Swingtown moved from Thursdays to Fridays this week – the sort of move that is rarely a good sign to the future of a show. And we’ve seen this series struggle through its first handful of episodes, with an uneven voice and too many story lines. Did tonight fix any of that?
In a word? No. In fact, with B.J. coming back from camp, thus reintroducing him and Sam to the dynamic (Rickey remains AWOL), there were more unnecessary plot points going on then ever. However, they also amped up some of the conflicts in an attempt to make it all a little more intriguing.
The plot device used to accomplish this task begins with yet another of Tom & Trina’s parties, this one centering on a game Trina invented called Puzzlerama. Susan & Bruce plan on coming, and when Janet stops by to return the swim trunks she found in Roger’s wash, Susan invites her as well. It seems dubious, considering those swim trunks are not Bruce’s from the lake house, as Janet supposes, but rather Tom’s from when Janet and Roger spent the day poolside. A fact that we know Susan is feeling guilty about, based on her dream where she kisses Roger only to be confronted by Janet and Bruce with the Psycho theme playing n the background. Further, it’s well known what sort of parties Tom & Trina throw, while it’s equally well known how not a fan of the lifestyle Janet is – so why invite her? And why would Janet accept? They try to pass it off as Janet’s competitive streak sparking at learning there will be a "scavenger hunt", but I call shenanigans.
Susan decides that the perfect time to return Tom’s trunks is at the party. Trina notes that she saw them in Susan’s drawer when she went to hide the scavenger clues and says that it made her wonder what Roger and she had been up to. It only made me wonder why they ended up at Janet’s house in the first place, since ostensibly Roger put them on and took them off at Tom & Trina’s house. Did he put the wet shorts in his briefcase and take them home for his wife – whom he didn’t want to know he had been there in the first place – to wash? None of this makes sense to me!
Susan insists to Trina that nothing is going on between her and Roger, which is right when he and Janet arrive. Susan hides the shorts behind her back and tells Trina that Janet doesn’t know and it would crush her if she did – so Trina grabs the shorts and scurries away. Also arriving are Melinda and Moreno – however that seems to be a set up between Moreno and Gail, just in case her estranged husband Stu shows up, Moreno can say he’s there with someone else. Trina passes out shots of what looks like Pepto Bismol, with each glass having a colored dot at the bottom. The dots tell you who your partner will be – which is all a pretense, since Trina has organized who gets what glass. As such, Susan is paired with Roger, Janet is paired with Tom, and Bruce was supposed to be paired with Gail – but she buddies up to Moreno, leaving Bruce with Melinda.
The Puzzlerama questions are put on the board and the teams are all off and running. Melinda apologizes to Bruce for coming on to him that night in the bar. An apology that is made moot when she suddenly kisses him over the porn section of the news stand where they search for scavenger hunt clues. Which leads to some passionate making out against the wall of the train station – a sight Tom handily blocks Janet from witnessing. Meanwhile Roger and Susan are giggling over fuzzy handcuffs in Gail’s house before she and Moreno burst in the door and ask them to leave, before she lays down on the living room floor and beckons to the stock trader. Does she even know where her daughter is?
As the couples all come back to check the board and turn in their clues, Tom pulls Bruce aside and tells him to beware of "dipping his pen in the company ink". Bruce tries to act like he doesn’t know what Tom is talking about, but Tom shuts him up when he says that had he been a moment later, Bruce would be explaining himself to Janet. This apparently scares Bruce so much that he tells Melinda he made a mistake and that he’ll find Moreno to take her home, but she opts to take the train instead. Janet, at this time, is in Bruce’s bedroom, finding a clue along with the still single earring left over from his and Susan’s swinging fourth of July.
Trina asks Susan if her and Roger found the clue at her own house yet, and Susan concedes defeat rather than take Roger to her bedroom. Susan also confronts Trina on how she manipulated the teams, but Trina admits to no conceit further then thinking her and and Roger would be a good team and could possibly win. Susan also asks why she paired Bruce with Melinda and Trina tells her he was supposed to be with Gail – who drunkenly bursts in, in a state obvious dishevelment, dragging Moreno behind her. An off- screen voice calls her a slut and she comically wails "Stu? Honey!" and exits, stage left.
With Puzzlerama a tie, Janet demands how they get a winner. Trina admits they need to pull a final question and Janet grabs one herself in her haste to win. The clue is painfully obvious and convenient, with the answer being in Tom & Trina’s own house. Tom directs Janet to look in Trina’s closet for the winning clue and – of course – while she’s there she knocks over a box with tumbles open to the floor, spilling out photos of her husband by their pool. She marches downstairs and demands to know why Trina is hiding pictures of her "half-naked" husband in her closet and Susan steps in to try to intervene.
Which is when the whole story falls out, about Roger losing his job, going to ask Susan for advice and hanging out by the pool before going home to not tell his wife the truth. Janet coolly asks Susan if she lost another earring that day, before storming out while Bruce glares at Susan from the corner. Back at their home, Roger tries to explain to Janet but she tells him she won’t be able to believe him anyway. He tells her how hard she is to talk to, since she has to have everything so perfect, and then he apologizes before leaving her calling his name after him. Susan also apologizes to Bruce, explaining that Roger didn’t want everyone to know he had lost his job and she was trying to honor that, but that it’s the last time she wants to keep a secret from him. He agrees to no more secrets and they cuddle. I wonder who will apologize to me?
In the childrens subplots – B.J. made Sam a wish bag and camp and hung out with her, handing out clues to keep people out of the living room while her mom did Moreno on the carpet. Laurie had to introduce her mom to Doug – her former teacher – when they ran into each other at the supermarket, where Laurie and Doug were campaigning in support of Carter. Laurie won a bet by getting more signatures than him, and her reward was going to his house and apparently jumping him.
So, do you think Swingtown can be saved? What would they need to change to find a stronger audience? What could they do to attract a wider viewership?