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'Satisfaction' recap: The man behind the mask

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “…Through Competition” | Aired July 31, 2014

You know the pivotal scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Toto pulls back the curtain and Dorothy and her gang discover that the wonderful wizard is really just a small, unassuming old man? Even though the great, powerful, intimidating image they had of the wizard was frightening, the truth they found behind that curtain was a bit disappointing. Much like the wizard’s curtain, episode 3 of Satisfaction finds Neil Truman learning that the metaphorical masks we wear are sometimes better left on.

But before we get to all the masks (metaphorical and literal), let’s clear something up. Or, let’s wonder why something did not get cleared up. When we last left Neil, he’d just received a photo text of Simon driving his car from a confused Anika, who thought her dad’s car was in the shop. CLIFFHANGER! How’s Neil going to lie his way out of this one? many of us wondered, and if you’re like me, couldn’t wait to see how this week’s episode would open. Sure, the fact that it opened with Simon undressing did make me forget the cliffhanger for a brief moment (or two, when I rewound it and watched it again), and Neil barging into the tanning salon where Simon was browning his bits and confronting him about seeing Anika did address the situation briefly, but it wasn’t quite the satisfying resolution it could have been. #AreYouSatisfied? Umm, not really.

But back to Simon’s naked bits. After a scuffle with Neil (while naked), Simon easily discloses many of the things Grace has told him over the past six months—Neil is “checked out of the marriage,” Neil is “emotionally unavailable,” she wishes Neil would “support her dreams”—but then he just as suddenly decides to clam up and plead “client privilege.” Sorry, dude, those gut punches will have to do. Since Neil really wants to hear more of Simon and Grace’s pillow talk (sucker for pain, I suppose, although why he believes the things Simon is telling him is beyond me), he tells him he’ll call off the IRS investigation if Simon will tell him everything. Dealio. The boys almost look pleased with their truce. Wonder if this is the beginning of a very twisted friendship?

Later, the two meet at a coffee shop because Neil has to break the news that the IRS is indeed planning to audit Simon and make an example of him. The convo begins with Neil trying to help Simon prepare for his audit, and ends with a discussion about what women want—more specifically, what Grace wants. “You won’t listen to your wife because you’re afraid of what you’ll hear.” Uh, duh.

All this talk about truth follows Neil to the office. Charles Lipton’s wife shows up in Neil’s office and tells Neil that the accounting discrepancies he discovered in her husband’s finances are actually due to the million dollars a month that she’s secretly been transferring into her personal account for years. Mrs. Lipton tells Neil that not only is her husband’s money her money, but she knows all about his other women, and she plans to continue siphoning the money every month. Neil is astounded by her deceitfulness and not only refuses, but tells Mrs. Lipton he plans to tell her husband because he promised him he’d always be honest with him. Geeze. He’s beginning to be quite the hypocrite with all this concern about the truth, isn’t he? Neil’s asshole boss instructs him to do what Mrs. Lipton says and continue transferring the money into her account: “We’re in charge of his finances, not his marriage.”

Grace, meanwhile, is clashing with Alex (Alyshia Ochse), the new project manager for the office space she’s designed. Alex is a fresh-faced newbie who immediately marks up (read: changes) Grace’s designs and gives her passive-aggressive compliments. After a blow-up where Grace insults her new boss’s lack of experience by pointing out how young she is (which we know is a big red button of Grace’s), she immediately asks Alex out for a drink by way of apology. While they’re out at a very loud nightclub full of very young people, Alex spots Simon lurking across the room. It’s unclear if he’s trolling new clients or trolling Grace, but whatever the reason, he immediately approaches Grace and wants to talk. Alex is instantly smitten (she’s not blind) and turns on the charm, which Simon ignores. When Alex steps away, Grace is furious at Simon and refuses to talk to him or listen. “I pay you. End of story.” Simon seems hurt and scorned, and retaliates by cozying up to Alex. What do we think, folks? Is Grace more than just a client to Simon?

Think about that while we join Neil at a party. A masked party. A masked party that Adriana invited him to. Actually, let’s just take a break to enjoy Neil in this mask for a minute.


Ready to move on? Good. I’ll catch you up with a few quick deets:

  • Adriana invites Neil to a party by leaving him a box with a mask on his desk.
  • Neil goes to Adriana’s house to refuse the invitation and to tell her not to leave things at his office (I guess calling or texting is too much trouble).
  • Adriana tells Neil the party is a networking opportunity—“The truth is, you’re already wearing a mask. I’m just trying to help you take it off.”

When Grace is out clubbing with Alex and Simon, Neil has a moment of clarity in the pool (ahh! the metaphorical pool!) and suddenly finds himself masked up and (almost) charming the literal pants off a bunch of women with his networking abilities. Seriously, the masked man is smooth, sexy and very confident. The masked ladies love it. Adriana does not.

Adriana: What are you doing?
Neil: I thought that was what you wanted.
Adriana: You’re here because of who you are, not because of who you think I want you to be.
Neil: I wanted to show you I know what I’m doing.
Adriana: But you don’t. That’s what’s so special about you. Just because you’re wearing a mask doesn’t mean you should be someone you’re not.

Um, seriously, Neil. I’m totally fiiiinnnne with your mask.

Back at his office, Neil meets with Charles Lipton and is prepared to disclose the millionaire’s wife’s secret, but Charles doesn’t want to know. He tells Neil that not every partnership requires that you tell the other everything. As long as you’re happy? That’s truth enough. You can almost see Neil’s mind exploding. FIND THAT MASK.

This kind of epiphany can only lead to one place: the Zen garden. As Neil discusses the metaphorical masks with his favorite Zen master-slash-therapist (ZM: “You’re talking to someone who speaks in metaphor”), he realizes he’s more than a father and professional and husband—all the things he’s been showing the world. And now he realizes that Grace is as well, but confesses that he hasn’t talked to her about it because he’s afraid of what he might hear (guess Simon has been getting through to him after all). As Neil continues his revelations, we see Grace at home stepping into the pool—THE CLEANSING POOL OF TRUTH. While Neil is telling the Zen master about how he now sees that he’s been holding Grace back from her dreams, and that she’s so much more than what she seems, Grace is imagining Simon kissing her in the magical pool.

Zen master: We all have two sides.
Neil: But if we both take off our masks, we might not even recognize each other.
Zen master: Maybe you should leave them on for now.

Like I said at the beginning, the wizard seemed far more wonderful when his curtain was kept closed.

*In other news*

Anika is a bit overwhelmed at her newfound popularity. Her aunt decides to act as her “popularity mentor” by hosting a party for Anika and the cool kids, and has Anika play her talent show song in its entirety. Sadly, we once again only get to hear a bit of it. Petition for its release on iTunes, anyone?

At one point, Neil does try to listen and be supportive of Grace and her feelings. Her reaction? “You’d better go before my husband comes home.”

What did you think of round three? Sound off about the cliffhanger that sent us off the cliff, Simon’s bits, Neil’s mask or whatever else left you satisfied … or unsatisfied.

Satisfaction airs Thursdays at 10/9C on USA.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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