Love: Season 2 Review

The second season of the Netflix original series Love certainly capitalized upon a strong first season. Show creators Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust have effectively captured what life is like for 20 and 30-somethings toiling away in Los Angeles.

In addition to being a lead writer and producer on the show, Rust also plays the protagonist Gus -- a nerdy individual embroiled in a (somewhat) toxic relationship with the mysterious and broken Mickey (played by Gillian Jacobs). Themes of present-day social commentary within the millennial generation are thoroughly explored -- as are the dealings of someone with substance abuse and attachment issues.

This piece will review the entire season -- with commentary on each episode. For those who've yet to watch the second season, you may want to step away from your computer/mobile device (temporarily) until you've caught up. The spoilers will be flying fast and frequently.

Episode 1: "On Lockdown"


The beginning of Season 2 picks up from where we left off in Season 1. After much consternation, Mickey decides to effectively get her life in order. She confesses to being an addict, and admits that a year of sobriety and soul searching away from Gus seems like the right thing to do...until Gus plants a kiss on her. We reenter this scene in the parking lot where the two embrace.

Mickey and Gus then head back to hear apartment -- where the audience gets the first glimpse of a Bertie-Randy relationship (more on that later). Feeling uncomfortable, they then head for a local taco joint, where Mickey continues to divulge about her addictions to sex, love, drugs, and alcohol. Gus plays his usual role as the 'overly nice guy' -- consistently supporting her throughout her regaling of personal stories. Eventually the two end up at Gus's apartment complex, where it's crawling with cops over a potential serial killer. Itching to get home, Mickey and Gus hatch a plan to evade the brigade of cops -- with the ultimate goal of getting to Mickey's car.

The cops catch Gus and Mickey running down a grassy hill towards the back of the complex, and assume he is the person in question. The episode ends with the two platonically sleeping next to each other in Gus's bed, with palpable tension building.

There isn't much to take away from this opening episode. We know Mickey and Gus have an infatuation with one another. We also know that it's nearly impossible for Mickey to stay away from this situation -- despite the potential toxic ramifications it may have on her life.

Image Source: Vulture

Episode 2: "Friends Night Out"


After the sleepover, the two wake up with a common understanding of the situation. Mickey lays out a plan in which the two remain friends, but with limited contact. This isn't ideal for either person, but Mickey appears dead-set on tacking her sobriety head-on. Gus reluctantly then agrees to go out for a boy's night with neighbor Chris and their friends.

Whilst at the bar, it's clear Gus's mind is somewhere else. He's exceptionally quiet during the group's interaction with a bunch of girls they meet. When one is obviously into him, Gus brushes her off in a rather rude manner. Mickey is at a dinner party, where she's the only one in attendance without a partner. Like Gus, it's evident that she is thinking about what had transpired earlier today. During a good-natured 'table topics' game, Mickey introduces a made-up question about sleeping with each other's family members. It incites anger amongst each individual couple, and one realizes Mickey made up the question for her own enjoyment. She then unceremoniously stormed out of the party once being caught.

Gus ends up texting Mickey towards the end of the evening. The two meet up for Korean BBQ, and then invariably sleep with each other in the parking lot.

Both are teetering on a very dangerous line. Gus would love nothing more than to see Mickey become healthy both from a mental and physical standpoint. On the other side of the coin, his attraction towards this odd -- yet alluring character is something he's seemingly unwilling to look past.

Image Source: Recap Guide

Episode 3: "While You Were Sleeping"


Simply put, this was a weird episode.

There wasn't much that told us anything about the true trajectory of the show's journey. We're taken back to the "Witchita" set -- where Gus's episode is finally being shot. It doesn't go off without a snag, however, as the stunt man severely injures himself during the filming. A run-in with former fling Heidi made Gus extremely uncomfortable. To make matters even more bizarre, the previously-frosty Susan threw herself at Gus -- proposing that the two have sex in her gazillion-dollar house. All of this is occurring as she's completely baked out of her mind. Pondering whether he should sleep with the network head or not, Gus ultimately passes -- citing that he's in a relationship.

