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Running on Empty


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Drama, USA, 2008

Synopsis "Swingtown" - "Running on Empty" - August 8, 2008Previously On: Roger and Susan made eyes at each other; Roger and Janet argued about him confiding in other women instead of her; Tom tried to boost Janet's confidence by kissing her and telling her that she's beautiful; Doug and Laurie's night of Republican TV watching and macking was interrupted by her parents awkward attempts to swing; Bruce and Susan's awkward attempsts to swing with Brad andSylvia were interrrupted by Doug and Laurie's macking; Ricky kissed Samantha to prove he was a man and failed; B.J. kissed Samantha and proved he was a manIn Doug's apartment Laurie and Doug make out but he says it's time to go, she was on an ice run and detoured to Doug's. Apparently, she was getting ice for a "forced family bonding experience": hanging out at the cabin with her family. Doug wants to smooth things over with her dad. She says her dad is irrational and she needs to prove she can make her own decisions. Her first decision: she's ditching the family trip to stay home and go see Jackson Browne with Doug.In the Thompson house Janet is reading a book called "Wake Up and Be You: The Guide to Getting Your Life Back on Track." She thought it might be good for Roger. He argues that he wakes up himself every day. She insists he's depressed since men define themselves by their careers. He argues that he is not depressed, he's just looking for work. She's made an appointment for him with a psychiatrist. He wonders, "who am I? Woody Allen?" She argues that he's not happy and that it will help. Brad Davis recommended the female therapist. He takes the card of Carolyn Gardiner.In the Miller kitchen Bruce is dancing to "Right Back Where We Started From" and happily packing groceries for the trip. Susan enters and protests that it's 8 in the morning. He grabs her and dances and says he loves her and their kids and that they're going to have a great time swimming and fishing and whatnot. Which reminds Susan she promised to pack calamine lotion for Ricky. Bruce grouses about taking Ricky since the whole point is about getting their family together. Susan said that Janet says she and Roger are working out some issues and need some privacy. Bruce hopes she arrives soon because they need to get on the road and get some ice. Susan says she sent Laurie for ice. (Icy cool making out!) Bruce says Laurie is grounded. "From buying ice?" Susan asks. Susan says they need to handle the Doug situation carefully since Laurie is getting older. Bruce doesn't care, as her father, he says if she's not back in ten minutes she's "grounded for life."Tom walks into the Millers and helps with groceries. Trina comes in to get the keys, promising to look after the house. Laurie enters and Susan wonders what took so long. Laurie lies about the difficulties of riding with two bags of ice on a bike. Laurie greets Trina and then tells Susan she's not going to the cabin and going to see Jackson Browne with Doug. Susan pleads with Laurie to be "a family" for a couple of days and that it means a lot to Bruce. Laurie stalks upstairs and Trina laughs. Bruce apologizes to Tom that the Deckers aren't invited but it's family time. Tom says it's all about family across the street since he and Trina have closed their marriage. Apparently, things have gotten "creative."Janet enters with Ricky. Janet observes that the car is full and is surprised that Tom and Trina aren't going. Bruce is all "family, family, family... and Rick." Tom says "don't worry Jan, if you're not going, I'm not going." Janet smiles that sweet uncomfortable smile. Trina asks what Janet and Roger are doing with the weekend to themselves. Janet assures her that they'll think of something. Roger arrives with Ricky's duffel bag as B.J. comes downstairs. The gang's all here! (Except Laurie.)B.J. goes to help Ricky put his stuff in the car and says "I'm not talking to you." Ricky replies, "oh lucky me." Roger looks at Susan. Susan at Trina and Tom. Janet at the floor. Everyone leaves except Bruce and Susan. Bruce calls Laurie and she tries to tell him and Susan pleads. Laurie picks up her backpack grudgingly. Bruce sighs contentedly, "alright, let's go fix this family."At the cabin Susan tells B.J. and Rick to set up the tent in which they'll be sleeping and Bruce excitedly says then they can take target practice. B.J. and Ricky snipe at each other. Bruce and Susan are perplexed. Bruce tries to extend an olive branch to Laurie by saying they should go out in the boat and swim and fish once they're settled in. Laurie pouts that she has to make a phone call. Bruce grabs her arm and says they came up for family time. She says she came because they made her. He asks Susan if Laurie will be like this all weekend. Susan asks him to try to remember being a smitten teen. He says he was never smitten, but "madly in love...." Awwww. "....and horny." Susan points out that Laurie is too. Bruce ain't smiling now.Ricky is trying to sell B.J. on the idea that he had to kiss Samantha because of the "stupid game." B.J.'s not buying and walks away.In therapy with Carolyn Gardiner, the Thompsons aren't saying much. Until Janet thanks her for seeing them on such short notice, although she hopes this availability doesn't mean she's a terrible therapist and has no clients. Carolyn