, what the fuck?! It’s morning at the be-teened beach house, and Laurel, summoned by Belly’s teary drunk dial, is pissed. First, she’s pissed that Belly has been lying to her about where she was for days. Fair. Then Belly says Laurel is actually pissed because Belly had a meltdown at Susannah’s funeral, which is Laurel’s cue to say, “No, sweetheart, of course not.” But instead, she says yes, Belly’s public display of heartbreak embarrassed her, and she’s pissed about it. Laurel!! So then Belly goes for the jugular and says Susannah would never forgive Laurel for abandoning her boys. And then Laurel slaps her daughter across the face! Again I ask, Laurel, what the fuck?!

And this is the tenor on which this relatively upbeat episode begins. You see how everybody’s already in a bad mood? It’s just hard to get excited about Skye and Julia bonding over Skye’s first kiss or even Laurel taking down the boys’ dick of a dad when we’re still reeling from the entry-level child abuse in the very first scene. Luckily, this is mostly the end of this hour’s emotional turmoil.

Now that Laurel has arrived like Olivia Pope with a messy bun, “Love Affair” begins knocking down whatever unresolved conflicts remain with efficiency. First, Laurel learns that Susannah and Julia never did work out their beach house issues and that Julia spitefully sold the house out from under her nephews and swiped all of their cherished childhood belongings in the bargain because she still has my-dad-has-a-new-family trauma. Laurel does not say to Julia, “Babe, you are middle-aged, and this is a problem to take up with a qualified therapist. You can’t just go around inflicting emotional terrorism on your dead sister’s grieving sons,” which is what I would have said. But she does convince Julia to back out of the sale of the house, after also making a full mea culpa to Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah.

So that’s two major issues down; what’s next? Oh yes, Conrad and Jeremiah’s dick dad Adam, who is possessed of a dickishness so powerful that even Evil Aunt Julia is against him. Convincing Julia was only step one of Operation Save the Cousins House. Step two is convincing Adam to help the boys buy it back. It looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle when Adam smugs smugly into the kitchen, steepling his fingers and cackling with glee that his evil plan is working, but we’ve got a TV season to wrap up, and Laurel is on a plot-resolution roll. She gets him to relent with one judicious “Excuse me, but fuck you” and then prodding him until he cries. Sure, he and Susannah’s relationship could generously be described as bitterly contentious by the end, but being in that house without her in it is still too painful to endure, so fuck Conrad and Jeremiah’s feelings; let’s burn that motherfucker to the ground. So, same as Julia’s reasoning, more or less. Anyway, he decides he still won’t let the boys access their trusts, but he will sell their childhood home in Boston in order to pay for this one. They all agree that this seems fair. Just imagine what Laurel could do with these persuasive powers if she were in Congress.

What else? What else? Taylor has decided that to stay in the house any longer would be an intrusion into a family matter, so Steven lets her borrow his car to drive herself home, and they share a big boyfriend-girlfriend smooch in the driveway. That’s one couple sorted. Skye tells Belly that they’re “Team Cam Cameron.” Two couples sorted. Conrad and Jeremiah have a heart-to-heart on the beach and agree to talk about things from now on, rather than letting their resentments seethe quietly. Handled. Conrad decides he is going to transfer to Stanford after all. Handled again. They take the group picture on the dock. Boom, handled. Belly attempts to friend zone Conrad several times, so that should be handled just as long as the friend zoning actually takes.

At this point, the episode is barely halfway through, and we’re rapidly running out of conflict. We do have Conrad’s biology exam, which is framed to suggest that passing this exam is the difference between actually going to Stanford (which has already accepted him) and getting stuck at Brown (where he was leaning anyway). Whatever. Bring on the extended study sequence! Belly decides via voiceover, “This will be the last thing I do for Conrad Fisher. Get him to Stanford.” Okay, babe. Belly sets up an all-nighter study session, which she runs like a perky drill sergeant and group participation is mandatory. There is a Mcdonald’s rewards system — every time Conrad studies, each boy is rewarded with a burger — and there are well-chosen tunes for when her charges begin to fade. “My mom loved this song,” says Conrad and my friends, the song is “Last Nite” by The Strokes — a chilling reminder of my own slow march to the grave. Let’s move on.

Time to drive Con back to Brown for his all-important exam. Now, at this point, we have just one major conflict left, and I bet you can guess what it is. Belly has made it clear to everyone, including Conrad, that she is ready to move on from that hellscape of a relationship and see if there’s hope for a healthier future with Jeremiah instead. Unfortunately, Conrad is having trouble grasping this, and Jeremiah, who has a sense of self-preservation, is resistant.

Jere, our sweet, frosted-tipped summer child, has spent most of this episode gently schooling everybody else in emotional intelligence. No, Belly, my issues with Conrad do not revolve entirely around you, and while we’re at it, please stop invalidating my feelings about this by trying to defend him to me or mend our fences for us. No, Conrad, it would not be a good idea to barrel into the kitchen and interrupt Laurel as she much more effectively lobbies our dick dad on our behalf. Yes, everyone, the appropriate response when Laurel handles our evil aunt is to give her a big hug and a heartfelt “thank you.” No, Belly, I’m not sure if I’m ready to give you a second chance because when I gave you a first chance, you broke my heart into a million tiny pieces. And yet…

So it’s the last few moments of the episode, and Belly and Jeremiah are waiting outside Conrad’s building for him to finish up his test. Belly has been laying it on thick all afternoon, and Jeremiah is only human, after all. “I want you,” she says. Oh, he’s starting to waver!

“Do you still…?” she asks.

“Yes, I still,” he answers.

And they kiss! Yes, he stills! She wants you, Jeremiah! The music swells, and there is much holding of heads! It is, truly, a very spectacular kiss, and it gives me all those good gooey feels that I’ve been waiting on for seven goddamn episodes. And it is interrupted by a loud “Ahem” from Conrad, who has just finished his exam. See, this is the good shit. If only it didn’t come at the literal last moment possible.

• Like, did we really need that flashback sequence from Laurel? Did we need to see her dragging her feet on her memoir as Susannah cracks grim jokes about her own impending death? Have we not suffered enough? Yes, of course, I cried.

• Laurel and Belly sobbing at each other through Laurel’s apology. I’ve been crying this whole episode, guys.

• It actually also got me when Julia said she never answered Susannah’s final letter. Answer letters from your estranged sisters who are dying of cancer!

#Summer #Turned #Pretty #Recap #Season #Episode

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