On Mickey's end, she gets embroiled in a weird situation featuring co-worker Truman (played by Bobby Lee) and his estranged girlfriend. We learn Truman is even stranger than he portrays himself to be. Being the supportive roommate that she is, Bertie listens to Mickey's thoughts on Gus. Essentially, Bertie disagrees with Mickey, but the troubled protagonist ultimately ends up justifying her decision to sleep with Gus in the prior episode.

Again, there isn't really anything revelatory about this episode. Mickey caves yet again on her plans to kick her habits, and appears ready to settle down into a more concrete relationship with Gus. Duly, Gus is perfectly fine with hopping back into another attempt at making this work.

Image Source: YouTube

Episode 4: "Shrooms"


Talk about bizarre.

Randy -- the portly and lovable character from Season 1 garners a much bigger role in this installment. He's now dating Bertie, and appears to have a much darker side.

Mickey goes through her room as a means to rid herself of her former vices -- which include a cornucopia of drugs she's collected over the past year. She happens upon a stash of mushrooms in her freezer. After contemplating one final push into altering her state (aka getting high), Gus insists that she holds off. Bertie and Randy enter the room, and feel elated at the potential idea of taking 'shrooms. Mickey agrees to be their "babysitter" as the three enter the realm of the 'shrooms.

After an impromptu dance party, Mickey finds herself wanting to ingest the remaining mushroom. Gus freaks out, and quickly devours them. This in turns makes him even more blitzed out of his mind. Gus and Bertie proceed to stumble about in the backyard, and Randy delves into a soliloquy about the meaning of life. All of a sudden, a coyote appears. Randy believes he can communicate with the animal, and chases it throughout the neighborhood. He then breaks into a house and lays down in a random bed. As the home owners come home, the trio scramble to get Randy out of bed before being noticed.

Back at home, Randy speaks about killing Bertie if she doesn't let him sleep. We then get a brief glimpse into the person Randy may be. He likely isn't a serial killer, but he also isn't the teddy bear everyone assumes him to be.

The symbolism in this episode is rather good. These young adults careening through life are pondering about the present levels of ambiguity as it pertains to the future. This includes not only career paths, but also the respective fortunes of the two relationships. Mickey is also dealing with the fact that she'll be placed into situations where she'll have to be sober amidst a bunch of people having a good time on the back of alcohol and perhaps drugs. It's something she'll have to navigate as she continues on her path of sobriety.

Image Source: The AV Club

Episode 5: "A Day"


This is what we've been wanting!

Mickey and Gus decided to do a day-long date, in which the two spend the entire day with each other. Being a doting significant other, Gus drops off and picks up Mickey from her S.L.A.A. meeting (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous). The two then get brunch followed by a movie at a local theatre. Everything is going great...until one of Mickey's old flames Dustin (played by Rich Sommer) pops up. It was an amicable -- albeit short interaction between Dustin and Mickey.

After that, the two spend some time on the beach before heading back to Gus's apartment in order to hook up.

We know that Mickey is starting to feel more and more comfortable with Gus -- though she's still guarded about her past. She did divulge that her relationship with her father is not a pleasant one. Gus also delved deeper into his past, speaking about his family and an ill-fated college night featuring poop. Though Mickey has yet to take the full plunge into "boyfriend" territory, it certainly appears headed in this direction.

This simple episode was a nice change-up from the previous ones rooted in drama and conjecture. Additionally, the scenery of Los Angeles (particularly Echo Park) was illustrated beautifully by the cinematographer.

Image Source: The Boston Globe

Episode 6: "Forced Hiatus"


We see a dichotomy sorts within this episode. On one hand, Gus's professional life gets thrown for a loop. On the other hand, we venture deeper and deeper into Randy's struggles with everyday life.

"Witchita" is cancelled -- leaving Gus's job status up in the air. We see a stereotype of the "childhood actor" -- as Arya (played by Apatow's daughter Iris) is caught in the middle of a firestorm between her two parents. Her father (David Spade) prefers Arya to sign up for a big-budget film. Her mother (Dawn Forrester) hopes Arya instead opts for one in the indie sector. Fed up with the entire situation, Arya allows Gus to try and mediate. Despite not really wanting to continue in acting, Arya decides to do both movies, under the assumption that Gus will continue to tutor her.

