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Welcome to Sweden

'Welcome to Sweden' recap: Knowing me, knowing you

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Proving Love” | Aired July 24, 2014

Emma and Bruce are ready to begin their lives together. Her tenants have finally moved out of her apartment, and Bruce is eager to add his own sense of style into the décor mix. He thinks they should paint the walls either brown or red because that would work best with his stuff, which will be arriving from New York City any day now. Emma scoffs at the idea of “poo-brown” walls. In her words, “It should be like a gallery. Art goes on the walls. The walls are not art.”

Bruce wants the place to be a little warmer than a mental facility, but he decides to table that argument for the time being. Instead, he chooses to march head-on into another battle. Why has Emma plastered herself to the door so she can stare out the peephole?

Emma quickly explains her bizarre behavior in a matter-of-fact way. She doesn’t want to run into the neighbors. Bruce laughs. You have to get to know your neighbors. Was Mr. Rogers not a thing in Sweden? How are you supposed to borrow milk if you don’t know the little old lady’s name in 2B?

Apparently, in Sweden, you buy milk from the store. How odd.

Emma shoves Bruce out the door when the coast is clear. She moves down the stairs as if the building is on fire, with Bruce bumbling behind her. He notices a woman shoving her cart into the elevator and, to prove Emma wrong, he strikes up a conversation. The woman treats him like that guy who tries to sell you a cell phone from a kiosk in the middle of the mall. Her expression is cold and blank; all body language tells Bruce that she would rather be anywhere else than face-to-face with a person. The fact that he’s American is an unwanted bonus. Emma doesn’t have time to say “I told you so.” They are late for the immigration office.

All they have to do is convince the immigration officer that they are in love. The good news is that Bruce and Emma are actually in love. The bad news is that Emma is freaking out that their story seems implausible.

Emma is the first to be interviewed. She rattles off facts about Bruce and answers the interviewer’s questions before he can finish asking them. Her nervousness is more concerning than endearing. And it doesn’t help that her apprehension has rubbed off on Bruce.

Bruce is a hot mess. He manages to steer the interrogation from “Where did you meet?” to Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. Bruce would never kill or eat Emma. That’s gross. The immigration officer calmly stands up from behind his desk and sticks his head out into the hallway where Emma sits waiting.

Officer: Do not say anything. Just nod your head. Do you know this man I’m speaking with right now? You’re not under any threat, are you?

Confused by the wording, Emma nods both ways. Shaking her head to signify no, she’s not under threat, is immediately followed by a nodding her head yes, she’s not under any threat. The fact that the shake/nod could technically go both ways leaves Emma in a fit of nervous giggles.

Once they are released, Emma is furious when she learns that Bruce brought up not one but two serial killers in his interview. Their fight is interrupted by a second phone call from Bruce’s old client, Aubrey Plaza. I was delighted that she played an “April Ludgate” version of herself.

Aubrey: Quick question. Can I deduct my Brazilian wax from my taxes?

Bruce reminds Aubrey that he is no longer working for her. She ignores him, asking, “When are you going to come back from Sweden? The land of …”

She couldn’t think of anything funny to say. I applaud her for trying to make a sarcastic point. Kudos for not swinging for the obvious meatballs, IKEA and ABBA.

Welcom to SwedenAubrey ends her call just as Amy Poehler walks up. She wants to know if Bruce is coming back. Aubrey says that she doesn’t think so.

Amy: I need him back here. These taxes are complicated and I’m in over my head. I’ve fired three people and I will fire you too.
Aubrey: From what?
Amy: From being my friend.
Aubrey: Fine. Then find your drugs somewhere else.
Amy: Well played.

Aubrey is the queen of deadpan and has really strong chemistry with Amy. The 90 seconds they are featured in this episode made me nostalgic for Parks & Recreation. Their cameos are a welcome breath of fresh air that pops up right when things are feeling stale.

Back at the apartment, Emma tries to hide the disgust in her face as Bruce unpacks all the cool stuff from his apartment. This includes a wooden bar and a Boomer Esiason football. Clearly these bachelor-pad items do not complement her Arne Jacobsen chair. Think luxury design meets dive bar.

The doorbell rings. Of course it’s not the nosey neighbors coming to check things out. It’s nosey parents. And one dorky brother. Viveka thoughtfully hauled over a tacky lamp from the basement that Emma may want to use and Birger presents Bruce with a hot pan of move-in porridge. Upon scanning the accoutrements of the new dwelling, Viveka smiles as she sputters her revulsion in Swedish. Gustaf thinks the place is awesome.

Brother: It’s great. It’s like Tom Cruise’s bar in Cockpit.
Bruce: Cocktail.
Brother: Yes, please.

Welcome to SwedenEmma gathers everyone around the table, except for Gustaf, who insists on getting to know Bruce’s Barcalounger on an intimate level. Viveka dives into a story, detailing the lives of her “clients” who just moved in together. One is a lovely girl from Sweden. The other is a boy from Denmark. They didn’t realize all their differences until they were under the same roof. Bruce is fascinated that their story is so much like his! Emma rolls her eyes, wishing she could escape by borrowing a cup of sugar from Old Lady What’s-Her-Face in 2B.

The next day, Emma finally explodes, and the truth comes pouring out. She’s afraid that the immigration test will conclude that they aren’t a real couple. She’s tired of Bruce saying that things will work themselves out, because what if they don’t? Bruce is the only person in the world Emma cares about and she can’t stand living in Sweden without him.

Bruce softens. He tells Emma that they should get rid of everything and start over with a clean slate. Emma thinks this idea is ludicrous, but happily plays along because crazy has always been the foundation of their relationship. After everything is sold and loaded up into a stranger’s van, Emma stands in the middle of a completely empty apartment. This appears extremely sketchy when the immigration officer arrives for an unscheduled visit. Emma tries to explain that starting over with nothing was a romantic gesture, but the officer isn’t buying it. Suddenly Bruce barges in, holding the Boomer football. He couldn’t get rid of it.

This sparks a huge argument. She gave up her fancy Arne Jacobsen chair and he kept his stupid pigskin? They bicker back and forth for several minutes until the officer interrupts. It’s obvious that they are a real couple. They fight like one.

Welcome to Sweden, Bruce.

Welcome to Sweden airs Thursdays at 9/8C on NBC.

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