Knowing this episode title ahead of time, I couldn’t imagine what “Scromple” might refer to. We still don’t really know its origins, but now we know what – or, who – it refers to: Our Guy. This quiet, shaggy episode packs a bittersweet surprise inside of its funny outer shell. It becomes one of the most intimate – maybe the most, edging out last season’s “Ex” – look we’ve had at The Guy’s exterior and interior life in the entire series.
The episode begins unassumingly and then unfolds in unexpected directions. We begin inside a therapist’s office, where the woman is listening to her client weep for what has apparently been a very long time. The therapist, as “kindly” as she can, tells the weeping woman her time is up for the week. It actually just occurred to me watching this that of course some therapists can get annoyed with their clients. Sometimes you probably just don’t wanna hear it – or at least, hear it for hours at a time. This therapist is so eager to avoid her client that after leaving her office she abruptly goes to cross the street to avoid the weeper on the sidewalk. In doing so, she jumps out in front of the Guy on his bicycle and sends him careening into a parked car.
We skip over the immediate aftermath and go to the Guy in a hospital bed as he observes the insanity of the myriad of people and their problems that surround him in the hospital. He hangs out, sneaks a hit from his vape pen, and takes some selfies. The selfies get a response from his girlfriend, Beth, who asks if he’s OK. It’s a peek into where his mind is, and how he’s probably feeling in his relationship right now, as we see him first text “I ducked up my bike. Could use some help” and then erase it and replace it with a much less sincere text, “I did it for the pudding! Come and hit it” with a bunch of emojis thrown in there. We have only seen Beth and The Guy interact in one episode so far this season, but they felt slightly off the same page than they did last year. This text interaction confirms some of that feeling, as he demonstrates that for whatever reason he doesn’t feel comfortable reaching out and being vulnerable in this way with Beth.
After the Guy receives an injection of “the drugs” (not the usual one), he fades out and we fade into a different scene. Here we see some sort of New Church, led by a black, gay, female priest (Dominique Christina) who preaches a sermon to a congregation of other LGBTQ New Yorkers and others who wouldn’t feel welcome in a traditional religious venue. Julie (Kate Lyn Sheil) is pacing the room, taking photographs that will go towards increasing this group’s social media presence. It’s clear that Julie is slightly awestruck by the presence of the Priest and the “Church” as a whole, citing her Catholic school upbringing as the reason for her usual non-interest in these things.
In the same way we saw The Guy texting, and re-texting his girlfriend, we see Julie doing the same thing with a person labeled “Boo” in her phone. Julie makes up reasons why she isn’t home yet with the pho, as we see her off on her own, doing nothing in particular. The next day at work, Julie has a hankering for a smoke. In a quick comic moment, we see her search through everything on her desk that could possibly have anything hidden inside (in case anyone is curious about how to hide pot, she gives you several ideas). Eventually she texts a friend labeled “Scromple” to ask if they’re home. Of course, she’s already at their apartment and seems to know her way around pretty well as she searches for her fix. She answers her phone, says “shit!” and we cut back to the Guy.
Of course, Julie knows The Guy and he is “Scromple.” It’s a bit odd of the episode to wrap this up in so much mystery, but even after the “reveal” of the connections between these two, they’re still purposely maintaining an air of ambiguity about how they know each other. When Julie visits the Guy in the hospital, we see they are clearly very close, call each other family and share a lot of vague dialogue that could indicate they literally are family, but they aren’t, technically. I felt a bit silly trying to unwrap this unnecessary mystery, as I first felt sure that this is his ex-wife first referred to in last season’s finale. Because of the ambiguities tossed in (“we’re family,” referencing a “Mom and Dad,” the Guy using her birthday as his pass code) I started to think that maybe she was a sister. Of course, once we get to the final scene we see that of course she is his ex-wife, the one living down the hall from him and living with the great Gwen, who we’ve already met. This is officially confirmed when Julie mentions to Gwen that it’s good she and the Guy haven’t signed the divorce papers yet because he can use her health insurance. This is surprising to learn, as they’re clearly not a married couple anymore. It also demonstrates that this is a sticking point in Julie and Gwen’s relationship, as Gwen obviously holds back a response to that statement. Another sticking point is Julie’s smoking, which Gwen thinks makes her “not herself.” When Gwen accuses Julie of being high and weird, Julie says “I just had a good day” and asks Gwen for a “smile-off.” They have one, and it’s adorable, but you can tell that both of them are just searching for a bit of peace in their relationship, a moment where they can pretend there aren’t at least two elephants in the room, or down the hall.
It’s a little heartbreaking to see both Julie and the Guy avoid being honest or vulnerable with their significant other at the top and bottom of the episode while spending the day together in-between, telling old and familiar jokes and being able to talk about some of their current disappointments. They’re the exes, but they are acting more intimately and easily with each other than they are with either of their partners, or maybe even themselves. We end the episode on Julie sneaking off to the Guy’s empty apartment late at night for some bong hits while thumbing a rosary. It’s hard to tell what’s going through her mind, but it seems that Julie doesn’t feel she “isn’t herself” when she’s high – or at the very least, she feels that it can help bring her some inner quiet for a moment. Maybe religion can do that too, or at least the new kind of religion she witnessed earlier. Sometimes the things or people you find yourself comfortable with are not the things that make sense. Ex-husbands, pot, religion… sometimes they’re awful, sometimes they may be just what you need.
- The episode writers were Katja Blichfeld and Rebecca Drysadale, and the directors were Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair.
- The credits scene show us what happened after the Guy’s crash: mainly, the therapist runs away and her weeping client runs over in hysterics.
- Ben Sinclair playing the Guy Super High is very funny – particularly his emotional response to Julie buying him candy (“You bought that for me?”).
- The Elisabeth Shue song from last week returns! What are you up to, Elisabeth Shue?
- Kate Lyn Sheil appeared in the Guy’s dream in this season’s first episode, as a Russian hairdresser (with her same “Not Pot” bag!). Knowing now how they know each other, it makes sense that her face would appear prominently in the Guy’s dream.
- I don’t like to speculate on the lives of people I don’t know, but knowing that Sinclair and Blichfeld are now divorced, with Blichfeld identifying as gay, but with the pair still writing and directing together makes this episode’s content a little more intriguing. Only a little, though – it can stand on its own, as it should.