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'Partners' recap: An undercover 'gwedding'

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Let’s Have a Simple Gwedding” | Aired Aug 4, 2014

The second episode of Partners picks up a few months after the first ended, allowing Allen Braddock and Marcus Jackson to have established a rhythm together. Michael convinces them to meet with a gay couple who are friends of his who want to sue their wedding planner for a refund. He uses the unfortunate term gwedding (meaning a gay wedding), which gives Braddock the opening to coin the terms goney (gay money) and givorce (gay divorce).

If you thought the Legally Blonde joke from last episode was in poor taste, this episode moves fully into homophobic territory. After hearing the couples’ story of their wedding planner’s sabotage, Braddock says, “I think you are making a Brokeback Mountain out of a molehill.’ He later tells the wedding planner, Biffy (Missi Pyle), “There are two things that gay men simply will not tolerate: having their name misspelled on a latte and deception,” to which Jackson replies, “I thought he was gonna say breasts.”

Once Braddock realizes the payday he can get from this couple, he agrees to take the case, even going so far as to go undercover with Jackson as a gay couple (though he of course clarifies, “No one would ever believe I’m a homosexual.”). The pair spend quite some time undercover, playing out fictional arguments about their fake wedding (“Nothing fancy,” “We should be saving for a house,” etc.).

The con goes all the way to an actual fake wedding, where Allen improvises his vows: “You had me at hello. I just can’t quit you.” Marcus stands up in the very same suit he wore to his own wedding, pulling his vows out of his pocket. He gets emotional and leaves the room, admitting to Allen that his real vows were still in his pocket. Allen is horrified that Marcus hasn’t dry-cleaned his suit in 22 years.

Their conversation is interrupted by a dead pigeon falling to the floor, and the two discover that Biffy is running quite an operation. She has her workers spray-painting pigeons white to look like doves, putting box wine into nice wine bottles, pouring terrible airplane food onto gourmet plates, and repurposing funeral arrangements to use as wedding flowers. They corner Biffy and she agrees to make a deal, refunding the money to Michael’s friends.

Meanwhile, Marcus’ mother, Ruth, spends time with Allen’s stepdaughter, Lizzie (McKaley Miller), in an attempt to teach her some manners. Lizzie is the typical portrayal of a millennial, stating outright that she is more interested in Twitter than in looking both ways before crossing the street, and saying of Ruth, “Is she OK? She seems really old.” She ends up being a card shark and helps Ruth win a bunch of money off her friends.

Ruth is nice to Lizzie, which is not something she’s used to from adults. They come to an understanding, and Lizzie even says, “Maybe I was wrong about people your age.” This is a drastic change from the girl we’re first introduced to and seems like too much of a difference to have been made in one day. Perhaps Ruth is just the only one to see through Lizzie’s facade. She tells Lizzie late in the episode, “You try to act like you don’t care about what other people think so you won’t have to live up to their expectations, especially Allen, but you do care.”

The second episode ends with a joke fairly representative of the show as a whole so far. Braddock says, “That reminds me of a similar arrangement I recently made with my wife. She wanted a cat, I didn’t, so we compromised and got a cat.” Jackson replies, “Now that’s a partnership.”

What did you think of this episode? Is the chemistry between the leads all the way there? Now that we’ve seen what the typical episode will look like, what are your impressions?

Other thoughts:

– Veronica continues to be one of the better parts of the show, but perhaps this is because she is utilized so briefly each episode. This time, she shows up to tell the guys about the time when, “Just last week I ate a hot dog at a food court and four gay men gave me a standing ovation.”

– This argument between Braddock and Jackson seems close to what actually may have been said in the writers’ room about the content and message of this episode: “We’re making a mockery of a right these people have struggled for, a right some of them still don’t have.” “We’re here because you wanted to help them. That’s what matters.”

– Biffy easily has the funniest line in the episode when she tells the guys their wedding would have “locally sourced beef, not slaughtered, but gently coaxed into suicide.”

– In the beginning of the episode, Braddock refutes the idea that he’s racist by telling Jackson, “When I was growing up, my best friend was black.” It’s quickly revealed that Braddock is in fact talking about what he calls “an African-American lab.” He is truly the worst.

Partners, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 9/8C on FX.