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Warning: Spoilers Ahead for the most recent episode of The Conners. Look away until you've caught up!
Well, Season 2 of The Conners has led to a mighty big issue for Darlene. While new boyfriend Ben (who's also her boss...don't get me started on that) had asked her, Harris and Mark to move in with him when he relocated to Chicago for work at the end of last season, Darlene said no, pretending that it was because she didn't want to leave Dan. Well, this season quickly revealed that she'd slid back to her old ways and was seeing David again, along with dating Ben. She knew she needed to cut one of them loose, but couldn't decide on who she wanted to stay with. Now the decision is done, but Darlene was broken up with by both men.
Phew! OK, let's get into the details, because, clearly, none of this went the way fans (or Darlene) thought it would. When the show opened, Jackie and Darlene were watching one of ABC's many insanely addictive Bachelor shows, which led Darlene to wonder aloud why none of the people they were watching seemed tortured for dating multiple people. Apparently, Darlene has been so torn up over the decision between Ben and David that she's now having trouble keeping solid foods down. Yikes.
Harris comes downstairs with Odessa, a friend who she's never talked about with her mom or introduced her to, and announces that they're planning to leave the house at 11 p.m. at night for a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening. When Darlene balks, noting that when she and her friends would attend screenings they'd hide slutty clothes under regular ones, Harris challenges her. But, when Darlene unzips both of her jackets, we see Harris is, in fact, wearing a sparkly, purple corset number.
Of course, Darlene tells her to go change, but Harris asks if maybe she should call David and talk to him about it, since there's something she's been meaning to talk to him about anyway. Obviously, she's blackmailing Darlene because she knows that Darlene is having sex with David and Ben. And, Darlene backs down, telling Harris that she can show off the fun undies in the theater but has to stay covered when not inside. Wow, having your kid blackmail you used to be grounds for a grounding, but I suppose times have changed.
At dinner the next night, David is over to celebrate with everyone, because Mark has won a Lanford slogan contest at school. After David congratulates Mark for being brave and entering, he starts talking about how much he's learned in therapy, making special note to tell everyone that Darlene would have learned the same things, had she been going with him like she said she would. She makes it clear that they were supposed to be going to work on being better co-parents (so as to not give away their sexual encounters), and tells David that work has just been too crazy right now.
Harris isn't letting this slide, though, and asks her mom if she might actually be dodging therapy, even though she probably has one or two things to discuss. Then, Harris makes a point to tell everyone that Darlene "should have one thing to discuss, but she has two," meaning David and Ben. This kid, man. She would have gotten into so much trouble from parental units in my day.
When we next see Darlene, she's waiting by the side of the road at night with a flat tire. David soon arrives, though, and Darlene mentions that she started texting everyone she could when she got the flat, because she couldn't tell what was going through with her being on the outskirts of town. Can you see what's going to happen here? No? Alright, fine. As Darlene and David head to his car to drive to the nearest gas station and get help...DUN DUN DUN...Ben drives up! I know she was desperate to get help, but, damn Darlene, you have to know better!
After some introductions (because the two men have never met) it becomes clear that Darlene asked Ben to fix her tire, while she only asked David to give her a ride to get help. Well, you all know David. He can't do much of anything but is frequently offended when you dare to point that out to him, so gets huffy with Darlene when she asks him to go check on the kids while Ben fixes her flat.
Darlene tries to pump David up by telling him he's a smart, manly man who can do all the things, just to get him to leave so that neither man will reveal their real relationship with her right here. David, though, decides to fix her flat, but is clearly not cut out for the job. Now, Ben is also trying to get him to leave, and when Dan stops and tells Darlene that he knows why she called Ben "but what's David going to do with a flat tire? Try to validate its feelings?" Next, Jackie drives by, stops long enough to laugh at Darlene's predicament and drives off.
When Darlene gets home to see Jackie in the kitchen she notes how close that was and that she needs to stop this, but she still doesn't know who to break up with. Jackie tells her to look at the text she sent Ben about her flat tire. When she reads it, it's got the basics of her problem in it, but it's also sweet because she talks about the trouble she's having with Harris and just wanting to put her head on his chest and sleep.
When Jackie prompts her to read her text to David, it's all facts to the point that there aren't even any full sentences in it. Darlene knows what she has to do, but is nervous about breaking up with David. Luckily, Jackie has some advice and suggests actually going to therapy and telling him there. Good idea, Jackie!
Now, friends, here is where the tide turns. When Darlene shows up to Therapist Gabby's office, David is already there and Gabby tells Darlene that he's come a long way in just a few sessions and has something he needs to say to her. OMG, you guys. DAVID BROKE UP WITH DARLENE. I. Know!
As Darlene teared up, he told her that she's always controlled their relationship and has kept him at arm's length, but he needs a partnership and someone to hear him. When she says that she did hear him, he says, "I don't think you've heard me since I was 15." Ouch! But, not being able to argue (and, really, not wanting to) Darlene just apologizes for not being able to make it work.
Darlene then drives all the way to work to confront Ben. She walks in and gets right to the point, telling him that she's been seeing David for a month and that she's sorry, but it's over now (leaving out the part where David broke up with her). She also tells Ben that it took her a while to come to her senses, but she loves him. He goes back to typing and then shows her the screen. Ben had been crafting a breakup note to Darlene when she waltzed in!
Darlene asks how he knew about David, and Ben says he made the realization when he met David the night of the flat tire. How, you ask? According to Ben, Darlene's face was plastered with the same expression that a tabloid cover star of theirs had when he was caught with 10 pounds of cocaine up his butt. The Conners didn't show us that face, but I have no doubt that it would give away tons of things.
Unfortunately, when Darlene asks if there's anything she can do to make this right, Ben says he's done because she lied to him. When she asks if he's firing her, though, Ben tells her that he does need her at the tabloid, so they'll just have to "work together, awkwardly" because they're professionals. Ben then says he's going to get coffee and asks if Darlene wants some. Instead of this being an actual olive branch, when she says yes, he tells her to write down what she wants and then carry it with her in case she's ever in a place that sells coffee. Ooooooooh.
Wow. Darlene is going to be heartbroken for a while, especially with her still working with Ben on a daily basis. But, she did do this to herself, and at least now her man-sandwich troubles are over. Also, she can go back to telling Harris what to do with abandon, 'cause now that disrespectful teen has nothing on her that could make things any worse.
We can all see how Darlene handles being manless when The Conners continues on ABC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.