This week on “The New Normal”: Somebody on the writing staff watched a few of the season’s earlier episodes and remembered there were plot lines to be dealt with! It’s a miracle! Oh, also for those sensitive to dog deaths there is (spoiler alert) an off-screen dog death in this episode.
We revisit Bryan and David bringing home Harvey Milkbone, the dog they bought when their first surrogate fell through. We see them pamper him, deal with him barking all night, the accidents, the chewing, and all the other things that puppy owners have to deal with. Anyway, the point is that Harvey is a loved member of the family who taught Bryan and David a little bit about how to be parents. (They do throw a nod to their other dog who apparently didn’t teach them about how to be parents. I’ll let it slide and assume that Smelly was adopted as an adult dog rather than as a puppy.) Tragedy is, of course, imminent.
Bryan brings Harvey to David and says that he’s sick and they have to take him to the vet. David takes the dog, and calls Bryan at work to tell him that something is actually wrong. The vet comes back in to tell them that Harvey is suffering from bloat, and his intestines could be twisting around his stomach. David is all for surgery, but Bryan wants to give him some medicine and wait to see what happens. They go with Bryan’s plan, but then when they’re late giving Harvey the medicine, Bryan goes full Terms of Endearment on the vet staff. Which David points out, but it seems to work. Anyway, Harvey Milkbone is alright, but the vet wants to keep him over night to make sure everything is 100%. Then they have to go to the hospital to check on Goldie, who had Braxton-Hicks contractions and freaked out. However, as they’re relaxing, Bryan gets a call that Harvey Milkbone has died.
Back at home, David is obviously distraught. It turns out that Harvey was feeling fine, but then someone at the Vet’s office took him for a while and the dog got loose and was hit by a car. Bryan tells David that they can’t keep rehashing it or going over what they could have done. I like that Bryan is being the stable, comforting one right now because it’s a side of him we don’t get to see much. David realizes that their son will never know Harvey and starts crying and telling Bryan that nothing like this can ever happen to their son. Goldie and Clay brings Shania over to express her condolences while dressed as the Mother Superior from Sister Act.
Bryan goes back to confession with the most liberal Catholic priest who never existed, who encourages Bryan to be open about being mad at God because, “He’s a big boy, he can take it.” He does, however, point out that without suffering, joy becomes commonplace so we need pain to appreciate life’s blessings. Bryan starts to break down when contemplating God taking anyone else he loves, but the priest just points out how many people David has in his life that he loves and how wonderful that is. It’s not perfect and Bryan will still hurt, but it’s the best anyone can say when someone experiences that kind of loss.
While Bryan and David are grappling with the overwhelming array of emotions something that poops on your floor can make you feel (I say that as a loving dog owner), Goldie is dealing with her pregnancy hormones and her ex-husband. While on a visit to Shania’s school to speak with the Vice Principal about Shania’s habit of berating the other children in her class and her teacher while in character as the Dowager Countess of “Downton Abbey,” Goldie drops a throw-away line about being awarded full custody of Shania. Oh, she also develops a serious case of the hots for the assistant principal, and all of us are treated to a gratuitous fantasy sequence involving gold lamÃ© boxer briefs and some song that uses the word “sexy” a whole lot that might not actually be a real song. Goldie gets a hold of herself enough to promise that she’ll speak to Shania about disrupting class.
Goldie’s ex, Clay, comes in just as Goldie’s speaking to Shania about the Dowager Countess thing. Shockingly, Clay sort of steps up and tells Shania not to disrespect either him or her mother again. He knows that Shania’s trying to escape reality by putting on these costumes and reassures his daughter that he wants Shania to be Shania because she’s awesome. He does say, though, that if she has to pretend to be someone else she should at least pick someone American, and suggests Taylor Swift. Shania decides to go with it, and Goldie invites Clay to stay for dinner with that glowy, hormone-y look on her face. After dinner, Clay puts Shania to bed and gives Goldie a shoulder rub that ends up with them going to bed together.
Goldie ends up waking up in the middle of the night with cramps and pain, and Clay takes command of the situation to get Shania to Nana’s and Goldie to the hospital. Luckily, as mentioned above, Goldie was just having Braxton-Hicks contractions and we learn that Goldie is 29 weeks along, which means the pregnancy is more or less happening in real time compared to when the show premiered. Good to know!
Clay ends up apologizing to Goldie for lying, cheating, and causing her pain. But he’s realized that if anything happened to her, he’d feel like his life was over. He tells her that he’s going to make up for everything he’s done, but she doesn’t have to believe him yet because he’s going to show her.
We wrap up on a bittersweet note, as Bryan finds one of Harvey Milkbone’s toys in the couch and he and David put a box presumably containing the dog’s ashes next to a photo of all three of them together. David gets the voice over to talk about how Harvey did help teach them how to be a family,