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Remember a couple weeks ago? Jenni made a mistake about something. Doesn’t really matter what. She did. Jeff got angry. It’s happening again this week. Here we go.
Jeff and Jenni are looking over a to-do list for one of the projects. Jenni made this list, and Jeff notices a couple items are duplicated—i.e. #3 is the same as #12, and so on.
Mistake. Actually, mistakes, because this happens like four times on the same to-do list. To be fair to Jeff, it would be pretty irritating if your to-do list is like 50% redundant.
So, Jeff tries really hard to stay calm, and he gently reminds Jenni to double-check her work. Especially on to-do lists she compiles at the end of the day when she’s rushing to go home.
Jenni digs in her heels. The items are duplicate because Jeff repeats himself over and over an over. IT’S NOT HER FAULT!
But, Jeff says, Jenni ought to know when he’s repeating himself and when he isn’t. And she needs to learn to admit mistakes.
She says she is. Gradually. Hoo boy.
Bravo estimates that 81% of Jeff’s days is spent fixing mistakes and fighting with people about it, and I just made that number up.
This is a fancy tile shop. Trace is here to pick out some materials for one of the projects. He’s here by himself, and he’s making creative decisions on his own. It looks like it’s going well.
See this giant wall of tiles? Trace knows what to do with it. I would have no idea and probably break them by accident.
But it appears Trace is here on an errand for Jeff, so while he’s calling shots, he’d like to be managing clients on his own. He’s also pretty confident about himself. He knows he’s less outspoken than the other members of Jeff Lewis Designs, but he delivers.
Watching Trace pick out tile samples by himself is the most boring thing ever, so luckily this is the only scene in the episode like this. It gets better.
Everyone is eating lunch and we learn Trace is finally going to graduate from design school—which had been keeping him from committing to Jeff full time. Graduation is next Monday, and the day after Jeff is launching him into his full-time position.
Jeff is taking everyone to the commencement ceremony, and they all have some fun riffing on how it’s going to go. Jeff wonders whether flipping the mortarboard tassel is different when you’re gay, the way you’re supposedly supposed to wear your earring in your right ear. They decide it doesn’t. Zoila doesn’t think it matters because nobody can tell Trace is gay, but Jeff disagrees. “With those short-shorts and that man purse? Dead giveaway.” And Jeff advises Trace to get rid of that whitehead on his nose. All in good fun.
Also, Trace has been selected as one of his school’s “Success Stories.” He’s going to have his photo in the school’s lobby. To become a Success Story from his school, the Art Institute of Los Angeles, literally all you have to do is get a job after graduation, and you’re a success.
VARIOUS JOB SITES
Then Bravo gives us some filler in the form of quick-cuts. At one of them Jeff asks Jenni to read something off her Blackberry to him, but he starts popping packing bubbles every time she opens her mouth.
“Power. I enjoy having it over people.”
It’s also finally time to get rid of the Casa Vega topiary. Jeff can’t believe he’s getting resistance from the Vegas, because he’d never see himself getting “that attached to a bush.”
Hahahaha I’m not going there. We’re all better than that.
Next they’re driving along and Jenni realizes something is amiss. They forgot his schedule. SHE forgot his schedule. She doesn’t know where. They have to retrace their steps.
Except wait, it’s not just a schedule, it’s also Jeff’s entire planner, and it contains his driver’s license, personal information, and clients’ personal information.
This could be the big one, folks!
No, really. Jeff threatens to fire her if they don’t find it. I don’t think he’s kidding.
They schlep back to Royal Woods. The planner isn’t there. Normally Jenni would be reigning in Jeff from full-on panic mode, but she can’t because she’s the cause of the panic. But she’s panicking this time anyway, so it’s moot.
Well, OK. They found it.
Now that they have the planner, Jeff can start up the reprimanding. Today Jeff reacts like a disappointed Dad. All this means she can no longer be trusted to carry the planner. He’s disappointed. He takes it from her. And she also cost Daddy a half-hour of his work time.
I thought this approach was crazy when I first heard it, but I don’t know, maybe it’s genius. He’s totally pushing the right buttons. Jenni feels horrible.
This project is nearly finished, so Jeff is itching to get it finished. He’s also taken more time than Tracey and Stewart, the owners, wanted, so now he’s working under a hard deadline, which we know is a bad idea.
One of the final steps is getting the kitchen cabinets installed. Jeff is working with a sub-contractor, Alex. He assures Jeff up and down the cabinets will be done. He’s a little too confident if you ask me. I smell a con man.
“I tell ya, Mr. Lewis, you’re in trouble, with a capital T, which rhymes with C which stands for cabinetry. Which I will have installed for you by tomorrow.”
Now it’s time for the fallout over the misplaced planner, which Jeff is already calling an “Incident.” Right before it all starts between Jenni and Jeff, Sarah looks on and reacts later how much she sympathizes with Jenni. Even she’s never screwed up this badly.
