Grace and Frankie has charmed our screens with Grace’s quick wit and Frankie’s chilled out mishaps for another season. I, for one, am here for it. While this show is mostly light humour, it is also known to have extremely poignant, moving moments. Our protagonists face the struggles of getting older, and the problems presented by that. However, they also extremely relatable personal issues such as in their relationships. I can’t wait to see how this develops throughout season 5!
(There will be spoilers below. )
Season 5 reminds us straight away where we left off, continuing where after the chaos of Season 4. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) faced the dilemma of whether they were better off in assisted living. They have broken out of this assisted living, and the episode opens with them sitting together on the beach in two rocking chairs. They are finally content here watching the sea, but also stressed to be facing into one of the most uphill struggles of their lives.
The episode is divided into two main arcs – Grace and Frankie on their quest to get their house back, and Robert (Martin Sheehan), Sol (Sam Waterston) and the children who are trying to find Grace and Frankie in order to ensure that they are ok.
Grace and Frankie are trying to get back into their home, which was sold to a mystery buyer. This scene also introduces us to the buyer’s assistant Benjamin LeDay, played by Rupaul. He presents their first obstacle this season – the fact that they do not own this house. He has absolutely no sympathy for them and no time for their trying to cajole him.
As the episode progresses Grace comes to the realisation that it must have been her ex-boyfriend, Nick (Peter Gallagher), who bought their house because “that’s what he does”. This brings them on a wild goose chase to his apartment. This is one of the most heart-rending parts of the episode. They meet a young woman on her way to his apartment on a date, forcing Grace to swallow her pride and leave without confronting him.
This leaves Grace and Frankie with nowhere to go but a diner, where they come to truly face where their lives are. The emotions of running away are catching up with them, and they have nowhere to go once the diner closes. Frankie comes up with the suggestion of saying “fuck it” and refusing to leave. This makes them come to the realisation that this is also what they need to do with their apartment, which brings the episode full circle.
Meanwhile Sol, Robert and the kids are on their own wild goose chase looking for Grace and Frankie. This takes them to a bar where Briana (June Diane Rafael) and Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) lament at the state of their personal lives. Briana worries that she’s in a relationship with a nerd, and Mallory that she isn’t. The relationship between these two is one of my favourite of show, second only to Grace and Frankie themselves.
Now that Briana is in a stable, healthy relationship, it makes me wonder where they’re going to bring her character this season. I am particularly interested in her career and Grace’s company, and how this relates to her own personal development. June Diane Rafael is incredibly funny in this role and certainly an asset to the show.
The other storyline played out in this episode is that of the naked man in Sol and Robert’s house. Although not really important to any overall arc, it more symbolises Robert and Sol having problems with where their relationship. Briana’s fixation on this man provides some light relief to a strange situation. It also juxtaposes the tension of the family panicking about their missing mothers with this humour of having a naked man in their fathers’ apartments.
At the end of this episode we are brought full circle back to the beach house, where the episode begun. This time Grace and Frankie have set up temporary beds in the middle of the house. Their children finally confront them, and a fight breaks out until Grace starts making whale noises. Despite their best efforts, when Grace says “fuck it” the children finally realise that this is a much bigger battle than they realised. They leave Grace and Frankie to it, reluctantly.
The episode ends in parallel to the start, with Grace and Frankie back in the beach chairs, holding hands, after going on a journey to get back there. Things look the same, but they have been defeated and come back more determined than ever to live without help – and to get their house back.
Technically this episode did a good job of setting up these parallels and symmetry so that the intro an outro are cinematically resemblant of each other. The biggest strength of this episode is the journey we see Grace and Frankie go on. They now have a determination to carry them into this new season of putting up with more challenges associated with ageing.
Ultimately this was the first episode of the new season, and it served as more of a refresher of where we left off. The episode also introduced new arcs that we will see more of in season 5. It doesn’t address anything in its entirety. It also doesn’t get too heavy, but it does give us an idea of what we can expect more of. There isn’t anything too deep to discuss, it really is a season opener. We only briefly encountered the situation with Nick in this episode. It is clear that Grace definitely still has feelings for him. She has now also had her pride hurt by seeing a younger woman entering his apartment.
None of the children played big parts in this episode. I can’t wait to see more of Briana, and some more scenes of her interacting with Grace. When the two of them have scenes together their wit and quick humour is a complete match. Overall, while I did like this episode I feel there’s definitely a lot more to come this season.
Season 5 of Grace and Frankie is now available to watch on Netflix.