The following recap contains spoilers for Somebody Somewhere S2E5, “NMB NMP” (written by Rachel Axler and directed by Lennon Parham)
“NMB NMP” ends with Sam (Bridget Everett), glum and alone, eating eggs from a takeout container at her kitchen table. I’d imagine some might argue that she takes the events of the episode too seriously, or that she’s too harsh towards Joel (Jeff Hiller) when she finds out he’s been seeing Brad (Tim Bagley), but that would be to miss the point.
The point isn’t whether Sam is justified in feeling the way she’s feeling. The sticky thing about feelings is that it often doesn’t matter—you can’t just convince yourself to not be upset. And while Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) has a point when she calls Sam out for leaving her house rather than staying to talk things out, so does Sam in noting that there’s really nothing that can be said to make things better.
Holly lied to her about when she was diagnosed with cancer, apparently waiting to inform her for a full year (or thereabouts) as she pursued natural remedies. Was it because Sam would have called her out for that, or because she wanted to protect her little sister from a hard truth, as Tricia suggests?
I’m not sure it matters, because the idea that she couldn’t handle it stings for Sam more than anything. Tricia lied to her, too, and if she promised Holly not to tell Sam, that doesn’t make things better. There’s an agreement in the background about a justification for not telling her, which implies a lack of respect for her as an adult, or something like that. It hits right at the most sensitive spot beneath Sam’s veneer of nonchalance.
And so when she learns that Joel has been hiding something from her, it resonates around in that same wound. He didn’t trust her enough to tell her what was going on. He made up excuses about researching birds at the library, and the problem is definitely not that he’s dating the St. Louis Sushi guy even if Sam’s not a huge fan of that either.
Sam speaks the title of Somebody Somewhere S2E5, “NMB NMP,” when Joel tells her he has to run errands instead of helping her make a cake for Tricia’s birthday. “Not my business; not my problem”—except that already she can sense that Joel is keeping things from her. Already she wonders why. And, again, it’s not that he’s meeting up with Brad in and of itself, or even that he wanted to keep that secret until he knew what it was, insofar as Sam might understand that in a general way, it’s what underlies his desire to keep it a secret from her. What kind of best friend fears your judgment like that?
So it all hangs together, and it’s sad, because just prior to Tricia letting it slip that Holly was 47 when she was diagnosed, she and Tricia were getting along as well as we’ve seen them do. Sam made a terrible cake for Tricia’s birthday. Tricia decides she’s going to pursue making profanity laced pillows in earnest, solicits Sam’s help, and you might even say the two were bonding.
And, of course, Tricia felt she had to be honest at this point. She mentioned Holly being 47 because she just turned 47, and it would be a weird thing for her to just be getting wrong. But then we can see how their relationship devolves in real time. It’s a singular instance of what’s more general between them.
Tricia can’t help but lash out with a “this is why you’re alone” and Sam doesn’t know how to deal with the situation except to leave. It says something about her growth over the course of the series that Sam reaches out to Joel the next day. But she finds that he’s been hiding things from her, too, so she decides to be alone. Classic Sam.
I hope it’s clear I say that with empathy.
Meanwhile, Joel’s burgeoning romance with Brad is heartwarming as all get out, as the two take in the history of Manhattan, Kansas and Brad shows off his knowledge. It’s a shame that Joel has felt the need to hide this developing relationship from Sam. I hope now that she knows they’ll find a way to make up and move forward.
Fred (Murray Hill) and Susan’s (Jennifer Mudge) wedding remains on the horizon, and I expect that will keep Sam from wallowing indefinitely. A good talk with Fred is probably just what she needs, honestly.
In planning for the event, or attempting to, Tricia learns that Charity (Heidi Johanningmeier) has been spreading nasty rumors about her, so she posts the pillow pic to social media again, this time tagging Charity. And Rick (Danny McCarthy) texts her to wish her a happy birthday, even if she scoffs at that.
With two episodes left in Season 2, Somebody Somewhere has teed things up for some significant drama before it (I hope) delivers catharsis in the season finale. There’s also still the whole MJ situation to deal with. That will make Sam and Tricia deal with each other if nothing else does.
See you next week.