As we turn to the Randy-Bertie dynamic, the effervescent (and naive) Australian agrees to loan Randy $800 dollars. Mickey unintentionally sees this unfold, and is concerned with how this relationship is developing for her roommate. The three end up making a trip to the mall, though Bertie has to leave early due to a work obligation. Mickey feels compelled to call Randy out -- who then proceeds to freak out in a rather erratic manner. After calming down, the two share a meal in the food court -- essentially both coming to the conclusion that everyone has issues they've got to get past. Hoping to come over after cashing the check, Randy is denied by Bertie -- who'd rather be at home alone (pondering the future between them, surely).

The Bertie-Randy angle is wildly fascinating. Neither character had a whole lot of depth in Season 1. Since then, we've seen insight into what makes Randy tick. We also get a greater appreciation for Bertie's kindness -- though she's obviously wrestling with whether she should stick around or not.

Image Source: Recap Guide

Episode 7: "The Work Party"

Mickey finally feels comfortable enough to bring Gus along to a work function. The big holiday party is also significant from the standpoint of her job security. Her radio station has recently merged with another company. Layoffs across the board are expected. As such, Mickey and her boss are hoping to 'butter up' the management during this event as a means to stay on.

While Mickey is busy with schmoozing, Gus runs into the infamous Dr. Greg (played by Brett Gelman). After being dumped at the party by his date, Greg finds himself down on his luck. The two instantly hit it off -- laughing with one another and connecting on a very deep level. As the two were sharing a hug, Mickey walks up and essentially breaks it up -- hoping Greg will not divulge to Gus that the two previously had a one-night stand.

Later on, Greg's mood completely changes. He holds nothing back -- essentially trashing Mickey in front of Gus. He drops the bomb about the previous tryst between himself and Mickey, and believes Gus is being used. Distraught, Gus leaves the situation. Upon hearing of what happened, Mickey blasts Greg in front of the entire party. She then kisses Gus in front of Greg, and walks away.

We see Mickey's true feelings shine during this episode. Crippled routinely by anxiety, she stands up for Gus. This alerts the audience that she may have finally come to a point within herself where she can explore this relationship to the best of her ability.

Image Source: Vulture

Episode 8: "Marty Dobbs"


Mickey's past was often left as a big question mark. We never really got any information as to how she grew up, or what she dealt with in the way of parents. We briefly were told that she came from an affluent family -- though that changed once her father lost his job.

In this episode, it's revealed that her father Marty (played by Daniel Stern) was headed to town briefly en route to a potential business engagement in the Bay Area. Gus is elated at the news, especially since he's yet to garner this sort of intimacy from a personal standpoint.

Stern does a fantastic job of playing a sleazy and creepy character. His idea is to push for an Uber-type car service (though it has virtually no chance of succeeding). He initially appears to be a somewhat jovial and normal person, though that changes when he speaks to Mickey about her sobriety. Being an alcoholic himself, Marty believes that its a joke -- and that Mickey is simply wasting her time. Gus attempts to try and smooth out the situation, but also makes it worse with his consistent (and often insufferable) penchant for trying to be the good guy.

This episode completely confirms the perception of Mickey: She's ultimately a fragile individual with a past chock-full of debilitating demons.

Image Source: Netflix

Episode 9: "Housesitting"


A mountain of resentment comes crashing down on the protagonists during this episode. Though he would like to think of himself as a supportive, pious person, Gus often comes off as needy, suffocating, and a bit judgmental. This is especially pertinent in his dealings with Mickey's issues. Too far often does he give off a "fatherly" role with her. Being an independent person, it's not something she appreciates.

The two are housesitting this unbelievably nice mansion for Gus's friend. Gus not only questions Mickey smoking in this lavish neighborhood, but also chastises her for accidentally letting the dogs in the house (where one poops on the carpet). Gus's episode of "Witchita" is slated to premier on television later that night. As a means to celebrate, they invite a group of people over to watch the show. Mickey becomes distracted with her friend Andy Dick (played by yes, Andy Dick). He's in an apparent emergency over a substance issue, and she leaves the group to tend to his needs.

