Casual: The Magpie – Burning Down the House (Review)

Valerie, Laura, and Alex in Casual

Casual this week follows the end of Alex’s short term “office” affair with Fallon (it only took three episodes to realize that the character was played by personal favorite Britt Robertson ) who was also shagging (having sex with) the big boss, Jordan Anderson. Jordan who is also engaged to Alex’s ex Sarah.  Alex burns down his own metaphorical house by pursuing his ex in this episode and one senses he regrets it.

In “The Magpie” Alex and Sarah are drawn back together, slowly, with much arguing and frantic sex,  Laura discovers that her threesome with Spencer (Rhenzy Feliz)  and Aubrey (Dylan Gelula) has complicated things somewhat.  Valerie loses contact with Jack (Kyle Bornheimer) and new pal Jennifer (Katie Aselton) is being evasive since Valerie slept with their mutual friend. 

Sarah approaches Alex and the two have sex.  The day after, her cheating fiancé Jordan has a quick chat with Alex and assures him everything is okay. Anderson finishes his talk by saying that Sarah and he will be fine. Alex clearly does not believe his boss.

One splendid comic moment between Alex and his niece Laura also occurs the “morning after.” Laura mimics Sarah’s very verbal participation the night before. “Oh my God, Oh my God…” She accuses her uncle of performing an exorcism. After a moment of discussion Laura goes to leave.  Stopping she says, “Hey” and begins flinging imaginary holy water over Alex.

“The power of Christ compels you. The power of Christ…”

Possibly the funniest scene of the episode and it is done  as a throwaway bit of humor. Just brilliant.

Valerie spends the episode having a bad day. One of her clients quits their sessions and Jennifer is clearly  not happy about the Jack situation.

Laura tries to keep things light with Spencer and Aubrey. When Spencer suggests a repeat of their threesome, Aubrey states flatly that the “Make a Wish” foundation is closed.  Laura ends up meeting Spencer later and they arrange a hot tub date. Aubrey is invited and later Laura tells her the date is off.

When Valerie come to pick up Laura from the library, Aubrey kisses her on the lips and things look as though they are becoming complicated. Later Laura complains to her mother that she cannot understand why sex has so many issues attached to it.  “Why does having sex have to mean anything,” she asks.

Sarah comes to see Alex again and they argue.  Then they have sex again, destroying part of the living room in the process. The first time the two slept together Sarah kept it a secret from Jordan. This time she tells him.

The consequences are immediate.

Jordan is in Alex’s office and the two begin to talk.  Anderson reveals that his real passion is not funding starters but destroying struggling business. The implication being that he mean’s Alex’s dating service.

Alex interjects, “Sarah told you huh?”  Jordan replies coldly:

“I’m gonna  burn your company to the ground.”

After the chat, Valerie hooks back up with Jack but not before telling Alex off for getting with Sarah again. She calls him a magpie and tells him that the birds are shot by farmers for getting too close to the barn.

Alex has a drink at a bar. In another splendidly awkward, yet hilarious, moment, a man comes up and starts talking to the upset Alex. As the man drones on and on about acting and his latest audition Alex snaps:

“Shut the f*ck up!”

There is a moment of silence and the man takes his drink and walks off.

At the start of this episode all three of the housemates, Laura, Valerie and Alex are in split screen. Each are alone in their respective beds. By the end, the split screens show Laura spooning with Spencer, Valerie having sex with Jack and Alex cuddled up next to Sarah, who has moved back in with him.

Of the three, only Alex looks pensive. He is staring into space while contemplating the upcoming demise of his company and Sarah’s return. The magpie has gotten the prize but at what cost?

Casual spends a lot of time proving that causal relationships are anything but. Each one exacts a toll of some sort from the participant.  Often the payoff is minimal for the reward and each seems to end on a sour note of sorts.  This is a clever bit of  writing that has to be watched by anyone in-between relationships.

The second season of this series has picked up exponentially from its first go around and airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  Stop by and check it out. You will be pleasantly surprised.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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