We open with more of Maureen’s phone conversation with her daughter Cara, who along with her husband and Mo’s husband Larry, have been sifting through the remains of the burned-out condo. Cara is really taking it hard. A lot of it reminds her of her dead sister and brother. Maureen cries with her over the phone.
It cuts back and forth from the phone call to a meeting with Rhonda, Iyanla and Dr. Stan discussing the fact that Maureen is stuck on “Denial” in the grieving process. She even blames herself for her childrens’ deaths. They want her to be able to celebrate the loved ones, to keep their energy going in a healthy way, and they believe the way to do this is to strip her emotions bare and start her to rebuilding.
Back on the phone, Cara tells Maureen she wishes she were there at the condo, but glad she’s not. Maureen agrees, she’d only be trying to hang onto melted clocks and things. Maureen tells Cara she’d end up in the booby hatch if she tried to help them. Cara tells Maureen there were still a lot of things encumbering her that she didn’ty know how to throw away (Rhonda made her do a Big Cleaning in season one) and Maureen agrees that now it’s like the decisions have been made for her.
In the meeting, the counselors discuss some of the other women in the house. Kim, for instance, has never grieved her parents’ divorce or the break with her sister, but “awfulizes it” in her head all the time. They’re looking forward to meeting Dave, her husband, who will help them look at Kim in a different way.
Sommer, they believe, has lots of unhealthy relationships with men. They are either “just friends” or she gets a crush. We see Marcus, the trainer, coming over to do a workout at the house, and Sommer shows him around, babbling away in baby talk. Dr. Stan observes that she creates fantasies and when the fantasy turns out not to be there, she nurtures dectructive relationships. Rhonda gives Sommer the assignment of interviewing Marcus on the topic of relationships. “Apparently they’ve decided I’m good at flirting but not dating,” she tells him. He’s a good sport about the interrogation.
Kim, Towanda and Jen, the Sisterhood Group, meet with Iyanla and show her their illustrations of what a relationship with their sisters might look like. Iyanla likes Kim’s photo with all the drawings of activities around it, but Kim discusses the activities in the past tense and Iyanla reminds her she’s supposed to be building a future. This shuts Kim down and Iyanla observes that it’s easier to revert to the pain. Kim says she’s trying to get back together with her sister but still has reservations. Iyanla scolds her: “there’s no ‘trying.’ That’s a trick of the mind.”
Sommer asks Marcus some more questions. He talks about his own relationship and she marvels at how basic it is, compared to the way women over-analyze.
Kim’s getting ready for her husband. She feels thrilled and nervous.
Sommer meets with Rhonda and they talk about her interview with Marcus. Sommer admits it only made her love him more. “It’s so-o-o wrong,” she giggles, and Rhonda tells her it’s a blessing that he’s in Sommer’s life because she can look at him and realize she wants “this or something better.” Rhonda wants Sommer to practice showing a bit of her real self, which is what she admires about Marcus’ relationship. To that end, they have invited her old platonic friend Ed, who lives in San Diego, to come to the house. Sommer’s excited because Ed hasn’t seen her since the bypass.
Kim is feeling like a schoolgirl getting ready for a hot date. She’s happy to have lost 10 pounds since coming to the house. She narrates that Dave might feel threatened by being in the house. He finally gets there and she is overjoyed. They hug and she cries. He murmers into her neck “I know, it’s been a long time, huh?”
Sommer feels awkward watching Kim cry and Josie tells her snidely that she’s supporting her by telling her there is such a thing as happy tears.
Kim narrates she’s nervous about introducing Dave to everyone because some of the women are weary with men. But actually Dave is charming and not in a smarmy way. He doesn’t act like he’s been gossiping about them the way Towanda’s husband did. And he’s good with Chloe. He `mooches her little fist and gets her to grinning right away. Out on the deck with Kim, he holds her and tells her “I missed your smell.” Later they sit with Maureen and Kim tells Dave her story like she’s not there, which is fine with Mo. “I haven’t grieved,” she shrugs.
Up in the loft, they all like Dave. Rhonda asks if he makes them all feel better about Kim, and they react like it’s a trick question. Kim tells them it hasn’t been a fairy tale, they’ve had bad times but worked hard at staying together. Rhonda says she admires Kim for leaving her happy marriage temporarily to come to the Starting Over house.