Once everyone clears out, the two have the first monumental fight of their relationship. Gus questions why Mickey minimized the significance of his episode, and Mickey was none too happy about Gus's general disposition surrounding her struggles. The crescendo occurs when she smashes a (presumably expensive) glass bowl.

The following morning, mounds of awkwardness ensued.

Image Source: The AV Club

Episode 10: "Liberty Down"


 

As Gus heads off to Atlanta for month of work commitments, Mickey is faced with one of her biggest fears: Separation. It's the classic case of someone attaching themselves to something so severely, that the smallest sense of separation could lead to a catastrophic event. There's also the possible hangover emanating from the massive fight only days earlier.

Interestingly enough, it's Gus who struggles with the time apart. There's plenty of downtime during the non-shooting moments. Mickey -- on the other hand -- is doing very well at work. Her life is busy, and she's done brilliantly to sign an up-and-coming media personality. Gus attempts to latch on to another project with the film's director, but that falls apart in rather fantastic fashion (largely due to a competitive assistant director played by Randall Park).

Gus's attempt to crush his loneliness fails with Mickey. He bought her a plane ticket to come to Atlanta, but Mickey is perfectly comfortable with her current life (which includes hitting the 30-day sobriety mark). And then there's Dustin...The ex-boyfriend reentering the picture is certainly few saw coming. He texted Mickey about the sick dog that they previously shared. The ending scene sees Dustin and Mickey standing in the vets office.

We have to be proud of Mickey. For the first time all series long, she appears to have her personal life in order. Her focus is on work and her own happiness as opposed to on any sort of romantic affair. This is a positive development for Mickey...but it leaves her future with Gus in major doubt.

Image Source: Netflix

Episode 11: "The Long D"


The inherent habitual struggle of Mickey rears its ugly head yet again.

As opposed to continuing with her S.L.A.A. meetings, Mickey began seeing Dustin. After initially having a toxic relationship, Dustin appears ready to change -- and even saw a therapist about the possibility of getting back together with Mickey in a more serious manner (rather than just in a casual capacity).

Gus is kicked off of the set for having a squabble with Park's character. Almost in a daze, he finds himself attending an Al-Anon meeting. In a sense, he's surely hoping that this will help him understand Mickey in a more sufficient and effective way.

At some point, Mickey has to decide whether rekindling an old flame is more significant than continuing the on-going situation with Gus.

Image Source: TV.com

Episode 12: "Back in Town"


The final installment of this season finds Dustin having real feelings for Mickey, in a creepy and ill-conceived way. Gus comes back from Atlanta, and meets up with Mickey at a coffee shop. The tense feel is ultimately relieved by the fact that Gus opened up about attending Al-Anon meetings.

Getting her Gus fix again, Mickey attempts to break it off with a visibly upset Dustin. While he wasn't vocal with his displeasure, picture a pot of boiling water ready to overflow at any moment.  She then goes back home -- with Gus waiting for her.

The following morning, angry Dustin sends Mickey a barrage of texts -- saying that he's coming over to straighten things out. Not exactly knowing what to do, Mickey gets Gus up and the two head out exceptionally early for a day in Echo Park. Dustin makes his way over, breaks into Bertie's phone, and finds out where the two are. At that point, a weird "chase" ensues -- where Dustin tries to talk to Mickey as she weaves in and out of a Farmer's Market. It's actually a bizarre scene, and not one where the presumed suspense was built.

Not giving up, Dustin then somehow makes his way up to Gus's apartment complex, and confronts Mickey in his room while Gus is out getting sodas. After pleading with Dustin to leave, he FINALLY gives up. The season ends with Mickey and Gus embracing after her heartfelt monologue.

Image Source: Indie Wire

Verdict

The yo-yoing of emotions between Mickey and Gus got arduous at times. Gus would be overbearing, and thus Mickey would rebel. This theme remained constant throughout the 12-episode slate. However, it did do a great job of speaking to the social and personal issues each and every one of us face. Mickey's character in particular evolved from one seeking constant validation to one knowing exactly what she wants.

Main Image Source: Variety

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