Hey everyone! First I’d like to say thanks for reading and commenting on my recaps. Feedback’s always appreciated.
Now then. This week’s episode leaves last week’s Casa Vega failure in the rearview mirror. It is not discussed and is probably being repressed. Instead, this week Jeff is reevaluating the business. He’s got some irrational changes to make, so things are going to be a lot less carefree at Jeff Lewis Designs. Bravo doesn’t say this is directly in response to Casa Vega, but I’m pretty sure it is.
We start off with a Monday morning meeting. Jeff already seems on edge, and he hasn’t even had his daily shot of fruit juice yet.
Jeff calls Jett into the office. The other employees, like Sarah and Trace, all bring money into Jeff Lewis Designs. Jett doesn’t. Jeff says this in an accusatory way, as though he hired him to do something other than be a goddamn house assistant.
So Jett is going to have to start contributing to the business on top of his normal assistant duties. That means helping out at Jeff’s income properties, keeping them tidy and maintained.
Jett takes it pretty well. He seems surprised, but not upset. He interprets this as “getting more responsibilities” instead of “getting screwed.”
Then Jeff calls in Zoila. Turns out she’s in the same category of “unjustifiable expenses” as Jett, but since there isn’t any business-related work available to her, Jeff just wants her to be more productive.
Unlike Jett, Zoila has a working knowledge of economics. She immediately picks up on the fact that this is more work, unfair, and asks for more pay.
Jeff says no. Her “pay” is that she gets to keep her job.
One day I hope to own a small business, because then I can just change my employees’ job descriptions on a whim and threaten to fire them if they resist.
It’s an American dream of mine.
Here, in talking-head Zoila lays out all the work she does for Jeff: six days a week at his house, literally waiting on him hand and foot. Every other Sunday she’s at his Grandma’s house to clean. So she gets two days off a month.
She does not say, but I will remind you, that she is almost seventy.
Jeff tells Zoila that HE has to “work twice as hard” for his money, so why shouldn’t everyone else? And that’s that.
You know, I like how Jeff can come in on a Monday morning and do things like this. It seems like exactly the kind of decision that would be made in an organization where only one person holds all the power.
In other words, this is why we have democracy.
I love how Jeff chose to have these meetings in front of Trace, Sarah and Jenni. Dick.
NEW YORK DR.
Jeff, Sarah, and Trace head over to this project so they can help the lesbians pick out paint colors for the interiors.
But what’s really fun over here is, apparently that painter from last week—Jesse, the one who tracked mud all over Citrus—is a bit of a flirt, and has set his sights on Sarah. Jesse used to go after Jenni, Jeff says, but she’s probably too old for him now.
“I generally don’t make inappropriate comments if there are eight or more people with me, so since there’s seven of us, you have an amazing rack!”
For her part, Sarah is really creeped out over all this. But Jeff sees an opportunity. She’s a natural flirt, and she uses that to leverage people when haggling over prices.
To illustrate this, Bravo shows Flipping Out’s 1.3 million viewers the goods.
He even bets Sarah would bring in more savings if she started sleeping with people. He can’t ASK her to, since that’s illegal. He’s just putting it out there.
Here we get a series of quick cuts between the various errands Sarah, Jett, and Trace are doing.
Trace apparently has taken on a lot of actual responsibility now, since he’s selecting all sorts of paint, flooring, tile, and so on, all by himself. He doesn’t fail to point out how this means Jeff trusts him more.
In other words, “My day involves making design choices that will be in people’s homes for years. Sarah’s job is to drive around to places and pick up things we’ve already ordered. I guess we’re equal. But I’m more equal.”
This week’s problem over at Cole is, the owner, Chaz, has several murals painted onto his walls. He wants to save them because of sentimental value, but Jeff hates them because they do not fit with his overall design scheme. They must be eliminated.
“So I want you to send Chaz an e-mail, and have it say, ‘Woe and death to all who oppose my will.’”
