OK, you know the drill. Jeff’s focused on building the business but nobody else can perform on his own elite level, so his life is constantly frustrating. You’d think he’d be used to it by now.
Add in his forgetful assistant Sarah, who’s family and can’t be fired. On good days Jeff tries coaching her up. On bad days, he goes nuclear.
This episode is about one of the bad days.
JEFF’S CAR/CASA VEGA
Well, it’s not like all that coaching up has been COMPLETELY ineffective. We start out with Sarah, Jenni, and Jeff on their way to the Casa Vega job. Sarah is giving Jeff an update about it, and she runs through how she’s had to stay on Kash the contractor’s ass about all the little details. Jeff is pleased. He knows Kash isn’t to be trusted with these things by himself. He’s taught Sarah well!
They arrive. Things have been going slow and Jeff starts finding bits of shoddy workmanship. Time to kick some butts.
JEFF: Why didn’t you fix this?!
KASH: Oh yeah, sorry Jeff, we didn’t fix that because… we didn’t fix it.
Jeff accuses Kash of barely putting any energy into this project in favor of the more lucrative ones he’s working on somewhere else. For his part, Kash doesn’t even try mounting a defense beyond, “C’monnnnnn, mannnnnn, you’re harshing my mellow.”
Kash is exactly like my freshman-year roommate. Huuuuuuuge Hendrix fan.
But all Jeff can do at the moment is withhold Kash’s paycheck, which he discreetly tells Christy to do.
I’m noticing a common theme in this episode…Jeff pushing and pushing and pushing, but ultimately being unable to motivate the employees. They seem kind of aware of it, too.
Jeff, Trace, Sarah, and Chaz, the guy from the Cole Salon, are all having lunch.
It’s at a restaurant somewhere, I don’t know
Today we learn something interesting about Sarah’s personal life. Namely, that she has a personal life, because I don’t remember ever hearing about it before. She’s in a relationship with a guy named Steven
Steven with a V, she makes clear. “PH” Stephens are shit.
They’ve been dating for TEN YEARS. Jeff quickly guides the conversation to the fact that she wants to marry him but Steven hasn’t proposed. Chaz is new to this information, so he’s shocked and tells Sarah she should move on if Steven doesn’t propose.
Here we also learn that Jeff, being a planner and a micromanager, has taken an active interest in this problem and has immersed himself in her personal life. (It’s also probably because Jeff is so reluctant to let people into his own personal life).
The way he sees it, Sarah is handling her relationship poorly, and he feels it’s his responsibility to tell her, over and over, until she does it his way. More on this later.
One last thing with this scene. In my capacity as a Licensed Internet Blogger, (TV Recappers Local 412), it’s my job to start an unfounded rumor from time to time. Here goes…
I think Jeff and Chaz have a thing going on. Why’s Chaz eating lunch with them? Jeff doesn’t hang out with the clients outside work! But, if it’s work-related, why aren’t they explaining that? Chaz is just THERE. Big ol’ elephant in the room.
Plus, we know for a fact that Jeff is seeing someone but refuses to let Bravo put that on the show. We already know Jeff has a tendency to shit where he eats, (i.e. Ryan), and he’s been working on Cole for over a year.
NEW YORK DRIVE/FINLEY
Quick scenes at these two projects. They’re both nearing completion so Jeff wants everything done right, but quickly.
(I don’t think we’ve been to Finley this season…it’s another rental property Jeff’s fixing up. If you care about the projects themselves).
Jeff tells us after work he and Sarah are to his brother Todd and sister-in-law Carrie’s for dinner.
Since Sarah is also Carrie’s sister, we’ve got here a mixture of just about every basic human relationship between Sarah and Jeff…friends, family, and coworkers. Sarah claims they have no problem flipping back and forth between them.
Really now. Sarah should just watch the fourth season of Flipping Out, because then she’ll see how many times Jeff complains about being unable to fire her because she’s family.
That’s a lesson, I guess. If you’re on a reality show, don’t later watch that show, because then you’ll see all the things everyone says about you. Yeesh.
This evening is a multi-purpose visit. Jeff and Sarah are having dinner, but Jeff’s also taking the opportunity to check on Carrie’s bathroom remodel which I guess he’s supervising.
Jeff also reflects on what he’s getting out of the evening. Contrary to what people might think, he does value family. Or at least some of his family members.
The lucky ones
While everyone’s waiting for the food to be ready, Jeff starts asking Sarah about her recent birthday, so that he can then steer the conversation back to her relationship…
Did Steven do anything for you the night before your birthday? You had a quiet night in? Well, what about on your actual birthday? Did he bring you breakfast in bed? You slept late that day? Why did you sleep in on your birthday? I thought you had a quiet night, so what, were you having sex? You were. Must have been a long session.
