Brookeshields_paulblackthorne_lipstLipstick Jungle has always been successful when examining the complicated balancing act required to be a powerful woman of a certain age who has the desire to not only be fulfilled at work but in her personal life as well. This week both Nico and Wendy face different aspects of this challenge head on, with emotionally resonant results.

When we last left Nico on Thanksgiving, she was busy taking care of Megan’s cast away son Charlie and, by the end of the day, loving the task more than she thought possible. With Megan seemingly completely out of the picture this week, Nico has thrown herself (and a reluctant Kirby) headfirst into the task of being Charlie’s parents, even going so far as to meet with an attorney to see what the next step would be to adopt Charlie outright. When the attorney mentions the unbelievably complicated road she is embarking upon, she seems ready to face the task at hand and almost convinced it won’t be as difficult as he is making it sound considering Megan doesn’t appear to want anything to do with her child. All of her focus on Charlie is starting to get in the way with her relationship with Kirby, who is lukewarm on the Charlie idea to say the least, and everything between them gets even more tense when Nico carelessly almost forces Kirby to lose a photography job (with Victory) because she needs him to take care of Charlie and it doesn’t even cross her mind that he would rather get a paying gig than take care of a child he has no relation to or deep seeded feelings for. It’s a tough but wonderful beat for them to play in their relationship because it’s both realistic and heartbreaking when two people realize they don’t want the same things in their lives.

To make Nico’s journey even sadder, Megan’s parents show up at her door and let Nico know that they’re going to take Megan and Charlie back to Indiana with them right away. Nico acts stunned, which is sad because Kim Raver plays it so well, yet still sort of ridiculous for it to be as shocking as it seems to be, considering Nico’s smarts and savvy. Despite this, it’s still heartbreaking when they take Charlie away and you can read the pain on Nico’s face. Great work all around by Kim Raver this week. Nico is torn up after Charlie leaves, and reveals to Wendy that she got pregnant once when married to Charles but lost the baby. She says losing Charlie was worse and finally admits the main problem with dating a younger man like Kirby, who is obviously not ready for children, while she is realizing she is (but not necessarily with him.) What happens if she waits and when he’s ready she can no longer conceive? The denouement comes when they attend a "secrets" party where people anonymously write their dirty little secrets on the wall for all to see, and Nico quickly connects the heart-wrenching "I’m not happy anymore" admission to Kirby, and let’s him know that she’s not happy either. They agree it’s not the right time for them and leave the door open for "someday." I’ve complained in the past that Nico and Kirby’s story was getting repetitive and although I like them I’m ready for a change, with this being a good, solid, realistic issue for them to end things over. But tell me — how will they keep incorporating a shirtless Kirby into each episode? Because it is almost required at this point. I ask the important questions, I know.

After her emotional and reluctant goodbye with Joe last episode, Victory takes a backseat this week by incorporating most of her storyline into Wendy’s by hiring Wendy’s daughter Maddie to work in her store. Victory plays "cool aunt" to Maddie by giving her advice on how to flirt with the cute college-aged sandwich delivery boy, including too-revealing wardrobe provided by Victory herself and tips on how to act aloof to pique a young man’s interest. When Wendy shows up to help Victory with an important pitch and catches Maddie and sandwich boy making out, Vic admits she encouraged Maddie to flirt. Wendy asks Victory to butt out, but Vic convinces her Maddie needs someone "hipper" than her mom to talk to about these matters. In the end she decides she doesn’t need to talk to Maddie at all, which angers Wendy. Victory then reveals that Maddie has a self-esteem problem she’s been helping her with, and that Wendy’s all-around awesomeness is part of the reason Maddie’s self-esteem is low, seeing as it’s hard to have an intimidatingly beautiful and confident mother when you’re in your awkward teen years. Wendy ends up talking to Maddie about everything herself, including the big stuff: sex and love and relationships. Poor Maddie is convinced she is invisible (and seems to think having sex with someone will make her not invisible, which is potentially true even though you would definitely be visible for all the wrong reasons) and Wendy assures her plenty of boys will fall in love with her someday. Maddie is totally cute, y’all. If a college boy takes notice of her so easily, surely something is wrong with the boys in her class who don’t. All in all, a great episode as a mother for Wendy.

Wendy is also busy at work this week, finding out that an old producer foe Steven is interested in her script from the copy girl. He wants to pay her a ridiculous sum and give her a producer credit to take it off Wendy’s hands, but Wendy is determined to make the film herself. Even though she’s got the Miley Cyrus-esque Pepper Gleason attached to star, three studios have already turned her down and this producer knows all about it, purporting that he has a blind deal with a studio all ready to go and make this film with no roadblocks in the way. Wendy is skeptical because Steven screwed her over in the past and she’s fearful he’ll do it again, but she decides to make the movie with him on these conditions: copy girl does all the rewrites herself, she and Steven are a united producing team that make all decisions together, and that she will not regret this decision. I foresee a regret in the future, Wendy dear. They all meet with Steven’s studio, where the executive immediately balks at Pepper Gleason for the lead, saying she’s too squeaky clean for the gritty role. They decide to play the studio’s game and take Pepper to a store to "roughen up her image" before their next meeting with the studio, and when leaving Pepper gets busted for stealing a necklace. A necklace she didn’t actually steal, but that Steven set her up to get caught for stealing (by an actor, so it’s not really caught so much as the appearance of being caught) so the paparazzi can take pictures of her getting busted and give her sufficient street cred to pull off the movie role. How cynical. How Hollywood. Wendy is outraged, but has no choice but to roll with the punches.

At home, Shane brings up his crazy idea from the last episode of having another baby and Wendy shoots him down, saying she’d rather make movies than babies at this point in her life. When questioned about his motivation for the sudden idea to expand their family, he admits he thinks it would be a chance to get things right this time, which seems like a terrible reason to bring a child into the world. Also: are their current kids that bad? They seem like good kids. Shane then reveals (as he’s running out the door to another meeting) that he quite likes their "new arrangement" with Wendy at home and him going off to work. Wendy scoffs at this new development and later when she recaps her day to Shane and mentions Maddie’s indiscretion with the delivery boy, he totally infers that Maddie did this because her mother isn’t around to teach her not to kiss random boys on a whim. Oh no he didn’t! Also, has he met a teenager before? Wendy is downright flummoxed by Shane’s new semi-chauvinistic attitude, as am I. Or has Shane had these feelings all along and this is the catalyst that will bring them out and cause strife between him and Wendy? I’m all for strife, as long as it doesn’t come in the form of an affair with his hottie manager.

What did you guys think? Were you upset over Nico and Kirby’s breakup? What is Nico going to do about her realization she wants to have children sooner rather than later? And how are Wendy and Shane going to deal with the seismic shifts in their relationship?

Posted by:Carrie Raisler