Jeff has already wheelded Chaz into letting him demolish four of the six total murals, so Jeff thinks it’s only a matter of time before Chaz is totally defeated.
After Monday’s edict or whatever you want to call it, Jeff is already finding problems with Zoila’s handiwork. What do you know, under the stairs he finds a dust bunny:
The only reason anyone would have to go under here would be to justify yelling at his housekeeper
We get various reaction interviews about this. I don’t think I can improve on them, so here they are more or less verbatim:
JEFF: I told Zoila to step it up. She took that to mean: pass work off on Jett, take more naps, and…NOT STEP UP. Maybe there was some miscommunication?
ZOILA: Uh…it’s literally impossible to remove every molecule of dust from an entire house. Bite my balls.
JETT: Jeff’s relationship with Zoila means some people call him “Norman Bates,” because Norman Bates lived with his mother. Or they call Jeff that because he’s fucking nuts.
JENNI: Um, Zoila has arthritis. And is seventy. And Jeff makes her go up and down the stairs 75 times a day.
It was when I heard the last one that I stopped finding this funny. How about you?
More running around, inspecting, noticing contractor mistakes. One of the stops is at Casa Vega. Things seem calmed down after last week’s Cinco de Mayo failure. But otherwise it’s just another low-key, aggravating Jeff Lewis kind of day.
Since the last scene here, the demo crew has ripped out all of the floor. Now they’re going to put in the electrical wiring, the plumbing, and the HVAC so they can drywall.
It looks like this. Neat!
In the meantime, Jeff has apparently convinced Chaz to remove another mural, leaving them with one. But it’s the most sentimental mural of all, so Jeff knows there’s a challenge ahead.
Jenni points out to us how Jeff is unable to form emotional attachments to things. They drove past a cemetery recently, and Jeff remarked how it was built on an awesome piece of land.
It was the emotional attachments thing that made this storyline almost stop being funny. But I stuck with it, and I think if you’ll benefit greatly if you do, too.
Jeff’s now resorted to passive-aggression to motivate Zoila. Right in front of her, he has Jett wipe some surfaces she “missed.”
Surfaces like this one, which everyone (with OCD) knows is a prime location for dust
It’s been pretty clear that this whole time the real problem has been Jeff, not Zoila. But now Jeff’s tormenting her is starting to bother the other employees. Jenni knows Jeff is just looking for shit to complain about so he can pass his work stress onto someone else.
Jeff decides Zoila needs a daily to-do list so she can keep track of her chores, and he asks Jenni to draft it up. As Zoila rattles off all the tasks Jeff makes her do every single day, Jenni gets increasingly shocked at how much it is. Zoila agrees. “I told you he’s insane.”
And in response to that, Jeff starts throwing in what he perceives to be Zoila’s bad habits—frequent naps, lying about going to the doctor, lying about going to church, etc. He apparently thinks this is the funniest thing ever, but Jenni and Zoila do not.
(Except one thing he says is legitimately funny—Jenni suggests they get an extendable dusting brush for Zoila, and Jeff asks, what’s the point, it’ll just sit around collecting dust).
NEW YORK DR.
Back to Jesse the painter. Jenni is supervising his progress and points out to us the pros and cons of hiring Jesse…
Cons—terrible painter, doesn’t blue tape, only does one coat, makes a mess, causes more work for everyone. Plus the flirtatiousness, which is more of an annoyance than a work inconvenience, but it counts.
Jeff joins them and starts egging on Jesse’s flirtatiousness by telling him he’ll say hi to Sarah for them, then prompting Jesse to comment on how exactly Sara is attractive.
And of course it veers well outside the bounds of propriety when Jesse eventually says, “Yeah, and she has great…[Jeff supplies the word ‘knockers’]”
We’re back to the homestead for another scene of Zoila-bashing. She’s commited another tiny infraction—she gathered one tiny bag of trash, but the garbage can was already at the curb, so she put the bag next to the recycling rather than walk it all the way down the hill.
