Poor Max. Since breaking up with Grant last season, the Happy Endings gang’s resident limo driver/bar mitzvah hype guy has been alone, a point that was driven home in "To Serb with Love." While his friends have all paired off, Max has become the group’s fifth wheel, or as he put it, they’ve become his fifth wheel. (Yes, I know the math doesn’t work, but Max floated this idea when he thought Penny and Pete were going to break up.)
The first two seasons of Happy Endings saw Alex, Dave, and Penny dating around a lot (and in Dave’s case, John Mayer-ing a lot), but the show's writers have shifted their characters into relationships of varying degrees of stability. We’ve always had Brad and Jane, a rock solid yet extremely crazy and kinky couple. Dave and Alex are back together, despite the fact that Alex previously left Dave at the altar and they awkwardly and impulsively decided to move back in together after. And finally, we have our newest Happy Endings relationship, Penny and Pete, a pairing so new that Penny is still sure she’ll sabotage it—and in this episode, that's exactly what Max was hoping/prepared for.
To Max’s surprise, Penny didn’t screw up with Pete, and Max found himself without his usual go-to person for tales of drama. (If you’re reading this out loud, please say “drama” in the Derek voice. It’s how I heard it in my head when I typed it.) With Penny finally pulling her life together, Max decided to replace her with Nicole— which he pronounced “Nickel,” since everyone knows that a nickel is worth five pennies. Zing! Penny eventually did ruin things with Pete, and after recounting a bizarre series of events which included Pete finding Penny’s list of his flaws, her false claim of pregnancy, and the exposure of her bad boob due to a run-in with a magazine rack, Max realized that Penny really liked the guy. Offering his own list of flaws, Max got Pete back into Penny’s apartment where P & P Romance Factory got back together, nipples that are a quarter inch too low and all.
While Penny and Pete were dating, breaking up and reuniting, what was the rest of the gang up to? In its short two-plus seasons, Happy Endings has built quite a backstory for its characters, showing us childhood events and introducing us to many of the characters’ parents. We’ve already seen Megan Mullally appear as Penny’s mom. We’ve watched Dave’s dad start dating Penny’s mom. We’ve seen Max finally come out to his parents. And we’ve witnessed Damon Wayans in all his tracksuited glory playing Brad’s father. Happy Endings has also told us plenty about the Kerkoviches, Jane and Alex’s parents. This was episode was our chance to finally meet Mr. and Mrs. Kerkovich.
I can see where Jane and Alex got a lot of their personality traits from. Like Alex, Mrs. Kerkovich was able to pack away food, reminding Alex of the buffet strategies she had taught her daughter. Thanks for the advice, Mrs. Kerovich. I’ll always remember to skip the veggies at a buffet since they only fill you up with nonsense. Jane seems to be a lot like her father, a person who knows exactly what he wants and who doesn't care for distractions. That said, Jane and her father have quite the different senses of humor, with Mr. Kerkovich restricting his interests to only five things: World War II, the Chicago Bears, Chevy Chase (the late-night host), bass fish, and old-timey projectors. Well, six things if you count his love of Gallagher (the watermelon-smashing one, not either of the Oasis brothers).
With Mr. Kerkovich celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his mattress company, Jane was under pressure to give the perfect speech to celebrate her father’s accomplishments. After working with Max to craft the perfect joke, Jane had arrived at a bit of comedy that touched on all five of Mr. Kerkovich’s favorite "topics." While Brad didn’t think it was funny, he wound up using it to escape an awkward situation of one-on-one face time with his father-in-law. Jane’s dad found it hilarious, but Jane wasn’t too pleased that her husband stole her carefully tailored joke.
Is Mr. Kerkovich the one person Brad is incapable of charming over? The usually suave guy could only muster a “How about this party?” when stuck alone with Mr. Kerkovich. This is the man who can snap his pants off. Yeah, a father-in-law could be intimidating, but I have trouble believing Brad would find himself frozen when forced to talk to Jane's dad.
To make up for Brad stealing her joke, Jane resorted to her final move—going full Gallagher. Armed with a giant hammer, a fake mustache, and a watermelon, Jane took the stage hoping to finally make her dad laugh. Well, she accomplished that, but not exactly in the way she'd planned. When an errant swing of the hammer missed the melon and hit the table, Jane found herself on the end of a ricochet that knocked her out. When she came to, Jane saw two things: One, Brad checking to make sure she was okay. And two, her father trying his hardest to not laugh at his daughter’s unplanned act of physical comedy. Mission accomplished, Jane Kerkovich.
As for the other Kerkovich sister, she did have some things going on this episode besides flirting with the meat carver at the buffet. Even though Jane had forced Brad to come to the anniversary dinner, Alex told Dave that he didn’t need to attend. So when Dave did show up, everyone was surprised to see him, which seemed a bit odd considering he and Alex were not only dating once more but had once again moved in together. Well, it would've been odd if not for the fact that Alex hadn't told her parents that she and Dave had reunited. Apparently Mr. Kerkovich was none too happy about paying for a wedding that went "unused."
What’s the deal with fathers of would-be brides who left their would-be grooms holding grudges against the poor guy who got ditched at the altar on TV shows lately? The same thing happened recently on How I Met Your Mother too, with Victoria’s dad expecting Ted to pay for the wedding that his own daughter bailed on. The Kerkoviches were more than clear that Dave was the one who had been embarrassed when Alex left him at the altar, and seeing as how she was the one who ran away with the guy on rollerblades, why did Mr. Kerkovich blame Dave for his wasted wedding costs? If your daughter wrecked the wedding, expect her to pay for it, Fictional TV Dads.
After a chat with Brad, Dave realized that it doesn’t matter what Alex’s dad thinks about him. If Dave wants to be with Alex, he needs to make it work. In an impromptu speech, Dave announced to the entire Kerkovich clan that he and Alex were back together and that he was fully committed to their relationship. Dave refused to be seen as a victim. All of those girls he dated while he and Alex were the victims. Victims of great sex. Gotta work on those family speeches a bit, you scruffy dummy.
But there you have it: Almost everyone on Happy Endings is in a relationship, despite their best efforts to screw things up. Except Max. Poor Max. How about letting Max find someone, Happy Endings writers? He can’t keep getting pushed out of the booth forever.
NOTES & QUOTES
– Dave and Alex engaging in "cornplay" in the opening was a great sign that the two characters who were the least developed when Happy Endings began have more than hit their stride.
– Alex would find Gallagher “funny ‘cause it’s wasteful.” This is the same girl who likes to put whole cooked chickens into her garbage disposal because it makes her feel like a god.
– How did Jane get that slide of herself showing a slide of herself showing a slide … ? Wait. I’ve learned not to question the ways of Jane.
– Mrs. Kerkovich when looking for ways to make fun of Dave: “Could the word eunuch be a verb?” Dave: “No!” Alex” “It’s a place, Mom.”
– Jane trying to get Pete to come back: “I’m pregnant! I’m not... but I could be! We could sell it and live off the money!”
– Brad to Dave after finding him in the alley: “Why the long face, Michael Phelps?”