Six months later, a vacation offers new experiences beyond grief.
Episodes nine and ten of “Sorry for Your Loss” debuted yesterday on Facebook Watch. The half-hour dramedy focuses on Leigh (Elizabeth Olsen), a young widow whose husband, Matt, died three months before the show’s action begins. Her network of family and friends includes her mom, Amy, her sister, Jules, and Matt’s brother, Danny. The action shifts frequently between the present day and flashbacks to points throughout Leigh and Matt’s relationship.
***SPOILER ALERT*** In this recap, I’ll be talking about a major plot point that was revealed two weeks ago in episode five. There are also less-major spoilers from this week’s episodes. If you’re not interested in spoilers, now is the time to turn back! ***SPOILER ALERT***
Episodes nine and ten find Leigh taking steps to move forward in the wake of Matt’s death, even as she does some deeply meaningful things in remembrance of him. She’s still grieving and that’s not going to change anytime soon, but it feels like we’re seeing the most well-adjusted Leigh we’ve seen yet.
In episode nine, “Welcome to Palm Springs,” Leigh is taken by surprise by a phone call from a Palm Springs hotel and spa. She and Matt had reservations there — a gift from her stepdad — and she had completely forgotten about them. On the spur of the moment, when the folks at the hotel ask if they’ll be seeing her for her reservation, Leigh answers, “Yes,” turns off her phone, and heads to Palm Springs.
It’s not the relaxing, romantic weekend that Leigh and Matt would have had together, but it offers opportunities for Leigh to grow. A scene that probably would have been heart-stopping a few months before — her hotel room, complete with “romance package” of roses, champagne, and chocolate-covered strawberries — only briefly fazes Leigh. She doesn’t demand a new room or dissolve into grief; instead, she sits on the bed among the rose petals arranged in a heart shape, eating a strawberry.
Later in her spa day, Leigh takes an even bigger step. She flirts with a man at the hotel, first having some silly fun with him and then finding deeper physical connection. It’s the first time she’s been intimate with anyone since Matt’s death — five or six months ago at this point — and it strikes a balance for her, neither a shameful one-night-stand that she regrets nor the beginning of a real relationship.
Pretending, a theme of an earlier episode, is central to Leigh’s hours with the man — she introduces herself to him as a jewelry thief, inspired by the book she’s reading. He counters that he’s the owner of the hotel they’re staying in. The joke continues and builds, but in the end, Leigh wants to come clean about herself. She tells him who she really is — but she never reveals that she’s a widow. (And we never really know for sure if he owns the hotel — he doesn’t drop the pretense on that point.) She leaves the question of her marital status in the air as she leaves to resume her normal life.
Leigh has had to tell so many people about her husband’s death already, so we know it’s not that she can’t bring herself to say it. Maybe she just needs to leave him with that one bit of mystery.
Episode ten, “The Penguin and the Mechanic,” begins with Leigh trying to remember a joke Matt told her about, not too surprisingly, a penguin and a mechanic. But all she can remember is the punchline — not what makes that punchline funny.
At grief group, Leigh chats with Becca. Both reveal that they’ve recently been intimate with men for the first time since their husbands’ deaths. Leigh then tells Becca she visited Matt’s grave recently, and it wasn’t easy for her. Becca offers some wise advice: “Maybe instead of going to where he’s dead, you should go where you guys were alive together. …Go where the memories are. That’s where he’ll be.”
(Related: How Often Should I Visit My Spouse’s Grave?)
Leigh takes this advice and goes to the apartment where she lived with Matt. A new tenant is living there now, and she lets Leigh come in as she finds the mail that’s arrived for her in the months since she ended their lease. Leigh sees Matt everywhere in the apartment, imagining him in the various contexts in which he occupied the space while he was alive.
But the bigger revelation comes with the mail that’s been waiting for her at the apartment. In the mail is a package from the editor who wanted to publish Matt’s comic book, a mockup of the cover design. Leigh now understands how real the potential publication was, and she talks to the editor about how they can move forward with a posthumous publication.
Danny, however, is firmly against the comic being published. He thinks Matt didn’t really want it, and the book wasn’t completed, and they can’t know how it was supposed to end.
Leigh’s mom suggests that they talk to a psychic to determine what to do about the comic. They do, and Leigh wholeheartedly believes the psychic is channeling Matt. Danny is less sure, but he still asks the question that’s most important to him: What was Matt thinking in the last minute of his life? Did he choose to die or was it an accident?
The answers they get are non-committal, inviting them to come to their own conclusions. And as Leigh and Danny ponder the psychic’s advice together, he drops a bombshell, telling Leigh he can’t hang out with her anymore: “It’s too hard to be around you.” The tentative friendship they’ve been forging led to an almost-kiss a few episodes ago, and neither of them is sure where to go with it.
In the end, Leigh visits the place where Matt died. It’s not a moment of closure for her, but it’s meaningful, as she stands there, breathes in the breeze, cries and smiles. She’s doing the one most important thing she can do — remembering her husband’s life.
Oh, and she finally remembers the joke about the penguin and the mechanic. It’s goofy and raunchy… and it was the first conversation she ever had with Matt. It was their introduction to each other, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect way for funny, nerdy Matt to introduce himself to the woman who would become his wife.
Will there be a season two? That hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it could easily go either way based on the final episodes. Leigh is still going through her grief journey — just as Jules is still going through her recovery from addiction, and Danny is still grappling with the question of how his brother died, and the events of recent months still impact all the characters. There’s much more story to tell, even if the show’s creators did leave us with a fairly satisfying wrap-up for this season.