Cougar Town Season 4, Episode 9 ‘Make It Better’
Directed by Courteney Cox
Written by Rachel Specter & Audrey Wauchope
Airs Tuesdays at 10 pm (EST) on TBS
‘Make It Better’ is equal parts silly and sentimental, an episode about the different ‘slippery slopes’ in life, be it mortality, relationships, or the morality of sex robots. It doesn’t really find its rhythm until those final sequences – and although it’s quite a tonal change when it does, boy does it take off in those final scenes.
Some of it is expected – we all know Travis is not a playa (“no R”) and it was only a matter of time before Laurie and Wade’s ‘beautiful’ relationship came crashing to the ground. If there’s anything to gain from all the sex robot talk and Grayson acting a fool, it’s seeing Bobby hand out legitimate fatherly advice to Travis. It’s a quiet moment, one that reinforces a cliched ideal (“just be yourself”), but it’s another moment where Bobby is proving his worth as a father, a person that’s more than a few funny nicknames and a strong tan from living on a boat.
But the meat of the episode comes from a father/daughter moment between Jules and her father Chick, two people whose stubborn qualities have defined their relationship through the life of the show. In the first half, the two of them are dealing with various injuries: Jules has a kidney stone and Chick has a broken ankle. Both of them refuse to admit it to each other: Chick lies about how the injury happened, and Jules tries to hide her pain by bowing into a Tebow pose (after she calls it Teboning, Ellie reminds her that she’s a year late on the fad anyway).
Jules’s kidney stone isn’t as important – it’s merely a device to parallel her tendencies with her father’s. His injury, however, speaks to something a lot deeper: it’s the first time he’s fallen off his horse in his life. The accident might be a coincidence, but it manifests Chick’s fear of not being able to take care of himself. It’s a very, very somber moment, watching Chick hold back his tears as he tells Jules not to waste her life taking care of him when he can’t. Although it’s still very faint, he can see the writing on the wall for his freedom (and eventually, his life), and it brings an otherwise light episode crashing down to earth by reminding us just how much Jules doesn’t like the idea of an open ending, where a happy ending isn’t clearly defined (or in many cases, even truly attainable).
There are moments of ‘Make It Better’ that are a little too goofy for the material of the final two scenes: watching Ellie get high on painkillers is a bit disturbing, and it’s not quite a revelation that Laurie has some unresolved feelings for Travis. Those forgettable scenes, however, lead to a powerful father/daughter moment that captures the occasional morbidity underneath the comedy of Cougar Town (which at times, is a classical sitcom about the tribulations of aging), and elevate an otherwise average half hour with the Cul de Sac Crew.
– oh no… I’M GETTING LANDLINED!
– will someone please send Uncle Jim some porn?
– Laurie would totally bump and grind with a beep boop (and Andy’s obsession with them is a little weird).
– Bobby sees Travis strike out horribly with a girl: “It’s like watching your kid die in battle.”
— Randy Dankievitch