Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched The Conners’ midseason premiere, so be warned!
Sure, The Conners appeared to be setting Darlene up for some chaos with its first episode of 2022, with a storyline that involved her most current boyfriend Nick — or “boyf-zen-d” if you want to go that route, and you shouldn’t — and ex-boyfriend Ben (“boyf-ben-d”) attempting to hang out during a Chicago Bears game. But little did we know the winter premiere would seemingly demolish the building relationship, all while possibly knocking down the house of eccentric AF cards that is Jackie and Neville’s courtship.
Let’s take a look at the somewhat shocking and somewhat farcical reveals that went down in the midseason opener, titled “Three Exes, Role-Playing, and a Waterbed,” starting the aftermath of Darlene’s debacle.
Darlene And Nick Totally Broke Up
First, I'll say that Darlene gets all the credit in the world for wanting to faithfully buy any needed supplies from Olinsky’s Hardware, given that her father works there. But I dare say it was not the smartest move to chance things by going there with Nick even when she thought that Ben wasn't working. I mean, they even addressed the best case scenario being Dan recognizing that they had sex for the first time, which is already not the most common goal.
And then, once Ben and Nick immediately got all chummy with each other, Darlene should have realized she needed to pull away from such a possibly destructive situation, and yet she allowed the plan to all meet up at the Lunchbox to watch a Bears game. And while none of the actual game was shown, of course, I don't even think the commentary team could have introduced themselves before Darlene and Ben were already deep into loudly and dramatically airing out their grievances. Which wasn't so different for viewers to see, since that's their schtick these days, but it was the first time Nick witnessed that amorphic tension between them. And it was the only time he needed to see it, since he rather quickly took Darlene aside and called it quits.
To be fair, Nick was totally spot on in realizing that Darlene and Ben's thorny relationship isn't free from lingering emotions, ranging from reluctant adoration to pissiness to grief. And he also gets some brownie points for keeping the future open for them to reconnect after Darlene and Ben find true closure, but then she called him a loser and imploded that. Not that I think it would have happened anyway, since Darlene and Ben are so getting back together one day, even if it still takes a while for them to work past their gut-punch of a breakup.
After all, he still remembers Darlene's hangover cure, which is code for "I still love you" or some sick shit like that.
Jackie Is Unhealthily Jealous About Neville's Ex Helen
Over on the Jackie side of things, Laurie Metcalf delivered another episode full of big performances, though this time they were less about having a good time, and more about working out her issues with jealousy and insecurity. And by “working out,” I basically mean “making worse.”
Just as she was attempting to find more private time for her and Neville to make sexy things happen, he dropped the info bomb that his ex Helen was moving back to Lanford, and will be working with him as a vet tech. And while Jackie was (for some reason) expecting Helen’s most prominent feature to be her arm flabs, it turned out to be the lovely Ted Lasso and Better Off Ted vet Andrea Anders. Which did not sit well with Jackie in the slightest. Even though the woman brought wine has a seemingly innocent good gesture!
If Jackie didn’t make her distrust known only through her verbal clues, she certainly brought it on a physical level during the short-lived basketball game later in the episode when she twisted her ankle. It was a ridiculous move that, even if it was meant to make Helen look worse in Neville’s eyes, just made Jackie look foolish in the long run.
And even though the episode fell back on a laugh when she lied to Dan about Helen breaking the vase, Jackie was about as upset as she’s ever been on this show when she brought her cane down on that vase. Which was similar to when Darlene angrily smashed that plate in the aftermath of her breakup. And here I thought it would be a good idea for Darlene to use one of her family members’ relationships as inspiration, but this is not the healthiest behavior for anyone to aspire to.
But hey, at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that Becky’s happiness rules, and it was a treat for this week’s episode to close out on her having a relaxing night to herself via a psychedelic waterbed situation. Even if Louise doesn’t end up loving it, at least it still went to good use in some fashion. Sorry to bring that up after all the negative stuff, but I cannot deny such groovy lights and pillowcases, man.
The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to keep tuning in to see where these characters’ relationships (or lack thereof) will go next. And keep track of all the other big premieres on the way with our 2022 TV premiere schedule!
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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