Jeff then notices Todd’s, Carrie’s, and Sarah’s facial expressions and realizes he’s gone too far. But he’s not done with the Steven situation, not by a long shot.
Out on the porch as they eat, Carrie asks how work is going. Jeff takes that to mean she wants an honest report on how Sarah’s been performing at work, so he starts rattling off ways Sarah could be doing better, but then senses the mood again and says she’s doing well. He does mean it.
Ready for some foreshadowin’? Sarah later says it felt good for her sister to know Jeff is treating her well, and that she’s working hard. It’s a nice family moment, and in his Jeff way he appreciates it.
Jeff and Sarah are supervising this project, where the hardwood floors have just been put in. Next Jeff plans to put a recess light into one of their closets. It’s messy, and Stewart says they haven’t even been in that closet for two years.
Clutter is an ongoing theme at Royal Woods, Jeff tells us.
Every designer whose name is Jeff’s worst nightmare
Obviously Jeff can’t NOT raise this issue with them. He tells them they have way too much stuff. Actually, here’s their actual exchange:
JEFF: You have got too much stuff.
TRACEY: (to Stewart) It’s you! You’re a hoarder.
STEWART: Yeah. I’ve still got the tee shirt from when we met in London.
TRACEY: Awww. That was fifteen years ago.
JEFF: See? Time to let go.
Jeff even thinks giving them more storage space is a bad idea because it’ll encourage them to keep saving their crap.
By the way, have you noticed how common the word “hoarder” has become ever since that show got on TV? Back in my day, (I am 24), we would have called him a “packrat.” A “hoarder” has an actual disorder. Get it right!
But back to Jeff and Sarah. They’re driving between jobs and Jeff idly brings up her relationship again. He thinks Steven and Sarah are going nowhere, and worries that she’s blowing her opportunity to land an ideal guy. She’s “at the top of the food chain,” and blowing it by staying out of the game.
Which is what any good friend does. You know, undermine your confidence.
They have another clip of Jeff justifying why it is he does this. “She’s family and I care about her and all that.” Personally I think it’s also because Jeff works such long days he doesn’t have that much time for friendship and has to make due. Remember the season premier when he said “I used to be a fun gay.” We all gotta make do.
For her part, Sarah doesn’t want to talk about it, at least not at work. I’d feel the same way.
Back to the restaurant for another checkup. The workers have been stuccoing the lobby, and…
AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! (wait, can you tell what this is? Cracks in the stucco) AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
Jeff does point out that you can expect some cracking in smooth-coat stucco, but not like this. They call Kash to see what the hell is going on, and Kash claims to know about the cracks and tries to write it off as the normal cracking. But it’s clearly been improperly installed.
Then Christy comes out and sees the damage. She’s long hated Kash, and this seems like the last straw.
“Welcome to Casa Vega crackhouse,” Jenni says. But in the screengrab she’s saying, “COME ON. How is that not funny?!”
I like the way Jeff sets up this next scene…“I went through Tracey and Stewart’s house and I threw out a few things that were…trash. I don’t think they’re gonna miss any of it.”
Like this thing, which belongs to their child
Jenni does her best to keep him from throwing out too many of their keepsakes.
I didn’t know you could recycle the giant bow from when you give somebody a Lexus
They collect so much clutter they can’t fit it all into Tracey and Stewart’s trash cans, so Jeff and Jenni sneak over to the neighbor’s and see if their cans have any room.
You don’t throw your trash in strangers’ trashcans. Have we learned nothing from Curb?
But the neighbor sees them, and they feel guilty, so Jeff makes Jenni run back up and retrieve the flowerpot. And honks the horn while she does it, and hits the gas a couple times when she tries to load it into the trunk.
I hope you’re good on the light-hearted front, because we’re going in a different direction for a while.
It’s 4:57 pm, so that means it’s time for Jett to serve everyone their afternoon martinis. After he’s done that, Jeff pops a pretend-hypothetical question that’s in reality referring to Sarah’s relationship. Nobody is fooled. Jeff isn’t even really asking Jett, he’s prompting everybody to weigh in. Here are their responses…
JETT: If he hasn’t married you in ten years, it’s hard to imagine something changing that.
TRACE: I don’t feel comfortable talking about this. [Jeff asks again]. I couldn’t handle being with someone for ten years and not being proposed to because I would want to know why. (Jeff also phrased it, “If you were legally allowed to marry, what would you think?”)
