By Jose Gallegos | /Bent August 23, 2014 at 1:50PM
I would argue that “Parmigiana” is one of the more eagerly anticipated episodes, primarily because of the return of Geoffrey (though that’s not the only appealing aspect of this week’s story). Beyond the Geoffrey-Josh plot line, “Parmigiana” explores the budding relationship between Tom and Jenny, the investigation of Grace’s purple poop, and a game of hide-and-seek between the patients in the hospital. It is a well-structured episode that tackles the façades the characters create, especially the ones that ruined that the relationship between Josh and Geoffrey.
The episode begins with Josh and his roommates dressing John and Grace in kitschy costumes. Josh suddenly receives a call from Geoffrey, who wants to go out for dinner and catch up. As Josh splits his attention between his phone and the people around him (a narrative/visual trope that will play throughout the episode), the roommates start an epic photo shoot starring Grace and John (played against the show’s theme song, of course!).
After returning his “tattooed” baby sister to an angry Mae and an annoyed Allan, Josh goes to the hospital to visit Rose. He stumbles into Arnold, who institutionalized himself in order to avoid purporting a façade that he was getting better. Josh takes Arnold and introduces him to Rose and her friends, all of whom are all discussing the origins of Hannah’s mental state.
While preparing for his dinner with Geoffrey, Josh begrudgingly gives into his roommates’/Jenny’s idea that he should “trim [his] pubes.” During his manscaping session, Josh receives a call from Allan and Mae who want to know what he did to make Grace’s poop turn purple. In spite of Josh protesting that he didn’t do anything, Allan hangs up on his son and continues his journey to the emergency room. Meanwhile, Jenny receives a text from Tom (who is sitting two feet away from her) that contains a picture of his penis and an invitation to “Fuck [her] face off.” Jenny initially reacts in a hostile manner, but she slowly accepts this faux pas, mentions that she is fine with them sleeping with other people, and even laughs at Tom’s inability to send a proper dick pic (which was intended for Niamh).
Back at the hospital, Ginger grows bored of her surroundings and wants to play a game with her friends. Hannah lowers her head and starts counting, while Ginger and Arnold run off to hide. Rose runs into another patient, Stewart, who wants to join her in the game (they hide in the bushes outside).
At an unnamed restaurant, Josh meets Geoffrey, who sports a shaved head. In spite of the aesthetic change, Geoffrey still offers nothing in terms of enlightening conversation. The awkward pauses are filled with Josh’s curious party tricks (touching his nose to his eye and balancing a spoon on his nose), all of which are defense mechanisms used to combat an inevitable fact: Josh and Geoffrey are not very compatible as friends. They pay their check and Geoffrey passionately kisses Josh, who returns the favor with enthusiasm.
The two return to the apartment where Josh introduces Geoffrey to Patrick. Geoffrey attempts to narrate the spoon trick to Patrick, but it is yet another futile attempt to create a semblance of chemistry between the two. Josh takes Geoffrey to his room where they undress and make out.
At the hospital, Hannah – who is bored with the game – tells Ginger – who is hiding under a table – that no one is looking for her anymore. In the bushes outside, Stewart and Rose accept that the game ended a long time ago, so they have sex instead.
Back at the apartment, Geoffrey cries over his father, who died earlier that week (this mirrors the series premiere episode, in which the two first meet while Geoffrey is crying over his father’s incarceration). Josh tries to comfort Geoffrey by relating to the situation and discussing the emotions he had over the death of Aunty Peg. In the other bedroom, Tom grows closer to Jenny due to her openness with sex and asks her for a monogamous relationship. She accepts the offer.
Back in his bedroom, Josh answers his phone while apologizing to Geoffrey for pausing their conversation. It is Allan and Mae who realized the poop was a result of Grace eating beetroot. They apologize, but Josh hangs up on them. Josh leaves the room to go get some wine, but returns to an empty bed and a voicemail: it is Geoffrey saying he needs to cry alone and that he realizes that Josh doesn’t want to be friends. After listening to the message, Josh goes to the living room where Patrick is playing a videogame. Josh admits the events that occurred in the bedroom (including how he thought about his prickly pubes while Geoffrey was crying over his dead father). Patrick tries to console him by suggesting that they watch a show about “cupcakes” or “storage,” but Josh declines and says the bloody videogame will suffice.
The episode wonderfully counterbalances the lack of verbal communication with a desire for physical intimacy. From Tom’s dick pic to Geoffrey’s voicemail, the characters all admit their carnal/emotional desires from a distant vantage point. These themes mirror some of the issues Spike Jonze brilliantly explored in Her regarding technology and communication (only in this case, the characters aren’t disembodied voices). I’m curious as to the fate of Geoffrey and whether he will appear in future episodes, but I am more interested in the development of Josh’s emotional state. He hides behind his phone, his jokes, and his party tricks in order to avoid any meaningful connection with other people. The first season explored Josh’s emotional detachment, which powerfully climaxed with him crying over Aunty Peg’s death. I feel that the creators are headed down this route, and I will await this emotional climax with bated breath.