In the third episode of its new season, Episodes sets the deck for many of the dilemmas that its following six instalments will probably concern. While a series of late in-episode turns promise to throw the show as a whole into conflict, the road to get to the ending of “Episode 403” involves the characters meandering their way through talky scenes in order to serve the final plot developments. While this episode alludes to future intrigue on the show, “403” has yet to return Showtime’s comedy to the chaotic heights that provides Episodes’ funniest moments.
Matt LeBlanc opens this week by giving his sons a funny, vulgar drawing lesson, demonstrating the similarities between a frog and the female anatomy. Following this quick introduction, the next scene uncovers the crux of tension in “Episode 403.” Sean plans to meet with his former writing partner Tim Whittick (Bruce Mackinnon), which reminds Beverly of the tension between Tim and her. Beverly’s happy to skip their get together, avoiding being called, “Yoko,” any more. She’s intent on attending a gifting suite for an awards ceremony with Matt and swiping tons of free stuff.
What Beverly doesn’t realize, however, is that nothing at the gifting suite is completely free. As Matt reluctantly escorts her from booth to booth, Beverly selfishly takes extra helpings of salsa and organic kitty litter simply because she can. The only price is that Matt’s asked to take pictures “endorsing” the products they take. This side of Beverly isn’t quite as engaging as seeing her upset, and the lack of payoff makes this plot point feel mostly like a diversion.
Meanwhile, at the Network, Carol and Helen have become new besties, whose work attitudes are in lock step with one another. Helen warns Carol that she plans to bring in Merc to pitch a TV show as a favor, but the free of consequences interplay between executives starts this subplot on a bland note.
Their eventual meeting with Merc goes about as poorly as can be imagined. Unable to develop an idea on his own, Merc enlists the creator of the top show in the Netherlands to adapt his highly rated game show for America. A mix pitched as Big Brother meets Fear Factor meets Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and more, Merc can’t be bothered to remember all the details himself, but the show creator is there to note his mistakes, including that the contestants will indeed be given toilet paper. Out of pity, Helen buys the show in the room. Does this ensure Merc will continue to lurk around the network for more installments of Episodes’ fourth season?