Swingtown proved that sometimes you need a professional to help you through your issues. And that family therapy exists for a reason, which is not just so you can beat each other senseless with Nerf bats.
Sadly, Bruce has decided that he can fix his family all on his own during a weekend at the cabin. And pot brownies are not on the agenda, sadly. Laurie is ticked that she is being forced to go and therefore miss snogging her former teacher and B.J. is ticked that they are also taking his former best friend Rick, who kissed Samantha. Susan just seems to be trying to go with the flow and keep the family together, while Bruce is … well delusional. Tom & Trina are watching the house while Janet & Roger will be using their alone time to explore their own therapeutic options. With self help books, sure, but also with an actual therapist, so they are the smartest ones.
They get up to the cabin and Susan mentions that the boys can set up their tent and then go practice with the BB gun. They note that there is only one and Susan tells them to share. This allows for an especially amusing, if awkward moment, when Rick says "We tried sharing. It didn’t work out so well" and B.J. replies "Don’t talk about her!" while Bruce and Susan share a look. See what you started? Now the kids are swapping partners!
Meanwhile, Laurie is more moody and superior then ever. Susan asks Bruce to remember what it was like to be her age and "smitten". He responds that he was never smitten, he was madly in love and horny. Susan replies "So is she". I am willing to bet that is not what any father wants to hear his daughter described as, not even if it is from her mother. Or, perhaps especially not from her mother.
At the therapist’s office, Janet puts her best foot forward by thanking her for seeing them on short notice and stating that she hopes it means she isn’t a terrible therapist with no clients. The therapist, who is named Carolyn, says she didn’t realize it was to be couples therapy and Janet assures her it isn’t, that she is just there to be supportive. And then she proceeds to dominate the conversation. Carolyn tries to get Janet to stop talking about what she wants Roger to be in favor of why she wants those things, but Janet is onto her ruse and doesn’t want to give away any information about herself. As such, she tells Carolyn "This is why you don’t have clients!" and storms out with Roger apologetically on her heels.
They get home in time to take a call from Susan, who tells Roger that skipping rocks won’t be the same without him. He tells her to pretend he’s there before Janet takes the phone to get the cabin number and ask about Rick. That night, Bruce attempts to foster family bonding with a rousing game of charades. And by rousing, I mean painfully forced. Which is exactly what Laurie calls it before walking to the phone to call Doug yet again. Bruce forbids her to call, saying that he will report Doug to the school board for his lack of moral character. Which leads Laurie to yell back "You are going to talk about morals? You were about to have sex with another woman in our living room! You have no right lecturing me about anything!" She makes a good point.
The next day Bruce asks Susan to join him for a picnic in a secluded spot at 3 o’clock. But before that, Susan gets into a discussion with Laurie about why she married Bruce. Which is basically because she was pregnant. Laurie continues on the path to disaster, asking her mom why they are fooling around with other people. Susan tries to rationalize how a relationship can change over 18 years, but Laurie hears none of it – insisting that she only wants Doug, and if she didn’t want him anymore, she would leave him. Susan tells her one day she will understand and Laurie gets another zinger in by saying "God, I hope not". Ouch!
Meanwhile, Janet goes back to Carolyn’s to tell her that she’s not going to pay for the failed session. Before we know it, she’s in therapy. She starts by saying she’s frustrated by Roger’s inability to get a job when she knows she could get one in no time. Carolyn asks why she doesn’t and Janet says she doesn’t want to threaten Roger’s sense of himself by usurping his position as the bread winner. Carolyn points out he might appreciate the help and that without it, he may feel more pressure and she may feel more resentment, which could lead to the end of their marriage.
In almost no time, Janet’s sobbing about what has been happening with Tom, the gorgeous pilot with the cute mustache who kissed her. Carolyn asks is she doesn’t want to explore those avenues with Tom. There is a noticeable hesitation before Janet says "No, no no!", leading Carolyn to advise her to nip the dalliance in the bud, then.
Back at the cabin, Laurie has stormed off and Susan is inside. She picks up the phone and calls Roger again, telling him that she skipped rocks like he taught her and that this trip is not as fun as the last one. He says he wishes he was there, which is right when Brice walks in, demanding to know who she is on the phone with. She awkwardly says she was just checking to make sure the line was working, says "Thank you" and hangs up on Roger.
