Pretending everything is the idyllic family life can only work for so long and the balance between fantasy and reality shifts this week for Libby as she plays out Joy’s escape. The focus of “Two Scents” is a swirl of dreams, perception and real life; some go in eyes open while others prefer their rose tinted specs. Virginia’s relationship with her mother turns from passive aggressive comments to full blown meltdown as a trip to the hairdressers with Tessa causes old resentments to come to a head.
Bill’s words about love and why it doesn’t feature in their research were grand and incredibly romantic as if he was speaking them directly to Virginia, but her mother’s reaction to this moment has had a different kind of effect on their relationship. Firstly, they are finding it hard to keep up with their arrangement because of the house guests and a trip to their favorite hotel from last season does not goes as planned; they are far too recognizable to use an alias.
Being pushed toward the married man you are actually sleeping with by your mother is pretty awkward, especially when you already have a difficult time with her and it isn’t surprising to see Virginia falling for Dan’s charms while they research seduction scents. Bill can sense Virginia slipping away to the point of telling neighbor Paul about this, although he claims it is Johnny who he fears is out of reach. Hence the hotel plan, followed by the office plan and then the elevator plan. None of these go beyond a holding of the hand and Virginia talks of how their coming together had very little courtship (which Dan has promised).
For someone who is rather bumbling when it comes to dealing with human emotion Bill does another fine job of spinning words into a beautiful image as he talks about the first time he saw Virginia and how their relationship is a fairy tale too. It’s not enough this time and Virginia pulls away from him only to return to work later for a rendezvous with Dan. Dancing leads to more with the buttons on the back of her mustard sleeveless blouse revealing to Tessa that work has not been on the cards. Tessa thinks it is Bill her mother has been seeing and instead of showing off her magazine article, the moment is ruined and disillusionment sets in. If she had shown her there is no way she would notice an ad for a hair product over her daughter’s achievement.
When Virginia confronts her father about her mother’s Bill plan, he explains her behavior through the grass is always greener notion as she always imagines “some place better.” In Edna’s eyes Tessa is Virginia’s chance to make up for her mistakes and that is a whole lot of pressure to put on her granddaughter while also being generally shitty toward her actual daughter.
The reason why Virginia was so crushed by the suggestion that she break up Bill’s marriage is because the pride Edna felt last week had nothing to do with the actual achievement and more to do with getting the ideal husband.
Libby is someone who thinks that by having a husband and family she is projecting the right image so it was quite something to hear how honest she was about her relationship while brushing Joy’s hair. This is a very different yarn to the one she was spinning to Joy before her aneurysm and it is only when Joy can’t understand that Libby is at her most truthful.
Being told you will be looked at as a bad mother if you don’t sign up to the snack roster and come to games by another resentful mother is just the encouragement Libby needs to take a bath in another woman’s apartment. She is already invisible while she cheers on one of the Masters men, she doesn’t need another venue for his honor. We have seen Libby indulge in a fantasy life back in season 1 when Bill left her on vacation by herself. That was after her miscarriage and she invented a dead husband and children she didn’t have at that time. Now she fakes her way through the escape plan Joy never got to live while maintaining her children are fine with the divorce and at first it seemed like she was going to seduce the super. Instead she comes clean to Paul during a blazing argument about Joy’s plans killing her new getaway location.
Perhaps the most overt case of fantasy versus reality is with the couple who come to see Bill and Virginia this week. Al, an ex footballer and his wife actress Isabella Ricci (both fictitious) are having issues that they think is “frigidity” but really they are doomed to break up. He’s a bit of an asshole with a huge wondering eye problem and she is finding it hard to understand where their spark has gone. When they first met Isabella was under the impression that he didn’t know who she was, but he did and she was 20 feet tall. Real life doesn’t hold up to that first sighting on the cinema screen and because he can’t get that image out of his head they will never get over these issues.
Over in the perfume tests it’s all getting a little competitive when Bill sits in and he suggests what Dan is attempting to achieve is a trick to make someone think they are attracted to someone. It is all about dressing something up and seduction is the fantasy; everything else that comes after is the real life.
Lizzy Caplan Facial Expression Hall of Fame
The presence of Virginia’s mother gives Lizzy Caplan plenty of opportunity to perfect her incredulous and angry face. Dumb dudes like Al also lead to excellent expressions as does their new fame at the hotel.