Maybe the first half of the episode is following up from last season’s cliffhanger. The second half of the episode is then trying to get “Dead to Me” to a place where the show can go on. There’s been a seismic change to the relationship between Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, a seismic cast change—or has there been—but for the first half, writer (and show creator) Liz Feldman does whatever she can to convince the viewer things aren’t going to go exactly where they’ve got to go for the show to continue.
It’s kind of a predictable forced pivot because the episode starts six or eight hours after the dramatic cliffhanger, meaning we’ve missed a bunch. We’re also going to learn—because there have got to be secrets in Feldman’s scripts, secrets from the supporting cast so you can get a scene and then haranguing for the rest of the episode and secrets from the audience so you can gin up a big surprise.
So when Feldman reveals the first secret, it’s not even one anyone would’ve thought about. Sure, Applegate and Cardellini aren’t with it enough to think of a cover story for Applegate’s kids, Sam McCarthy and Luke Roessler—who the show now refer to as “the boys,” like there was a memo to the writers’ room to make Applegate seem more like a mama bear this season.
Applegate’s plot this episode is coming to terms with the cliffhanger as we find out, no, she did fire off a revolver outside in her shishi poopoo L.A. suburb. Because even the “Dead to Me” writers aren’t that stupid. And when they actually get to the reveal at the end, it’s not a bad one. And they didn’t wait six episodes to do it like I was expecting.
Meanwhile, Cardellini is living out of her car. Actually, out of a dead friend’s car because there’s no room for Cardellini to crash at the retirement home. We get to meet the newest retirement home resident, Renee Victor, and her cool, 420-friendly daughter Natalie Morales. Are they important? Don’t know, but they give Cardellini something to do before Applegate has need of her again.
Turns out show punchline and punching bag Suzy Nakamura has the block wired for video, which means no matter what Applegate covers up in her backyard, there’s video of the front and there’s damning evidence on there.
So she calls Cardellini to talk and ends up bringing her back in so they can watch “Facts of Life” and Cardellini can reveal she grew up homeless and make Applegate check her privilege (sort of) and we can get on with season two.
Or, as the shocking cliffhanger asks, can we?