smiles indulgently and says she worked them in as a favor to Brad but didn't realize it was going to be couples therapy. Janet says she's just there for moral support and that she and Roger are a team and that whatever's wrong with him she wants to help fix.Roger says he lost his job when he asked for a raise. That last part he neglected to tell Janet and she's further annoyed telling the therapist the whole "he didn't tell me he was fired but he told my best friend Susan." The psychiatrist wonders how that made her feel. Janet says horrible, as if he was closer to Susan than her. The therapist asks if he in fact is closer to Susan. Roger says no. Janet points out that he said that Susan was easy to talk to and that she isn't. He clarifies that he said he didn't want to disappoint Janet. The therapist asks if she's disappointed. She says no, of course not, just that he's her husband and she wants him to "be all that he can be." (We assume this doesn't mean she wants him to join the Army.) The therapist asks if Janet has an idea of what that is. She just says "more, he can be more. We all can be." The therapist wonders if there's more that Janet can be. Janet then decides "we're not here about me." The therapist points out Janet's whole "team" concept. Janet says she doesn't have issues. She has a depressed husband who went to Susan when he should have come to her. But she's let that go. "Clearly," deadpans Roger. "Roger," says Janet. Janet gets mad and asks if they're going to talk about Roger's mid-life crisis or leave. The therapist smiles and says they should talk about Roger...and Janet. Janet leaves and tells Roger to come. She then tells her "this is why you have no clients." Roger, still seated, calls after her.At the Decker house Trina is dusting in a skimpy French maid's outfit. (We are seeing this through the lens of Tom's video camera.) "Yeah, dust that table baby," says Tom in the sexiest banter he could apparently come up with. She turns around and flirts with him. He throws the camera down and kisses her and tells her she looks amazing. She likes the costume closet. He likes the toy chest. She asks if he misses the playroom. He says yes but hasn't noticed any slowdown in the action, just a reduction in the players. She wants to know if that's okay. He says yes.At the cabin, Susan is making lunch and Bruce is making plans. Tonight: charades. Tomorrow night: scary stories and roasted marshmallows. Susan laughs. He notices the phone cord and is aghast that she's been on the phone since they've arrived. Susan tells Laurie to get off the phone. She hangs up with Doug, twirling the phone cord. Susan asks after Doug. Laurie complains he's far away. Susan gently says that they're not just being jerks, and that Laurie should understand why they're concerned about dating him. Laurie says she knows but doesn't care.Janet is in the kitchen in a tizzy about the "nerve" of that woman and scolding Roger for not helping. He figured they should stay since they were paying for the whole hour. Janet says they most certainly are not. The phone rings and it's Susan. Janet says she'll wash her hands. Susan tells Roger that Rick is fine. He asks if she's going to skip some rocks. She says it wouldn't be the same without him coaching her. He gets off and Susan is sad. Janet needs the number for the cabin again, she lost it.Charades is not going well. B.J. is trying to do "Towering Inferno" by basically waving his arms. Ricky calls him a ballerina. B.J. calls him a jerk. Laurie tries to leave with the phone. Dad puts the kibosh on it. Susan says that they're having fun. Laurie makes the distinction that they're being forced to pretend that they're having fun. Bruce puts his foot down and says she's not calling him and she's not seeing him. Laurie, of course, says he can't stop her. Bruce plays the trump card: he can report him to the school board saying he's got no moral character and is trolling for young girls. Laurie thinks it's rich that Bruce is lecturing about morals given the whole "you were about to have sex with another woman in our living room" thing. She tries to walk away with the phone and Bruce pulls it out of the wall. Laurie says she doesn't know what's going on with them but that they have no right lecturing her about anything and she stalks off. Ricky and B.J. are stunned by this turn of events.Bruce is screwing the phone jack back into the wall the next morning. Laurie walks through and ignores her dad's greeting and walks out. Susan says to give her some space. Bruce wonders when she became this way. Susan says when she met Doug and that this isn't just a schoolgirl crush and that she's serious and confused about what she saw the other night. Bruce says he isn't explaining himself to a teenager. Susan says to leave Laurie alone again. He points out that they also came up for themselves and they should do something together, like try and relive their first trip to the cabin with a romantic picnic.Janet knocks on the therapist's door to tell her that she won't be paying for the previous session on the whole "if a plumber fails to fix my pipes" premise. The therapist tells her to sit saying Janet doesn't have to pay she just wants to know what happened. Janet says Roger needed help and the therapist didn't help and that's what happened. The therapist says she felt Janet had feelings she couldn't or shouldn't express and wants to know if she was wrong. Janet