Episode 6 of Love Life is where things go from bad to worse for Darby and surprisingly from mediocre to great for HBO Max’s latest rom-com. I have to admit, early on the show felt a little rough around the edges and some of Darby’s motivations and decisions really didn’t suit the show at all.
Thankfully, one of the perks with this job comes from the satisfaction of seeing a show come out the corner swinging, and boy does Love Life deliver during this episode.
We begin with Jim and Sara’s relationship hitting a serious bump in the road when Sara finds herself debating exactly how to proceed forward in her relationship. Should she go all in or hold back and cut her losses?
Meanwhile, Darby’s decision to jump into marriage sees her a year down the line and stuck in a dead-end relationship. Magnus decides not to take any jobs as he’s too busy trying to get his own back on a petty dismissal claim while emotionally manipulating Darby into leaving her card for Magnus to use while she’s gone.
At work, someone tags Darby in a Facebook photo and that, believe it or not, brings her back to Luke. After looking at his profile picture, Darby continues to deal with work. Back home Magnus is clearly not interested in Darby’s day and worse, their unfulfilling sex life sends her down a path of spiraling depression.
While Magnus sleeps, Darby receives a message from Luke on Messenger and they head out together and meet at a bar. He apologises for what he did in the past and she thanks him for his sincerity. Despite believing she’s closed the book on this chapter of her life, it’s actually had the adverse effect; it opens up a whole wave of deep conversations and meaningful connections to blossom between them.
After speaking to Sara about her relationship and what she’s going through with Magnus, Darby and Luke end up going to the theatre together. Out of nowhere, they suddenly start kissing but when Darby pulls away, they remain civil and Luke decides to try and help with her Magnus situation.
The next day, Luke visits Magnus and lays it out straight, informing him there isn’t a case for his dispute and it prompts Magnus to storm out. He and Darby continue to drift apart and it sends her back into Luke’s apartment where she speaks to him about Magnus’ problems. This speaking leads to so much more and the two wind up sleeping together.
On the back of this, Darby decides not to reveal the truth to Magnus but this causes her to slip into her own personal purgatory. It affects her whole life and eats away at her. Funnily enough, a gift from a co-worker is enough to face Magnus and tell him they need to break up. He emotionally blackmails her though, telling her he’ll kill himself but these words don’t work anymore; his hold over her is gone and it looks like Darby may just be growing into a stronger woman.
Compared to early on in the show, Love Life delivers big emotion and characterisation in a big way. Having personally been caught in the exact same situation as Darby, that spiraling sensation of hopelessness is something that’s incredibly difficult to get out of.
Every day is a constant struggle to catch a breath in a sea of depression; it threatens to drown you at any moment. It’s a truly horrible feeling, something that tightens your chest and causes all hope to fade and these individual feelings are captured really well here.
Given how toxic and loveless Darby’s relationship with Magnus is doesn’t excuse her from cheating but it does help us empathise with exactly why she did this. The guilt that eats away at her afterward is definitely one of the highlights here though and this important crossroads moment is something that can easily make or break your future – something Darby has learned first-hand.
This continuing saga of spreading a single story across several episodes definitely suits Love Life a lot better than the singular stand-alone segments and hopefully that’s something that continues going forward. HBO Max’s latest episode is a poignant, emotional and well written rollercoaster and if the rest of the season follows suit from here on out, we could be in for a big turnaround compared to the earlier fortunes of the show.