This week’s episode of YOU’RE THE WORST is the show at both its very best and very darkest. It’s an episode that show has been leading up all season to, but it still was gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. “Twenty-Two” replays the events of last week’s “Men Get Strong”, but from Edgar’s perspective. As you’ll remember, Edgar had his appointment with the Chief of Staff at the VA, his last-ditch attempt to get some help with his PTSD. Desmin Borges is incredible in this episode, giving a nuanced, excellent performance of a man on the edge, desperately trying to keep things together.
This episode is structurally and tonally daring, starting the night before the events of last week’s episode. Edgar can’t sleep, so he goes for a night run, but everything seems threatening to him. Throughout the whole episode, he thinks that a newspaper delivery man, a tree trimmer, a police officer, and an electrical worker are all watching him, all with the same face. He goes downstairs to make breakfast for Lindsay, Gretchen, and Jimmy, a scene we saw last week. But this time, the colors are muted, a bit hazy. Individual sounds overtake the soundtrack. Creator Stephen Falk directed this episode, and he does an amazing job using light and sound to really convey Edgar’s headspace.
Edgar goes grocery shopping, but is unnerved by everyone at the grocery store. He manages to buy a British flag balloon, which he brings to Dorothy. He wants to blow off his meeting at the VA (which truthfully, I thought he did last week), but she convinces him to go. She doesn’t seem to understand just how serious Edgar’s condition is, but at least she’s empathetic, caring, and encourages him to be his own advocate.
That’s a hell of a lot more than I can say about Jimmy and Gretchen. In this episode, we see them from Edgar’s perspective, and they’re no longer loveably self-centered, snarky assholes. No, they’re nightmarishly self-centered, snarky assholes. They have sex in his backseat while he’s driving them to the cemetery and make fun of his cassette tapes, which he attempts to explain help calm him down. It’s a reminder that sometimes thoughtless mocking remarks can really impact a person.
Edgar goes to see the VA lady, a horrifying woman named Tabitha. She doesn’t want to address any of the dark realities Edgar deals with—she’d rather make light-hearted jokes in an attempt to sweep the unpleasantness under the rug. She congratulates him on having the grit and determination to get a meeting with her, but he points out that he shouldn’t have to have grit and determination to get help. She offers to get him ten sessions in a VR trainer— “They build a videogame out of your trauma. It’s really so fun! But scary.”
Edgar perks up. He’s heard of the treatment and thinks it will help. But when he reveals that he’s off his meds, she says he can’t be part of the program. Why would they waste their resources on someone who doesn’t follow their treatment plans? Edgar tries to explain that he doesn’t like the side effects, but she’s made up her mind. Edgar briefly refuses to leave, throwing a chair to make his point, but he realizes arguing with her is pointless. It’s a brutal scene, but one that addresses the reality that many veterans face.
Edgar pulls his car off the freeway, drinking the car booze while sitting on the concrete edge of the LA river. He considers walking into oncoming traffic, but something makes him turn around. A small paper boat is floating down the pathetic trickle that is the LA river. He seems to take it as a sign that life can still be magical or worth engaging with, but some asshole film students yell at him for picking it up. It’s a prop in their movie. It’s a scene that could only take place in Los Angeles, which is another reason why I love this show.
Edgar returns to his car to find that it’s being towed, but the tow truck driver saw the VA paperwork in his car and after taking a look at Edgar, realizes that he’s going through something. The driver is a fellow vet, and he offers a different perspective on the VA. It’s impossible for them to help people like him and Edgar— “The military’s job is to sand down our humanity just enough so we can take a life. That’s it. Afterwards, some totally separate branch gets to deal with all those purposely broken motherfuckers. Not only is that impossible with the resources, that’s just impossible. Period.”
The driver tells Edgar he needs to find something that works for him, as no one else can help him. For the driver, it’s his service dog, but he has friends who do yoga, go on runs, or stab their closets with knives. Hopefully Edgar goes the service dog route instead of the knives one, but hey, whatever works. The driver takes him home, letting him ride in his car as he tows it. Edgar climbs out the sun roof, briefly savoring life again.
Edgar’s PTSD was been a part of the show ever since the beginning, but it’s never been explored like this. In fact, PTSD in general hasn’t been explored this thoughtfully and in such detail in any TV show I can think of. But Edgar’s struggles aren’t only relatable to those struggling with PTSD. Anyone suffering from any sort of serious mental trauma or illness can see parts of their reality reflected in this episode. Eventually, you come to the realization that there’s no one you can rely on to fix you but yourself. It’s a tough realization to come to. It can be overwhelming, but it’s also a little bit empowering. It’s going to be a tough road for Edgar, but I’m looking forward to following his journey. Thank the TV gods that FXX announced today its renewing this show for season four.
Season 3, Episode 5 (S03E05)
You’re The Worst airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FXX
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor