Season 5 Episode 4: ‘Faulty, Okay?!’
Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. There’s a lot we still don’t know about Nathan but we know that Issa likes him, or at least likes to keep him around. This week, the former and possibly future couple move past their emotional mix-up in the bedroom, from this season’s second episode, and head into new territory in more ways than one.
The episode starts at the beach, where Nathan is celebrating his barbershop with his friends. When Issa shows up, with Molly and Kelli, she’s desperate to see if Nathan will be as warm with her as he was before she “cried in his mouth,” as she put it. It’s been a week and even though they have texted, the matter was not discussed.
As usual, Issa gets awkward when she is insecure. Watching her talk to Nathan is like hearing nails scratch a chalkboard — it’s beyond cringey. She asks about the weather and talks out of turn. Everything comes out of her mouth except how she feels about the other night. Nathan doesn’t reciprocate her attention and seems cold, which makes Issa think he doesn’t like her anymore.
We also don’t know why Issa is nervous here — as far as we knew, she was happy being single. She’s at the beach with Nathan because she wants to be, but why exactly does she want to be there? It’s as if she hasn’t thought it all through herself. Nathan also doesn’t know what she wants, and it seems the failed cuddle muddled what he thought she wanted. He says as much to his friends as they drive to the bar Sharky’s, after an earthquake and the threat of a possible tsunami broke up the beach party.
Whether at the beach or the bar or at a random Jason Derulo event later, Molly and Kelli play perfect sidekicks. Kelli is hilarious and experiences a series of emotional breakthroughs — she’s stopped drinking until she becomes “enlightened,” she says. That could be a cue for Issa and Molly to do the same, but no: Molly is being hounded by two of Nathan’s friends and she likes it, and Issa is still sorting through her feelings.
These include something like jealousy when, while the others are playing spades, Issa is watching what she interprets as romantic flirtation between Nathan and his friend Resha, a short, voluptuous and bombastic woman. Issa surmises that Resha and Nathan have been intimate, and that pressure forces her to be up front with him.
“I just wanted to check in, are we cool?” she asks.
“Nothing’s changed for me,” Nathan responds, stoically.
“So, we’re still friends?” she says humorously, fishing for warmth.
“Yep,” Nathan replies before pulling away.
In the last couple of episodes, we have seen how Issa has grown in the year since she broke up with Lawrence. She started her own company and mended her relationship with Molly. She’s confident at work — even though her client has been taking shots at her on social media — and has been taking time for herself. Her awkwardness and insecurity around Nathan illustrates the ways in which, for all of her personal progress and evolution, she’s still the same Issa we’ve known for years.
She does not know enough about Nathan to be grounded in how she feels about him. He is a butterfly she is trying to capture in a jar, and he is constantly fluttering out of her reach.
All we know about him is that on occasion, he disappears in order to deal with his mental health struggles. That is the reason he ghosted Issa last time, in Season 4. In this episode, we learn more about Nathan through his cousin, Thomas. For instance, when Nathan lived with him, he would leave without warning and come back days later, in the middle of the night. Such unpredictable behavior is why Thomas ultimately wanted Nathan to stop staying with him — this revelation shocks Nathan, who had always blamed his cousin’s wife for kicking him out. (At Sharky’s, the wife suggests that Nathan likes to abandon things.) The conversation reveals that in the time before he met Issa, Nathan was frequently “manic,” as he explains later.
While her friends are at a Jason Derulo party, Issa finds Nathan trying to process what he’s learned from Thomas. After a day of multiple misfires, they are finally honest with one another and the ground shakes.
“I don’t want to just be friends with you,” Issa says.
“I don’t want to be friends with you either,” Nathan responds.
Nathan and Issa embrace and as they kiss, there is an aftershock.
Issa and Nathan might be getting back together now but it feels like there is much that is not being said, by both of them. I also can’t help but worry about Issa reuniting with an ex, who became an ex for a reason.
Is Issa being honest with herself? Can she hold Nathan or will he flit away like he has so many times in the past?