ZOILA: She’s happy. Leave her alone.
SARAH [talking-head]: I don’t think it’s cool for him to ask personal questions in front of everyone. But it’s OK. That’s who he is.
They do some awesome setup for what comes next…
[Jenni narrates over a shot of Sarah driving her car]
JENNI (voiceover): You know, Jeff can’t be five places at once. So the only way for Jeff to rectify that is to give the employees more responsibility, i.e. Sarah.
[Sarah slams on the brakes]
Thanks for the concerted effort to lessen our opinion of Sarah, Bravo! Now then, in Jeff’s car…
Jenni and Jeff are driving somewhere, and they decide to check in with Sarah, who’s back at the house working.
Sarah says she’s been productive for today, except she didn’t make it to a tile store in time. This was her most important task of the day.
Jeff’s rage materializes right before our eyes. It’s like time lapse photography of a blossoming flower that yells at people.
Jeff asks her why the hell she didn’t get this done and, like Kash, she has no excuse. She just didn’t. Sorry!
Jeff barely manages to keep his composure and hangs up. Jenni marvels at how he managed not to flip out.
He anger-laughs it off.
Jeff, Trace, and Sarah are all getting ready to start another work day. Right in the middle of everything, with Trace sitting right there, Jeff pauses to give Sarah a friendly warning: don’t make any mistakes today. Mistakes upset Jeff, and he doesn’t want another upsetting day.
He elaborates to show how serious he is. The problem is, he says, Sarah will have nine really good days, and then the tenth day will be so disastrous it’ll undo everything from the previous nine. So: focus.
Trace watches all this and then gets interviewed on what he thinks about it. He’s bitter. Sarah is above the law. Maybe he should have someone marry into Jeff’s family so he can get similar privileges.
I’m glad they acknowledged how shitty this would be for Trace, at least.
Now they’re firing Kash.
It’s a strange scene, because Jeff and Sarah both have nothing but kind words to say about Kash, how he’s a great contractor albeit a little difficult. Jeff blames the peculiarities of the Casa Vega job and not Kash himself, and says this won’t affect their future relationship.
I’d bet this stems from what Jeff said earlier, that Kash is focused on remodeling Beverly Hills houses and not restaurants. They all seem to realize it’s an ill-fitting job for Kash, (and probably for Jeff, too), and they’re being adults about it.
And now Jeff has to find a new contractor to pick up the job halfway through. Should be fun.
Sarah has made another mistake.
Specifically, she was supposed to follow up with a sub-contractor who failed to show up at a job site, but she didn’t, and now Jeff wants her to. If the sub-contractor doesn’t have a good excuse, she’s supposed to fire him.
His name is Wayne.
Sarah gets Wayne on the phone, and right off the bat she starts firing him without asking why he didn’t show up at the site. Jeff yells for her to stop firing him and get Wayne’s excuse first. She gets flustered. She hears from Wayne that he DID show up at the site. Oops. She quickly promises to call Wayne back, hangs up, and asks Jeff what to do.
Then there’s this:
You get the idea
Then, um, he turns nasty. Says things of the “get it through your THICK SKULL” variety. F-bombs are dropped.
I believe this is the first F-bomb
You can tell Jeff really has no idea what else to do, because he starts going into absurd territory. “I know I don’t remember things, so I write EVERYTHING DOWN. If I have to go to the bathroom in 25 minutes, I tell Jenni, ‘Write it down.’”
I took a lot of screengrabs of Jeff losing his shit
Here’s another one. I just like doing it
Jenni looks on in horror and sympathy. She’s been on the receiving end of these meltdowns for eight years and still doesn’t thinks it’s appropriate.
Sarah calls Wayne back to rectify things and then tries to salvage SOME pride by telling Wayne there was some miscommunication. That sets Jeff off again. (It wasn’t a miscommunication, you just screwed up!) They don’t even put in the audio of Jeff’s full speech, instead showing him yelling silently with voiceovers from Sarah and Jenni on how awful it was. Probably to be “dark” or something.
On and on and on, until Sarah’s finally had enough and leaves the room in tears.
Now normally here we’d get some kind of one-off as a kind of palate cleanser before the conclusion. But I guess they felt awkward putting in a funny “slice of life” scene right after the meltdown, so they keep going with the story.
It actually is quite funny what happens next, though…Jeff’s still Jeff so he has no idea what to do about Sarah, and he whispers to Jenni how long you normally let someone cry in the bathroom, or if he should just call her on her cell. Jenni tells him to just leave her alone.
26 minutes go by.
