“MISTRESSES” EPISODE 3: Breaking and Entering

The thing I like most about this show (well, besides the fact that I get to see Alyssa Milano on TV every week) is that, despite the suggestive title and provocative promos, it does not glamorize adultery, or minimize the harmful effects it can have on the emotions and lives of those involved, from all sides. This episode continues that tradition.

Picking up from last week’s episode, April is still trying to get over the revelation that her late husband had a mistress who gave birth to his child and is now coming to her, looking for a payout. April tries to avoid her (she’s also still avoiding Savi) and move forward with her life, so she attempts to re-establish contact with Richard (Cameron Bender), the single father from her neighborhood with whom she had agreed to go on a date in the first episode, but then had to cancel. Richard, however, initially seems to be uninterested now and just avoids her when she says hi to him at their children’s school. Then when he shows up at her house to pick up his daughter, she tries to explain why she blew off their first date, but he doesn’t appear to care. Then they unexpectedly meet at Joss’ party (more on that in a moment), where he reveals that he’s a sports writer and close friends with Lamar Odom (who is mentioned, but not seen), and they finally get a chance to connect again. She tries to ask him out to dinner, but he declines, based on the fact that he can tell she still has a lot of emotional baggage to deal with.

Joss finally gets a meaty storyline of her own. She’s mostly been the “free spirit” of the show, reacting to the problems of the other women. Her biggest problem up to now is that she doesn’t want to settle down with any of her many potential suitors. Last week introduced a potential new love interest, in the form of a lesbian who is in a committed relationship with another woman. But, for whatever reason, they chose not to follow up on that this week. Instead, Joss learns that her real estate company has been bought out, and she has a new boss, a Frenchman named Olivier (Mike Dopud), who doesn’t seem to approve of Joss’ fashion sense or flirtatious attitude. When he invites her to dinner, she thinks it’s her opportunity to win him over, like she did with her previous boss. But he’s immune to her charms, and tells her he’s taking away half of her accounts unless she can sell a particular property that she’s been unable to sell for the past year. Joss’ frustration at dealing with a man whom she apparently can’t wrap around her finger is apparent. And she throws an Open House party at that property in a last-ditch attempt to make a sale, enlisting April’s help in redesigning the place, with Harry doing the catering. The party is a success, as Joss gets three offers to buy the house, which assures her job security. I liked this storyline, as it gave Jes Macallan a chance to show some vulnerability in her character.

Karen is also trying to move on, but it isn’t easy. She’s visited again by Tom’s widow, Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller), who comes to her to talk about Sam, who has dropped out of college and is “falling apart.” Karen tries to recommend another therapist that she could send Sam to. And she casually mentions that Sam is planning to move into Tom’s old city apartment, which just so happens to be where Karen and Tom used to meet for their love trysts. So, against Savi’s advice, Karen goes to the apartment to see if there is any evidence of her involvement with Tom there, so she can remove it. While there we get some flashbacks of her being there with Tom (John Schneider) during happier times. But while she’s there, Sam shows up, and Karen has to hide and then sneak out before he can see her. But, SURPRISE, she accidentally leaves her sunglasses behind, which is, ironically, exactly the sort of thing she was going there to get rid of. When she goes to tell Savi what happened, and Savi reads her the riot act for continuing to be involved with that family, Karen confesses that she’s just not really over Tom. Karen later attends Joss’ party with her coworker Jacob (Matthew Del Negro). But during the party, she gets a call from Sam, who is in jail due to a drunk driving accident. Somewhat reluctantly, she goes to bail him out. He tells her about finding the glasses at Tom’s apartment, and how he gave them to his mother, who revealed that they weren’t hers, meaning Elizabeth now knows that Tom was having an affair. A great arc for Yunjin Kim, you could see the repressed pain on her face as she was talking about Tom to Savi, then she tried to recover and was having a good time with Jacob, only to be brought back down again by Sam’s revelation. What an emotional rollercoaster this woman is on.

And then, of course, there is Savi. She and her husband Harry have gotten over their intimacy issues. The episode opened with them in bed, experiencing the afterglow of an obviously raucous lovemaking session. They’re both very happy, yet Harry does take notice that Savi seems to be avoiding work. She even tries to arrange a two-week vacation for them, but Harry puts the kibosh on that since he’s too busy with his work. But Savi is still feeling the guilt of her one night stand with Dominic, even having an intensely erotic dream about him, and doesn’t want to be around him. But now they’re in the middle of a very complicated case, which requires them to work long hours late at night alone together. For such a serious situation, the work scenes between Savi and Dominic are rather funny (giving Alyssa Milano a chance to showcase the comedic timing skills she honed on Who’s The Boss all those years ago), as she takes everything he says as a possible double-entendre.

Again, many fans think the character of Dominic is sleazy, but I find him to be a great part of this cast. Credit must go to Jason Winston George for the way he plays this character. From the dialog, it’s hard to tell if Savi is just overreacting due to her own feelings of guilt, or if she is correct. George’s mannerism help leave Dominic’s intentions ambiguous. He could just be trying to do his job and put what happened between them behind them like Savi said she wanted, or he might be subtly trying to hit on her. It could go either way, and that’s what makes the character, and the suspense, so interesting. Later Savi goes to her boss to ask to be taken off the case so that Dominic will have to handle it alone. Instead, the boss ends up kicking Dominic off the case, giving it to Savi, which pisses Dominic off, causing him to show up at her house and say this line to her: “Screw me if you want to screw me, but…don’t do it like this”, making Savi feel even more guilty. In the end, April comes to see Savi, and the two friends finally reconcile. Savi breaks down in April’s arms, and April assures Savi that “the worst is over.” But in the final scene of the episode, Savi takes a pregnancy test and it is POSTIVE!!!!

Really, it’s the cast who makes this show work. While it’s true that I originally only gave this show a chance because I’m a huge fan of Milano, I have quickly become a fan of Kim, Macallan, and Aytes, as well. Each actress is able to show a wide range of emotions, that makes their roles believable. And they’re helped by great writing. So far, series creator K.J. Steinberg, who wrote this episode and also wrote the pilot, like last week’s writer Rina Mimoun, manage to find just the right balance of drama and comedy on this show, making it irresistible to watch.


MISTRESSES airs Monday Nights @ 10pm on ABC

You can also watch episodes online via http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/mistresses


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