So he grabs it himself and carries it down, berating her all the time for not working fast enough. She gives it right back, just calling him rude and crazy over and over again, until finally Jeff tells her she’s so slow he could do her job in a quarter of the time she does.
“And I speak better English than you, ZOILA”!
Jeff, Chaz, and Hamid , a contractor, are going over where to install the HVAC ducts around the salon, spray-painting “X’s” wherever the ducts will go. They come to the room with the one remaining mural, so Chaz tells Hamid to put the duct in the floor, not the wall, in order to avoid the mural. And what do you know…
Jeff is cracking up, but Chaz is understandably horrified. They will see if they can try to get the “X” off, but it doesn’t look good. Jeff claims to us that he had nothing to do the spray paint, but I don’t believe him.
And then we come to my favorite part of the episode, when Jeff explains why he doesn’t feel that bad about this. Jeff has a “vision” for the Cole salon, and this mural was the only thing standing in his way. And because this was an “accident,” clearly some higher power, and maybe God Himself, has the same vision Jeff does.
Let’s see…a complete disregard for others, plus a delusion that God has chosen you as his representative…I’m glad Jeff only works in the home remodeling business
Jeff, Jett, Sarah, but not Zoila are all sitting down to lunch—Zoila is too busy mopping to eat. Jeff notices Zoila hasn’t prepared his lunch for him, so now she has to drop what she’s doing to mix everything up and throw it in the microwave for him and probably also spit in it.
With Zoila out of the room, Sarah prods Jeff to apologize for being such a colossal cock to her lately. He can’t see what Sarah means, exactly, but eventually he gives in.
He finds Zoila in the bathroom wiping down the mirror. He starts to feel the situation out, asking her if she’s all right, and she gives some noncommittal answers, which he manages to pick up on.
But in a talking-head, he chalks Zoila’s “down” mood to being tired from too much work…not from being continuously harassed and insulted.
He’s decided to give her some time off. Even if it’s not the best time for him to go without her right now.
(I do read this scene as Jeff being massively insensitve, but I’ll also allow for the possibility that, for Jeff, apologies take several stages. This is Stage One, assessing the damage and thinking up causes other than himself).
Jeff and Jenni are paying Chaz a visit. The HVAC guys have taken the “X” off the mural, but the boy’s leg came off with it:
Here Chaz explains exactly why he wants to keep this mural. His brother died while he was building Cole, and his mother died shortly after, plus Spirit the squatter passed away here. The mural is a memorial.
THAT softens Jeff’s heart and makes him realize what a jerk he’s been. He quickly comes up with a compromise. They’ll build a frame around the mural so it looks like a separate picture, and then paint the rest of the wall whatever color they want.
In thanks, Chaz touches up Jenni and Jeff’s hair. Jeff and Jenni bid Chaz goodbye, and in an effervescent cloud of magical hair spray, they were gone.
Notice how Jeff could have avoided four months of mural-related aggravation if he’d only been less stubborn and compromised earlier? Awesome.
Jeff is also beginning to realize he’s been wrong in his treatment of Zoila—but I’m still making the distinction here that he only admits Zoila is overworked, not that he’s been an ass. He offers a solution. Zoila won’t have to take care of his grandma on Sundays any more. Which, actually, sounds good. Everyone needs at least one day off a week.
But Zoila starts to cry. Jeff can’t understand what’s up. Zoila’s reluctant to talk about it, but finally she admits taking care of his grandma wasn’t the problem. In fact, Zoila could tell her biweekly visits had a great impact on grandma’s life. Discontinuing them would make Zoila feel terrible.
Later in an interview Jeff still doesn’t totally get the point. He thinks the crying is a reaction to being exhausted and emotionally unstable, not because of the grandma. But he does see she needs more time off.
Baby steps, I guess.
