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Episode 2
BBC/Netflix  ·  50 minutes  ·  Original Broadcast: September 11, 2018

Directed by: Luke Snellin  |  Written by: Nick Payne

Official synopsis: Alan has sex with Claire whilst Joy does the same with social worker Marvin. Alan is aroused to hear his wife’s account of her evening but the pair are interrupted by daughter Laura, dead drunk after her boyfriend left her. After confessing all to her colleague Angela Joy decides to tell Marvin about her arrangement with Alan but he is disgusted and walks out, leading to her making a bar pick-up, Marc. However they are observed by Laura and her new boyfriend Jason – who just happens to be one of Laura’s clients.

Episode Recap
Please note that recaps feature spoilers on the individual episode.
This recap was written by Jonathan Wilson for Ready Steady Cut, September 11, 2018

Nick Payne’s frank relationship drama continued tonight, but Wanderlust Episode 2 revealed something telling about the show: It’s hard to care about middle-age promiscuity when there are dumb teenagers to laugh at instead. Still, the show is still ostensibly about Alan (Steven Mackintosh) and Joy (Toni Collette), so we may as well start there. After deciding last week that an open relationship was the best way to salvage their lustless, deteriorating marriage, they both cheerily set off in Wanderlust Episode 2 to their respective extra-marital liaisons. Alan fell back into the much younger arms of his pothead colleague, Claire (Zawe Ashton), while Joy reenlisted the services of her taser-enthusiast copper fling, Marvin (William Ash).

And it all went reasonably well – at least at first. But it turns out that neither Claire nor Marvin are particularly keen on being glorified masturbatory aids for a married couple, so when openness trumped sex on the second-date agenda, it blew up in both Alan and Joy’s faces. Luckily, though, it brought them closer together, with the thought of each other having sex with younger, handsomer people evidently and perplexingly giving them both a bit of a kick. Unfortunately their passionate reunion was cut short by their eldest daughter, Laura (Celeste Dring), arriving home leathered and puking all over the house. Here, I suppose, is where I get a bit confused. See, if all the playing away was supposed to fix Alan and Joy’s marriage, which apparently it did to a certain extent, why were they both so keen to just continue playing away? Wasn’t it enough to get that spark back; to find each other worth having sex with again? “It made me really want you,” Alan said the morning after, which in my estimation is not the thing to say if you want your tender, hungover daughter not to be sick again. But I digress.

Of more immediate interest in Wanderlust Episode 2 is Alan and Joy’s son, Tom (Joe Hurst), whose infatuation with a sixth-form sexpot (Anya Chalotra) has graduated from awkwardly bringing up a mutual love of Jonathan Franzen novels to awkwardly peddling tickets to a Zadie Smith talk. That kid’s going to be a virgin forever. Then again, perhaps not. Under pressure, he turned to his clearly-adoring best friend Michelle (Isis Hainsworth) to suggest that they “practice”; a gloriously idiotic thing to do, I’m sure you agree, but seeing as she’s so helplessly head-over-heels for the dork she took it quite well.

Meanwhile, Alan and Joy’s younger daughter, Naomi (Emma d’Arcy), might be teeing up a romance with their confused neighbour, Rita (Anastasia Hille), and Laura found herself on a terrible date with a smug carpenter from which only Joy’s client, Jason (Royce Pierreson), could rescue her. He’s the fella who said “pendulous” last week, so I’m immediately suspicious of him. But he’s nice enough to take Laura to a local bar where Joy is currently picking up another strange man. It came as a bit of a shock to everyone involved, but in the short term it’s probably the best thing that could have happened for a show which is still struggling to actually be about something.

Guest Cast: William Ash (Marvin Walters), Anastasia Hille (Rita Bellows), Chloe Harris (Emma), Alexia Khadime (Natalie), Laura Checkley (Paula), Anya Chalotra (Jennifer Ashman), Jordan Adene (Sam Morton), Megan Richards (Mimi Brookes), Isis Hainsworth (Michelle McCullen), Royce Pierreson (Jason Hales), Sophie Okonedo (Angela Bowden), Bally Gill (Michael Green), Dylan Edwards (Marc), This Is The Kit (Live Band)