‘Happy Endings’ 3.02 Recap: “A Very Small War Inside a Car Dealership”

Penny needs a car. Dave and Alex need a new apartment. Brad just needs a good ol’ day off. Sounds easy, but let’s not forget who we’re dealing with. This is the ‘Happy Endings’ gang. As we know, nothing ever quite goes their way.

The cold open leaves a lot to be desired, with a small nod to Halloween involving a marionette Jackson 5 costume. It’s wholly disconnected from the rest of the episode and the gags are weak, especially compared to last week’s inspired opening.

A weekend brunch sets up the episode. Dave and Alex announce their plans to get a place together, and Jane gloats about her ability to get a deal, which leads to one of the best sight gags in the whole series: an indestructible pinata filled with forty pounds of Nerds candy.

Penny’s quick exit arouses Jane’s suspicions. Sneaking up on Penny with almost supernatural ability, Jane demands that Penny bring her along to buy a new car. The episode has some excellent scenes here. Penny manages to screw up every piece of advice Jane gives her in grandly hilarious fashion. Jane also shows off just how eerie her negotiation skills are, when she predicts every tactic the car dealer will use. We also learn of Penny’s love for ‘tweener novels, including her own ‘tween heroine alter-ego, Teagan Arrowspear.

Brad, meanwhile, still suffering from a downturn in income after being fired, laments not being able to have the normal relaxing weekends he prefers. Max is determined to show him a good time without spending a dime, so he takes Brad to addiction support groups for food, smacks a big man to motivate Brad to run, and gets a steam by standing over a subway grate. This formless subplot doesn’t bring the goods aside from the addict groups.

Alex and Dave, the previous week’s weak subplot, turn things around here with an endless hunt for a new place. When the real estate agent (guest star Rachael Harris) offers them a two-year lease, they begin to realize what kind of commitment they’re getting into. Instead of talking about it like adults (On this show? Ha!), they find increasingly absurd reasons to reject each and every apartment. The chemistry between the two is vastly improved, and Rachael Harris makes a good foil for the pair.

Another guest star, Rob Corddry, appears at the end as the Car Czar. (He knows what cars are!) He offers Jane a job at his dealership in a hilarious series of salary offers and counter-offers. Eliza Coupe plays Jane to the hilt, gleefully accepting the mixture of intensity and insanity that the character demands. She’s on fire so far this season, and I can’t wait to see where the show takes her. If Corddry shows up on a semi-regular basis, he could also add a strong new element to an already excellent comedy.

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