says, not entirely and admits she's frustrated that Roger can't find a job when she could walk into a secretarial agency and get a job this afternoon but that would upset Roger since he's a man and he should provide for the family. The therapist says he might appreciate the help, with her salary taking some pressure off of him. Janet hadn't thought of that. She mentions the Tupperware. The therapist points out that Janet does Roger no favors by being less than she is and that she'll start to resent him and lose respect for him to boot. And, apparently, once respect goes so does love and then Janet's on the slippery slope to adultery. Janet looks down. The therapist wonders if she's already been looking. Janet says there is a man who's been looking at her and she smiles. She mentions that he asked her to dance, arranged for them to be partners in a scavenger hunt and kissed her. (Are we supposed to believe that Tom actually wants her or just that he's trying to make her feel good about herself?) How did that make her feel? Janet says she felt bad for him because obviously he can't have her. The therapist wonders if Janet is sure. She's all "excuse me?" The therapist asks about this man.Right not this man is feeding his blindfolded, handcuffed wife strawberries and nibbling her neck as the phone incessantly rings. Trina finally is like, we have to get that. Tom, in a speedo, ew answers the phone. It's Anthony, a former swinger pal, who wants to swing. Tom turns them down. Trina is bummed, she loves Anthony and Michelle. They get back to blindfolded love.Janet is crying about Tom in the therapist's office. She thinks he's gorgeous. She wonders what she's going to do. The therapist wonders if this isn't an avenue she wishes to explore. Janet says she couldn't. The therapist tells her to nip it in the bud.Susan is skipping stones and, judging by the smile, thinking of Roger. Laurie walks up and is impressed. Laurie asks why Susan married Bruce. Susan says they weren't together very long so she didn't have a lot of time to think about it. Laurie asks if she hadn't been pregnant if Bruce and Susan would've gotten married. Susan says not then, but later sure. Susan says he's a good man: kind and smart and he loves this family. Laurie asks if she still wants to be married to him since they've been messing around with other people. Susan says relationships are complicated and that they change over time and that Laurie can't understand that right now. Laurie agrees since she knows that all she wants is Doug and that he's all she thinks about and if it ever got to the point he wasn't she'd leave him. Susan says it all seems black and white to Laurie, simple. Laurie says it is simple, you either love someone or you don't. (Ah, youth.) Laurie says it would kill her to see Doug with someone else. Susan says that she and Bruce felt exactly as Laurie does now at one time. Laurie points out the past tense. Susan points out that their situations - a month or so and 18 years- it's not the same thing saying she'll understand one day. Laurie hopes not and that she just wants Doug and it is that simple.Later, inside Susan dials Roger. She just wanted to tell him she skipped rocks. He's happy. (He's also reading that awful book.) He wonders if she's alright. She admits this trip isn't as fun as the last. He wishes he could be there. She's about to say she wishes he was too as Bruce bursts in angry saying he waited for an hour - the picnic?- and wants to know who she's talking to. She lies and says she's just checking to see if the phone is working and hangs up on Roger. Roger gets it and (I think) they're both a little freaked out by what the lie means as the connection breaks. (But doesn't). Bruce is all "you stood me up!" Susan says she and Laurie had a fight and she lost track of time and that they can go now. He gets huffy and says no and she asks him not to make a big deal out of it. He says it is a big deal. Susan points out that things can't always go according to his plan. He says it was their plan to get the family back on track. (Not true). As he says this B.J. walks in with a note saying Laurie is gone. She's hitchiking.Laurie gets in a car with the old dead lady Ida from "Desperate Housewives" who says hitching ain't the smartest thing in the world. Laurie admits she got in a fight with her parents. Over a boy? Ida asks. Laurie, who is apparently very stupid, wonders how Ida knows. Apparently, Ida's been married four times. ("Men are like lightbulbs. You just keep screwing 'em until one of 'em works." Hee. "And they don't last forever.") Laurie laughs but thinks the second part is sad. Ida says it's better to wear them out. Love the hell out of them. marry 'em, don't marry 'em, just get in the game says Ida. Forever is not the point in her book. Laurie receives this sage wisdom. Ida drives off.Tom swims in the Decker pool and emerges to the doorbell ringing. It's Janet, come to nip it in the bud. Trina's at the market, but forgot something and returns just as Janet is screwing up her courage. Trina wonders why she's there and Tom says she came to tell them something important. Janet lies and says she just wanted to invite them to dinner, since Bruce and Susan are out of town. Tom and Trina agree.Bruce and Susan cruise looking for Laurie. Bruce blames Susan for telling him to give him space. She blames him for blowing up at her. It's tense. The Deckers check out the scary