“I was like, ‘girrrrrrrl.’”
It all starts with Jenni trying to play the martyr. She hands Jeff a timesheet and tries to refuse being paid for all of yesterday, when she lost the planner, because she cost Jeff the time.
Jeff refuses. He’s the boss, he gets to decide the punishment.
Jeff refers to the planner as his “dayminder.” It’s funny when he yells the word “dayminder.”
So instead, he decides to punish her by refusing to pay her for the half-hour they lost instead of the whole day.
Then in his reaction Jeff says something that is both highly self-aware and oblivious at the same time. It’s wild: “You’re not my wife, you’re not my girlfriend, we’re not fucking, YOU ARE THE EMPLOYEE.”
Jeff then went on to say, “Also, you are my therapist, and my sister, and my wife and my girlfriend.”
Right after this, Jeff, Sarah, and Trace all pile into the car, probably for work, but maybe to get ice cream also. You need ice cream after a family fight.
Jeff immediately starts asking if witnessing the dispute was intense for them. And they edit in a reaction of Jeff saying, “OK, I KNOW it’s inappropriate to talk to them about stuff like this.” His reasoning is he doesn’t want to wait until Tuesday for his weekly therapist appointment. He wants to let it out now.
Sarah tries to suggest that it wouldn’t hurt to apologize, but he has no plan to do that because Jenni’s the one who lost the planner. And overall, he’s frustrated with Jenni’s recent absentmindedness. Trace suggests talking with her about that, and Jeff says he has, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.
Notice a pattern here? Whenever Jeff gets pissed about human error, his solution is to talk to the person involved, and then get angry when more human error happens, and then he says his talk “didn’t sink in” or whatever.
Being that Trace and Sarah are in their twenties and subordinate to Jenni and Jeff, they don’t have any suggestions, and they feel uncomfortable hearing it. Sarah tries to change the subject, so they talk about Trace’s graduation. Trace is at the top of his class, but there are only 14 people in it. Big deal, Jeff says.
TRACE’S GRADUATION CEREMONY
So right after that disaster, we get to see the other side of their family dynamic, which is, they really love each other. Reactions from everybody. They’re all happy for Trace, and Jeff and Jenni are proud of him, the way parents would be. Trace started as an intern, and now he’s become a man.
Trace appreciates the support, too. In his own reaction interview, he reflects on the familial atmosphere at JLD. They’re dysfunctional, but they’re there for each other.
So it’s not like they’re unaware it’s a family.
BACK TO TRACE’S GRADUATION CEREMONY
Remember how these ceremonies are always four and a half hours long?
I was bored watching this, and then bored later when I thought about all the graduation ceremonies I’ve been to, and bored once again when I proofread the recap and came across this line
Jeff has severe ADD, he tells us, and after a while he can’t take the agony any more. He gets up and leaves the auditorium. One by one the others follow.
And out in the parking lot, the gang enjoys the best remedy to a graduation ceremony possible:
Seriously, if you needed proof Jeff is a genius, here it is
Oh my god that’s awesome. (Also when Jeff is complaining about how unpleasant the ceremony is, one things he says: “I didn’t see a single person I’d want to have sex with in there!”)
They make it back inside in time to see Trace’s name get called. I didn’t know Trace’s last name is “Lenhoff”! (I couldn’t find him on Facebook later).
Outside everyone hugs and congratulates him. He’s proud of graduating, but he’s only got about a day to savor it.
Here’s another tile shop. Jeff is here to introduce Trace to the first client he’ll be serving all by himself.
The clients is from Florida. His name is Chuck. He’s cut from a bit different cloth than JLD’s normal clientele:
I think this is the first ballcap in four years of the show, unless you count the contractors.
The three of them go around the showroom with the tile guy, selecting different items. In talking-head Jeff explains his rational for Trace’s trial by fire: Trace needs to be less reserved. Skillful design is great, but you still have to connect with the clients.
This particular client seems easygoing, though. He tells them right off the bat he gets really anxious whenever he has to make a lot of choices, so he defers to Jeff and Trace.
Then about a minute of them all picking out tiles, which we’ve already established as not much interesting. Trace pitches in his ideas and thinks the meeting goes well.
Jeff and Jenni arrive here to check up on Alex the cabinet installer’s progress. Problem is there hasn’t been any. And Alex hasn’t even showed up…
Son of a bitch!
Jeff has Jenni call Alex but she can only leave a polite “what the hell?” message on his voicemail. Later in talking-head, she hopes Jeff realizes how well she handles things like this. Without Jenni, Jeff would have carpet-bombed Alex, as he would many people who cross him.
That’s all the time we have for the Royal Woods storyline this week. Next week’s episode deals with Jeff up against three or four simultaneous deadlines, so it’ll be back.