Here’s a nice little uplifting one-off this week…to cheer Zoila up, Jenni has composed a song about her, to tell her she loves her. Here are the words:
Say Z, say O, say ILA
Viva, Zoila, here the workers say,
Speak Zoila, speak Zoila,
Say amo mi amor
You quiero Swiffer, no no
You quiero Jeffrey, no no
We know the one who’s got all the power
The one who’s cleaning Jeff’s shower
We’re back for another morning meeting. Jeff seems oddly chipper today. Everyone else is a little uneasy, because of that. He’s even being nice to Zoila again. He lets her pick the lunch place, AND compliments her housekeeping.
Guess who upped his dosage!
NEW YORK DRIVE
Jeff and Sarah are here today to unveil the interior painting to the lesbians. They all go inside, and Nancy and Emily love it.
Jeff talks a little about a specific color palette he uses on a lot of jobs, because clients respond to it. Here’s the before and after:
“We have a fireplace! Like actual grownups!” Nancy says
Looks like that’s it for the New York Drive storyline. It’s an example of how things can go well at Jeff Lewis Designs. He’s happy and creative, and the clients get to enjoy an awesome house with all sorts of accouterments.
Back at home, Jeff asks Zoila if she’s ready for the “field trip.” Zoila has no idea where this is going.
They get in the car, and Jeff keeps indicating he’s taking her to the airport, but he’s obviously kidding around. And it means their bantering is back.
Then they arrive at the destination…
And what do you know,
Jeff got her a MOTHERFUCKING CAR!!!!
Zoila has apparently been waiting four years for a new car…not sure what that means. Is her old car unusable, or does she just need an upgrade? Did Jeff promise her a car four years ago, or is this out of the blue?
In talking-head Jeff claims he got it for her with strings attached, to motivate her to work harder, but really it’s an amazing fucking gesture I still can’t get over. A car!
Of course, another way to look at it is, Jeff’s apologies are getting more and more expensive over the years. He probably used to be able to get away with a dozen roses. Some day he will be buying Zoila tickets on the space shuttle.
Zoila takes her new gift out for a test drive. She brings it back with a flat.
But it’s all good. They share a hug
I call this an Uncle Hug, because that’s how men in my family hug
It’s the end of the day, and Jeff is alone with Zoila. He pours himself a glass of wine and sits at the kitchen counter, waiting for Zoila to bring him his dinner. Tonight it’s pizza. Jeff pretends Zoila is a waitress and playfully asks for water to go along with the food.
This is actually taking place on a weekend night, we learn. Jeff says in talking-head that he routinely works until 9pm every day of the week, and dinner like this is his one hour to chill out before crashing. You can see Jeff has such a limited social life because of his work, and you can see the grind he puts himself through to maintain the business. Having Zoila to chat with must be wonderful.
Tonight he asks her how the new car is working out. She’s loving it. It’s so great, partly because she waited four years to get it. Jeff calls her on making a backhanded compliment, but he’s gentle. Like the end of the New York trip episode, it’s a moment when you see how much they care about each other.
To wrap things up this week, Jeff and Zoila each reflect on their relationship. Zoila says Jeff’s a good man with a big heart.
Jeff, though, expounds on how they care about each other in unique ways. She irons his sheets (!) and makes him breakfast, he buys her expensive gifts. They don’t need to say things like Thank You and I Love You.
The episode ends with Zoila cutting up Jeff’s pizza for him, and him teasing her about doing it clumsily. They go back and forth.
There ya go, people. The more I watch Flipping Out, the more distracted I get by the lack of a chronology. This episode brings that out. It’s all Jeff picking on Zoila, but over how much time does it take place? Is this like a week, real-time, or just the worst clips Bravo got after following him for months? I wrote this recap as though it were a week, which is why I kept calling him a dick. Maybe this took place over way longer, in which case, to me it seems less hellish.
And I’m still stuck on that car. Awesome gift, but I have no idea what her previous car situation was. What does this “waiting for four years” thing mean?
But at least it had plenty of flipping out. Far too little of that this season, if you ask me.