Thompson decor complete with bad martinis and a cheeseball. They make bad cheeseball jokes. Janet says she needs Tom's help basting the chicken. As he comes in she turns and says she really likes him but the attention he's shown her has made her uncomfortable because he's not alone, she feels thing too. He's starting to catch on and is getting freaked out. He goes along with her sweet apology for not being able to sleep with him. He sweetly says he admires her gumption in nipping it in the bud, as a friend of course. (He secretly - but not so secretly that it isn't clear- is glad to have dodged this bullet.) Roger gets up and looks towards the kitchen wondering what's going on. He asks Trina if they're really not swinging. She says these days she and Tom are just like Roger and Janet. He doubts that. He sits and gets earnest saying it must be hard sleeping with other people and not developing feelings for them. She says it happens sometimes. Trina says Janet's trying to be exciting and interesting too but it doesn't matter how much she tries if she's not the women he wants. He looks busted and then asks what he does. Trina says he has two choice: tell Susan how he feels and take the consequences or you can find a way to get over her.In the car Bruce is fumbling through stations looking for news of Laurie. (Way to look on the bright side Bruce.) Susan says if someone hurts Laurie she will never forgive herself, or Bruce. Bruce says they were just doing their job as parents. Susan, near tears says that they're so busy trying to make themselves feel good -smoking pot, going to sex clubs, swinging- or alive or like they still love each other that the last thing they are doing is their job is parents. Bruce looks at her sidelong on "we still love each other." He responds that she's a great mother and that of course they still love each other or at least he still loves her. They hear a deejay talk about the Jackson Browne concert and Susan realizes where she is. They pull over and Susan calls Doug, who tells her that Laurie just called and she's at a diner nearby.Back up at the cabin Ricky tells B.J. to hit him since he won't feel better until he does. (B.J. is holding a bb gun, why doesn't he just use that?) B.J. is mad Ricky told Samantha he felt sorry for her. Ricky's all "don't you?" B.J. says he actually feels sorry for Ricky. To which Ricky responds "screw you and your stupid girlfriend, she kisses like a fish and she smells like one." This finally has the desired effect B.J. hitting Ricky. Ricky charges him and they wrestle around for awhile and until they decide it's enough. As they cough and sputter B.J. says he feels better and then sadly says "I think my family's really messed up." "Join the club," responds Ricky.The Millers confront her just as Doug walks in. Bruce wants to kill him and Susan counsels that they should all sit down for pie. Over pie, which no one is eating, Doug wins over Susan with his thoughtful defense of their relationship. Bruce, you can tell, kind of is too, totally begrudgingly. That defense isn't really strong since all they basically say is that they didn't start doing it until after school ended, they really care about each other, and Doug, says since Laurie's pestered him so much he figured she should be able to make her own decisions.Dinner at the Thompsons is winding down. The Deckers turn down coffee and say it's time to call it a night. "How can an evening be freaky and boring?" says Tom, utterly perplexed as Roger walks into the kitchen. As they get up Trina wonders if Anthony and Michelle are still available. Tom is surprised. Trina says it's time to open things back up and they practically run out of the Thompson house after saying goodbye.Outside the diner Susan tells Laurie she can see why she likes Doug. Laurie says she's going, Susan lets her and tells her to be careful driving and they hug. Laurie tells Susan that life is short and that it's important to be happy now. Susan replies that sometimes life is long. Laurie points out that if that's true it's even more important to be happy. Bruce emerges and Susan tells her that Laurie is going. He runs after and Laurie says "dad,don't." Instead of getting angry, he pulls some money out of his pocket and hands it to her "if you need something." They hug and she rolls off with Doug in a VW bug convertible.In the Thompson kitchen cleaning up after dinner Janet throws the psychiatrist's number in the trash. Roger observes she really hated her. Janet demurs saying she went back today to talk to her and it turns out she's a smart lady. She then lays on him that she's going to get a job through an employment agency. He's a little wounded but agrees. As Janet goes to take a bath "Running on Empty" begins to play and we get a sweet montage:Roger looks over at the phone and sees the number of the cabin and dials.Susan runs into the cabin towards the ringing phone but Roger hangs up before she gets there.B.J. and Ricky finally take target practice, alls well again.Roger pulls the therapist's number out of the trash.Trina and Tom are getting it on with Michelle and Anthony and each other.Susan and Bruce read quietly in separate chairs in the cabin.Laurie and Doug roll down the highway, hopefully not running on empty.


Directed by Alex Zakrzewski  

Starring Molly Parker, Jack Davenport, Grant Show, Lana Parrilla, Miriam Shor, more...

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