Younger 5×03 “The End of the Tour” takes a pink highlighter and rests it on my most well-worn passages until it messily bleeds all over the words, then it rips out pages from my final chapters and crumples them up, tossing them lonely into the bin.
This episode messes me up, but wow it’s still a good story.
The setup of Liza knowing Charles is getting a divorce — while we know that he knows about her, but she doesn’t know he knows — is just awkward and tense enough to prepare us for the brutal confrontation.
We need to be in that awkward place because those blows, however fair, would be worse if we had been feeling flirty in the beginning of the episode.
We have the benefit of knowing to have our guard up. Liza has no such gift.
Charles fires his first shot at Liza after Pauline closes out her final reading:
I assume the lie was your idea.
And it is at that second that Liza knows that he knows.
Her body straightens, her eyes lock on his, without a hint of the softness and sensuality that was previously ever present. She becomes her age at this moment, in both his eyes and ours, and the gravity of what she is about to lose falls on her and our chests.
THIS IS HEARTBURN. And it keeps going.
Pauline’s impassioned accusation is drowned out by the zinging silence between Charles and Liza. I honestly can’t tell you what Pauline says because the moment is seized by the LOUD sound of Charles and Liza’s hearts breaking.
I do get the gist of Pauline’s rant and I think it’s important information: Charles has been a person who has sacrificed his relationships for his career. He can be selfish and elitist.
He isn’t ready to realize it, he’s far too mad, but this is exactly the kind of behavior he is accusing Liza of. His last stab of the episode mocks her prioritization of getting a job.
Rather than focus on Pauline, Charles takes just enough of what she says to apply it to Liza. I watch with bated breath and eyes as wide as Liza’s as he turns and stares directly at Liza while responding to Pauline, saying:
Sometimes I am blind to what is right in front of me.
Charles drops the bomb and then spins and goes. Charles is EXTRA on “The End of the Tour,” which I love because it is a more full picture of him as a person.
It is a reminder, too, of how men can be so sensitive and entitled. Remember, Liza was deeply betrayed by her husband and has had to carry the weight of putting her daughter through college all on her own. She has been put in a Pam-pam costume, twice, and ordered around by Diana for years.
She also stepped away from the man she loves because she didn’t want to get in the way of their family reuniting.
I’m not saying that Liza didn’t make mistakes or even that Charles is overreacting.
I am saying that Liza is stronger under pressure and that she is able to take what life throws at her with more humility.
I am saying that “The End of the Tour” makes me realize how special Liza is. She carries very heavy burdens but remains as youthful as a woman in her late twenties. That’s not a lie; Liza is believable as younger because she has not been hardened or made cynical by the circumstances of her life.
In thinking about Liza’s strength, I also realize that she has had to face the consequences of her mistakes more than any other character on Younger.
Here is what the people she loves say to Liza, face to face when they found out about her lie:
Kelsey: You broke my heart.
Josh: I don’t ever want to see you again. Have a nice, fraudulent life.
Charles: You betrayed me.
Josh and Kelsey repair their relationships with Liza, after significant effort on her part to explain and prove herself.
Liza might deserve what she has faced because she made the choice, and continues to make the choice, to lie about her age.
I just can’t help but think about the extreme amount of accountability Liza takes on, while other characters get more of a free pass.
I also can’t help but wonder if there would be a similar outcry and feeling of betrayal if things were a bit different and Liza had lied about her age to make herself older.
I think that ageism is real in many industries, but we don’t necessarily take it seriously because of what particularly it impacts women.
We actually heard Charles make comments about how a woman who left the industry for 15 years was to blame for not being able to get hired. He says that she simply shouldn’t have left.
Charles does not know how to recognize his privilege and the reality of gender bias in the workplace. This is not only apparent in how he treats Liza upon her reveal, but also how he has treated Kelsey on the first episodes of Season 5.
I love that Younger is getting in thick with ageism.
At the same time, Charles is not wrong in feeling betrayed, angry, sad and just heartbroken. We feel it too!
Charles asks Liza what else she lied about. It is a missed opportunity for Liza to tell him, I never lied about my feelings for you! I ache over her feeling the need to take his wrath, rather than rush into his arms, assuring him everything about their connection is real. Age is the ONLY thing!
But, Charles is overwhelmed by his sorrow and hurt feelings. He is not in a place to believe Liza, even if she did assure him of her authentic feelings for him.
All of the anger Charles feels and expresses, and it is a lot, is painful to witness but it is also a testament to the depth of his feelings for Liza.
Charles zooms right past Pauline’s accusation, that basically fully blame him for the demise of their marriage, and focuses his attention on Liza.
Obviously, he still loves her. He can’t even breathe as he confronts her. He doesn’t want this person in his life, but he is also terrified of losing her. He is on the edge of full-on weeping and runs away to avoid it.
Again, this is so very hard to watch. But, it’s also great development for this couple.
This was going to happen at some point. I don’t think Liza would really be in a relationship with Charles, or sleep with him until he found out the truth.
As an aside, a happy result of him knowing is that there is much more of a chance we get to see Liza and Charles REALLY hook up and I simply can not express how much joyful anticipation this gives me.
Charles finding out is inevitable. His anger and obsession with the lie is a huge sign that he is absolutely in love with Liza. In fact, I would argue that he is even more in love with Liza than Josh was when he learned the truth.
Josh rather flippantly called Liza a psycho and told her nothing they had was real if it was based on a lie. He then leaves.
Charles throws shade, but none of it is dismissive like Josh’s. It’s incisive and cutting. It’s intimate.
While this makes watching “End of the Tour” feel like a heart attack, it also means that Charles is not going anywhere. It means the love story is wounded, not over like Charles’ marriage.
That actually makes me smile.
The heart of the connection that Liza and Charles share is their love of books. Charles calls Liza and they bond over what books he should put on his list for the NYT profile. He invites her to the Hemingway auction where he delivers that delicious line about “unsynchronized passion.”
This book connection isn’t lame or superficial. I relate to this deeply. This first great loves of my life were characters in books and the books themselves. The way Liza, Charles, Kesley, and Diana talk about books makes it clear this is not just a job for them. Literature is their passion, their safe place, their love.
I hope, then, that it is books that bring Charles and Liza back together. Whether it is Liza authoring her story, them bonding over a shared passion project, or a revisiting of Marriage Vacation in a way that unlocks access to their love story, I hope that books get the cupid spotlight they deserve.
For me, it is why I could never be #TeamJosh. I love him, but the second he mocked Liza for loving books, I knew he wasn’t the one for her.
“End of the Tour” is all about #TeamCharles for me, but there are a couple other stand out scenes as well.
Notably, Lauren and Josh being roommates doing adorable roommate things is stellar. The chemistry between these two is so authentic and sweet. It feels rare that we get a truly platonic friendship between men and women on television.
It is a treat to see Lauren be as inclusive to Josh’s romanticism as she is to other types of sexuality and identity.
I really hope we get to see more of this pairing.
I’m not that interested in Kelsey’s love life, so the “three’s a crowd” love triangle set up on “End of the Tour” is not my favorite. That being said, I love all the actors so I am happy to see them on my screen each week.
But, right now I am shipping Kelsey and those half and half fries more than her with anyone on Yara.
What did you think of Younger 5×03 “End of the Tour”? Share in the comments below!
Younger airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TVLand.