Maureen moves up to the love seat and Rhonda says she needs to start envisioning a new life. They bring up the plasma and show a picture of Mo’s daughter Linda, who’s been gone for 14 years. Maureen says it is anger that makes her cry, and she doesn’t do it in front of people. Rhonda tells her the loss and grief have not been honored. Maureen relates she can’t even go to the cemetery because she feels like they’re not supposed to be there. Rhonda asks the housemates for feedback, and Kim says she can’t give advice because she doesn’t think she would be able to cope with those losses at all. Maureen brings out two theater masks, Comedy and Tragedy. Maureen says the Comedy mask is easier to wear but it stops her from grieving and distracts everyone else from it too. Rhonda gives her a black cloak and asks everyone to support Maureen in being cloaked in her grief. There is a jar of paper cut-outs in the shape of the tragedy mask, and Maureen is to spend the day writing down her losses so they can be attached to the cloak. She struggles not to cry and everyone reminds her not to stop it.
In the kitchen, Dave asks Sommer if there is anyone special. She tells him “No, I don’t know how,” and asks him about falling in love with Kim. He tells the story of the time they were on a date at an outdoor concert and it was the first time he said “I love you”. At the moment he said it, a cannon went off, the orchestra started playing the wedding march, balloons were launched and fireworks exploded. Kim thought he had planned it but it was just serendipity. Kim narrates that she hopes this helps some of the younger girls, to see a marriage that has lasted after a lot of work, for 15 years. (And I hope they notice, THERE”S NO BABYTALK) Sommer tells Dave she can flirt and she can date, but has a hard time with the in-between, getting to know each other and being real.
She narrates that when she meets a great guy like Ed, he’s what she says she wants in a man but never what she would actually choose. When he comes to the house, Sommer answers the door holding Chloe (Insurance! Gotta love it!) and Ed is good with the baby too.
A letter from Kim’s sister arrives and she is shocked, even though she has been saying all week she wanted one. Iyanla hoots and applauds. Kim has already read it and tells Iyanla that her sister, independently, said that maybe someday they could be in a room together.
Dave and Towanda help Maureen by attaching some of her slips of paper to the cloak. Towanda says there’s 20 or 25 losses represented there. Some of them are intagibles, like being able to express anger truthfully.
Sommer and Ed relax on the deck and she is in full babytalk mode. They talk about surfing and he tells her he will get her out on a surfboard. She feels optimistic about him.
Maureen meets with Rhonda, who asks how it felt to grieve, and how successful she was. She tells Maureen that in order to have happiness, we must face sadness. They prepare to throw the cloak into the fireplace and Rhonda cautions her that burning it will mean letting go and giving up excuses. The cloak burns spectacularly and Maureen says she’s ready celebrate her children, to say goodbye and “I love you”. Rhonda assures her that her children love her and don’t blame her.
Iyanla goes over Kim’s letter from Kelly. The first thing is that she needed a few days to think of a response. She asks, given the importance, why Kim’s note to her was so brief. Kim laughs and tells her husband she was afraid of rejection. The letter says “I put the onus on you”, which Kim reads as Kelly speaking to her, but Iyanla turns it around and says it’s Kelly interpreting what Kim is telling her. Kelly goes on to say that the pain is very deep, but better over the last 3 years. She writes, “Communication with you seems pointless. I do not have the strength to deal with you and maybe never will.” Iyanla points out that this is not about Kim and she shouldn’t take it on. Kelly goes on to say that she has never received and apology, and Kim exclaims, “Here we go.” Iyanla reminds Kim that it’s what she wants anyway: “Are you strong enough to apologise to her? How bad do you want it?” She has Kim close her eyes and remember that she has already forgiven herself for judging herself as wrong, unworthy, unloving, and she should ask her sister to forgive her for those things too. Iyanla goes on to read “In counseling you said you hated me with every fiber of your being.” Kim denies saying it and Iyanla gives her the benefit of the doubt. “Why has this changed?” Kelly asks. Iyanla poses the question to Kim. “Because I’m taking responsibility.” And? “Because I’m here and earned my way here.” (I have no clue what that means.)
Sommer says goodbye to Ed, he hugs her in spite of the babytalk and they make promises to call but co clear idea of who is expected to call whom. She narrates that Ed has the traits she wants and always felt she didn’t deserve.
Kim and Dave go out to Pinot Noir, a martini bar. She’s having conflicting feelings about her sister. She feels like blaming and it’s difficult to make a decision to move forward. Dave tells her he misses her and it’s been harder than he expected. She replies, “Well, it looks like I’ll just have to take you to bed, honey.”