Cougar Town, “Lonesome Sundown”

Apologies for not getting to this sooner. I honestly forgot about it, which is sort of unfortunate because I really enjoyed “Lonesome Sundown.” This is probably my favorite or second favorite episode of the season. It’s up there with “You Don’t Know How It Feels” for sure.

A few episodes ago, Cougar Town introduced Chekov’s engagement ring if you will, with Travis deciding that the only way he could keep Kirsten around was to propose to her. And although Jules insisted that she wouldn’t interfere and would instead let her son make the choices he needed to make, I was skeptical of that assertion.

Thankfully, the Cougar Town team was very aware of those skepticisms when the produced this episode, which smartly crafts a plot that pushes Jules completely out of the picture so that Travis is allowed to do whatever he wants, no matter the consequences. You could certainly argue that shoving Jules onto Bobby’s boat for the weekend while Travis plots his perfect proposal mood is kind of a cheat. Removing Jules from the equation means that she doesn’t actually learn anything about being more hands-off as a mother. But the way this episode handled those decisions was so well-executed that it ultimately doesn’t really matter, at least for now. Travis got his wish, his mom didn’t interfere. Of course, things really didn’t go how he played though.

What I especially enjoyed about Travis’ proposal plans here is how straight-forward the episode played it. Cougar Town can get zany and Travis often makes a fool of himself (especially with the ladies), so I was a bit worried that not only was the proposal going to go wrong, it was going to go terribly wrong. I was extra-worried when I recognized that Jules’ weekend spent on Bobby’s boat was going to force Grayson to play a larger role in Travis’ plans. However, the conversations between Travis and Grayson and Grayson and Kirsten were some of the best of the season. They didn’t shy away from the emotions and awkwardness of the situation, but still managed to move the plot forward as well. I appreciated that Grayson didn’t do anything stupid with his information from Kirsten. He didn’t tell Jules and he didn’t try to completely deter Travis from making the decision on his own. He knew what Kirsten was going to say, but respected that Travis had to know for himself. Just a fantastic scene that was well-played by both Josh Hopkins and Dan Byrd.

The conclusion to the sorry was surprisingly gut-wrenching. We and Grayson knew what Kirsten was going to say, but watching the proposal from a distance with no audible words just as Jules had to was really tremendous. And again, the episode smartly strayed away from any Jules-related nonsense. She tried, but ultimately failed. Maybe that’s the story: Maybe she’ll realize that she can’t always run in at the last moment and save her son from disaster. If there’s ever an example that will help her learn that lesson, it has to be this one. In the end, the whole proposal plot was handled as well as I could have hoped.

Elsewhere, this episode had other fun things to offer to pair with the more serious proposal matters. The Council was one of the series’ better one-off gags, as each of the little punishments/judgments was hilariously fun. I understand the reasoning for not keeping it around (that having friends means you get to make fun of them without much punishment), but I really, really wish that it would make another appearance in the future. Each one of the punishments fit well into the personality of the characters receiving them, which was a nice touch.

The Jules-Bobby weekend home location swap of 2011 was less successful. Bobby’s side of the story had very little time within the episode (even if the sumo wrestling bit was awesome) and Jules on her own is always a bit of a crapshoot. It’s always nice to be reminded of the character’s faults and Courtney Cox did some nice comedic work in spots, but it mostly served as an excuse to separate Jules from Travis so he could worry about important stuff. And like I said, I’m completely fine with that.

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