Merry F*cking Christmas
It is Christmas time and Lucy’s mother, CJ, is coming to pick her up. Lucy has spent the night at Max’s but turns up to leave when her mother messages her. Before leaving, she wishes Max a merry Christmas, saying it just in case she isn’t able to wish him on the day itself. He rightly calls her a weirdo for saying that (*sighs*).
Stephan is waiting for Lucy outside her dorm. They bid each other goodbye before CJ pulls up on campus. Because they live near each other, she says that they might even get together a day after Christmas, to which Stephan replies affirmatively. She yet again lies to him about spending the night with the girls and packs Stephan’s sweatshirt that smells of him.
Stephan’s sister Sadie picks him up in the car. When they reach home, Vince, Stephan’s brother, quietly greets them and warns them to be silent. Their mother has a migraine and has just fallen asleep. There is some noise, though, and she is woken by it. She calls out to Stephan who goes and says hello. Nora asks Stephan to say “hi” the next time he comes back without hesitation. Grace reaches home and receives news that she has got into the advanced seminar. Lucy is also invited to attend Macy’s memorial a couple of days after Christmas. At that point, CJ asks her about the boy she is dating, as Georgia had told her.
Lucy is coy with details and CJ is impressed when she hears he wants to be a lawyer. The doorbell rings and Lucy is shocked and disgusted to find James, but we don’t know why. CJ invites him in and confronts Lucy about it. The daughter takes further offense when she notices her father’s Christmas sock on display in the living room and storms out of the house.
At the DeMarco residence, Sadie shows off the foster cat she is taking care of, Freddie until he finds a new home. Vince reveals he got an offer in Long Beach and is moving back to be closer to Nora. Stephan is a bit surprised but Nora waves it off. They go together grocery shopping together and then pick up flowers.
At the shop, she stares at the florist from afar but doesn’t reveal to Stephan what is wrong. She picks a fight with Stephan in the car when he wouldn’t admit her “objective beauty”. It is a weirdly tense scene that says so much about the mother-son relationship. Sadie sheds further light on her detached behavior when she reveals how upset she got and didn’t talk to her for a week after she went out with her friends on her birthday. Sadie says she is browsing for boarding schools outside of town but needs a parent’s signature. Stephan says he will handle it.
Lucy discusses her mother with Lydia, her best friend from school. She is having doubts about her boyfriend, Rob. Lucy is worried about James and asks if Lydia’s parents see her socially with anyone.
For the Christmas lunch, the DeMarcos go to Louie’s but the children are surprised to find the same woman from the florist with their father. Her name is Abby and she is pregnant. Their father is furious and leaves, out of respect for Abby. The children too are cross with their mother for intentionally bringing them there and creating a scene.
At home, Nora pleads her innocence and it seems like she wanted to show him what he is missing with his family. Stephan calls Lucy and admits the holidays have been hard at home. Lucy too feels the same and asks if she can come over to his house the next day. But Stephan backs off and asks her not to come. Lucy has no hesitation in picking up the phone and calling Max for plans. Diana talks with Stephan about his troubles at home, while also reminding him he needs to pull up for the other internship opportunities. Lucy and Max spend the night in a hotel. Diana surprises Stephan at his house and they have a quickie in the car.
In a vulnerable moment, Lucy opens up about her father for the first time in the series. She tells Max he died when she was 15 due to a long illness. Lucy also hints why she wanted to go out, regardless of with Stephan or Max – to get away from her mother. When it was apparent that he won’t be getting better, the Albrights brought him home for the last two months. James, a guy he worked with, helped out with the house. He was probably best friends with him. One day, while she was alone with her father and CJ had gone out for an appointment, he started to crash. Lucy genetically called her mother but she got the call only three hours later.
He kept asking for CJ and hadn’t made peace with dying, yet, Lucy tearfully reveals. She later learned that CJ was having an affair with James the whole time. But she doesn’t know Lucy knows. When Max suggests that Lucy might be depressed dealing with so much emotional baggage, she gets defensive. They have a fight. Max says he knows she is seeing other people, to which Lucy says he should be with someone nicer than her. Max says that Lucy is nice enough. But not mature enough. It is too much for him and he won’t see her again, maybe.
A crying Lydia calls Lucy and she calls her over to her hotel room. Lydia reveals that someone saw her boyfriend make out with another girl at a party. Lucy offers to punch Rob in the face for Lydia at the party and she does, spectacularly so. Lucy also decides to go to the memorial when Stephan doesn’t pick her call up. Diana stays back with Stephan when she sees Lucy calling his phone. Stephan plays it down, saying she might have a crush on him. They’re both smoking pot and Wrigley’s name comes up.
In her high, Diana admits to sleeping casually with Wrigley during the Welcome Week when she was drunk. Stephan is visibly upset with her and we do not where it is going. He again has a fight with his mother, who intentionally burns her hand with hot milk to get him to take care of her again. Lucy wanders into Macy’s room at her house and notices a picture of the fake plant that Stephan drew for him on their first date. So, Lucy learns that Stephan and Macy did see each other and he hasn’t told her yet.
The Episode Review
This has got to be one of the ugliest and most disastrous “Christmas times with family” on television. Like, ever. But out of all the episodes until now, “Merry F*cking Christmas” is arguably the most compelling for the same reason.
We finally got out of the dreadful college setting to a more insightful one. Seeing the home and people both Lucy and Stephen grew up with certainly explained some of their antics. I thought Jackson White handled his part pretty well in this episode. It helped that his real-life mother Katy Sagal played her real mother, Nora. Their chemistry was way better than the one he shares with Grace Patten.
Coming to her, I am still not convinced by how she plays Lucy. Yes, I know the character is meant to be icy and emotionally inaccessible. But she is never able to relay the pain she hides inside. Her emotional damage should be overwhelming and gush out in ounces, at least. Even when she told that story about her father to Max, there was hardly any emotion. It was supposed to be the most important moment for Lucy until now in the series but Grace Patten came up way short. Maybe Max is right about her. She is just too immature to deal with her feelings right now. Speaking of acting, Katy Sagal was indeed the shining star in this episode.
Her commanding character positioned her well in the dynamics of the family relationships but the veteran actress made the most of her opportunity. Except for Grace Patten’s underwhelming show, episode 5 of Tell Me Lies is a notch above the other episodes in season 1.
The backstories were something we all were waiting for and we got it this time. Lucy finding out about Macy and Stephen was also a much-needed push the story needed to bring some pizzazz to it. Onwards and upwards!