Zoila is the first one to knock on the door to see how she’s doing. Still too early.
Jenni starts explaining to Jeff how out of line he’s been, but he’s defensive right now. He doesn’t understand why he was wrong and explains why Sarah pissed him off.
He does have a point. Sarah’s actually been pressing him to give her more responsibility lately, which he doesn’t want to do because of mistakes like these. When he points that out to Sarah, she denies they really happened.
But it’s really about his nasty tone. He starts to see it after some back-and-forth with Jenni.
Here Jenni REALLY plays the “better half” role. Clearly she’s explained the emotional consequences of things to Jeff many times before. In talking-head Jenni tells us she sees this as being a good employee.
Then Zoila comes in with something to say. Not only is this hurtful to Sarah, it’s just unprofessional. As she puts it, “You lose the control, Jeffrey Lewis.”
How awesome is that? Even after he picked at her all last week, and has for eleven years, she’s still helping him out. I love it.
Eventually he goes to the bathroom door to apologize. It’s really a pre-apology because the wounds are still fresh. They’ll have to talk more about it later but for now it gets her back into the office with them.
VALLEY OAK DAY TWO
The next morning is really awkward and strained and everyone can feel it. At one point Sarah steps out of the room and Jeff whispers to Trace to tell him what happened, and to ask if Sarah’s mentioned quitting.
Jeff is starting to freak out, not so much because he hurt her feelings, but because he’s envisioning a future where Sarah DOES quit and Jeff has to see her at every family function FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
Trace says he hasn’t heard anything, but also tells Jeff not to bully Sarah. Looks like Jeff is starting to soften.
Jeff eats lollipops? Is he trying to quit smoking or something?
Jeff is here with Tracey of Royal Woods to pick out some furniture, and the sofa she sets her sights on is a bit too expensive. Jeff finesses the furniture guy into knocking $500 off the price, and everyone is happy.
I guess this scene is in here to show Jeff succeeding at SOMETHING
Jeff reminds Tracey they also need new doormats, and this prompts her to raise an issue. She saw her old doormats in the trash, because apparently Jeff threw them out. These doormats used to belong to Stewart’s parents, who are now dead. And they died tragically at the same time, so the doormats are extra-special.
Jeff manages to bullshit his way out of it, telling Tracey he only got rid of them because his housewarming gift to them was going to be new doormats.
Ultimately, Jeff has learned another Normal People Lesson. It’s really the same one he learned last week with Chaz’s mural, which is, people form emotional attachments to things. Now he will be a little more chill when he comes across clutter, we hope. He might need to learn this lesson two or three more times before it sticks.
And now it’s time for Jeff and Sarah to hash things out.
Jeff starts out by explaining where he’s coming from. He really wants Sarah to be good at the job, because he likes her and because he’s put so much time into coaching her up. The blowup earlier in the week wasn’t really about the mistakes that day, it was about weeks and months of built-up frustration. Still, inappropriate, and he feels like shit for making her feel like shit.
Then we get their individual reactions in talking-head. Sarah is appreciative. But she also still feels hurt, is still recovering, etc. Being called dumb sucks, especially when she works really hard for him.
Jeff, on the other hand, is pretty sure Sarah is a test from God to teach him how to be a better person. Yup.
So, I don’t think Jeff really IS a megalomaniac. He’s probably just been to therapy and church since the incident, and this “God” thing is how someone phrased it to him. But he sure sounds like a megalomaniac sometimes. Same thing last week when he took the worker spray paining Chaz’s mural to mean that God wants Jeff’s interior design vision carried through. You know, like how God parted the Red Sea for Moses. Same idea.
NEW YORK DRIVE PROJECT
OK, HERE is our one-off. Jenni has to pee but there’s no working toilet, so she has a worker prop up a drywall panel in the back yard for her to go behind.
Jeff throws rocks at it, startles her, and she pees on herself.
Hahaha. She’s an adult human woman.
Back at work, after the incident. Jeff and Sarah are going over something. He notices something, reacts like she’s made another mistake. But no…
Yep, Steven proposed! Everyone rejoices.
There’s nothing funny about this scene, so I’m moving on
Jeff and Sarah ride along to a job somewhere and he tells her how happy he is for her. And she tells HIM she and Steven are headed straight for baby land.
This is when Jeff stops being happy. Now he’s going to have to find a new assistant.
Sarah tells him it’s probably illegal to fire her because of a pregnancy, but he tells her how much of an inconvenience having a baby is going to be. He’s only kidding, of course. Not really. But he is.
And there ya go. Season four episode eight is now recorded on the Internets for eternity. Two more to go. See you next week!