Next, Jeff is giving Trace instructions on what to do with Chuck next. Today, Trace will be taking Chuck back to Emser Tile, then out for an hour lunch, one-on-one. Which may not seem like a big deal if you’re socially assured, but if you’re reserved like Trace, that’s a long hour. (Speaking from personal experience here).
Trace tells us his biggest priority is coming across as competent to Chuck. Jeff isn’t worried. If Trace has any problems, he’s just supposed to call the home base.
EMSER TILE AGAIN
Trace and Chuck are going over more tile options, and it’s going way less smoothly than it was when Jeff was around. Chuck is second-guessing everything Trace suggests, and constantly asks Trace to double-check things with Jeff before they make decisions. “Can you e-mail Jeff? Can you take a picture of this and send it to Jeff? Can you take a better picture and send it to Jeff?”
Here’s the one-off for this week. Jeff discovers a discrepancy on a supplier invoice and has Jenni call to rectify it. Only he tells her…to call as Deb!
We haven’t seen Deb yet this season. It’s Jenni’s butch alter ego they whip out whenever someone’s ass really needs to be kicked. Deb’s been on a couple times before.
Deb’s raunchy, too, so after she gets this particular supplier to send them the invoice, she starts asking him if he got any over the weekend, or at least fingerbanged anybody. It’s pretty awesome.
Jeff and Jenni get a call from Trace, who’s calling from the bathroom of Hamburger Mary’s, the place where he’s eating with Chuck. Something is wrong. Trace wants to know if he should keep drinking, like Chuck wants him to.
Trace doesn’t want to say it, but it’s getting out of control. They can detect the fear in his voice. They know Trace isn’t a drama queen. It’s time to rescue him. They’re actually getting quite a kick out of this, too.
Jeff and Jenni arrive to find Chuck plastered and Trace terrified.
Woooooooooo nobody else is drunk!!!!!!!
None of the following should really surprise you. Let’s roll through it…
First, Chuck blatantly hits on Jenni. This is the first they’ve met.
Then when Jeff asks how much Chuck’s had to drink, he claims it’s one drink. When Trace tries to correct him, he, well…
Jeff is blown away at how awesome all this is
But then realizes Chuck is cutting off Trace’s oxygen supply.
Chuck proceeds to rank everyone at the table by hotness: Jenni and Jeff’s friend Megan, tied for first place. Jeff and Trace, tied for “Loser.”
Megan suggests Trace is best dressed, prompting Chuck to point out Trace’s short-shorts and exclaim, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!
It’s no later than two in the afternoon.
Chuck decides to put his arm around Jenni, so he gets up, goes around the table, and embraces her. He full-on grabs her boob.
God…aside from being horrified, this whole time I was trying to picture who Chuck is in real life. Best case is, he has a wife and seven kids and is a minister.
Jenni asks him two or three times to remove his hand, which he finally does, and apologizes as though he’d done something no more embarrassing than, say, burp.
Somehow Jenni does not punch him in the cock.
Jeff can only laugh uncomfortably.
Chuck then inexplicably starts listing who at the table he’d like to hit. Only one person: Trace.
So he does:
Chuck turns, looks everyone in the eye, and smiles a smile that says, “There’s literally nothing you can do to me. Ain’t I a stinker?”
Maybe I don’t watch enough reality TV, but I’m continually amazed by how people behave even when they know there are documentary cameras trained on them at all times.
Everyone is too stunned to do anything, except Jenni, who immediately removes Chuck from the table and escorts him to the bathroom
Aw, man. One more drink and the homophobia would have come out. Jenni is a killjoy.
Back at the table they try to process what’s just happened. Jeff’s still stunned, and he apologizes to Trace that he got hit. He lets Trace take off for the day to avoid seeing Chuck again. Lunch is over. When Chuck and Jenni come back, Megan takes Chuck back to his hotel, and Jenni and Jeff return to Valley Oak.
In private now, Jeff and Jenni decompress and try to figure out what to do about this. Jeff feels bad for putting Trace in this situation. He also doesn’t think they can fire Chuck, because if they got rid of every client who was inappropriate, they’d have no clients.
But really Jeff is amazed how well Jenni handled the scene. It makes him realize, hey, Jenni’s really good with people!
So maybe she’s not such a drag on the business after all.
The next day when Trace comes in for work, Jeff tries to assess his mood.
Trace doesn’t think they need to cut Chuck, either. He claims he enjoys working with Chuck overall and that yesterday Chuck was just trying to be funny.
Jeff thanks Trace for handling himself well yesterday and indicates there will be a little something extra in next month’s paycheck. But ultimately Trace takes all this as an indication that he has a long way to go?
Personally, my first instinct if this happened to me would be more, “That guy was a fucking asshole” than “I need to improve things about myself.” To each his own.
See you next week for the finale! In the meantime, I’ll be at Hamburger Mary’s!
OK, just Googled it. It’s a gay bar. But it looks like they have good burgers. I’ll go pretty much anywhere for a good burger.