Bruce reminds her that she was supposed to meet him for a picnic, over an hour ago. She tells him she forgot after getting in a big fight with Laurie and asks him not to make a big deal of it. Which is fine, because B.J. gives them something else to make a big deal out of: a note from Laurie, that she’s going home. We cut to a shot of Laurie hitch hiking, which wasn’t even safe in 1976. Luckily she gets picked up by a wizened little old lady who can’t quite recall if she has been married 3 or 4 times. Laurie seems appalled – because she idles at ‘judgmental’ – as the old woman says "Men are like light bulbs, keep screwing until one of ’em works!"
But, of course, there is a moral to be had. Laurie says that she thinks it is sad that love doesn’t seem to last and the woman counters by telling her that it is the time spent together while in love that matter, not how long it lasts or if you are married or not. It’s a pretty progressive portrayal of a character that was likely born sometime around the turn of the century, to say the least.
Back in town, Janet waits until Trina leaves to stop by to talk to Tom. Unfortunately, before she can say anything to him, Trina shows back up because she forgot her ‘billfold’ – a quaint throwback term. Tom tells Trina that he thinks Janet has something important to say, but all she can come up with to cover herself is to invite them to dinner. At 5:30. It’s sure to be scads of fun!
Bruce and Susan drive around arguing and trying to figure out where Laurie might be, when Susan hits upon the idea to call information and get Doug’s number. He tells them that Laurie is at a diner and he was about to leave to go get her. Bruce and Susan get there first, which leads to a tense confrontation between Bruce and Doug. Bruce threatens to report him and Laurie threatens back that is he does, they will never see her again. Susan decides to fix it all with pie. Pie always makes me feel better!
They outline the 24 to 17 year old age difference and Doug says that while he respects Bruce’s opposition to their involvement with each other, he says he also recognizes that Laurie can make her own choices and he respects that too. While I understand that they’ve set Laurie up to be an exceptional teenager, it still feels like a stretch to me. However, in the end, Susan & Bruce let Laurie leave with Doug, with some cash in case she needs anything, while they return to the cabin without her.
Over dinner, not in a diner, there is some stilted conversation about a cheese ball in Janet & Roger’s living room before Janet announces she is off to baste the chicken. And then she asks for Tom’s help. Which is not at all obvious, right? Once alone, she tells him that she appreciates the attention he’s shown her, but that it makes her uncomfortable. Because she has feelings for him too. He can barely contain the look or low-grade terror on his face as he intone "uh-huh". She continues that she’s flattered but she cannot be a part of his world and he thanks her for her honesty and tells her how much he admires her bravery.
Perhaps more brave is the conversation between Trina and Roger, however. It starts out by him asking about her relationship with Tom being closed, and how they handle not developing feelings for the other people they are intimate with. Trina replies that Janet is trying to be interesting and exciting for him, but that it doesn’t matter if she’s not the woman he wants. Roger pales, but asks what he should do. Trina tells him he has 2 options: he can tell Susan how he feels and take the consequences or find a way to get over her. I wish the scene could go on longer, and I am trying to figure out how Trina because a relationship guru, but at least it’s interesting.
At the end of the night, Tom asks Trina how an evening could be both freaky and boring. She decides to up the freaky quotient by suggesting they left their moratorium on swinging and call another couple, which they do. Which tops off a few snippets that have been dropped intermittently in the episode involving a video camera, french maid outfit, blindfold and being tied to furniture. They have to keep the name of the show relevant, after all!
On the boring side of town, Janet announces that she is throwing away Carolyn’s card, before admitting she went back and talked to her again on her own. She also let Roger know that she signed up for an employment agency and asks him if it’s OK. He assures her that it is before she bounces out of the room in happy home-maker heaven, before he reaches into the trash to pull out Carolyn’s card. He goes tot phone, but instead of calling the therapist, he calls the cabin. Susan dashes in to try and catch the phone, but misses it just before the last ring.
Is Roger going to go to therapy himself? Will Janet continue to go? How long will she be in the work force? How long before Roger tells Susan how he feels? In something other then a dream sequence, I mean.